what a house means to me

thank you all so much for all the love and happiness about our new house!  it feels amazing to share this with all of you. i have to tell you, this is a wildly huge event for me. i think it’s a big event for everyone, but for me a house has always had an even larger meaning, my history of homes is a colorful one.  

when i was a teeny tiny person i lived in a van with my dad and his girlfriend and a funny little cat named “bouchette”. my dad built a bed into the van behind the front seats for them and my miniature toddler bed folded out of the wall in the back where it was stored during the day with bungee cords.  we drove across the country having adventures and living a sort of hippie nomad lifestyle. i remember desert lessons: how to listen for rattlesnakes and the proper way to poke at tarantulas with a stick. i remember sitting on the hot, carpeted engine of the van in between the two front seats, the seat belt stretching across my lap.

our van home and a gathering outside of it. i’m in the red shorts.

before that there was a period of time that i lived with my mother, and we had no home. i was too young to remember, but i grew up hearing stories of being homeless and a life lived on the streets. she was alone, without shelter or transportation and caring for a baby. i can’t even imagine the struggle and fear. she later got back on her feet and created a company with my stepfather that has helped non-profit organizations (homeless shelters, literacy programs, women’s abuse shelters, etc) raise over 25 million dollars.  she started this company because she had $75 in her bank account and decided it was time to start giving back to the community.

before the start of the business we lived in a tiny apartment and every dollar was hard earned and spent with careful deliberation. there was a jar my mom and step dad stored change in to save up for a tv, a water bed, reeboks for my mom. it was a simple life and not easy for them, but we were happy. we lived like that for 5-6 years. after the business launched we moved into what we considered a luxury apartment that had wall to wall carpet and a chandelier in the hallway. it was on a busy street, had a music store below it. they bought a mercury cougar and we thought we had ‘made it’. we celebrated like we were the fresh prince moving to bel aire. years later our small family moved into a charming house in the suburbs and then eventually a beautiful modern house built into the cliffs in an affluent community in cape elizabeth, maine. it was truly a rags to riches story.  

the view from the house built into the cliffs in cape elizabeth. it was our dream home.

when i was an adolescent / teenager my father lived on st. john in the us virgin islands and i spent a good chunk of my summers living on a sailboat anchored in a bay.  i learned how little space one really needs when the weather and lifestyle are permitting. i fell in love with sailing, with the caribbean, with the slow pace of island life, with simplicity.

in my adult life i have lived in 13 apartments & homes in the span of 7 towns/cities. i lived with a weird cat lady, with strangers, with friends, with family, and eventually with my husband.  i have had the world’s worst landlords and some great ones. i’ve tried to make the best of every place i called home. and now, as we’re settling into this, OUR VERY OWN HOME, i’m so incredibly filled with gratitude, both for where i am and for the path that brought me here. i have a deep appreciation for what a home is, what it means for a family, for the variety of shapes, sizes and forms they come in. i’m so aware of how fortunate we are, and how fragile these things can be. i have a small thread of anxiety that runs through me that it will all be taken away, that it’s too good to be true. lou and i are both wandering around this house in a bit of a daze, feeling just so grateful and overwhelmed.  we know how lucky we are, that even though we have worked long and hard for this there are millions of people who are just as deserving and working just as long and hard (and often longer and harder) for a lot less. we’ll never lose sight of that.

the first home that lou and i shared, in san diego. it was my first “grown-up” home.

it was important for me to share this with you because i’m always very conscious of the fact that blogs can make life appear easy, beautiful, better-than.  and i’m not saying that our life isn’t beautiful and wonderful, it really is. but there’s a story behind us, we’re real people with lives that aren’t perfect and never have been. i want this blog to be our story, and i want you to know us as more than just the two crazy lucky fools that we are. thanks so much for reading, for being so kind and generous with your words, we are always thankful.

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Reader Comments

  1. Sarah | Chic Sprinkles|

    Hi Sarah! I truly enjoyed everything about this post. Its really great to read how behind the glitz and glamour there are REAL stories, lives, and people. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. You are just fantastic and I love your blog even more now. You deserve all the best, you've worked hard for it!

    xx Sarah

    Reply
  2. Erin|

    You are a true inspiration my dear. Your beautiful words really hit home as I sit here in my tiniest of apartments, saving pennies with my husband and dreaming of the day when we can stake a claim on our very own piece of land. It just goes to show that no matter where we are (tiny shoebox in Boston or a someday rambling farm house in Rhode Island) we have a lot of love and THAT is what makes a home. Thank you for reminding me :)

    Reply
  3. iz|

    wow, what an incredible story. I hope that you continue to share more about your back story- it's really interesting. I love that you are an honest blogger and you make an effort to be genuine- it's what keeps me coming back each day. Congrats on your new home, it is beautiful.

    Reply
  4. sarah yates|

    thanks so much ladies! @erin i am 100% positive that you will have the rambling farm house in rhode island if that's what you decide to have. :) keep putting those pennies away! xo

    Reply
  5. Rita|

    wow. this post was beautifully written, eloquent, and so amazingly honest. thank you so much for sharing your story and for giving your perspective… it's so much more interesting to see where people came from than just to see where they are at now.

    I know I will be thinking about this post all day!

    Reply
  6. Marie L.|

    I simply wanted to let you know that this post made my week! We all have a story and the way you shared yours shows your true colors. It made me smile and I hope for future post like this! Enjoy your new home!
    xo

    Marie L.

    Reply
  7. Anna|

    I love your honesty, Sarah. You have incredible stories, and those pictures are beautiful. I cannot wait to follow along with how you make your very own house a home. Loved this today.

    Reply
  8. Ciara|

    This was really perfect, Sarah. That is so exciting that you have come so far. I'm still in the apartment phase of life, but hopefully I'll have a home of my own too. I come from a similar struggling story and it does take a lot of hard work to get out of it. So congrats, lady!

    Reply
  9. Justina|

    thank you for opening us to us. The fact that you and your family have struggled is apparent in how caring, open, empathetic and sweet you are. You deserve every moment of settling down and enjoying this amazing new home!!

    Reply
  10. Krysta|

    Thank you for sharing! I loved reading about your life and homes and what has brought you here. Such a lovely story!

    Reply
  11. sarah yates|

    wow, i am completely overwhelmed with all of the sweetness from you all. deep breaths, holding back the happy tears. :) thank you so incredibly much.

    Reply
  12. holly|

    such a great post! thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. and congrats again on your new big purchase!!

    the part about living in the desert and listening to rattlesnakes reminded me of the book the glass castle by jeanette walls, have you read it? its fantastic!

    Reply
  13. Melissa|

    Thanks for sharing your heartwarming story! Congrats and good luck with the new house!

    Reply
  14. Michelle|

    Thank you for sharing. Growing up might have had its struggles for you and your family but it seems to have made you a caring and thoughtful person. All the happiness in your new home.

    Reply
  15. sarah yates|

    thank you shoko! i feel exactly the same about you.
    @holly, thank you and YES! i love that book, and there were definitely parts of it that i related to- mostly the feeling of "normal" in a life that was anything but. if there is such a thing as normal i suppose. :) her story is incredible!

    Reply
  16. Jessie // Sweet Thing|

    Love hearing more of your life's story. So beautifully written Sarah. It's so easy to fall in the envy trap with other bloggers and I think it is important remember that no one is perfect, life isn't perfect. The way you open up inspires me.

    xo

    Reply
  17. joana | myseastory|

    hi sarah,
    thanks for sharing this, it is so true that blogs sometimes make us want to live that fairy blogger life – and we are all real and all have our story.
    congratulations on this amazing achievement!
    xx joana

    Reply
  18. Anne|

    What a journey! Thank you so much for sharing and for being so humble. I am in LOVE with your new house and so happy you are living your dream! I wish you many many years of happiness in your new space! I can't wait to see your make it your own.

    Reply
  19. Anne|

    What a journey! Thank you so much for sharing and for being so humble. I am in LOVE with your new house and so happy you are living your dream! I wish you many many years of happiness in your new space! I can't wait to see you make it your own.

    Reply
  20. margs|

    beautifully written. you deserve every bit of happiness and homeyness that comes your way. love you! xx

    Reply
  21. Shawnna|

    Hi Sarah, I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and have been hooked since. You're such an inspirational person (I'm currently reading the China Study because of you and trying to convince my husband that we should be making food for our dog, Gus! :) I'm so happy for you and your hubby, what an amazing time in your lives! I truly appreciate your honesty and acknowledgment of the seemingly "perfect blogger life". Congrats to you guys, can't wait to see how you decorate! I will likely be stealing some of your ideas…

    Reply
  22. Jessica|

    what a truly amazing journey you have been on! I can't believe how much of the spectrum of live you have experienced… just wow!
    xx
    Here&Now

    Reply
  23. sarah yates|

    thanks everyone!
    @margaux, thank you and i love you more. :) so excited for your visit!
    @shawna that makes me SO happy you have no idea! isn't the china study SO amazing?!

    Reply
  24. Kylie|

    Sarah, you are so beautiful. This is real and vulnerable, and uncharted territory as far as blogs go. I so admire your ability to stand in front of where you've been, and to be strong enough to be realistic and honest with yourself and your viewers, without granting or asking for pity.
    It is a happy story, of a (imperfect) family off the beaten path and their journey. Hell, it's life, and to be fair, struggles aside, yours sounded pretty awesome. Sailing in the virgin islands as a teenager? Yes, please.

    As far as your house goes, I'm so happy for you, even though I don't know you. Isn't it great when these things work out?

    Reply
  25. L.M|

    It is your gratitude that brings you blessings.
    Your post was beautifully written.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  26. Niec|

    Wow! Sarah, thank you so much for sharing this. You are such a warrior!
    This is the most touching post i've ever read.
    Congrads on the new home, so happy for you both.

    Reply
  27. Annelise|

    Wow, what a story. What a life – and you're not even halfway through it yet. Other people's lives are so interesting. Congratulations on your new home, I hope you and your husband have many happy years there.

    Reply
  28. Linn|

    What a story! And what a journey. Thank you so much for sharing it. Makes me think about the importance of a home, but it's not really about the size, the style or the stuff you fill it with, but the love. To have a place where you feel safe and loved, that's what matters.

    Reply
  29. linda|

    so beautifully written it gives me goosebumps.
    we're complete strangers, but it seems to me you deserve this so!

    Reply
  30. amy|

    thank you so very much for sharing your history and your lovely outlook on life…you deserve this and i am sure you will!! xx

    Reply
  31. sarah yates|

    thank you thank you thank you all!
    @kylie, there is good and there is bad and in the end there is only what you make of either. that's life isn't it? :) thank you for the thoughtful words. xo

    Reply
  32. cianne|

    This was beautiful. How refreshing to hear your story and appreciation for your life and new home. I wish you lots of bliss in that desert heat!

    And please continue to blog in such an honest and sincere way.

    Reply
  33. raya|

    This was so insightful to read and hits home. When I was born we shared a home with another family and I slept in a closet. We didn't have much, but that upbringing shaped me and made me so grateful for what I have now. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply
  34. Rose|

    Thank you for sharing your behind the scenes story. Much appreciated & congratulations on your home!

    Reply
  35. Molly|

    what a beautiful story. thank you so much for sharing! that was really inspiring and heartfelt. i'm glad everything worked out for you :)

    Reply
  36. Rachel|

    What an incredible story. Your mom sounds like a truly amazing woman and a testament to the power of faith and hard work.

    I too am definitely looking forward to the day when I own my own home!

    Reply
  37. Amy|

    I'm new to your blog. I think I found it while I was searching for nutrition tips since I've been trying to keep my family and I on a healthier diet. Then I read about your Chrons and it resonated. I have UC. Looked around a little more and found that you dress exactly the way I would if I had more guts. Love your style. It's inspiring. Also love your design sense. Wish you could come to Boston and help me out a little. Today I stumbled on THIS post……I think you're really cool. Thanks for putting your words out there.

    Reply
  38. audrey|

    Hi Sarah….. I just came across your blog and this was the first post I read. I can really understand the part about your mom and giving back from $75.

    I went through all of that and now I maintain a blog and store to inspire others who are in abusive relationships and financial situations that arise from a bad divorce.

    I started my blog (still a baby and very low key) when people started asking how I stay so happy through it all. The blog is about self empowerment.. having happy days with simple things… recipes from simple, easily accessible ingredients, BUT always happy and bright, because a pretty meal is food for the soul. And many times we had no food so now, this walking into the supermarket and picking up whatever I need to make a meal to share with friends is very personal and magical to me.

    I will be following your blog. Keep in touch.
    Store: http://www.shopconversationpieces.com
    Blog: http://www.conversationpieces.onsugar.com

    xoxo!

    Reply