I was meant to wake up early this morning and shoot a style post for today, as we often do when the late afternoon temperatures are creeping up to well past 105 degrees and I know if I don’t get it done early it will be a sweat mustache-y affair later in the day.  But I didn’t, couldn’t.  I don’t have it in me.  So today, instead of fashion I want to talk about what’s going on behind the scenes.  You know, my actual life outside of yummy food, pretty clothes, travel adventures and inspiring interweb entertainment.  I hope that’s ok.  I’ll go back to my regular scheduled programming just as soon as I’m able, promise.

This trip to Maine I’ve been blogging and instagramming the ever loving balls out of, it was a heavy one.  I think I ate so many of my feelings I gained 5 solid pounds.  I’m not exaggerating.  And it was as delicious as it was difficult, don’t get me wrong.  {more after the jump}

I imagine that going “home”, to the place where you grew up, is always one of mixed emotions.  But it is especially so for me, and especially so on this trip.  My grandmother, one of the sharpest, wittiest women I’ve ever been so lucky to know, is being slowly taken over by age and time.  She’s still hilarious, more so as the filter that’s kept her from being outright outrageous for most of her life is now down and she says whatever pops into her mind- which is often absurd, perverse, and almost always gut-bustingly funny.

She’s added the words “c*ock, f*ck and sh*t into heavy rotation*, and though cussing is a regular part of our family language, the intensity and frequency has dramatically increased.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.  But although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was that kind of laughter, that almost manic laughter, that could so very easily have switched to sobs.  But I wasn’t feeling any of the sadness, I only felt the joy.  I was completely present and also undeniably suppressing all of the emotions I was experiencing, until last night.  But more on that later.

My heart breaks at seeing her slowly going away from us.  It crushed me to hear her ask my aunt if I’ve been to visit while I sat 5 feet in front of her, to see her confusion and disbelief when we told her we’d been to visit the day before as well, to see her slide in and out of herself, her lucidity slippery like water in hands.  But during the two days we spent with her I did as much laughing as possible, I hugged her and tried to burn into my memory her big brown eyes full of fiery mischief, her laugh, the papery softness of her skin.  Oh that Grandma skin, there’s nothing better I swear it.  I will remember this as my skin becomes more like hers, so soft, so weathered and full of stories, so heart- breakingly lovable.

She’s beautiful, even in her old age there are moments when I look at her and am just so taken with her beauty that I can think of nothing else.  When she puts her lipstick on I can almost see her as a she was when she was young, as an actress on stage, traveling around the country as national president of the VFW Auxilary, mother to three young girls.  I hope that someday I may be just like her: beautiful, fiery, soft.

There were other highly emotional aspects of our trip, too personal for me to write about.  I can tell you this with one thousand percent certainty: if I had the nerve, desire and writing ability I could pen a New York Times bestseller about my life and family.  And this was the kind of trip that could inspire a sad, achingly beautiful Indie film. Garden State comes to mind.

Still, during our week in Maine I felt happiness, but little else.  In hindsight I realize that there was something strange about that.  But physically I felt fine.  I didn’t have a single Crohn’s symptom in spite of my wildly off-track diet.  I felt better even than before we left.  I attribute this to my survivor’s instinct, I’m nothing if not a complete survivor and years of experience have prepared me for a trip like this.

Yesterday, our first day home, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  I blamed jet lag.  I blamed the lobster rolls.  I blamed the desert heat and my hormones.  I had waves of nausea throughout the day that stopped me in my tracks, where it felt like my insides wanted OUT.  I wondered, could my body be rejecting VEGETABLES?  We had a laugh over it, maybe I’ve had it backwards all along- the secret to health is Maine lobster rolls, not kale. It was funny-not funny.

Last night I couldn’t sleep (*as an aside, WHO COULD AFTER THAT EPISODE OF BREAKING BAD?!)  Lou crawled into bed next to me.  I made a mental note to pay more attention the benign sounds of life, his feet padding across the concrete floor, the sheets peeling back and him adjusting his pillows the same way he adjusts his pillows every night, the bed shifting as he rolled onto his side, the comfort those sounds brought me. THIS, I thought, THIS is the real beauty in life.  PAY MORE ATTENTION, I told myself.

“Lou”, I whispered in the dark, “Do you think it’s strange that I didn’t feel anything in Maine, with my family?”  He told me that of course I felt things in Maine.  I promised him, I didn’t, not the way I felt I should at least.  This started the quiet conversation that opened the flood-gates.  I won’t go into great detail here, but I can tell you that he held me as a lifetime’s worth of sadness flooded out of me.  Primal sadness tore through my body, it wanted OUT.  I realized, that nausea I’d been experiencing all day was these emotions.  It reminded me, there’s nothing about our systems that isn’t entirely tied together, that my body is processing the things that my mind and heart aren’t ready to.

I wrote this post for myself but sometimes I believe that sharing struggles is what truly connects us.  I want you to know that if you’re going through some hard times, you are not alone.  We really are all in this together. Today, as everyday, be as kind to yourself as you can manage.  Life is beautiful, it’s messy, it’s wildly complicated and the greatest roller coaster ride we’ll ever experience.  Hang on.

Photo credit to Lou, who deserves all the credit in the world.  I love you Lou Mora.  You are my buoy, my lighthouse, my rock, my lobster {roll}.  I treasure every minute I have with you. xx- Sarah

*I suppose I felt that subbing out letters of the cuss words would make it somehow less offensive to those of you who are offended by that language.  But in hindsight I’m not ok with that.  I cuss like a pirate, it’s part of my colorful, often crazy, wildly loveable history and something that is an undeniable part of who I am, something that ties me to my Gram.  So: fuck, shit, cock.  No apologies.  There.  That’s for you Gram!  I love you beyond measure.

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Reader Comments

  1. courtney|

    I always read your blog, but have never commented. I just wanted to say thank you. I am new single mom & feel like life is so tough. Your honesty & vulnerability have helped me today.

    best wishes,


  2. Tracy Rainwaters|

    You are such a wildly beautiful and brave soul. Thank you for your vulnerability and the beauty you bring to this worl!

  3. Jenna|

    Thank you for your raw vulnerability and honesty. Thank you for revealing the real-hard-life parts of your life and reminding us that we all face difficult battles and it helps to face them with each other. You're in my prayers tonight!

  4. Kat|

    Wow, thank you for sharing so bravely. Whenever I read something, written in honesty, I am so humbled and inspired. I realize now that the only thing that truly moves me is honesty, deep brave, honesty. Thank you for your deep brave honesty. Those brave souls, such as yourself, is what sparks us all and makes life worth living. We all just want to feel something deeply.
    Warmly (hugs)

  5. brittni|

    This post hit wildly close to home for me. I think about my grandmother often, her skin, it's softness and her tiny gold watch that rested against it for all those years. Dealing with my family day in and day out is always a mixed bag of emotions, and each struggle or moment of laughter leads me back to missing my grandmother so dearly. Thank you for sharing and for being my reminder today that life is beautiful in all of it's messiness and especially in all of those seemingly mundane moments.

  6. sarah yates|

    Thank you all for being here, in this, with me. Your kind words are everything. xx

  7. carol greene|

    Sarah, what you wrote was so beautiful. I just lost my Mom and could write all about that for weeks but it was a lightbulb moment I wanted to thank you for. My husband (my Mom affectionately called him "a herd of Elephants") makes such a commotion when he gets in bed at night…it always wakes me up and I simmer in fury for a few seconds ("Man, does he NOT know there is another person here?"). After reading what you wrote, I realized how wonderful those sounds are. It's my Mate, doing his night time routine…crashing into bed, flopping the pillow all around, pulling the covers up and off me…but then that single moment when he snuggles up next to me, pulls me close and we fall asleep together. I'm going to now "treasure", rather than simmer.

    I know what you wrote and what you are going through is deeper than all that, but just know we are out here rooting for you and hoping you will continue to share your life. Your writing touches us.

    Thank you for that.

  8. Ashley|

    I can relate on so many levels and am so happy to have stumbled on this post today. Your honesty + openness are so very appreciated. Big hugs!

  9. Nicole|

    Thank you for being vulnerable and open. Sometimes I feel so small when compared to the giant universe and the billions of other people on this planet, but posts like this make me remember how beautiful we all are especially because we are not alone. We are connected and share the same pains and struggles.

    I always appreciate blogs that can be real and authentic and pure.

    I also swear a whole lot and appreciate you not fully editing yourself. 😉

  10. Anne|

    This is a beautifully honest post, Sarah. Thank you for sharing another piece of you. I hear you! Sometimes sharing is the best and sometimes crying your heart out is also just what is needed. So glad you have your beautiful home, dogs, and hubby to wrap their warm embrace around you. xoxo

  11. Laura|

    This is outstandingly wonderful. I am new to your blog and while I don't know if you read these comments. I hope you do and feel so very loved. My grandmother just recently passed and she sounded very much like yours does. Full of wit, life and powerful energy. It's a lovely way to be and like you said, a way that we can only admire to be that way as well. my grandmother always told me never justify, just be. best. advice. yet.
    … xoxox hugs xoxox

  12. Rachel|

    I really, really appreciate this. It's so real and honest, which are my favorite kinds of posts =] It's nice to know you're not alone when life smacks you in the face!

  13. Emma|

    I've been reading your blog for about 2 years now, and love seeing how you make super healthy food look so beautiful and appetizing. I've tried some of the recipes myself, and delight in your fashion and interiors posts. This is the first time I've commented on your blog, because this posting really hit home for me. For one, I'm from Maine as well, and recently moved to California. I moved for two reasons: 1.) a new job and 2.) to be closer with my grandmother. Your grandmother sounds very similar to mine: an aging memory but a timeless sense of humor and beauty, and of course, zero filter to her vocabulary. Just the other day, as we were planning her 90th birthday, she told me her top priority is "young, hot guys", so I can find a hubby while she's still with us! I often think I'm not "feeling" anything during our part-hysterical laughter, part-disappointment-she-forgot-who-I-am trips with my grandmother. I think laughing through the hard times is a wonderful coping mechanism, so long as it's enjoyed by both sides of the party. (Lobster rolls certainly help, too!) Thank you for this post!

  14. Sarah|

    This is beautifully written and so true. Thank you for capturing this with words so well.

  15. Jen|

    Huge hugs to you for sharing. My Mom passed last Christmas and my Dad in June. I've been in a fog, unable to muster much of anything creativity or emotion wise. Just a blob trying to process them being gone and my next steps. Your thoughts and words give me hope. Please keep sharing as things progress k?

  16. katie|

    this is so, so beautiful. I'm going through a difficult time + truly appreciate this. I really hope you're able to take your own beautiful words to heart — that you're not alone. xo!

  17. Steph|

    As a huge fans of 'Finding Nemo', my sister and I have coined 'Just Keep Swimming' as our life motto. It helps I promise! Thank you for the fashion, food and family and for always being true to yourself. Sending strength, love and sunshine. xxx

  18. Karina|

    Thank you for being so sincere. It is very inspiring to see people who learn to understand themselves so

  19. Renate|

    This was so welcomed as I often tend to get overwhelmed by the perfect lives of the perfect girls writing the perfect blogs. Thank you. We all have something. We also have more loving people around us, than we often realize. Kudos to you for letting them in and letting them help you and appreciate the beauty in life through their presence.

    P.S. You definitely HAVE the ability to write and if you find the desire and the courage, I would definitely buy your book 🙂

    Renate from

  20. Cynthia|

    Sarah, you are one of the 'realest' bloggers out there. You are gorgeous, you have a beautiful expensive home, a jet setting lifestyle, you get to wear clothes that cost as much as a month's rent – but you are real. No bullshit. No pretending. It's not even just through posts like these that open up your core to us, we can see your genuine nature through even the most styled shoots and blog posts. Thank you for that. Fucking cock balls Sarah, you are one of a kind.

  21. marlene|

    I know exactly how you feel. Every time I spend a protracted amount of time with family I'm in "grin and bear it" mode and feel "ok." Afterwards, I'm so emotionally exhausted it's like I'd been run over by a tractor trailer. I think that traumatic or painful things in the past — especially experienced as a child — give you ways of coping in the present by using denial and distraction. It's a wonderfully functional way of getting through acutely disturbing times. Unfortunately, everything comes up and out in the end and you can't ever suppress things indefinitely. I think it's good you managed to decompress some of this stuff so quickly after your return from Maine, rather than a few weeks or months or years after! These are hard struggles. I'm glad you have Lou. Stay relaxed and centered. The blog can wait! Take care!

  22. lavenderhill|

    a well lived life comes with good & bad times – high & low point in life. Good for you to recognize & reminisc in keeping your own life in perspective & appreciate what you have –
    Thanks for sharing – good to hear these things as we live in a world where material things have consumed people to the point that no time or interest in pondering life.

  23. Angela|

    Thank you for this. Everyone has struggles, they are part of life and they are beautiful. It makes you human. It's okay. Lou is awesome and so are fuck, shit and cock.

  24. Nora|

    I almost lost my 80 year old father 2 weeks ago, so this post resonated with me deeply. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this, and just know that there is a woman in Chicago thinking of your beautiful struggle and sending you love.

  25. tunie|

    This is so beautiful, thank you so much. You are so lucky your emotions actually released. Mine have not yet. I wish I could cry but – nothing, so far. Still, your words comfort!

  26. Amy|

    Beautiful. Thank you. I have a similar situation with my mother. And yes, when she puts on her bright coral lipstick I see her whole life – her positive spirit, her past joys, her own silent sorrows. I hope you do write that screenplay someday. Life is beautiful. Thanks for the reminder during a confusing time.

  27. MCL|

    Thanks for this post. We all suffer at one time or another… all at different times. We all try and lead lives that look good on the outside but yet we're all crumbling on the inside. I'm sorry to hear what you're going thru. I'll be thinking of your family at this time.

  28. Amanda @ A.Co est. 1984|

    Tears filled my eyes as I got to the part about you in bed and Lou holding you. That connection, that support, THAT is just so special and wonderful and HELPFUL, especially in those moments. It makes me more grateful for that too, reading your story.

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to see your Grandma like this; how heart painful and sad it must be 🙁 🙁 I'm happy to hear about those hilarious and laughing moments; oh to be cherished.

    You're so brave to share this and we are with you, reading, silently as the tears fill OUR eyes and feeling for you. Sending you a big (FUCKING) hug.

  29. Sarah|

    This post makes me smile and teary eyed at the same time. You don't ever need to apologize for a post like this, I (and I'm sure many of your other readers) like to know about the things that make you human. From perfect desserts to emotional heartbreak, its all relevant.
    My own grandmother is suffering from dementia as well. It's so fucking hard to watch. She's at a point where it's 100% confusion, no moments of clarity. She hasn't known who I am for probably close to a year. Every time she sees my daughter, she treats her like a stranger. It's so sad to me that she's totally unaware of the new generation of her family. I try to spend time with her, even though its very difficult for me. At this point, all we can do is keep her comfortable and remember her for the woman that she was. It sucks. Death sucks, aging sucks, slow painful decline is the fucking worst of all.

  30. Latrina|

    Sarah, wow. Your words definitely hit home. My mind (and heart) is processing so much right now after reading this. My heart definitely goes out to you as I know how you are feeling.

    For years and I mean years I was sick… terribly sick, all the time! Never knew why until recently, a huge discovery actually, I've been ill because of all the traumas that has gone on in my life… It was my body's way of coping. And I would feel SO bad and question why I never cried when I should… but now I understand, I was just dealing with sadness in a different way. And I remember the day I broke down, completely in tears, shaking and sobbing, completely confused as to WHY and where in the world it had come from… but man. It felt good.

    Life is definitely a whirlwind of ups and down… it's exciting, it's sad, it's a roller coaster just as you have described.

    I go back home in 3 weeks… and it's going to be tough. So much has changed since my last visit… new family members are born, some have been loss, some going through big life changes. It's going to be difficult and I definitely worry how I am going to react to it all.

    I can not tell you how perfect this was for me. And I'm sure many, many others as well! I just wanted to say thank you. I know it's not easy sharing something for personal and raw like this. And I greatly appreciate it. <3

    SO much love to you!!

  31. Steph|

    This post is beautiful beyond measure and the authenticity behind it is refreshing on so many levels. You are pure love and the sweetness between you and Lou is so touching. I literally had tears streaming down my face. We all face difficulty and we have family things to deal with and you sharing your experiences and insights is so lovely. Thank you for writing this post and being so open and honest. I also adore that you cuss like a pirate because I too grew up in a colorful family full of beauty and a wonderful way with words. My husband tells people that I talk like a "trucker". 😉 Sending an enormous hug your way! Like you said, we are all in this together and it helps to be real. So fuck yeah and your grandma is the shit!

  32. Lauren at adorn la femme|

    Your love for your grandmother is making me remember how much I miss mine! My "Ra Ra" was taken away from me by Alzheimer's. Your writing about your experience and how you just wanted to capture your grandmother in the moment, with laughter and her fiesty language was touching and beautiful!

    Lauren at adorn la femme

  33. Michelle @ Michelle's tiny kitchen|

    I almost didn't leave a comment here because I don't have anything new to add to everyone else's heartfelt responses. But this post was incredibly moving, and a very welcome reminder for me, so I just wanted to make sure that you knew that. Thank you so much for sharing.

  34. Akshara|

    Thank you for your sheer honesty. My great-grandmother is a small treasure of mine close to my heart. She is slowly dwindling away from us, but hearing stories from my mother keeps her memory alive and fresh in my mind. She's a role model to me. I hope to embody her spirit and kind-hearted nature as much as I can as I bloom into the woman I want to be. Reading this post is a bittersweet reminder of how much we should just love those dear to us as much as we can, even through a curtain of mixed feelings. We should feel the joy. Warm hugs to you.

  35. Andi|

    Sending you lots of love and hugs! PS You call your man lobster too? I thought I was the only person that did that haha!

  36. amy|

    I’m so sorry to hear the news about your father in law. My significant other (boyfriend) recently lost his father to this illness. I can empathize with what you are going through. What a blessing and a gift to be able to have him move in with you where you can lavish your love and care on him and where he will no doubt feel comforted by those who love him most. Even though I don’t know you personally, I will send my prayers and positive thoughts your way… Life is short and the most important thing is our loved ones… Peace to you… Amy

    • Sarah Yates|

      Thank you so much Amy! I’m so, so sorry to hear about the loss of your bf’s father. It’s one of the toughest things we face in this life, for sure. He’s very lucky to have you by his side through it! xx

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