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It’s been 24 years since I lost my dad… and in my overwhelming grief of losing my stepdad, I’ve found myself feeling guilty for forgetting about my “real” dad.  The truth is – he’s never really left me – but there aren’t many people left in my life who knew my dad, so I push him from my thoughts because it doesn’t help to dwell on trying to figure out what he would think.

Or what my life would look like if we hadn’t lost him.

It’s weird.

Really weird.

journey of doing - who youP I N I T

11 years ago, I wrote the following entry in my trusty live journal.
Last night I sat and flipped through old photographs. It felt like they weren’t even mine. I hate this. It’s so frustrating.
I’m angry.
I’m annoyed.
I don’t know how to verbalize it.
It makes me sad.
I look at pictures of my dad, and it’s like…. I don’t even know this man. He gave me everything he had, and I know nothing about him.  It’s so damn frustrating.
I’m sad because I will never know my dad.
I wonder how on earth I can ever be a good judge of character if I can look at a picture of my dad and not know anything about him… Or see him as a stranger.
It’s so hard to explain.
I wonder what he thinks about certain things.
I wonder how my life would be different.
I wonder where I would be and what might have been.
I know it’s impossible to know those things, but still I wonder.
It is so hard for me. I hate feeling like my father is a stranger. Hate, hate, hate it. My parents 25th anniversary would have been on the 3rd of this month. How weird that is to me.
It all seems like another lifetime to me.
Like it wasn’t my life…
or that it was a movie…
but it was all so long ago.
But some things, like the night he died, I remember like they were yesterday.
Some things I will never understand.
I wish I could vocalize it.
How today I felt like punching something to let all the anger out because it felt like it was contaminating me. How I woke up knowing it was a grey day. I wanted to stay in bed, but I forced myself out anyway.  How I carried around a picture of Paris all day to calm myself down and keep my sanity. How I slid in my car this afternoon and sobbed for everything that I feel like I’ve lost.  How I pretended that I didn’t know what day it was with my mom because I don’t want to bring her down.
I hate the fact that I don’t remember what his voice sounded like… that I don’t remember much at all.
The only thing it seems that is truly ingrained in my mind is the day he died, and I hate that too.
journey of doing - who youP I N I T
It was a perfect day. I got my progress report that afternoon. It had 100s in every single class. Dad was proud. He even stopped at a pay phone on the way to pick up mom to tell her all my grades. We had Girl Scouts that afternoon, and he came to our meeting like he always did. After we picked Mom up from work, we went to dinner as a family. She had classes that evening, so he and I went to play Putt Putt, and then stopped at Baskin Robbins. I had bubble gum ice cream because it was pink. We sat outside because it was breezy. We picked up Mom at 10:00, and I went home and went straight to bed. I slept in a lilac silk nightgown of my mom’s because I loved wearing her nightgowns. They were always so elegant. A few hours later, she was waking me up and helping me into her velour robe that had been a gift while she was in the hospital having me. Granddaddy was already at our house and the neighbors were there. I rode to St. Mary’s with my mom and granddaddy in silence. They left me in the car while they went and checked in. Granddaddy took me to his house, leaving my mom at the hospital. When I had settled in the living room with Granny, he went back to the hospital. An hour later, the phone rang. My great grandmother said “Yes, I know” and “I see” a lot. She wouldn’t tell me anything when she got off the phone. Almost an hour later, my mom and granddaddy returned. She took me into the spare bedroom, and when I asked when I could see him, she started to cry.
In heaven, she told me.
I started screaming hysterically, asking what I was going to do and who would take care of me. I pulled away from her when she tried to comfort me. I fell asleep with my fist in my mouth, so she wouldn’t hear me cry myself to sleep.

From that day on, my life was never the same.

journey of doing - who youP I N I T

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  • Kelsey - Oh sweet friend! I cannot even imagine what that was like for you at such a young age. You can see the love he had for you in those photos.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - I hate that I didn’t see this until right now. Sending you SO MUCH LOVE. This day is always the worst. I too hate how I can’t remember my moms voice, but remember every single detail of the morning she passed away. Wish I could give you a big hug right now. And a gallon of Halo 🙂 xoxoReplyCancel

  • Mary Leigh - This is such a beautifully written post. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s hard for me to imagine and I know it is infinitely harder for you to live through. Sending you all sorts of well wishes. <3ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I am so, so sorry about your father. This post definitely brought me to tears. First with your lovely last day with him and then with your grandmother talking to you about when you would see your dad again. Your dad sounds like an amazing man and father. <3.ReplyCancel

When I studied abroad in Italy, there was one splurge I always had money for: gelato. You know why? Because you can get good gelato for a euro or two and that doesn’t break the travel budget. It became custom for one of my roommates and I to cook the cheapest dinners we could before heading out for an evening walk with gelato. One euro. Two euros. Never more than three euros. We believed ourselves to be gelato aficionados, seeking the best of our favorite flavors and venturing all around Florence to find them.

I haven’t changed much. And, when it comes to gelato, that’s not a bad thing.

I set out on this trip to find the best gelato in Cinque Terre, happily scouring all the villages to find it. After months of a slow carb (no carb?) diet, I was more than happy to take one for the team to find the best gelato in Cinque Terre. I’ll count them down for you with the pros and the cons because there wasn’t a bad gelato, but there were some that were better than others. Sadly, this list is incomplete. Every time I tried to find gelato in Monterosso al Mare, they were closed. Blame the off-season. Blame my inability to get there before sunset (which is truly the most beautiful time of day in Monterosso al Mare), but I could not find a gelateria that could accommodate my wily schedule. I’m sure it’s easier in the summer.

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terreP I N I T

Best Gelato in Cinque Terre

  1. No name gelateria on Via Colombo just past Bar Centrale (Riomaggiore) – 2 euro, small cone, Bacio (chocolate hazelnut) – After finding fantastic focaccia in Riomaggiore, I wanted the gelato to be good, too. Maybe I wanted it to be good because it was 2 euros. Maybe I wanted it to be good because I didn’t trust the other gelato stand. Or, maybe I wanted it to be good because it included plenty of hazelnuts. But, it just wasn’t as good as any of the others. It was a little icy. The cone was of the boxed variety and didn’t taste fresh at all.

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terre; riomaggiore gelatoP I N I T

  1. 5 Terre Gelateria (Manarola) – 2.50 euro, small cone, Canella (cinnamon) and Nocciola (hazelnut) – Oh, I was so excited to see canella. Some 13 years ago, I found canella in a tiny alley in Venice and I’ve found it about three times since that night. It’s one of my favorite flavors. I wanted to love it and tell you it was the best gelato in Cinque Terre. And, the canella was good. The flavor was strong and robust. The nocciola had a rich flavor as well, but it was slightly icy. The cone was fresh, but the serving was skimpy.   Two thirds of my cone did not have any gelato, and that made for a very sad cone.

journey of doing - best gelato in Cinque TerreP I N I T

  1. Gelato Corniglia (Corniglia) – 2 euro, small cup, Miele (honey) – After I finished Alberto’s gelato, it seemed only appropriate to try the gelato from across the street. I sent my husband in with the directive to ask for the most popular flavor. He came back with miele (which included bits of walnuts) and neither one of us were entirely sure about it. Like Alberto, it was creamy but not quite as soft. The wafer pirouette wasn’t quite as fresh as Alberto’s, but overall, it was tasty. Alberto’s freshness allowed me to easily dub him the winner of this Sunday morning challenge, but both are great buys.

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terre; gelato cornigliaP I N I T

  1. Gelato Alberto (Corniglia) – 2 euro, small cup, Nocciola (hazelnut) – Alberto’s gelato was soft and creamy with a subtle flavor that was not overpowering. The wafer was a nice (and delicious!) touch – fresh, flakey, and a strong taste of vanilla. I sat on the steps across the street and enjoyed watching children play.

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terre; gelato alberto cornigliaP I N I T

  1. Gelateria Vernazza (Vernazza) – 2.50 euro, small cone, Gandiolo (chocolate with nuts) and Nocciola (hazelnut) – I conducted two separate taste tests on two separate days before I was willing to admit that this was the best gelato in Cinque Terre. The rich chocolate flavor of the gandiolo was the perfect complement to the strong flavor of the nocciola. Neither were overly sweet but both included plenty of nut pieces, which provided a nice texture change against the creamy consistency of the gelato. The generous serving size lasted well into the fresh, brittle cone, and I spent the next day trying to figure out how to get back to Vernazza to enjoy another cone. The best thing about Gelateria Vernazza though? It’s open later than all the other gelaterias along the main street, so you’ll be able to get your fix when you decide you need another one.

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terre; gelateria vernazzaP I N I T

journey of doing - best gelato in cinque terre; gelato vernazzaP I N I T



For more Cinque Terre planning, tips and tricks:

cinque terre trip planning, best place to stay in cinque terre

making pesto in cinque terre, wine tasting tour in cinque terre

best gelato in cinque terrewhy you need to stay in cinque terre

For more Cinque Terre photos:

manarola cinque terre photos – 2016, riomaggiore cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

cinque terre hike photos – 2016, monterroso al mare cinque terre postcard photos – 2016

vernazza cinque terre photos – 2016

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Though we didn’t get home until late yesterday afternoon, it started to hit me Saturday that we would soon be back in the real world.  For two weeks, my husband and I focused on each other.  We didn’t worry (too much) about work, about nonsense, or anything else.  I surprised my husband with a driving tour (which I read about on Victoria’s blog), and though it turned out to be a little bit of a disaster on our end, it reminded me how this life was worth the wait.

journey of doing - Worth the WaitP I N I T

…in junior high, I always wanted to go on my school’s trip to France.  That wasn’t in the cards financially, so I had to wait until my junior year in college when my summer internship paid for my study abroad semester in Florence, Italy… worth the wait.

…not getting to attend my first choice college out of high school, spending my freshman year at Texas Tech, and transferring to University of Redlands, where I met all of my closest friends, got healthy, and realizing that I could be happy again… worth the wait.

…changing my major numerous times, settling on the most difficult major (for me), and struggling through every minute of it to get my Petroleum Engineering degreeworth the wait.

…my stepdad being willing to wait until I was ready for him to be a part of my life to be the best dad this girl could ask for… worth the wait.

…convincing my students to apply broadly to college and resist the urge to give up at first deferral or rejection… only to see them get into their dream schoolworth the wait.

…living in our tiny apartment to save money so we could buy our first home in the neighborhood where we wanted to live with a short commute… worth the wait.

…all the times when I thought no one would get me and that I wouldn’t get married, only to find the perfect person for me.  Who gets me.  Who understands me.  Who loves me despite my flaws and desperately tries to make me happy every. single. day… worth the wait.

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  • Biana - Everything good in life, is worth the wait!! I love that photo of you guys!! xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - It sounds like this trip was beyond perfect, and I can’t wait to hear all about it! It definitely sucks getting back into the real world after a fun trip though!ReplyCancel

  • cara - Aw I love this post so much! There are so many things in life that are definitely worth the wait. It makes you appreciate it that much more!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - I love that picture of you two. 🙂 I had some bad dating experiences before I met my husband, but everything was worth it.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Such an inspiring post! And an adorable picture! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Elizabeth - Yes! I’m so happy you’ve been able to reflect on all these moments in your life and shared them with us! What an inspiring way to start the week. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - All of those things…worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - This is such a lovely post, Sara! All the good things in life are worth the wait. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Elizabeth - A practice of patience for sure but worth it in the end! I love that capture girl.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Can we just talk about that picture?!? And love this. If I had gotten into my first choice college, I would have never ended up in Kalamazoo and met Nick! I always think about that!ReplyCancel

    • Morgan - I agree, that picture is so cute! Everything happens for a reason. When one door closes, there’s usually a better one opening.ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis - Lovely photo of the two of you! Some things are worth the wait even though it may seem painful at the time but it gives us good life lessons right?ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - This post made me smile, I love it. And that photo!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - That’s such a lovely photo of you! Sorry the driving tour was a bit of a disaster… but I’m glad it didn’t ruin things at all for you. Patience doesn’t come particularly easily to me but there are so many things that are worth the wait. I need to remind myself this!ReplyCancel

Last week was a whirlwind.  It ended with a Cinque Terre weekend though, so I’m not sure I’m allowed want to complain.

I don’t know how everything got done but somehow it did.  It always does, doesn’t it? Some crazytown stuff happened at one of my schools.  Ever seen Gossip Girl?  (It’s a guilty pleasure, don’t judge me.)  ANYWAY, yeah, that -ish is better left on TV.  Thankfully, it worked out but it blew my entire day on Wednesday.  I went to JLD WomenLEAD on Thursday evening.  Our girls did AMAZING and took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (that’s $30,000 in scholarships right there).   You can (and should) watch the videos on our Facebook page.  I stayed up way too late to finish the work that I should have done on Wednesday.  Friday morning, I got up at 5:00am to pack before meeting with one of my kiddos at 8:00 to finish her graduate school applications.  I spent the day with her before boarding a flight at 7:45 Friday evening.

journey of doing - cinque terre weekend - vernazzaP I N I T

Let the Cinque Terre Weekend Begin!

Two planes, two trains, and a hike later and we found ourselves in Manarola by Saturday evening.  Not to worry, my husband had already located the closest restaurant to our hotel and we had ourselves an enjoyable first meal around 9:30 that evening.

Yesterday, we woke up early and were out the door by 9:00am.  From Manarola to Cornigila to Vernazza to Manarola to Cornigila to Vernazza to Manarola to Vernazza and finally back to Manarola late last night.  (Did you catch all that?  lol)  Our train and hiking passes are being put to good use.

You’ll catch me in the vineyards today.  And, probably continuing my quest for the best gelato in the Cinque Terre along with adding a focaccia quest.  Follow me on the ‘gram for my latest adventures.

Linking up with B for weekending.  Have a fantastic week, mea amies!

journey of doing - cinque terre weekend - manarolaP I N I T

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  • Katie Elizabeth - Have so much fun!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Beautiful shot! You’ve been busy! I’m surprised you visited so many of the cities in one day! I can’t wait to hear about the “best gelato” you discover. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - Fabulous photos!


  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - It sounds like all the chaos was totally worth it for a weekend in Cinque Terre! All the hiking sounds fabulous, but the wine tasting sounds even better! I can’t wait to hear all about your trip!ReplyCancel

  • Biana - I hope your quest to find the best gelato was a fruitful one!! xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Kasie Chelanne - Talk about a whirlwind! I can’t believe you’re still standing after a weekend like that. I haven’t been to Cinque Terre yet but have heard such wonderful things!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - Have such a great time on your trip! Love all the pictures on IG! All that hiking sounds like so much fun (and tiring lol).ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - STUNNING! And girl totally not judging you for Gossip Girl… my daughter’s name is Serena 😉ReplyCancel

Thanks for hearing me out last week (and for encouraging me).  It felt good to just be honest in this little space of mine and own up to what was going on in my head.  Once I released those thoughts, things started to look up.

Time for a brief update, no?  Linking up with B for weekending.


We headed to Oklahoma on Wednesday afternoon for my brother-in-law’s change of command ceremony.  We headed to get parking passes as soon as we got into town, grabbed a quick dinner, and I made up for the 4 hours of sleep I got the night before.  Thursday was an early morning at the base, but it was great to celebrate such a joyous promotion.  I was obsessed with my dress, but the only picture anyone snapped of me was one where I was drinking from a water bottle… so #nopictures.  Sigh.  We got back to Dallas around 3:00 and headed back to work.

Yesterday morning, I decided that I wasn’t ready to go to Ohio this week, so I opted out of the trip.  I had a migraine on Saturday, so I didn’t think traveling was going to help.  I was able to get a lot of things done on Sunday morning (like booking our hotels for our trip that we leave for in FOUR DAYS), and I headed to the office yesterday afternoon.  I finished preparing our 2016 NSC data file and worked on some data that our consultants need.  I feel like I was able to be really productive.  It felt REALLY good.

I expect this week will be busy – and the last of the college decisions will trickle out.  It’s been a tough few weeks, and I just need to remember that we do a good job.  We’ll never save all the starfish, but we do make a difference to the ones that we’re able to save.

And then Friday night… I’m off to forget about a lot of things for a little while.  YAY!

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  • cara - Hoping you get to relax some next weekend! It sounds like you could really use some time off to re-charge. Congratulations to your brother-in-law, that’s awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - I’m so glad things are starting to look up for you, friend, and that you’re leaving for your trip in just four days! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear all about it.ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Hope this week goes better, and you can catch up on rest and no more headaches! Yay for Friday being about forgetting about all the things. Sending *hugs* <3ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Glad you were able to get a much-needed break before your 25 days on the road.

    I can’t believe you waited until 4 days before leaving to book your hotels! That’s one of the first things I book!

    I can’t wait to hear all about your busy April when you get back and see images of all that you did and the places you went! I’m so excited for you! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Friday is coming!!!! I’m so excited for you and for me to live vicariously through your pictures 😉ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Bradshaw - The starfish story is one of my favorites. I have it framed in my counseling office. I am sorry you have had a tough few weeks. I hope they get better for you and it looks brighter next week. 🙂 Chin up, buttercup!ReplyCancel