a thirteen hour road trip separates me from castelgrande, a little village in the southern italian region of basilicata. it's the place my dad grew up in. about a thousand inhabitants, mostly elder people. straying cats and dogs, fig trees, cherry trees, shabby facades, bricks held down by rocks, cars nearly falling apart, houses built on the hill, a lot of narrow alleyways. that's how you can picture it. but still, it does have its charm.

we usually visit once every two years, i just arrived back in switzerland on wednesday after being there for ten days. even though everything is so different to what i'm used to, the air, the atmosphere, the voices surrounding me as well as their loudness, i consider castelgrande to be my second home. because home isn't just the place you live in. it's a feeling, a sense of familiarity and belonging. 

i remember feeling slightly anxious the first few times we visited. i was nervous about meeting family members i hadn't seen in quite a while, probably also because at the time i didn't speak any italian at all, and it felt weird to wake up in a different house even though it's ours. now, i feel comfortable right away without needing any adjustment time.  

the days spent in castelgrande looked like this: waking up at around seven a.m., heading into the kitchen and finding my nonna who was already preparing food. speaking of food, there's always a lot of that involved, either eating at a relative's house or them bringing over fresh fruit and veggies from their garden. in return, they all receive swiss chocolate. if i wasn't eating or visiting people, i was either reading, writing or colouring. also, there was a mayoral election the night we arrived in castelgrande so i was able to vote there for the first time.

throughout the week i took some pictures to give you a bit of a better idea what the village looks like.


about three weeks ago, after seeing a video on why vegetarians should go vegan, i decided to fully commit to a vegan diet. i did more research and i knew that having the information i have now, i couldn't continue consuming animal products. still, even though in my heart i knew it was the right thing to do, i was in a bit of a dilemma. i didn't know how to communicate the changes i wanted to make to the people around me, to my parents, my family, and my friends.

knowing that quite a few people don't agree with veganism or have a general dislike for vegans and  having heard some of my family members make negative comments on the topic before didn't help. i was afraid of their reactions when telling them that i was going vegan. i was afraid of others suddenly seeing me in a different way, of them thinking i was just following a trend, and of being a burden when eating out or at someone else's place.

but i went for it anyway. and i'm so glad i did. here's what i learned:

if you're trying to please everyone around you, you'll never make the changes in your life you actually want to make. don't let the fear of people's judgement hold you back. i've definitely made that mistake before but i know i can't live my life constantly worrying about being criticised for what i'm doing. it's my life after all and i have the right to make my own decisions, whether others are going to agree with them or not.

assuming how others are going to respond to the changes you make is a bad idea. you can't predict their thoughts or reactions and most of the time the scenarios you imagine won't end up happening. turns out there was absolutely no reason for me to be afraid of telling people, my overthinking brain just made me believe there was one. so far i didn't really have to deal with any negative comments at all.

even though it's hard sometimes, you can't get frustrated if people don't agree with you. you'll have to accept opinions and mindsets that differ from yours. just like it wouldn't be fair if others suddenly saw me in a different way, it wouldn't be fair if i saw them in a different way either. not everyone is going to share my beliefs but no matter how frustrating it can be if someone doesn't understand where i'm coming from, i'll have to be okay with that. 


it's currently about 9:15 am, i can hear the birds chirping as i'm sitting next to the river, breathing in the fresh air and writing in my notebook. i'm in the most peaceful spot, one i didn't even know existed until a couple of weeks ago. it's just me, my thoughts, and nature.

i discovered this place when i went on a walk with my friend jess, simply because we took a path i've never really taken before. and it's not just this spot that's pretty damn beautiful, it's the entire walk. through fields, under trees, along the river.

isn't it funny that i've been living in this village for the past eighteen years of my life yet still haven't seen everything there is to see?

i used to think that discovering new places means travelling, which is partly true and something i hope i'll be able to do a lot of in my life, but you don't always have to go far to explore, you'll just have to take a different path than the one you usually take. 

if we're willing to look, we'll find beauty everywhere around us.


lately, i kept changing my mind on where i want to go with my blog and social media accounts. i've been distancing myself from content creating because after everything i posted, i found myself over analysing it, constantly questioning what i'm doing and contemplating what i should be doing, which was pretty frustrating. as a result, i ended up deleting many posts, my instagram account and my tweets. over and over again. 

i felt uninspired, i lost my motivation and my passion for blogging because i thought that i had to portray myself in a certain way to create some sort of online presence, while at the same time preaching that we don't have to label ourselves and that it's okay to be different things at once, while saying that the beautiful thing about creativity is that it's not about following certain rules, it's about making your own. 

now i realise that i don't want to be seen as the writer, the poet, or even the blogger. i simply want to be seen as sara. there are so many aspects that make me who i am, some of which i am still discovering, and i want to be able to express myself in different ways again. i enjoy sharing my thoughts, what's on my mind and what i've been up to. after all that's what sara's chapters was meant to be all about in the first place, i just forgot about it for a while. 

i'm done over analysing. i'm done being a perfectionist. you're more than welcome to join me on my journey and to bear with me as i try to learn to take my own advice.

this time, i really want to do things my way. i thought that's what i was already doing, but i'm not too sure about it anymore. so here's to a new beginning.