Another Year, Another Letter

Dear Self:

Today you turn 37 and if the days and weeks leading up to today are any indication, this might be a difficult day for you. Turning 35 was hard for you, and last year was a bit of reprieve from that negative birthday emotion. Not sure why it’s back with a vengeance this year, but since it is, you’ll get through it.

Admittedly, it’s been quite a year.

Last night in the car, your iPod shuffle played a song that reminded you of a friend from high school and you started crying. You were driving in the rain, eyes wet with tears and this sad country song playing in the background. Self: You should know to just move on to the next song when it’s raining and country comes on. But this song made you cry and made you reflect and sometimes that’s okay, but sometimes I think it’s time to pause on the reflection and just keep moving one foot in front of the other.

This was 36

This was 36.

Looking back on all of the ways that this year was a difficult one won’t help anything. It was sad to get a birthday card from grandma, and see grandpa’s name on the return address label. Losing him little by little over the course of this year was heartbreaking, awful. And time hasn’t made it any less heartbreaking and any less awful.

The job stress, the job search, the unemployment stuff, yeah… 36 was made to test you somehow, to show you what you’re made of and maybe you didn’t entirely like what you saw: that you’re softer than you thought, that you need help more than you’d ever have been willing to admit, that you are not made of steel. And all of that’s okay. You don’t have to be strong all the time, and maybe when all is said and done, you’ll be stronger because of it.

Maybe not.

That’s not for you to know right now.

And so I know it makes it harder right now. Having this birthday in the midst of a lot of uncertainty in your life, but don’t forget:

You are loved. You are cared about. You have people in your corner who want good things for you.

There is hair dye to cover up those grays.

And when you get a good job again, you can buy expensive lotion to make your eye wrinkles look less wrinkly.

This wasn’t just a year of sadness and stress, and I know that you don’t forget that there was a lot of joy to be found in your year. New beginnings. Love. Glasses of wine (I think you’d appreciate that I typed “whine” first). Copious amounts of tacos. Hugs. Coffee on the porch. Another 39.3. Your kids are beautiful and they’re doing well in all their stuff, and they adore you and your house is a lovely girl house where everything just kind of works now (by “everything” I mean the people. The appliances don’t all work. Let’s not talk about that right now. Oooh, look. Squirrel). Hours of HGTV watched and the knowledge that you don’t have a master bathroom, YOU HAVE AN EN SUITE (and that, as you know is clearly important, right up there with having an open concept). Photographs taken. A roof over your head – a roof that YOU are keeping over your head. You’re doing it. YOU ARE.

You might have realized this year that sometimes you need a little help but you know what? You’re still pretty badass. Sort of.

Last night, you started baking your birthday cake only to be joined by The Princess who didn’t want you to make your own cake. The two of you baked and sang and laughed. She talked about her school musical and you sang her the solo you sang your senior year of high school – singing “Danny Boy” standing next to the KitchenAid as the lemon pound cake batter whirled to perfection.

Your 36th year was filled with countless moments like that. And you can focus on the stresses – those are the huge pink elephants in the room – hard not to see them. But it is these moments that you will look back on. When the stress is a memory that you’ll look back at, it will barely register with you to remember the times you struggled so hard. Let’s hope.

It will always be those moments singing in the kitchen. Taking a Friday picture after doughnuts. The way the dog sniffs everyone’s hair after it’s just been washed, like he can’t get enough of the scent, he rubs his face repeatedly in your hair, and it makes everyone laugh so much. Messages with the kissy face emoji. Sunsets in the middle of nowhere because you needed peace and he brought you to peace. Savoring slices of deep dish Chicago pizza after walking a marathon and a half. Gougere on a Sunday morning.

Those are the things that matter. Those moments.

I get it, life is scary. You have no idea where you’re going and what you’re doing.

But… you’re not alone.

It’s your birthday. But you’ve reflected enough.

Stop reflecting.

Enjoy it. Embrace your day. Embrace your life.

AARP isn’t calling you yet. You’re not that old.

As Pumpkin said, “You’re not old! Stop lying! If you’re going to lie, lie about something that’s…true!” {And kids are brutally honest – if she thought you were old, you better believe she’d let you know}

Find the joy in the fact that you are here, you are healthy, and celebrate your day.

Seek joy.

Make 37 amazing.



About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. Have a very happy birthday Sarah. The best is yet to come.


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