And Then I Turned 32

I think the good thing about having a birthday in the middle of January is the timing. The first week of the month, everyone is running around busy making resolutions and unintentionally motivating me not to make resolutions because I see them eating a box of donuts only thirty minutes after declaring a New Years sugar cleanse. I resolve to resolve to do nothing, ticking off that New Years box feeling like I got away with cheated the system.

But then, by the time my birthday rolls around, I realize that my pesky subconscious has been plotting against me all along and that I actually want to do good things for myself. And just to clarify, while drinking coffee is indeed a beautiful – nay, scrumptrulescent – thing and it makes me a better human on a daily basis, I can’t convince my tricky subconscious that drinking more of it gets to be counted as a real resolution and goal. The ol’ heart and soul of Emily tells me to desecrate my comfort zone and make myself a better human in real ways that I can’t purchase at the store on discount. That’s the thing about growing up: one day you wake up and you realize that the person who holds you most accountable is none other than yourself.

It’s scary, but it’s freeing.

So I find myself turning 32 today and I feel a lot like I did when I turned 29. That year, we were living in Korea but knew we would be leaving only two short months later. We knew we were going to have to launch into a job search the moment we returned to the United States, and we didn’t know where we’d see the year out. We knew we wanted to try for a baby that year. I knew I wanted those things for myself and B, but for all the careful planning and hard work we put into creating the life we wanted for ourselves that year, we never knew whether they’d come to us.

And that’s life, really. For all that you plan and prepare for, you never know what you’re going to end up with.

And yes, I am well-aware that I basically just paraphrased Forrest Gump. Pearls of wisdom on The Waiting here today.

I never knew for certain what would happen to us that year, but I knew I had no alternative but to approach any situation we found ourselves in with bravery mixed with faith in the unseen. Those were the only things I could take with me. For my birthday resolution that year, Bravery made a pact with my body, my core, quite without me asking it to. As we find ourselves in a similar situation this year, not knowing where we will see the year out, I am calling on that reserve of faith and fierce determination to be the best possible me this year – my 32nd year – again.

Just be brave. Just be better.

I was talking to my mom tonight (or last night, really, since I schedule these posts) and she was telling me about when she labored with me the night I was born. It made me remember when C was born. The night she came, she burst forth cold and crying into a world that was made for her but completely foreign to her at the same time. (I love me some dualities.) She cried and was uncomfortable, but she breathed the air and it made her vital. She followed her instincts to start nursing, and just by doing exactly what she knew she needed to do to survive, she made her way into the world. By my mom’s account, I behaved the exact same way the night I was born.

There’s a lot one-minute-old Emily has in common with 32-year-old Emily. The cold and the unknown will bring out the best in us. That’s where courage and faith thrive.


  1. Happy birthday and best wishes on a bright future!

    1. Thanks, Don! I ‘preciate it!

  2. Happy Birthday, sweet Emily! You are a gift to all of us who know you. <3

    1. So true, you are our gift! Happy, HAPPY Birthday, Emily!!

      1. Thank you, Judah! Such a kind thing to say. I appreciate your kind words!

        1. And I appreciate all your “bloggy” words. :)

    2. As are you, sweet Ruby. As are you :)

  3. NotAPunkRocker · · Reply

    Happy birthday, Emily!

    1. Thank you!!!!! ;D

  4. Teresa P. · · Reply

    And you do have faith and courage. Love you, Mom

    1. Love you too, o instiller of faith and courage :D

  5. I firmly believe good things happen to good people. And to people who write amazing parallel metaphors about adorable babies in blog posts. Happy Birthday, friend! May you have a fantastic day today. I’m so, so, so thankful we were brought together, because you make me smile. (And tell Cee I’m checkin’ in on her behavior. I wasn’t kidding when I told her she needs to be an angel today.)

    1. I really need to write something about her behavior on my birthday. I hate to tell you this but she did not take heed of your words from the previous day. It’s a good thing I adore her. And you. I adore you too ;D

      1. Oh no. Tell Miss Cee she will be on the receiving end of a very stern look from me next time we skype. Who am I kidding? She’s adorable. I won’t have it in me :)

  6. Happy Birthday!

  7. That was a beautiful post. Happy birthday!

    1. Thank you so much, Janie!

  8. Happy Birthday and good luck. Things will work out, I’m sure of it.

    1. Thanks, BroJo. That means a lot coming from you.

  9. Happy Birthday, Emily! Love the mantras, “Just be brave. Just be better.” They are worth adopting no matter what your age (halfway through 35 for example).

    1. Thanks, Rach! I am becoming more and more convinced that I’m onto something with the whole bravery thing. It’s never let me down. Thank you for your kind words.

  10. Happy Birthday Emily! It’s like a breath of fresh air visiting here. Thirty-two–oh the places you’ll go!

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday and though really, every day is a gift and life always holds uncertainty, it sounds as if you enjoy life to the fullest. I think really that’s the most important thing and when we allow ourselves to do so, it’s pretty cool where it leads us. And Forrest Gump is a fine character to quote btw. Woo-hoo! It’s your birthday. (party horns blowing).

    1. And it is a breath of fresh air to see your face here too, Brig! Thank you so much for your birthday wishes. I had an interesting one – not one that I particularly expected – but I’m trusting in my newfound positive mindset to mine the day for some sort of lesson.

  11. merbear74 · · Reply

    Forrest Gump is wise. Happy Birthday!

    1. I agree, Merbear! Thank you!

  12. Happy birthday! I hope you do in fact indulge in something that makes your day special.

    1. We ordered pizza which we do incredibly rarely. We even ate Pop Tarts in – gasp – the middle of the day! It’s the little things ;D

  13. My Muted Voice · · Reply

    Wow if I couldn’t relate to this post! After this big move to Germany last year, not knowing where the road will lead, only to now be coming up on our anniversary and still not sure where we are going! But that’s how I do it, faith and bravery. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”~MLK, jr

    Happy birthday Emily!

    1. I know that you know what I’m talking about, Deanna! I love that quote too. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes! Side note: have you written anything about celebrating birthdays in Germany? I know I would LOVE to hear about it.

  14. Happy birthday, 32 year old Emily!
    Your baby couldn’t have a better example as she goes through life.

    1. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably tell you that she is climbing on the coffee table and watching TV while I answer these comments. I may not be the best example but at least I love her. Thanks for your always kind words, Guap. You are a shining light.

  15. Happy Birthday Vibrant Being! And rejoice in NATIONAL DO NOTHING DAY!

    1. Wahoo! I am going to put “Vibrant Being” on my business cards. (And yes, I have business cards with my URL on them. I think the words you’re looking for are “Mrs. Takes Herself Too Seriously.” ;))

      1. Or “Adorable as all get-out!”

  16. Happy Birthday!! Hope it’s a beautiful one! And, if you’re job seeking, I hear Salt Lake City is pretty nice. ;)

    1. Hey, if you know of any job openings in education, please let us know! We want to leave no stones unturned. Thanks, Meredith ;D

  17. Have the happiest of days!

    1. Thank you, my friend! It was a pretty great one. One that I didn’t expect, but a great one nonetheless.

  18. wow. happy birthday, and all the best :)

    1. Thank you! I appreciate it!

  19. I love this post Emily…and not just because I had a Krispy Kreme doughnut in my mouth, right at the beginning where you’re talking about doughnuts, (truth, and you know how I look for coincidences), but also the strong dosage of introspection here. You will find that introspection and the ability to look in on yourself and then to tell yourself to be brave, be better will take you oh so, so far in life! We’ve made so many life course changes in our 35 years of marriage….it’s quite a fantastic gift we’ve been given – life. I am envious of you, you young 32 year old. Ah, to go do it all over again….what fun! I’m anxious to read the post for 1/16/2015 to see where you landed!

    1. I love that you always look for those little coincidences in things, Rob. That’s what makes life so much more interesting. Thank you for your vote of confidence. I am also curious about what the birthday post for 2015 will bring.

  20. You’re a very intelligent woman and I have no doubt that you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way. Good luck with everything, Em, and if you need a place to vent you know where to find me.

    Happy birthday, my friend.

    1. Thank you so much, TD. Have I told you lately that you’re great? You inspire me in so many ways and I’m grateful for blogging because through it I have gotten to know you.

      1. Awwww…shucks. You’re too kind. Seriously, though, you got this.

  21. Loved reading this. :) Happy Birthday to you! Wish you lots of fun and happiness today!

    1. Thank you, Tahira! It was a pretty interesting day! ;D

  22. So, true. No sense in worrying. I hope you have a happy birthday!

    1. Thank you! It was a very interesting birthday, which I think, is par for the course when you have a toddler. You never know what you’re going to get with them. And there I go quoting Forrest Gump again. Geez.

  23. Happy Birthday Mama! I love that last sentence!

    1. Awwww Auntie Sandee. I love seeing your face :D

  24. Happy happy birthday! Birthdays with toddlers should always include long naps for both of you, a bath, and alcohol. Birthdays with toddlers should never include tantrums or cooking. I hope both of your roommates are aware of these rules.

    1. There was no cooking, but there were tantrums. One out of two ain’t bad, though. That’s what I keep telling myself.

  25. Happy Birthday Emily! I hope that you’re having a wonderful day and 32 will prove to be a wonderful year for you with B and Cee, and for us, your audience, one full of more spot on writing.

    1. Thank you, V! It was a pretty fun day full of unhealthy eating and unabashed TV watching. NO guilt.

  26. Happy, happy birthday!
    All the luck and good things in the world for you this year. I’m in the middle of dealing with my own leap of faith, and man…it’s hard.

    1. It is hard. But we so got this. *Fist bump.*

        1. I guess you now know what I originally typed, thanks to the Twitter.

  27. Deep stuff here on the blog today! Love it! Happy birthday miss Em. I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by the people that love you. Everything will turn out okay (and the way that it’s supposed to turn out)–we just have to take the steps to get there.

    1. Depth abounds! I’ll be back to talking about how much I hate Elmo soon. Don’t worry ;D Thanks, Lils.

  28. Happiest of Birthdays to you, Emily! “Just be better.” Excellent advice.

    1. Thank you, Rachel! We can always be a little better.

  29. Happy birthday, my friend! We are only a few months apart! Cheers!

    1. Wahoo! Early-thirties unite!

  30. I turn 32 next month and definitely had the head nod going on while reading this one. Good stuff. Happy Birthday. I hope you “went” big…I love me some birthdays.

    1. We kind of went moderately large. But we have a three-day weekend coming up so there’s still time for big fun ;D Thanks, T.

  31. Happy Birthday!! Love the mantra – I’m totally stealing it :)

    1. Thanks, Daile! Steal away!

  32. I already wished you a Happy Birthday and I don’t want it to cancel it out if I wish you another one so I have nothing to add.

    1. You are my favorite.

  33. hope it’s been a lovely birthday blogger friend! :)

    1. It has been! Thanks, Steph!

  34. :) This was beautiful. I love your mantra and the reasoning behind it. Happy birthday (again, but still, yay!)! :)

    1. Thanks, Rara! I am just now remembering that mantras are good. They help me stay accountable to myself.

  35. Happy birthday! Being brave is a beautiful thing.

    1. YOU are beautiful and brave!

  36. Happy happy birthday! I think you’re already great, and already brave…but there’s nothing wrong with being BETTER and BRAVER. I think we can all aspire to that!

    I have no’ll achieve it, and I’ll be here cheering you on!

    1. You are absolutely amazing and a continuous source of inspiration for me, Amy. Thank you so much for your sweet words.

  37. Lovely post. Happy birthday!!

    1. Thanks, Maddie!

  38. Wow, that last paragraph was a one-two philosophical punch – thanks, I needed that! And happy, happy birthday! (and many more…):D Thank the good Lord that if life is a box of chocolates, at least it’s CHOCOLATE.

    1. Now, YOUR last sentence was a one-two punch too! Love that! Thanks, SSM!

  39. My birthday is jan 6. I cannot possibly tell you how many present I’ve missed out on in my life. I can’t. Because I haven’t gotten any.

    1. It is such a bummer, right?! And I bet you haven’t even regained your appetite to pig out either!

  40. Happy Birthday, Emily :) Also, this: “The cold and the unknown will bring out the best in us.” So incredibly true.

    1. Thanks, Aussa! It’s scary, but it’s true. Maybe that’s why I’m taking my daughter to see a grown person dressed up as Curious George today. *Shudders.*

      1. One does have to wonder what career path leads to such a gig…

        1. The poor guy probably has a PhD in philosophy.

          1. Hahahaha!!!! So relevant. That was my first degree path ;)

            1. After I finished my masters, I worked at the Gap.

  41. Wow, those last two paragraphs are some of the best ones I’ve read in a blog post. Like ever. Wish I read this yesterday. Happy belated birthday, friend! :-)

    1. Thank you, Katia! Thank you so much for saying that! I don’t know about you, but I always struggle with how I’m going to end these posts. I feel like I need to go out with a bang and get to the marrow of things.

      1. Oh, endings are sons of bitches. Hate them. Always so anticlimactic or forced. This one was perfect.

  42. I love that you talked to your mom about your delivery, on your birthday. I love that you have faith that this will all work out (it will). I love that I know you. It makes so many things much more fun and bearable. Way to go Emily! xo

    1. For as far back as I remember, she has always told me the story of my birth on my birthday. How I was almost born in a Volvo as they raced on icy streets to get to the hospital on time. How the doctor was unpleasant but it didn’t matter because I came. How my parents looked at each other once I was asleep and mused over how they would ALWAYS know me. It is an extremely special tradition for us, Dawn, and one that I look forward to every year because it reminds me that I am my mom’s baby and that she knows and loves me in a way that no one else ever will. Thank you for your birthday wishes! It was a great one, and the festivities continue over this long weekend!

      1. SO beautiful and moving, Emily. You should have added that to your post! We too often forget that, about our moms… once we are mothers and/ or adults: we were once, and will always be, their babies. As much as we love our own children and remember the details of their birth, so do the women who birthed us. Just lovely!

  43. I love this post! I don’t know what all those other people said bc I am old and can’t read all those comments. What I do know is that we never know what is around the corner, so all we can do is be brave and go forward, just like you! Happy Birthday!

  44. I saw you had 99 comments and a bitch ain’t one so I’m leaving the 100th. I hope there was a mystery prize involved.

    1. Ding ding ding! Now I have an excuse to send you a prize :D I’ll have to look around for something. Do you have a coffee grinder? I have about a million bags of whole bean coffee that I bought on sale last week.

      1. No unfortunately I don’t. I could always rub them between my butt and the wall though…that might work?

        1. It would at least be an excellent exfoliater.

  45. 32-year-old Emily is a peach!
    She’s one of my favorite bloggers. Her heart is bursting with generosity, compassion and genuine talent.
    Happy Birthday, E!

    1. You are way too kind, Hookster! Thank you so much for your continual support and encouragement!

  46. “The cold and the unknown will bring out the best in us. That’s where courage and faith thrive.” That, right there, is lovely.

    Happy birthday, Emily. I’m shooting up rockets of wishes that your 32nd year is wonderful.

    1. Thank you, Peg! It’s been pretty great so far. My husband got me my favorite kind of Pop Tarts. I think the word you’re looking for is “classy.”

  47. Love this. Thank you for sharing! And Happy Birthday!

  48. […] auspicious feel to it; I knew good things were on the horizon. I didn’t know what they were, but I knew that changes were coming. They would be what I made of them, and I was ready to make good of […]

  49. […] I usually write thoughtful, pensive blog posts on my birthday. If you’d like to be inspired by my *cough* profundity, you can read them here, here, and here. […]

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