On Turning 30

The husband turned 30 gracefully (men, am I right?) and without complaint.

I, however, spent the last month painstakingly counting down the last days of my 20s, as if on March 31 I would wake up an entirely different person. Last month of my 20s! 10 days left of my 20s! This time next week I’ll be 30! I’m so old. That rigmarole.

Today, I woke up as a 30 year old. The husband hugged me goodbye and called me the Birthday Girl, and then I threw on my Alabama hoodie, washed my face, and yanked on some pants. I let my dogs out. I drank a cup of coffee and watched them play in our front yard of the house we own. I put away some dishes, told the pups goodbye, and I got in my reliable car and drove to work.

As I was driving, I suddenly felt very calm about turning 30.

I’m not sure if it was my morning routine that did it, or that I was chatting with the sister on the phone, or that I had about 20 text messages already wishing me a Happy Birthday…. but I felt the anxiety slowly leak out of me. (For now… let’s be honest… it always comes back.)

30 seems like a big milestone because it is a big milestone. Especially when you’ve lost people along the way, people that never saw 30, or people who you’d love to get advice from about being 30, but they’ve passed on, too.

Whenever my birthday pops up I think of everyone who isn’t here anymore. It makes me uncharacteristically emotional. (My boss brought me cake pops and a Diet Coke this morning and I got choked up over it.) It’s actually only been since DJ died that I’ve done this — every year I get that he didn’t get takes away another tiny piece of my heart. I text his mom and (unfairly) lay my sadness on her and she makes me feel better. “Grief is a bitch!”  We agree on this sentiment.

Anyway, I spent this last month thinking about all the people I’ve been leading up to 30 – a rebel (so it seemed to me at the time), a bad-decision-maker, a bitch (still that, though), a selfish friend (sorry everyone that I’m so flaky and unreliable, I still love all of you), a heavy drinker (thanks, Statesboro), a bitter whiner (your family texts me on my birthday but you don’t…cool, dad)… and I wondered if all the good things I try to do now outweigh the bad.

I hope they do. All those people I was (and kind of still am) just mush together to make me…me. When I turned 20, I had zero respect for me. Turning 30… I think I’m pretty kickass.

Turns out I’ve got a real drive to help animals. I’m always open to donate to charities that benefit foster kids. I’m not as conservative as I once thought. I can run a 10K. I can set a goal and follow through. My best friends are my family, and I’m fine with that. I wrote a book (I mean, I’m not saying it’s good, but I did write it). I’d drop everything and do anything for the husband, who has the patience of a saint to deal with an anxious lunatic like me. My nieces and nephews bring my so much joy. (So do my dogs, obviously.) I take pride in my work. I’m more outspoken and steadfast in my opinions.

20-something me… 20-something me would never have been able to list anything positive about myself. 30 year old me is much more confident. Much more self-aware. Much more… happy.

None of this is mind blowing revolutionary writing. I know this.

But I think the point is that no matter what you’re doing, if you’re turning 30 or 50 or 22 or 86, if you’re actively working to be a better person and make the world a better place, I think you’re doing it right. All the ‘Do This Before You Turn ___ Age’ articles or all the posts from your friends about how their way of living is the best way… that’s all nonsense. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your life choices are less than theirs because you settled down, or you bought a house, or you don’t party until 3am anymore.

Just let yourself…. become yourself. And when you hit the next age milestone don’t let yourself down. Be better.

I spent 30 years semi-figuring out who I am, and I plan on spending the next 30 leaving a positive mark on this world using what I’ve got. You only get so many days. Do something meaningful while you can.

As always, I am forever grateful to the people who love me no matter what, and who have stuck with me through my 20s so that I can kill it in my 30s. I love you all.

Happy 30th Birthday to me! 30


So, You’re 28.


I’ve had some traumatic birthdays in the past — that’s for sure. (Okay, maybe just the one.) Trauma aside, let me admit something.

I didn’t feel really excited about my birthday this year.

I guess I just wasn’t really feeling anything about my birthday this year. It was just a day that was going to happen. I didn’t feel like 28 merited any sort of special recognition. I’m just older than I was, and that’s that.

Also, you know, 28 seemed a teensy bit scary.

Once I’m 28, I’m looking at 30, and it’s looking right back at me. Like really close to me. Like all in my personal space.

As the day approached, I started to get bogged down with of all the things I should have done by 28…. written a book, traveled to Greece, bought a new car. I started thinking about how as you get older you just shrug off your birthday because you no longer partake in superhero or Ninja Turtle or Barbie parties.

You no longer ride around with your friends in high school blasting Blink182 and The Starting Line and have everyone sing happy birthday to you.

After you leave college, there are no giant raging parties (for me at least) where you only sort of remember what happened but you’re pretty sure you had 4 too many Lemon Drop shots.

You just kind of wake up, you’re older, you go to work, and then you go to sleep that night and then that’s it.

You’ve had a birthday.

Honestly, I have no qualms with this setup. In fact, I do believe that I picture my birthday this way because it’s what I like. I’m not a social butterfly at all. I definitely prefer to stay in my cocoon.

In retrospect, it appears I did feel something about 28.  I felt apprehensive. I’m closer to 30, I’m not published, I haven’t traveled that much, I haven’t found a way to eat a whole large pizza without gaining weight….

But then.

But then, the boyfriend proposed to me and became the fiancee. So I turned 28 as an engaged lady.

But then, to celebrate my birthday, I had dinner at the mom’s house with the siblings and the fiancee and the brother’s roommate and the nephews where I laughed the entire time.

But then, on my actual birthday, the fiancee made me breakfast and coffee and told me happy birthday every 5 minutes and sent cake emoticons through our chat while we were at work.

But then, the boss brought me 6 of my most favorite cupcakes in the world and placed them on my desk.

But then, I got to eat the best Chinese food on the planet.

But then, all the people I love and miss (even though I’m flaky, and even though I’m bad at maintaining friendships) sent me messages wishing me a happy birthday.

Silly me.

It’s not your birthday that’s the big deal! It’s not turning 21 or 28 or 30 or whatever number comes next.

It’s the people that make the day so special. It’s the people that love you and make you laugh and make you feel special, even if you aren’t a well-renowned author and even if you haven’t gone back to Spain yet. It’s the people. Your people.

True, your people aren’t just your people on your birthday. But your people will make your birthday a birthday worth having.

I had forgotten this, somehow, in the past year. But 28 reminded me.

So, you’re 28. (Or 30 or 15 or 45.) Don’t feel apprehensive or apathetic or bothered.

 Don’t think about the parties of yesteryear or how quickly time goes by.

Take a look around at the company you’re keeping. If you don’t immediately feel compelled to write cheesy blog posts expressing how incredible the people in your life are, then you need to switch it up.

28. I’ve got my people. I’m ready for you.


The Cake Incident

Disclaimer: I have an incredible memory. Like, really. So this is what happened and how it happened. Really.


While I was growing-up my family lived about 5+ hours away from my grandparents when we were younger, so visiting them was a  treat. A cause for extreme excitement.

One particular birthday, I do believe it was my 5th, I got the amazing gift of riding in the car with my mom and siblings, over the river and through the woods, to my grandparent’s house.

Guys, it was the best house. Complete with:a giant backyard and a place to make s’mores with my grandad and a creek and a room where we played office and a basement with a piano. And sometimes my cousins were there. And my aunts were there.

I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to get there and have my birthday party and get lots of presents and eat cake and run around and be spoiled. Life as a kid, am I right?

We were nearing my grandparent’s house when my mom got a phone call and stated something along the lines of, “No, I’ve got it, she doesn’t know.”

I remember asking her what she was talking about, but she hedged my question, so I imagine I went back to daydreaming about toys and cakes and ice cream. I suspected nothing.

We finally pulled into the driveway and then… I guess we unpacked the car and played while all the grown-ups talked. I’m not sure. This isn’t the good part, which is lucky, because I don’t really remember it.

Anyway, some undetermined amount of time passed. Then: PARTY TIME.

The party location was the back porch of the house, also very large, and also dangerous because if you walked on it without shoes on you would get splinters.

I stepped onto the porch to see a table with a cake on it and, guys, I sincerely love cake, because I sincerely love icing. I can eat an entire thing of icing. I guess I lack the taste buds or stomach or whatever to understand what people mean when they push a plate of something half-eaten away and groan, “I’m so full; that’s so rich”. Is rich a synonym for delicious? Because I ate the whole thing. And now I’ll finish yours.

(I don’t eat entire containers of icing — super bad for you. But I’m just saying, I can do that. Not that I have before. Except that I have before. Funfetti is the best.)

Back to the cake. The cake looked glorious, covered with white icing with those big poofs of tastiness all around the edges. Plates, napkins, forks, and a large butcher knife surrounded the cake. Perfect set-up. Best day ever. Best birthday ever.

My mom excitedly told me that since I was older, I could cut my own cake. With the giant butcher knife. (Does this seem weird? Because, at the time, it didn’t to me.) I was going to cut myself the biggest piece of cake that anyone had ever eaten and put my entire face in it.

I grabbed the knife (Did I mention it was a large butcher knife?  Because it was.) and tried to cut the cake. It wouldn’t cut. I was pressing down so hard and I couldn’t slice my cake and I wanted to eat my cake and it wasn’t working. I looked up, feeling confused.

My mom suggested that I hold the knife like a dagger. (Seem weird yet? I mean, honestly.) So I grasped the knife in my fist, gathered all my strength, and shoved it down onto the cake.

The cake exploded. It exploded everywhere, and the cake was ruined, and I ruined it by cutting it like I was stabbing something. Everyone was laughing and there was.. water? Yes, water all over my cake and I was holding a knife by my side, dripping with watery white icing, looking at the mess and wondering why.

Everyone kept laughing and looking really joyful and slapping their knees. When she caught her breath, my mom told me the awful truth: the cake was made of water balloons, covered in icing.

Water balloons. In icing.

I began crying, then, looking at the cake I would never eat. Did I feel embrassed? No. Confused? Not anymore. Sad? YES. Sad, because all I wanted was to cut into that cake with my plastic fork and shove it into my mouth as quickly as possible, and now my cake was ruined.

LUCKILY, there was  backup cake ready and waiting to be devoured. So, the day wasn’t ruined and I got to eat cake and open presents and run around and be spoiled. I’ve told this story multiple times, and my mom has since said that perhaps I was too young for the water balloon cake prank. She also assured me that I was in no danger while cutting the water balloon cake.

Perhaps I was too young, but if i know one thing, I know it for certain: I will definitely make a nice water balloon cake for my nephews. On their 10th birthday.


This isn’t me (actually, I have no idea who these people are, thanks for the video…) but this is a pretty accurate representation of what happened to me. Minus the crying. I definitely cried.