Today, I turn 37. Keep in mind, I thought I turned 37 last year, so this extra year is just frosting on my birthday cake. I used to write really feely blog posts on my birthday, so–in the spirit of being young–I’m going to write a really feely blog post. I have an hour before my in-laws pick us up for dinner though, so I’ll make this quick. In keeping it quick, I’m not going to fuss about flow or transitions, so c’mon…I’ll take you on a tour of my random, spiraling brain. It’ll be fun. Also, there’s no time for pictures in this post but I did take a selfie in my bedroom yesterday and cropped the part of the wall that’s half-painted (for like, a year). So here–a birthday picture for my rambling 37th birthday post.

 photo birthday_zpsgrp4w0xm.jpg

On my birthday in 2009, I wrote the following:

It’s taken me awhile to grasp it all, but I have finally arrived at the grown-up place of life is what you make it and there are lots of things in life we go through that aren’t comfortable or ideal, but they could be so incredibly worse, and a simple life of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger more beautiful versions of ourselves…I have been reminded so much these past couple weeks of just how wonderfully blessed we are and the older I get, the more I embrace change as opportunity to learn just what I am capable of. –

Perhaps I (have) been planted for too long and (a) little bit of discomfort will challenge me, in my thirty-first year, to push myself more toward new chapters in the story of our life. 

Three weeks after I wrote that, Nella was born–little did we know she had Down syndrome. I seem to have a knack at self-fulfilling prophecy posts, so let’s try this one:

Perhaps it’s time, in my 38th year, for a family vacation to Italy. 

Earlier this month, this blog celebrated its 8 year birthday. One of the great things about blogging that long is that it gives you such sweet documentation of change. I read those old posts now and miss those old days, that old me, that old writing.

Occasionally I will hear this: “This blog isn’t what it used to be.” “You’ve changed.” “I miss the way you used to write. Unfollowing.”

And I have this to say: Over the course of my life and all the years one knows me, please, Dear God, don’t let anyone ever say “she never changed.” If I’m remembered for anything, do not let it be for stagnancy. Let me change, let me fall and get up, let me figure things out messily, beautifully, with mistakes, but let me move and flow with the currents of change. Life is changing. In fact, I found Brett in the living room today with his toolbox, disassembling the crib.

“Seriously? Today?” I asked. “You’re going to disassemble 9 years of baby-rearing memories in front of my face on my birthday with no warning?”

The corner that crib took up just opened up a brand new space though. More room to move and grow and play and change. I have both sweet memories of what that space has been for the past several years and dreams for what it will be.

Things are shifting into another phase of life. Or as my brother bluntly put it this morning on the phone: “Happy birthday, Kas. We’re all going to the dogs, aren’t we?”

For any birthday, for all seasons of change, for all the good and bad and crazy, here’s what I visualize: I’m in a convertible–red, vintage 1971 Mercedes if you must know. There’s a stretch of country road in front of me as far as the eye can see and blue sky above. I don’t exactly know where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, but the car is moving and I’m in the back seat, standing up–a little dangerous–arms outstretched, chest to the wind, eyes closed and hair blowing. I’m smiling and I’m in the moment, and I’m trusting that we’ll end up somewhere we’re supposed to be. (Also, I’m wearing a linen dress, no bra, and Devotchka is blaring, but let’s not Hollywoodize this too much)

I saw the movie Joy yesterday and absolutely loved it. (Go, go, go, get in your car, get extra butter on your popcorn, wear your pajamas to the theater, go see it tonight!) There was a quote that stayed with me: “…when you realize the only thing you’re ever going to have is what you make.”

That’s my birthday anthem. That’s my change anthem. You don’t own your family or their feelings or your circumstances. You can’t guarantee your health, you can’t lock in your youth. But you do always have the power to make. Choices, changes, happiness, comebacks, words, songs, love, amends, space, someone else’s day, beautiful things. I love to think about what I’m going to make this next year.

And with all this change, if it’s of any consolation, the way I write a birthday post doesn’t change. With a beer. And a candle. And music (this song). Music that makes me stop typing and put my hands in the air and feel it every few minutes. And when I’m done typing this, I’ll open the door and yell for my kids and we will dance a little bit crazy. Because we like to make….noise.

Want some dancing in your kitchen birthday songs? Here.

Passion Pit–Manners
The Temper Trap–Fools
Arcade Fire–Wake Up
Young Folks–Peter Bjorn and John
Coconut Records–Nighttiming

What are you going to make this year?


Leave a Comment
  1. 👊🏻

    Happy, happy birthday to you.

    I also turned 37 for the second time this year. Seriously, I thought I was already 37. Maybe it’s the number? It was like a little bonus gift…an extra year!

    I just felt like I needed to cyber fist bump you for these words, all of them. Yes, and yes, and also yes.

    Celebrate well!

  2. Happy Birthday! Thank you for this beautiful piece. Loved it! A keeper for sure. Enjoy your day!

  3. Happy birthday, Kelle! It’s always great to get an extra year. I do just the same thing. I’m going to be … in July. I never live the year I’m in. 😉

  4. Kelle-37 looks so freaking awesome on you! Your posts make me want to drop everything & sit in front of my computer & try to unravel the tangled string of thoughts floating through my head as eloquently as you do. You inspire, teach, entertain & by sharing your journey with us so honestly you force us to take a hard look at our own journeys. Sometimes I miss the old you, the way you used to write & especially, your big, bright, beautiful smile, the one where your nose crinkles & your eyes tear. Add some of that to you selfie list next year. Wishing you only health, happiness, peace & love, now & always.
    With love,

  5. Happy Birthday, Kelle!! I turned 37 one week ago. I hear ya sister! Embrace that change, and cry over the crib. Rough one on your birthday! :) Maggie

  6. Happy Birthday! I love your blog.

  7. Happy birthday, Kelle. That is a gorgeous picture!

  8. I just quit my job. Tomorrow is my last day. I quit my job to focus on my writing and on my ideas and I’m terrified.
    And electrified.

    And did I say terrified?

    This is my 32nd year and it feels too late to start something new but it feels too early to give up. So I’m starting something new.

    Thank you for asking what I’m going to make this year. I’m going to make my blog. And maybe even a podcast. And, mostly, myself.

  9. Happy birthday, Kelle!

  10. Happy Birthday and good wishes to you!
    It is only right that your blog should change and grow with you. If we were all exactly the same people as 5yrs ago, 10yrs ago it would mean we hadn’t grown, tried new things and lived life.
    I love your birthday mantra. May this birthday help you make even more memories with family and friends.
    p.s I always forget how old I am … maybe it is because the years pass so fast.

  11. Dude, you’re such a great person. Love this anthem of change, I completely agree, I LOVE seeing myself change, and hopefully it’s for the better, or if nothing else, at least towards more interesting and exciting. :)
    Happy Birthday from the other side of Florida.

    thanks for encouraging us to embrace change I always feel sadness when I feel change coming. My kids are growing so quick and im definitely not the person I was a month year or a week ago but I guess thats the beauty of growing up and evolving. I plan to focus on letting go of the things that are out of my control and do what I can with the stuff that is in my control. Enjoy your 37th year on this amazing planet! Cheers.

  13. when I started reading your blog I lived in a town in New Jersey named after a fruit. I was fresh out of college and SO in love with your blog. On days you didn’t post, I lived and breathed for your playlist. Do you remember your old school playlist? I sent your blog to all my friends, to read, but also so we could listen to your playlist. That also was years ago. Since then, I have lived in Ohio, then the Bronx, now back to the midwest. I don’t have your playlist to jam to, but I think my Apple Music choices have some ETST soul in them. You’ve changed. and so has your blog. We’ve changed. Now our lives look like the early days of your blog. Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks. for 8 beautiful years of blogging and 37 good years of life. Happy Birthday Kelle. all the best. and may the best have yet to come!

  14. Happy birthday! I think we know what Laney will look like at 37 – and she, like you, will wear 37 WELL!!

  15. Sandi Clarkson says:

    I see Lainey in that photo of you! Awwwww.

  16. Happy birthday!

  17. Happy Burthday!!

    I may not follow your blog as religiously as I used to, but I still enjoy it. I would never say “it has changed, unfollow.” Of course it has. Your kids have grown, you’ve grown. Things are as they should be.

    This year, I am making a baby. It wasn’t my plan, but it is His, so here we are.

  18. Happy birthday!

    I turn 31 next year and am not as comfortable in my 30s yet as I’d hoped to be. In 2016 I’m going to make sure I’m comfortable in my skin and my age, make time for me to relax and create, and make the most of every opportunity.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words. I’ll dance for you :)

  19. happy birthday! i have been uncertain whether i am 37 ever since my birthday in april… the thing about 37 is i remember my parents being this age, and i remember them forgetting how old they were. dang. just makes your words that much more poignant, regarding our power to make changes, comebacks, love, etc. i also quite liked that paragraph in the red convertible. hope your birthday was joyous!

  20. Happy birthday from Italy!!!!

  21. Happy Birthday!!!

  22. Jodie Kingsbury says:

    Happy 37th Birthday! Hope it’s a great one. I turn 47 next Wednesday and kinda wish I was still in my thirties. .

  23. Happy 37th birthday!!! I hope you had a great day!

  24. happiest of happy birthdays to you my lovely friend xoxo

  25. Happy Birthday!

  26. There is something about the number 37! The same thing happened to me, I thought I was older than I really was. I considered it a free year, a do over so to speak. However,the next thing I knew, that year had passed too and now I am 38. Happy Birthday!

  27. OK, so I just started following your blog within the past year so I had nothing to compare to. So, for the sake of science, I performed a little experiment. I looked at several of your oldest blog posts and compared them to what I have been reading lately. The verdict is… you are beautifully the same. I love your blog now and I love it then.

  28. Happy Belated Birthday! I’m happy to follow along with any changes you, your family, and the blog go through :)

  29. Happy Birthday!! Hope you are still celebrating :) Love the photo, the hair cut looks great!

  30. Ah, Kelle. You are just the coolest. Your blog has been a constant source of inspiration for me for several years now. I love the way you live, I love what you create. I love that you share it courageously.

  31. I’m late to reading this but happy belated. I did my 37th year twice as well. What is it about 36-37 that makes that happen?

  32. Happy birthday! I love your dancing in the kitchen songs! More power to you!

  33. Happy belated birthday. You don’t write like you used to. I don’t read like I used to. We are all hanging on to this spinning planet with one hand, hugging our children with the other and still trying to keep our hair out of our eyes.
    Thank you for the celebration of things that really matter. Thank you for the generous sharing of your family.
    My babies have grown and flown but my heart strings reach to them when I am immersed in your fun and frolic.
    I wish for you a year of small things

  34. Anika Marie says:

    this is exactly what I needed today. this quote, this everything. you made my day. maybe that’s not much. but for me, you changed a whole world today.
    thank you, thank you, thank you.

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