37… and a pretty velvet dress.

an outfit I really love, and the biggest lessond I learned this year.

Today is my 37th birthday! To be totally honest, I’m not exactly psyched about it. But what are you going to do? Like it or not, we are all getting older. And there is literally nothing you can do about it. Isn’t that a bit depressing? No matter how had you try, how good of care you take care of yourself, how much time you invest in your skincare routine… you’re going to get old and eventually die. The clock just keeps on ticking! (Okay I’ll stop, haha.) So, like, here’s a really pretty dress and some gorgeous jewelry to look at as a distraction?

Jokes and depressing thoughts about aging aside, this has been a big year of learning and reflection and (hopefully) some growth along the way.

(And to be clear: I am actually pretty excited about today – I bought myself some nice wine as a birthday gift and I’m taking a half day, going to yoga and then getting a massage and a facial and having a fun dinner at my favorite restaurant with a few of my close girlfriends.)

Outfit Details:

Rococo Sand Dress (Sadly sold out in this style, but here’s similar style) // Chanel Purse // Julie Vos Necklaces // Julie Vos Cuff // Hart Tassel Earrings // Loeffler Randall Coco Heels // Karen Walker Sunglasses

Julie Vos Necklaces // Julie Vos Cuff // Hart Tassel Earrings

There’s a James Baldwin quote that I really love… one of my yoga teachers posted it, and it really resonates.

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”

At first blush the quote is a little depressing. I had to re-read it a few times to actually get it. But when you think about it, it’s actually inspiring and a bit empowering. I love about it is the idea of “earning” one’s death by truly living. Living a big, passionate life.

Just something to think about.

If I had to pick the biggest lesson I learned this year, it’s to look at the hard facts in my life in the same manner that I’d look at something for work.

I have a friend who references this simple Maya Angelou quote (also an Oprah favorite). “When people show you who they are, believe them.

(So many quotes today!)

It sounds like such a simple thing but I think sometimes I live in a fantasy world where I only see the good in people. In this world, everyone is trying their best, everyone has the best intentions, we’re all basically Disney characters. This is generally a good quality, but it’s not exactly reality.

I’m too laid back with my relationships.

I wouldn’t say that I’m laid back in life (I’m pretty type-A with my work and I’m a bit of a psychotic neat-freak) but I’m laid back as a friend or romantic partner. I get sad a lot but I don’t get angry very much – it takes a lot for a friend or person I’m dating to really piss me off. So I’m understanding when someone says no to me or can’t make a plan. But it really is pretty simple. We’re all busy, we’re all tired, but we still show up for the people who matter to us. And if someone doesn’t show up for you, it’s fine to be laid back about it and you don’t have to start a big fight or confront them about it, but take note – they’re showing you where you stand on their list of priorities.

If someone continually lets you down, you probably just don’t matter very much to them – at least at that moment. And that’s fine, and of course there are exceptions (some of my friends have two or three kids and I just accept that they are doing the best they can!), but I’ve been trying to look at the data and snap out of that fantasy world.

It’s a hard lesson but it will save you a lot of grief. (It’s also a good reminder of the importance of showing up for the people in your life that matter to you.) I felt let down a lot this year and realized that a lot of it was my own fault.

The other thing  is eliminating pain when I know I can.

Snapping yourself out of that “fantasy land” causes pain, so I’ve tried to just minimize other pain as much as I can. Things that you think maybe you’re supposed to do like stay friends with an ex, or seeing someone you don’t want to see because you know you’ll walk away feeling sad, etc. In my twenties and even early thirties I’d do these things because they were the “right” thing to do. But if something is going to hurt you, or leave you feeling like shit afterward, maybe you don’t need to do it.

I actually think that for all of the “self care” talk and terminology we throw around, this is the ultimate, most real kind of self care. Putting yourself first, understanding the things that will cause you pain, and doing something about it as opposed to being passive. Make sense?

Oh and a few more (less serious!) things I learned this year…

  • Short(ish) hair is the best. I’m so glad I cut my hair.
  • If you’re not into a book after 20, 30 pages, it’s okay to put it down. I used to power through but have slowly gotten okay with putting down the books I’m not enjoying and not feeling guilty about that.
  • Less is more. I cleaned out my bathroom and all of my beauty products and now everything must fit in this bag or I don’t need it.
  • If you really don’t like something (cough cough fashion week) you don’t have to do it.
  • There are very few things in life that can’t be solved by a restorative yoga class, a long hot bath, and if all else fails – a nice glass of red wine.

Julie Vos Necklaces

photography by Carter Fish.

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Comments

  1. Marty says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! Totally agree with all you said. Time is precious … save it for those who make the effort to be there for you as you are for them. Also, one great thing about getting older is we have less patience & make less time for things we shouldn’t put up with & make more time fir things which bring us joy. Have a great day! And hoping this year brings you even more happiness than the last.

  2. Elle says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday Grace! I hope you have such a great day and cheers to a new year! xo elle

  3. Happy birthday beautiful. And what a gorgeous dress.

  4. Melissa says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! Wishing you all the best in health and happiness. xo

  5. Sharon says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday! Love this post. I used to hate getting older and I have to be honest that being called Mam bugs me every time but there is a lot of good things about getting older. I have gotten a lot wiser, a lot more confident, I really do not sweat the small stuff anywhere near as much as I used to and have gotten really good at saying no to people and not feeling bad about it. I have been through a lot of hard things in the last 6 years and it has taught me that I am a lot more resilient than I thought but also taught me who is really there for me when the sh*t hit the fan. Those people are my tribe and I have their back no matter what. The list turned out be a lot smaller than I ever would have thought. It was hurtful for sure but also helped me prioritize who to spend may time with and energy on. Enjoy 37, you deserve it!

  6. Silvia says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! That first quote resonates with me. I came to this realization last year myself that no matter what we do, how much money we make, success we have in life, perfect partner or how ever many kids, all this will not change the fact that eventually, we all die. So, why get so hung-up about those things, and not instead focus on the really precious thing, being alive, having this life, which inevitable trickles away and cannot be taken for granted.
    Have a wonderful day!

  7. Katie says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday! Such a great post. I’m 43 and I’ve struggled with being the bigger person in certain situations and the older I get, I’m getting better at putting myself first. As a single lady, I think the assumption is I have so much free time. I do have free time, but that doesn’t mean I have to be everywhere all the time. I loved the post and so needed to read it today. Thank you!

  8. Becky says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday!!! Hope you have a fun day!

  9. Joan says 9.27.18

    Love this honest post and love your blog! Turning 36 in Dec. and ditto on allllllll of this. Happy Birthday

  10. Allie says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday! You really hit home on something I’ve been trying to fit into words – the act of prioritizing your own happiness without being selfish to people who matter to you. It sounds like you are setting yourself up for the best year yet!
    Happy birthday again, xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  11. Jenn Lake says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! Cheers to the best year yet!!!

  12. Cathleen says 9.27.18

    There is hope in Christ that we will overcome death, for those who accept Him. So I keep my eyes on Him and enjoy life.

    Happy Birthday. You look beautiful.

  13. Melissa says 9.27.18

    Wishing you a very happy birthday, Grace! These are such great lessons and it’s good that you’re taking the time to learn them instead of powering through just to “keep up” with everyone else. I’m 38 (going on 39) and single, no kids, live alone, like you. And sometimes I have the feeling that life is passing me by or that I’m behind, but I know that I’m also running my own race. I hope you see how accomplished and smart and successful you are and really take the time to celebrate that today! In a pretty saturated and inauthentic market, you stand out, and I admire that. Here’s to you! XO

    • grace at the stripe says 9.27.18

      I love this, Melissa! Thank you so much for both the birthday wishes and the kind words!!

  14. Meghan says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! I hope your day is beautiful, and you feel completely loved by family + friends. You bring such a bright spot to the blogosphere, and know that you are celebrated virtually by so many.

    On a side note – I love that you’re able to talk about the beautiful and difficult aspects of growing older. It’s healthy and smart to balance emotions, and makes me wonder if you’re an enneagram 4 – the creative type that’s comfortable with processing the full spectrum of the world 🙂

  15. Happy 37th birthday, Grace! I never knew you were 37 – you look like you’re in your 20s! Beautiful dress and beautiful photos 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  16. Megan says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! Have loved watching your transformation this year as I go through a similar one (maybe we should actually call it a metamorphosis!). You seem so at peace these days. Hope you have the best day and, as always, love your blog!

  17. Cory says 9.27.18

    Happy, happy, happy birthday! I hope you have a great one. I will be turning 37 in November and it took me this long to start putting bad and/or boring books down as well. It seems like such a simple life lesson, but it is definitely one I wish I learned a long time ago. (Just to have the time I spent finishing Shantaram back would be amazing!)

  18. Jenny says 9.27.18

    I love this post!! I’m turning 37 in November, so I relate to all of this. Happy Birthday Grace, and thank you for sharing your world with us!!

  19. Jen K says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday! May it be full of joy and laughter.

  20. Michelle says 9.27.18

    I relate to this post so much! I am very relaxed in relationships as well and tend to let things slide and not make a big deal out of things. Seeing the best in people is a good quality and one I would like to keep but it’s important to notice how someone treats you and cut them off if they just take and don’t reciprocate. I’m trying to work on that 🙂
    Happy birthday!

    • grace at the stripe says 9.28.18

      Thank you!!! I think it’s a fine line – I don’t want to not see the best in people but I also have to protect myself a bit! xx

  21. Kelly says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday!!

  22. leah says 9.27.18

    this is one of my favorite things that you’ve written. yes to believing people when they show you who you are. yes to life being precious and oh so short. I just lost someone I was really close with way too young, and it really reminded to to savor every moment. happy, happy birthday.

    • grace at the stripe says 9.28.18

      Aw I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s terrible. Hugs.

  23. Lauren says 9.27.18

    Wishing you all the best this year, you deserve it! Happy Birthday Grace!

  24. Cy says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday Grace! I feel like, I’m quoting that Maya piece all the time. It’s so true. Life is difficult, we don’t need to add more drama. Another one I like is from my friend Linda who says, “You teach people how to treat you”. We all have an active roll in our relationships. I feel like naturally as woman, we are taught to always “be nice”. Even when someone is being awful to you. I’m naturally a giver/nurturer, so I have had to learn the hard way, again as women we aren’t always taught it’s okay to stand up for ourselves. I fully support you in celebrating for at least a week! Unofficial rule; the older you get, the longer the celebration. I’m up to a month now! 🙂

  25. Amy says 9.27.18

    Such a great post! Proof you only get wiser and better with age 😉 Happy birthday, Grace!

  26. Sam says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday, Grace!! I felt odd about my birthday this year too, and I usually love it. I think you have a great perspective and I love that you always share so honestly. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt too often, which is its own version of fantasyland, and I’m trying to stop doing that as much. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t value you. Anyway, this dress is gorgeous and I hope you have a wonderful day!

    xx
    Sam

  27. Meredith says 9.27.18

    I have always loved Jame Baldwin, and this quote is yet another confirmation of his brilliance. So beautiful. Thank you for posting it today, and happiest of birthdays to you.

  28. Shen says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday Grace! I hope 37 is the best year yet for you! I appreciate you being honest about your feelings on getting older and the lessons you’ve learned. Getting older is a blessing but it can come with mixed feelings for sure.

  29. Chelsea says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday Grace! What a great post! I absolutely loved the first quote. It is a bit depressing at first read but also totally inspiring!

  30. Nikki says 9.27.18

    Happy, happy birthday Grace!
    Sooo many things rang true while reading this post. Well done on putting it all into words.
    xx

  31. Nikki says 9.27.18

    Happy, happy birthday Grace!
    Sooo many things you mention rang true – well done on putting it all into words.
    xx

  32. Merritt Beck says 9.27.18

    Happy Birthday! Loving this dress and even more that its velvet, perfect for fall!
    xx, Merritt
    The Style Scribe

  33. Rebecca says 9.27.18

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE!! 🙂 The day you have planned sounds like a great one, I hope you’ll enjoy it to the fullest! And you’re so right; we are all aging, it’s a part of life and there’s nothing we can do about. Even though it sucks to be older (or at least most of us thinks so), I choose to see it from a different perspective; every year of life gives us a little more wisdom that we can use to strive towards the life we want and the things we want to accomplish. Rather than purely viewing it as something negative, we can view it as an asset and a benefit to help us. Enjoy your day to the fullest!

  34. Lori says 9.27.18

    Happy birthday!
    And please, try to look at aging as a gift denied to many. I say this as someone more than a decade older than you, but who also had some scary medical stuff a few years ago, and got lucky. Wrinkles and sags and extra pounds are NOTHING to people who really love you, and trust me, you will give fewer shits over the coming years as well. No time for it.
    I think because of your industry you have a real opportunity to move the culture away from “You need this moisturizer or you’ll get wrinkles!” to something more accepting, and focused on the joy in life.
    Hope you had a great day.

  35. Sylvie says 9.27.18

    Omg Grace, you have nailed this one! It’s my birthday in two weeks (mid 30’s eek) and I’m also a single gal, who works hard at a career and feels a little let down by people who I literally bend over backward to make time for. I understand life and kids, husbands etc. can get in the way but also that I’m just not that important to them which makes me sad but also frees me from feeling shitty about friendships. My Birthday lesson last year (spent alone and very happily on the other side of the world) is give yourself the best life. I work hard and am so so proud of the life I can give myself, not just superficial things but the sense of contentment of knowing I can do it all (think indepentant woman – destinys child lol). Anyway… Happy Birthday!

  36. Eleni says 9.28.18

    Happy birthday, Grace! From my own experience, 37 is the best number in the scale between 30 and 40, and I wish I could stay there for a couple of years 🙂 After getting over the shock of turning 35 (!), 37 felt like the age when I realised that time is really moving forward, and I decided to experience every day fully and to enjoy everything I had in my life, instead of looking back or living in my imaginary future. I still try to savour this mentality now, two years later (and not think too much about the “4” looming on the horizon!!!)
    Take care!

  37. fuzzi hendricks says 9.28.18

    Happy Birthday, From Sunny South Africa. Another (haha) Quote:
    “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” – Coco Chanel.

  38. Dana says 9.28.18

    Gorgeous dress, Grace! Hope you had an amazing birthday! x

    The Champagne Edit

  39. cy says 9.28.18

    Grace, I wondered what lipstick you are wearing here? So pretty!

  40. Tereza Lima says 9.28.18

    Happy (belated) bday, Grace!!! Can’t believe you and Helena almost share bday. I met you through her blog and I am a fan since then. Not a fan of your stunning outfits and beauty tips only, but especially of your persona. You inspire me! Lots of love from Brazil, xoxo!

  41. I love this post so so much! Thanks for sharing your brain with us! Happy (belated) birthday!!!
    -Erin, Attention to Darling Blog

  42. Happy Birthday, Grace! I love your dress so much! You styled it perfectly!
    xoxo, Jenna
    Bostonchicparty.com

  43. Maggie says 9.29.18

    Happy birthday Grace!! Thank you for being real and honest. I so admire you!

  44. Lauren says 10.2.18

    I truly loved this post. A lot of it does resignate with me personally at this moment in time. I broke up with my boyfriend of over eight years and am still trying to figure out if we should remain friends. I am glad you put something about that in this post. …enough with the heavy though, this dress is beautiful and I hope you have an amazing birthday! 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 10.2.18

      I’m so glad you liked the post. Staying friends with your exes is really tricky!!!

  45. Natmari's Corner says 10.8.18

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  46. Emily says 10.8.18

    Happy Birthday! I found your blog earlier this year and while I’m not much of a commenter, I really enjoy it–especially that you are authentic in sharing things you’re excited about and also the harder stuff and that you’re more transparent about things like what posts/items do well, how your business works, etc.
    Regarding the quote “When people show you who they are, believe them”–I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately–particularly about a number of public figures and politicians.

    • grace at the stripe says 10.8.18

      Thank you Emily! I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying it!
      (And boy do I agree with you re: public figures/politicians right now.)