35.

This is 35 - The Stripe.

Today is my 35th birthday!

I sat down and wrote this post last night after the debate. My head was completely spinning watching those two up there. Afterward, I poured myself a glass of wine, talked to my dad on the phone, and then sat down to write. I wasn’t really sure what I would write, if we’re being honest. I thought I’d have some big message to share with you (I always like to write a more thoughtful post on my birthday) but I didn’t really feel as though I had anything intelligent to say.

Birthdays. 35. This is one of those ages where I am just so, completely, totally not where I thought I would be. I always thought that by 35, I would have things at least somewhat figured out. But it seems that every year I get a little older, I realize how little I actually know, and how much more I need to work on myself as a person. I honestly don’t know if this is a case of me becoming more self-aware and getting more humble with age (let’s hope that is the case)… or if I am just regressing (please no). I also think a lot about how fleeting everything we have is. Life goes by so quickly. My grandmother passed away this year and it was probably the biggest loss I have experienced. I am lucky in this regard – she was ninety. This year, I’ve watched three people close to me lose a parent, seen acquaintances from high school pass away, and so many other things, not to mention all of the horrible things that happened in the world this year… things that make you feel guilty being so devastated over the loss of someone who was lucky enough to live such a long, full life. My friend Aly wrote a really beautiful post about grief and how it has no hierarchy and that really helped me… but still.

In hindsight, I think one of the hardest parts of losing her was that she was so vibrant and full of life right up until three months before she passed. And then, boom. She was fine and then she was in the hospital and then everything deteriorated so quickly. That makes you think, about what else could happen, and what else you could lose in such a quick period of time.

A loss like this makes you reconsider everything. For me, every day, I have this running list in my head of all of the things I need to be doing. Work out. Volunteer. Cook. Eat healthily. Start going to church again. Keep up with the news. Go on more dates. Learn a new skill. Be a better friend. Get two blog posts up every day. Be a nicer person. Work harder. Read more books. Stay on top of pop culture. Keep up with social media. Be better at keeping up with friends. Remember birthdays. Send thank you notes. Remember all of my friends’ kids’ names (there are so many of them now!) So many things to do, a never ending to-do list. It can at times feel like a treadmill from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep… and I constantly let myself down as I am never doing enough, and I end up falling short, constantly.

But lately all I can think about is how maybe all of these goals and things are great and all, but the ultimate goal should just be to be grateful and to be present. Grateful for everything I have, and present in my everyday life. Because you can have all of the things and you can do all of the things. You can be so successful and so amazing at your job and such a good person by society’s standards of what good is. You can have beautiful shoes and bags and amazing friends and an amazing social life. But if you aren’t truly grateful for everything you have, and if you aren’t living your life in a way that you are actually present and able to savor + appreciate each moment (as opposed to just racing from one thing to another and checking off boxes and getting from point A to point B to point C), are you actually really living? (That last sentence is in no way grammatically correct but I really don’t care.)

So I think this is my way of saying that there is still so much to learn. There are still so many things I need to work on personally. And there is still so much to do. But what I want most is to slow down, live in the moment, be grateful, and just let myself be human. If that makes any sense. Grateful + present. That is this year’s goal. I think I can do that.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

86 Comments

  1. carrie:

    Such a beautiful birthday posts. If I could recommend a book that helps explore that very topic of being present and thankful, Ann Voskamp has a beautiful book called 1000 Gifts. It changed my life!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • elizabeth ashley:

      YES!!! Such a beautiful book.

      9.27.16 Reply
      • graceatwood:

        I’m going to have to check this out! Thanks, ladies! xx

        9.29.16 Reply
  2. Carly A. Heitlinger:

    Happy birthday Grace! I think those are PERFECT goals!!!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks sweet friend! Hope you are having a great week!xo

      9.29.16 Reply
  3. Tess Felber:

    Happy Birthday, Grace!!
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much, Tess! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  4. Teddi:

    Happy Birthday, Grace! I look forward to your posts each day. Thank you for being a beacon of loveliness and keeping it real.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, thanks Teddi! So great to hear from you. Hope things are good in your world! xo

      9.29.16 Reply
  5. Jenn Lake:

    Love this post. Happiest of birthdays to you!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks Jenn!! Hope you are having a great week! xo

      9.29.16 Reply
  6. Melissa Nichols:

    Amen! I couldn’t have said it better. As a 42 year old I think like that a lot. Also I ask myself what happened I my 30s??? I have 2 beautiful children, a job, a loving husband and yet still I find myself feeling like there has to be more….. Other times, I try to remember that life is not about acquiring more stuff but to live and love those you cherish on the moment. Happy Birthday Grace. You’re doing great despite how you may feel right now.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much for commenting, Melissa! You have the right idea. Of course things are lovely, but life is so much better savored… 🙂 Appreciate the thoughtful words!

      9.29.16 Reply
  7. Kate:

    Grateful & present… I really love that idea. In a world/environment that seems to be overwhelmingly entitled and lost in social media, I think this is such an important thing to keep in mind and I am truly going to carry this with me. Thanks for that! Happy Birthday, Grace!! I hope 35 is your best year yet!!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Truly. Social media – it’s such a funny thing… because it’s my livelihood of course, but I just can’t stand it some times. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post, Kate – and I hope that things are going well in your world! xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  8. Thuy:

    I really like following you along your journey to “self-discover” if you will. Garance Dore just wrote her 10 year anniversary blog yesterday and she takes us throughher 10 year journey and she is very honest about when she lost herself and how she is rediscovering herself. I think it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous thing! Stay raw 🙂

    http://www.dressupchowdown.com

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      You’re so sweet Thuy. I am going to have to check out Garance’s post – I love her site!!!
      Hope you’ve had a nice week! xo

      9.29.16 Reply
  9. Jamee:

    Happy birthday, Grace! Thank you for sharing Aly’s post on grief. We lost my father-in-law earlier this year, and I’m still reeling. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on January 29 and passed on March 16. We did not see it coming – he was healthy & happy and had just turned 61. What a great reminder though – grateful + present. Cheers to that!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you Jamee. I am so sorry for your loss. That’s so incredibly sad. Thinking of you and your family!
      (And cheers to being grateful + present.) xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  10. Jessica:

    Happy Birthday Grace. I think you are such a lovely person. I have been reading your blog for years, and it is for one reason…you exude grace and confidence and a zest for life. You come across as grateful, and humble and LIKABLE. That is a rarity. You are a gifted writer, and your blog is SO much more than a style blog. It has been fun to watch you grow and succeed over the years, and not a surprise at all. I see good things in your future. Keep doing what you are doing, you are such a ray of light.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      What a sweet comment, Jessica! I am so flattered by all of this… truly so kind of you to say!!
      Hope you had a great week! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  11. Tracy Schwartz:

    Happy Birthday Grace!

    I think those goals are perfect. And loss is extremely hard and always makes thinking different!

    Thank you for such an honest post not just today but always!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks so much Tracy!!! I hope you had a great week.

      9.29.16 Reply
  12. brittany olander:

    happy happy birthday grace! grace is your name-duh, i know- but you seem to have a lot of it! being present is kind of the key to everything i think.

    book reccs on the blog- including one for if you loved big little lies! http://brittanyisablob.blogspot.com/

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aww, what a sweet thing to say! Thank you Brittany! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  13. Cory:

    Happy birthday Grace! I turn 35 in a couple of months and I am having all of the same thoughts.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you Cory! Cheers to 35 – hope it’s a great year for us both! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  14. Kate:

    Grace, I never comment on blogs but I just wanted to reach out and wish you a very happy birthday and thank you for posting this. I myself struggle with being okay with my age and where I am in my life and hearing that I’m not alone helps so much. You are so right that focusing on gratefulness and living in the present is the most important thing. It’s so hard to always do that, but reminders like this, and like birthdays, are a great way to step back and refocus. So thank you. And I hope that you have a truly wonderful day, as you deserve!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Well, thank you for taking the time to comment on mine!!! I’m happy that this resonated with you. Hope you had a wonderful week! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  15. Emily:

    Happy Birthday Grace!

    Your thoughts today were a breath of fresh air and I find myself mutually encouraged by you! I’m only 23 but I can definitely find myself relating to feeling like, especially as a woman, you have to be everything, enough but not too much.

    I often find myself placing so much pressure on myself to do all things things that are “important”. To hold my to-do list and “hustle” as more holy than living authentically by loving others and living out of a secure identity that isn’t about gaining the approval of others.

    Much love for you today!

    Emily Reyna

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you Emily! I think these lessons are great at any age… it sounds like you are a bit of an old soul! I appreciate the sweet comment – hope you had a great week!

      9.29.16 Reply
  16. Megan:

    Happy birthday, Grace. What a beautiful post. In the last year, I lost my Dad, mother in law and a brother in law. All of which were unexpected. There are no words to describe the sheer helplessness I felt. After many tears, I learned a very important lesson I wish I knew earlier…cherish the people in your life that matter. Now, I wake up everyday with a grateful heart for who and what I have in my life. I don’t waste time giving energy to things that don’t matter. Being present is a beautiful thing and has a way of really making you focus on what matters…living. Cheers to another year of positivity and growth.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Oh my goodness Megan! My heart breaks for your loss. Thinking of you // it sounds like you really learned from this. Thank you for commenting and sharing your story.

      9.29.16 Reply
  17. Natali:

    First of all – HAPPY BIRTHDAY gorgeous lady! May you have the best year in your life by far!
    Wonderful and deep post, I loved reading it and I loved seeing myself in this too! I have lost some of the closest family members too and had a lot to process this past year. Grief is tough but it does bring a lot of stuff on the surface and makes some situations in your life much more clearer.

    I also believe that being thankful and present makes the biggest difference in your life. Checking off imaginary boxes of “to-do’s” or “I should” is alright at times, but if that’s all you do every day and for a long time, you’ll just end up burnt out and unhappy…

    Here’s cheers to you and may you have a great time celebrating your special day!

    http://lartoffashion.com

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much Natali! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the post. Thank you for the sweet comment! xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  18. Rachel:

    Happy birthday, Grace!

    Thanks for always being so real and relatable. I admire your honesty.

    Thanks for sharing and I’m excited to continue to follow along on your blog!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much Rachel! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  19. Francine:

    Happy Birthday!! This is such a fantastic post. I have been asking myself similar questions and believe that being grateful/present is the key to being happy, but also helps you get through the hard times that life brings. It puts such a positive perspective on things. We live in a society where everyone feels pressure to keep up/compare themselves to others/work 24/7. It’s so important to slow down and savor what you have, because most of the time it’s pretty great!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      So happy to hear that you enjoyed it.
      Slowing down and savoring life is so important. Have a great night! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  20. Jess Zimlich:

    Happiest of birthdays, Grace! And may every year be better than the last 🙂

    The post on grief was just what I needed to read. Far too often people hear that you lost a grandparent and dismiss it as “life,” but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

    I loved reading through your thoughts and am going to work towards a few of the same goals as we head toward the end of the year.

    I hope you’re celebrating in your favorite way today!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you Jess. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. Aly has such a great way with words!!
      Hope you are having a good week. 🙂 xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  21. Lauren:

    What a wonderful post. I’ve been reading your blog for years and it just keeps getting better. Happy Birthday Grace!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, thank you Lauren!! So sweet of you to say that.

      9.29.16 Reply
  22. Marta:

    Happy birthday! I hope you’re having an awesome day! Everything you said is so true. We always need to try to be the best version of ourselves and live out lives the way we want to live them because life is short 🙂

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      1,000%!!! Thank you for the sweet comment, Marta!

      9.29.16 Reply
  23. Cy:

    Grace, Happy Birthday! Mine was on a Tuesday too this year, but I celebrated a lot on both ends of the week! I love how you started out, not knowing what to write and then out of you flowed this beautiful piece. Grief is grief and should always be honored and respected. After my sister’s death this year, I find myself much more thoughtful with my words and actions. I don’t rush or hurry. Life is short, we really don’t know how long we are blessed to be here. Diana was one of most kind, thoughtful and grateful people I have ever had the privilege to know. I try to keep that with me everyday. I’ve learned to say no and live authentically like never before. I surrender now, instead of trying too hard or controlling things. The worst part is watching people close to me struggle and make life harder for themselves. We all have a journey and lessons to learn. We just have to do our best everyday. Some days it’s easier than others. You should be very proud of this amazing comminity and brand you have created! Have a fantastic day! You deserve it!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Cy!!! I completely agree with everything you wrote. We just have to do our best and learn from whatever is thrown our way.
      I hope you’re having a great week! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  24. Aurelia:

    Happy birthday and great post!! ❤️

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks, Aurelia! xo

      9.29.16 Reply
  25. Dana:

    Great post, Grace! Hope you have a very happy birthday – you deserve a great day!

    Pink Champagne Problems

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much, Dana! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  26. Lexi:

    Happy Birthday, Grace! I couldn’t agree more with your goals. Having a daughter has made me hyper-aware of how hard it can be to stay present when you’re juggling so much, but “busy” is not an excuse for missing out on the really good stuff happening day-to-day. Hope all is well! xox

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      I can only imagine!! My sister and I had a long talk about that tonight – she is juggling so much with her son and work and everything else… Oof! I told her, just do the best you can, and it will all work out. That always seems to be the case!!

      9.29.16 Reply
  27. Andrea Darst:

    Happy Birthday! I hit 35 this December so I know how you’re feeling! Sorry also for the loss of your grandmother. Hope you have a wonderful day!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks Andrea! Cheers to 35! I hope it’s a great year for us both. 🙂

      9.29.16 Reply
  28. Rachel:

    Happy birthday! Honestly, I’m still so shocked you’re 35 because you look 25. Whatever skincare products you’re using, people should be buying!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, that’s so sweet Rachel – thank you! Definitely a combo of luck (great genes -my mom and aunts all look amazing) and care (I am obsessed with skincare!!)

      9.29.16 Reply
  29. denise atwood:

    love this post Grace, you are an amazing young woman and you are right on about what matters. I have always felt life is a balance and it’s always tipping, pausing and taking a moment to reflect and going to yoga help me maintain that, getting older does too! I love you

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks Mom. I love you!!! xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  30. Mary Ellen:

    Happy Birthday Grace! What a heartfelt post. My family is so lucky to have you in our lives!

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Awwwww thank you Mary Ellen! Had a great time with Nic on Tuesday night. 🙂
      Hope to see you soon, come visit us! Xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  31. Carrie:

    Happy birthday! I lost my last living grandparent this year and I miss them all so very much. Condolences for your loss. May we all increase our gratitude for the good things in our lives.

    9.27.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw I am so sorry for your loss, Carrie. My grandmother was also my last living one. Cheers to being grateful for everything we do have while we still have it. Xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  32. Nnenna Odeluga:

    Happy Birthday, Grace! I always love when you write longer, personal posts. I think your goal of being grateful and present is a really good one. There are times when I want to complain or think about how my life could be a lot better, but in reality I know that my life is not bad at all and I should be grateful for all that I have. Thank you for sharing this post and I hope you had a great birthday yesterday!

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, thank you Nnenna! I am so happy you enjoy these posts. Hope you had a great week.

      9.29.16 Reply
  33. Kim Henrichs:

    Happy birthday!! Enjoy 35!!

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks Kim!!

      9.29.16 Reply
  34. Roxanne:

    Happy birthday, Grace. Your words and thoughts are so wise. I lost my grandmother recently in the same fashion – she was vibrant and energetic then gone in about 3 months. It was a huge wake up call. I am so sorry for your loss, and please know that your pain is shared.

    You inspire me to be grateful and humble and present. Thanks for all the hard word you do to connect with us, even if you do feel like you’re running on the treadmill of life at all waking moments.

    –Roxanne
    http://glassofglam.com

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much Roxanne. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s the hardest thing, and truly such a wake up call.
      Really appreciate the sweet comment – I hope you are having a great week!

      9.29.16 Reply
  35. Audrey:

    This is lovely, Grace! Happy happy birthday! 🙂

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much Audrey! xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  36. Jean:

    What a beautiful post Grace. Sounds to be like you have life pretty well figured out!

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Ha. Far from it. But trying! Love you!! xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  37. Style Bits and Bobs of M.E.:

    Happy 35th Birthday! September birthdays rock – fellow September baby. 🙂

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Yay!!! September birthdays are the best. 😉 xx

      9.29.16 Reply
  38. joelle:

    Grateful and present… so well said. Happiest birthday (belated). Such a well-put post.

    9.28.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thanks so much Joelle! Xox

      9.29.16 Reply
  39. Theodora:

    happy belated, love! as a fellow nyc single lady in her 30s, i thank you for being both aspirational/inspirational AND relatable! xo

    9.29.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, thank you so much Theodora!! Cheers to the best decade 🙂 xoxo

      9.29.16 Reply
  40. Caroline:

    Happy belated! Loved this post. I recently started a gratitude journal, writing down 3 things I’m thankful for each day, no matter how big or small. It’s really helped keep me present and focus on the now. Good luck in your journey!

    -Caroline
    http://www.chardonnaymoi.com

    9.30.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      I really love that idea. Thinking I may copy and do the same!! Xo

      10.1.16 Reply
  41. Maureen:

    Happy Birthday! I celebrated my 34th birthday on the 27th 🙂 I have similar feelings of trying to slow down, live in the moment and try not to rush through days too quickly. It’s not always easy but when I am able to do just that, I am certainly grateful.

    Great post – and I hope you enjoyed your birthday!

    9.30.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Aw, happy birthday, birthday twin!!! I hope you have a wonderful year and that you enjoyed your birthday as well Maureen! xo

      10.1.16 Reply
  42. Emily Stafford:

    Beautiful post! Totally agree! What wonderful and meaningful goals 🙂

    10.18.16 Reply
    • graceatwood:

      Thank you so much for the sweet comment! xx

      10.19.16 Reply
  43. Michelle:

    This is a super late comment, but I just wanted to let you know that #1 you look absolutely amazing. Seriously you look about 27. And #2 I am very jealous of your job and all of your accomplishments. #goals 🙂

    11.8.16 Reply