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10 things I learned in my 36th year

Last year was a big birthday for me, so I shared 35 things I learned in my first 35 years. Yesterday was no less sweet, but seeing as it’s not quite as much of a milestone birthday, I thought I’d share just a few things I’ve learned in the past year.

1. If you continually feel like the new person in a social situation—like you’re the only one who doesn’t know everybody or has somehow missed out on some common knowledge shared by everybody else—just go up and start talking to someone. Learn about them and ask them questions about their life. You’ll stop focusing on yourself and your junior high-feeling weirdness, and you just may make a friend out of the process.

2. A blog conference is so much more fun with a husband in tow. If you’re a blogger, do what you can to bring along your spouse. They’ll meet people you’ve talked about for years, they’ll better understand what it is you do, and you’ll have your “home base” with you when things get tiring or awkward.

call the midwife

3. Call the Midwife is an amazing, heart-wrenching, heartwarming show. Required viewing accessory: Kleenex.

4. As obnoxious as people who are into Myers-Briggs can be when they’re incessantly talking about Myers-Briggs, it really is such a helpful tool once you understand your unique personality. I finally pegged myself an INTJ (after years of thinking I was an ENTP, ENTJ, or an ENFP), and I’ve really come to understand myself so much better this past year. I’m thankful for resources like Myers-Briggs.

5. Harney & Sons hot cinnamon spice tea. Trust me on this one. You’re welcome. (You can get it at Barnes & Noble.)

6. Owning a fixer-upper home is more fun than you might imagine, and also less fun. After a year of living in one, I submit that yes, it’s fun to finally get to knock down walls and lay down flooring you love, but you also stop caring as much, and this will surprise you. You start to be okay with that less-than-desirable bathroom light fixture, because in the big scheme of things, who really cares?

7. It’s okay to have unread emails in your inbox. It doesn’t make you a bad person.

8. It feels really, really good to get rid of half your clothes. You’d think, after writing an entire book about decluttering, that I’d remember that. But I still need that reminder, and boy, did it feel good to take three boxes of clothes to the thrift store earlier this summer.


9. If you’re riding up a ski lift and feeling like your knee is a bit weak, LISTEN TO IT. Don’t try a black run anyway. Do what what you wanted to do during the lunch break, and stay in the lodge and read a book by the fire. It’ll save you thousands in medical bills and hours in physical therapy.

10. Writing a book can be done with small children if you carve out a solid month to do nothing else. No dinner making, no laundry folding, nothing. Just you and your laptop, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., with two one-hour breaks for meals—a solid month. You’ll be more than a little insane when you’re done, but you’ll have a book.

I’ve learned more than that, of course, but I want to go play and kick back with my dark chocolate—I’m starting this 37th year right. In all seriousness, though, I’m so very thankful to each and every one of you for being readers here—you’re the reason I wake up excited to do what I do. I’m honored, humbled, and encouraged by your presence. You people rock my socks off. Thank you.

What’s something you’ve learned lately?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Sarah M

    All good things! Happy Birthday. 🙂
    BTW, I try not to take it personally when people tell me they have too many shows, so they can’t watch Call the Midwives [yet]. They’re basically telling me we can’t be friends. Good golly, I love that show!
    Sarah M

  2. Angela @ Homegrown Mom

    This is a great list! My 36th is in Oct. and I just decided today that I’m finally going to go roller skating with my girls and girlfriends like I’ve always wanted to for my b-day! I’m learning its ok to do things for me 🙂

    • Tsh

      Nice! I always wanted a birthday party at Skate World. 😉

  3. Emily

    Oh Tsh, I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

    I’m glad you share your life with so many readers. I’m grateful to have found your podcast and site when I needed it the most. It’s helped shape me into the person I always wanted to be.

    I’ve learned so much because of you:

    – I am an INTJ, as well.
    – I needed a creative outlet so, like you, I started a blog.
    – I enjoy getting up early so I can have those moments to myself.
    – If I don’t get to everything on my to-do list, it’s OK.
    – The only pressure to be a perfect mom comes from my own high expectations and I should cut myself a little slack.
    – Having fewer items really does help keep the home clean.
    – Mommy bloggers are wonderful people. (For too long, I was inundated with only Supermom blogs or blogs from mom’s who bragged about drinking and swearing. I was somewhere in the middle, but definitely couldn’t relate to either to read more than a few posts.)
    – When asked which historical figure one admires, have an answer ready at all times.

    Tsh, you’re a wonderful influence and I really appreciate all your guidance and thoughtfulness in your writing and podcasts.

    • Kimberly Robertson

      I normally don’t reply to others’ replies, but yours I simply had to!

      There are SO many SuperMom blogs. Or blogs from Mothers who want to live the fun life while raising children. I too fall somewhere in the middle. Recently, with a group of writer friends we stayed well past closing for the restaurant. All sober and all fabulous! I also have equal fun playing spy games in the back yard.

      Thank you for your reply. Going to check out your blog now! 🙂

    • Tsh

      Aw, thank you!

  4. Jessica

    A very happy birthday to you, Tsh!

    Recently I have learned to hold on to my dreams and have therefore started to pursue them with intention once again! Life is so much more full of life when you allow yourself to dream.

    • Tsh

      I love that!

  5. Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    I will turn 31 this year and one thing that I have learned (and continue to learn all the time) is that life, in ALL areas, is a lot more enjoyable when you give up perfectionism. Do I want to do well and my best? Of course! But striving for some unrealistic ideal only sets myself up for frustration and failure.

    • Tsh


  6. Elizabeth

    I love Call the Midwife! It is so wonderful! I find it much easier to relate to that show than to Downton Abby- even as I am hooked on it as well! Regardless, both shows pretty much have spoiled much of the other TV viewing options for me!

    Hot Cinnamon Sunset has long been a favorite of mine and if you order directly from Harney & Sons they offer it in decaf too!!!

    Happy birthday to you! I have been reading your blog since the beginning and love the changes you’ve made recently. I continue to be inspired and you are the first stop on my reading list each day! Thanks for all you do for me and for others!!

    Take good care!

    • Tsh

      What—you can’t personally relate to Downton Abbey? 😉

      I love that show, too.

      • Elizabeth


  7. Victoria

    Happy Birthday. What I have learned this year. Investing isn’t always tied to money and neither is profit.

  8. Kimberly Robertson

    Though my birthday is in the long frigid past of January, recently I’ve been learning deep lessons. My father is dying and I am caring for him. I work full time and have a 10 and 6 year old. My husband works 50+ hours a week. This is a season that is ripe to learn lessons.

    I’ve learned that so little of what I thought important or crucial really is…so very little. For example, a hug can mean the strength to go on for another hour or two or days. Clean laundry has a diminishing return in that regard.

    I’ve learned connecting with the ones you love in meaningful ways doesn’t mean hour long conversations on the meaning of life. It can be as simple as a text saying, “You are taking such good care of him. Thank you.” Or a friend sitting at your filthy kitchen table, ignoring the popsicle drips on the floor and making eye contact with you while you say, “It’s been hard.” and you just KNOW she GETS IT.

    Coffee is oxygen. Not enough and I’ll drown.

    Having an OCD cleaning fit does NOT mean I can lift bookshelves by myself and remove them from the house. Seriously, it does not.

    And taking five minutes to read a blog which encourages your soul is the best investment to start a work day.

    • Guest

      Kimberly, I am so very sorry to hear about your father and all you are going through. I just said a prayer for you both. You are doing the most amazing work you could be doing right now and everything else will be okay.

    • Tsh

      I’m sorry as well. And I love the list of things you’re learning.

  9. Lindsay@littlehousebigworld

    Hope you had a great birthday! I’m such a fan of Call the Midwife, but I feel like every person I ever mention it to has never heard of it. Glad you’re getting the word out to many.

  10. TeaButterfly

    Hey Tsh!

    This is my first coment here, been reading you for a while now.

    Thing i learned recently:

    Decluttering can be FUN! when and if you’re really ready for it, otherwise it can tiring and downright painful, too.

    I blogged briefly about this, see my two last posts on

    Enjoy your 37th year.


    • Tsh

      It totally can be fun, right? Thanks for being such a long-time loyal reader, Alix. 🙂

  11. Marla Taviano

    My cousin bought me a tin of that tea for my bday last year. YUMMMMMMM!! Sometimes I just take off the lid and sniff it for awhile. 🙂

    • Tsh

      Ha! I can totally see why. That stuff is heavenly.

  12. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    YES to #2! My husband came along to half of Influence last year (I was speaking; he was my support team) and it was such a great experience, for all the reasons you say. He had a great time, too: sure, he got to meet MY friends, sure, but all the men did this instant male bonding thing. Neither one of us expected that, but it was a lot of fun.

    I’m a huge MBTI geek, so I love #4. And I’ll get around to Call the Midwife eventually. I’m definitely expecting to love it.

    • Tsh

      Anne, you will love it.

  13. Robin from Frugal Family Timea

    Hope you had a great birthday, Tsh! I’m soon going to my first blogging conference – and the hubs is coming too. Of course, we blog together, so it makes good sense, but I was a bit worried it would be kind of awkward. Glad to hear it’s been a good experience for you – makes the childcare arrangements and twice the cost worth it. 🙂

    • Tsh

      Totally worth it! I wish Kyle could go with me all the time…

  14. Kristi

    Happy birthday Tsh! I’m currently in the freshman quarter of my 36th year and I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate the now. Ok, truthfully, still learning but getting better at it everyday.
    Looking forward to your new book hitting the shelves.

  15. Caroline Starr Rose

    Still amazed you wrote a book in a month. It takes me 1-2 years before my editor sees anything!

    • Tsh

      Well, I had the skeleton written for MONTHS and then about a quarter of it already written before that month. So it’s not quite as impressive as it may seem. 🙂

  16. Squishypig

    You can get the Harney & Sons hot cinnamon spice tea at Target now!

    • Tsh

      Ooh, nice!

  17. Guest

    Happy birthday, Tsh! Here are a few of mine:

    – It’s okay not to like things that I think I “should” like. Ironically, Call the Midwife is one of those things. I’m an Anglophile, love the BBC – CTM should be on my must watch list! Except that it’s not because it’s super duper depressing.
    – Which brings me to…I am a thinker. I’ve always been a thinker. The world can be a pretty disappointing place if you think too much. I’m learning to be more careful about what I watch, read and allow in my life. Particularly, I’m trying to fill my life with more positive and uplifting things and thoughts.
    – Reduce your Facebook friend list. Cut mine by more than half and enjoy it so much more.
    – Drink more water. You really do feel better physically and mentally.
    – Be open to your wants changing.

    • Tsh

      Those are good!

  18. @citrusholly

    Tsh, I read this as I was drinking my hot cinnamon spice. When I was in Galveston two weeks ago, I was at their target and saw “hot cinnamon sunset”. That she was also by Harney and Sons but it was $5 for 30 sachets rather than Barnes & Noble’s $12 for 20. Tastes exactly the same to me — but I cannot find it at the Waco Target. Happy belated. Love this post.

    • @citrusholly

      And I blame Siri for the typo above. The “she” should be “tea”.

  19. Laurajoliza

    Oh yes, the social awkwardness thing. Still have to psych myself up for it!

  20. Young c

    Happy birthday!

  21. Brenda

    Happy Birthday! I also used to think I was on the EN side of Briggs-Myers. I recently read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, I can’t remember the author. I realized that I am in a fact an introvert, and that is ok. I am 46, so it took me a little longer!

  22. Stacy B

    We moved into a fixer about a year ago…it is so funny how insignificant a perfect home becomes through this process. We are still living and loving despite walking on sub floor!

  23. Tanya

    Happy Birthday!! Yes that tea is sooo amazingly good.

    • Tsh

      Who knew so many readers here are fans of that tea?

  24. Mare

    I just learned I’m old enough to be your mother. 🙂 That injury looks awful. 🙂 Thirty-six is a great year, a perfect age. Hope your birthday was great. Mine is tomorrow. 🙂 I will not be 36. 🙂

    • Tsh


  25. Jami

    Happy Birthday! I love so much about this post. As a career Counselor, I’m one of those Annoying MBTI type talker. As an ENFP, I love to use your books as a guide to at least pretend that I’m organized. When other moms ask me how I stay organized, I at least have an answer. I am working on being as organized as I pretend to be. 🙂 The women in my office and I love that tea, in fact we just realized that they extended their free shipping (to celebrate their birthday) until today. It is time to stock up.

    • Tsh

      I love everything about your comment! 🙂

  26. Jo@simplybeingmum

    This is my last year in my Thirties. And I have once again been reminded that everyday life can change in a heartbeat. And once more to take nothing for granted.
    p.s – Happy belated birthday!
    p.p.s – Miranda Hart in Call The Midwife has a great comedy TV series in the UK called – “Miranda”. Highly recommend!

    • Tsh

      Nice! Thanks for the $.02.

  27. Tanya

    Happy [belated] Birthday Tsh! Thank you for all the wonderful wisdom you share with the world!

  28. Archer

    Happy Birthday, Tsh!

    Getting rid of half your clothes is pretty inspiring and…motivating. I so want to do that!

  29. Beth Werner Lee

    5. Try the chocolate mint! Or Boston blend. Really anything, and if you can trek up to their little shop for a tea tasting sometime, do! I went back in the early 2000s when it was in the NW corner of CT, before it moved across to NY state. Around here (Santa Barbara, CA-don’t feel sorry for me) I can’t get Harney and Sons but Good Earth original blend decaf is quite lovely, a fine substitute in the individual tea bags (H&S is best loose leaf in a pot).
    Been fun talking tea with you. Happy b-day! (38 was a hard b-day for me.)

  30. Sarah

    #11 You may think it’s harmless to attempt four or five little tasks before your morning cuppa coffee, but it’s not. Just make it first. Your family will thank you for that little bit of love you show yourself. 🙂

    This is a great little post–thank you for sharing 36th year wisdom 🙂


  31. jill

    Happiest of birthdays to you Tsh!! Your blog is one of the few that I read regularly. I’m always refreshed and encouraged by it and your podcasts on Homefries!!! One thing that I have REALLY appreciated you talking so openly about is your post-partum depression and how didn’t bond instantly with your babes. I needed to hear that. THanks for doing what you do!! 🙂

  32. Tiare

    Happiest of Birthdays, Tsh!

    I’m an INTP but lean towards being an INTJ. A few things I’ve learned lately is:

    1. Forgiveness is about more than saying, “I forgive you. But you stay over there and I’ll stay over here.” Forgiveness includes fully accepting that person, even yourself, back into your life. Not that you need to hang out every day or anything, but if your lives are intertwined and you truly forgive that person, you won’t fight it and look for excuses. You can still be vigilant and accepting at the same time. It’s hard. So hard that, on most days, I’m resistant to doing it.

    2. Time needs to be guarded. Between Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., there’s more demand to do everything right now! I deserve peace which means I have to be willing to protect my time and sanity.

    3. Talents are lost if you don’t cultivate them often enough. I should’ve stuck with playing piano!

    I’m still trying to learn long division and how to do step aerobics. But I admit, I’m not trying too hard, haha.

  33. Faigie

    What am I if I was never able to get into that Myers-Briggs stuff? My married daughter on the other hand was obsessed with it

  34. Betsy

    Happy birthday, Tsh. I’m in the last year of my 40’s, and I’ve learned two things: 1. Embrace change. It’s going to happen anyway, so you might as well stay positive. 2. You never stop LEARNING, so keep a teachable attitude.

    And I’m going to check out “Call the Midwife” for sure! Love tips like this since I live overseas.

  35. Jen E @ mommablogsalot

    I totally agree about the cinnamon spice tea – it’s one of my absolute faves!

  36. Stephanie

    Isn’t “Call The Midwife” outstanding? One of only two TV shows that Tim & I watch.

    * By the way, do you know when the new season starts?

  37. julie g

    I’m so excited to watch Call The Midwife! Have you tried Bleak House on Netflix? I own it and it’s one of my all-time faves. After watching I read the book and of course it’s even better!

  38. Zibby

    I will be 35 in less than half-year and I’m still only just learning how to live. I don’t have kids, like my coffee black and am seriously considering getting all my recipes together and creating a blog or maybe trying to release a book….
    Now – that’s a proof that men are considerably slower when comes to becoming adult and resposible.

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