My birthday list: 20 things I learned this year

Friends: I have just returned from the internet break of my life. Every summer I take a bit of a work hiatus, but this is the first summer in six years—since my youngest was born—that I’ve taken a bonafide break.

(And even six years ago, I was completely consumed with newborn stuff.)

I was barely online this summer. I desperately needed it. And it was all I dreamed it could be.

My assistant (and magician extraordinaire) Caroline manned the AoS homefront here and handled the social media stuff, and other friends filled in as guest writers. Thank you so much to Alexandra Kuykendall, Kim Rama, Ed Cyzewski, Alia Hagenbach, Shannan Martin, and Jerusalem Greer. You guys are salt of the earth (and you have a wonderful way with words, too).

Caroline TeSelle and Tsh Oxenreider
Photo source

I am grateful. I feel rested. And I love this online space again! (That’s always good.)

This is my birthday week—the big 39! And so to celebrate, like I do most years this week, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the past twelve months—both deep and shallow. Most of it is common sense, but apparently I still need plenty of reminders, you know?

Here goes.

1. Breaks are an essential part of life. We all need them, and our culture makes us feel guilty for taking them. Work equals worth, it says. But breaks—in whatever form they come—remind us of our humanity, what life is really about, and that we matter just because we do. Not because of what we can produce.

2. Saltwater Sandals really are fantastic shoes. They hold up to so much wear and still look timeless and adorable. And hey—waterproof. So versatile. I wore ’em near daily this summer.

Saltwater Sandals

3. When it comes to your creative work, people want you. People appreciate a peek of your humanity because it makes them feel empowered and more—well, human. Being yourself in your work gives people permission to embrace who they are, and therefore, both sides win. We all feel more alive. Show us the real you.

4. You really don’t miss much when you stay off Facebook for a month. Sure, someone might have had a cool vacation or you might have missed a funny meme, but the same people are still running for president, the same conversations arguments will keep on happening about them, and kids will keep on having first days of school. The benefits of taking a break from the noise far outweigh any negatives.

the great british baking show
photo source

5. The Brits are the best storytellers in the world. From literature both old and new, to fantastic BBC television, it really doesn’t get any better than our friends across the pond. Thanks for Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and The Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off.

6. Inboxes, in all their forms (email, Facebook messenger, text, Voxer), are all other peoples’ agenda for your time. They often mean well, but feeling like you have to constantly be on top of them is essentially saying their agendas for you matter more than your own agenda for yourself. Be responsible, sure, but don’t feel like your highest daily priority needs to be keeping those people happy. The good ones understand.

7. I wish it wasn’t true, but I really do feel a million, trillion times better when I don’t eat gluten or sugar. The bloating, headaches, brain fog, and lethargy just aren’t worth it like they used to be. Sadly. Le sigh.

Backyard eggs

8. There are exceptions, of course, which is why I’m learning to think of my food experience as the entire process, from the creating to the digesting (and not just the taste in my mouth, in other words). If the buying of the ingredients, the making of the food, the presentation and gathering at the table, and the flavor-pop in my mouth are all phenomenal, then occasionally that’s worth the aftermath of potential crap I may feel. But maybe not. When I remember how I’ll feel afterwards, sometimes that’s all I need to confidently skip that slice of cake.

9. Summer reading is best when there’s an occasional fluff novel tossed in the stack.

10. Which means it’s okay if it’s the same for my kids’ summer reading. I don’t need to worry if they’re a bit excessive with the graphic novels in the month of July. That’s what summer reading is for.

11. If I don’t have a compelling reason to say no to my kids, I should say yes. Especially because those yesses are deposited into an account that I can lean on when I do need to say no. I enjoy mothering more when I lighten up a bit.

Smith Rock

12. I like a little beard on my husband, but if there’s too much, it’s all I can think about when we kiss. I wish I were more into beards, but I learned this summer I’m just not. (He shaved recently and we both breathed a sigh of relief.)

13. There’s no reason to apologize for how I make decisions or manage my time—but I still do it far more than I like. I tend to start emails with, “Sorry I’m just now getting back to you,” or “I’m really sorry, but I just can’t do that thing right now”—but really, I don’t need to be sorry. I’m working on cutting this knee-jerk sorry habit that’s really only a platitude.

14. As always, my creative work is so much better when I create it before I consume other peoples’ work. As a writer, for me this means writing—and thinking my heavier thinking—first thing in the morning. Before I check my inboxes, before I check social media, before I read other people (with the exception of a few quality—usually dead—writers), and really, before I even get online.

15. I really love small towns. Megacities are great to visit, but my soul feels at rest in quainter communities.

16. When my soul feels agitated and my brain feels chaotic or muddled, poetry is a great antidote. Whenever I’d feel the stress heading over the horizon this past year, I’d force myself to sit down and read a poem or three (preferably from pages in a book, and not on a glowing screen). Sure enough, my breathing would slow and the tension in my shoulders would release a bit. Something about poetry’s request to be read slowly.

17. I still don’t understand why God created mosquitos, and I plan to inquire about the purpose behind their existence soon after I walk through the pearly gates.

18. I love being in the presence of a body of water. I actually feel a difference in my soul, a tenderizing of my heart, a refocus in my eyes. I also love mountains, and have grown in my appreciation of them since being married to Kyle. This summer, I finally started using the hammock I got for my birthday last summer. Collectively, this means I’ve realized my favorite place in the world is a lake surrounded by mountains, with me enjoying said view from a hammock.

19. My work online is so much more meaningful when I engage with the flesh-and-blood on the other side of the screen—meaning, you. I had coffee with a group of you fantastic readers in Portland, and I loved it. I’m learning that meeting readers is one of my favorite parts of my work as a writer. It’s because of you that I even get to do this. “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough. Let’s all travel the world together, shall we?

20. I still love growing out my gray hair.

I’m stoked about the next twelve months at age 39 (and I can’t wait to answer when people ask my age, “I’m 39—no, really!”). I’m grateful to grow older—as the saying goes, it’s a privilege denied to many.

Alright, friends, it’s your turn… I’ve got birthday request for you: I’d love for you to say hello in the comments. Please introduce yourself to me! If you’re up for it, tell me your age (because it’s just a number), and tell me something interesting about yourself, big or small. I love knowing more about who’s reading behind the screen!

And thank you for being here. I’m so thankful for you.

Reading Time:

5 minutes

 

 

 

227 Comments

  1. Renee Boring

    Hi, Tsh. I’m Renee and I’m 46 and I feel this weird tangential connection to you because my husband lived in Kosovo at the same time as you which was before he and I met and started a globe-trotting life together (which was never really in my plan!).

    • Sharon

      Hi Tsh. I’m Sharon. Soon to be 65. I think you are wise beyond your years and enjoy reading your posts. Happy Birthday!

    • Karen

      Hey Tsh!
      I’m Karen, age 59, and I’m from a small town located in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of NC. My husband and I have 2 darling girls, both adopted (one from Romania, and one from Vietnam). We’ve enjoyed a grand adventure of living many different places, thanks to my husband’s career … from Boston to Chicago to Barcelona to Brussels to Atlanta and now Melbourne, AU. We’ve had the absolute JOY of travelling the world, making wonderful friends along the way, and eating lots of interesting (sometimes) and delicious foods, and drinking lots of interesting (sometimes) beverages and wines. No matter how far we roam, quaint small towns are our favorite. I feel like I can breathe better in a small town, near some mountains. And it’s infinitely so much easier to talk to God in said environment. Oh, and I’m with you on #5 … there’s nothing better than a great British read, the Great British Bake-Off, or a great BBC drama. Indeed!
      Love your work, Tsh. You had me at Notes from a Blue Bike. 😉

  2. Rachel

    I’m 27 and my family lives on my uncle’s farm in Alabama.

  3. Margaret

    Hi Tsh! I just turned 38 this month and I love growing out my gray too. An interesting thing about me is I enjoy putting up my produce all summer long, even when that means sweating over a hot canner until midnight. All that work just tastes so good in winter. I enjoy your work, in all it’s forms, very much. Thank you!

  4. Diabra

    Hi, I’m Diabra and one year older than you. I am a homeschooling mum in Tasmania, the island right at the bottom of Australia. I lived in Kelowna, Canada for 4 years, and miss it. I really enjoy cookbooks with lots of stories in them, and found a whole store devoted to them just outside Victoria markets, but only had handluggage for the flight so couldn’t bring any home with me. Happy birthday to you.

  5. Harriet

    Hi! I’m 50 and from Finland. I feel 50 but in a fabulous way:) and all I can think about at the moment is when and how to transition to grey.

    • Anna

      Harriet,
      I’m Finnish (American)! It’s a small minority so it feels like family to “meet” another Finn. 🙂 Hyvää Paivää!

  6. Anya

    Happy birthday! Well, I’m 45, it’s nearly 11:00 at night, my 16-year-old is up restringing his classical guitar to the music of Ed Sheeran, my husband and two middle kids are asleep, and my 3-year-old just wandered in for about the millionth time to “whisper” yet another story to me– and I’m having the worst time stopping him even though I have work tomorrow because he’s so cute and because I know how fast this goes. Thanks for your lovely blog and your writings and encouragement.

  7. Jennifer

    I’m 39, and came to the realization recently that my ADHD actually helps me with my job ( as a building inspector) because I get distracted by noticing every little flaw and detail, especially if it is not normal or seems out of place. It’s a nice feeling to find bright sides to things ?

    • Sara

      Me too Jennifer! As an Inspector with work ADHD & as a woman- I think we notice the thing out of place.

  8. Jenny

    Hi Tsh, I’m Jenny, I’m a Brit, a Storyteller, a 35 year old mum of two tiny kiddos, a writer & blogger and thanks (in part) to the Upstream Fieldguide, maybe a thing or two more.

  9. Vanessa Murphy

    Hey Tsh, I’m 39 too, I’m from Australia. Currently we’re travelling around the country with our 2 girls aged 6 and 10. The real-life of extended travel has been our almost constant experience on this trip. We’ve hit a major hurdle and had our car trucked 700km away to have a new transmission put in. So, we’re currently stranded in the tiny town of Coral Bay Western Australia until the car is fixed. Currently feeling overwhelmed at the fact that we’re 5000km from home and there’s nothing easy about the direct or indirect ways home. Anyway…. been reading you and listening for years, feel like I know you! Oh, and you are so right about Australia being expensive! I think this town is the most expensive place in Australia (and for good reason given its remoteness!)

    • Louisa Walker

      Hi Vanessa, I’m Louisa and I’m also traveling around Australia with my 2 boys aged 8 and 6. I’m ‘stuck’ in Broome while my hubby returned to Perth for 2 weeks work. I truly connect with your comment especially the real-life aspect of family travel. After nearly 1 month stop here it seems that getting on the road again will be hard!!!

      • Vanessa

        Thanks for your reply! Our girls are 10 and 6. At this point I can’t wait to get home!

  10. Maryalene

    Happy Birthday!

    I just turned 39 a few weeks ago and have come to see my 30s as something of a lost decade. My dad and husband both died during these years, and so I spent most of the time reacting to ny circumstances rather than charting my own course. However, I am hopeful that we have made it through the stormy waters, and I am cautiously optimistic that year 39 will be the launching pad for a great decade of 40s. I’m trying not to think too big though because as they say: man plans, God laughs.

    • Vanessa Murphy

      Hi Maryalene, I’m sorry to hear of the losses you had in your 30s. Resonated with me as I lost a baby son and my mother in my 30s. I feel like I lost my innocence and aged instantly with the first bad news (I was 30 years old). I also lost a grandmother, a friend and 2 of my friends lost children as well. Grief sucks. I hope your 40s are a new beginning. Maybe they will be for me too (i turned 39 in June).

  11. Amy

    Hi Tsh! Happy Birthday! My name is Amy and I am 33. My husband and I live in Pittsburgh with our 3 kids. This morning I am sending my oldest off to first grade and still can’t believe she is that old!

  12. Trish Finley

    Hi Tsh! Happy birthday! I’m Trish, 28 and a half. (I can’t wait to turn thirty, so I’m counting the halfs now too. :P) I make people’s coffee for a living, and for fun I write things and take walks and read tarot and hang out with my husband and two cats. It’s a pretty sweet life. 🙂

  13. Marcia (123 blog)

    Happy Birthday! I’m 42 and I just wrote a post on ageing and 42 and grey hair and all such things 🙂

  14. Southern Gal

    Hi Tsh! I hope your birthday is grand! I’m 53. I’ve been married for almost 36 years to my high school sweetheart. Yes, I was a baby. Now I’m a Nona. 😉 I grew out my gray a few years ago (and commented here about it which made that post on my blog very popular) and have never looked back. I still have a 14-year-old I’m homeschooling. (We began high school last week!) My oldest is now homeschooling her crew (6, 4, 18 mo.) and we’re in the same homeschool support group which is really great and weird at the same time. I love to sew and take pictures of life. I’m not good at the picture taking, but love it anyway. I’ve been reading here for a long time and enjoy it!

  15. Alex

    Hi Tsh, my name is Alex. I’m a 50 year old living in a 25 year old body. I’m a proud Toronto native 🙂 but, like yourself, I often feel more at rest in small communities, so I run away to my cottage often.

  16. Lee Ann

    Happy Birthday! I’m Lee Ann, 39 turning 40, and I was suppose to learn to SUP board this summer ( as part of marking the last year of my thirties) but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I did go skiing over the winter though.

  17. Addie

    Just because its your birthday (happy birthday!)…. I am Addie Talley, Im 37… and today Im feeling really, really good (most days Im struggling with depression and not being enough). Im a photography who likes to photograph the weird and fantastical and I just got a friend of mine to agree to model for me (yay!)…. Im also a cheer/tumbling coach at a local gym and we are (finally!) starting a special needs cheer team and Im coaching it – Ive had a lot of obstacles to overcome with this and our parent meetings are next Monday and Wednesday – Im scared to death no one is going to come and after all this work, its going to be a failure – Im going to be a failure… but its all pretty exciting so Im trying to keep my head up…

  18. Erika Finn

    Happy birthday! I’m turning 39 in two weeks! ? I agree with all you wrote and I’m so glad you’re back!!! I am more excited with each passing year because I find myself uncovering more of who I am and caring much less about what other people think. I started writing and publishing books recently and I have published eight books since April (4 middle grade chapter books and 4 romance novels) while also blogging and homeschooling my four children. I think I may need to slow down soon, but for now it’s very fun. Some of the books I started writing last year, so it wasn’t that I wrote and published them all in the last four months. My husband works long hours on movies and television shows, so I am often alone with my kids in the big city of LA (where we live). I try to look on the bright side of things… My children and I are super close, and they are the best of friends. I’m happy. That, in itself, is my greatest success. ??

  19. Tracy Davis

    Happy birthday! I’m 53 and my hair is gray in the front and brown in the back. I’ve been married 36 years, and my husband and I have 12 kids. We’ve homeschooled them all and have 5 to go. My favorite things are reading good books and walking outside. My least favorite thing is teaching teenagers to drive.

  20. Mandi

    Hi, Tsh! I’m Mandi, and I also turned 39 this month. My family and I just returned in July from a year+ of globetrotting, and we are trying to find knew normals as we settle into a new-to-us part of Texas. I enjoy reading your words, in book and blog form, but I’m so glad you took the break you needed this summer. Taking good, meaningful breaks is something I think most of us could do better. Happy birthday! May the year ahead be the best yet!

  21. Ellen

    Happy birthday, Tsh!

    I’m 32, Canadian, with 4 kids… 8, 6, 2, and 6 months. I’m just about to begin another year of homeschooling the older two and cuddling them all. My calling is home and educating, and I love Bible teaching at our church and canning our garden produce. It’s a beautiful life and my only complaint is how quickly it’s flying!

  22. Emily

    I’m 41 years old, homeschool 4 kids ranging from grade 2 to grade 11 this fall. I’ve actually never dyed my hair in my life (not even a spray-in, wash out one; not even in high school!) so I’m going grey slowly and steadily. We live in a city, but have a good-sized yard and try to grow a few things each summer so the kids have some awareness of how food happens. This year it all got eaten by bunnies – I guess there’s a lesson in that, too. 🙂

  23. joanna

    Hello. I’m Joanna and I’m 41. I’m a New Yorker and I have learned so much from you and your team of writers. I’m learning to play the guitar (at 40) and am loving it!

  24. Jenny M

    Hi Tsh! I was sorry to miss you in PDX. Glad it was a good time. I’m Jenny Myers, I’m 38 years old. I live with my family in Tacoma, and I’ve been using the same Sally’s Beauty Supply hair color mix since I was 15 years old. 🙂 I love reading and learning about your family’s travels, even though it does not inspire me to do the same. Looking forward to the next book. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  25. Julie

    I’m also 39, turning 40 by the end of the year. I 100% agree on the beard thing, my husband grows one out every summer because of his work and I hate it. The kissing thing drives me crazy!

  26. Emily

    Good morning and happy birthday from another 39 year old mom! I think each year just gets better…:) I’ve enjoyed your blog so much, and got started with Notes from a Blue Bike. Wishing you a wonderful year!

  27. Cherise

    Hi, and happy birthday! I’ll be turning 29 in two weeks, so I’m almost exactly 10 years behind you. I’ve been married five years to a sweet guy who works in college ministry, and we’re pregnant with our first little one. I loved your list of things you learned, and I’m glad you feel refreshed after your summer off!

  28. amy

    Thanks so much for your writing – I have been a fan ever since finding “Organized Simplicity” several years ago! I am 43 and live in rural Pennsylvania with my husband and our three children (ages 5-10). For quite a while now I have been striving to balance motherhood and family life (my first priority of course) with my full-time job, which I get to do from home, by focusing on promoting simplicity in all aspects of our life. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is an ongoing struggle, but I know this lifestyle is entirely worth it. Thank you for everything you share with your readers!!

  29. Marla Taviano

    Hi, Tsh! I’m 40 (will be 41 on Halloween) and loving it. So fun to read comments from others our age and older (seems like I’m always the oldest wherever I go lately–and I actually don’t mind). I live in Siem Reap, Cambodia with my fam, and I’m excited for you all to visit us here (we live just 3 km from Angkor Wat–worldschooling!!) someday! xoxo!

  30. Kristy

    Hi I’m Kristy from Australia mother of 3 boys (15,13,10) married for 18years. Your blog was one of the first ones I started reading many years ago and through you I’ve been introduced to many other great ladies who have follow and glean from. Thanks for sharing. X

  31. Jen

    Hi Tsh, happy birthday! My name is Jen and Im 29! My husband and 5, 3 and 1 year old live in Denver currently but are dreaming of and preparing to buy a ranch in the mountains and try our hand at sheep ranching. Its very strange for us city kids bur exciting!

  32. Sarah M

    Happy Birthday, Tsh! I’m 31 and I live in British Columbia (about 30 miles east of Vancouver) with my husband, two kids that I homeschool, and our dog Copper. We’re always looking for new hiking trails or new lakes to paddle in our old, craigslist canoe.

    I’ll let you in on a secret — I’ve never taken an internet break– I’m a little scared to! I just love my internet. Something I’ve thought about, though…

    • Colleen

      Hi Tsh! (and Sarah M!)

      I’m also a British Columbian and I live in Chilliwack! My husband and I have a wonderful 5 year old dog and an extraordinary 17 month old red-headed daughter: both are adopted. 🙂 We like to be in the outdoors, and I like to sew, but that’s proved more difficult than I expected with our active toddler around!

      I’m on a journey of minimalism, simplicity, and stewardship.

      Thanks for creating such an enjoyable and beneficial podcast show!

      • Colleen

        I’m 35 and a new mom. Yikes!

  33. Darcy

    Happy Birthday! I’m Darcy, 33 years old and the mom to a 7 month old. A fun thing is we’re trying to buy our first house, and we live in a great community that we’re excited to be investing in.

  34. Pauline

    Happy Birthday! I’m 39 just like you and I live in Paris, France.

  35. Kate Laymon

    Happy Birthday, Tsh! I’m Kate and I’m 34. I totally feel you on the beard thing. My husband normally sports a beard so I just set a boundary on kissing him when his beard is in the super prickly stage. Otherwise, I’ve adjusted to it.

  36. Harmony

    Hi Tsh. I’m Harmony Harkema. I’m an editor by day at HCCP (Nelson/Zondervan) and the founder/Editorial Director of theglorioustable.com by night. I live in Memphis and work from home (blessedly, as it gives me so much flexibility) with my husband and two daughters (four and nine months). I’ve been reading you for years, but I’m pretty sure this is my first comment. We met in person at Ebenezer’s in D.C. when you were on tour for Notes from a Blue Bike, which was super fun. I remember I loved your glasses. I’ve just recently started listening to podcasts again and have been catching up on The Simple Show a lot during my daily walks/bike rides. SO much goodness. Thank you, especially, for introducing me to Christie Purifoy through the show. I’m contemplating huge changes in the next year, so much of what I’m gleaning from the blog and the podcast right now are meeting a big felt need for me–all that to say, keep on. Oh, and I’d been contemplating a pair of Saltwater Sandals for several months now. I finally just ordered some, thanks to this post. Happy birthday. Mine is next Sunday, and I’ll be 41. <3

  37. Erin Greco

    Hi, Tsh! I’m Erin, and I’ll be 28 in a couple of weeks. I’ve been enjoying your work since 2010, and I have just loved watching the growth and development of this site. I live in Kansas City now with my husband and 17-month-old son, but I was born and raised in Eugene, OR, where I believe we may have some mutual friends. Happy Birthday! 🙂

  38. Annie

    Hi! I’m Annie, a 34-year-old mom of 2 girls and wife to a CPA+outdoorsman. We live in the suburbs of Denver where we love hiking and nature. As much as I love the outdoors, I love all that “big cities” have to offer. I teach at an art museum here and am glad we live in a city that is close to the mountains but also has an array of cultural offerings. We’re in the midst of babies and preschool so big changes and dreams are looking quite different than they used to – and I’m learning to embrace that. Happy birthday to you! Here’s to an inspiring year!

  39. Fullertonstreetstudio

    Hi Tsh! My name is Amy Taylor and I’m 38. I have a fledgling little business called Fullerton Street Studio where I make bracelets from reclaimed leather and vintage tea tins. I homeschool my three boys and I too have discovered I love mountains, hiking, and water. My happy place is Big Sur which makes it rather unfortunate that I live in a little town in Texas called Tomball with not a mountain, body of water, or hiking trail nearby….but I dream of someday living in a place that does!
    Happy Birthday! Love your blog and podcasts!!!

    • Jenny

      Hello Amy! We just moved to The Woodlands, not far from you. It is absolutely beautiful country here, but far from my people, and that’s hard. I’ve been meaning to get up to the Sam Houston National Forest since we got here in July, but just haven’t gotten there yet. If you’d ever like a partner in crime to get your feet dirty on a trail, let me know. 🙂

    • Ellen W

      Amy – I also live in Tomball and for nearby nature, I walk at Spring Creek Park. I’m 38 with boys in 5th and 2nd grade. My sister found a gray hair on my head last month, but I haven’t found any others yet. I’m currently a grant writer for small non-profits. Not my passion, but something with flexible hours that works for now.

  40. Lucie Witt

    Hi Tsh! Happy birthday! I am a long time reader, from the very beginning. We even met once at a blog conference in Nashville many, many years ago (there was some kind of drawing thing where you got matched up with someone, and we had the same number). I started reading this blog when my son was born in 2007. It’s been fun watching it grow and change over time. Now I’m 33, that kiddo is 8, and I have a 6 year old, too.

    One of my favorite things has been how this has stayed a place for really any kind of person. While your personal faith shines through in your work, as an agnostic I’ve never felt like this wasn’t a space “for me” and your writing on your faith has given me some interesting things to think about in regards to my own beliefs. I have also continually enjoyed the emphasis on slowing down and making time. I remember being that frazzled mom with a newborn trying to find time to blog. I’m still pretty frazzled, but I’ve learned how to balance my time, finish books (I even have a literary agent now!), etc., and I continuously turn to your blog when I need a recharge or reminder on prioritizing the right things in my life.

  41. Missy June

    I’m Missy and I enjoyed reading all the comments of your diverse readers! I’m a fierce optimist, even when navigating the complicated journey of blended family life (I was surprised to fall in love and marry in midlife!).

    Today, we sent our oldest away to China for four+ months…it’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful!

    • Missy June

      Oh, and I’m in my 40’s with bottle blonde hair and am SUPER LUCKY to live just a few miles from Great Smoky Mountain National Park!

  42. Bettina

    I’m Bettina from Switzerland and I turned 40 a few weeks ago. Guess what, it doesn’t hurt at all! I’ve been reading your blog for the past two years and it helped us get on track to zero waste lifestyle. We are not yet there, but on our way!

  43. Kathleen

    I’m Kathleen, 38, turning 39 at the very end of the year, and living in Flagstaff, AZ. I bought a pair of those Saltwater sandals at the beginning of the summer and they really are the best. So comfortable and versatile. I am a mom to three boys (9,7,3) and love to be outside, hiking, camping, boating, and rock-climbing.

    • Shauna

      I grew up in Flagstaff! I still have family there, so we visit regularly. We live in Phoenix now, and I miss Flagstaff dearly.

  44. Carrie

    Hey Tsh! I’m 39 and live in Upstate NY. I have been reading you for ever, and listen to the podcast. I traveled to the Balkans this summer and tried to pack as light as possible – your posts were timely! I’m single but I think there is a lot for me as an AoS reader. When I recommend your blog and podcast to people, I pretty much talk about you like we’re friends. So…hi?

    I work in college ministry and in my early years, students thought that my premature gray hair was a fashion choice — I had dark hair with a prominent silver streak, right in the front. They would ask me where I got it done! Now, it’s less a streak than a 50% of my head situation. Aside from occasional purple streaks, I mostly leave it alone.

  45. Michaela Dodd

    Happy birthday! I turned 40 six months ago. I’m a recent transplant to Texas–San Antonio–and we’re loving making this state our (we hope) forever home. I’ve been following your blog and podcast for a while now, and I’m currently reading your book too. What can I say, I’m a fan of the stuff you put out there.

  46. Tracy Alsterlund

    Happy Birthday from Minneapolis! I am 49 and have a husband who is shaving of his beard for me right now and I have been saying yes to my kids a lot this week before school starts. I have worked hard to say yes to all the beauty experiments with hair, skin, nails, and makeup as I am rather minimalist with my homemade deodorant and lip balm. Sometimes paddling upstream in your own home is about just floating along and letting my kids learn on their own journey. I can hardly wait to see simple mom meets teenagers in the years to come.

  47. Julie C

    Hello! I am Julie and I am 40. I love it. I earned every year and wouldn’t give any one of them back. I was raised in Montana and that is where my soul is most at home. We ( hubby, and 4 kids ages 11 to 3.) recently moved to Michigan and are enjoying the beach this year. I love art and education and family. ( And, of course, the mountains.)

  48. Mary

    Happy birthday! I’m 32 and live in a suburb of Chicago. When I get antsy or anxious about not living in a hipper, more exciting place, I reframe our town as a village from a Jane Austen novel. Thank you for sharing these lessons – the note about emails resonates with me so much!

  49. Sharon

    Happy Birthday Tsh! I’m 36. Sending love from a small town in Northern Ireland…

  50. Liz

    Happy birthday, Tsh! I’m Liz. I’m 28 years old. Fun fact: I think I am actually your cousin (my grandmother Sue is your grandmother Hazel’s sister). Your blog popped up through Pinterest years ago, and I’ve been following ever since! Lol

    • Hillary

      This is awesome! ?

  51. KC

    Happy birthday! And thank you for the post! I’m 33-ish and enjoy starting plants from seed (the anticipation is great and the first leaves are often so cute!). I’ve only ever raised annuals from seed, though – perennials are apparently out of my skill/green-thumb range. Raising from seed vs. buying plants to fill a garden is, however, one of those “which choice is the ‘simple living’ choice?” questions that I find fascinating, as different people prioritize different things (and justly, too! starting things indoors from seed is a lot of space and life “clutter” if it’s not something you enjoy). Anyway, I enjoy the different takes on simple living that are found on your blog – thank you!

  52. kayla

    hi tsh! i’m kayla. i’m 29 years old and i live in minnesota with my husband and our golden retriever. we moved to a town of 2,500 people last fall after living in minneapolis and elsewhere. every day is an adventure. 😉

  53. Lisa

    Happy Birthday week! I’m Lisa, 34 year old (had to think about that one), and love the community you foster. I am a strong christian, wife, mom, and online teacher who is trying to live life treasuring the small moments. I am also working on saying yes more often and LOVE the British Baking Show.

  54. Becky

    Hi Tsh, I’m Becky, I recently turned 57, fairly recently divorced after 30 years, and am about to embark on a life with no children in my home after 30 years of having at least one of my four daughters living with me. I live in Michigan, where one is never more than 45 minutes from water. It’s a lovely place–more so in summer than winter in my opinion, but not all agree. I enjoy reading your books and your blog, and may or may not cheer out loud sometimes at the intentionality with which your generation is raising children.

  55. Sara

    Happy Birthday! 🙂 I read your book for the first time a few weeks ago and it changed me. For the better. 🙂 I’m Sara, a mama and photographer/artist from Arkansas. We’re trying to grow our family through adoption. The wait and unknowns are so hard. Your blog is a breath of fresh air to me. Thank-you.

  56. Traci keel

    Mosquitoes are the only bugs that can pollinate the cacao plant. So, they are necessary for chocolate to exist. ? It helps me to think about that when I’m fighting them off in Tennessee.

  57. Amanda

    Happy Birthday, Tsh!! I’m a 31 year old SAHM to 3 littles (6, 5 and 2) and taught middle school special ed before this. We live in central Pennsylvania (not super exciting, but I love traveling vicariously through you! 🙂

  58. Shirley

    Happy Birthday! I’m Shirley, I’m 28, and I love Pride and Prejudice (Austen’s novel and the BBC mini series, but NOT the movie with Keira Knightley) so I’m tempted to agree about the Brits being better at story telling (also, their Sherlock!) But Downton Abbey and I couldn’t get along. Why do terrible things keep happening to the family?! I’m also learning to parent with less internet in the mix but it’s tough.

  59. Jenny

    Many happy returns, Tsh! I’m Jenny; native Kentuckian, current Texan, mother to three mighty girls ages 3, 6 & 9, wife to one cool dude. I’m a classically trained musician who’s spent the past 9 years being the primary care giver to my girls by day and freelancing part time by night. But as my youngest is starting preschool this year, I am currently transitioning into a different kind of work that can be done by day, but still get me to the bus stop for the post-school debriefing (my favorite), family dinners and bed time. It’s exhilarating and terrifying! I’ve been following for the past three years and I treasure this place you’ve created. It’s one of the anchors I go back to when I start to feel adrift. Many thanks especially for the Upstream Field Guide. The double page spread in my journal where I listed my dream day/ what’s beautiful/ favorite quotes/ strengths finder/ Enneagram/ Myers-Briggs/ and strengths was revisited so many times this past year as I wondered and sought discernment about where my work life was headed next, that it has fallen right out of my journal! UFG has been a wonderful tool to keep me focused on my true purpose and make decision from that place. Thank you – SO much! And nice to meet you. 🙂

  60. Heather

    Happy Birthday Tsh! I am 35 and live in Maine with my three littles and husband. I started blogging in college way back in the year 2000…that was a while ago. I finally picked it back up in 2010 and love to share my experience with the world (whether anyone is actually listening is still yet to be seen!). I have the same trouble with apologizing, and have been trying to correct the habit for the better part of a year. I recently went back to a paper planner and love it, and realized that I love making lists, and that even though it is a bit of an obsession, it isn’t a bad thing – whether I actually accomplish all on my list is another thing. But, at least it is no longer taking up space in my brain 🙂 I am a serious introvert parenting/homeschooling 2 extroverts and one borderline extrovert – it is a struggle.

  61. Cynthia

    Hi Tsh! I’m Cynthia and I too celebrated a birthday this month. I turned 36. No children as of yet, but maybe someday. I do have my furbabies that keep me busy. I’m trying to learn German so that when we visit next year I won’t be completely lost. :o) I have always wondered why God created mosquitoes too!! Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  62. Rachel

    I say…embrace the grey. I now have highlights that don’t cost and arm and two legs”

  63. Christina

    Happy birthday!! I’m Christina, just turned 29 and live in Amarillo, TX. My husband and I just had our 4th child five weeks ago. We are about to dive into homeschool for the year. We currently live in a 915sq ft house with all 6 of us so living simply has been a life saver. Your book inspired it all since we live in such a tiny space. Looking to move to the country soon though! With a tiny baby, your post today definitely helped to make me feel like a normal human being. 🙂

  64. Shauna

    Happy Birthday! I’ll turn 39 next week. I’m a retired attorney living in the desert Southwest and plotting our family’s trip around the world while our kids are still at home. (They’re young; we have plenty of time!)

    I reeeeally wanted to homeschool my daughter. We tried it, and although she did well, she is now thriving at a local charter school. Not everything works for everyone, and that’s ok!

    Question for YOU: where was that picture of you and your husband taken? It’s beautiful!

  65. Debbie Couture

    Hi Tsh. I am 64 and love my gray/white hair. I started graying around age 27 when my first child was born. When I was about 40-maybe 39-I was asked if I was my youngest daughters grandmother. I then started dying my hair. When I was in my 50’s I was asked or assumed to be my granddaughters mother with my dark hair. At 62 I decided I could be old and let my gray/white hair grow out. I get lots of compliments on it and I am very glad to not be dying it anymore. Good luck with yours. I live in Virginia.

    • Anna

      Hi! I’m Anna, age 30 from Washington. I’ve been reading your blog for at least 7 years? I’ve always enjoyed it. The world travel vein you share about inspires me as I got to visit Finland, Norway, Russia and Estonia with my family the year I graduated from high school. I’m a mom of 4 now and I love it, but those travel memories really left an imprint on me for the best and have made me a better person. All the best to you!

  66. Susan Forster

    Hi Tsh, I am Susan from Orlando (native!). I am 64 for 2 more weeks. I’m celebrating my Medicare birthday by going to Nova Scotia.

  67. Laurie

    Hi! I’m Laurie, & I’m 34. I homeschool our 5 kiddos. My husband is a pastor & taxidermist here in rural south GA. We make a joke that he likes to work with dead stuff! Lol It’s been great to “find” you through your book & connect through your blog. I also love blogging. Our family has a passion for travel too! Thanks for the reminder that unplugging is so necessary & that FB is not always a necessity either!

  68. laura

    hi Tsh! I am 31 and a military spouse–currently living in Ft. Hood Tx. We enjoy the trails and kayaking only minutes from our house–an unexpected surprise for us! We love traveling. Last summer we took a month trip to Thailand-I still miss great thai food. While our life isn’t simple we are learning to live where we are planted.

  69. Libby

    Happy birthday Tsh! I’m Libby, 41 year old wife and mother of 3 from Brisbane, Australia. I’m with you on the beard, but not on the grey hair – because I have way too much! Love what you learned about inboxes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your gift of wonderful writing! 🙂

  70. se7en

    Hay there, Happy Brilliant Birthday from sunny Cape Town. I absolutely love that line: I’m grateful to grow older—as the saying goes, it’s a privilege denied to many.

  71. angela

    hi!!! i’m angela, and i just turned 40!!!! this has been the biggest milestone for me, and i’m right in the middle of your e-course, which couldn’t have come at a better time. i just wrote my life’s purpose, and truly want to say THANK YOU for following your life’s purpose so that i can help uncover mine a bit more! your podcasts and blog posts and e-course have been a TRUE inspiration to me. here’s to the next 12 months of awesome!

  72. Linda Sand

    I turned 69 last month. I learned to read before I started school and I never stopped. Your blog is one of my favorite things to read.

  73. Charity

    I’m 39 and I totally agree with you on many points but especially the Brits and being by the water. I feel like a piece of my soul is missing when I am away from it. Happy birthday!

  74. Alyssa

    Happy Birthday! My birthday is tomorrow and I’ll be 46. I’ve been letting my silver hair shine for a couple years now and love it. I’m a home school mama who has raised 3 kids – 24, 21, and 19 who are all currently living with us (which is great) and a 12 year old, adopted from foster care 5 years ago- that has been a whole new adventure! We live in Eugene, OR and run a family coffee roasting business.

    I have enjoyed your writing and podcast over the years. Family, travel, books, faith- love it all!

  75. Beth

    Happy Bday Tsh!
    I’m 46 and unlike you proudly fighting the gray until I turn 50. Mom to 6 – 3 step adults, 3 littles. Agree with Pride & Prejudice and Harr Potter. All my kids love books and you challenge me with the idea of simple living as I love my stuff. Thanks for sharing your family and your heart.

  76. Shannon

    Hi I’m Shannon, I’m 41 and a mom of 2, currently supervising my 11-year-old’s bath because he has a broken arm in a cast that can’t get wet. ?. He broke his arm on the playground before the first bell on the first day of school. So it’s been a wacky first month of school but we are adjusting.

  77. Karen

    I’m Karen and I recently turned 51. I can say without hesitation that the 50’s are THE BEST YEARS SO FAR!!! Not sure it’s all that interesting but I started running a few months ago for the first time ever. My goal is to run (without walking at all) a 5K this fall!

  78. Sarah

    Hi Tsh! Happy birthday :-). I’m Sarah and I am
    37. You inspired me to grow out my grey. I must admit to getting a weird sense of excitement everytime
    I catch a glimpse in the mirror. Oddly, my mother is horrified by the idea, and she is taking it personally. It’s as if I’m a teenager dyeing my hair a wacky color just to make her upset. It’s pretty amusing 🙂

  79. Janette

    Happy birthday! I just listened to your entire “Travel with Kids” series on a road trip (coincidentally) with my husband and our 3 small kids. What an inspiration! Thank you so much! I turned 30 this year and could not have been happier about it. I too am discovering that life keeps getting better and better. Thanks for your wise words!

  80. Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

    Hi Tsh! You and the work of The Art of Simple inspire me! I first was drawn into your writing through Notes from a Blue Bike – and I’m still reading and digesting everything that comes my way! Newly, your podcasts! I’m a few days away from 34. August is our month of celebrations (both mine and my husband’s birthdays and our anniversary – 4 years!) We just returned from Rocky Mountain National Park and I, too, love mountains and water. Peace, Kim

  81. Melanie

    Happy Birthday! I’m 32 and I discovered your blog within the last year or so. Random fact about me – it bugs me when people call koalas, bears as in “At the zoo today I saw the koala bears.” They are not bears they are marsupials. Please say, “At the zoo today I saw the koalas.”

  82. Fran

    Happy Birth Week Tsh! I’m Fran and I’m 34. I’m married with 3 boys – by reading your blog/books and listening to your podcasts I’ve become more brave than I thought I could be. thank you! *I, too, like both water and mountains and would love to live on a lake surrounded by mountains…right now, I live in flat land (with a few rolling hills)

  83. Emily Rogers

    Hi Tsh, happy birthday! I’m a 42 year old Aussie girl, married with a daughter and 2 stepsons. I’m also embracing my greys, taking a much needed break from everything and can relate to pretty much everything you learned this year!

    Like you, I’ve also learned that I really don’t like my husband’s bushy beard (he finally shaved!), that saltwater sandals are the goods and that I write better in the morning. I also love small towns, being in water and am working very hard on saying yes to my kids. I’m utterly sick of no. Life really does need more YES don’t you think!

    Enjoy your 39th year Tsh and I hope it is as simple and sweet as can be. xx

  84. Heidi

    Hi! I’m turning 40 in January. It’s the first time since I was a kid that I’ve been like, “I’m *almost* this age”. 🙂 An interesting thing about me is that my family and I just got back from spending a year in Mumbai. It was hot, dirty, loud, and crowded, and we had a great time! We were there for my husband’s job, so we were living upper-class Indian life. Now that we’re back in Denver, our three kids are in American public school for the first time (we homeschooled before the year of private school in India), and so far I’m the most freaked out about it of all five of us.

  85. Shannon

    Hi Tsh, happy birthday! I am also 39. Mom of two and spouse to a poet. Work full-time directing a ministry in West Baltimore where we invite young adults to live in an intentional community and to live simply. Intentionally raising our family in bmore and that takes much energy — your work is encouraging. Love your work and have been a fan for many years— first time commenting.

  86. Linda

    My name is Linda.I have been reading your blog for a long time. I appreciate the time and work you put into it.
    I’ve been married for 40 years to a wonderful man.
    We have two grown children.
    I love being an at home wife and mom and I love animals.
    Hope you have a great birthday.

  87. Jennifer

    I’m Jennifer – a 44 year old living in Brooklyn, NY. Found your podcast through following Modern Mrs Darcy. Trying to reconcile (read: change) my busy overwhelmed life as a mom working full time outside the home. Finding myself drawn to following strong women writers like yourself who home school, write, travel – and this is inspiring me to try to drive some change in my life. Thank you!

  88. marcella thompson

    Happy Birthday Tsh! Love your blog and newsletter I’m also an upfielder.Turned 58 this month, am caregiver to mom with dementia,I live on the caribbean island of Trinidad.Even though from a different background I find your writing relevant and so helpful.I’m loving my fifties -find that I care much less what people think – keep up the good work,

  89. Melissa

    Hi Tsh. Happy Birthday from Australia! I’ve just turned 37, married and Mum to three littles (5, 3 & 1). Still learning about myself, but have recently found making sourdough a good thing for my soul. That and reading good books and going for bushwalks. Thanks for your blog – I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts ever since my oldest was a bub!

  90. Asia

    Hi I am Asia , 39 in november, i love your articles and almost always can relate and agree with your opinion but i disagree here that brits are best story tellers , i read many of them but urdu and persian writers are more deeper and heart touching. Happy Birthday

  91. Bec

    Happy birthday! I am 39 also and live in Tasmania, Australia. I love your writing.

  92. Leah

    Great list Tsh! Happy belated birthday!! I’m Leah, 47 (can not even believe as I type it) and live in San Francisco with 2 daughters and husband. We’ve just returned from a four month family sabbatical and that’s when I started following you. “Notes From a Blue Bike” was such an inspiring read as we started our journey. Loving following you and the other gifted writers on your team.

    • Sarah Badat Richardson

      PS: I just remembered I haven’t been able to log in to the upstream course I purchased. I forgot my password & am not receiving the reset email…(tried 3x)
      I also sent an email via your website & didn’t get a response. Please help 🙂

  93. Anna

    I’m 41, and I live in Africa, in Congo from 2009-2015, now in Mali. I had gray hair come and go. After being in Congo over 3 years, I was getting some gray, especially right in the front. We went back to spend a year in the US, and it changed back to brown. I could pull out a hair that was brown, then gray then brown. I blame it on the stress. Then back to Congo for another year and a half, and I was starting to get some gray again, but not as much. My daughter called them my “silver highlights” because that sounded prettier than gray hair. Back to the US, and it went away. Isn’t it interesting how stress can have such an affect on our bodies? Now I have a few gray hairs, but nothing noticeable. We’re in a much less stressful place, so I’m hopeful that lasts. Both times when I was in the US, I got highlights and then you couldn’t really tell. I used to have highlights when I lived in the US all the time, but I can’t even get a decent haircut in the places we’ve lived. If I do get gray, I won’t try to die it.

  94. Anita

    Hi, I,m 34. I live in Roelofarendsveen, The Netherlands with my husband and kids (7 & 8). Stay at home mom. Minimalist. My blog is: dekleineminimalist.blogspot.com

  95. Jamie

    Hi Tsh! Happy Birthday! I’m going to be 39 this year too! I love following along with what you learn and reflect on each year. I think it’s such a valuable practice. My hubby, 3 kids and I live in SC…a place I never thought we’d call home after living in Turkey and other countries in the ME. He does the globe trotting these days and occasionally I go along, but mostly I’m keeping the home fires burning. Travel is my favorite, but I need long bouts of routine in between.

  96. Jennifer

    Hey Tsh~Happy Birthday! My name is Jennifer & I live on the SW Missouri/NW Arkansas line, deep in the country in a ‘holler’! I’m 36, married to my best friend Ben for 12 years with a 7 yo boy, who starts 3rd grade in 2 weeks when our late in life surprise baby girl will turn one! We both work in critical care areas in hospital, but love to go home to the woods & deer & peace. The Rockys are our favorite travel spot, mountains help me hear God better & breathe deeper! A unique thing in my life this instant…I’m getting my CDL to drive a large rattly bus for a summer kid’s ministry. It’s harder than I expected!

  97. Bethany Turner

    Hi, Tsh. Happy birthday! I just turned 28 this month. I’m a grant professional helping nonprofits secure grant funding.

    I love the Art of Simple blog and the Simple Show podcast. I too am working on not apologizing as much. One of the episodes of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast they discussed how many times when we apologize, what we really need to do is say thank you.

  98. Darah

    I’m Darah from Iowa. I’m 38 and expecting my fourth baby. Also I have naturally graying hair and this year people have FINALLY stopped asking why I don’t color it. Apparently I’m appropriately aged 😉

  99. Katy

    Hi Tsh! I’m Katy. I am 26 years old. Mother of an only child, she’s 6 going on 16. I am an Arizonan living for the past year in Las Cruces, New Mexico my partner’s hometown. And I am loving it. I have a large latin family of 22 immediate family members impatiently waiting for me to come home. Our bags were packed and the Uhaul ordered, and then God had a different plans for us. Within 3 weeks we found a place to live, among the pecan trees, and I couldn’t feel more at home. We are planning to stay another year and hope all goes well. The company my partner works for got bought out by the hospital here and if all goes according to plan they cpuld pay for his college education. I would like to say that I love almost everything you post about. Sometimes I weed thru other blogs but yours, is absolutely lovely. You touch base on a lot of different areas of simple living and you do a fantastic job. Thanks for the wonderful reads…

  100. Cheryl

    This post was just what I needed to read today. I commented to my sister the other day how I feel like I’m always “on call” with the world with all the emails, texts, instant messages, etc. I’m going to incorporate so much of what you wrote into my life and bookmarked it to re-read often. Quick question – I have a lot of heel pain and am wondering if the Saltwater Sandals offer any sort of support? I love the look of them. Thanks!

  101. Marnie

    I’m a 38 year old Australian living in Singapore. I was just discussing the very same mosquito issue with my children today….wondering what purpose they serve in God’s kingdom. Thank you for your writing here and especially for the podcast.

  102. San

    Happy birthday Tsh. I am San and I am 40. German living in California.
    I loved your list. Growing older is awesome. Taking Internet breaks is too.

  103. SLVenn

    Happy birthday! I’m Sarah and I’m 33. I’m an introvert trying to minimize my stuff and simplify my schedule so I can just breathe… and spend all those precious moments with my hubs and 3 kids, preferably out in nature. Your blog is very inspiring. Thanks for all you do.

  104. Catherine

    I’m Catherine – 35. I live in Southwestern Ontario in Canada. I’m a SAHM to an 8 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old. I found your blog about 4 years ago when I was searching for ideas about what to do with my then 4 year old when it came to chores and allowances. Lots of changes here since then, but I still find myself here once or twice a week.

  105. Nicola

    Hi Tsh. Ive just turned 29 and found my first grey hair. I was so proud i even took a photo of it! My 2yr old and i are currently living with my sister in law and her family in France for a year whilst my husband stays in Adelaide, Australia working. It is a big adventure to try learn a new language, experience a different culture, live with the in laws, survive the terrible 2s and do it without my man by my side. I will soon be going home and am very stressed and anxious about trying to find what im supposed to ‘do’ as in a career… I have no qualifications really and am at a big fork in the road. Thanks for your lovely words!

  106. Laura

    I’m Laura. I’m 27 and my oldest is supposed to start kindergarten next week, but I’m seriously pondering homeschooling instead. Your blog is the first I actually started reading regularly!

  107. Liz

    Hey there, I am Liz, 34, from Colorado. I loved what you said about feeling easier when a body of water, or mountains, is nearby…I feel the same about mountains and am so happy to live so close (but I am still a bit on the plains). I am a former English teacher, now teaching my littles—2 and 6. I am an adoptive Mama and we are now adventuring to China for our next adoption. I am a long time reader and appreciate that you were able to step back and take a break! I am hoping to do that too.

  108. Alana

    Hi Tsh! I just turned 41, and my present for the big 4-0 last year was a surprise baby! My kids are 7,5, and almost 1. We live in Washington (just moved from Oregon last year – still one of my favorite states) and I’m married to a national park ranger. We get to live in some pretty amazing places. I fee like we have a lot in common, so I always take something away from the blog and podcast – good stuff!

  109. Kaytee Cobb

    Hi Tsh!! Happy birthday! I’m 32, mom of three boys (my third baby will be two weeks old tomorrow!!). I’ve been following you for years, not in a creepy way, just in a fangirl way, and own your book and I’m so excited for the next one. But now I feel more connected to you than ever because we’re both Awesomesides, which doesn’t mean you know mean from Eve, but I kind of feel like you’re more accessible and real now? ?

  110. Wanda

    HI and happy birthday!! I’m 72 and live in the Texas Hill Country. Love your blog and books. I appreciate your genuineness and your work. You have a gentle way of laying out your perspective. I don’t always agree, but I always enjoy the read!

  111. Susan

    I’m Susan, 36, now from Cleveland. Seems strange that we have only been here 3 years, but it feels more like home than DC, where we were for 10 years. My husband and I have 2 daughters, 7 and 5, and we are currently planning a 3 month trip for the first part of 2017. We’ll be in Asia and New Zealand. I love following your travels and family. Your writing has helped us decide we can and should go on this trip and on future trips.

  112. Jennifer

    Happy Birthday Tsh! I’m a 49-year-old musician, traveller, gardener and foster momcat for the local humane society. This year I’m striving to do 49 things to make this world a better place: some little, some more ambitious. Five months in, I’m up to 23.

    Like you, I’m embracing my grey and coincidently, this is the first time I’ve stopped by the blog after purposely setting the Internet on the back burner all summer. It’s too tempting to spend hours reading back and catching up on podcasts so I shall have to summon up some self-control.

  113. Amy G.

    Happy birthday, Tsh! I’m Amy, wife of almost 20 years to Scott and a homeschooling mama to 3 kiddos (ages 16, 14, and 12). I turned 42 last month. Like you, I have marveled at my gray hair and have no plans to cover it up. I’ve been off Instagram (my social media drug of choice) since June and l-o-v-e the free time and focus on my real life that I have gained. Plus, I’ve read 5 books since weaning off IG, so there’s that 🙂

  114. Andrea K

    Hi there Tsh!! My name is Andrea and I’m 36. I live in PA but was born and bred in Western Idaho so when you talk about and post pictures of Oregon, my heart hurts a little for home. Nothing beats it! Thanks for putting yourself out there…you’ve definitely encouraged me to look at life a from a different angle!

  115. Rebekah

    Happy 39th year to you, Tsh! I’m Rebekah, 41, from Seattle. Something interesting….hmmm. there are lots of things I like about myself, but likely those things are similar to many other people. One different thing is that we have a fellowship meeting in our home every Sunday morning. Around 25 people come,…we sing and pray together, and speak from the Bible and our experiences putting it into practice. It’s one of the precious things in my life. Kids share, too, and I love knowing my kids have this built-up spiritual family that loves and cares for them and hears their thoughts and struggles.

  116. Becky N

    Happy Birthday Tsh! I turned 41 in May and just started back to school on Monday. I’m studying to become a Registered Nurse. My kids go back to school in a few weeks (6th, 5th and preschool) and I’m glad they can see me studying and working hard. I remember my mom doing it when I was their age and it made a big impression. My 40s are about setting my own path. I hope you enjoy this year!

  117. Heather

    Hi Tsh I’m Heather and I’ve been reading your blog for years but have only ever commented once or twice. I’m 30, British and mum to an 8 month old. I went grey early, dyed it for years and have been growing it out for the last 2 years.
    My husband and I are slowly working out way through the upstream field guide – we’re taking our time over our family purpose statement.
    We’ve just bought a house that needs a lot of work and we’re enjoying dreaming about what it could look like!

  118. Meg Longley

    Hi Tsh! I’m Meg. I’m 63. My husband and I enjoy our empty nest, and we enjoy studying (and endeavoring to apply) the Bible. Our oldest son has an almost 3 yr old daughter (far away in California), our daughter just had her first baby–a boy. They live closer and we’ll get to see them more. LOVE being a grandma!
    I just LOVE your blog and podcast. I appreciate your thoughts and perspectives and how you keep it real. I enjoy the comments people leave also. Thanks for all you do and please keep up the good work! God bless you and your family!

  119. Elizabeth

    Hi! I’m Elizabeth and I’m 43. I’m lucky enough to have my wanderlust satisfied as a US Army spouse — we are currently in South Korea with our three children and are loving the food, people, culture, and opportunity to explore other parts of Asia. I’m a freelance copywriter and my kids go to public school. I like to cook and love all things British. Here in Korea, we have experienced many firsts, including living in an apartment with kids. I LOVE living in a single story dwelling and our 10th floor view of mountains, green rice fields, and blue tile rooftops, but miss being able to walk out the door onto grass.

  120. Elizabeth

    Hello! I’m Elizabeth and I turned 34 in July. I’ve been a fan of yours for awhile now and am also madly in love with all things British. In my spare time, I’m studying to become and Enrolled Agent because I have a nerdy fascination for taxes and enjoy doing tax preparation on the side.

  121. Jacquelyn

    Hi Tsh,
    I’m Jacquelyn and I’m 23 years old. I love reading your thoughts as they read so genuine and intimate. My husband and I long for adventure, mountains, cool air and rest. We currently live in Florida but are ready to enter a new chapter. All in God’s time I know. Thank you for sharing such great lessons!

  122. Ruchi

    Dear Tsh,
    I love your blog and visit often. My name is Ruchi and am 36. I recently went back to work in high Tech after more than a decade away from the work force, so I am very excited to finally be where I always wanted to be.

  123. Alicia

    Hello! I’m 31 and I love British shows as well. My kids and I watch The British Baking Show together. It’s so much gentler than American cooking shows. And I’m still mourning the end of Downton Date Nights with my husband. 🙂

  124. Vanessa Ryerse

    Hi Tsh! I’m 41 and I’m swimming in the stream of changes. I’m wife to a pastor and mom to four kids, age 16, 15, 12 and SURPRISE! not yet 2. Before she was born, I was trying to launch myself as an artist on Etsy making broken china mosaics. Turns out that babies and broken glass don’t work together so well and I found myself re-thinking my direction. I realized that I was trying to make and sell art to support my real life of caring for people’s souls. So I am pursuing ordination and thinking new thoughts. I’m intrigued by the way that women are finding their voices and claiming their places at bettering the world by just being themselves. I’m drawn to simplicity and focus, and I so enjoy your voice. Yay for you being you!

  125. Sally Lee

    Hi Tsh! I’m Sally and I just turned 39 on June 8th! I’m a huge fan of yours and specifically LOVE and look forward to your podcast! I listen to them every week as I inspect rooms at the hotel I work at:) I live in the Seattle area. Interesting thing about me…I prefer skirts, I’m from Indiana, I’m a winemakers wife and I love working with and leading people!
    Thanks for sharing your talent with us!

  126. Jenny Hellman

    My name is Jenny and I just turned the big 30. I’m living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my husband and two littles (currently 3 years and 5 months). Notes From a Blue Bike kept it’s beloved spot on my shelf even after the big KonMari purge (which side note I read your book on simplifying first and loved it also!!). I’ve been dreaming about traveling with my kids since before they were even born and definitely had baby passports as soon as they could hold their little heads up for a photo! So far we’ve taken the oldest to Spain and Ireland and I just finished flying solo across the pond and back with my 5 month old to see Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. I’m already scheming about doing an around the world trip once they are a bit bigger (I’m not brave enough to take a kid in diapers!!), so I’m definitely a stalker of everything you have to say about round the world travel with kids :).

  127. Naomi

    Happy Birthday, Tsh! I’m 36 and live in south-central Pennsylvania with my husband and 6 year old son. I need to do something creative most every day and am currently learning how to weave.

  128. steph

    Almost your senior reader here at 67….not greying as quickly as I’d like, but proud of each and every grey hair I’ve earned! Hope your birthday was wonderful…..and if you ever find the answer to #17, please let me know. I sacrifice myself daily during the summer on their account and I’m NOT happy about it.

  129. Anya

    Hey Tsh! I’m Anya. I’m 36. My name comes from a made for TV movie. Also, I still can’t believe my friend Jen was your roommate is Kosova.

  130. Betsy

    Hello, AoS friends. I’m Betsy. I turned 40 this year and have been loving the self-discovery it’s brought with it. I’m a writer/editor and homeschooling mama living in Boulder, Colorado with my backpacking/artist husband and 3 spunky daughters who are 11, 9, and 7. Thanks for what you do, Tsh. Here’s to traveling the world and soup stirring and everything in between!

  131. Anna M

    Hi Tsh,

    Happy Birthday! I’m Anna, 37 and have been reading your stuff for years-kind of consider you a mentor, so thanks! And I love hedgehogs, trees and all my messy family!

  132. Joy in Alabama

    Belated Happy Birthday, Tsh!

    I don’t color my hair either! I’m Joy, I’ll be 57 next weekend, I’ve been married to my pastor-husband almost 40 years, and we have 9 children. I don’t know whether this fact about myself is interesting or whether it will just make you want to go and lie down: I’ve just started my 31st year of homeschooling! Yay, me! I’m still passionate about it and I have 2 more kids to finish up (3 more years after this one, Lord willing). But this winter I’m looking forward to planning my first-ever (in the South, every new thing is called “First Annual”! :)) Grammy Camp for my 6 granddaughters!

  133. Jennifer

    Happy Birthday, Tsh! I turned 39 last month, and I am a music teacher on sabbatical this school year. My husband and two sons (9th grade and 7th grade) are traveling in and around Europe until Spring 2017. We’ve been on the road for two months already! When I started researching for this trip a few years ago, I happened upon your blog and have been reading ever since. Seriously, thank YOU – your blog was such a support in helping to prepare.
    Here’s to the last year of our 30’s being amazing! Cheers!

  134. Renee

    Happiest of Birthdays to you! I’m 33, finding home in the suburbs of the CLE (that’s Cleveland, Ohio). Currently sitting on my nightstand is ‘Blue Bike’, and I’m loving your insights on work. I can’t wait to finish! I spent some time in Macedonia in 2001 and have felt so many connections (and memories) to your personal story. Oh- and I stopped dying my hair about 6 months ago. Not always ok with the gray, but I’m trying to be! Love the inspiration from you and your readers. 🙂 Thanks for being you!

  135. Dmitry

    Hi Tsh, I’m Dmitry, 47, a Russian living in Austin. Hope your birthday week went great!

    We enjoy your blog and it did inspired us to do a Northwestern /Western states road trip last year with kids of 4 and 2 (celebrated the 4th in Portland). We made 5650 of road miles that summer and enjoyed every moment of it (well, good well outweighed than bad 🙂 ). So thank you for sharing your experience!

    And yes, lake with a mountain view in a hammock sounds like a Pura Vida 🙂

  136. Leanne

    Happy birthday Tsh! I hope you have some fun adventures during your next trip around the sun!

    I’m 52, from Alberta. When my kids were little I would think “THIS is the best stage!” Then they’d grow a bit and we could do different things and we’d say “THIS stage is the best!” After a few repeats we came to the realization that every stage of childhood is fantastic, but really it does just keep getting better and better. I feel the same way about my own adult life!

  137. Janice

    Hi Tsh, I’m Janice, and I’m 63. My New Year’s resolution was to live intentionally in 2016, and your blog was one of my discoveries to help me on my path. I’m not there yet, but I’m on the way. Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

  138. Lori Mallory

    Hey there! It’s Lori from Kansas City- actually Overland Park, ks- love your work- I am 48 and the mom of 19 year old triplet boys- I also love to travel and although I have a full time career I also write! Would love your insights on …toservewell.com ???

  139. Hillary

    Hiya Tsh (and everyone)! Happy birthday, too! I’m 36 living in San Francisco Bay Area, but my oldest and I met you when we lived in Portland a couple of years ago. I’m currently working on saying a firmer “no” this year, reading more fiction, and focusing on de-stressing as a pillar of my health. My husband and I are also trying to focus on the present over perfect – sinking into our community here and appreciating our daily life – even tho we aren’t sure exactly how long we’ll be here.

    I’ve been a reader for many years – I think we reflect similarly on life and our INTJ approaches are often the same. Thanks for always putting into words what so many of us think about!

  140. Molly

    Hello! I’m Molly, I’m 32, and the high school debate season started today in our district. I’m an assistant coach and LOVE what I do. 🙂 My husband has a beard (which I also love) and has had one for nearly all 11 years we’ve been together. When he shaves, he looks much too young. I like him at 33 just like he is.

  141. Calliope

    Hi! I am Calliope and I live in Greece. I am 42 and I teach informatics to children with special needs. My favorite job in the whole world.
    I really enjoy your podcasts about travelling and books.

  142. Sarah

    Many Happy Returns of the Day Tsh!! I’m a fellow 1977 baby, INTJ, and mother of three. Many thanks not only for your blog and podcast but also for leading me to other writers/podcasters (Sorta Awesome and a Slob Comes Clean, specifically) who make living my life’s purpose a little easier. I’m married to a man I’m crazy about, and I spend my days as a homemaker in St. Louis, Missouri. Cheers!

  143. Carol White

    Hello, Tsh! I’m Carol and I’m 55 years old. I’ve been married 37 years to my high school sweetheart. We have three adult daughters, all married. We also have two grandbabies, ages 3 and almost 1. Our two cocker spaniels round out our family. I’m an RN, who practiced for almost 30 years before having to go on disability due to brittle asthma. I’m trying to find my purpose in this new season of life. We currently live in the lower level of my mother’s home and all of us are trying our best to not just survive, but thrive in this multigenerational living arrangement. I love to read, scrapbook, Bible journal and love on my grand littles.

    I’d like to thank you for encouraging me to grow out my grey hair. My stylist is helping me with the process and we’ll see how I like it when it’s grown out! I have fairly short hair, so it shouldn’t be too many months before I have a good idea of how it will look.

    Thanks for all that you do; I so enjoy your insights.

  144. Mary

    Hi Tsh, I’m a 28 year old Kiwi living in Thailand. I love reading about other people’s family life as I’m an only child and not married nor have kids (yet). Your sandals remind me so much of the ones we had to wear all through school! (In New Zealand all the schools have a uniform, whether they’re public or private).

  145. Lori Brown

    Hi Tsh- I’m Lori and I’m 31. I’ve been a 4th grade public school teacher for 9 years. I resigned at the end of last school with the intention of spending my time differently. I bought the Ultimate Bundle and I plan to start the Upstream Field Guide soon!

  146. Emily R Green

    Hi Tsh! My name is Emily, I am 41, and live in southern oregon. I’m married to my dream guy, homeschooling our loves, and healing from breast cancer. The world stopped spinning January 8 when I got the call, the following several months have been full of the deepest hard – but sweet grace and deep-in-my-bones hope. I’ve been immersed in learning about healing … our bodies are truly amazing. I’ve tried so many healing tools (reiki, massage, sauna, radical dietary changes, acupuncture, so much more) and have found the tools that fit for me. I am burning within to share hope & empowerent to other women walking this journey and feel squeals of excitement as I look ahead and sense what God has in store.
    Love to you and I love this online space! ♡♡♡

  147. Amanda Kendle

    Hi Tsh! We met all-too-briefly at Problogger in Australia a few years back. I’m one year ahead of you, and recently turned 40, which freaked me out briefly but I’m over it now. I live in Perth with my gorgeous 6-year-old son. I haven’t been brave enough to grow out my grey yet … I wish I didn’t feel the pressure to colour it just because everyone around me does, and they all probably feel the same, but so be it. I might change my mind one day. I love that you had a whole month off the internet and one day I want to do the same!

  148. Dayna W

    Hi Tsh! I’m Dayna, age 33, and currently living in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. However, our house is under contract and my family of 4 is preparing to travel around the world for the next 6-12 months – inspired in large part by your journey 2 years ago! I grew up in Germany and Italy while my Dad was in the military and have a strong desire to raise my children in a different culture as well. We are hopeful that our travels will find a place to land somewhere across the ocean. In preparation, I’ve also been growing my hair roots out. No grays yet, but after having highlights for all of my adult life, I’m enjoying being a brunette for a change. Also, I would LOVE to meet you and ask you so many travel questions. Wish I could have made it to Portland, but please let me know if you will be in the Atlanta area before the end of the year.

  149. Randy Haylett

    Hi, I’m Randy, When I make comments on line I feel the need to explain that although I have a very masculine name I am a very feminine grandmother at age 64. I love your blog and very much enjoy your “being real”. I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 42 years. Ministry has changed a lot in that time, but Jesus’s love is still the same. We just keep on preaching the Word and loving the people. I have taken some time away from Facebook and have enjoyed the absence immensely!

  150. Marilyn

    HI Tsh. I’m Marilyn. I’m 64 years old! I live in Julian, CA, near San Diego, but I am currently in Kenya, serving at a Christian School for Missionary kids to fill in for a short term need. I’ve never been in Africa before two weeks ago!

    • Karissa

      Hi Marilyn! Can I ask which school you are serving at? We have friends who send their kids to Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. Enjoy this new experience!

  151. Karissa

    Hi Tsh,
    I’m Karissa. I’m about to turn 36 years old and my family lives in North Africa. I have three young boys whose education options I am always trying to figure out (would love to homeschool but want them to learn the language here and make friends), I love to travel, and I think I have to agree with you about my favorite place being near a mountain lake. My husband and I did a 40 day backpacking trip several years ago (before kids) in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and it opened my eyes to places I never knew existed in the lower 48. Incredible.

  152. Jose

    Hi Tsh. I’m Jose. I’m 30 and live in New Zealand with my husband and three kids, 5, 3 and 1. I love to talk and dream (and eventually do – takes time with a young family!) with my family about simplifying our life so we can do more adventuring as a family, big and small.

    • Jose

      Also, my husband just trimmed his beard this evening. I’m the same as you. I do like a beard, but well groomed ☺

  153. Erin S Reynen

    Hi, Tsh!
    I’m Erin. I’m a Minnesota girl but I live in Singapore with my family. We’ve been here three (moving on four) years, which means I’ve had both of my babies over here. My husband teaches Spanish at an international school over here and we’re living life overseas for the foreseeable future. Even though we live in this ultra-urban place, I’m an outdoor-lover and environmentalist at heart (my father was a forester and my childhood summers consisted of camping, reading, and playing outside). I’m trying to figure out how to share my passion for caring for the earth and loving people in Jesus’ name in this time and place of my life.

    I found your Blue Bike book the first year I was here (2013) and it really resonated with me. I love your blog and find great inspiration to live more intentionally. Keep up the great work. Happy birthday!

  154. Lisa Luken

    Hi Tsh,
    Happy Birthday! I have enjoyed following your posts for many years. I, too, am a homebody who loves to travel. My family drastically simplified our lives a few years ago and in doing so were able to realize our dream to live near the ocean in Maine. I now get to work with others as they do the same and I LOVE it. I am an introvert that loves connecting with people in person, in small, intentional doses. :-). I hope our paths cross someday and that our family gets to meet your family in person someday. You are always welcome to visit us in Maine! We love having visitors! Thank you for all that you do to encourage and inspire others!
    Lisa

  155. Kelsey

    Hey Tsh! Happiest of birthdays to you!
    My name is Kelsey and I’m a decade behind at 29, and just starting to feel like I’m coming into my own, whatever that means. I feel bolstered by your championing of the thirties and how good they feel!
    Here’s what’s making me happy: Pokemon Go and watching the cartoon anime Pokemon show, and chai tea lattes.
    Thanks for all you do, think, and share. 🙂

  156. June

    Hi! I’m June and I’m 30. I have four kids 6 and under and started homeschooling this year because I move slowly with four kids and have embraced that about myself. Your book and podcast have validated my desire to live a slow life in a fast world.

  157. Susan

    Hi,
    I am Susan in California and I am 49 years old.
    As much as I loved my 30’s, I have learned that I loved my 40’s even more!
    I’m thinking this next decade is going to be even better 🙂

  158. Rachel Snowden

    Happy Birthday to you, Tsh! Thanks for all you do and offer to all of us of your heart and thoughts and life!
    I am 38 and live in Kathmandu, Nepal with my husband and two sons. Maybe you can make a stop here on your next around the world trip. 😉

  159. Heather

    Hi Tsh! I’m Heather and I think I follow you on everything, but I promise I’m not a stalker! I’m a 38 year old homeschooling mom to three boys (one graduated and I’m still in denial). I love the insight you offer to us and the fact you can be an online presence and still take a break. I’m inspired to try that myself! Thank you!

  160. Soile

    <Happy birthday, Tsh! I´m 60 and I live in Finland with my husband; my daughter is 20 and she has already moved into another town to study psychology. I love reading books (especially religion , philosophy and good novels) and walking in nature with my whippet-dog. I have been a vegetarian since I was 18. I find it interesting to get older (and grey:)!
    Thanks for your texts, they are very inspiring.

  161. Mia White

    Terrific list– I love your insights, as always, and especially adore your gray hair! Also, as a fellow former-Oregonian I recognize Smith Rock when I see it. 😉 Happy Birthday!

  162. Sommer

    Hi, I’m Sommer and I’m 40 and I live in Bend. Yes, your old town. I enjoyed and nodded my head with all your learnings on this list and, also, yes to salt water sandals! And not saying “sorry” so often. Something interesting…hmm, I’ve decided to do less. Not forever, but for now. I don’t even know what that means yet; I’ve come to the decision this weekend and I haven’t said it to anyone else at this point. Here’s to figuring it out and a happy birthday to you!

  163. Melissa D

    Happy Belated Tsh! My name is Melissa and I live the Big Bear Valley. It’s a smaller community, with a lake surrounded by mountains, and I absolutely love that I get to enjoy all 4 seasons here in Southern California. I am 38 and happily dying my grey!

  164. Annette

    Hi Tsh,
    My name is Annette. I’m 53 years old and I just became a first-time Grandma. My sweet daughter, Chelsea, had her daughter, Zoey Rachel, three days ago. We are in love.

  165. Lindsey Back

    Hello! My name is Lindsey, I’m 63 and I live in Brisbane Australia, I have just discovered your blog (I’ve come from Modern Mrs Darcy). I live in Australia but I still consider myself English as we emigrated here when I was 13 years old from Sussex. I firmly believe in the power of the landscape to speak to you and embrace you and that your birth place/country is your spiritual home. I love Australia and the landscape here moves me in many different ways but not quite in the way a picture of the green fields of Southern England does. I am a carer of my 96 year old Dad. I am ooking forward to your future blogs and I am very pleased to meet you.

  166. Jenny

    I’m Jenny and I’m 35 and single. I guide adults in living in intentional community.

  167. Sherrie

    Hi Tsh! I’m Sherrie, and I’m 35, in beautiful Nova Scotia. I’ve been following you for what feels like forever! I’m a beekeeper and chicken-wrangler and teacher of students with visual impairments. Thanks so much for your honesty and openness on the podcast and in your newsletters – it sounds strange, but I really do feel as though you’re a friend. Happy house-fixing!

  168. Chelsea

    hello I’m Chelsea wilder and I’m 13. I live in Tennessee and I really enjoy your blogs and emails! it may seem odd but I’m super organized and found out about your blog thought googling about bullet journaling! love it so much and you are an inspiration! 🙂

  169. raeleneb

    Happy birthday friend! I turned 35 just a few weeks ago. My husband and I are our three kids (8, 5, 18 months) moved last fall from Las Vegas to northeast OH where we bought a farm (!!). We LOVE it. We love the green, the seasons, the small town, the schools, and even all the work. It’s been so good for our souls and we have so many grand plans for the years to come. Sure love you and your good good work. Cheers!

  170. Josselly

    Hi, I’m Josie from Chicago, 36 years old. Wife, & mom to 3. I so look forward to your updates, newsletters & IG posts; I’m reminded to slow down, enjoy life & beauty & not to apologize for it. Simple living guilt free.

  171. Carin

    Tsh. I am 52, from South Africa, pretoria, mother of 3 adult children, always searching to have more peace in my life. thanks for your thoughts.

  172. Alyce

    Hi Tsh! Happy birthday! My name is Alyce, I’m 27, I live in northern NSW, Australia. I have three kids and homeschool, we live in a tiny cottage on my dads farm. Absolutely love your work/words and can’t wait to read your new book! ?

  173. Tara Schmidl

    Oh my word, so many comments you have to (?) read! Have not been reading most of my mails, also AoS, this summer… Too much real life happening and me wanting to savor, … So thanks for your thoughts. I resonate with so many of your points… Even with the saltwater sandals and mosquitos!

  174. Tif

    Hi Tsh! My name is Tiffany and I’ll be 39 in December. I am sending my baby to Kindergarten tomorrow and am having more anxiety about it than I thought I would. He is a sensitive little guy and first days have been difficult in the past.

    I so enjoy your work. Just taking the time to read it makes my shoulders drop out of my ears. Thank you for that.

  175. Ginny

    HI, I’m Ginny. I am 39 as well. Turning 40 in April 2017. Im not sad about it really, I honestly feel like I’m finally figuring out who I am and what is important. I want to be me for the next 40 years. I recently started an online Etsy shop and blog, trying to use my gifts and reconciling those dreams I squashed all those years ago. This year alone I have read more books than ever and it is what switches my brain if I have been online too long. I love being creative, I’m an artist, that is how I am wired. I have figured out that I am heavily influenced by places, it makes me giddy just thinking about being in certain locations. I want to travel the world and I m also a homebody. Happy Birthday!

  176. Becky

    Hi Tsh!

    I’m Becky from Georgia. I turned 30 in June and honestly have never felt so lost in my entire life! I spent DECADES devoting my entire life to learning “for the future.” For my future career, my future life, my future….? I became a stay at home mom in January and am just now embracing the fact that I. just. love. learning. And it does not have to be for advancing anything in the future.It does not have to be with the intent of furthering my social station in life. I can love it right now, in this moment, just to love it. My little family of three is embracing a whole new lifestyle that does not revolve around money, which is a huge hit to my security gland! (I worked really hard to earn a degree in health sciences that earned the majority of our income and now I am a stay at home mom learning how to live on a very tight fiscal budget to embrace what a stay at home parent can offer in other resources in our budgeted amenities- what???) My husband and I have created a life based on the expectations of everyone else and are now discovering our own hopes and dreams for our life, which are often scary and counter cultural. Your writing has offered me peace, solace, and hope in some of the tearful, scary days of discovery. We are still so far from where we want to be and have so many questions that still must be answered, but we are awake. We are no longer sleeping through the world simply meeting expectations and keeping up with the Joneses. AoS has provided a breathing space for my soul, to discover what it craves.

    So a very happy birthday to you from someone with a heartfelt gratitude for your calm, simple contributions to this chaotic world! Wishing you many more!

  177. Noelle

    I’m Noelle, my age is 45, and I totally related to numbers 6, 13, and 17. Thank you for your insights! And Happy Birthday!

  178. MelissaJoy

    Happy birthday! I’ll join you in the 39 camp in a couple of weeks. Longtime reader of your blog and listener of your podcast. My family recently relocated to Miami and we are enjoying the palms and sunshine! Here’s to a new year!

    • MelissaJoy

      Also, you’ve been a great resource and virtual companion each time we relocate. This is our 6th corporate move and I believe I started reading your blog in 09. The podcast with Kristen Kill was super encouraging to hear as we prepared for this move. We moved from 18 months of rural farm living to the biggest city we’ve ever lived in!

  179. Malissa

    Hi Tsh! Thanks for your uplifting weekly words. I have an August birthday, too (the best month), and just turned 26. Right now my mind is focusing on preparing my 19-month-old son for a new brother or sister, due in February! Trying to learn how to alleviate “sibling rivalry”/jealousy 🙂

  180. Alissa

    Hi Tsh,
    I’m Alissa – 38 and mom to two boys in Portland. We missed the recent meet-up, as we were on the road to my 20th High School Reunion. I think it’s a sign of an extrovert that my HS reunion was probably the highlight of my summer. All the people! All the memories! All the updates!
    I’ve been reading from close to the beginning. Thanks for being a life inspiration for all of us… and always keeping it real. (I like a *little* facial hair as well.)

  181. Libby

    Hi, Tsh. I’m Libby, and I read AoS pretty regularly, but comment rarely. I’m 34, starting my 2nd year of “back to work” as a school librarian, expecting our (surprise) 4th child (and 2nd boy, which thrills our first one), and generally enjoying life when I’m not sleeping these days. Thanks for all your posts; I enjoy them very much!

  182. Rosalind Appleby

    Happy Birthday Tish from a fan in Perth, Western Australia. Do come visit so we can have a WA reader’s coffee 🙂 I’ve often shared your posts with friends who I think would be inspired by your creativity, spirituality and courageous simplicity. I work as a writer from home with kids so we have a fair amount in common. God bless your 39th year xxx Rosalind

  183. Hannah Beth Reid

    I’m 31 and have enjoyed my late 20s and my brief time in the my 30s so much!

  184. Brooke

    Happy birthday! I’m Brooke and I’m 36, and I live just a bit south of you in New Braunfels :). I homeschool our oldest kids, who are 9 and 6, and our “bonus baby” is almost 5 months old ;). I started homeschooling when we moved out here from The Woodlands 2 1/2 years ago in search of a quieter, simpler life. And we love it here, but my soul is happiest in the mountains! (I’m originally from West Virginia.) And Portland is top on my list of US cities I want to visit 😉

  185. gina

    Just turned 50 from Florida and found out that 50 equals freedom! Free to be me without any worry about what someone else thinks . I lost my brother this year and realize that you are correct when you say that some never get the privilege. But blessings come from suffering , my friend. I live a simple life with no social presence except for the occasional blog comment here and there. Despite that, I live a very full life. I’m always in the present moment . So happy you took a break because sometimes when I see you doing all that you do, I want you to feel that sense of peace that only comes from really slowing down and savoring the silence. I also agree with you that being by the water it is essential. If I’m ever far from the coast I suffocate from being landlocked. It’s not a coincidence that the words canoe, hammock, and barbeque came from my Taino ancestors!

  186. P clemons

    Hey there..I just had a b-day too..turned 57…funny note: thought I was 57 last year so…paying no mind…Grey between and betwixt..not giving up the red! Married again @ 47..2 kids..all grown…we go to concerts and do whatever we want..both married so early…could not do things when we were younger …and my boys are in no hurry to make me a grandma

  187. Kelli

    Hi Tsh, my name is Kelli. I am hopefully going to have a baby this month. I am 30 years old. I am reading your blog while I pet my dog. Thanks for your honesty and thoughtfulness.

  188. Susan Averill

    So much of your writing resonates with me…and I could be your mother if you just look at age. (My claim to fame is the damaged product email I sent you about my journal shipment.) I’m almost 69 and my lovely daughter just turned 49 so I now must realize that I am no longer 34…alas! I love what Sachel Page said about birthdays. “How many would you be if you didn’t know how many you are?” Right now Florida is dealing with more than our usual drama that must surely keep other states entertained. We have a hurricane/tropical storm moving across the state, and mosquitos have tested positive for Zika. Two excellent reasons to stay inside and read! I must admit that the vision I get from the skeeter testing is of a long, long line of little insects lined up in front of the Heath Department, waiting to be tested.

  189. Katia

    Hi Tsh! Happy birthday! I love your blog and read it regularly, but haven’t left a comment until now. Thanks for the invitation to do so. I’m Katia and I recently turned 34. My youngest child is starting school next year and I’m feeling a bit nervous about that, but hopeful that the transition will be smooth.

    • Katia

      I should also mention that I recently deleted my Facebook account after taking a long internet break and realizing how much I enjoyed not logging into Facebook. I have kept a page for my blog, but deleted my personal one. It feels liberating to not be constantly attached to social media.

  190. Rita

    I’m Rita, age 67. Yikes! I’m a real estate agent in Alexandria Va. Reading came to me later in life. Love to read both Kindle and audible. I use my time while waiting for appointments to read. Love reading on my screened porch! At your suggestion, I joined Book of the Month Club and I’m reading a real book – had to get magnifier glasses and a book light. Is that print small? Love your podcast!

  191. Heather

    My name is Heather and I live in Dublin, VA. I’m 47 or 29 depending on who’s asking. Lol I’m a starting a new career on Tuesday. After over 20 years of being a social worker and counselor, I felt I really needed a change. I’m going to be doing customer service which probably isn’t that different from counseling but I won’t have any paperwork to do at home which has consumed my nights and weekends for 20 years. I’m excited about the change and a little nervous too! Happy Birthday!!

  192. maggie b in nevada

    Hi, Tsh ~ I just discovered your blog through Anne Bogel at modernmrsdarcy.com. She listed you as one of her favorite web finds this week. I am 68 and still color my hair but really admire/envy those who look good without that added color and trouble. Happy new year of you!

  193. Kristin

    I’m Kristin and I just turned 42. I live in Minneapolis with my husband, two daughters, and a black standard poodle. One daughter started 6th grade this week, and the other is starting high school on Tuesday. Both of our kids have been at a German immersion school since kindergarten, so that’s probably the most interesting thing about us, especially since my husband and I don’t speak German. Nothing like giving your kids a secret language, right? I’ve been reading your blog for years (and your books) and have so appreciated your encouragement to raise our kids to know and appreciate the world around them. Our oldest returned this summer from a class trip to Germany with a new appreciation for bicycles, trains, and fresh strawberries. 🙂 Happiest of birthdays to you.

  194. Heather

    HI! I’ve been reading your blog for years and find it to be a faithful companion among the cacophony of voices on the world wide web. I’m 41 and live with my husband, three children, a dog, a turtle and a fish in the great state of Nebraska. I love to read and draw and wish I could get anything to grow in a pot. I too am a sucker for anything British. I hope you had a great birthday!

  195. Krista Vossler

    I’m so late to this–11 days to be exact, but what the heck, I’ll comment. We met, once, at a church retreat, but I’d been reading your blog long before I realized we had mutual friends/acquaintances. I’m turning 40 on the first Sunday in Advent. I’m feeling ambivalent about it though I’d rather not be thinking about it all because it’s “just a number”. Yet–the big number looms. When I got married 10 years ago, I decided to quit dying my hair, as fun as that was, and I can’t ever go back for some reason. Just doesn’t feel right. Thanks for your advice, empathy, and wisdom. And happy belated birthday. Oh, one more thing–I love, love, love the Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off. We’ve watched all the pre-available-in-America seasons on Youtube–the only place you can find them as far as I know.

  196. Madeline Osigian

    Hi, Tsh! I’m glad you’re back from your hiatus! I am 17, so probably on the younger side of your reader base. I loved reading Notes From a Blue Bike a few years ago, and it inspired me to live more simply.

    A fun fact about me is that I love to read and write. I started my blog over four years ago, and it’s grown to 52 subscribers, which is small but oh-so-fun. I’m able to focus on having fun with my blog rather than growing my readership.

  197. LaQuetha

    I’m LaQuetha. I am 35 and I teach pre k in Austin, Tx. I am rather late reading this post but I don’t get much online time the first month of teaching. Something fun that I am doing is getting cooking lessons from bestie and her husband. It has been a lot of fun.

  198. Julie

    Happy birthday and thank you for this post. Reading all the lovely comments made my day! I am a 34-year-old mother of four in South Carolina. I’ve enjoyed your blog and Simple Homeschool for years, as well as your books! Thanks for today’s challenge to say “yes” to my children more often.

  199. amanda

    i’m amanda. i’m 35. i’m a special ed high school teacher. i’m single. i think i’m a good friend. and i too am learning how to slow down every single day. even though it’s REALLY hard! i loved reading this and will share it on my Facebook and twitter! i first heard of you from Anne Bogel on WSIRN and this is my first time reading your blog, BUT i just subscribed! i’m excited!

  200. Heather

    Hi Tsh, mom of 2 littles from Michigan. I’m 34 and have been enjoying your blog for 4 years since my littlest was a baby. You’re my favorite and the only one I’ve continued to follow all this time. Thank you for sharing your gift!
    Heather

  201. Jennifer P.

    Hi Tsh,
    I’m 46, and just cut off all my thin, fine hair, a very freeing experience after hoping against hope for thick, luxuriant locks that never arrived. Mom to two girlies, 27 & 11, one bonus kid (son in law) and Mimi to one gorgeous & rascally 15 month old grandgirl. Lucky wife of my favorite husband and counselor to 650 high school students.
    Thanks for writing your blog, I truly enjoy it.

  202. Ellen

    Hi! I’m Ellen. I just turned 39, have three kids the same ages as yours, love Jesus (& my main squeeze, without facial hair) and have been reading your blog for years! No world travel here, just enjoying all life has to offer in Delaware. Thank you for writing – I’m a huge fan!

  203. amanda june

    hi tsh, happy belated! so fun, you have such a diverse and global readership. i guess not very diverse gender-wise, but ah well. i’m amanda, 31, no kids but my husband and i live in china which is where we met though we are both from the US 🙂 look forward to reading more from you! PS — so true that you don’t miss much off Facebook for a month; something i’ve learned lately is how much unplugging can refresh me. i’ve begun to unplug one day a week — airplane mode all the way from when i go to bed the night before my day off, till the morning after (so, i guess about 36 hours?). it really is okay to unplug and so refreshing to really be able to rest in that way!

  204. milo

    Hello! Happy late birthday! I read through feedly, and I’m clearly about a month behind on reading. It’s good when people try to sell you things – any 1-day or 1-week sale isn’t around by the time I get to it, so it’s not even tempting! It does mean I’m late to wish you a happy birthday though 🙁

    I’m 30yrs old, and I just moved from NC to OH. I absolutely loved your post because it breaks my heart when women buy into the lie that youth is beauty and beauty is value, and as soon as you get older, you lose value. The anti-aging industry and all the socially accepted lying about age make me sad. So I guess a fact about me is that when my sisters or good friends get bummed about getting older (whether it’s being less youthful/valuable, being closer to death, bodies not healing as quickly, etc.), I try to convince them that they have in fact gotten more awesome in the past year, whether it was a good one or a bad one, they made it through it, and there is always so much to celebrate, even if it’s just the chance to start a new year. Anyway, all that to say I so appreciate your take on aging reflected in this post – it was a year of learning! Knowing your for real, non-approximate age is a breath of fresh air and honesty (not like you were hiding it I assume, although since it doesn’t really matter to me, I never tried to figure it out), that is in fact, also just a number 🙂 I hope 39 is a fantastic year, filled with new adventures and new things to learn!

  205. Katie Di Filippo

    Hi Tsh! I’m Katie, and I just turned 27. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now. It came into my life at just the right moment, when I started being annoyed at the clutter in my small apartment and began the shift from wanting a bigger place to wanting less stuff. Your blog and the community that I have since discovered from reading it has made me consider living a life I never thought I would want. I’m currently in los angeles, exploring southern California but am looking for possibilities of overseas living so that I can explore a new part of the world.

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