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Turning 37 …

I turn 37 tomorrow and I’m headed out for the week to spend time with my family, but before I go some thoughts on my age . . . 

Everybody has their “age” – a number that they always feel they “are, ” on an existential level. Mine is 27. Even when I was 24 I felt 27, and when I was 32 I certainly felt like I was 27. To be turning 37 is no different. I still feel 27. But I’m now 10 years past that. I’m not freaking out, ish. There are days when I look in the mirror and realize that I’m in the front row of my own aging-show, and sure, sometimes I’d like to leave the theater.

But then I remind myself why aging is something to be celebrated. 

1. My 27 year old self didn’t have children. I now have two perfectly imperfect children that I want to shove in my mouth so I can properly experience their soul inside my stomach. I love them that much. Ten years ago they weren’t in my life. Back then kids meant ruined brunches and cancelled morning workouts. I was (definitely) right and, yet, I was so wrong. Those kids are a product of my age; because I am 37 I have two healthy children and that fact alone makes me an extremely lucky proud late-thirties person. They don’t define me, but they do complete me. 

2. I feel really young – which is a proud statement considering my situation. Having 2 kids under the age of three is like running a marathon in unknown conditions every. single. day. At first it’s so shockingly exhausting that you think you won’t survive. But after a while you get used to it and it becomes your new normal. Now… the condition in which you have to finish, and the distance is the unknown. Snow? Rain? Traffic? All up hill? Somedays you run barefoot with blisters, while others you feel like you are being chased by a stampede of bulls. But there are miles in most days when you watch the sunrise over the mountains with puffy clouds and a reflective river and you want to cry it’s so beautiful. These years right now are as exhausting as they are wonderful and yet, we are surviving and I do really still feel pretty young. Nothing makes me feel so old and so young than being a parent to small children. But more than anything, like running a marathon, everyday I feel SO PROUD. I feel high on life, with endorphins running, hormones pumping, and many sweaty smiles a-blazing. 

3. Age brings so much security and the ability to feel a deeper love. Brian and I have been together for 16 years and we have made it through some harder times, then added two kids, and yet we have still survived. Hell, right now we are SOLID. AS. HECK, actually (stay tuned for a big post on what changes we implemented that have transformed our marriage). Five years ago we weren’t in the best place with each other – we were at very different career levels, we didn’t think we would ever be homeowners, nor did we have the profound respect that we do for each other as parents and career people. Love runs deeper for your partner at 37 than at 27. That kind of connection is to be absolutely celebrated. My 27 year old self didn’t know how deeply she could love the 38 year old Brian. 

My body has become less “mid-century” and more “traditional.”  My face looks softer and has more, ahem “decorative details, ” and my hair is riddled with one of my less favorite metallics. But this person isn’t dated or old. I know that my 27 year old self would be proud of this 37 year old woman. Not every year is going to be as good as this one, for sure, so this next year is another one that I will approach with total optimism and gratefulness. This year I’m going to spend every second I can with my family, doing more service for our community, while staying inspired and creative. No real defined goals. Just a strong, grown-up, 37 year old sense of life-purpose.

See you Tuesday, folks. We are headed out of town and I have no intention of touching my laptop ’til then. But we have been keeping some pretty darn great design posts for September – Ginny’s house, my bathroom, Brady’s living room, introductions to new projects, a new “find your style” video series, and lots of round-ups by popular demand. Thanks for all your support. There is no way I would love this blog so much if it weren’t for you. xx


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132 thoughts on “Turning 37 …

  1. You know, I LOVE the mental side of being in my 40s. I feel like I have my emotional and mental shit together, I know what’s important and what isn’t, etc. It’s awesome! So much better than my 20s and 30s.

    However, my 40s body is crapping out on me, and it pisses me off to no end. I’m having a terrible time with perimenopause, and the general feeling of the medical community is “that’s normal for your age, get used to it.” (4 doctors have told me this, so far. maybe 5. i’ve lost count). It’s been horrible for my family as well 🙁 I did start (yet another) new self-prescribed therapy (every one helps for a while, then stops. but it does get me closer, so that’s good) 2 weeks ago, and I’ve felt like my regular self again for the first time in 3 years. I’m hoping this one works for good.

    But yeah, mentally and emotionally getting older is THE BEST!

    1. Hi! I’m still in my early 30’s, but experiencing a lot of hormonal turmoil for the past number of years. Check out the “Hormone Cure” book by Dr. Sara Gottfried.
      She’s AWESOME.

      And be sure to have your thyroid levels (all of them not just TSH) checked!

    2. I concur with Lilli. Get your thyroid checked. Actually, I suggest it of everyone from their teenage years on. Too many doctors believe that thyroid disease is a disease of middle age. The truth is, it starts in your teens and 20’s and they CATCH it when you’re in your 40’s and 50’s because that’s when your thyroid is pretty much already dead. Have them check your TSH, T4, T3, Thyroid antibodies. The whole nine yards. If they won’t do it, you have a bad doctor and need to find a new one.

      I say this because I hit 40 and my body betrayed me big time. I didn’t know what to do. The doctors said it was just “getting older.” It wasn’t. It was aggressive, widespread thyroid cancer. It started as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (where your immune system attacks your thyroid), probably in my teens or 20’s. It took me going through 4 doctors to find one who would help me. I’m fortunate he did. They say if my cancer had gone on another year, it may have been too late.

      You don’t have to put up with it. If you can, see a good Naturopathic Doctor. My Naturopath saved my life. You don’t have to suffer. It’s not part of getting older and you can feel great in your 40’s and beyond. It’s about finding someone who believes you and knows what to do for you.

  2. I turn 28 the day after tomorrow and I feel somewhat ambivalent about it. It was so great to read your post and reflection about aging, and especially the perks and downsides of being 27, the age I am feeling a bit more ready to leave behind now 🙂

    Happy birthday to You and everyone born in September!

  3. I can give you another one. A lot of people don’t make it to 37. Growing older is a privilege denied to many. I have end stage Cystic Fibrosis. At 16 I was told I had 2-5 years left. I’m now 27. That’s a lot of birthdays that I wasn’t ‘meant’ to have but I am so grateful for them because time is the best gift.
    I’m so happy for you that you get to be 37 and I love all your reasons.
    Oh, and thanks for your blog. Your humour, honesty and excellent taste make me smile and make my days happier.
    Happy, happy birthday, Emily.

    1. I was thinking the same thing Ruth but you said it better. And so nicely too. Wishing you many many years of very old age.

  4. I love your writing and hearing your voice. I have little kids and relate to that. This post made me tear up! I’m looking forward to your post on things that have strengthened your marriage. I am realizing to appreciate each moment with my husband. I am eager to try to implement strategies to make our relationship stronger.

  5. I get so excited when I open your website and see that you’ve written a personal post. I mean, your interior design is amazing but the reason I read your blog RELIGIOUSLY is because of the personal posts and your great perspective on life. Please keep them coming! – Best wishes from Germany!

  6. I loved every single bit of this, especially as a fellow 37-year-old.

    27 absolutely feels like yesterday but yet, now: husband, kids, house, different life entirely.

    Happy birthday!

  7. I see more of your ideas will shower us. More power and God bless.
    Love from Philippines!

  8. Happy Birthday! Your words are wonderful and your work is truly inspiring!
    (I’m 42 and “my age” is 26)

  9. Happy Birthday!!! I read your blog every morning and hope you have a great holiday!

    I agree on aging – it’s inevitable and every stage of life has so much beauty to be appreciated. I wish more people could simply enjoy where they are at, and live through the lens of what they have done so far as a sounding board for goals in the future rather than straining (and pulling their dream muscles!).

    Keep having fun!

  10. Happy birthday Virgo! Mine is later in Sept and I’m turning 67 but on the inside, i’m all the ages I’ve ever been, including 27 (miserable time in my life), 37 (beginning of the happy times) to 7 (pretty much happy anytime my big sis wasn’t smacking me … luckily she outgrew that and now we’re besties).

    My grandma at 97 considered “old folks” to be everyone else, certainly not her!

    Age is just a number. Celebrate!

    1. Me too Patricia, in November. Until I look in the mirror, I am 35. Basically healthy but not as strong physically and it really irritates me. Grateful for a still fun marriage of 47 years and the ability to indulge in many interests.

  11. HAAAAAAAAPPY BIRTHDAY to eternal 27 year-old Emily!!!! What a great perspective. Wishing you a lovely birthday weekend and lots of smiles and laughs in the year ahead 🙂

  12. You might not believe this, but I’m 70 and still feel like 26. It’s all in the “tude” and how you keep that younger self nourished. Be it with friends, family, career, travel, creativity, humor, whatever….It’s a great ride!

  13. Thanks for being you in each and every post, Emily. You’re what makes me check in everyday! I can’t wait to hear about the changes in your marriage that have worked for you – I need some advice and perspective! And thanks to the entire team – I know it takes a village. The few minutes I spend here is often the highlight of my morning!

  14. Happy Birthday, Emily! I too will celebrate my birthday tomorrow, but I’ve got a few years on you. I’ll be 47. In my heart, I am forever 35.

  15. Happy Birthday! My 29 year old self thinks you are total #momgoals #careergoals. So happy that you’re so happy! It truly shows. You are radiant! Wishing you a wondrous, joyful year ahead!

  16. Looking forward to the post about marriage and the changes made so that I can copy some of them, much like I copy your design in my house 🙂 This post was so sweet and poignant – love it!

  17. I have always felt 27, too. It was “my age,” from the time I was 15. It was the year my now-husband and I started dating, and now at 31 with a home, a baby, and a dog, I certainly still feel that age. I look at other moms in the same stage of life, and I feel so much younger than they are, even though I’m older than many. But I feel older, too. Age is so funny, isn’t it? Anyway, happy birthday! Stay young. 🙂

  18. I loved this post! Thank you for putting into words exactly what I feel but couldn’t quite articulate! From marriage, to children, to looks and beyond – you nailed it! I turned 37 two weeks ago and am right there with you. Cheers to us! 🙂

  19. Emily,

    You have the exact same birthday as my boyfriend! He will be 37 tomorrow, as well!
    When he gets down about turning older I remind him of the friends that we’ve lost along the way. If we’re not going to celebrate another year for ourselves, then we should at least celebrate it for our loved one’s who don’t get the chance to.

    I also tell him the story of the time that I was a teenager and one of my parent’s friends made the statement that “high school and college were the best years of their lives.” And I thought to myself that I never wanted to feel that way. My birthday moto is, “This is going to be the best year of my life. I wonder what things I’ll get to do and achieve this year?”

    Happy birthday! And I hope this is your best year yet!


  20. Emily
    Just wanted to say that you are such a beautiful person, inside and out. You write so soulfully and so very wise as well. I have enjoyed your blog so much and all of the thoughts you have shared.
    I had never before followed a blog such as this
    and I look forward to it everyday
    All the best to you!!

  21. I almost spit out my coffee because this post is about ‘aging’ as you turn 37.
    I’m turning SIX OH NO! But you’re right…I’m feeling younger now than when I had kids at home.
    Happy Birthday!

  22. I hear you sister! I turn 37 in October, so I’m right with you. Thanks for putting this down into words and helping me think about it. I agree with a lot of it. I think my feels-like age is probably ~32, although that’s the year my twins were born so my memories of that year are a total blur. I certainly don’t relate to my age as much as time keeps marching on. But, college kids seem like babies to me, and I definitely feel more mature together than the people in their late 20s that I meet. In a good way. I don’t think I would go back even if I could, but I’d certainly be happy to freeze my age right about now if I could keep my husband and kids. Ah well. I know enough to know that there are still a lot of good things left to experience. (Now, when my kids move out in 14 years, I’ll be a total wreck!)

    1. Um, no you won’t, Erica. You see, you have 14 more years of being with these people and these people go from seeing you as the center of the universe to thinking you know very little and are hopelessly out of touch. After a few years of this, you will send them off to college and enjoy their home visits as they remarkably start seeing you in a new light. It’s all good but it is lovely to have adult children out in the world while you and husband return to being a couple with a whole lot less cleaning, picking up, and stocking the fridge and a whole lot more disposable income.

      1. Thanks, Cynthia! Glad to know I’ll become less fond of my kids long before they graduate high school. 🙂 You’re right, I love the preschool years, but I can definitely see the benefit in more sleep, less mess and fewer tantrums.

        1. yes, she is soooo right, just had my adorable baby girl move out and I couldn’t be more excited. Do I miss her? yes. But the reality is I am so excited for her to get to live her life and start her journey. who wants their mom around for that? I know I didn’t and that’s why they turn our perfect babies into teenagers!

          Late 30’s were the best for me. Just turned 50 the other day. late 40s are hard on the body but I’m feeling it’s going to come full circle!!

  23. Happy Birthday! I think my existential age must be 32. I’ve been 32 for over 10 years now. The other day at lunch a colleague said, you’re in your early thirties, aren’t you? and I said, No, but thank you, my friend!!
    You mentioned having some silver in your hair (the first time I had a gray hair, I was 23). What are your thoughts/strategies about coloring your hair? Just wondered.

  24. “They don’t define me, but they do complete me.” I LOVE this statement. I don’t have kids yet, but this is going to be my goal when I do. I always enjoy your personal posts because of how real they are. Also, I’m getting married in a little over a month, so I’m super interested in what changes you and Brian have made in your marriage! Happy early birthday, hope it’s your best year yet!

  25. Never thought of “my real age” quite like this. Thanks for promoting the self reflection
    I’m 42, but I think I’m actually 44 in my heart.
    That feels like when my wisdom will really deepen.

  26. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMILY! You are a beacon of light and love and I hope everything you bring to the world is returned to you ten-fold in the coming year. I appreciate the wisdom and beauty you share. Enjoy this well-deserved time off with your family.

  27. Happy 37th Birthday, Emily!! I adored this post- what beautiful perspective you have on everything. Like you, I have always felt 27, since my post-grad years, but I’m turning 26 at the end of the month. Your words give me so much to look forward to over the next decade of my life!

    I love the part about learning how to love as deeply as you do for Brian now- can’t wait to see that post on what has changed your marriage for the better! Relationships are so complex and beautiful for that reason, and I’m definitely struggling to figure it out in my own right now.

    Also, my mom talks about how she always wanted to “dip us in sauce and eat us” too haha so your comment about experiencing your babies souls in your stomach reminded me of that. You did grow those beautiful souls in your tummy though! 🙂

    Have the best birthday!

  28. Happiest of birthdays, Em! I’m so happy to hear that you are in a good place and that you are taking things in stride. I think there is much to be joyful about at any age, and “coming into oneself” so to speak is such a beautiful thing. My birthday (33) is just a few days away and it was lovely to read your musings on the subject. Keep enjoying every milestone and loving life, warts and all.

  29. Happy Birthday, sweetpea! Enjoy your celebrations with your family and friends! *cheers*

  30. My actually-26-year-old self thanks you for this post (and for the others here who never fail to impart bits of wisdom in the comments). Happiest birthday xo

  31. Hi Emily! Happy Birthday!! I just subscribed to your site (gee, maybe yesterday?) and I wasn’t quite sure… but then this first email landed in my inbox and I. am. sold. I want to keep this and re-read it every time I feel a little self doubt creeping in. Thanks for a wonderful, inspiring, note to self (it can be a note to self even if it’s not from myself, right?!). I’m excited to hear about your marriage-strengthening tips! But for now, have a great vacation and birthday!

  32. Happy birthday, Emily! This post was really impactful. As a 27 year old now, I think I rush myself sometimes, impatient for the more “grown up” parts like a family and homeownership. Your writing is a wonderful reminder to embrace your age for the beautiful parts of it, no matter what age you’re at! Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  33. Happy Birthday Em!
    You’re my idol, for sure, I have been following you for years, for design first, but now I devour all family life posts. I’m 33, and like you, I keep sometimes forgetting I’m not in my 20’s. I’m so much happier in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s, although my early 20’s was of course a lot of fun. I am more ME now, I know what I want, what I like, and worry less.

    I admire how you’ve managed to balance life and babies and work.
    Embarking on that journey soon myself. Wish me luck!

  34. Happy Birthday Emily! And thank you for your honesty, I think people still avoid talking about the harder parts of a marriage, and I really look forward to reading your upcoming post and how you & Brian have worked through troubles and the new elements you have implemented to grow a stronger bond. I LOVE your style and design, but it is refreshing to hear about “real-life” from someone that’s figuring it all out as you go… like the rest of us 😉
    Thanks for always creating such great blog content, and enjoy your Birthday Month!

  35. I love this post! 27 has always seemed like a magical age for me, too, and I’ll be celebrating big when I finally turn that age in two months (it’s my golden birthday as well). At the same time, I am already feeling older so it’s refreshing to read this post. Thanks!

  36. I’m 30 and I’ll always think I am 24. I feel the exact same as you. 3 children and 6 years of marriage later have been hard, tiring and we aren’t close to done, but man, I couldn’t give up what I have for anything. I was only halfway through your post when I sent a long sweet gooey love text to my husband in appreciation. Thanks for the reminder of how awesome life and the people in it are.

  37. Just turning 36 on the 19th and not having kids…yet – this post puts me at ease.

    I try to keep the same point of view.
    I think I’m very young + the 10 yr. old me would be so proud of what I’ve done so far in my life.

    I want to do more and my man (of 11 years) and I haven’t ruled out children.
    We’ve done things that couldn’t accommodate that life i.e. 6 months in India a few years ago + last year spent time in the Amazon and then moved here to LA!

    I’ve looked into what women who have had children later in life say + theres lots of good stuff! First time mommys at 40. Maybe thats gonna be me.

    Thanks babe, xo

  38. “My 27 year old self didn’t know how deeply she could love the 38 year old Brian.”
    I *love* this. It’s exactly how I feel about my Hubby. I’m celebrating a big birthday today and I really enjoyed this post. Happy birthday Emily.

  39. I love your posts about motherhood and this one about aging. I’m right there with you in terms of circumstances (age 37, two kids under age 4) and mindset. I frequently think about one of your earlier posts, in which you said that motherhood is like a dream job: so much hard work and not always pleasant, but so worth it. Personally, I think my “existential age” is about 35, so I don’t mind aging too much. It feels pretty comfortable, for now.

  40. Happy birthday, Emily! I didn’t realize we are about the same age when I started watching you on HGTV, but I have noticed you don’t seem to age a bit! I love what you wrote here, and I’d have to agree + I think I’ve always felt 29…. There was so much I could relate to in this post! Which is probably why you’ve always been one of my favorites. Hope this next year brings you all the good stuff!

  41. I always though at some point in life I would feel like a grown-up, but I still don’t and I’m 41. I think that you learn and grown and I certainly know more than I did 10 years ago, but I don’t feel old. I think age really is only a number and it’s how you choose to embrace life. Keep enjoying it all because life does go quickly!

  42. Happy Birthday to my favorite Emily! I love your reflections on your age. I just finished my 30s – I loved them so much more than my 20s. I’m hoping to love the 40s even more!

    Have a lovely weekend! (And maybe do a throw-back on Instagram to the camping trip with the tube socks? I loved those pics! lol!)

  43. Happy Birthday!!! I love your posts. I read your blog every morning ( at work…psst). I get so excited when I open your website and see what you’ve written . Can hardly wait to begin to arrange the new house.Best wishes ,from Romania, for you and for your beautiful family!

  44. Thanks Emily for this post, and I look forward to the “find your style” series, sounds a lot like your Style book style diagnostic. 🙂

    I’m turning 30 next year January (this is what you get for being a January baby, you “age faster than your peers”, LOL) but I’m embracing it. 🙂 Going 8 years strong with my husband (married for 5 years right now). Moving into our first home (under our names) soon. 🙂 Happy me, happier than when I was 20 for sure!

  45. Dear Emily, I wish you the best birthday weekend with your family and friends! Hope to have lots of fun and memories that suit your 27 years-old soul!

  46. Emily – a very happy birthday to you! I am also turning 37 this month and sometimes can’t believe it. Doesn’t it seem like high school was yesterday (but thankfully it was 20 years ago)? My 30s have been my favorite. You learn to stop giving a sh* about what others think, and trust who you have become. It’s quite liberating! It also takes everything in me to not constantly bark out advice to college-aged girls: go travel, date a lot, start saving, spend less on your hair(you don’t even NEED to dye it now!)/makeup/clothing, etc.

  47. Em! Happy birthday!
    Love your honesty
    This is why, I keep coming back, so beautifully written, so much wisdom ?

  48. Happy Birthday!! And thanks for sharing – your thoughts on raising small children are spot on!! I’m in a similar boat with 2 under 3 and while it is like an exhausting marathon, there are many sweet moments to enjoy, thanks for the reminder to be grateful for my little people and husband. Looking forward to your marriage post! And always, always LOVE your design content too 🙂 Enjoy your weekend away – you deserve a break!!

  49. happy bday! i knew i related to you for a reason…we’re the same age, our kids our the same age, etc. love the blog, your attitude toward life, and the fact you just seem like a real person trying to do good out there. happy birthday!

  50. I love this! – it’s all so true! I am 46 going on 27 myself. Maybe 34. Tried coaching the kids to lie and say 39 but it didn’t stick. Hope you have a wonderful birthday! You are so blessed. <3

    1. I’m 41 and pregnant with number two! I was searching through all the comments for someone past 40 with two kids under the age of 3, who was killing it!!!….but I didn’t see anyone, which of course made me feel a little scared and brave. I have to say I feel young too, granted I know when I have this little guy I will be sleep deprived for the next year and I will feel old but it passes. I enjoy taking care of myself and on most days I’m aware of just how good we have it. I think a general “tude” of gratitude keeps life in perspective and some service work to get out of our heads is medicine.

      Happy Birthday to all the ladies on here!! Keep on a pushing’ life is too short to count every emerging wrinkle 🙂

  51. I really resonated with your post today and it brought some encouragement in my week as a mother and woman navigating my 30s.
    I have been a long time reader of the blog and I always enjoy the way you have written and the humor that you effortlessly inject in the posts. Maybe a memoir is in your future???? I’d read it! 🙂 Happy Birthday!

  52. You said it so beautifully and so perfectly. The perfectly imperfect. The beauty amidst sheer survival. I’m right there, too. Just a little person in a big world with a great life to keep on loving.

  53. Love this post and can relate on so many levels. I just turned 35 this year and have a 20 month old. I too see how love grows deeper over time and I would never want to be my 27 year old self. Being young is such a double edged sword…but at that time, you don’t know, what you don’t know. Happy Birthday! Make it a year to remember. And I totally want to shove my son in my mouth so I can properly experience his soul inside my stomach.

  54. Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us just a few years behind 🙂 Cannot wait for the relationship post!

  55. Happy belated, Emily Henderson. Obviously I don’t know you but I want to wish you a wonderful day. Echoing others here, I was initially here for the design, but stayed for the personal/thoughtful posts. Gooooo year 37!

  56. Happy Birthday, Emily!
    First off, this just may be my favorite quote ever: “I now have two perfectly imperfect children that I want to shove in my mouth so I can properly experience their soul inside my stomach.” It’s brilliant! I had my perfectly imperfect munchkins at 41 and 43 and am oh-so-grateful. I’m staring 50 smack on in the face at the end of this year and while it’s a daunting number, I also feel privileged. Because getting older is just that: a privilege. Not everyone gets to (we’ve lost 2 mom’s in our community to breast cancer in the past month at ages 40 and 41) so embrace the “decorative details” and enjoy all of the imperfections and keep on doing what you do… We are so appreciative!

  57. Happy Birthday! We are the same exact age! I also turned 37 and have to little kids, my oldest is just a few months older than Charlie. I have loved reading your blog from the beginning and its so fun because we are going through the same life experiences. Have a wonderful year ahead, Emily!!

  58. You have cute aggression! It’s a thing! Google it. I have it, too, with my munchkin 🙂

    Happy birthday!

  59. Happy birthday!! Congrats on where you are in your journey!

    So funny, I’m the SAME with 27/37 situation. Weird! Although now that I think about it, it’s changed to 32…

    Hope you’re having a lovely vacation. Can’t wait to see Ginny’s house, etc!!

  60. Emily – You are a great writer. Have you ever thought about putting all of your personal posts in a book – it would be best seller. 🙂

  61. Happy birthday x10000!! What a great post. I’m so proud of you, and wish the four of you the best in everything.

    – Long time follower

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