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Wholehearted 29th Birthday

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Pants: American Eagle Boyfriend Jeans, Shirts: F21, Shoes: BCBG, Belt: Old Navy, Vintage Bracelet & Necklace c/o: Krafty Kash
Krafty Kash Discount Code for 20% OFF: LMM20. Hair braided by this girl–let’s talk her into doing a tutorial for us, shall we.

1-photo copy

{birthday festivities}

The big two-nine. Twenty nine.
I’ve spent the past year dreading this birthday.
As if ushering in the final year of my twenties somehow meant saying goodbye to my youth.

I remember the day I was watching college football and the players on the field no longer looked like men to me—they were boys. Young, young boys. Boys that I would have babysat nearly a decade earlier. In that moment, I knew I was getting older.

Then, just the other day, I was watching my usual evening reruns of Friends, when it hit me—I am officially older the characters of my beloved childhood show. As a kid growing up watching the show, I never imagined this day would actually arrive.

And yet, here I am.
Living in a world where the vast majority of media figures are half a decade younger than me.
I’m already becoming overwhelmed with the rapid expansion of technology.
I only understand the basic functions of my iPhone.
I start stories with sentences like “are you too young to remember…”.
And Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Elton John were the only performers I recognized at the Grammy’s this year.

In so many ways, I’m becoming irrelevant in segments of life I once thought were so important.

Which has me thinking…
It’s funny how quickly things change.
How one day, you just wake up and you’re…older.
Not old. Just older.

Today, on my 29th birthday, I had the realization that I’ve spent the last year in a power struggle of sorts. A struggle between growing into a more mature, self-aware and wholehearted version of myself, while also hanging on to my youth with every ounce of strength I have.

But in my world, these identities are at odds with one another. And as I begrudgingly entered the first day of my 29th year of life today, I decided to give myself a pep talk before I climbed out of bed in the morning.

What am I holding on to so tightly?
What am I afraid of losing by embracing this new chapter of my life?
Sure, those 16-year-old abs were fabulous. But so what?
Those abs are long gone now,
and I have two dimple faced boys to show for it.
So what is it?

I didn’t have an answer. But as I lay there in bed, inching my toes out from under the covers into the brisk morning air, I came up with a resolution.

A resolution to not let this day be wasted mourning my ridiculous notion of youth. And, a resolution to (ESPECIALLY) not allow another year to go by hanging on to a former version of myself that I don’t even recognize anymore.

The moment my feet hit the floor,
I would start counting my blessings.
Counting all the beautiful people and things and experiences I have to show for the last 29 years of life. And each time I recognized a blessing, I would make a conscious effort to smile in acknowledgment.

Well folks, I smiled a lot today. A lot.
As it turns out, the first birthday I have ever truly dreaded in my life…
This dreaded birthday has blossomed into my best one yet.
Understated. Simple and lavish, all at the same time. Absolutely perfect.
And surrounded with love. Lots and lots and LOTS of love.

So that’s what I’ve taken from today…
That my favorite thing I have to show for the last 29 years is…
LOVE.

Thank you for being a part of what I love so much.

My word of the year for age 29 is wholehearted.
As inspired by Brene Brown in Daring Greatly.
The book getting me through, what I have jokingly refer to as my quarter-life-crisis.
If after reading this quote you feel a bit inspired, join in on the challenge and create your “Enough Statement”. Details here.

wholehearted

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A special thank you to Kashoan of Krafty Kash, for creating this special “wholehearted” reminder for me to wear.  Each of her creations is made with pages from vintage dictionaries, books and maps. Next on my wish list is a charm with the map location where Ben and I had our first kiss. 20% OFF with code: LMM20

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35 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy Tinnin
    February 14, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Happy Birthday! Beautifully said!

  • Reply
    Meggan
    February 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Ashley,
    When I first found your blog I remember thinking that while you were darling, you were certianly far too young for me to learn anything from (this year is 39 for me, yikes). But, I quickly learned how foolishly mistaken I was. You have taught me that good mommas are the ones who worry that they are not enough, that good mommas have “off days”, that good mommas deserve to dress fancy even if it is only for a trip to the playground. You are wise beyond your years and this momma has appreciated your sharing your 20s with us 🙂 Happy Birthday

    (oh, and you just until those sweet boys of yours start school and ALL of their teachers are younger than you – THAT is when it really sinks in 🙂

  • Reply
    Southern Gal
    February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Happy birthday to you!

  • Reply
    Hanna
    February 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Happy birthday! You are still so young and you look fantasic!!! Seriously Ashley, you don’t look a day over 22 and you’ve already got your 2 boys!!!
    Great post!!! And happy valentines day!! Xoxoxo Hanna

  • Reply
    missy
    February 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You are so beautiful inside and out. Looking forward to reading and learning more from you.
    I hope your special day is full of LOVE and LAUGHTER.

  • Reply
    Tricia
    February 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Ashley,

    Thank you for this very touching post!! I am *ahem* a decade older than you and feel the same way about saying goodbye to my 30’s!! I also had to laugh because I too remember the moment I realized I was indeed older than the Friends characters!! 🙂 I used to watch the show and if I felt like I was getting older I always said to myself at least I’m still younger than Monica… then one day it happened. Funny how that silly show had/has such an affect on us! I also wrote a saying goodbye to my 20’s journal entry (didn’t blog back then) and you’ve inspired me to go find it and read the wisdom I gave my 29 year old self!! Many blessings and happy years ahead!!

  • Reply
    Caroline
    February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Happy Birthday! 29 will be a good one! 🙂

  • Reply
    Andrea
    February 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Happy Birthday mama! Glad you had such an amazing day.

    Ps. I did the same thing watching football these past couple of months…

  • Reply
    Krystal
    February 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Beautiful. Happy Birthday!! Looking forward to reading about how you make this year fabulous!

  • Reply
    karri
    February 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Happiest Birthday!!!
    Girl – age is a state of mind. Its simply a number. And as someone 10 years older than you, I can honestly tell you that my 30’s have been so. much. better than my 20’s. So. much.

  • Reply
    Erin @ Axell's Kitchen
    February 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday!! I turn 24 in a little over a week and I feel the same way…being the only one of my friends with a baby, I feel like a grandma!

  • Reply
    mara
    February 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    cheers to a happy birthday and another year of life 🙂 i’ve loved your blog ever since i laid eyes on it, and i’m soo glad you let me read! i’m glad you had a great day, you deserve it! i’m turning 26 in a week, and that is kind of weirding me out when i think about it for too long. i recently saw a thing about how old the babies from FRIENDS (Ben, Emma, Phoebe’s triplets, Monica and Chandlers twins…) would be now….reality check for sure!!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    February 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Ash!!! Happy Belated Birthday lovely!!! I love that you are LOVING this time…there is nothing quite like growing into a better version of yourself!!! Also, happy Valentines day!!! give your boys lots of squeezes!!!

    Andrea

  • Reply
    Shirley
    February 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Happy Birthday

  • Reply
    Lisa
    February 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Happy birthday! Enjoy the last year of your twenties, and remember, it only gets BETTER. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sayonada
    February 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I NEED to know how to braid my hair like that! You look great — happy birthday!!

  • Reply
    misty
    February 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    happy birthday!! I love your word of the year!!!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Roberts
    February 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I hope you had a beautiful birthday my friend. I turn 30 this year and I am clinging tightly to these last FEW months in my 30s… not sure where the time has gone 😉 Let’s plan breakfast soon! xo

  • Reply
    Lindsay Roberts
    February 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I hope you had a beautiful birthday my friend. I turn 30 this year and I am clinging tightly to these last FEW months in my 20s… not sure where the time has gone 😉 Let’s plan breakfast soon! xo

  • Reply
    Momsterscircus
    February 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    What a birthsday outfit, you look so beautful! Happy birthsday and hope you enjoyed the wonderful celebration!

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    February 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    I am 31 and also had a “moment” when I realized I am now in the same age group as Loralai Gilmore, and not Rory. Why God Why!!!!!!!!!!!!! J/K, but still……..

  • Reply
    Tania - Tdesign
    February 15, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Love reading this post, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You look wonderful and I love your hair. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on getting older, I guess thats one of the few things no one can ever avoid, we all just need to learn to embrace it and smile x

  • Reply
    Sally
    February 15, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I was actually relieved when I finaly turned 30 last year. I had 3 kids (pregnant with my 4th) and I was sick of people looking at me like I wasn’t old enough to have them all. Like I some how had not earned the right to have that many kids while still in my 20’s. Of course I did have a moment of panick one day when I realized my grey hairs had tripled over night, but that passed. I still think 30 is young and I have a feeling I will feel the same way when I turn 40.

  • Reply
    Kari
    February 15, 2013 at 4:45 am

    Can I just say that I WHOLEHEARTEDLY adore you?!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    McCall
    February 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Happy Birthday! Wonderful post, now go watch the Friends episode “Where they all turn 30” (Rachel hadn’t even had Emma yet!!) 😉

  • Reply
    Make and Do Girl
    February 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Well, Happy Birthday! My BFF once tore a page from a magazine and gave it to me with this quote on it (I wish I remember who said it): “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose any of the other ages you’ve been.”

  • Reply
    BROOKE WHITE
    February 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    29 is going to be wonderful. You are a great gal, you give so much to so many. So happy to know you beyond the blog! Gonna have to read that book, That quote is perfect, thank you! Happy birthday my friend!

  • Reply
    Barbara
    February 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Happy birthday! I am glad you’ve embraced it, and I hope every year following is just as fabulous.

  • Reply
    Nazzia
    February 17, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Happy Birthday Ashley!
    I know exactly what you mean when you say you’ve been dreading your birthday all year.
    I just turned 26 yesterday…but I guess its not too bad on the other side.
    Your dimple-faced boys are adorable.
    You’ve always been an inspiration!
    Happy Birthday again.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    February 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Ashley hope you had a lovely birthday, mine was on the same day too (I was 25). Just wanted to say I love your blog, I’m not a mom yet but love reading about what you get up to. Take care x x

  • Reply
    Ginny
    March 7, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Hey, I just found your blog through Living in Yellow and have really enjoyed the posts. I totally relate to this post, for me it was my 30th. It is crazy to look at football players and refer to the, as kids instead of peers. I think I had a tenancy to remember the good things about being young and forget the bad times. I like you am happily embracing life now and my wonderful family that came with it. Thanks for sharing this!
    Ginny
    mynewfavoriteoutfit.blogspot.com

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