Well here we are, another year done, another on the brink. Last summer we were deep in a pandemic at my birthday and I had just given birth two months prior to Emma and so I was not a great place mentally. Ok, let’s be honest- I was a hot screaming mess. So my birthday gift was a night alone in a hotel, and I learned that time alone truly is the best gift, especially when you are a busy working mom of two (and STILL in a pandemic!) So I’m writing this from my hotel room again, about to check out, after a fun night out to dinner with close girlfriends and lots of laughs (but not much sleep because, well, wine hits you harder at 42!) It felt almost like “normal” life again, and it was the first birthday in 8 years where I wasn’t in an IVF cycle, pregnant or nursing. So I felt almost… free.
I’ve mentioned this in passing on Instagram but I’ve been struggling a lot with the idea of true happiness lately. Trying to figure out what it is and means to me- as an individual, mother, boss, wife, friend. We’ve all been given a lot of time in the past year to reflect on what we value most and what brings us joy, and while some have found clarity in that time, some also have felt confused and unsure. I have, for certain. Andrew always tells me he thinks I don’t know HOW to be happy. That I really only know how to be busy and strive for the next accomplishment in hopes that THAT is what will make me deeply happy. And he’s right. I think I wrap a lot of my sense of happiness up in achievements and goals instead of the process and path to those goals. And once reaching them, instead of enjoying the moment, I set the next one and start the cycle over again. But have I ever really thought deeply and calmly about what exactly it is that makes me happy? Like, really happy? I think I’ve confused achievement with happiness and my goal in year 42 of my life it to untangle that web and figure out how I can move through life with more genuine joy, peace and gratitude. And starting it off with friends, laughing over a great meal was the perfect start.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, not at all. I like that I strive for big things and I applaud it in others as well, especially women. But I need to make more room for calm. More room for silliness. Fun. Deep breaths and quiet moments unencumbered by the never ending to-to list in my brain and the guilt I constantly feel about one thing or another. And that’s not easy. And I guess technically it’s another “goal” I’ve set for myself- but this one is rooted more in self-awareness and health than success and work.
I do a pretty decent job at balancing work/motherhood and self care, I think. I leave work everyday at 4:30 to make sure I get a workout in before 5:30 when I go into “mom mode”. I’ve discovered that working out consistently, and pushing myself physically, helps ease my anxiety quite a bit. So I’ve been committed to that for the past 3-4 months and it has shown good results. So I do make sure I make that time 5-6 days a week- be it spinning, running, cardio classes, pilates, yoga…. something different every day. But I know I need to be more present with my kids and husband and really do better at letting go of all the nonsense I worry about and give them my 100% focus. I think between the time I make for myself alone and spending more quality time focused on them I can work towards figuring out my own path to being happier than I am.
Because let’s face it, I should be pretty damn happy.
I have everything I have ever wanted, and certainly everything I need, and yet something feels missing. And that’s a little scary, because I really have no idea what it is. One of the ways I best work through feelings like this is to write, and so that’s why I’m here today, trying to get back to my writing (which I have not made time to do this past year) in hopes that it helps me figure things out and maybe helps you a little too. It’s been a TOUGH year and a half, for some more than others, but this isn’t a time to compare hardships and play the (very unfair) game of “who has it worse”. Because as one of my favorite quotes says : ” Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. We all have internal struggles, many of which we never share or let others see. I just happen to be the type to just put it all out there…. ;)
So here I go: 42. Time for more self-reflection, kindness, boundaries, confidence, focus, love, sweat, tears, laughs and lots and lots of love. More love, always.
Thanks for listening. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Someday you’ll realize raising children is the real reward. I hope for all of your sake it’s not too late when you do. No material items or accomplishments bring as much eternal happiness as your family. Treasure these days.
Happy Birthday, kiddo!! Life goes in cycles…we used to call it, “The Seven Year Itch.” Mama said there’d be days like this…it just is. You’ve got this…with age comes contentment…and, being able to say “no” & not feel you’re letting EVERY ONE down. Hug your hubs & kiddos…you’ll look back someday & it’s THAT memory. franki
I love your blog and It helps me to speak with my clients about interioir designs, I get to talk a lot about interoirs design since I am an electrician. Thank you for your work
❤️thank you for sharing.
Happy birthday, Erin. I’m a decade older than you, but well remember that feeling of something being missing in my early 40’s. I had worked so hard to get the life I wanted, but couldn’t be IN that life because I was so accustomed to the hit of “getting” it that actually being in it felt a little boring. But you are on the right track with reflecting: the treasures of the second half of life seem to be mostly found on the inside rather than the outside.
Also, I read this article and maybe it has some resonance? https://www.wsj.com/articles/escaping-the-efficiency-trapand-finding-some-peace-of-mind-11628262751
All the best to you, 42 and onward! I feel a lot of what you are writing. And I agree on what Andrew is saying to you, I also struggle with that, and belive (I don’t know why). For many men (not all) it is easier to be happy/content for what , while many of us women are often overthinking things.
I just finished your book on elements of family style. It was helpful and the pictures are lovely, thanks for writing it. The emptiness that you are describing in this post comes from being disconnected from your creator, God (we all experience this because of our sin). You can only find contentment and lasting joy through faith in Jesus who is our Lord and worthy of our worship, but also loves us so much he died on our behalf. I highly recommend reading the Bible (perhaps start out with the New Testament) and listen to some good preachers to help you understand it if it’s new to you (i also recommend the sermon entitled “worship” by Tim Keller… Just Google it. It will help!). With love-Sarah
Happy Birthday Erin!! Sometimes when I am feeling less than, wishing I had more, etc., all I need is to drive through a less than desirable neighborhood or watch a segment on T.V. about some extremely poor individuals in another country. I suddenly feel quite fortunate and it squashes any of those silly thoughts right out of my head.
Hi Erin – I am 52, and also struggle with feeling “happy.” The best advice I ever received was this: Happiness is a skill and a choice. I only regret it took me this long to figure it out. Wishing you a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday! Thank you for your beautiful honesty. I also struggle with the need to be busy and accomplish, although often those “accomplishments” are probably not as critical as they seem. I echo the previous commenter’s sentiment that “our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” I have been trying to slow down and create space to hear what God’s call is in my life. I don’t always hear it. But when I do, it is always worth it.
This is the most meaningful post I’ve read in a while. Thank you for giving me a lot to think about.
Thanks so much for posting this, Erin. Your life seems so wonderful…it’s refreshing to hear that there’s struggle behind the success for you, as there is for all of us.
I’ve been thinking so much about the paradigms we grew up with, many that are now being challenged, and wonder if they’ve damaged us. So many thoughtful comments here talk about the importance of contentment to feeling fulfilled…that no matter your goals and hopes for your future, what you have right now is truly enough. I feel I’ve heard my whole life to fight against that feeling. I mean – how any times have you heard that to be content is a bad thing? That once you feel comfortable in your life, you should start changing it? Is this true? The Stoic philosophers said that to constantly strive, without learning to appreciate that what you have now is enough, is a doomed path when it comes to fulfillment.
Actually, maybe that would be my advice for you…read about Stoicism. I’ve been reading the Daily Stoic – just little daily passages about the principles of Stoicism. I’ve found that it challenges these paradigms that are so deeply ingrained in us and that may do more harm than good.
Happy Birthday Erin!
Happiness is external and joy is internal. Joy is found in God’s unconditional love.
Happy Birthday !
Being a bit older, I would remind that happiness is a state of being “up”, like sadness or depression is a state of being “down.” And words have power. So we really want to aim for a life in the middle of contentment, as we can’t be “up” all the time – it’s unrealistic and unattainable.
I would also say that happiness seems to be on your list like a goal to be attained and checked off. And it doesn’t work like that.
I watch with awe at many of you younger women who have built marriages and families and books and businesses. It has to be exhausting. There is so much that has been achieved that you can be extremely proud of. But internal contentment sprinkled with happy moments can’t be on a list to be checked off.
I too recommend The Happiness Project. It is written by a high achiever “with everything” similar to you and it actually has items you can “check off a list” which I think would appeal to you. After a year, you’ve reframed happiness and relieved yourself of the burden of not being happy despite it looking like you should be on paper.
I don’t mean any of this as a criticism, rather that I hope you can see how remarkable you are and give yourself permission to go easy on yourself and perhaps define/frame one’s expectations differently.
All the best to you and your beautiful family
Happy birthday, Erin! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your vulnerabilities even when you know you’re going to get some crazy comments. A lot of us feel this way, it’s a combination of external pressures, too much noise, unrealistic expectations that always make us feel like we’re falling short in some department – whether work, parenting, beauty, philanthropy, who knows. You’re doing an amazing job and providing such a welcome diversion to the readers of your blog. I just finished an old self-help classic, ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ which has (for me personally) been just the tonic for my mood lately. In case it helps! But keep prioritizing yourself and your sanity – alone time is a necessity for busy moms and no one should make you feel guilty about it. It’s not a reflection of needing to get away from your lovely family, but rather ensuring your own bucket is filled.
Happy birthday! I feel SO MUCH of what you have just written – as a mom and career-driven person. I’m not sure what the answer is, but the fact that we are still pursuing it is testament of the strength of mothers. I believe we will look back on these days and be proud as f$&@ of ourselves.
What I hear in your post is a longing for contentment. A friend shared this piece with me last year and it really hit the mark. I’m an overachiever, ambitious career mama and it sung to me. I’ve reworked what success means to me according to my own inner wisdom and I’ve let so much noise go (external validation). I feel more… content day to day. I hope the essay is meaningful to you in some way. It’s a great read:
Erin, I have followed you for many years and even met you and Andrew at a (first) book signing in Dallas. I love that you are so real and raw and share your innermost feelings with other women. No matter what our success and achievements, wealth or material possessions, we all have issues and hearing that other women struggle the same as we do helps tremendously. You are fabulous and I appreciate you so much!
You are spectacular, but it’s good you are aware when you don’t feel right and that exercise helps. No one can know what another person is feeling so continue to take care. You do have everything and those adorable children, it can be a lot to handle. We all love your blog, we support you and admire your talent. You are so brave to put it out there.
So glad you had the wonderful birthday you deserved, best wishes for many more to come.
You rocked on that dress!
It is nice to know that other people feel the way that I do.
Always want to ask when reading one of your posts:
Whatever happened to those poodles you and Andrew were so in love with, as seen in your first book?
Happy Birthday, Erin! We share a birthday week (I’m 8/3/79) and your posts always resonate with me as a working wife and mother trying to figure it all out. Thank you for your candid thoughts and lots of love!
The last two years have been the most difficult of my entire life. I’m 44 and starting over again in everything: love, career, even in a new house. But I’ve found journaling has helped (with some therapy along the way) and a six minute workout I found through the New York Times. Six minutes doesn’t seem like much but I feel energized when I do it every morning and it’s really hard to argue with myself that I don’t have six minutes to do it. It’s 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, standing lunges, push-ups and plank. Repeated twice with 15 seconds in between each exercise. Finish with child’s pose and shivasna. Mentally (and physically) it is really helping. I’m now back in school for a new career, getting my new house sorted and in a very wonderful loving relationship. Sometimes it can be hard to find joy but it’s out there if we look.
I did not get to read the other comments yesterday before posting my earlier response. PLEASE disregarding Nina the physiologist- (doubt she has many long standing clients if this is how she responds to people!) sounds time like she is the one with issues. No one’s life is perfect 24-7 all year- we get that, and we can express a little frustration. Please, Erin, dismiss her and embrace the many who embrace this post themselves. Once again you touched an underlying nerve for many. I do hope you had a beautiful day.
I worry reading the comments recommending acts of service. I do for others, and it can be very positive, but to someone struggling, it’s one more thing to feel guilty about and one more thing to do.
Sometimes it can be helpful to leave yourself, for a few hours, and see loss and struggle and help with that, because it can help recalibrate your life views. As well as, obviously, helping others. I think though that fun sounds like the thing you need right now. Trampolining, plate smashing, slip and slide, card games, super soakers, bubble machines, making taffy. Something you don’t have to document, or keep clean.
I saw someone else had recommended The Happiness Project. You could also try The Happiness Trap, which covers Acceptance and Commitment therapy. I don’t follow it as much as I should, but I had some treatment for a chronic illness along the same lines, and there’s valuable learning.
But first, have fun.
It sounds to me like you are missing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only he can fill that void and give you the joy, happiness and peace you desire. I have been walking with him for many years and I see miracles and blessings appear on a daily basis. I can’t imagine going through this life without the powee of the Holy Spirit. I will be praying for you my friend. And thank you for all the good design information over the years and the great books!
Thank you for your honesty Erin. I truly appreciate you. Happy birthday!
You’ve mentioned you suffer from anxiety. My daughter, age 39, has as well, and it can be torturous. I’m so sorry. Like you, she burns the candle at both ends to meet certain goals.
She started a non-profit for the prevention of human trafficking about five years ago and that’s given her a deep sense of contentment and lessened her anxiety. She said, Mom, wouldn’t it be amazing if someday I could tell my grandchildren that I worked so hard to eradicate slavery?
As much as we take delight in material wealth, could it be our genuine satisfaction comes from helping others in need?
Wishing you a Happy Birthday!
Exercise always works great for me until injury sidelines my supply. Meditation and breath work help me in that case. I’m beginning to have a different relationship with anxiety, but the question remains whether my personality was only made up of anxiety. Who am I without worry?
Happy Birthday Erin!!
Once again thank you for writing what so many wouldn’t dare. It made me think of something I read in an interview with a climber or mountaineer. I don’t remember it exactly but it was something along the lines of not being so attached to achieving the moment of reaching the summit, I remember he said he realized that if he didn’t love the training— the boring monotonous everyday drudge that he wasn’t really loving his life. There are so many things that can thwart a chance to summit Everest —so was all the training a waste if all his days he was living only for that one brief moment? I wish I could remember his name because he said it very eloquently that it stuck in my mind. Anyway I follow Melissa Arnot on Instagram and she is also in my top ten fav instas with you. She also talks about these deeper thoughts. I see some advice here and as I’m on the search too I can only add that nature and being creative in some way helps— I know you are a creative but I mean being creative that isn’t for work or for someone else’s consumption. Just for you. Even though I work in the bakery industry, baking bread at home really satisfies me. And being in nature. Watching birds helps me or digging in soil. Makes me happy to just be. The suggestions to volunteer are great too and I would add mentoring young women who aspire to design, blog, etc might bring you great joy – your alma mater might have a program if you’re not already doing it.
One more thought to the volunteering ideas. Since you live in Boston which is about the best small town feel big city, setting up a project like Francesca Rowan Plowden’s Design Havens for Heroes might be right up your alley and you could target an audience you care about and who you feel your work doesn’t normally reach or cross paths with?
Not sure taking on more work and another project is what you need but if there was anyone who could rock this for a cause or community you care about it would be you. Btw, FRP is lovely– always responds to a dm from a follower and would undoubtedly be helpful to a colleague such as yourself in the industry.
And don’t stop writing!!
And by the way Erin, do not listen to anyone who tries to shame you for being (in their opinion) selfish, too educated so not deserving of empathy etc. too wealthy etc. Ignore them because we are all on a journey hopefully to a better understanding of ourselves and in so doing we are more able to help others who are less fortunate or…..better able to help our children become better citizens of our crazy mixed up world.
It makes me seriously crazy reading some of these comments that criticize when empathy for all of us would be a better response.
Amen, Sharon. Shame on all the haters out there who write nasty things about Erin (or anyone). We are all on this journey and trying the best we can. One foot in front of the other, you brave, brave woman.
Happy Birthday! I have 7 yrs on you and the great thing about age is you really do stop caring about the small things (hopefully) and it’s so freeing! Things that would have sent my 30 year old self over the edge (either anger or anxiety wise) don’t even phase me anymore. Sounds so cliche, but gratitude is key. Free yourself from all the unnecessary guilt.
I have no doubt you will conquer this “task” just like you have all the others.
Ok so we women who “want it all….as in a meaningful career, children that fulfill our reproductive instinct, husbands who understand us as more than a sex partner and the one he goes to when all else fails for support….Well, that is a really heavy load and frankly not one that is sustainable. Where did this burden become our everyday reality? I for one, at 76 yrs old still don’t have a good answer. I do know that I want to have a loving relationship with my husband and honest conversation regarding all aspects of our relationship and frankly, I still
want a satisfying sexual relationship as well. I think it is time to reevaluate our expectations of every facet of our lives, no matter what our age is. Thank you Erin for asking pertinent questions that need to be reviewed.
I am 64 and still trying to find it. I feel moments of joy but often wonder if I could be happier overall somehow. If I had taken a different life path? I may never know. Many years ago my mother told me that my problem was that I wasn’t content in the life I had. That I always wanted more. So does contentment equal happiness?
Check out Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. She also has a podcast with her sisters to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her book. I think it will resonate with you.
Last July, my identical twin sister (age 36) was diagnosed with a rare cancer, already at stage 4, with no prior symptoms (cancer found incidentally); then in October, my mom was diagnosed with a different cancer, also stage 4, with no previous symptoms. My twin died in December, and my mom died in January of this year. A week after my mom died, my family got covid (me, my 70 year old dad, two other sisters and my 3 year old). I say this not to “one up” or compete with anyone on who’s had it worse – – but to simply paint a picture of how low I was feeling. Therapy didn’t help, I’ve already been on lexapro for 12 years, and all of the “self help” books out there seemed meaningless. By chance, I happened upon this book called “I’ve Been Thinking” by Maria Shriver – just a collection of stories and thoughts, with each chapter beginning with either a prayer or quote. It lifted my spirits when I was desperate for any words to resonate. Try it! xo
I am so very sorry for your immense losses.
Oh Lauren- this means so much to me and is such a generous thing to share. I’m glad I got to meet her.
Thank you. I remember that my twin (Kate) went to one of your first book signings in NYC (where she lived) and said you seemed like a kindred spirit in anxiety. She told you she really loved the book, and you (almost in disbelief) replied, ‘do you really?’ with a trepidatious smile – not in the fishing for compliments way – like you actually couldn’t believe that people did! She was so struck by your honesty and humble attitude (also she said your hair was really shiny). We’re longtime followers – and fellow ‘serotonin challenged’ warriors. Keep up the good fight – and start following Maria Shriver/subscribe to her Sunday Paper/get her book! And remember, all of your mind racing/spiraling isn’t your fault, it’s just how your brain is wired. Doesn’t it suck?
This post really speaks to me as I was literally having the same thoughts about happiness this very evening. I should be happy, yet something feels missing and I’m not sure what it is. Thank you for being so honest and real.
Happy 42, Erin!! Those are great words to live by. Especially helpfully for this 50 year old (in case you remember, the one with the blue grass cloth wallpaper!)
At age 64, I just have this to say; “If I’ve learned anything—anything—getting older, it’s the value of moment-to-moment enjoyment” – Judd Apatow
Always love your writing and this post is no exception. I think it’s pretty brave to admit that even if you have it all there can be something a little missing.
Erin, I am wishing you the happiest Birthday and many more to come! You have inspired me in so many ways and I thank you! I also, agree with Robyn on a Life Coach. For all the reasons she mentioned. It was money well spent. Now, go on and celebrate the whole weekend with that wonderful family you created! <3
A wonderful post of truth and honesty and just a note to say thank you. For this.
Well shit. This was a deep one;).
I think the feelings of happiness – contentment- joy are truly based on an inner peace that has little to do with what one has achieved, accomplished or acquired. It’s the perception of those things and the ability to live in the moment that allows joy to blossom.
External appearances are not always a reflection of someone’s reality and I think it’s pretty brave of you to share your correct struggles. I think to most your life appears pretty darn perfect so for some it’s very difficult to comprehend that all those ‘things’ and achievements are no guarantee to a happy life.
I’ve literally checked off every box of what I would think was necessary to have a ‘perfect life’ yet I continue to struggle with anxiety, adhd, self esteem issues and parenting insecurities. I’ve found God and faith, a rock solid husband and lots and lots of therapy and meds to be the key things that keep me sane in this lifetime.
Hugs to you Erin. Xoxo
Beautifully said. Best wishes on your journey.
Dear Dear Erin,
I have followed you – forever. I am old enough to be your mother. I wish that you have happiness, calm and love this year. I wish that you would give yourself less intense scrutiny. You are a very lucky women. Life is difficult for most – and I totally understand that you have had your share – but looking back as I have had the time and years to do – the most important thing is – give yourself a break, be there for your children and husband, because that is what matters. Enjoy the moments and days. Stop working and pushing yourself so hard.
This is not about me – I am sharing with you my learnings over the past years. I have gone through a lot of what you have and believe me – in the end it is about special days with the ones you love and that love you.
Be well, be happy, be safe. Happy 42.
I can relate to this post, as I turned 42 this year (and have accomplished much less than you!!). I’m thinking about starting to go to church again. Maybe that’s something that will help? Being grateful is the key to happiness.
Every human has felt these feelings at one time or another, some are just not brave enough to express it (or blog about it on a birthday post!). Augustine wrote, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” As a fellow “achiever” I have found this to be the truth. Until I received the love God had for me, I was striving – running from one accomplishment to the next, one project to the next, one more “thing” to fill the hole. Peace came when I met peace Himself and rested in His unchanging, all-consuming, never-ending love. Richest blessings in your 42nd year. May you know how beloved you are, not because of what you do, but simply because you are God’s precious creation. If you’re not sure “how to get His peace,” just bring your honest heart before Him and tell Him you want to trade those empty feelings for His peace. He will give it.
Amy is spot on. You will never find true happiness in the things of this world. As you’ve discovered, wealth, fame and accomplishment do not bring true joy. Only a relationship with the one who made you can. I know you scoff at religion, but perhaps you’d be willing to give it a shot this year. May you find peace.
Well said, Amy! Happiness comes from external things, while joy is an internal gift. Romans 15:13 addresses the source of joy. Wishing peace and joy to you, Erin! May year 42 be your most joyful year yet!
Happiness is not real or tangible. Do not make happiness a goal. Take the TiME to ENJOY all the little successes and moments, a client over the moon with her new sofa, a friend calling with a funny story, your child laughing and hugging you, your husband reaching over to hold your hand during a movie…….just be present and aware and acknowledge if even for a minute the joy and pleasure you FEEL. Practice this!
Happy Birthday! As a soon-to-be 45 year old, may I suggest a perfect birthday gift for yourself? A life coach! A few years ago I was feeling very much like you are now and on a whim I signed up for a program under a fantastic life coach and it changed my life. I always scoffed at life coaching, but it is not really at all what it sounds like. It’s someone who helps you parse out what you are feeling and helps you take action to get you to where you want to be, feeling-wise. After about 8 months my life probably looked the same from the outside, but the way I felt inside was completely transformed. I have never been more confident, calm and content. And now I can see that those feelings were always inside of me and I just didn’t understand how to unlock them. My kids are teenagers, and I wish I had given myself this gift when they were younger, as I think I would have shown up as a better parent for them. Sorry to go on and on, but I can’t say enough about what this has done for me. Personally, I worked with a coach who was trained by The Life Coach School, but there are lots of fantastic coaches out there who work with just about every niche imaginable. Sending lots of love to you! As Glinda says in the Wizard of Oz: You’ve always had the power my dear, you just [have] to learn it for yourself!
I have loved reading about your adventures and aspirations and seeing your beautiful home and family evolve, but this post was my favorite – so honest and brave. Happiness is an elusive thing. It doesn’t scream — it is quiet and persistent. I remember on my wedding day a friend told me, “be sure to stop, look around, and take it all in because it goes by in a blink of an eye.” And I did. That was more than 20 years ago and my first born is about to head to college but I keep that little nugget of advice with me daily. Stop, look around, and take it all in. Those are the moments when I recognize true happiness and realize that though everything can always be a little better, I just don’t need it to be. As we get older we get more clarity, but try it. Take one minute a day to stop, look around, and take it all in. And to think I thought your post was about Jackie Robinson, a brave soul indeed. Happy birthday!
Thank you for this post. It made me think and made me cry. I am a lot older than you and still struggle with what makes me happy and trying to enjoy the moment. I have a wonderful, supportive husband, children and a job I love but instead of enjoying it, my mind races with what’s next or how I could have done it better. I hope before I am gone from this world I somehow find that elusive happiness. You seem to be on the right track and I wish you all the best in your journey.
Love this post. I hope I’ve figured out what makes me happy and I’m 71 closing in on 72. Happiness seems to be a constantly shifting target. I know I’m living the life I would have killed for when I was younger.
Right now, happiness for me includes solid relationships, a comfortable place to live and the ability to grow creatively.
Ideally it would also include the ability to eat everything I want and never gain weight, but that one isn’t happening…
Please remember how to laugh, have fun, have a hobby( very important later!) enjoy nature, you’ll find peace there. Your Dad has not ever made time for joy in the simple things— and I wish you more on your birthday. Love you always and forever, Mom
I feel very similarly and I have 1/10 of your business & success. What has helped/saddened but helped me recently is to truly think about how I would feel if I knew my days were numbered tomorrow. Achievement and goal setting can definitely bring big and good feelings but they’re only part of the package. I’m on the hunt too… and I think prioritizing listening to yourself and going within is an excellent path. Thanks for sharing these big ideas and deep ruminations and glad 42 is off to an awesome, fulfilling start for you! Happy, happy Birthday Erin XxOo
Happy Birthday! I am 42 as well and I feel so much of what you wrote in this post. Thank you for all the beauty and creativity you put out in the world.
Oh, Erin, once again your honesty and openness touches me. The fact that you are able to realize and express the “need”, it wonderful. I did get a kick out of relaxing as a “goal” 😊 you know you. Andrew knows you. Just remember to breathe and enjoy the journey to your GOAL as much as crossing off another item on your To Do List. Maybe occasionally schedule “Nothing Time” and do whatever you feel like for that 15 or 30 min.
Whatever works for you and your wonderful family. Just keeping talking to us- it seems to help us see ourselves more clearly, too.
This hits so close to home, and reflects so many internal thoughts I’ve had about myself and my life over the past year too. I don’t know “how” to be happy either. My strategy recently has been to focus on the little things. Being present in my workouts, trying a new hobby, changing my scenery (even if it just means trying a new coffee shop than the same one I always go to) and being more intentional in my time/interactions with friends has helped somewhat. Meditation too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts openly and normalizing these thoughts – especially coming from someone I admire so much!
One more thing on this subject – I loved this podcast episode which talks a lot about this and gave me a good perspective on what it means to be happy and content. Enjoy! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/healthier-together/id1398442165?i=1000520371840
I know exactly what you mean. Some of this, I think, is The Human Condition. I too feel stretched in a million directions and like I’m doing a subpar job at everything. It’s really hard. If you figure it out, please let me know!
I would like to say that I very much enjoy your blog and have been reading it for years. I really appreciate the mix of posts and topics. It’s like the best magazines – a little sprinkling of everything!
Happy Birthday! I so understand but you know what…you are happy! I see the joy your kids bring you, your new home, looking and feeling the best youve felt in years, your new office, book binders still being shown off..Erin you are happy you also are busy and might just not express that happiness the way a super peppy, extroverted Husband might so we feel like we are doing it wrong and they are doing it right. Happiness can be rolling out of the house in the morning with good hair, hot coffee and music. It can be subtle and short and then we need to get the fuck back to work and crush it again and they just need to get out of our way and stop making us apologize for doing it all differently
I was just thinking this week that I need something that is MINE. I get wrapped up in my work, in being a mom, in being a wife. And while these things do bring me joy, they aren’t just for me. Like you, I prioritize exercise, but that’s to ease my anxious brain. What am I doing because it brings ME joy? I am not even sure where to start, but maybe recognizing I don’t something that is just for me actually is the place to start?
Erin, you’re wise to make happiness, true happiness, a goal at 42. I’m only just coming to terms with letting go of some things, crazy neatness in my world, and trying to be more present and I’m 55. You say you should be happy. That notion probably applies to me as well, but we’re human; we do the best we are capable of doing. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading more of your writing. Take care.
do you follow Silver Disobedience in IG? do you have her book? it is a great way to digest small bits of self awareness and serenity… and Dian is FABULOUS!!!
You are a great writer and doing all the right things. Learning to enjoy the moment, relax, and drink it all in = contentment, satisfaction, happiness, but it isn’t easy for many of us to get there. You will. That’s what I discovered our 40s are all about and you are already on the path by asking these questions and having the self-awareness and courage to ask them. Everything in our external environment seems to tell us we are what we do and that accomplishments bring happiness. It takes all of us time to break through that messaging and realize there is a person inside all of that who simply is and needs to be valued and seen for just that. Simone Biles wrote on instagram last week that the outpouring of support she received during the Olympics made her realize many folks out there care about her, the person, even if she isn’t performing death-and-gravity defying feats. What a gift for her to learn this lesson in her 20s when it took me so much longer. Being in the now and truly appreciating it is the closest to happiness we can get. And we need to relearn this, constantly. Happy birthday and here’s to your 40s!
Happy Birthday Erin!! I will be 42 in 3 weeks also and I completely understand what you are saying. It is easy to get lost in the hussle and bussle of all of the things!! I actually started reading my Bible every day this January and will finish it in one year. It has been life changing as it has helped me to really focus on what is important. I don’t know about your belief system at all but I have found a lot of wisdom and peace in that book of truth!
I love this post! It really resonates with me. I hope you have a truly wonderful birthday!
I know you’re stretched for time, but I can’t begin to tell you how much volunteering centers and calms me. Even if it’s just an hour or two helping out my church, I walk away happy!
Happy birthday and best wishes for peace, joy, and meaning. Remember to breathe!
I have found more by seeking less. Less stuff, less structure, less distracting nonsense. Like you, I focus on family and health: daily workouts, delicious local food, and laughs around the table. And all the hugs, all the time. We need more hugs! The Japanese concept of “ichi-go ichi-e,” or each moment only once, is my mantra for fully embracing life as I experience it, letting it suffuse me with gratitude, then allowing it to be enough. It’s not always easy for me to let go, but it’s so worthwhile to enjoy the clarity on the other side.
I love this! 🙏❤️
I just took a screenshot of your message. Love the ichi-go iche-e! Thanks!
Happy birthday dear Erin. Hope you have the most wonderful day and just know that all of us out here treasure you not only for your incredible eye for great style and beautifully design but for your authentic voice and powerful writing. Wishing you a wonderful day and a year filled with purpose, joy and fulfillment both personally and professionally. Xoxoxox
Happy birthday, Erin! May I suggest the book The Happiness Project or the sequel, Happier at Home? I read them years ago and the author had great tips (gosh, I should read them again and apply them to my life!). Wishing you a fabulous weekend :)
I read the Happiness Project awhile back, another good one is Operation Happiness by Kristi Ling. (I was going through a particularly tough time when I read Kristi’s book) She also has a new book out which I haven’t read yet.
I am at the point in my life where I derive the most pleasure from the little things: time to enjoy a good cup of coffee and a chapter on my patio, a cool morning for a dog walk, the pleasure of a bike ride and lunch with my teenagers. I’m a little more than a decade ahead of you, and I stopped having the expectation to be “happy” a while ago. Now I am content with feeling productive, comfortable in my own skin and trying to just be a good person. I recently finished reading Anna Karenina, and a favorite quote from this is, “Never mind, my dear, as long as you have health and a clear conscience.” Moments of happiness for me are fleeting, but the satisfaction that comes with a life well lived, is what I strive for. Keep writing and doing what you do so well, Erin. I can definitely add your blog to a list of things that has enriched my life for many years.
I love this! I have been trying to focus on the little things too in the hopes they help me focus on contentment in the moment.
Agree with all of this. I regularly do a guided meditation that focuses on ‘being content,’ and it really makes a difference for me. (Meditation Studio app, no affiliation, just a user.)
Also, Erin, your posts here and on Instagram definitely add a richness to my life. You don’t focus on buy this, you need it, or buy this, it will make you happy. So many of your posts are look at the detail in this, look at the color in this, look at the beauty in this…and then I see it in other places too. Thank you.
Finally, some of the best advice I ever got was ‘when you feel, do’. In other words, acts of service to other people or even ourselves can really get us out of our own minds and find another source of happiness or fulfillment. I think you touched on this with exercise, and other talked about this in their comments.
I love this and relate SO much!!! Too much emphasis on happiness and not nearly enough on contentment. happiness is external and transient, whereas contentment is hard won and deep.
I have four older brothers and a younger sister. I also had a sister who passed away. Additionally, my mom had two devastating miscarriage’s while I was growing up. Until I had children of my own, I never realized that she truly was a SUPERwoman! How in the hell she did it, is beyond me…
Happy happy birthday from a long-time follower!
I’ve struggled with that “empty” space in my life, too, even though I’ve had just about everything I could possibly want. The cure for me has been giving (time, money, anything) to other people. Especially to people who don’t have everything they could possibly want. This has filled my empty space, and then some. It make me happy beyond my life goals, and I somehow manage to find time, energy, and space for it.
Happy Birthday! Identifying that you are missing something was the hard part. Trying new experiences to fill that void will be a new, exciting adventure. Best of luck!
A gift of money and/or time volunteering for a worthy cause, helps to fill my void with such a sense of satisfaction. When our children were young, we volunteered in a kitchen that provided meals to those in need. Our, now adult, children have carried that valuable experience with them and continue by contributing time and money to charitable organizations. In Portland, Oregon, there is a wonderful group of women – the Charitable Chicks – and we have a great time volunteering for various causes together. It’s been fun meeting other women who all want to do good for our community. The last year and a half has been slow due to the pandemic, but hopefully, we’ll be back at it soon.
I couldn’t reply to the comment from Nina, but Jesus, someone who needs a f*cking break from the treadmill of stress and despair would take time for herself over her birthday. I also have everything I’ve ever wanted and just started seeing a therapist because of the anxiety and stress I’ve been feeling lately. Let’s have some compassion and empathy and kindness and care for others. Erin, I get it.
YOU ARE SO FUCKING SELFISH
The more I read this post, the more I found you’re want somebody to feel sorry for you.. Erin you need some serious help and I hope you get it for the sake of your husband, your kids and anyone else who have to deal with you in a daily basis
Who leaves their family year after year to go spend their birthday by themself without their children andhusband? What kind of Life do you have at home I don’t understand how your husband even deal with you. I asked myself that many times from reading your blogs from time to time.
So many people in this world are suffering without food to eat, clothes to wear, can take care of their family and here you have it all and you’re still complaining!!! You are such a attention seeker it’s sad… Do you have a relationship with your parents?
As a phycologist, I would love to help you.
Please get some serious help, you are not be fair towards your family!
I think your childhood mess you up BIG TIME
100% agree Robin. Helping individuals, abandoned animals, & organizations such as Women to Women, Saving Grace, Havenwood is where much of my happiness, contentment, & sense of peace comes from. I’m ok living w/furniture & stuff that’s been around for quite awhile. It’s helping others that creates satisfaction.
I love this Robin! How inspirational!
I love this, and it’s so relatable. I just turned 40, have a 3 year old (also via IVF), and a job that I really enjoy, but it’s also demanding. The idea of balance is hard to achieve, and I find myself more and more thinking about what I really want in life. The past year and half has shown me how much I value simplicity and time with my loved ones. But, actually prioritizing that and putting other stuff ‘down’ is hard.