On Saturday, I turned 33 years old!

I posted this on my Instagram stories, but having a 9/11 birthday often feels heavy, particularly on milestone anniversaries of 2001. My heart will never not break for all the tragedy and pain that this day holds; I feel it deeply and it’s gut-wrenching. At the same time, I am so grateful for my own life and the opportunity to get to celebrate another year of it. I enjoy celebrating my birthday and I love to make it a happy, fun day. Over the years, I’ve learned to acknowledge the tension between those two extremes and accept that they can coexist. I think of and hold space in my heart for all those who lost their loved ones in the attacks and the aftermath. I also have deep gratitude for the friends and family who always make sure I still feel the love and celebration on my birthday.

Friday, we had some friends come into town to stay with us for the weekend. They live 5+ hours away and we’re not able to see each other nearly as much as we’d like, so it was so amazing to have them come in to celebrate! Our kids have met before, but it’s been so long that none of them remember it – within five minutes of them pulling in our driveway, all four kids were playing like besties!

Saturday we enjoyed a slow morning at home and spent the early afternoon out at our pond soaking up the sun. My friend baked a stunning birthday cake that was as delicious as it was beautiful!

Around mid-afternoon, we headed inside to get ready for the evening. Our city has multiple rivers that connect downtown and Justin rented a boat called a Rum Runner – it’s a party boat that has a bar in the middle with stools all around and space to walk around as well. It was so much fun – my only regret is that I wish it was bigger so we could have invited even more people! The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed a couple hours floating on the river, then hung out downtown and enjoyed checking out different open-air spots for food, drinks, and even dancing. It felt like everything just came together to make for a heck of an evening out and I enjoyed every second.

I decided to not share group photos on this public platform, but it’s hard for me to overstate how much I appreciated my friends and their efforts to come out and celebrate with me. Seeing fifteen friends from different stages of my life come together was surreal and so awesome and we all had a blast together. I ended the night just feeling so so grateful and loved!

Sunday was even more gorgeous weather than Saturday and we enjoyed time fishing, floating on the pond, and watching our kids play in the water before our friends packed up and headed home. It was such a relaxing way to finish a great weekend!

There are a lot of jokes out there about birthdays and aging that make it seem like getting older is a bad thing or something to downplay or lie about (“I’m 29 again!”). I have always tried to keep the perspective that age is truly something to celebrate. I lost one of my best friends to a tragic four wheeling accident when I was in college. Amongst all the other extreme pain of losing her, it was heartbreaking to know she would never grow older than a teenager. And having a 9/11 birthday, I’m acutely aware of the tremendous pain and loss of precious life that is associated with this date. These two events serve as a reminder for me that growing old is truly a gift, one we can’t take for granted. I specifically want to honor my friend’s memory and all those who perished on 9/11 by living life to the fullest – I am so thankful for thirty-three years of living life! And quite frankly, I wouldn’t go back to 29 anyways. At that time, I still hadn’t met either of my children. I hadn’t moved to a new house and started the adventures of renovation. I hadn’t met a few of my now very close friends. Each passing year brings new people, more personal growth, more strength in my marriage, more traveling, more experiences, more memories made with my little family – I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here’s to making 33 the best year yet!

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