My Favorite Birthday: 32

Happiness isn’t what I thought it would look like.

I’ve been dreading thirty-two for so long that I’m embarrassed to admit it was because of a Before Sunset quote I heard my sophomore year of college.

“I was having this awful nightmare that I was thirty-two. And then I woke up and I was twenty-three. So relieved. And then I woke up for real, and I was thirty-two.”

But now I’ve arrived at that frightful age…I’m in a healthy, adult relationship. I travel the world (sometimes on my own) and continue to stand on my own two feet even when people or things try to knock me down. I’m free – and happy.

But that’s not why it was my favorite birthday. Embracing adulthood happens to most thirty-somethings.

This was my favorite birthday because I was terrified that my friends back home would forget about me while I was abroad. Oh, and of being friendless even while traveling with 75 (now 40-something) fellow Remote Year participants.

But that hasn’t happened. My relationships back home have actually grown even stronger and I have an entirely new group of close friends.

Not surprisingly, this has been my favorite year. (Although if you had told me beforehand that my favorite year would include waking up to a rat literally in my face multiple times, I would have never believed you.)

And I’ve fallen in love with myself. Finally. Not in a narcissistic way but:

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who live at peace with others.” – Peace Pilgrim

I haven’t written in awhile. Five months to be exact. And for that I’m sorry. I haven’t done a lot of things this year. But I want to thank the people who made my thirty-second birthday so special so here it goes.

Most years I throw a party with an open bar for my friends. I suppose it is a little odd to always throw yourself a birthday party but I never wanted to impose on anyone…besides, I wanted to do something special for my loved ones.

But this year, my magnificent new group of girlfriends planned an entire day of marking items off my bucket list (a bucket list item on its own) followed by a romantic weekend at an estancia in Argentina with the sweetest man I’ve ever met.

First up was learning to crack an egg with one hand (courtesy of Jose).

Next was getting three PhDs and a standing ovation:

Followed by a champagne lunch with two of my favorite ladies:


With a picnic in the park wrapping up the day. And as we sipped a drink named after me, I was presented with the sweetest love letter I could ever hope to receive.

Ode de Joelle (Drink Recipe)

Rose – love, victory, romance

Champagne – celebratory, effervescent

Thyme – activity, bravery, courage, strength

Peaches – for our southern bell

Luxardo Cherries – fertility, merrymaking, immortality

Twenty people I’ve travelled the world with for the past ten months wrote the kindest, loveliest, personal notes to me. It is undoubtedly the most meaningful gift I have ever received and it is going straight into the fireproof lockbox.


The thoughtfulness of the day still makes me emotional.

The only thing that could possibly make the celebration more perfect was the weekend spent with Jose at El Colibri: Estancia de Charme. That place is pure magic. Just like my friends.

So, thank you, my dear, sweet, wonderful friends. You surely know how to make a girl feel loved.

*If you are reading this via email, please click on the link so you can read the entire post. WordPress hides most photos/videos in the mail format and there are many in this blog. 

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