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Happy Birthday, Me (On My 30’s)


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Happy Birthday, Me (On My 30s) | A Practical Wedding

{Me turning two. Note the bow on my head.}

I’m turning 31 today. Which is, of course, a nice way of saying that I’ll be stepping away from my computer in a few hours to go celebrate.

I keep thinking, however, how much change a year can bring. Last year, the idea that I was turning 30 lit a fire under me. I was in a really difficult place—working as a secretary—something I was wildly overqualified to do, and never expected to be doing at 30. And I just wanted things to change. I re-launched APW just over a year ago, as a secret 30th birthday present for myself. Ariel helped with the (unknowing) 30th birthday presents, by asking me to write a sidebar in the second edition of the Offbeat Bride book, and I hosted Ariel’s OBB reading in San Francisco on my birthday weekend. And then, on the afternoon of my 30th birthday, I did a final edit of the rough draft of my book proposal, and turned it into my agent.

Fast forward a year. On my 31st birthday, APW is my full time job. When we re-launched the site, there had been 15,000 comments in the first two years of the blog. That means, by now,  there should have been around 22,000 comments. But as of this writing, there have been 48,500 comments on APW. Holy crap you guys, that’s a lot of talking we’ve been doing, during my 30th year. That’s a lot of me being grateful to how smart and funny and amazingly supportive you guys are, of each other, and of me.

Last year, I handed my agent a proposal for the first time. This year, I’m tearing my way towards the first half of my book being due, two weeks from today. This year, I’m getting to pay it forward, and ask other readers and bloggers to contribute bits of their writing, to be sidebars in my book.

It’s been quite a year.

Last year I wrote this, about turning 30 (read this post if you haven’t by the way, it’s worth it):

The realization I’ve come to over the last few weeks, is that I really, truly, lived the f*ck out of my 20’s. I may not have emerged with a totally cohesive career (though I’m getting there)… but I did emerge with almost no regrets. Other than a handful of months when I was still almost 19, I dated only pretty nice people. I did almost everything that I wanted to do, no matter how scary or unsuccessful it was. I did not consume large amounts of toxic anything. I did the starving artist gig. I spent a lot of time discovering what I actually wanted out of life. I moved cross country. I got married.

But I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to live the f*ck out of my 30s. Living the f*ck out of my 20’s was easy – poor, New York, amazing friends, many late nights, rambling old house in Brooklyn, plenty to drink. And my 20’s were a break from societal pressures. I had my prestigious degree, I’d earned my scholarships, I’d made the grades, and everyone left me alone to figure the rest of it out. But living the f*ck out of my 30s is different. It doesn’t involve, say, a string of endless late nights at a bar, and trying a million new things. Living the f*ck out of my 30’s looks calmer, but maybe just as gutsy. It means standing up to the new and huge social pressures – time to grow up, give up what you built, move out of the city, get it together (exactly like everyone else). So part of claiming my 30’s will, I think, be continuing to claim my 20’s. I figured myself out pretty well in my 20’s. I figured out what made me happy, and that I was brave enough and focused enough to shoot for it. So there is no way I’m giving that up now.

And that is, I think, exactly what I’ve been doing over the last year. This weekend in New Orleans we ended the Mom 2.0 conference (more on that to come), sitting around the sunny, humid courtyard of the Ritz Carlton, drinking Strawberry Abita’s, eating crawfish, and continuing our bloggy-girlfriend tradition of telling your life story in 5 minutes or less. The last time I’d played this game was in September, and this time, I felt like my story made more sense. As I looked up from telling my story, I saw the girls cheering me on, for majoring in Experimental Theatre, for figuring out how to turn all that composition training into writing (even being dyslexic), and for turning writing into my business.

And it made me glad to be in my 30’s. Owning it.

Happy Birthday, Me (On My 30s) | A Practical Wedding

{Me in NOLA this weekend, almost turning 31}

Happy Birthday, me. I’ll see you tomorrow, hung over.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • ElfPuddle

    Happy Birthday, Meg!
    Thanks for all the presents to us…you, this site, each other, wonderful posts, and I could go on and on.
    Celebrate the heck out of your birthday, and the wonderful life you have!

  • http://realisticwedding.wordpress.com/ Claire

    Happy Birthday!!! You have such a great attitude when it comes to turning older. You have a fantastic life and a beautiful web site!!

  • Meagan

    From one Meg to another, Happy Birthday!! You continue to be an inspiration for so many of us (including me, who is trying very hard to live the f*ck out of my 20s right now!) Have a great day–you deserve it!

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Happy birthday! Hope this coming year is even more kick-ass! We’ll be here cheering you on.

    PS. That is seriously an awesome picture of you. The joy just radiates out!

  • http://bluesuedeidos.com Beth

    Happy birthday, Meg! From the evidence of the past year, I’d say you’re doing a pretty good job so far living the f*ck out of your 30s! Cheers to another year of it :)

  • Rachel

    Happy Birthday!

  • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

    Happy birthday! I hope your 31st year (and beyond) is awesome!

  • http://offbeatempire.com Ariel

    Happy Birthday! Glad to have unwittingly been a part of some gifting. :)

  • Shotgun Shirley

    Yay Meg!

    And I know I’m super behind on my grad post, but I’ve been sick. Seriously, it will be done before the baby.

    • meg

      See, that’s a present right there ;)

      • Katie

        And when is that baby due? Team Practical of Los Angeles want to know…

  • http://www.tednghiemphoto.com Ted

    Happy Birthday!

  • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

    Happy, happy birthday and many happy returns! Man, you were an adorable kid. Not a surprise, but still! What a great picture.

    • meg

      I was a sassy little girl. What can I say?

  • marbella

    Happy Birthday! Here’s to life!

  • carrie

    Happy birthday, Meg! Your stories, the stories on this site, and community on this site inspires me everyday. Thank you!

  • Erin R

    Happy birthday Meg! Hope it’s a blast, and that you DO live the fuck out of your 30s.

  • Elisabeth

    Happy birthday to you and me! I’m turning 30 today and have spent many hours trying to find the right path for me careerwise, happiness, wife, and otherwise. More than anything, today I’m full of gratitude for the people who have raised me (parents, brothers, friends) and for the life I’m making with my husband of 6 months (yay!). I’m also appreciative and inspired by the community you’ve fostered here at APW. Here’s to owning our thirties! With that, I’m off to walk the pup and contemplate the need for eye cream…I’m 30, folks!

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    Happy birthday Meg! As you move into your 30s, I am fully confident you are going to live life to the fullest. Here’s to you and all you’ve accomplished in the last year and to what you’ll do this year too!

  • http://www.firstmilkmaid.com Amanda

    BIRFDAY BIRFDAY

  • Denzi

    Happy birthday, Meg!

    I hope you have a hell of a celebration today. You deserve it.

  • Daly

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • Maria

    Happy Birthday Meg! I’m so glad that you had a great weekend down here!

  • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

    Happy birthday! I complained to Stephen all weekend that we could have been eloping in NOLA with you and your sparkle dress and fried chicken but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I hope you live the f*ck out of 31!

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    Happy birthday! May you live the eff out of this year as much as you did last year! I might just start writing that in all my birthday cards.

  • Andee

    HaPpY bIrThDaY Meg! You are amazing and inspiring and I’m so grateful to have found this sane space!

  • Cristina

    Happy birthday, Meg! I’m sure that 31 will be a fabulous year for you.

  • Amanda

    Happy Birthday Meg, all the best :) Enjoy, have an ice cream ! Hubby and I are gonna have some to your health ! Hugs from the mexican girl in the Netherlands :)

  • Tori

    Happy birthday! You’re living the dream for a lot of us, lady. Keep on keeping on.

  • http://midcitysaturdays.com Amy

    Happy birthday! I just celebrated my 31st too, and it was odd, wondering how exactly to celebrate that. I love to celebrate, but 30 was a big deal–and 31, not as much!

    I just wrote a blog post about celebrating my 31st in fact. It was actually wonderful, and I sure hope yours is as well! :-)

  • http://emuhleem.typepad.com Emily

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I am so inspired by you! Currently in my 20s, I am not living the dream at all. But, you make me feel like anything is possible! So have an amazingly awesome birthday and I look foward to more APW (when you get through celebrating!).

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    Happy Birthday, Meg! Congrats on owning your 30s, now go celebrate your amazing accomplishments. Enjoy~

  • http://arduousblog.blogspot.com ruchi

    Happy birthday and happy Pesach!

  • Steph

    Happy Birthday, Meg!

    At first, as I was reading through this post, I started feeling down about not having my sh*t together. I’ve been in the process of figuring out what I want career-wise for the past 3 or 4 years, but much more intensely over the past year and I’m still not sure if I know what path to take. But, really, in the end, I feel inspired. It takes time, and I’m taking the time to work it out on my own. Hopefully, I’ll have a better handle on it once I’m past 30, too. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      And that’s one of those things where it pays to go slowly and really figure it out and get it right. Good for you for recognizing that!

  • http://halfpintwords.wordpress.com Christen

    Happy Birthday, Meg. Have a drink on me!

  • Melissa

    Happy Birthday! You’re 4 months ahead of me on turning 31 – go 1980 babies! I love APW and keep up the good work! I’m one of the pre-engaged lurkers around here, and I’m looking forward to using APW whenever it finally happens. :)

  • Rebecca

    Happy Birthday, Meg! Thanks for all the presents you’ve been giving us all year long.

  • http://diariodeunatrotamundos.blogspot.com Marcela

    Happy Birthday! I am turning 35 this year and I can tell you this: the 30s totally rock! I am way happier now than I was in my 20s :D

  • april

    Happy Birthday, dearest! XOXO

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    Happy Birthday Meg! I think it’s so awesome that you’re barely into your 30s and have created this absolutely amazing resource for so many people. Have an amazing day and even more fun in 31!

  • http://w38th.blogspot.com wendy

    Happy birthday! ;) Thank you so much for making such an awesome site.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    So I’m gonna go make myself a big huge drink and lift it to you. To living the f*ck out of life, to your incredibly gutsy last year, and to all of the wonderful future!

  • Noemi

    Happy Birthday Meg! I can’t quite express all the happy moments that I derive from reading this blog, your blog, your oeuvre, but I am sending so many happy thoughts your way today. Yay!

  • melissa

    Happy birthday! You look gorgeous in that last pic in New Orleans.

  • Class of 1980

    Happy Birthday!

    And when you turn 50, you will still be changing and adjusting and figuring out what is the best way to live NOW.

    We never “arrive”; we’re always “arriving”. ;)

    But, good going so far!

    • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com ka

      I love you.

      Seriously, this is something I need to be reminded everyday. There is no final destination. (Well there is, but let’s not talk about that one on a happy day.)

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEG! I <3 you too.

      • Class of 1980

        I have found life to be one big continuum.

        I’m still the same person constantly recalibrating.

        • ElfPuddle

          Ooh. That’s a wonderful way to put it! Thank you so much!

        • JEM

          my psych put it EXACTLY this way this morning. :) he said that about every decade your recalibrate.

          • Class of 1980

            I just hope not to repeat my early forties, when I went insane. ;)

  • Stephanie

    Happy Birthday, Meg! Congratulations on your successful and fulfilling 31st year!

  • Liz K

    Happy, happy birthday!

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    Happy Birthday to a lovely lady who writes the heck out of every week, month, and year, and inspires the rest of us to live the heck out of ours, too. Live it up, as we know you will!!

  • Heather

    Awwww. Happy Birthday Meg!

  • Kayakgirl73

    Happy Birthday. Best wishes on all your future projects.

  • Elizabeth

    Happy birthday Meg! Wishing you adventure & fulfillment, laughter & loved ones & simple moments, the courage to set brave goals & the drive to hoist yourself up to reach them.
    Your work reverberates into so many of our lives. Thank you.

  • http://drudgerybin.blogspot.com Tracy Thunderbolt

    Happy birthday!!

  • http://hartandsolphoto@gmail.com Maddie

    Happy Birthday Meg! You know, every year that you keep this blog going, I get more excited and less judgmental about the world in general. Which makes me about as excited for your birthday as my own (which is a very big day in my world).

    • meg

      Awwww…. (but you still keep a little snarky edge right? I wouldn’t want to kill something beautiful.)

      • http://hartandsolphoto.com Maddie

        Naturally. :)

  • http://freshlypickedblog.com susan petersen

    love you!

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

    “…I felt like my story made more sense.”

    When I was back in college, I remember talking with my mentor one day and going on and on about all my “random” interests and passions and how completely in the dark I was about what to do with my life and how any of it was going to ever “come together.” As I have gotten older, particularly in these last couple of years of my early thirties, I have been seeing the pieces of my life fit together in a way that makes more sense and integrates most of my passions, in a way that I did not see coming 4 or 5 years ago. It is amazing how fast some things change (and how some things don’t change) in our lives.

    Meg, I am so happy for you and for this explosive and exciting 30th year you have had! What a way to burst onto the scene of your thirties. :) Happy Birthday! May this year be even better!

  • Marchelle

    You in NOLA this weekend, DEFINITELY looking f*cking amazing.

    I should be giving you a birthday present, but you’re the one giving to me. You are lighting a bonfire under my ass for my 30s. (It may not look like much yet, but it’s a slow-burning one, I promise.) And I have no doubt that this next year is going to be just as awesome for you as the last was. No doubt at all.

    Happy birthday, lady.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com/ Morgan

    Happy birthday! I hope 31 is allows you to live the f*ck out of it the same inspirational way 30 did.

  • http://www.bestillandblog.com Suzanne

    Happy Birthday!!! Enjoy it!

  • K

    Happy birthday! Thank you for this space and for just freaking owning your bad self. May this year bring everything you hope and some surprises – wouldn’t want to get bored!

  • pixie_moxie

    Happy Birthday Meg! Thank you for all that you do and share on APW. I sit in the same age you do, looking on my 31st this summer. You are a wonderful cohort to have :) I think you have done amazing things with your life and your 30s are going to continue to be owned and rocked.
    Cheers!

  • http://cobaltandblue.blogspot.com ML

    happy birthday meg. thanks for the daily conversation, cause for introspection, and for being one badass role model for us.

  • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com Addie

    Happy birthday!! May you continue to live the f*ck out of every day.

  • http://www.coachsarahcass.com Sarah

    Happy Birthday! I just discovered your site and can’t wait to read more. I’m turning 30 in September, I’m in the midst of a big life/career transition, I dream of being a full-time writer, and I’m starting to blog about it all. Your story is very inspiring – thank you!

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      Congratulations on starting the shift towards your ideal career! I hope it goes well!

  • http://www.katiejanephoto.com Katie Jane

    Happy happy birthday!!!!!!!!!

  • Jessica D

    Yes, oh god, yes. I am so glad to have a community of women here who don’t blithely accept that we must all leave the city, move into McMansions, have 2.1 children, and raise them in front of a glowing television while eating sugary processed “food.” It is so hard to stick to your core beliefs and be your authentic self when the knee-jerk reaction that you get from people is something like, “But you’ll be moving out of the city, right?” or, “It’s so hard to do that” (when it really takes like 2 seconds more). Happy Birthday and thank you for reminding me that I, too lived the f**k out of my 20’s and that I am already living the f**k out of my 30’s, and no, I do not plan to give up any time soon.

  • Tina

    Happy Birthday to you! I’m thinking of ways to ring out 29 which just happened a few days ago. That last number in the 20’s is just as motivating. You’ve been giving me gifts since 2008, and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself with each passing year. Here’s to inspiring me (and many of us) to blast off with confidence into my 30’s.

  • http://www.suncentered.com Jenny

    Happy birthday! Hooray for April babies! ;)

  • http://dressingfordinner.blogspot.com Gemma

    Happy belated birthday Meg! I found turning 31 surprisingly hard, I was suddenly very conscious of being in my 30s – silly I know. Anyway, I’ll be 32 in 3 months and it turns out that I am happier in my skin now than I ever was before. It’s not something I saw coming but it is something I am very happy about. Have a wonderful year.

  • http://www.projectsubrosa.com Cate Subrosa

    Bonne anniversaire, cherie.

    You inspire me. x

  • Marguerite

    Happy birthday! Your self-confidence is an inspiration. Just last night I was lamenting the lack of good role models for women, but I think you’re definitely one of them.

  • http://www.thesassykathy.com the sassy kathy

    happy happy (belated) birthday ms. meg! thanks for being so positive about finding your way and making things happen. always reassuring to read your blog/tweets of encouragement. such very exciting books news – almost there! hurrah!

  • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Rowan

    And don’t forget that in addition to those 48,500 comments there are a lot of us lurkers who love the site but never (or rarely) comment.

    I hope your birthday was great!

  • http://www.biggirlkitchen.com Caroline

    Hey Meg, Happy Birthday! I’ve been lurking for a while, reading mostly through RSS, and then I popped over here to wish you a happy birthday and I realized as soon as I saw your picture — I think we know each other! NYU class of 2002 — I’m pretty sure you were close friends with a couple of my friends. Anyway, the site is great, and I’ve been loving every post. Congrats on all the success!

  • Ashley

    Awesome post, and Happy Birthday! You have left me looking forward to my 30’s! :)

  • http://www.freshivey.com/blog Emily Ivey

    First of all happy birthday, girl…!

    Second, THANK YOU for this sentence: “It means standing up to the new and huge social pressures – time to grow up, give up what you built, move out of the city, get it together (exactly like everyone else).” I totally hear that–the 20’s were easy in a way, and 30’s for me have been wonderful as well but challenging in a different way. I have placed tremendous pressure on myself to have my act together. As a creative who constantly evolves and tries to push the envelope of what a career means, I often compare myself to my friends who are stable in their jobs as nurses, teachers, etc. and feel a wave of shame that I don’t yet “have it together”.

    Thanks for inspiring me and all of us who opt for various reasons to take a road less traveled. Sometimes it doesn’t look the way we feel it should, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t any less “right” for us.

    • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

      It’s 4pm and I’m taking a break from work to read APW in my pajamas while drinking tea… this is part of why I chose a non-traditional career!
      Sometimes I worry, too, about not “having it together” yet (at 29.5 years old), but I’m getting much better at re-defining what that means. I’m confident that I’m on my way to having it together–in the way that works best for my baby family–and that’s enough to combat the occasional feelings that I should be doing the same things as everyone else.
      Good luck on your quest to re-define your career (and life)!

  • http://peacockfeathersdiamondrings.blogspot.com/ Peacock Feathers & Diamond Rings

    Happy Birthday. Here’s to another year of inspiring writing x

  • http://www.howtobeagrownup101.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    Hiya, birthday girl! Little did you know at age 2 that you’d have paved your way to a fulfilling AND fun career by the still young age of 31. Now THAT’S a life well-lived (so far). Cheers!

  • Lindsey

    I am late to the party (ugh working 13-hour days, ugh), but happy birthday! Your secret birthday present to yourself when you turned 30 is a huge gift for me (and tons of other people), so I have no doubt that 31 will be even awesomer!

  • Bridget

    Happy Birthday!! Thank you for writing my FAVORITE wedding blog, one I’m going to continue reading after I get married :)