This is (almost) 42

May 17, 2022

I was reading this click-baity Vox article yesterday and noted to Josh that perhaps I am having a midlife crisis.

I couldn’t think of an appropriate image, but is a serene beach pic ever really a bad choice?

Crisis probably the wrong word though, because it doesn’t feel particularly bad. Just a bit intense. Midlife awakening perhaps?

Lately I have just been feeling . . . more sure of what I want out of life. I think this is one reason I love planning and reflecting so much — it is one way to protect again what Gretchen Rubin calls drift, or what some might describe as autopilot or sleepwalking through life.

Things I Know I Want

A loving, fun, and lasting marriage. Josh and I met nearly 20 years ago, and our relationship is honestly the most important thing to me when I really think about my priorities and what I value.

Close and loving relationships with A, C, and G, plus confidence that I am giving them what they need (tangibles yes but mostly I’m talking about the intangible things) both now as they are growing up and beyond.

A body that feels good and comfortable to live in, for as long as possible.

A job that is fun and engaging, helps provide for our family, and where I feel I am also contributing to making the world (or even just some people’s lives) better in some way

To spend some time appreciating and enjoying the amazing things this world has to offer. Some travel to interesting and beautiful places. Some great books, movies, and shows. A few amazing live performances.

To spend some time with family and friends, from family that live locally to friends who are far-flung. To have deep catch-up sessions with old friends, and daily texts with my sister + parents.

Things I Have Control Over

The energy and intention I put into my relationships.

Making plans to do the things mentioned above — true that they might not come to fruition, but they are MORE likely to if I put things on my calendar, from vacations to reunions to family get-togethers. Sometimes this means making the plans; other times it just means saying yes.

The direction of my career. Most of us have more than one thing we can offer the world; I am no exception.

The care I give my body — from giving it mostly healthy foods to my commitment to moving it daily in ways that seem to help it to thrive.

The ways in which I can choose to give back to the world, from my actions at work to those beyond.

Things I Don’t Have Control Over




The stock market. (And the real estate market. And all other markets, from gold to crypto).

Weather disasters and climate change.

Basically everything else.

Anyway, yes. I am turning 42 in a few days and this is where my mind is.


  • Reply Marianne May 17, 2022 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for giving me some big picture things to think about and for being so clear and honest. I look forward to your writing (and talking but that’s only for Mondays and Tuesdays.)

    I hope that 42 is a fulfilling year.

  • Reply Rebecca May 17, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Beautiful reflection! It gives me something to think about. Happy 42!

  • Reply Ann May 17, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Having similar thoughts about 40. Appreciate you sharing your thoughtful reflections as always!

    • Reply Marthe May 21, 2022 at 5:36 am

      Me too, 40 and thoughts and thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Sonna May 17, 2022 at 11:38 am

    You’ve definitely got clarity of thought and articulated them very well. Really succinct and insightful reflection. Many say awareness is the first step. If you’re working with a coach, s/he is worth their weight in gold. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday in advance x

  • Reply Elisabeth May 17, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    Happy 42nd! Beautiful thoughts to share and, in some ways, similar to how I’m feeling, having just turned 40 on 5/14.

  • Reply Kim Nolan May 17, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    I love this list and I would agree with all of those! Happy happy birthday!

  • Reply Grateful Kae May 17, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    Looks like you already have and or/ are doing everything on your “wants” list! Well done. 🙂 Print this post out, stick it in your planner and look at it on your rougher days, as a reminder that you’re already living a great life that’s largely in sync with your over-arching life goals. 🙂

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns May 17, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Happy early birthday! What a gift it is to turn another year older. I realize that more and more as I age. It’s good to put words to what we are yearning for and to see how priorities might be misaligned. I haven’t felt a need to do much reflection in years passed. Birthdays just sort of come and go – I think it’s this stage of life with really little kids? But maybe in 3-4 years when we are further out of this stage I’ll feel a need/desire to do more reflection? Similarly, after having our first child in 2018, I didn’t feel pulled to planning until this past calendar year. So it’s good to have the planning back in my life!

    I’m glad you’ve had one little pre-bday celebration dinner. I hope more is to come!

  • Reply Noemi May 17, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    Yes to all of this. I turn 42 this summer and I was realizing I am probably living some of the best years of my life, or at least the actively parenting years of it. It’s humbling and complicated and a lot of other things (and I intend to write about it once we’re all over COVID). Just wanted to say I see you and I get it.

  • Reply Elisabeth May 17, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Love these thoughts and how clearly you’ve identified your values/what’s most important. It really is such a helpful exercise to write it all out.
    I’ve read two doomsday-esque books about climate change lately, including one last weekend, and it is really bringing me down. I feel like I should read these books (and it’s important to be informed), but I also can only do what I’m currently doing. Same with the many other things you list like the ongoing conflicts, political changes etc.
    Happy (early) Birthday. As always, I so appreciate the voice you bring to this space – your honesty and willingness to share what you’re learning with the rest of us 🙂

  • Reply Gillian May 17, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    Happy Birthday Sarah! I love these lists. It is such a good reminder that so often it is our relationships with others that make life feel meaningful.

  • Reply Marina May 17, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Happy early Birthday Sarah! I love your reflections, and such a good reminder about what we can’t control (beyond doing our best to vote whenever possible). Your ability to connect people, whether through this blog or your podcasts, by writing honestly about the challenges and joys of parenting and working life is so so important and I hope you know how much we all value that!

  • Reply Sophie May 17, 2022 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing Sarah, I love this and feel much the same way. I’m turning 40 this year and have also been feeling lately like I know so much more about what I want in life and what’s important, and I’m honestly loving the clarity it brings. Hope you have a lovely birthday in a few days.

  • Reply Linda May 17, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    I’m turning 62 in a few months. My very healthy mother passed away suddenly when she was 76 so I am fully aware of how quickly life passes. (Is it possible I only have 15 years left!?) Between the pandemic and turning 60, I’ve done a lot of the same thinking about life. I’m calling it my three-quarter life crisis. I recently switched jobs to a completely different type of nursing. I just didn’t want to count the days til retirement in a job that I didn’t love anymore. It’s only been 2 weeks and I already feel so much better. It’s so true to focus on what you can control. I’m now thinking about what travel I would love to do. I’m too old to wait for “someday”. Happy Birthday!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 17, 2022 at 4:38 pm

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Linda. But glad you have found some impetus to change if it was needed.

  • Reply coco May 17, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    I share your want list almost identically, although maybe connection with kids come before with husband. hhehe…
    once we know what we want, it’s easier to drop/decline everything else. I also realize that the attention I need to give to different areas shift over time given the circumstances at the moment and that is fine, I’m not failing, just in a phase to focus on more work/kid/selfcare.

  • Reply Honoré May 18, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing your birthday list; it contains items that resonate with me and many others in these continuing unprecedented times. I don’t know that when I was your age, decades ago, I was as lucid and decisive as you are. I appreciate your sharing your list – it is filled with self – knowledge, goodness and attitudes and actions within y/our individual control. Happy Birthday! Here’s to a great year! Cheers~

  • Reply omdg May 18, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    Happy almost birthday!! I am so glad you linked the Vox article because I was under the impression that the great resignation hadn’t affected our age group. Happy to see that I am wrong and that lots of people feel this way! I sometimes think to myself, “If I were diagnosed with a terminal disease tomorrow, would I be happy with how I spent this past year.” The answer, honestly, has been no recently! Trying to figure out what to do so that I don’t feel that way anymore!

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