I turned 32 yesterday. I received the wonderful gift to celebrate it in ways that matter with people who matter – I started my day with lots of giggles, cuddles with my little monkey. I realize I can never have enough and that as much parenting a toddler exhausts me it also fills me up like nothing else. There was time for exercise, quiet time with my husband where we made a little progress on our 36 questions project, a wonderful yoga nidra session, a nap and an evening with home cooked food and loved ones. And yes, phone calls, messages, gifts and thoughts from near and dear ones and a few celebrations a few days in advance and a few yet to happen! My heart is full and gratitude is my word of the day.

I love birthdays and I love cutting cakes and blowing candles! It brings out the child in me. I look forward to my own, my son’s and husband’s months in advance and always take the day off from work. I love celebrating loved one’s birthdays and I hope this never changes.

Birthdays are also a time for solitude and silent reflection. As I have this lovely canvas to paint on, here’s what’s showing up for me at this time in my life.

  • 32 is recognizing that my time with my son and husband is my most precious gift and that I enjoy it and find peace in ways I could have never imagined before I was a mom. Clichéd but I had to say it.
  • It is loving my husband way more than I did when I first fell in love. I hope I say this every year on my birthday
  • It is gratitude for healthy, accepting and incredibly loving parents and the rich relationship I share with them
  • It is love for my siblings, more love than when I was 15, 20 or 25
  • It is love for my cousins, my extended family and my in laws. More love than I thought I had in me.
  • It is recognizing that yes, I love my French fries and I can indulge every once in a while but my green smoothies are a much more loyal friend
  • It is feeling really content and secure in my friendships and knowing that I don’t have one “best friend” that I always dreamt of since I was a young girl but that I have several really close friends with whom I can truly be myself. Friends I can be vulnerable with and know that I am loved for being human – with my flaws, fears and imperfections
  • It is acknowledging that my strong sense of curiosity for living in the bay area got me here but noticing this beautiful voice that is inviting me to explore some place else and call it home – Maybe Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Seattle, Portland. I hope I listen more closely to that voice and what it has to say
  • It is recognizing that an 8 hour uninterrupted night of sleep is a luxury and one that will be scarce for the years to come but despite this I can find peace and contentment and more practically function in ways I didn’t know I could
  • My fear of cancer still continues to be there in the background and I have learnt to not resist and push it but remind myself that if its meant to happen, I’ll sail through. This fear has been there through my teens…
  • With this fear comes the deep pain for those I see suffer and die through cancer. It leaves questions I don’t have answers for and I still haven’t figured out why a 2 year old child loses his mother to cancer
  • Add to this my anger and pain for rape. Words can’t do justice to this so I am not even going to try. I cry, my cheeks are wet and my helplessness makes me cry even more
  • I recognize it took me 8 years to find a little more clarity on what I’ll do when I grow up. Its also recognizing that this will morph, change and that I may get lost again and it is okay
  • It is trying to truly accept and love myself for being the extremely sensitive person that I am. It’s a work in progress but I no longer beat myself up when my tears trickle down so easily
  • It is finding tremendous satisfaction, joy and peace in writing, in expressing myself, my ideas and what I have learnt through my words. When it makes a difference in someone else’s life, even better but I hope I write even when no one is reading
  • It is knowing (for now) that I will have a portfolio career and that it is okay, rather it is beautiful
  • It is experiencing the joy of reading, of books at my bedside, in my car, on my couch and in my backpack. I rarely leave home without a book. I am still amazed that somehow time comes into my life with everything else in my life
  • It is learning a little more about my own ego, my fears and how I can come in my own way to lead a life that matters
  • It is recognizing that doing work that is meaningful is incredibly important to me and when its not, I struggle tremendously. Yet work is not everything in my life and it takes a lot of effort to find ways for all the pieces to fit in together.
  • It is noticing that my love for travel is not at the forefront as it did a few years back. I am realizing that there are a lot of other experiences that give me just as much joy at least at this stage in my life. Perhaps, once I am done with plane rides with a stroller, I may change my mind…
  • My biggest struggle right now is knowing that I am not contributing as much as I’d like to in solving the myriad problems in the world and my life is a little too focused on me

Deep gratitude to Lindsey Mead for her post This is 38 and Dina Relles for her post This is 35 for inspiring me to write this.

  1. Lindsey says:

    Happy birthday! I love this. You so wisely acknowledge that life has seasons, and that our priorities will shift, and that they key is to sink into where we find ourselves at any given moment. Oh, yes. Wishing you more giggles and both French fries and green smoothies in the year ahead.

    • Neha Mandhani says:

      Thank you so much Lindsey!I love your work and writing and have learnt so much from your experiences. I’d also add that self acceptance through the dark patches is so important and something I struggle with.Hope to continue learning from you…

  2. Anselm says:

    Happy Birthday, Neha!
    Please consider putting South Africa in your wanderlust list, you definitely feel at home here. This post is just beautiful and perfect like only a human being can be! It reflected back at me our shared humanity and remind me of the many thing I need to be grateful for. Thank you for sharing. At the end somehow, it brought back to my memory this wonderful quote I love and that, even though they are not my words, I would like to offer them to you as a present on your 32nd for the journey remaining. I edited it a bit because I am unapologetically feminist ;-). The Woman In the Arena:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the person who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ”

    Adapted from the Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt.

    Happy birthday Again.

    • Neha Mandhani says:

      Thank you Anselm for your incredibly kind message and the lovely wishes!! Yes, I love this quote and have to thank Brene Brown for introducing me to this one. I’d highly recommend checking out her work in case you aren’t familiar with her. Best wishes to you too in your journey!

  3. Dina says:

    Such a gorgeous post. You are in a lovely place at 32, with so much thoughtful awareness of what came before and what lies ahead. And your beautiful words to carry with you through it all. (Not to mention French fries–my absolute favorite !) Thank you so much for mentioning me here; I’m truly touched. xoxo Many, many more, Neha…

    • Neha Mandhani says:


      Thank you so much for your lovely and encouraging words. Its really kind of you. Your work has been such a gift in my life and I often go to your blog and have learnt so much from you.


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