26 reasons to celebrate friendship
5 steps for setting happiness resolutions (yes, in August!)

a letter to my older self


"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count;
it's the life in your years."

Abraham Lincoln


One year ago today I turned twenty-five years old. 365 days ago I had no idea what kind of adventure I was launching on, a quarter of a century old and surfing through life wide-eyed and uncertain. The year I spent as a twenty-five year old was the worst year. The year I spent as a twenty-five year old was the best year. I did some pretty awful things. I did some pretty amazing things. One of the most amazing was a single decision I made one night in mid-February -- to change my attitude from a negative to a positive one. The day I made that decision, almost half-way through my year as a twenty-five year old, everything changed. Everything.

For the first time, I'm looking back on a year and realizing how amazing it was and how far I've come. I've woken up on many August 23rds and thought to myself, "What am I doing with my life?! I'm another year older but still doing the same stupid shit." This year it's different. This year I woke up and thought, "Wow, what a year! I've changed so much and so much of it has been for the better." Looking back on the year I realize what an amazing 365 days it really was. I've changed more in the past year than I think I ever have in all of the twenty-five years that came before it. I'm not sure how much of it others can see. Sure, there are the obvious things like the missing vodka drink in my hand or the loud, half-slurred story of my latest disaster or the quick jump to see the positive in a negative situation, but I'm not quite sure how much the people around me can really see, really know, how different I feel on this morning -- the first birthday morning in so long that I've woken up happy, relaxed, and at peace not only with where my life is headed but also about where it's been over the past 365 days. I'll admit, some of those days were horrendous. Some of those days were the worst days I've ever had. But those days, and all of the drag-myself-through-this days to follow, were what brought me here, to this morning, to the launch of my next year as the new (and, in my opinion, improved) me.

I won't say that my year as a twenty-five year old was perfect, but it was pretty successful for me as far as years go. And I know that I want next year to be even better. So I'm giving myself some advice. I'm writing myself a letter, filled with wisdom on how I can make the next 365 days of my life worthwhile. I hope reading it helps you to realize that you too can make your year an amazing one. You have the power to make your life exactly what you want it to be if you just take a moment to listen to your own excellent advice...



Dear 26-Year-Old Dani,

Happy birthday! It's been a great year and so much has happened to you. You've written a novel, stopped drinking excessively, began working on your personal development, taken some leaps forward in your professional career, and started two blogs that bring you tons of happiness. Congrats! This year was pretty awesome, but next year is going to be even better, but you have to listen up. I have some advice for you before you jump headfirst into your next year. As your younger self, I've been through a lot this year and I've learned a ton of important lessons. Here a few that you should carry with you as you move on to the next year of your life... 

  • Don't be so impatient. Life, lessons, love (yes, everything worth having) takes time. Stop rushing so much and sit back and enjoy this life. It's yours and you never get more by rushing. Don't talk over others. Don't drive so fast (yes, you will lose your license if you don't stop that!). Don't hurry through assignments and blog posts. S-l-o-w down. Life is exciting, I know, but it will be waiting for you even if you take your time.

  • Love yourself unconditionally. You're a pretty awesome person, even if you don't always see it. Look at the way other people talk to you and look at you. They love you. They admire you. They respect you. Love, admire, and respect yourself. You deserve praise and you deserve to hear it coming from your own lips. You've accomplished so much in your life. Remember that.

  • Focus on the positive things. As much progress as you've made this year, I know sometimes it's hard not to slip back into a negative way of thinking. You've been doing it for so long that it's one of the hardest habits to break, but you can do it. Listen to yourself when you speak and recognize when you're letting the negative thoughts take over. Do whatever you can to get rid of them because you and I both know that you don't need them anymore.

  • Cut yourself some slack. You work hard at everything. You are dedicated and determined. But just like everyone else, you're not perfect. That's okay. Accept your imperfections, your flaws, your slip-ups, and refrain from judging yourself too harshly. These moments will pass and you will still have all of the progress you've made. You are not perfect, you will never be, and that's okay.

  • Keep doing what you're doing. You know what you want in your life, and if you keep it up, you will have all of those things and more. You've worked so hard to get to where you are right now. Keep it up. If you do, I just know you will be successful. It won't always be easy (but what great things ever are?), but don't give up. Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep doing.

Your twenty-fifth year was a great one, Dani, and I know this one will be even better. Listen to your own advice. There's a reason people read your blog. There's a reason your friends come to you seeking guidance. You give the world great advice. Now it's up to you to open your ears, your mind, your heart, and listen to your own words of wisdom. Listen to your younger self. She has some pretty good ideas if I do say so myself! If you listen -- really listen -- to your own advice, great things will happen. You know what you want. You know what you need to do. Keep doing all of the great things you've been doing, listen to yourself, and I know this year will bring you just as much happiness as the year that came before it. Here's to another great year living happily ever after now!

25-Year-Old Dani


I always give myself really great advice, but over the last year I've actually started listening to it. Now that I'm actually taking my own advice and listening to what I really need, I'm happier than ever. And, to be honest, I'm pretty darn proud of myself right now. Accomplishing the things I have over the past year was not easy (especially all of this personal development, soul-searching stuff). It's taken a lot of hard work for me to get where I am right now and I still know there is so much to be done. How exhausting and endless self-improvement can be at times! But I'm working on it. I'm doing it -- pushing along and doing whatever I can to make my life what I want it to be. After all, it's my life and no one is going to make the next year of it a great one for me. If I want another great, eye-opening year of my life, I have to take the reigns and take control. I have to seize the present and make every day the best one. As Jimmy Eat World sings: "Things are never gonna be quite what you want/Even at twenty-five, you gotta start sometime/I’m on my feet, I’m on the floor, I’m good to go/Now all I need is just to hear a song I know/I wanna always feel like part of this was mine." It was at twenty-five that I finally realized that I want this life to be mine. I want to have control (and, no, not in that perfectionist way of mine) and I want to be able to look back and say that I lived my life the way I wanted to live it.


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Happy Birthday, Dani! You really do give excellent advice, and I'd like you to know how appreciative I am of all your hard work. I truly believe you've helped me to grow more and become more aware than any other person! Keep going strong!

You say it's your birthday...well, Happy Birthday to you!!!

What a great letter to yourself. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

It's so wonderful to see other people continue and celebrate their journey with such positivity. I think one of the hardest lessons in life is to learn to be your own cheerleader, motivator, and friend. A novel, huh? (About what?) You're such an inspiration!

Happy Birthday, Dani! I look forward to reading more :)

Happy Birthday Dani! The show featuring your article will air this week!

A big Happy Birthday all the way from Aus Dani!! It's SO cool to see how far you've come. It's amazing what can happen in 12 months eh? Congrats girl!

Ia - Thank you! I'm so glad that you enjoy reading my posts and are still coming back for more (and leaving great comments!). Thanks for being such a dedicated reader.

Lynn - You're welcome! I'm glad I could inspire you while I was working to inspire myself as well. Two for the price of one. :)

Ash - I agree that it's so hard (but important!) to be your own cheerleader. It can be tough to do at times (perhaps 'cause we often feel guilty about thinking we're awesome?), but it's an important skill that I'm working on and hope to carry with me throughout my life. The novel's still a work in progress but I'm sure you will hear more about it this year! :) Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Tabitha - Thank you! :) That's so exciting. If you could email me a link, that would be fabulous.

Sami - Ooh, a long distance birthday wish! Thank you! It's definitely amazing what a year can do. It seems like forever and a blink of an eye at the same time. I've come a long way and I just know there are more good things to come. :) Thanks for reading and supporting my journey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dani! What a great idea to write a letter to yourself. Next birthday you can write another and reflect back on this one. I hope you have a Fabulous Birthday! Cheers and big hugs to you.

Happy Birthday Dani! Writing letters to yourself is a journaling technique that I think is fabulous - great that you did that and I think if you continue doing is sporadically it is a great way to "listen". You are leap years ahead of most 25 yr olds - congrats on that!

Davina - Thank you! :) What a great idea you had about looking back on this letter next year and writing another letter! I'm so glad you suggested that because it's an excellent idea. I'm looking forward to it already!

Suzen - Thanks! You're so right. If I keep writing letters (even if it's just once a year) I will have a great method for listening to myself. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

Happy Birthday Dani! I just wanted to let you know that finding your blog has been one of the best things thats happened to me this summer. It never fails to inspire me and reading your posts has really showed me the importance of living positively in the present and its honestly made me a much happier person. Your song recommendations, especially, have been absolutely amazing. I wish you another great year of positive thinking and living life to the fullest!!=)

Happy Birthday Dani!

I too thought the idea of writing a letter to myself telling me everything that happened this year (been a little tough) and then in my next bday I'll read it to see how far ive come, so I think letters to yourself are great! I enjoyed reading yours and glad you decided to turn your life around. Hope you have a wonderful day!

Love Renee

Happy Birthday Dani! I just started reading your blog. It is great. The letter you wrote to the 26 year old Dani sounded so much like me talking. I really need to have a conversation with myself like that. It's so easy for me to just let each day go by and then another day and another and still be in this rut. This rut of being unhealthy, a cluttered home, behind on bills, sleeping too much or at the wrong times, etc. I am thinking of starting a blog like yours. But I don't want anyone I know to read it. At least not yet. Is that weird? I would love to hear your thoughts on that. I feel like I need to write in a journal so it's private or write a blog that no one that I know knows about so it's private. So, I can be myself and not wonder what my family and friends are thinking about what I write.
Thanks for your positiveness!

Soo great! Love this, and happy birthday! You should be ver proud of yourself! :)

Happy Birthday Dani! I wish I was where you are now when I turned 26! Great advice and a great idea. It will be interesting to see how much of your own advice you have taken a year from now:) Good luck and keep it up!

Happy birthday my friend! It is so important to take these small time periods to reflect and see how we have grown. You are amazing! And I also love the image you included - unbelievable! I hope you did something to celebrate your special day. xo

Emily - Thank you! Reading your comment has been one of the best things to happen to me! :) It makes me incredibly happy to know that people are reading what I write and enjoying it. Sometimes it's hard for me to put myself out there and to receive feedback like your comment makes me feel like a rock star. I'm so glad you enjoy the posts and the songs. I love writing and I love music so writing about lyrics and how they relate to my life is one of my favorite things EVER! Thanks for commenting!

Renee - I think that's a great idea and you should definitely do that. Looking back on my old journals has taught me so much about myself and I think that writing a letter to yourself would be a great way to not only keep track of what you've overcome but it will also be a great way to reflect on your progress in the future. This was the first letter I've written to myself and it was actually pretty fun. You should write one too!

Keri - I'm so glad to hear that you like reading my blog! :) I love having new readers! As for writing a blog and keeping it private, I completely understand what you mean. Hard as it might be for your to believe after visiting my site, I'm actually a very private person and it's very hard for me to open up to anyone (even my closest friends!). I started writing this blog as a way to keep myself on track living positively in the present moment, but the more I wrote and the more confident I felt about it, the more I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone. I've spent my whole life writing in journals -- and I still do -- and I really think there's something to be said about writing for your eyes only. However, I feel like it's been a great experience opening up and sharing more or myself. Not only do I feel like I'm becoming a more open person in general, but it's really great to get feedback on my ideas and thoughts from other people. Sometimes I'll receive an email or a comment that provides an entirely new perspective for me and that's not something I ever got when I was sitting in my room scribbling in a journal. No matter what you choose to do, I think writing is a great, positive outlet and you should definitely start keeping a journal or a blog. I can't imagine life without them now!

Jen - Thank you! :) I'm so glad that you enjoyed this post. It was a great experience for me to write it and it's nice to know that others have enjoyed reading it. It's been a crazy year for me, but I really have made so much progress and for that I am very proud.

Valeska - Thanks! It's funny because I feel like I've wasted so many years being negative and self-destructive, but I know that it's so much better that I've come terms with it all now rather than later in life. It's been a struggle, that's for sure, because not everyone my age wants to think about happiness or living positively, but it's amazing to me to realize that I have such power and control over my own life and emotions. I've learned a lot in the past year but I know there's a lot more to learn about myself and life. It will definitely be interesting to see how well I do with my own advice. Already I find myself struggling with the first one. I'm SO impatient!

Laura - Thank you so much! I agree that it's very important to reflect at specific intervals in our lives. A lot of people like to do this when a new year begins, but I think of my birthday as a better time to assess where I am in life and to see what I can do to make the next year even better. I've been through a lot this year, but every day I'm getting stronger and better. When I found the image above I just new it was a perfect representation of a year filled with so many positive experiences. I'm glad you liked it too!

Hi Dani .. well done: you have achieved an enormous amount in the past year .. most people would have settled for the positive over negative ... but you've done the lot - developed one blog that supports you and your positivity, providing us with great ideas and thoughts - letting us give you feedback, a 2nd blog to allow your spirit free and highlight the young pink frivolous serious girl at work-play, on top of that you've written a novel. Most of us would collapse at the thought, let alone do .. so I do think you should congratulate yourself ..

Live fast, but don't miss the daisies as they grow .. relax, chill out a bit, but do as you do ..

Have a great 26th year ahead .. or is it your 27th year actually as my uncle would tell me!

Happy times - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Hi Dani .. why 42 pics ..???? Just me .... but I love the vision board at the beginning of the post ..!!

Cheers Hilary

Happy (very belated) Birthday! You've had an awesome year, and I'm so proud of you! I'm so glad that I got to meet you this year. You've enriched my life and made it much better than it was before I met you, so thank you! May this be the year that all your dreams come true!

Happy Birthday Dani!

(And I just realized, I'm old enough to be your mom because my oldest daughter turns 25 this Saturday...)


Hi Dani,
Happy Birthday! I am so happy for you that have come so far in the past year and that you took the time to reflect on it all. What a letter--what a gift to yourself! Best to you for the year ahead, I know good things are in store for you!

Hilary - Thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement. I've definitely done a lot this year and I know I can do even more next year. Thinking positively has helped me tremendously and I already have such a positive outlook about the year to come. I'm looking forward to new adventures! As for the 42 pictures, that's actually one image that I found online. It was already made with all of those pictures put together and I thought it was so fitting for this post.

Jay - Thank you! What a nice thing to say, that I've enriched your life and made it better. I have a big smile on my face from reading that so thanks! I have a feeling it's going to be a great year and I'm so fortunate to have had great birthday wishes from readers like you!

Peggy - Thanks! So funny that you have a daughter that is around my age. You should encourage her to start a blog too. It's been one of the greatest things for me and has helped me grow in so many ways.

Jodi - I'm pretty happy about how far I've come too, especially because it's taken a lot of hard work to get where I am now. I know I have a long way to go, but every day I'm learning and growing and it's great to know that there are certainly more great things in store for me in the future. Thanks for supporting me and the blog!

Dani, Happy Birthday every day of the year. What a great article and letter. I hope you read it often. Don't you know that the advice that you give others is always for yourself. It is all about you.

Everything that you tell others comes out through your own filters---how you see the world, how you experience the world. That is the only view that you have---your own.

I have read some where and believe that the lessons that you teach others are the lessons that you need to learn. You are a very wise 25-year-old. This is coming from a hopefully wise 57-year-old who is still growing and changing her view of the world and life daily. Have a glorious year and life.

Dani, Hope you had a great birthday! Wishing you many more great years to come. Keep learning, growing and blogging!

Great article Dani,

The older you has definitely evolved within a year. Keeping your mind focused on positivity is one key to successful living. Enjoying every moment of life can only increase your appreciation for what you already have obtained. A Positive mental attitude keeps your mind in line though an optimistic perspective. Never should one consume there mind with gossip, depression, insecurities or anger. We mush let go of these thoughts a focus on how to think positive. Only then will we begin to increase our conscious awareness.

- How to think positive?

Beautiful post and you asked the most powerful question "how I can make the next 365 days of my life worthwhile." I like it.

Patricia - Great point about advice. Advice you give others should always be used for yourself too. It's nice to hear that you think I'm wise. I feel like I'm always learning and growing and expanding my life and I always find learning the most amazing experience.

Anita - Thank you! :) I'm definitely going to keep learning, growing, and blogging -- three of my favorite things to do.

Jonathan - Thank you! I believe that keeping myself focused on the positive aspects of life has changed my existence tremendously. It's seems like such simple advice -- "Be positive." -- but it truly has been life-changing for me.

J.D. - I think that's an important question that we can ask ourselves at any time. Every day is a chance to start a new life and I really believe birthdays are a great time to revisit where we've been and think about where we're heading.

Happy birthday, sweetie! :) The best is yet to come.


Happy happy birthday, Dani! How far you have come and how much you have grown in just one year. I actually have written letters to myself, and I think it offers us so much insight into who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming.

And isn't Abraham Lincoln a wise, wise man?

Again, Happy Birthday! Fill it with those things and people you love the most.


Thank you for the inspiration! I think you're fabulously clever :) you bring about what you think about X

Hi Dani - This is an interesting idea. It combines into one letter thinking back on lessons learned from the past year and what you hope to accomplish in the coming year. I'm always amazed in my own life what a difference a year makes.

Happy Birthday (a few days late)!

Dani, You sure are brave. Happy Late Birthday. I know this year is going to be even better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love how much you love birthdays. I remember your 23rd on Aug 23rd...:) good times.

Happy Birthday, Dani (crap I almost missed it). I'm so happy that you've literally turned your life around. You've done what most people only dream of doing. You've got two successful blogs, a great life, and people who love, admire, and respect you. Could you ask for anything more (sure you could, but that's not the point ;).

Just believe and you will succeed!

Oh my....Dani, you are still so young! The world is at your feet! For one, you are running one of the most amazing blogs, so most certainly I think you have been doing great work!

Happy Happy Birthday! May all your dreams come true! Keep blogging!

happy birthday... happy birthday... happy birthday

Belated Happy Birthday Dani, I hope you had a wonderful day.

I just wanted to say that you are so far ahead of the game - in my own experience, and watching family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I think 25 is young to become so self-aware and strong. I think you are SO wise for your very youthful age. I'm so happy for you that you have made so much progress in such a short time and that you are feeling so deservedly proud of yourself. And it really does get better with age - you just grow more and more into who you really are : )

Wishing you all the very best for your 26th year!

Meream - Thank you! I agree, there are many good things in store and I can't wait to celebrate another year.

Karen - Lincoln is a wise many and I plan to fill my years with wonderful, worthwhile things. One of those things will definitely be writing more letters to myself. It was a great experience and I think I learned a lot from it. Great to hear you've done it too!

Katie - You're welcome! I'm glad this post inspired you. And you're completely right. You bring about what you think about, which is why I'm choosing to think positively!

Amanda - Writing this letter was certainly a good way to think about the past year while looking forward to what I want to accomplish in this next year. It IS pretty amazing how much can change in a year!

Jill - Thanks so much for commenting! :) That 23rd birthday celebration was a great one. Birthdays are the best! This year I've been through so many changes and altered my life in so many ways and I feel so much better about the person I am. There's still a long way to go, but I'm making progress every day! I'm so glad we've reconnected and you're able to share in the experience of this blog with me!

John - Thank you! You know, I really couldn't ask for much more than what I have right now and that's only because I'm working on making every day the best kind of day it can be. Sure, I'd love to have a published book, but I'm pretty darn happy with where my life is right now. :) Thanks for the bday wishes!

Evelyn - Haha, yes, I'm still pretty young but sometimes I feel old. I have a lot of years ahead of me (I hope!) and I want to do whatever I can to make the most of them. I'm so grateful that I found out that I can choose to be happy now. Thank you so much for your comment about the blog. It makes my heart smile to read that!

Didta - Thank you, thank you, thank you! :) I appreciate the birthday wishes and the time you took to comment.

Hilda - Thanks for your comment. When I read that in my inbox this morning, it made me feel great. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I wasted so much time -- 25 years! -- being unhappy so it's great to hear that someone who knows thinks I'm ahead of the game (and not way behind as I often feel). I'm looking forward to learning and growing in the years ahead!

congratulations and happy birthday!! It has been my experience that once you make a decision like that, things continue to get better. I think you will be surprised and amazed at all the wonderful ways life unfolds for you.

many blessings-

Happy birthday Dani! You should indeed be very proud of how far you've come. You've learned things in your mere 25 years that some people never learn in double that time. Just think of how much you have to look forward to now!

Keep listening to yourself and following your own advice that you give so well to others, and you won't go wrong!

Have a great day! xox

It is great to see someone so young have their shit together so much! The part about cutting yourself some slack is priceless. Please spread that message to every twenty something on the planet.

Happy Birthday Dani!! You sure have so much wisdom for a 26 year old. Love the idea of writing a letter to your older self. Good stuff there. Here's to your novel!!! Cheers!

Brandi - Thank you! :) I completely agree. Once you decide to do something -- and really put all of your effort into it -- things really start happening. I can't wait to see all of the surprises life has in store for me!

Green Ink - Thanks! I am pretty proud of myself and I say that because I really have worked hard. If all of this had come naturally to me I don't think it would have been nearly as rewarding as it is. I definitely need to take my own advice and keep listening to what I have to say. :)

Tom - Even a year ago, I would never have thought of myself as someone who had their shit together, but now I really do feel like things are falling more into place than they ever have before. I absolutely need to cut myself some slack and I plan to this year.

Caroline - Thank you! :) I love to learn and to take everything in and I really think reading and opening my mind to new ideas has really helped me to become the person I am today. I definitely enjoyed writing the letter to myself...hopefully by the time I'm 27 I'll have another (published???) novel under my belt. :)

Happy Birthday Dani!
I am new to your site but have seen your name for ages on other people's blogs. Nice to be here myself. And HUGE congrats on such a successful year. Go you!
I'll be back again for sure,

Katie - I've heard about your too via Lance at Jungle of Life. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm so glad you like the site and will be coming back again. :)

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, happy bithday dear Dani ;)

Awesome! Life is great right?

It is indeed not so easy to practice what you preach, but once you start doing it, things will get better. Life becomes more fun and all of a sudden there are so many oppertunities :)

Hope you have a wonderful day!!!


Dani, Happy Birthday! I really appreciate your honesty in this post -- being young is hard, and I think not too many people are honest about it. Thanks for this!

Diggy - Why thank you! :) It was a great birthday and, yes, life IS great. It's not always easy for me to practice what I preach but I think I'm getting better and better at it. Thinking positively has opened up so many opportunities for me!

Sarah - Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and the honesty of it. I've come a long way in terms of being able to open up both to my readers and to myself. Being young is wonderful but it's definitely hard and I'm glad I have been given the chance to share my feelings about it here.

Dani, I'm just now catching up on your posts. Happy Birthday belatedly. I think that you are an amazing person with a lot of insight. Thankfully, you started this journey of soul searching at a young age. It's worth all the hardship and more. Keep on with it!

Syd - Thank you! :) It's taken me a long time (and lot of messes!) to get to where I am right now. I know I still have a lot of work to do on myself, but at least I'm in a place where I can work on myself now. It's not always easy, but the progress I've made so far has really made me realize that I'm on the right path now. Thanks for reading and supporting! :)

Wow this is a great post. I dwell so much on the things which still haunt me from my past and my stupid choices. The biggest landscape we have near us, with the best view, is our past. It's easy to get used to looking over it. It would be great to be able to go back to the past and kick start ourselves at those milestone ages.

So you followed the idea you'd seen done somewhere else? So it wouldn't be too rotten of me to have a go at this myself? It looks enlightening!

Bluetooth - Thank you! I definitely do a lot of dwelling in the past and I'm trying to put an end to that by living in the present, which I find to be a much more productive use of my time. I think it would be WONDERFUL to give this a try for yourself. I really enjoyed doing it and it's really helped me to make some adjustments in my life. Go for it! :)

Thanks for a wonderful post, and hope you had a wonderful birthday. Keep up the good work.

Marvin - Thank you for your comment! It was a wonderful birthday and it's been a great year so far.

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