Make happy memories that will last a lifetime

Published on Jun 16, 2023

Life coach and therapist Katarina Stoltz smiling in a yellow jumpsuit with 2 female friends stood either side of her as they celebrate her birthday in Mallorca

As I was starting to plan my 50th birthday party, I reflected on the different ways I had celebrated important birthdays in the past. It brought tears to my eyes (and not of joy). I didn’t have many happy memories. I decided this birthday would be different.

Too busy filling the void

When I turned 20, I was preoccupied with trying to get validation from others, mostly from my popular rock star boyfriend. When he dumped me, the newspapers wrote ‘it is probably best for his career that he became single’. I travelled, changed jobs, apartments and was completely lost. I don’t remember how I celebrated my 20th birthday.

When I turned 30, I was busy trying to prove to the world that I could do the hard job of being a female news photographer in Poland. Most of my colleagues were war correspondents. One, who had a special place in my heart, was killed in Iraq. My boyfriend at the time dumped me shortly after my 30th birthday party and brought a hooker into his home the same day.

When I turned 35, I had moved to Berlin to be with the man I had fallen in love with (finally, someone who could commit to a serious relationship!), but he travelled a lot, and I didn’t have many friends. I decided to go back to Sweden to celebrate that birthday with childhood friends on a rooftop terrace in Stockholm. Shortly before the party I got a phone call with bad news from my mother. All I remember is that I drank a lot of alcohol that night.

From victim to creator

When I turned 40, I was married and had given birth to our daughter. I was emotionally exhausted from carrying a lot of responsibility on my own without a much-needed support network of grandparents and other adults. Even if motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me, it was also my most challenging life transition. I celebrated my 40th with a big party in our new apartment. It was a mix of small talk, good food and dancing until the police arrived!

When I turned 45, I had slowed my life down and was in the middle of psychotherapy training, and in therapy myself. I had started my own coaching business, regained my confidence, and found a way to get support while my husband was abroad for weeks at a time. Most importantly, I had turned from being a victim to a creator of my life. I celebrated my 45th birthday with a close circle of women who helped me let go of a big impossible dream.

Feeling free

Now I am 50. I have almost stopped looking outside for validation. I know I’m enough, and that I’m lovable. I don’t have to silently scream ‘PLEASE LOVE ME’. I don’t take on crazy job assignments, hang out with rockstars or get into toxic friendships, and most importantly: I don’t invite, associate with, or allow drama into my life (most of the time). I celebrated my 50th birthday over a whole week at a finca on Mallorca with my husband, daughter and my closest friends.

We laughed, danced, and most of all, I felt FREE. Free from addiction to drama and pleasing others. I celebrated my birthday just the way I wanted, even if that meant it offended some or prevented some from attending. It also meant that we were a smaller group than I had imagined. In the end, it gave me that intimate feeling that I wanted. I had quality conversations with each of my friends, and I will remember this birthday week for the rest of my life.

Tips on how you can create happy memories

  • Drop expectations of others. When you plan an event or birthday celebration, make sure you allow yourself to want what you want. Who do you really want to invite? (I invited friends without their partners and kids).
  • Start saving. If you don’t have a budget for it, make sure to start saving in advance. (I started putting money aside just for this, a few months in advance)
  • Ignore the ‘what ifs’. Don’t let the ‘what ifs’ stop you from planning the perfect party: What if he/she will be upset? What if nobody comes? What if it doesn’t work out? (I didn’t fixate on the number of guests, but rather on creating a nice experience).
  • Don’t let someone convince you to change your mind. Stick with your idea, and make it the way you want it. (I had a few people trying to talk me out of it).
  • Trust that you will find people to help you out. (It took me a long time to find the location, but when I did, it was ideal. I used all possible contacts, offline and online, to ask for help).
  • Express clearly what you wish for. It’s easier for your close ones to make you happy, if you tell them what you need. (Instead of presents I asked my friends to give a speech or a performance).
  • Ask for help on the special day. You don’t want to run around like a headless chicken serving everyone by yourself, make sure to either hire someone to help or ask friends. (I found a chef who cooked the biggest and most delicious paella I’ve ever had!)
My dear friend Natacha always says, ‘let’s make an event out of it!’, and that is my life attitude as well. Make your birthdays count and create memories you will look back on fondly when you’re older, whether it was a small gathering or a big party. The choice is yours.




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I’m Katarina

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