"At my age, you recognize the poignancy of time passing," she wrote
Oprah Winfrey is quietly reflecting on her memories as she celebrates a milestone birthday.
Winfrey marked her 70th on Monday, writing in an essay published by Oprah Daily why she chose to not celebrate in a "big" way this year. (On Instagram, she shared a video of herself going for a run on the beach in celebration of her birthday.)
In the essay, she wrote that she felt "such pressure from all my friends to do something big, something special; to have a dinner, a party or luncheon — or to go somewhere like a spa, a hike, a resort or to meditate in Nepal."
"I thought about it all, took in all their suggestions, and finally did what one friend, Wintley, recommended. He said, 'You’re too blessed to stress. Savor the fragrances of your extraordinary life,' " she wrote. "It reminded me of the last line of 'Love After Love,' one of my favorite poems by Derek Walcott: 'Sit. Feast on your life.' "
"So that’s what I’ve been doing — going through old journals, photos, memory boxes, feasting, savoring and marveling at the discovery, pain, joy and wonder of 70 years of growing into the woman I am," she added.
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Elsewhere in the essay, Winfrey said she found a letter friend Gayle King wrote her in 1992 that she said appeared to be related to public commentary surrounding her weight. Winfrey said she couldn't remember the event that sparked the letter, and that finding the note reminded her that "everything passes."
"What I celebrate this birthday (and beyond) is knowing that the person I know myself to be and the work that has come straight from being has mattered," Winfrey wrote.
"At my age, you recognize the poignancy of time passing. Seventy resonates, letting you know for sure that there are not as many years remaining as you’ve already consumed. I take great satisfaction in accepting that regardless of how many more suns are left — the rising each time has been worth it."
When she spoke to PEOPLE for a cover story in December, Winfrey said, "Gratitude really is my religion," adding that her 1985 movie The Color Purple "was a spiritual opening for me to see my life in a different way" at that time in her career.
She added that her lifelong purpose is to help uplift others.
"I still continue to rise, and I’m in a space now where my offering is to help other people to rise," said Winfrey. "The principle that is the underbelly, the cornerstone for how I operate in the world. ... Life is better when you share it."
For more on Winfrey and her career, pick up PEOPLE's new special edition, Oprah: Her Incredible Life, available now.
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