My birthday was last week and I lived it up this year with a retreat-day (complete with a massage, soaking in a rooftop infinity hot tub, and journaling), an afternoon of shopping with my husband, 3 days of play, America's Cup races, and yummy food with my parents who came into town, and on the actual day of my birthday I threw myself a little birthday party with some of my girlfriends. One or two people made comments like "You shouldn't have to throw your party!" but I smiled and said, "That's what I want to do!" And indeed it's exactly what I wanted to do. Why leave it to chance? Why risk it not being fulfilling in the ways that only I could possibly know I need? Why not create the evening I most wanted to experience? Besides, life has been full with so many different events and groups the last couple of years that so many of my friends hear me talk about each other but haven't actually had the privilege of meeting each other. I could think of nothing I wanted more than to be surrounded by some of my friends and showing them off to each other, possibly even launching a few new friendships among them!
We live in a world where there is only a 50% chance that any two of our closest friends know each other! It's so easy to meet people from here-and-there, giving us the feeling, at times, of having lots of friends but not really having a "group" of friends. I've realized recently that I have several amazing groups of friends, but that my worlds hadn't collided in a little while. It was time! A birthday is a fabulous excuse to bring the people we love together! (And with my birthday being on 9/11 I feel an ever greater joy and honor to spend that evening celebrating life and friendships!)
So I made my dream list of local friends. They were quite varied: one has been a friend for the entire 8+ years I've lived in San Francisco and another I just met in May; one was in her early 30's and another in her early 60's, one came in fierce stilettos & fashion garb and another one was make-up free and walking around in her socks; one is traveling around the world on a mission with her life-changing book and another one who isn't quite sure what she'll be doing next; one who has created and celebrates her financial abundance and another who isn't exactly sure how to pay next month's rent; half are mothers, half are not; one has been married over twenty years, another is happily single... And those are just some of the differences between those who could come!
The night was SO very special. I kept the planning easy (tacos!) so that hosting was a breeze. I wasn't there to impress anyone with my party throwing skills as much as I was there to make sure everyone felt loved! I don't think anyone who came knew more than 2 other people, some didn't know anyone but me. But by the end of the evening, I couldn't have been more blessed by the loved felt in the room. Email addresses were being exchanged, photos texted to each other, and I just sat their gleaming in pride at how amazing my friends are!
In fact, one might think that to sit in a room with amazing women who are showing up in this world in such big, beautiful, authentic, and deep ways might be intimidating. But on the contrary. As I went around the circle describing each friend to the others I kept hearing myself use words such as "truth speaker," "strong," "independent," "a fierce protector of causes and people," "living out her mission," and "generous." Those words kept coming up over-and-over, and I slowly realized that even while we all couldn't be more different from each other, in other ways we lived out the truism that "You are the sum of your friends."
These ladies have rubbed off on me... been contagious in their courage. I've not only been more inspired to be those things I admire because of watching them be those things, but it has given me permission to be those things without fear of failure, judgment, or jealousy. We see each other all doing our best to be the blessing in this world we feel called to be and we cheer each other on. They give me confidence.
My take-aways for you:
1) Throw your own party! I am proud of myself for planning the party I most wanted. And I ended the night with satisfaction that I was surrounded by the women I wanted around me and that I could run the party how ever I wanted! (complete with sharing questions and stories about each woman!)
2) Show your gratitude! I actually named mine a Girlfriend Gratitude Birthday Party, went around the room and bragged on each women in front of everyone, and sent them each home with a card telling them what I admire about them. (You can get more ideas from my book on page 134-135.)
3) Don't be afraid to collide your circles! I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I felt a small pang of worry the afternoon of the party wondering if my circles of friends were just too different from each other to really connect, but deep in my heart I knew they'd all rally and fall in love with each other, just as I had. And it was magical! Now I feel more joy knowing that many of my friends have met each other. (And it makes me want to throw myself a monthly birthday party just to do it all again!)
The season of thanks is coming! So you don't need a birthday to plan your own little soiree. Just pick a date in early November for a Girlfriend Gratitude Party of your own, make a list of girlfriends and start inviting! :)