1. My friend, Karm, recognized her 50th birthday on Thursday by celebrating the relationships she's had along the way.
Eighteen of us gathered, at her invitation at The Tasty Indian Bistro for dinner. Three of us were Indian food virgins (apparently my recent exposure to (and consequent love of) samosas doesn't count).
This? Is an absolutely gorgeous restaurant. Not at all what I was expecting. And yes, sadly, I had a stereo-type in mind of what an Indian restaurant would look like.
We had a private party room, and the atmosphere was elegant and fun and modern.
If you like Indian food, (and guess what? I do.) then I highly recommend this establishment. The private room (in the pic below, it's through the double glass doors on the left) was perfect.
I was with a friend the night before this event and she predicted, "you're nervous about tomorrow night, aren't you? Not just the food, but also the guests, right? This is a big stretch for you, yes?"
Haha. Oh some people know me so well.
Yes. This was a stretch.
I would only know the birthday girl. And she was going to be busy with her other 16 guests.
Stretch was right.
Based on my experience earlier this summer with parties where I know very few people, I am uncomfortable during the event and completely exhausted after. I suck, absolutely SUCK at small talk. Especially about fashion, diets, TV shows and pets. My coping mechanism is often my camera.
Thank goodness the photos usually turn out half decent.
I grabbed my camera before I left.
And discovered when I got there, that the battery was utterly dead.
I was going to have to be friendly and talk to strangers.
Karm was handing out huge hugs to her friends as we arrived and made each of us feel like she was especially thankful that we came. Once we all got there, we were encouraged to sit at our predetermined spot, as indicated by place cards. And then, just before the food was brought out, she introduced us to each other and explained the seating arrangements.
We were seated in the order that we had entered her life. A special aunt was at her immediate left, followed by a cousin. From there it was a few of her friends from when she was in her early 20's, all the way around the table to me, and the gals on either side of me, who came into her life as her kids went to school. Her and I met when our youngest sons started kindergarten.
And after that, the ice was broken.
And conversation just flowed.
It turned out that the gal to my right and I have quite a few mutual friends. And it turns out I read her blog when she walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain a few years back.
Her and I both got divorced at roughly the same time, so our adventures, while vastly different, have also been a somewhat similar.
We were the last two to leave. So much to learn from someone who has been single and lived a fearless life. She's younger than me, has 4 kids, a boyfriend and is already a grandma. She travels. Takes up new challenges (like sailing, for example) and is self employed.
As each guest left, Karm handed them a goodie bag and a card:
The goodie bag contained a few of her favorite things... unscented, easy-on-the-nails-and-environment nail polish remover as well as clear mascara for eyebrows. And a sponge toffee.
And the card? Was personalized. And handwritten. It was a thank you card, re: our friendship. Why she values it, and how our friendship has enriched her life.
All-in-all, it was an outstanding, inspiring, fun, affirming evening.
So thankful for friends who celebrate relationships in meaningful ways.
So honored to be have been invited to this amazing evening.
So appreciative of the women I was sitting beside.
2. The second thing I am thankful for is friends who STRETCH me to look past my immediate circumstances. Friends who are committed to helping those who have less. Friends who sacrifice a long weekend to host an event. Friends who have a global outlook on life. Friends who give.
Heather and Laura (and their husbands) hosted a dinner and silent auction event on Saturday night. To raise money for pipelines to get clean drinking water to three particular villages in Ethiopia via Hope International Ministries.
I helped them set up on Friday night and was blown away by the effort that had gone into preparing for this event. And I attended it on Saturday. I knew 5 people out of 100. Anticipating this, I had recharged my camera. And put new batteries into the flash.
And took pics all night long.
Thankful for the opportunity to help. Thankful that alot of money was raised. Thankful for the clean drinking water I talk for granted here.
3. And the third thing I'm thankful for is my cousin Val. Actually. she's my mom's cousin. But whatever. I'm thankful that she shares her life with me. I'm thankful that she invites me to her family's celebrations. I'm thankful that she is a good cook. And is generous with her meals and her home. And I am thankful for all the babies in her world.