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Good Friends Remind You of How Super You Are When You Forget

There are times I take on a lot.

I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I may huff and puff during the process, but things seem to work out.

Recently, I had about three friends suck their teeth at me when I started doubting myself. A beloved professor and mentor of mine was retiring from the university, so as a joke I told a friend I’d design a funny tee-shirt in his honor. (Some of you lifers remember when I was heavy on my t-shirt business and kind of gave up on it.)

My friend loved the idea and then I shared it with a few others and they all wanted shirts in time for the retirement celebration. I told my friends the money we’d collect from our shirts would go toward a scholarship fund being created in our professor’s honor. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.

My friend reminded me that just as they loved the idea, other people at the party were going to love it too, and to be prepared for an onslaught of orders. Another friend who was so tickled by the idea offered to build me a webstore prior to the event.

But the idea of my shirt being such a success scared the crap out of me.

How would I organize this? How would I handle the orders? Would people be willing to pay the price? How would I ship it? Is it the right quality? Is it good enough?

The thought of the business management side of it paralyzed me.

So I said, I’d just buy a couple extra shirts on top of the ones I promised to a few friends attending and would see how things went.

My friends were right.

As soon as we hit the building, people wanted shirts. We sold every single “extra” shirt (and by extra I only had three extra because I was worried about putting out so much money for extra shirts out of my own pocket because I told my friends all of their money would go to the scholarship. I was willing to take the financial hit.)

The man of the hour put on his free shirt immediately! (If that’s not affirmation, I don’t know what is.)

Illustrious alumni with highly impressive careers sought me out and quipped that they could afford a $20 shirt, so gimme!

I felt silly and embarrased and unprepared by only having such a scant amount of merchandise in a place with such enthusiastic demand.

So immediately, my website builder friend made me, in the middle of the party buy a domain name, via a smart phone and my other friends offered to help me pack and ship orders and work on a Facebook page. Then they all got together and said, “I told you so.” Even named themselves the, “I told you so crew” and did an “I told you so” dance.

I mentioned this situation to another friend completely unrelated to the ones at the party and when I told her how things went and how scared I was to really promote the shirts, she gave me the “you idiot” glare, then she offered to assist me too.

Photos of the shirts from the party circulating on Facebook have total strangers asking about them in the comments and saying things like, “Take my money!” “Want one!” “Need one!”

I got business cards and slips of paper with phone numbers and email addresses of people who wanted to know when more shirts were being made.

I was overwhelmed. But in a positive way.

I say all of this to say, it pays to have friends who believe in you when you’re scared. It’s downright funny when they get annoyed that you aren’t seeing what they see in you too. What’s the best about these kinds of friends is, they don’t just believe in your dream and say you can do it, they’ll give you a push and offer up their time, skills and talents and even money to invest in you so you can feel even more confident and less alone in the process.

The original friend who I shared the idea with me told me that it was bothersome that somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. That the old me would have not been so fearful about making the shirts and selling them.

And she was right. I’m not sure exactly of what happened or why. And maybe all of that doesn’t matter.

I’m just glad to know that I have amazing people in my life who will remind me, and force me if necessary to get it back and fly.

Thank you!!!

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The Boo Trip

Last night, as I was having my marathon sleep session after a really wonderful Thanksgiving trip out of town, I got a text from a good friend.
She was saying that she wanted to take a girls trip at the beginning of the year, since she’d have about a full week before she starts a new job and probably wouldn’t have an opportunity to just take a bunch of days off once she started.
I thought it was a great idea and a great reason until she kept talking.
She went on to say the next trip she’d want to take later in that year around her annual birthday trip, she hopes will be a “boo trip.”
She’s mentioned the boo trip before and even the couples trip she wants us to have with our significant others in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that my friend is in a new relationship, but for some reason, that message kind of hit me in a weird way.
My friend badly wants a relationship and she’s very keen on becoming a mother.
I didn’t mind the invite and I didn’t mind her work reasons for wanting to take the trip so soon. But I almost felt like she was giving me a preemptive warning that she’s about to be all about her man.
I could be looking at it all wrong.
I will say this, if a boo trip is anything like Solange’s honeymoon photos, I’d probably chuck my homegirls the duces too. http://www.people.com/article/solange-knowles-honeymoon-photos-brazil

The Friend Test

I’ve made friends all kinds of ways.

In the earliest of times, it was as easy as saying: “Hello, want some Skittles?”

Sometimes it was due to an agreement that an injustice had taken place. “She didn’t share her skip it on the playground.” “Yeah, not cool.” “Wanna play at my house after school?” “Sure, just gotta ask my mom.”

Sometimes friendships were born out of group science projects, or after standing up for someone who was being picked on, or just asking a sad person if they were ok.

Some of my friendships were forced arranged situations, like college roommates or some grew out of natural rivalries to be the best at a campus newspaper.

Sometimes if you’ve smiled enough at someone you keep running into on the way to the bathroom at work, you decide to have lunch one day and the hour turns into two. OOPS!

I’ve even made some friends through writing this blog.

But what’s the DNA of friendships? How do we really build relationships with people? And how do these relationships sometimes fall apart and stay apart?

We are told all of the time when on the carousel of friends some folks are a reason, a season and a lifetime.

But I guess the friend-making, relationship-building process always comes down to the same thing.

Attendance. I have friends who live all over the place. I may not speak to them all the time, but my closest friends have spent significant amounts of lab hours with me, practicing friendship. These things consist of hanging out, talking on the phone, traveling, etc. The best way to get to know someone is through spending time.

Some of my fondest friend memories are often me and the friend sharing a meal, laughing or doing something absolutely stupid together. We weren’t anyplace fancy, it’s usually a lazy day talking about nothing and everything.

Listening. Good friends listen. And listen, and listen some more. And listen even if they are tired and don’t feel like it. Sometimes if you have a friend who isn’t a great communicator, you have to work even harder to listen to them when they do share or have something to say.

The voluntary gesture. Actions mean a lot to me. When new friends think of me and show up to something I invited them to, or brought me a favorite candy or offer to take me to the airport, it’s like daum. You really like me and want to be my friend. You went out of your way to do this or that when you really didn’t have to.

Trying new things. Trying new things with new friends can create bonds and memories and trying new things with old friends can breathe new life into the relationship. You may expose fears and or talents that you never knew the person or you had. When you try new things sometimes, you switch personality traits. If you are loud and bossy, you may become quiet and standoffish while your quiet friend may become the leader or the teacher in the moment to pull you through and cheer you on. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a very cool thing.

Reliability. “No, for real. I need a ride to the airport. And the flight is at six a.m. on a Saturday. Yes.” That friend may cuss you the whole way to the airport, but you are at your gate by 5:15, which means they picked you up around 4. Which means they woke up at 3:30 or earlier.

The reliable folks in your life show their gargantuan capacity to love you by doing things like that. These are the people you see through tears in the church as you walk through a funeral procession. They drove all night, but they are there.

There’s a song by Jill Scott called, “Calls” it’s divine. She sings so sweetly, “You always answer my calls when I call, you come.” Let’s face it. The true homies come when you call, and they feel a tingle when you are in need and come anyway if you don’t call. Those are the keepers and those are the ones you want to keep listening to, doing voluntary gestures for and showing up for (Hey, I’ve included the other bolded topics in this bolded topic! Reliability must be huge to me). There aren’t a lot of these people. They are the special ones you treasure.

In a world full of people who do more talking than ever, the reliable people who keep their word are rare.

Admiration. If you can’t name one or two things that you admire about your friends, you ain’t friends. I have some friends where we have straight up love fests about how much we like different things about each other. You don’t have to do that, but even internally, can you look at that friend and say, I really love x quality about them. Wow. No one does this the way so and so does and I’m proud of them as a human being. Andy and Ollie always take it too far on Bob’s Burgers (love that show) but you get the point.

Vulnerability. Can you trust this person? Can you say how you feel? Can this person trust you and tell you how they feel? I’ve mentioned in this blog before that vulnerability is awesome, but it’s something that has to be protected and shared with people who have proven themselves. I’ve also said in real life and in this blog that certain friends have to have certain security clearances when it comes to your thoughts, feelings and emotions and your past. And if you know the weaknesses of your friends, you can save yourself the heartache and disappointment of not going to the wrong one for support on certain issues. Some friends are stronger with business and financial advice. Others are nurturers. Some friends are good at giving the cold splash of reality, while others may take a more optimistic approach and they are good at encouraging you to take risks.

And lastly,

Consistency.  In my world, the people who are consistently themselves and are comfortable with themselves are the ones who end up being the absolute coolest with me. Their courage to be themselves inspires me to accept myself more. And when I praise my friends for their individuality and their gifts, I think it fuels them even more. I know it boosts me when they do that for me. They may grow, they may have bad days or an attitude, but the root of who they are and what they value (core things) and what they believe in DOES NOT CHANGE. These friends may change a job, a hairstyle or city in which they live, and maybe they’ve become vegan, but their general feelings on family, friends, work ethic and respect should be non-negotiable. Consistent attendance, consistent listening, and well, being reliable contributes to being consistent. I have some friends I speak to on the phone. Some via strictly text and some friends I see. Consistent doesn’t mean you have to do these things everyday, but you and your friends have a rhythm. You know when it’s been too long since you’ve spoken and you may drop an are you alive email or text and the person responds right away, or by the end of the day. Consistency to me means understanding the patterns in your relationships with people and sticking with that.

Be a damn, good friend. Damn it.

 

Emotional Aunt Mae. I Get You Now

I may have mentioned my Aunt Mae a few times throughout this blog.

I really loved this woman. Anyone who knew her loved her.

She passed from cancer back in 2010, and I just feel it. I loved being around her. She mostly lived in apartments, until eventually purchasing her own home, and she seemed to make any place big or small seem just teeming with love that you can’t even bridle. I mean, you didn’t want to, you just wanted to feel it all the time and she just brought that with her.

I loved the fact that she had a gap, just like me. She was always so funny and could rock a low-cut fade just as wonderfully as an afro, or a bunch of two strand twists. My Aunt Mae was natural before it was a movement.

But style aside.

One of the things I have been determined about, in terms of keeping her legacy of love alive is how she hosted her family and friends when they visited her home.

She worked so hard to keep her visitors happy, well-fed, and entertained. She was so serious about showing folks every cool thing in the city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas and sharing fun restaurants and activities.

I’ma keep it real.

My mom has always been a super private person, and not really big on hosting even before she got sick. So people came to visit, but we didn’t have a whole lot of folks staying over a lot or coming to dinner.

My Aunt Mae, on the other hand, made every gathering an event. She was particular and she wanted everything to be juuuust right.

As my friends can attest, I get the same way when I do decide to throw gatherings at my home, or when friends come to visit and they stay with me.

My friends can also attest that I’m going to take you to all of the restaurants, and walk you to death, so you can see whatever attraction in D.C.

Another thing that I’m finding I’ve inherited from my Aunt Mae is the overwhelming emotion she used to display when it was time for people to go home.

I mean she’d hug you and start tearing up.

My Aunt was a single woman for a large part of her life. And as a single woman, living alone, just from this week and other times family and friends have visited, I didn’t realize how lovely it is to have someone else in your home to talk to, or not talk to. To have breakfast or dinner with, to comment about things on television.

My dear best friend will be leaving tomorrow and I’m already sad.

We’ve had a low-key week. She actually instructed me not to go nuts with trying to find us things to do everyday. She just wanted a break. And that’s just what we did.

We went to a Korean BBQ, and then went to a Karaoke spot with private rooms, and proceeded to sing an array of interesting songs. “Thong Song,” “Can we talk?”, “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I attempted to sing “Love On Top” and frankly folks are trippin about Beyonce lip synching. That girl starts out on really high keys– I was struggling…I would have done it too. Even my friend saw what song it was and said, “Yeah girl, you got this one.”

Anyway, just sitting around and talking about life was fantastic. There are a handful of other friends who when they visit, I have these moments with them too and it’s just so special to me. Sometimes there’s cooking involved and a little bit of wine, ok. A lot of wine. And it’s just great.

I’m super, super fortunate.

Another friend who attended my inauguration/Ravens game party mentioned how she enjoys my gatherings because I tend to “collect” the coolest people. I agree. I was on cloud nine surrounded by friends, who were eating, drinking, having fun discussions and just getting along with one another even if they’ve never met or have seen each other before.

I was thrilled.

I’m going to really feel it when my friend goes back. The house tends to feel super lonely and not as fun when my loved ones return home. Then I get super sad.

So I understand why my Aunt Mae would hold us close and often cry. My dad would always make fun of her (Honestly, he shouldn’t even talk. He can get misty too and so does my uncle. We come from a long line of softies). But I get it.

I understand the joy and the thankfulness and how precious it is to spend time with the people you love, and those who just get you. On a larger level, she understood life and love and how fleeting these great moments are in time and that in an instant all they can evolve into is just a memory.

The folks who REALLY understand you…I mean, you can do anything, say anything, look any kind of way and they get you. They don’t judge you. Or if they do, they’ll tell you they are judging you, and everyone laughs.

Then they can also call you out about why you keep so many plastic bags, or why you’re trash bags don’t fit the big garbage can you bought, or why you’re original kitchen garbage can was way too small to begin with. Yes, this happened. My friend intervened and we cleared out a bunch of bags and returned them to the grocery store.

When you have people so in tune to who you are, and can make references to how far you’ve come, it can sometimes be embarrassing, but it can also be so refreshing, because they were indeed, right there with you, growing and evolving too.

You were doing it together, all along.

I know my friend needed a break. I was happy to offer my home and my company. But she gave me just as much by just being right there filling my house with silly laughter. Besides, she cooks and cleans too. I ain’t mad at that.

Like my aunt, I feel emotional. I’ll miss having that access to my friend. And I won’t look forward to the sting of how lonely I know I get. I even slept better with my friends in my home.

So Aunt Mae, folks called you emotional. They may have even said you were a bit dramatic when you had to say goodbye. But now I see. You weren’t. You were honest about how you really felt about people you loved and you weren’t the least bit afraid to show it. And now that you are gone, I don’t have to ever wonder if you loved us. Because you gave it all you had when you fluffed a pillow, fed us, took us to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, or the Zoo. You gave it all you had when you hugged and kissed us goodbye and told us something funny in our ears, that was just for us.

I don’t think I’ll ever be quite close to the hostess you were, but you’ve certainly given me something to aspire to.

I love you and thank you.

Ok, let’s get it over with and just weep… lol. Patti LaBelle, “You Are My Friend.”

Happy New Year!!!

We made it folks! It’s 2013.

Most of us have been enjoying the holiday, spending time with family and friends, making memories, making resolutions, breaking out our gym shoes and renewing or starting health club memberships.

We cleaned out or closets and we gave stuff away for donations (and a tax receipt). We spent time reflecting on what we did wrong and hopefully what we did right this year.

Me, I did a lot of that and I have a larger list of things to do. I did some praying, I did some cooking.

Actually, a Lot of cooking. I had this feeling when I got back from visiting my family and friends in NY that for New Year’s weekend, I would cook.

So I made my pork barbecue, homemade potato salad, mac and cheese and I was determined to defeat an old foe.

Sweet potato pie.

There were times I’ve nailed it, and other times, where I had to throw them away, they were just that bad. I’m so proud to say I made two awesome pies this weekend thanks to a little of patience, love and an awesome Sharper Image hand mixer!

I enjoyed sharing my food with my friends who may have been away from loved ones for New Year’s too.

Lately, my close friends have indulged me in just straight taking time out to play. I mean literally.

I spent time with some friends touring my local brand new boys and girls club and it’s an amazing, beautiful facility, one me and my friends would have never left if we had such a place growing up. Seriously, these kids have an amazing opportunity in front of them with a great staff, there is no excuse not to be excellent! I was so proud to visit and show my support.

The night before Christmas Eve, I spent the evening with my best friend, exchanging our gifts, laughing our heads off and wrapping gifts. I taught her some of my tricks for the perfect wrap. Then after finding a defective roll with a gaping hole in it, we proceeded to play in the paper, wearing it and having sword fights with the cardboard roll. We covered ourselves with bows and posted them online. Our friends started to comment and we were even challenged to build a fort! So that’s what we did! Old school.

Blankets, chairs, sofa cushions and two grown, well-accomplished, well-traveled, degreed women, 30-years-old, were building and taking pictures in a fort! We were giggling and laughing and rolling on the floor and I asked if it was crazy that I enjoyed doing that at 1 a.m. rather than being in someone’s night club.

Another wonderful friend joined me this weekend, who I invited to eat my massive amount of food. She brought over paints, brushes and paper.

We painted, drank wine and cackled. I loved every moment.

So, if nothing less, I learned that for 2013, I need to have a moment to play. Just play, have a good time, do something that seems immature and silly, like build a fort or draw a picture or paint with watercolors on your living room floor.

I have to write another post to describe New Year’s Night with New guy/aka boo thang. It was fabulous!!!

My hair was pretty awesome!

Happy New Year folks, go out and play!

Birthday Recap

Well, I’ve been gone for a few days because I’VE BEEN CELEBRATING MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!!!

Man.

It. Was. Insane.

I had the best time ever. I was just telling someone that basically if my long time best friend wasn’t overseas, my birthday probably would have been perfect.

My friends came through for me in full force. They wouldn’t let me pay for anything this weekend, they helped me clean and prepare my house for the party and after it was over.

The celebration started Thursday when I started picking folks up from the airport and bus stop. After that, we had an awesome dinner at an amazing restaurant (the same I wrote about previously).

Friday was a day of running around to get last-minute items for the after party. Me and my party command leaders got lunch at the super awesome Dutch Farmers Market and then went to see the movie “Red Tails”.

After that, although Friday was my actual birthday, due to all of the running around, I was so glad to just make drinks, have pizza and have movie night (“Miss Congeniality” and “The Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood”) as my signature dish for the party was cooking (my pulled pork is a six-hour process).

Saturday was so fantastic. All of my friends had safely made it to town, and my girls who were journalists with me in the south were reunited once again. We laughed and made raunchy jokes, we talked about how we all met, we shared moments and talked about being women, motherhood, dreams, finding strength, letting go of negative things and people.

Medieval Times was awesome. And if I wasn’t already drunk, I think It would have still been awesome. I even had a scroll that declared me a “Lady” (Now I have official documentation). I was surprised. The food was pretty darn good. There was sooo much of it! We were all stuffed. Our knight lost, and at that point we cheered on the bad guy. (He was one of two black (black as in African American) knights (ours was too), and we figured we would root for him in honor of Black History month. Symbolism.

Once we realized our knight was African American, we shouted in glee, he’s a brotha! He’s a brotha! *Being in the DC/Baltimore area, we were excited to see diversity because children of all backgrounds could see knights who looked like them.

Politics aside, one of the guest services people, an older black gentleman walked up to me (I thought he was going to escort me out for being rowdy or ask me to sit down) and said, “Just like the movies, the brothas are going to get killed here too.”

Talk about a buzz kill.

But it was hysterical. “Did he just give it away? I started asking around. And sure enough, our noble red and yellow knight was sent first class to the upper room after a valiant joust and hand-to-hand battle.

And of course the evil green knight had to be defeated by the captured prince who had to return home and restore peace to the divided kingdom. However, dude had a lot of swagger (so much so, one of my friends was determined to get a photo with him). We did!  We were like eighth grade girls, “You go, no you go. No come with me, wait he’s talking to someone, no let the little kid go first.” This went on for a while.

After telling him we thought he did a fantastic job, my friend says, “ummm he smells so good.

I think it’s axe.”

After photos were taken with the knights, we made our way back to the house for the after party. My same friend who surmised the green knight wears axe made me awesome cookies and cream cupcakes with a mini oreo on top, and the base of the cupcake made of an actual oreo cookie! It was a huge hit.

I mixed my signature pink panther drink and folks loved it.

Everyone did my quiz and confirmed they either knew me well, or learned more about me.

There was some dancing, some singing, more drinking and loads and loads of laughs. I laughed so hard this entire weekend.

When most of the guests went home, I still had four people staying with me. We didn’t go to sleep. When folks did, it was 8 a.m. Sunday morning. By that point, I went to have breakfast and say good-bye to my New York friends staying at a hotel. We stayed up talking about all sorts of things– even the things folks probably shy away from like religion, eating spicy food before attempting anal sex.

My friends are amazing people. They are passionate, intelligent, funny, giving and full of life. I learn so much from each of them on a daily basis, and I knew they were happy watching me be happy.

This was a fantastic, memorable, great weekend. I can’t stop looking at the photos and waiting for more photos from others to start rolling in so I can complete my photo book.

It was indeed a party!

Pop Quiz: How Well Do Your Friends Know You?

I’m about to find out how well my friends know me.

To make my birthday after party a bit more fun, and even more about me, I have drafted a 30-question (30 years, 30 questions) quiz all about me.

I have a range of friends from different parts of my life showing up to celebrate my 30th birthday, and I think my questions are fair for everyone. To make it even easier, its multiple choice and some questions are true/false.

The questions range from what young me wanted to be when I grew up, to correctly naming my five exes in chronological order.

From childhood friends, to college friends to colleagues-turned-friends, if they’ve spent enough time with me and actually paid attention when I ramble on, they should be able to answer most of them.

Yes, I’ve even gone through the process of getting first, second and third prizes for the people with the three highest scores.

As an added bonus, if you are invited to my party and you read my blog, I’ll let you in on what the prizes are.

One is a universal memory card to store photos (hopefully from my party), a snuggie and an amazing portable chair you can fold up, put in a purse/pocket and take anywhere. Shout out to Five Below!

My hat will go off to the person who can correctly answer all 30, but I’m not quite sure if any of my guests will be able to pull that off.

I’m going to enjoy seeing them try.
Aight, ask em “21 Questions” 50!

Mood Music: Live it Up, Live

Today’s a light one. I’ve been going pretty heavy and deep the past several posts.

Upon thinking about quitting “riding raggedy“, thinking about being more mature, thinking about surviving the rough times, thinking about the friends who are going to arrive en masse by plane, bus, caravan and or donkey to celebrate my 30th, I am overwhelmed.

In a good way.

I envision me and my homies having an amazing weekend and the song “Live it Up” totally came to mind. I don’t have John Legend money, but a celebration is in order.

My Medieval celebration makes even more sense and this came to me last night.

We are going to watch a joust. There’s a clear winner, there’s a clear loser and both participants got to have a whole lot of heart to get out there and potentially get their block knocked off at top speed on a temperamental steed.

I’m not afraid of 30, in fact I’m going Medieval on it.

This is my year of fighting back. I’m on my horse now, it’s time to ride out.

In honor of these warm, fuzzy feelings. I bring you John Legend. Well, YouTube brings him. You know what I meant.

If 16 Is Sweet, 30’s Definitely Dirty

Well, it looks like things are finally starting to come together on the party planning front.

I had to make some tough decisions regarding the guest list, I had to coax some folks, but it’s going down.

Me and about 12 of my closest friends (and some significant others who I love too) will go to Medieval Times and have a rockin, joustin, wench-tippin good time.

The last time I had an official birthday party was my sweet 16. I’ve taken a poll involving people who live in other regions, and it seems no one is more obsessed with the sweet 16 than girls from Long Island in the late 90s.

I was going to parties a few times a month for about four years.

The Sweet 16 was huge amongst our set. Whether you had it in a hotel ballroom or in a backyard, you had to have one. Period. Even when my father offered me a really cheap car or the Sweet 16, without hesitation, I chose the party.

I don’t regret it.

I still remember my champagne colored dress (My mom wanted white. We compromised.),  and the tape on my fingers from being jammed during a basketball game the previous day. I remember having a bartender serving up Shirley Temples all night, and I remember the damn dj my cousin found who didn’t have the right equipment and my best friend going home to get his own equipment to get the party started. In the meantime, the catering hall owner, played the last cd left behind from the last party. “Say you, Say Me.”  By Lionel Ritchie. God, I was embarrassed as my guests were arriving.

The colors were hunter green and champagne. The venue was a lovely spot over looking the water (we ended up having our junior prom there the following year).

I remember Will Smith’s “Gettin Jiggy With It.” I remember doing the dance to break the ice and get everyone else to dance too. Wow.

I also remember that being February, it was cold. And report cards just came out, so some of my friends couldn’t go because they were on punishment because their grades weren’t up to par.

Despite all that, it was fabulous. There was Hawaiian chicken, baked ziti (do those even go together?) and I really can’t believe I remember all of this, but we had a ball.

My dad, a masterful sheet metal craftsman, made a candle holder of my name to hold all 16 candles. The night was magic. My older sister had flown into town for the event. All of the people I loved were there and totally happy. A friend of my dad’s made special chocolate lollipops for the occasion to go in the goodie bags.

My mother was a picture of health and looked gorgeous and my family in my mind was perfect back then. That’s what makes the memory even more precious. The next year was going to set off a lot of painful things for my mother and for the rest of my family, that we are still struggling with today.

The other Long Island tradition was the Sweet 16 book. It was a specific hard cover book that was handmade at the local flea market. The cover consisted of mirrors of a particular color that spelled out sweet 16 and had your name and birthday written on it. It held pics from the event and served as a guest book where all your friends would sign and tell jokes about being able to drive. This was a must have for the pre-Facebook generation.

I still have that book and I do look at it around my birthday to laugh. I’m almost tempted to ask if someone could go to the flea market and make me a “dirty 30” book just for kicks.

I think I’m starting to get those same butterflies like I did as a teenage girl, on the brink of independence.

This time, there will be alcohol.

This time, I have my own place (afterpartay).

Ironically, it won’t be as “fancy” as the last party. My goal, as I stated in another blog is to be just the opposite.

This time poor grades and punishment will not prevent my guests from showing up.

Instead of a fancy dress, I will be wearing a cute tee shirt that says “82” and some jeans.

This time, I’m even more appreciative of the people in my life.

And this time, I know just how quickly moments like these end, so I’m going to drink it all in. Seriously. I already bought a 30 necklace with a shot glass attached a la Mardi Gras…

Inspiration: Look no further than your highly motivated friends…

I just finished having an online chat with one of my dear friends who is living the life teaching English to adolescent South Korean boys. (I’ve decided, next year I’m using my entire tax refund to kick it with her in the Spring.) It was beyond ballsy for ol girl to up and leave the U.S. to live in a totally different culture where people are speaking a totally different language. She’s doing it and she’s loving it. And yes, I’m jealous. In a good way, though.  

While my own personal life has been in a kind of rut, I’m excited and impressed with my friends (most of whom are almost 30 and 30+) who are just going for theirs right now.

A number of friends and aquaintances have just secured advanced degrees, started small businesses i.e. making tasty treats or have picked up freelance work for major magazines. I’m proud of them all and admittedly jealous… in a good way.

But why should they have all the fun? It’s high time I get off my behind and think about the things I’m good at, the things I enjoy or the things I want to learn and just go do them.

Here’s my motivation: I’ve noticed a certain glow of satisfaction in all of these people because they set out to do something and they did it and did it well. They didn’t have to, but they dug deeper, and did something extra to give their lives a little more umph. And now, they are reaping the rewards.

There’s a book I love, called “Repositioning Yourself” by T.D. Jakes. In his book, he talked about the kinds of people you surround yourself with and how they can make or break who you are and who you are going to be. If you have friends with no goals, dreams, or aspirations then it’s going to be even harder for you to strive for what you want, or get the support you need from those friends to even accomplish it.

I’m glad I have friends in my corner who challenge me to be better not only in their words, but their actions. Instead of shaming me into success because of a vain need to “keep up” or “one up” them, they nurture me into it by example.  

Now that’s grown.

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