I turned 31 on September 17th. Last year, I wanted to make sure the big 3-0 was special. I invited my friends to celebrate me in an extravagant comedy roast at NYC’s swanky meatpacking district restaurant, STK. Oh, you fancy, huh? I sure was! The party was everything I wanted it to be. I got a chance to share my journey as a comedian with my friends, laugh at myself and be celebrated in a way that made me feel like a princess.
This year, I procrastinated on what I wanted to do for my birthday. It’s been a hectic year for me and before I left my day job at HelloBeautiful.com on August 20th, I was miserable. I was listless. I was sad, a lot. I was tired in my body. And I wanted something to wake me up. With my birthday less than a month after the day I walked out of the office for good, I wasn’t even thinking about me in that regard. I love to celebrate my birthday, but with so much going on (and not much going on), I needed an idea, but was uninspired.
“Don’t make it about you then,” my mom said almost mindlessly four days before my birthday as we chatted on the phone. Eureka! I was going to make my birthday about someone else, but who?
This year, I had the pleasure of feeding the homeless a few times with my Momentum Education and the experience was so overwhelmingly amazing, I felt like I needed to do this more. Why not do it for my birthday? I feel as though I always get the chance to be celebrated–whether it’s because of my writing, or how I celebrate women of color on my podcast or just walking down the street and being appreciated.
So I gathered some friends who were willing to give their time to give back on my birthday instead of coming to have dinner, spending $50 on a night of food, drinks and awesome Snapchats that are gone in 24 hours, I asked my friends to donate $20 each so that I could go out, buy food and supplies that helped us to feed at least 50 people on the street who wouldn’t have had a meal had it not been for us that night. The support I received from my bestie, Chad, Justin, James, Erica, Shaina, Ty, Shamika, Vanessa, Christina and not to mention those who donated, but couldn’t make it that night was, unreal!
As we stuffed bags and wrote messages on them, we laughed, we talked, we enjoyed one another. Gratitude kept filling my heart, until I felt like it would explode. Once we left out and walked the streets of New York City to hand out the meals, many of my friends started having second thoughts.
What do I say to them?
What if they get offended?
Will they even want food if they’re asking for money?
Everyone had valid concerns, but I told them all just to treat the people like human beings and hand out the meals, knowing they are in need of acknowledgement and nourishment. The result was a beautiful display of love. Check out the video!
In the meantime, here’s 31 things I am grateful for:
1. The lesson of self-love
2. Embracing my beautiful, natural hair
3. My smile
4. The ability to give
5. My relationship with God
6. My encouraging friends
7. A transformed relationship my mom has with life
8. My 99 year old grandma
9. 9 beautiful years of living in NYC
10. A roof over my head
11. Food in my belly and in my home
12. An able body
13. My strong legs–they’ve carried all of me this far
14. True friendship–the kind of friends who show up when you want to feed the homeless on your birthday
15. An open heart
16. Breath in my lungs
17. BAE’s undying and unreal love for who I am despite how much I fail him
20. Prayers for me from others
21. Spiritual wealth
22. Support from those in my life for any and everything I do
23. This gift of life
25. My writing ability
26. My talent to bring laughter to those around me
27. Unfiltered joy
28. My momma
29. Hearing God’s voice
30. Cheese (don’t act like it’s not amazing)
31. Inspiration and being an inspiration
What are you grateful for?