It’s funny that these words come up and resonate with me so much this week. Presence and Presents. In one case at work, we literally talked about social media engagement vs. social media presents. Not presence. Presents. I made sure to clarify to the lovely listeners on the phone that I didn’t have a typo and it was, in fact, presents. Would the event want engagement or presents (ahem, gifts)? Engagement.
And it comes as no coincidence that last night I experienced both for my final birth
daymonth dinner celebration. As we all know, schedules are tough and everyone is busy so for my birthday, I always try to get a date on the calendar for a girls dinner at some point within a week or two of my birthday. And last night was the night. Presence with friends. Friends that matter most.
We celebrated at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Chicago, Shaw’s, and at the oyster bar nonetheless, at 6pm, I looked up to see five of my most favorite and closest friends around me. They all hold different and special places in my heart.
- Liz is my oldest friend from home (18-19 years…oh my gosh!). She gets the O-town (Ottawa, IL) jokes. She makes me laugh. She’s genuine and kind and has stuck by my side. We have come in and out of each other’s lives, but always end up together again as if NO time has passed. She still cracks me up. I still love her.
- Sarah is my second oldest friend from college and we have both been through hell and back together. We are both strong, energetic, travel and experience lovers and yes, at times, our personalities want to punch each other in the face. But, that’s what keeps us together. Our passion. That common ground combined with what we have been through will always keep us together. She’s sweet and loving and caring. And honest.
- Eileen comes next and she and I have grown deep into the real best friend kind of love the last 3-5 years. Marriages, divorces, deaths, honesty, confessions, tears, laughter, farts, traveling and a lot of incredible conversations along the way, she is the real-deal kind of friend. She’s not fake. She will tell you the truth. She stands her ground, she’s tough to argue with (because she’s smart and is an attorney), but I can hang with her and we both can love each other unconditionally which is why she remains such a dear friend to me.
- Rose. Oh Rose. The sunshine to all of us, the laughter, the kindness, the energy we all wish we had more of. I met Rose through Eileen and I am SO grateful for that (love how God connects us Kevin Bacon style). Rose is special in that she has more passion than most people and she radiates it and it just makes you love her even more. You can talk love, spirituality, sex, finances, whatever with her and will NEVER feel judged and always walk away saying, “gosh, I love Rose.” I can hear her laugh as I type this 🙂
- Vaneesha. V. My accountability partner, sister in Christ, dear, sweet friend. I only recently met Vaneesha about 3 years ago through our church and the minute she walked in with her ear-to-ear smile, incredible fashion sense and passion for God, I knew this would be a friendship I would end up cherishing. From our nights over food and wine, to our mornings of devotionals, to confessions and tears and sharing our fears and vulnerabilities, V has been an instrumental part of my walk with God and has grown to be one of my closest friends.
The presence of close girlfriends make up memories that go down deep into your heart and soul. Last night, as I admired the beautiful women that surrounded me, was a memory that is now deep in my heart and soul.
And it doesn’t stop there. Each of them were not only kind enough to take me out for champagne, oysters and sushi, but they each brought me a physical gift. A present. As we sipped our drinks and told stories, I opened each gift one-by-one and what kept coming to me was “I am known.” Yes, presents are just material goods that perish, but for some reason, last night, they were far more than that. As I opened each card that was unique with scribbles of inspiring words and love from each of them, the present that followed was just as special.
Paris in Color note cards from Sarah (she knows Paris in Color is one of my all-time favorite books) combined with Lush lavender bath balls (she knows I need to, ahem, slow down and relax).
Chanel Chance perfume from Eileen (she knows that every girl needs a classic perfume AND I was in the market for a new perfume), followed by the greatest travel perfume holder (because she knew I wanted it).
A glitzy gold iPhone case from Liz that she searched high and low, west coast to east coast to find for me, literally (she knows I love all things gold).
A perfect animal-print Citrine by the Stone bracelet from Vaneesha’s favorite shop back home. Proceeds go to a great cause (she knows I love gold jewelry, she knows my taste and she knows I love giving back).
A vintage pitcher with four matching glasses from Rose, featuring chalkboard labels (she knows I love to host and I love ANYTHING chalkboard and therefore, anything customizable).
I truly know how blessed I am to have these women in my life. Ladies, I love you and more importantly, thank you for loving me, thank you for knowing me and thank you for your presence and the presents.