I decided that this year, instead of a traditional birthday party at home, I wanted to do something different. Because 40 is a bit of a "milestone", and frankly, I have everything I need, I decided to host a 40th Birthday Fundraiser with the Canadian Cancer Society's "Girls Night In" program, which supports all Women's Cancers. I chose Under the Volcano, a delicious Mexican restaurant in downtown London, which is owned by a friend of mine. Great location, awesome food, a fun atmosphere and fantastic staff (Special shout out to Alejandro & my Dad who sang to me and Alejandro made me blush).
I can not begin to tell you how nervous I was. I was not only nervous to host a birthday party and invite more than just my family and a few close friends, but nervous that I wouldn't get a decent amount of money raised. When I was originally planning this event, I was 150% positive that it was a great idea, but the moment I hit 'SEND' on my invitation email, I felt like I wanted to throw up. Why you ask? Well, for starters, I've always feared that no one will show up to my parties. Sounds silly, I know. I have a great friend, Monika, who throws killer parties. I'm talking fun decorations, lots of food, great music and TONS of people. A packed house every time! I love that about her, everyone loves Monika, but my parties are never quite like that. My parties are much more low key, just a few people, mostly family, and everyone tends leaves early. And I'm ok with that. For some reason, the thought of trying to throw a big party, well, it makes me feel weird. Insecure maybe? Perhaps. More than likely. I'm truly afraid that no one will show up to my party. That's why I don't even try. I'm a party chicken.
I've noticed that since I've started selling Arbonne, more and more people stop replying to my emails, invitations, etc. It's the curse of the business and I understand that, but it really made me insecure about hosting this fundraiser. I normally don't stray too far out of my "invitation comfort zone". Those include my family, of course, who always support me. They are forever my biggest fans and cheerleaders. This includes Paul's family. I am so lucky and blessed to have married into a family whom I love and they love me back equally. My mother and my sister-in-law have turned into my "plus 1's". Always my date to functions and parties (especially anything Arbonne related), but also when my husband can't make it or needs to stay home to look after Sam. I also have a few key friends that I can count on to show up, given enough notice.
Other than that, I do not normally stray too far from this list. Why? Because that would be crazy! That, my friends, would be setting myself up for disappointment. And I do that... a lot. I come from a family of big expectations. We're Italian (mostly) and I'm the "baby". They expect of lot of me and I do the same of them. So, I tend to get disappointed when other's don't follow that same line of expectation. Needless to say, I tried hard not to set my expectations too high for this party, so I wouldn't be disappointed.
Back to the "SEND" button. I hit it, felt nauseous, and then waited... staring longingly at my computer screen. Nothing. A few minutes later... still nothing. An hour later... still nothing. I felt the turn of my stomach and the disappointment looming so I shut off the computer and tried not to think about it. When I checked my replies the next day I was so elated to have 4 or 5 replies! One from my mother, of course, and the rest were from a mix of people, friends & family, and I was so pleased. I actually smiled... a big smile. Yay! People, other than my "comfort zone's", were coming to my party! It wasn't going to be a "Monika" party, but people were coming! I was so excited!!
Over the course of the next few of days, I received a various on-line donations, which is awesome, and a few no's. And then that was it. Nothing. No more activity. And then guess what happend? It showed up. Disappointment. It was rising up from the pit of my stomach, the back of my brain and the depths of my heart. NOOO!! Stop it Michelle! Just stop it!
Why is it we (I) feel disappointed when we (I) have so many wonderful things to be thankful for? People were coming to my party! People were donating! People were apologizing for not being able to come! But why was I fixated on the 40+ people that didn't bother to reply instead of the people that DID reply? Are we all wired that way or is it just me? If someone invites me to something, whether it be by phone, email, regular mail, even text message, I ALWAYS reply. Whether I can attend or not, I reply. Again with the big expectations of other people. Just because I was taught to reply, why do I expect other people do to the same. What was my problem??? Me, I'm the problem and my own worst enemy.
The day of my party, I really had to sit back and give myself a HUGE mental and emotional adjustment. I was extremely happy with the people I knew were coming to my party and I was very excited to see them and spend time with them all. Maybe it's the spoiled part of me that was feeling unsatisfied? Or maybe it was the insecure part of me that wants everyone to love me and to be there every time I say "be there"! Wow, talk about unrealistic expectations. I came to the conclusion that it's all of the above.
Even my son was trying to throw a wrench into my day. He had gotten the croup again this year and it had reared it's ugly sounding cough the day before my party. However, I wasn't going to let that ruin my night. It was my night, my party, my friends and my fundraiser. Now it was all about having fun and making some money for a good cause. That is where I needed to put my focus & my energy. I knew I was leaving my son in good, capable hands, but he sure wasn't going to make it easy on me.
I managed to put all of my fears and insecurities aside and enjoy my party. And I really did enjoy it. It was great to see my Mom and Dad, Alicia & Uncle Frank, Uncle Wayne, Terri & Bruno, Evona & Mark, Leanne & Jayson, Paul & Shirley, my bff Pat, my friend Monika (yes, THE Monika) who I have known for 30 years, my sister-in-law Susete and my neice Julia, my friend Nancy and her two daughters and a surprise from a very special guest. My brother Guy, drove all the way up from Battavia, Illinois to surprise me, and boy was I surprised. I started bawling right on the spot. Unfortunately no one got a picture of the moment, but here is the moments after.
It was a truly wonderful evening. There are so many positive things about that evening, that when I re-read this post and read about how I was feeling in the days prior, I feel... silly. We raised just over $400 and proceeds went to the Girls Night In fundraising program. The only "wrinkle" in the evening was my husband getting called home early to look after our little man who wasn't feeling well.
And guess what I have learned from this experience? I've learned that yes, I am spoiled... but I'm learning to be more grateful and appreciative of what I do have. Yes, I am insecure... but I'm learning to put more trust in myself and faith in the people I love. Yes, I have high expectations... but I'm learning to accept people as they are. Yes, I am unrealistic some times... but I am learning to love myself for my short-comings. It's all a part of growing up I guess. I'm learning that turning 40 is not such a bad thing when you come out the other side a better person.
Thank you to everyone who came out that night, everyone who donated, and for all the people who sent me birthday wishes by phone, mail, email & facebook.
A Special thank you to the following people:
My husband Paul - While I am disappointed that you had to leave early, thank you for going home so that I could stay with my guests and so that I could relax knowing that Sam was being well cared for in the comfort of our home. Thank you so much for always supporting me, trusting in me and being my best friend and partner through life... my crazy life. I love you so much!
Under the Volcano - Melanie, Dagmar, Alejandro and our server/bartender for helping me accomplish such a wonderful evening. http://iloveunderthevolcano.onpage1hosting.com/
Girls Night In - Canadian Cancer Society - for making this fundraising idea really easy for me.
Manon Dion from Sweet Tooth Cakes for the amazing cupcakes that were decorated with the yellow cancer flower and the pink cancer ribbon. https://www.facebook.com/groups/209354645784456/
Thank you to the following people who donated items for the raffle draws which helped contribute greatly to our fundraising total:
Cheryl Lalande - Evolution Fitness - http://evolutionfit.ca/
Lona Quenneville - Tupperware
Alisha Gleiser - Stella & Dot Jewellery - https://www.facebook.com/groups/209354645784456/#!/groups/138369952888373/
Fran Prout Vail - Epicure Solutions
And of course, Arbonne!
If I am forgetting anyone who supported me in any way, please know that I am forever grateful. Every little touch was sincerely appreciated. Hopefully I don't have to worry about it again for another 10 years.
Enjoy some pictures!