People who know me, know that I am not really big on celebrating my own birthday, unless it is about something larger than me and my birthday. I am excited about EVERY day in my life. Everyday, is my birthday as far as I am concerned, because God gave me LIFE (through my amazing mother and father), and I really try to honor that commitment between Him and I every day. Every day is a gift.
That said, I think I missed the entire point of birthday celebrations, until maybe this Saturday evening when Ms. Natasha L. Foreman, a special person in my life, organized a surprise birthday party for me at my home. Wow ~ are the only words that I have for the feelings I experienced on this evening. And while I am generally uncomfortable with folks showering attention on me "just because," what I realized on Saturday was that it really was not "about me" per se. It was about love. It was about allowing and letting people who love you, and care for you, express it. Show it. Showing up for a special evening such as this (whether in person, by phone or by video, literally from around the world -- also organized and produced by Natasha Foreman), is part of that expression of love.
And I LOVED my special love gifts, including this jointly signed photo of me from my childhood (stop laughing...), and believe it or not -- TWO 8-TRACK TAPES (I loved it!) from my friends De'Leice Drane and Dr. Bernice King. And then there was the 70's, 80's and 90's styled SOUL TRAIN dance line, which was beyond AMAZING. I hope those tapes get properly burned (smile).
A special thank you to all who took time to be with me, including Ambassador Andrew Young & Carolyn Young, Cosmo Griffiths, Clark and Shasta Moore, Andrea Young and Jerry Thomas, Taylor Stanley, Bo and Angelica Young, Cynthia Childs, Bernice Kings, De'Leice Drane, Doug Alston and Lisa Y. Alston, Michael Dunn, Cal and Denise Ross, Patra Marsden, Gwen and Alexandra Foreman, Princess Peoples and Claude St. Louis, Tiffany Bolen, Guy Greene, Spencer and Jean Wiles, Claude and Juanita Bryan, Jarrod and Genise Huey, Candy Moore, Jerome Russell, Kwanza and Natalie Hall, Susan Ross, Elaine Carlisle, and HOPE family Tara Dennis, Jay Bailey, Jeremiah Ojo, Patrice Washington, Charmela Freeman, Walter Jackson, Troy Caldwell and Latresa McLawhorn-Ryan.
By phone connect -- we had my amazing mother, Juanita Smith, my brother Donnie (Dave Harris), my sister Montie (Mara Harris), my auntie Emma (I think that was her calling in over all the noise - smile), and so many others.
By video connect -- well there are just too many to thank, but allow me to give a quick shout out and thanks to (top of mind) my main man, the iconic (and funny) Quincy Jones -- who wished me a 50TH BIRTHDAY (Haaa! Smile), my mentee and friend and the amazingly multi-gifted Tyrese Gibson, my best friend Rod McGrew, longtime friend, HOPE board member and mentor Richard Hartnack, Rachael Doff, the brilliantly talented (and nice) Howard Hewett and his lady Lori Roane, Bill Walbrecher, HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland (my Global Dignity co-founders, and brothers), Leslie Alessandro and Debra Collins and the HOPE family from around the world who video taped messages, and so many more. And I am so very sure I have missed people VERY important to me, so please blame it on my head and not my heart.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It's all love. It's all about love. It's all -- good. Humbled. Honored. Now, let's go.
With HOPE, love and light