A BumbleBFF Friendsgiving
As Thanksgiving has come and gone this year, it’s evident that I have a lot to be grateful for. Often it feels as if my gratitude list grows by the day, and with each moment there is an energetic force at play, reminding me to stop and reflect on even the smallest things. The freedom of driving down the highway as the sun peeks out from under the clouds, the sound of rain hitting my bedroom window; the smell of fresh flowers at the farmer’s market, and feel of smooth pearl beads between my fingers. The little, trivial, even nonsensical things are what I’ve found myself taking for granted, over the years. Yet, as I’ve spent this year really discovering myself- who I am, what I like, what I am grateful for- I’ve found myself developing a sort of love (re: passion) for the nonsensical and the trivial. Amazing how something as silly as the clouds could make you fall in love with life.
But clouds and rain and flowers aside, there are a lot of big things in my life to be grateful for. For starters, my amazing new job at Bumble, which has been nothing short of a blessing (which you can read all about here). My incredible friends, who uplift me in every way and remind me how much love I truly have in my life, single or not. My photography clients-turned-friends, who allow me to work the job of my dreams. My family, for supporting every crazy idea and trusting my process. The list could go on, and quite frankly, it does. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about how incredibly blessed I am to live the life that I do.
While I morally/ethically/spiritually am very opposed to celebrating Thanksgiving (and if you have no idea why I would be… please just read this) I do love the fact that it gives us a reminder to express our gratitude for all of the blessings in our lives, both big and small. So when it came time to host my second event with Bumble- a BumbleBFF themed ‘friendsigiving’- I was stoked. I mean, who wouldn’t love to get a bunch of cute, badass babes together for a night of good food and gratitude?
Unlike with my last event with Bumble, where we had over 50+ people, this event was small and intimate, and much more my speed. With a maximum of 10 of us, I loved that I got to tailor the guest list to people who I personally knew were warm, inviting, inclusive, and, in their own ways- revolutionary. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t meant to exclude anyone, or turn into a popularity contest. Rather, it was my (re: our) way of celebrating some of the strong, badass movers and shakers who are helping to make the community in the Bay Area a little more lively.
So with the gust list set, it was time to determine a venue, and what better place to host our event than the beautiful Mission Loft. It’s one of my favorite places in SF (which says a lot, considering I don’t particularly like SF) on account of the fact that it is just so damn beautiful. Every nook and cranny of the loft is incredibly photogenic, which explains why their Instagram feed is full of influencers, bloggers, and creatives, who come all over just for photoshoots. While it’s a more popular space during the daytime, when the sunlight streams in through the windows, it’s incredibly comfy and dreamy at night, which made it the perfect backdrop for our cozy event.
Next came the food, and this was perhaps the most exciting part of the event. I was so excited to hire my good friend Mariana, the goddess behind Health Nectar, to cater a delicious vegan dinner for us. For those who aren’t familiar with her work, Mariana is a private plant-based chef here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is absolutely phenomenal. So when I reached out to her about catering the event, I was delighted when she said ‘yes’. I think one of the most rewarding parts about working for Bumble and planning these events has been the opportunity to hire my creative friends to work for me. I love supporting my fellow creatives, and I love putting my money back into the hardworking people in my local community, so seeing this all come together so serendipitously makes my heart feel all warm and happy inside, even if it’s only for one event.
I let Mariana have free reign with the menu, only requesting that it was 100% vegan. While not all of my guests live the vegan lifestyle (only two of them did), I wanted to use my creative power to create an event that aligned with my personal moral and ethical values. So while having a dead turkey, creamy potatoes, and gluten-filled stuffing didn’t quite align with this, I knew that Mariana would be able to create something amazing that appealed to even my most carnivorous guests. And to no surprise, I was right: the food she prepared was absolutely delicious, and everyone loved it. I still think about those potatoes on a daily basis. They were so good.
As we sat and enjoyed good food and even better company, we went around the table and shared stories with each other. It started out with stories of how everyone had known/met me (as I was the only common denominator between everyone), but quickly morphed into a conversation about literally everything else. From the struggles of running a small business, to the Bachelor and The Girls Next Door (which is still my favorite reality show to date… no shame), it felt incredible to just eat and drink and laugh with bunch of beautiful, strong, successful women. The energy felt so high and so loving, and I couldn’t have asked for a more positive or uplifting vibe to be spread through the room.
We settled down for seconds (and even thirds) and, in typical Hannah fashion, I had an activity planned. On each table setting was a card, a sharpie pen, and a prompt to write down what we were grateful for. As I proposed the question, a sudden silence filled the room, and my friend Gina whispered quietly, “I’m grateful for fresh clean air.” While a seemingly trivial response, it made the hair on my arm stick up. The following day would be what was one of the worst air quality days I had ever experienced in the Bay Area. With the air quality index (AQI) reading over 300, it had officially hit the hazardous zone. People could barely leave their homes, and if they did, they had to have a mask. The air was so dangerous to breathe that people were fleeing the Bay Area and heading south, to get away from the smoke. While the Camp Fire- the most deadly and dangerous forest fire in California history- burned nearly 200 miles away, the effects were very real and very, very personal. With the smoke this bad, 200 miles away, I couldn’t even imagine how terrible it was for those who were on the front lines, fighting the fire. Or worse, those who had lived in the tiny town of Paradise, California, and lost everything. It made me feel extremely grateful, while also feeling incredibly heartbroken for those who weren’t fortunate enough to escape the disaster. Life really is such a precious thing, and having clean air to breathe is a luxury I will never take for granted again.
On a side note, while the fire is currently at 90% containment, many people are still in desperate need of help. To donate, check out _____ and _____, two local organizations that are currently working to help get victims back on their feet.
It was an incredible moment, and the perfect way to wind down the evening. As we closed things out huddled on the couch while enjoying some raw vegan pumpkin pie (which is just as good as it sounds) and vlogging / blogging our adventures, I couldn’t help but reflect on gratitude once more. Gratitude towards my guests, who made time out of their day to come to this event. Gratitude towards Michale at Mission loft, Mariana, Lauren at Bumble, and everyone who helped make this event happen. And, most importantly, I felt gratitude towards myself, for having the guts to take on something that was so huge and so far outside of my comfort zone, and pull it off the best I could. Was it perfect- no, absolutely not. Were there plenty of hiccups- of course. But could I have been happier with the results? No, I couldn’t have. I came home that night feeling absolutely elated, and thrilled with how the night went. Despite the hiccups and minor setbacks, I still wouldn’t have changed a thing.
So, as we enter the season of giving and gratitude, I want to remind you of this- no matter how life goes, no matter what is up and what is down, there is always something to be grateful for.
P.S- My darling client-turned-friend Olivia (aka the genius behind Mane Message) vlogged the event! Check out her video below.