One year ago today, I was surrounded by a group of amazing women who helped move Eve and Lola and I in to our new home. They packed boxes, cleaned cupboards, organized movers, found screwdrivers, and held me up during an incredibly difficult time. The transition from a life I loved and knew and assumed I’d always have to a mostly blank canvas felt simultaneously frightening and exciting, awfully sad and tinged with possibility. I was able to experience the full range of emotion precisely because of these women who showed up, who loved me and my daughters, and who helped me feel safe.

I am so incredibly grateful and so lucky to have such people in my life.

In my previous life, there had been lots of dinner parties and events – many occasions to host friends and family and fill the house with laughter and great food.

In the last year, I’ve hosted scores of the girls’ friends for both impromptu study sessions/girls’ nights and planned Halloween or New Year’s gatherings, but I’ve not felt like I was quite ready to host something on my own for grown ups. Until now.

It wasn’t supposed to be a housewarming party, but it turns out that this morning, my new home feels properly “warmed.” Last night, I hosted a house concert as a fund raiser for Eat With Muslims, an organization started by two women in Seattle to try and build community and understanding of Muslim culture and individuals who are Muslim using food (brilliant!). Sheryl Wiser, a local singer-songwriter suggested that we do it as part of her Pies + Persistence project that raises money for nonprofits who are working for social justice and human rights in the face of this current Presidential administration’s often horrific policies. She would play music, and Lola (who has been working furiously on her own original music for over a year) would open the performances with three of her songs.

We put out the word on social media and via email and the house filled up with amazing salads, deli trays, the most delicious Somalian chicken and rice dish I have had in my lifetime, and cranberry pie (tart). So many of us didn’t know each other when the evening started, but the conversation never lagged and the plates were never empty. We sat and stood around the kitchen island laughing and telling each other about our lives and when it came time to sit for music, my heart was full. My house was full of people ranging in age from teens to 70+, enjoying each others’ company with the dogs weaving their way around the room sniffing for scraps.

The music was beautiful and heartfelt and mesmerizing, and people stayed afterward to continue chatting and laughing. When I fell in to bed just before midnight, I was grinning from ear to ear. I can’t think of a better way to flood our new home with love and positive energy than by gathering a group of people for food and music to support the hard work of women making a difference one dinner party at a time.

This life, it is a joyful one. There are good people in our midst doing amazing things. I can’t wait to throw another party.

1. Find yourself an incredibly talented singer/songwriter like Edie Carey who is coming to your area and is willing to do a house concert.

2. Send out a “Save the Date” notification to all your friends and family.

3. Two weeks before the concert, send out reminders and begin panicking that things won’t go as well as you want them to.

4. One week prior to the date, ratchet up the panic as a few people cancel and send out emails to the rest, telling them to invite their friends.

5. Get a friend to put together a lovely case of wine for your guests and count your wine glasses.

6. Have Bubba prep the smoker, make his famous rub and BBQ sauce and buy two enormous slabs o’ pork shoulder.

7. Pick up your oldest, dearest friend from the train station the day before the concert and confide your fears (the “I’m having a party and nobody’s going to come” variety) to her while she commiserates and helps you set everything up.

8. The night before the concert, massage Bubba’s rub into the pork and smoke it for twelve hours over some hickory chips.

9. The day of the concert, spend hours catching up with your friend, sporadically setting up chairs and furniture and utensils and wine glasses.

10. As your guests stream in the door, realize that this night is going to ROCK!

11. Pour yourself a glass of wine, watch everyone congregate around the spread of food and listen to the conversation fill up the kitchen.

12. Call everyone to the living room where you introduce Edie and watch her captivate everyone, young and old, male and female, with her humor, her musical talent, and her genuine-ness. Revel in the fact that you are getting to share your love of her music with an entire group of people you care about. Hear them laugh at her jokes, sing along in perfect harmony, and enthusiastically cheer her performance while outside, the dogs and some kids are playing in the yard (except when your dog peeks in the window to whine along with the music.)

13. Say goodnight to your guests, secure in the knowledge that each and every one of them had a terrific time.

14. Make a cursory effort to tidy up but end up leaving most of it for the next morning.

15. Collapse into bed and feel incredibly blessed to have shared such a wonderful evening with some really special people.

If you haven’t listened to Edie Carey’s music, I can’t say enough about it. Her songs grab me because they are so real, the themes so universal. Her voice has an incredible tone and she is a whiz on that guitar! I have seen her perform live three times and each time I am struck at her ability to perform. She speaks to the audience as an honest, genuine human being. She tells stories, both in and around her songs, and she is engaging and connected to the people she is singing for. Go visit her website and look up her tour schedule. Find her somewhere near you and go listen. You will be enchanted. I promise.