I wasn't going to do a year-end post, but then I read this one by Amy Bickers and had to chime in. (Side note: I vote hers my favorite new blog of 2011. Just sayin.')
In her blog Amy wrote about how in 2010 she, Stephanie, and I made vision boards. Yeah, go on and laugh, we sat around cutting out photos of what we wanted our lives to look like in the coming year. This was mine:
I'll let you, dear reader, figure out what these images mean. (Oh hey, I want to be Beyonce!)
Being hard on myself, I think about the things that I haven't done this year, some of which are rolling over to the 2012 goal list (complete draft of my book) while others are being back shelved (sorry accordion).
The two phrases that stand out most about this little exercise in dreaming are: "It's OK. Rock one crazy fun ride" and (on the left) "Connections." This year was packed with both.
Some of the things I'm most thankful for in 2011:
Starting it out by watching a ginormous Moon Pie Drop in Mobile, and riding in a Mardi Gras parade float that night.
Helping launch a grassroots non-profit from scratch (The Alabama Social Media Association)
Holding my godsons Jack and Henry for the first time (see: "2011: Year of Babes").Taking Nate on his first cruise and meeting one of my blog heroes, the beautiful Anissa Mayhew. That's her.
Having the chance to travel throughout the South and listen to stories of artists, athletes, advocates and most especially, the survivors of the storms that ripped through our region on April 27. Being part of the team that produced this story and multi-media piece has been one of the most meaningful things I've done in my career.
Seeing my son off to kindergarten (even if I got the paperwork totally wrong and he missed the first day. Oops.)
Supporting my family during our ups and downs, through doctor's appointments and Mom's awesome month-long commitment to improve her health. And, in June, celebrating the great new law in NY that allows all the members of the Jazz Hands Family to marry:
Reconnecting with the Florida Keys, where I spent two weeks working on a story that will appear in the February issue. Kayaking through mangroves, eating Key Lime Pie on a stick -- even dropping and ruining my cell phone in the water (see this essay) filled me with joy, and reminded me of my roots as a proud Floridian. God, I love this state.
Spending time in my home away from home, New York, first for Easter, then for Thanksgiving with the fam (with first-row seats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and a celebration of Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary), and finally, for a spur of the moment work trip. I see more of this city in store for me in 2012.
Watching Birmingham continue to evolve and preaching about it every chance I can get (like here, in my contribution to the great WhyBHM Project. Notice the word I use more than any other? Connect.)
Christmas with my family, where Dad read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Nate on his iPad and Henry visited Birmingham for the first time.
The chance to spend time with my friends, my family, and those who continue to love me despite my many flaws. New and old. People who hear me tell the same stories over and over again. Dance parties in my dining room, coffees downtown, meals with Mom and Dad, margaritas with the Mandatory Margarita Club. Plus two visits from Aussie Mandy:
Time spent with Amy and Stephanie (Poison and the Bret Michaels Band!); Stephanie in Atlanta, with whom I'll be heading to Vegas next month.
2011 also broke my heart a bit.
I had many moments of doubt.
And anger, especially when this year robbed us of a great, dear friend, Sara Jones. I think about her each day. At this years Dia De Los Muertos I was stopped in my tracks when I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful portrait of her. A fitting tribute. But it hurt.
To borrow what Amy said:
"Some people love you so much and so well that you keep feeling it when they're gone. That's an amazing gift. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that I was blessed to know such a wonderful person. I would never give up the pain of losing her if it meant I would have never known her."
Amen. I have to say that, in the final hours of this year, filed with uncertainty about the one ahead, there's one thing I know for sure: I am rich -- rich in experiences, and in travel, and in love. Put that on the vision board. To 2012.