Regardless, 2011 had a clear theme from the start. I went to visit my sister in Boston for New Year's Eve. I arrived just days after a huge blizzard snowed-in airports and cities across New England. Had I arrived a few days earlier, the story might have been very different. But as it happened, I arrived fresh-faced and delay-free in Boston to a winter wonderland after having watched Love Story for the first time on Netflix just a week before. Our first stop after leaving the airport was a snow-covered park with only a rust-red Vizsla bounding through it.
"This looks just like Love Story!" I exclaimed and we quickly made our way to the only attraction of the park: a swingset set against red brick buildings framing a glimpse of "the Prude," as my sister called it. We appealed to the Vizsla's owner to take a photo of us on the swings and the product was immediately posted to Facebook with the caption "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
The new year opened up new possibility and new experiences, the first of which being a major decision to go to college. No matter how many times I've written "go to college," I always have to stop myself from writing "go back to college." It's weird to tell people you never went, let alone got started. College has been an experience, a discovery in which I have realized two things: 1) They were right, college is not like high school. The professors are different, the students are different and the cost of tuition and books makes me wonder how we ever expect anyone to get a college degree. 2) They were wrong, college is like high school. The bureaucracy is the same, the same incredible number of hoops through which a student must jump are the same and the process, to me, feels very much the same.
The one thing I have learned from college as a whole is a better understanding of myself and others. It falls under the category of "emotional intelligence," something that has been my blind spot for years. I didn't expect to learn how to be more understanding or more honest with myself and others. I didn't think that you could teach someone how to be more forgiving, or to consider all perspectives, or to be more patient. But you can. I feel happier, stronger and altogether more content with my increased emotional IQ and I work every day to improve it.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention at this point that college also led me to another love story. That one is about meeting a guy who doesn't like the Internet but loves helping people when they need it the most and how that led to helping a long list of people, including making five little kids' Christmas a lot brighter. I think we'll find a lot more people to help at some point or another.
Then there were the speaking engagements. I spoke to Evan Smith's LBJ school class about being a citizen in a journalist's world. I moderated an interview with Senator Kirk Watson. I delivered speeches and trainings about Democratic politics to groups across the state: McAllen, Austin (x3), San Marcos and Dallas. I delivered a presentation on the effects of social media on the pet industry in Atlanta and gave a pretty awesome email marketing presentation at Innotech eMarketing Summit. And you know what? I loved every second of it all.
The final major love story of my life this year came in the form of a building. Specifically, a building at the corner of 7th Street and Brazos in downtown Austin. After nearly 6 years of driving over 60 miles a day to and from work, and nearly 10 years if you count the 4 years I worked at the stables off of Hamilton Pool Road, I now have a short, chauffeured 1.8 mile drive to and from work every day. I'm a big believer in real estate as a window to one's soul and I have to say that my office location finally represents how I feel about my career: taking risks, making sound decisions, forging ahead when there is uncertainty and knowing that the investment is always worth it.
I have no complaints about 2011. I feel sated.