It’s a week into 2012 and has me reflecting on my 2011. Here are my 11 top memories from the year!

#11 Booking Paris
Although I’ll be heading to Paris for the first time in 2012, I booked and paid for the trip in 2011. Last January, while watching “Love Jones” and creating vision boards for the year with my friend Niema, I put an Eiffel Tower on my board to get more stamps in my rarely used Passport. So when I was in North Carolina for a conference in September, and a great deal entered my inbox, I was all in, and so were a few of my fabulous friends. Better money management made it possible.

#10 Renewing My Lease

"Harlem Faces" by Ilene Squires

Entering my fifth year in New York, 2011 was my first year not moving. And I didn’t miss the added stress and expenses at all. Having a place that reflects my personality and a roomie that I love has been a treat. And the crazy living experiences before have made me only more appreciative of my current spot.

#9 Putting My Fist in the Air with Angela Davis
Going to Black Girls Rock awards again on its second year on BET was super fun. Fierce and fearless Angela Davis was a highlight, and the ultimate challenge to do your part to make it better for those to come. Her grace after so many sacrifices to make our lives better was incredibly humbling.

#8 Charleston on My Mind
I got to be a bridesmaid again this year. This time for my cousin who is like a big sister to me. The experience took me to Charleston, a city I’ve always enjoyed for its charm. My affection only grew as we ate at Jestine’s, walked the market and hit a dessert bar with more than five versions of Hot Toddies. The perfect mix of city and small town. We also saw Oprah’s house there, the ultimate get your ass moving inspiration.

#7 Meet Me in Miami
I went to Miami this summer for work.  With the hotel paid for, my boyfriend came down as well. Clear that my priority was doing a great job, we still had time to grab late night dinner together or chill by the pool for a quick moment. It was the perfect mix of business and pleasure. I left with a happy client, a fun couple’s trip and reminder to minimize juggling by combining plans when possible.

#6 Writing About My Workshops for Ebony
By far one of the best moments of 2011 was picking up an Ebony magazine and seeing an article I had written on my relationships workshops at HBCUs. After seeing the amazing Partnership Project the redesigned magazine launched, I knew I wanted to be a part of providing content on healthy relationships. I pitched my story idea in February and my editor shared she would keep me in mind. When I got the assignment four months later, I was surprised and super excited. The lesson was to keep sowing seeds, because you never know when things will sprout.

#5  Going Head to Head with A Tea Party Leader
The Ebony article led to new opportunities and experiences. One was to discuss the college dating scene on the radio show of Jesse Lee Peterson, a Black preacher who is also a favorite of the Tea Party. I had done preliminary research where I saw outlandish statements by Peterson like saying the majority of Blacks who voted for Obama were racist. When his producer called to invite me, after I delayed replying to her email, I said yes. Then fear of the unknown sunk in and I called to cancel. With the producer back on, I realized it might be people tuning in who could get something out the exchange. So I cancelled canceling, prepped, and called in for the interview. It was one of the most interesting conversations of my life thus far and a great reinforcement not to sell yourself short. As he ranted on unwed mothers in the Black community, and called Halle Berry a Godless woman, I reminded him that the same God called us to love each other and can transform those man would call worthless to do great work. Great lesson to let fear be a motivator, not a roadblock.

# 4 Hanging with My Mother in NYC
My mother coming to NYC over the summer was so much fun! She is the life of the party wherever she goes and I really enjoyed having my two worlds collide of Georgia Girl and Harlem resident. We did a trip to Canada and saw Niagra Falls and also hung out in the city. She still brags on going to “The Red Rooster” when she sees Marcus Samuellson in the news:). I also cooked Sunday dinner for us and invited some of my closets friends, my mentor, the boyfriend and his mom. Having a few of my favorite people all together was simply amazing, even as she broke out crazy childhood stories.

#3 Getting a New Job, Quitting Two
2011 was definitely a roller coaster. I got an exciting opportunity to return to Essence magazine and report on relationships. It was a dream come true. As the dust settled after saying “yes,” I realized going through a new door meant leaving a comfortable place behind. I had a great two years managing social media at a PR firm and experiencing a small business up close. I had never quit a job before and Googled suggestions. I quickly  realized most people who quit don’t like their jobs, a problem I was fortunate not to have. I pushed the discomfort away and walked on the wooden floors to my boss’s office to give my two weeks notice. I also took in two resumes of great people to fill the position. One was hired three days later. It was more emotional than I bargained for to leave my second job as a “grown up.” I also resigned from my position as an editor at Heart & Soul. In the excitement of the new position, I hadn’t thought of what I would have to give up for it. The experience was a reminder that you have to make room in your life for every new blessing.

#2 Being Sung Happy Birthday by Drag Queens
I should have known 2011 would be full of new things, after being sung to by Drag Queens on my birthday in February. With working hard in preparation of fashion week, I had not taken time to plan something for my day. The day before I confirmed to go check out the new Drag Queen show at the W Hotel in Harlem. And they were fierce! Of course the host and main singer was a Howard grad. I felt extra blessed to have great friends that came to celebrate with me. And one of the queens sang Jill Scott and told me she was  Jo, no ‘E’ from the “Sex and the City” episode with drag queens. Only in New York . . .

#1 Jamming to Jill Scott in New Orleans
The moment that defined my year was sitting a few rows from the stage in the New Orleans Superdome. I felt on top of the world and was thankful for the journey up. Essence Music Festival was a phenomenal weekend and singing along with my girl Jill Scott to “Golden” was the sweet powder on a warm beignet.  That song had been an anthem to my life thus far. Late nights working in college to do papers and apply for scholarships – I played “Golden.” Not wanting to go to chemo or acknowledge my hair falling out – I played “Golden.” No matter how low I was ever feeling, it always reminded me that life is still good and a blessing.

Here’s to a Golden 2012!

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