2012 has been a lot of a year. I have learned and grown so much and am leaving these 365 days thankful to be closer to myself. Personally and professionally I have felt myself stretched to new places and experienced many first times, and the nervousness that comes with them. To close out this mountain of 12 months, I thought I’d share 12 of my amazing firsts from the year. Tweet me yours @charreah!

January: Hello Paris!
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My first time in France was magical. It was my first time in Europe since I had gone to Spain in high school a decade before. And it amazed me to have to travel across the world to go find another part of myself. My girls and I ate, shopped, partied and soaked up the wonders of the city of lights. I felt I could do anything as my creativity and energy flowed. And almost a year later I still revisit that time whenever I need extra fuel.

February: My Broadway Debut

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Next up I hosted a relationships discussion for the Black Ivy Alumni League after a performance of Stick Fly on Broadway. The play was witty and a great conversation starter. And it was so cool to be backstage and see the set from a different angle before heading out to lead our Talk Back.

March: Model Behavior
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Yes, I fully stepped out of my comfort zone to model for Essence this year. I gained a new respect for modeling and what it takes to achieve a good image. I also may have identified a new side hustle for 2013;)

April: Disney WorldIMG_7998

This year I went to Disney for the first time as an adult. It was a unique experience as I went for work to produce surprise marriage proposals for six women. It was a once in a lifetime chance to see the behind the scenes and all the work it takes to create the happiest place on Earth, as were driven around backstage from the Animal Kingdom and Magic Castle to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. It also was a reminder that what you see isnt always how things really are. The Eiffel Tower at Epcot doesn’t  isn’t actually a full tower and it sits on a building but you would never know that looking from the front. With six proposals and a hundred moving parts to get photo, video, makeup, hair and clothes and not ruin the surprise, it was also a lesson to not miss the moments of life and to take it all in, even in the crazy times. We had a little time for play before heading back and I was determined to get on some rides. The safari at Animal Kingdom was phenomenal and of course we had to do Tower of Terror, which wasn’t as bad now that I’m older. You know I had to get leopard Mickey ears!

May: Atlantic City . . .with Beyonce!

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My first trip to Atlantic City was as spectacular as it was unplanned. The Friday of Memorial Day Weekend my good friend and I couldn’t believe we were missing Beyonce’s first concert since having Bleu and the universe responded with tickets on Ticketmaster, even though the show had sold out within minutes when we first tried to by. Turns out, a lot of tickets were blocked off initially and ones left were released before the shows began. We bused it to AC and had a ball. It was great reminder to create your own luck!

June: Hello Interns!
This summer kicked off my first summer as a coordinator for the intern program. As a former intern myself it was the ultimate reality check that I had grown and moved on from the 21-year-old that first came to New York. I could also see in them my younger self.

July: ESSENCE FestScreen Shot 2012-07-14 at 10.43.46 PM

Hosting the dating panels at the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival was truly a defining moment year for me, as I was overwhelmed that I had attended the panels the year before as an attendee and had no idea a year later I would be on stage moderating. God moves. Stay ready. Here’s my full recap from the festival

August: I’m on a horseCanton-20120726-00157

One of my goals for 2013 is to stay connected to my family and friends. I was super excited to get a head start by hanging with my little sister over the summer. I offered her a Deja Day where we would do all the things she liked and also would try something new. She chose horseback riding and before she knew it we were at a horse farm in the outskirts of Atlanta. They brought out our horses, Cloud for her and Dakota for me. She got on hers first then jumped down. Saying she was too scared to ride. I got on mind and coaxed her back on. We then rode our horses through the forest which was amazing. Her horse was like her, young adventurous and liked to do his own thing. My horse was like me – always wanting to stop for a snack;) We did it then went to Hollister where I spent more than I planned to on hoodies, t-shirts and sweat pants.

September: Olympic Ambitionscharreah-olympics-sanya-cullen
This year I held my first Gold medal from the Olympics – and held three different ones from Carmelita Jeter, Sanya Richards-Ross and Cullen Jones. Those medals are heavier than they look and also are the physical evidence of how far focus and discipline can get you.

October: Tube Time

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This year has seen me on television a few times with the Vince and Tamar show from our conversation at the ESSENCE Music Festival, a CNN Headline News appearance and being a featured dating coach a few times on the Bill Cunningham Show. It was not fun seeing my clip the first time but definitely a great experience for the year.

November: Black Girls Rock . . .and so do Black Guys.

This year wasn’t my first time at Black Girls, but it was my first time going with my guy. When I got tickets at the last minute, he was the first person I thought to ask. I did wonder if I should have tried to get one of my girls to go, but when India.Arie sang her new song “6th Ave.” I knew I had made the right call. In this crazy year, he has been consistent, supportive and my biggest cheerleader. I am thankful for that.

December: Cover girl!
I am beyond humbled and exhilirated to be closing the year writing my first national magazine story for the February issue of ESSENCE. I will be sure to share details when it hits stands. My neighbors probably thought I was fighting a zombie as I screamed when I read the news in my Blackberry a few weeks ago. The craziest part was I almost did not even suggest myself when our team was considering writers. The experience reminded me you can be your biggest critic or biggest advocate. As I go into the new year I am choosing to doubt myself less and push myself more.

Tweet me your new experiences of 2012 @Charreah.

Happy New Year!

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