Reflecting back on the past 365 days, I can’t say I’m one that’s rushing to kick it in its butt and push it out the door. It wasn’t a bad year; it was certainly better than 2010. And 365 days from now, I’m hoping I can say the same thing about 2012.
This year saw a lot of changes for me. Mostly, I’m speaking about the new job and my new home. Many things didn’t change, however. I was still surrounded by the concrete love of family and so many friends and co-workers. It was an extremely busy year, and I can’t believe I’m sitting here, by the fire and lake in the northern woods of Michigan, already bidding adieu to another year complete. I’m thankful for each and every day where the comma was followed by 2011 every time I wrote the date.
The biggest change came in April when Congressman Dingell called and offered me a position in his district office. There was no chance I was turning that down, and each day since has been filled with wonder. Working on his campaign in Monroe County was challenging, amusing, and ultimately rewarding. Working for the Dean of the House, the longest serving member in Congress, the author of some of the most landmark legislation, and the ultimate public servant is a complete joy, from the time the alarm clock rings to the moment I lay my head on my pillow. One of the greatest things he has told me is, “We are not important people; we just have important jobs. The minute we start thinking we’re important people, we’re in trouble.” I think of this every morning since it’s what my iPhone alarm reads.
Working for the people of Michigan’s 15th District comes with certain challenges, but much delight as well. Two of the biggest projects I take care of each and every day are the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. These two projects have made great strides in 2011, and I can’t begin to express how excited I am to see what will come in 2012. Maybe a groundbreaking on the visitor center for the Refuge? The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is upon us, and the Battlefield will be the epicenter of these commemorations. I suspect you’ll see lots of tweets and Facebook posts on both of these two over the next twelve months.
But, the phone calls from constituents who call our office each day, looking for help because they don’t know what else to do are the most important things I’ve learned about in the past eight months. In 2013, Monroe County leaves our district, and that’s extremely personal for me, but change is inevitable. I’m learning to greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet so many new and wonderful friends in the Downriver communities, and I look forward to strengthening those relationships in the new year.
The other biggest change has been moving out on my own into my very first apartment. It was tough saying good bye the Mike, Jessie, and Taylor in May after moving in, but we’ve all adapted and remain extremely close. Some days I feel like I’ve already outgrown my small apartment, and Lord, I don’t know how I survived in June and July before spending the cash on an air conditioner. The most important thing to note here is that I’ve made it my home. It was a goal of mine in December of 2011 to get my own apartment, and I’ve done it! I’ve had many guests come through the doors and I’m a lucky man to have a roof over my head and a welcome mat rolled out.
Some other things that have happened in 2011 include entering (FINALLY!) my senior year at the University of Toledo, and I can’t wait to hang a $40,000 piece of paper with my name in old English script on my wall. I’ve certainly had classes more interesting than others, but I’ve managed to maintain a decent GPA, and will embark on the next semester (and second to last) on January 9th. Personally, it’s been great fun keeping up with friends and family, near and far, and making new friends along the way. The next year I’m going to maintain those relationships and place an even greater value on those who lift me up each and every day.
I celebrated my 27th birthday this past May, and I continue to recite my belief that it’s just a number. At times, even I don’t believe it! I found my first gray hair yesterday, gained a few pounds (which will come off in 2012), own a gray cardigan sweater with elbow patches, and listen to music that’s older than me. I got an umbrella for Christmas that I can’t wait to use and find it harder and harder to keep myself awake for the music act on Letterman. But, I know I’m still young, and the day after the next still gives me thrills. I can’t wait for the loads of living I have left to do, and that’s why New Year’s Eve has always excited me. 2012 has big things in store, and I feel it!
I’m very anxious to find out what 2012 is going to mean for me, but I’ll enjoy and savor each day, from January 1 through December 31. I’m going to try my best not to rush it through, and enjoy the four seasons, the trying semesters, the congressional recesses, the “me” time, and the time I share with so many of my friends and family.
So, my resolutions. Yes, those faux promises so cliché that many make in the final week of December and are struggling to “get back on track” by March 1. Well, mine are your same ole, same ole. I’m going to drop 20 pounds, get my file cabinet organized and my checkbook balanced. I’m going to paint the kitchen, save more money, write more hand notes, and take an out-of-state vacation.
Most of all, I’m going to appreciate the moments. I’m not going to worry so much about tomorrow, but enjoy today. I’m not going to look forward to the weekend, and I’m going to soak up Monday. I’m sure if I look back, some of my greatest memories in 2011 were on Mondays. And Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays, too. The most enjoyable memories were in the cold February days, the hot August nights, and every other month, too.
I hope I meet some people that change my life along the way and give me some memories to look back on that will leave me cracking up. I’m sure doubt, worry, sorrow, and sadness will creep in here and there. But, with the memories of 2011 and past I keep close, and the ones I love and appreciate surrounding me, 2012 will be epic!
Happy New Year!