i'm feeling a tad sentimental this morning, so i thought it'd be fitting to drag my laptop back to the very mcdonald's depicted above, to grab coffee and write about this last year. the plan is backfiring since their coffee is just so-so and they play the sort of weird top 40 pop ballads i try to avoid, especially when reflecting on a rough year. this particular image emerged victorious when i pored through my photos from 2011, trying to select my very favorite. it was taken on a morning in august after that highly anticipated hurricane meekly meandered up the east coast. the beach got hit hard enough to lose power (air conditioning necessitates power, you know), and my brother and i bravely drove through flooded streets and around fallen trees to find the nearest free wi-fi and wall outlets. this moment marks a pretty monumental shift in the year for me. i'd spent the summer laying low, mourning the blurry end of a very long relationship, missing my catbaby who stayed in florida with her dad, changing my mind every three days about where i really wanted to live, and generally feeling unsure what to do with all the new found freedom and possibilities i was blessed with. so that morning i sat there with my decade-younger brother, each of us nursing hangovers, and i found myself so happy to be with my favorite person on the planet. i allowed myself to appreciate the moment i was in. i felt surprisingly free of stress and sadness, and i took stock of all the things i did have, instead of wasting away lamenting the things i didn't. since that magical greasy breakfast, my life and attitude have been in steady upward climb. i am so excited about 2012. i hope you guys are too; life is really really beautiful. happy new year!