In retrospect, I’m honestly not sure how 2012 turned out so well, given how it started.

Last December I was suffering a job that demanded more and more of me in my time, ethical compromises, sanity and grey hairs, yet returned less and less as time wore on (salary and benefits notwithstanding).  My wife was increasingly depressed, struggling to keep a therapy business afloat in an area (Oakland) that was already ravaged by the macroeconomic landscape before Occupy Oakland and the Oscar Grant riots tore it even further apart.  My son was happy but at great financial and emotional cost – a very expensive school that would only support him for another year before we had to choose between bad, worse or unacceptable options locally, or ship him off to somewhere with an affordable option for the attention that his wicket-smart brain already demands.  (With a lot less of Oakland’s well-documented senseless crime to either tempt or threaten it.)  Looking back now, I can easily see how I rarely felt proud as a father, or even as a person in that environment.

So believe me, to say I’m really proud of 2012 is something I hadn’t seen myself doing, not by a long shot. And there’s a lot of reasons why.

This is the history of where I work now (no membership required).  I’m inspired these days, not struggling to find sparks of inspiration amidst darkness.   My wife’s career is back online, in a beautiful studio on the main drag of our favorite beach town in the world.   My son spends most of his days not in school exploring the outdoors, and then shuffling between karate lessons, friends houses, the local park, and even a bit of after-school tutoring for his eager mind.  Yeah, he still watches a bit too much TV and plays a bit too many video games, but even his changes for the better are glaringly apparent after 5 months here.   We argue less, and laugh more now.  We’re excited to explore the world around us, instead of always feeling so beaten down by it.  We recognize the vast potential of our lives, instead of bearing the weight of lost opportunities. We have reason to be proud of our lives again.

And it feels great.