Many people reflect on the year that just passed and say they're glad it's over. As I glance back at 2011, I can't do that. It was a very good year. That's not to say it was perfect, but there is much for which to be thankful. It's also my belief in positive thinking. I tell students that, even in bad times, if you believe in yourself and exude confidence (minus arrogance), success will follow you. That had to be reinforced with one of my former students who is still not working, seven months after graduating. She was obviously despondent, but I told her that can't be reflected in who she portrays herself to be.
If you internalize defeatism, it will be read on your face and ooze from your pores. I'm not a New Age type of guy, but I honestly believe in a person's aura, the vibes and sometimes even a color that surrounds a person. It's not a perfect system, but I'm pretty good at "reading" someone, as are HR people or others who interview prospective candidates for jobs.
In 1987, when I came back from two years of study abroad in Rome, it was very difficult to find a job. A position similar to the one I'm about to leave was open at Marist. I was told by the College's HR department I wasn't even qualified for an interview. After months of searching, I accepted a college PR job in Presque Isle, Maine, not my ideal location because my family and friends were in Poughkeepsie, but I needed a job. Two weeks before I was supposed to start, I saw a friend, John Mack, then president of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, who gave me a job at the utility -- in my home city and for more money than I would have earned in Maine. After constantly being told, "NO!" I finally had two who said, "YES!" It's difficult to remain positive in the face of rejection, but no one wants to hire a person with a negative attitude. Exude confidence with a dose of humility. You will succeed.
For Pete and me, 2011 was a year we will never forget. June 24, we watched, emotionally, as the New York State Senate passed a Marriage Equality bill 33-29, with our Senator, Steve Saland, casting the deciding yes vote. The State Assembly had passed the bill earlier and staunch advocate Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law immediately. We witnessed one of the most historic civil rights landmarks of our lives. We "proposed" to each other that night, announced it on twitter, and were heartened by the response from friends and those we know only through social media. We became the first same-sex couple in Dutchess County to get married the day the law went into effect -- Sunday, July 24. We will mark our "first anniversary" in 2012, but our 32nd as a couple on October 25.
There were several health issues for Pete's mom, necessitating visits to the hospital and nursing homes for rehab throughout the year. Yet, today, Marj is home with us, faring as well as can be expected, and will celebrate her 95th birthday, God willing, in March. My mom continues her incredible life journey at age 92, and with the exception of really bad knees, is in wonderful health.
I had knee surgery for a torn meniscus in mid-December, but thanks to a tremendous doctor, William Thompson, I'm mobile, pretty much pain-free, and looking forward to starting my new job very soon.
Ah yes, the new job. I wasn't looking to make a change, but this position fell into my lap, thanks to a friend of 34 years (we worked together as radio reporters), whose two sons were my students and studied abroad with me in Italy and Israel. Two of my friend's direct reports are also my former students, who remain very close to me. It was an offer I couldn't refuse and answered a question about what phase my career would take as I approach my 54th birthday next month. I am grateful for this new opportunity and for friends who made it happen.
I look back at my 17 years at Marist with much affection and a sense of accomplishment. However, the job was more than scoring media placements in regional and national newspapers and on radio and TV, or participating in some history-making events. Rather, it's the relationships developed with students and coworkers that were the highlight of my years at the college. I count a number of former students among my closest friends. Two of them became adopted sons and were the witnesses for our wedding. A third has recently entered that same category. I love them and an immensely proud of them, especially because they seize and excel at so many opportunities offered to them through internships and jobs, intellectual and athletic pursuits, and more than anything else, they are honorable, respectful and loving. What more could a dad ask for?
So, I'm grateful for 2011 and look forward to 2012. Here's to a New Year filled with health, happiness, peace and prosperity for all!
One last thing...thank you for the warm best wishes as I start the latest chapter of my life. More than 1,000 people read the blog post announcing the new job. For many bloggers, that's just a blip, but for me, it was an honor.