As the new year approaches, it is natural to look back at the year that will soon be behind us. Were there good times? Sad times? Parties that rocked your world? Did you accomplish something amazing? Did you hit a goal that made you smile? And, of course…the inevitable question: did you resolve all your resolutions? I hope that as you reflect back on 2011, you do so with a smile and a feeling of accomplishment. A lot can happen in 12 months; below I will share some of my most treasured accomplishments and memories of 2011.

Although I still started off 2011 with a slight hangover, I did something dramatically different on this particular January 1st. I helped the I Dare You to Dream project throw a “Dream Party” where guests wrote out their dreams on pieces of white card stock. It was pretty neat to see how many dreams people had and more importantly, were willing to share. Trish Badger, Professional Photographer and creator of I Dare You to Dream, held personal photo shoots where dreamers could hold up their dreams, taking a snap shot in time when that goal was on the top of their list. I wrote out a few: ‘To become a PR genius’, ‘To plan a large scale music festival’ and ‘To live the perfect life for me.’ Over the next few paragraphs we will see which ones came true.

When I kicked off the new year, I was working as a Promotions Host and Talk Show Host & Producer for Radio Disney AM 1590. Through my roles at Radio Disney, I experienced some great moments. As a Promotions Host, I saw children’s faces light up with excitement and happiness from talking with them, playing games with them, leading them through dances and of course, prize giveaways. To see a child truly happy is an amazing feeling. As a Talk Show Host & Producer, I facilitated conversations with non-profits who aim to make an impact for children and families in Houston. I met and interviewed some incredible organizations including The Houston Symphony, Mentor Connect, The Health Museum, Adagio Child Inc, The Souper Bowl of Caring, The Houston Ballet, The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, TERI Life Quality Services, Discovery Green, The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, The American Red Cross, The March of Dimes, Girls Inc, Girl Scouts of America HoustonBoy Scouts of America HoustoniFest, Art Car Parade, Theatre Under the Stars, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and Jazz Education.

In early 2011, I was able to share in the excitement of media coverage that surrounded a video I hosted with The Encouragement Project, a non-profit that encourages Houstonians to make their city a better place to live by embracing the power of random acts of kindness. We took $200 cash with us to Discovery Green one Saturday Morning and challenged 2 teams of 2 to spend $100 on strangers by purchasing gifts from the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market. The first $100 went to a mother-son duo, Jessica and Corwyn. Jessica was told by Corwyn’s doctor that he was showing autistic tendencies. But that Saturday morning (which also happened to be his birthday!) he embraced the project full-heartedly and broke outside his own comfort zone to speak and interact with the strangers he gave gifts to. His mother was amazed, as was Channel 39 and Great Day Houston, who both spotlighted the video! [youtube=]

In February of 2011, I was given the opportunity to interview the President of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Skip Wagner. As a young child, my father and I would listen to Country music together and I have attended more Rodeos than I can count. To be able to sit down and chat with a leader from the HLSR was a big deal and I couldn’t keep it to myself! I brought in a friend of the show, Sky, a 6 year old aspiring actress, pop star, dancer, and opera singer. Sky explained to us that “her grandfather was a cowboy” and that “that was really cool.” Seeing the two of them interact was so much fun. His face lit up and smiled at every question she asked. For instance,  ‘Mr. Wagner, what was the biggest pig you ever saw?’ Every answer from Skip was returned with a great story of her grandpa. If you haven’t done so lately, ask a child for advice or what they think about a subject. You’ll be amazed by the brilliance of their minds and answers!

Sometimes, good and sad memories come wrapped in one package. During an interview with 2011 Chairperson for March for Babies and Meterologist for KPRC Channel 2, Khambrel Marshall, I was also introduced the March for Babies Houston Ambassador family, the Kahl’s: Brandon, Angie, Ellie & Cullen. Husband and wife Brandon and Angie, received support and assistance from March of Dimes after a premature birth their twins: Ellie and Bennet. Sadly, Bennet passed away after a six month fight to live and while Ellie survived, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. The Kahl family shared their story with the Radio Disney audience in hopes that Houston families would reach out to March of Dimes for education, support and assistance as well as walk in the March for Babies walk, a fundraiser for March for Dimes. On the day of the walk, I was asked to host with Rachel McNeil of KPRC Channel 2 and Sarah Pepper of Hot 95.7. I was overjoyed to be able to be a part of an organization that help babies begin healthy lives. Nationally, March for Babies raised 105 million dollars towards research and programs!

During my time at Radio Disney, I was also lucky enough to meet and interview the voice of Young Bambi, Donnie Dunagan. As someone who has always been a fan of Disney movies and of course for someone who worked for The Walt Disney Company, the chance to meet someone who worked with and met Walt Disney was such an honor. Donnie shared many stories of working on the movie and shared memories of seeing Walt on the set, as an active and engaging leader. Our interview was one of many on his  national tour  (including Good Morning America), so I was floored to know that I asked Donny a question that no one had asked him:. “What would you say to Walt Disney, if he were here now?” He was taken aback, his eyes welled up with tears and he very sincerely answered, “I would say, ‘Thank you.’ Like a wonderful comedian said in the 40’s, ‘Thanks for the memories.’” In the same sentiment, I ended my six-year career with Radio Disney in the summer of 2011 to pursue projects like Lauren Ignited and to start my own marketing and events business, Betsy Bash. It was a magical time in my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The beginning of 2011 was quite different for me than what I’ve ended up with. In one year, I saw the final chapter of a career with Radio Disney and started my own business, I pushed through personal barriers and fears, I shared countless memories with friends new and old, spent time with my family, wrote an article for the Girly Fight ProjectI took my first ever trip to Detroitjudged my first ever Chili Cook off and helped plan my first ever large scale beer festival, danced with Where in the Hell is Matt and hosted an impromptu video at Discovery Green for my talented photographer and videographer friend, Jeremy Keas: [youtube=]

All in all, I couldn’t be more happy with how 2011 turned out. Instead of resolutions, I confessed three dreams on January 1st, 2011:  ‘To become a PR genius’, ‘To plan a large scale music festival’ and ‘To live the perfect life for me.’ So, as I sit here writing on December 31st, 2011 I can truthfully say that I might not be a genius yet, but I am actively working with clients on their Online PR. I didn’t plan a music festival, but I did plan the music portion of a beer festival! And, as far as living the perfect life for me? I’d say this is a pretty damn good start. 2011 was truly an amazing year for me. Bring it, 2012. I’m ready for more.

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