The last few holidays have been depressing; I was staying in a shelter with no family or friends. But, as my journal reflects, 2010 was a very good year. I had joyous moments, accomplishments and periods of tranquility, along with blunders, errors and setbacks. Through it all, I took life in stride and accepted the cards that I was dealt.

Ten things:

1. Being printed in The Washingtonian. I am grateful for the editors from The Washingtonian who read my articles and published them. Sometimes fate and luck lead to opportunity; it is hard to believe that three years ago I was sleeping in tunnels, penniless and unemployed. I never believed that writing was my calling. Now, I think it may be. And this year I look forward to even greater opportunities and recognition for writing.
2. Being selected to the board of directors at Street Sense. I’d like to thank Street Sense founders Ted Henson and Laura Thompson Osuri as well as former executive director Abby Strunk for giving me an opportunity to change my life and be of service to the Street Sense board by sharing my experience on vendor-related issues.
3. Being invited to speak at the Sixth and I Synagogue. I felt so honored to be asked to speak here. I appreciated being allowed to preside on Pesach, reading scriptures from the Torah in Hebrew. Better yet, however, are all the new friends I made whom I still see when selling the paper.
4. The love and support I receive from customers, family and friends. I cannot mention all those who have helped me. I get tears of joy from all the gifts and cards people sent me. It gives me enjoyment when someone thinks of me and considers me in their thoughts. I hope that one day I will be able to give back to those who helped me and are still helping me get on my feet.
5. Being sober for one year. I am most grateful for not being high or drunk today. I believe the cornerstone of any success starts with not using substances. Since I stopped drinking, I have had a wonderful year where I have friends who tell me about their battles with alcohol and drugs. And, although I had a year of sobriety, I do not rest on my laurels. This journey has taught me that sobriety is a daily struggle. And that life happens in inches not leaps.
6. The Street Sense Auction. This year’s auction was impressive. Since I started coming to it in August 2007, it has been awesome to see how big Street Sense has grown. I hope our growth will continue for years to come.
7. Recognition as November’s top-selling vendor. I give thanks to all those who regularly buy the paper from me. I feel joy that my hard work has finally paid off. I hope that this year I can pass the mantle to another vendor while I look for other pursuits. I believe in challenges. And I look forward to what life will bring me.
8. Speaking to youth groups and participating in “Vendor For a Day.” There is nothing more enjoyable than educating youth groups about homelessness. Children are the advocates of tomorrow. Seeing young people with concern and passion makes me hopeful about the fight against poverty.
9. Good health. I praise God that I am over 40 and that I have only minor health problems. I hope to have many more years of good health. No matter how badly things turn out emotionally, I am grateful and realize things can be a lot worse.
10. Not being in a shelter. After being in and out of shelters, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I feel like I have been pardoned from a prison sentence. To have my own place. To shower and at the same time come and go as I wish is indescribable.