Well, I’m glad that’s over.

Last year wasn’t easy. I thought ’09 and ’10 were rough but ’11 took the prize. Let’s be honest though, a lot of the stress was of my own creation: starting Creative Mornings San Francisco and deciding to relocate Happy Cog from San Francisco to Austin. As for the relocation, if anyone would have listed out every possible, conceivable thing to go wrong with the transition to Austin I might have chickened out. Creative Mornings was a bigger challenge and cost than I had planned on but I’m happy with the results. I’m also thankful for Erika Hall taking over and continuing to grow the event. Despite the unknown, I moved forward with a sense of happiness and optimism and met with, seemingly, a constant barrage of set backs and unforeseen challenges.

Sales at Happy Cog proved to be more difficult in 2011 than the years before. I know we weren’t alone having talked to other shop owners all over the country. Sure we did pretty good but I don’t think any of us want to go through that kind of struggle again. Ever. Way too many signed projects disappeared, people lead us on only to drop off the face of the planet or come up short on cash right before the start of the project. My shop lost a project after having scored the highest on the client’s hiring criteria. We were dismissed because we didn’t work out of Los Angeles even though we already have an existing client right next door to their location. That short story right there is the epitome of how stupid 2011 was. Despite all of the idiocy we dealt with the year ended stronger than ever.

Too much of 2011 was spent in planes, rental cars, and hotel rooms. I earned A-List Preferred status on Southwest Airlines by mid-September–not an achievement that I am particularly happy about. On more than one occasion I was flying in and out of Oakland International Airport twice in one week. Last year I traveled by jet plane to New York City, Sun Valley, Atlanta, Kansas City, Fort Collins, Raleigh, Los Angeles, Irvine, Palm Springs, Birmingham, Minneapolis, Denver (three times), Ko’Olina, Kapaa and Austin (four times before the move).

It wasn’t all bad though. I got to spend two days with the monks at the Kauai Hindu Monastery. Truly an experience I will never forget and hope to repeat again. We bought the monks a tree for Christmas to plant on their grounds and I want to see how it turns out a few years from now.

Which brings me to the real reason for finally coming back to this poor, tired, website that has seen little love or attention over the years, especially 2011. I have missed Airbag and tried on several occasions to participate in the on-going conversation of our community. I wrote several blog posts last year that never saw the light of day. Too worn out, stressed or both, I deleted more words than I can to remember. I did so because I was burned out. Without clicking the “publish” button I knew already what people would say or not say. I had become the worst editor when I didn’t need to be. So I took a break and assumed I didn’t need to post to that effect as many others have done before me.

Instead of drafting prose I spent a considerable amount of time in Photoshop tinkering with ideas I’ve had in my head for a long time. This also turned into a self-defeating exercise but instead of stopping I chose to work towards a smaller victory by working towards a simple solution preferring to get something out-the-door instead of letting the vicious self-doubt cycle continue to torment my creativity into depression.

As a result, I posted this earlier to Dribbble today.

It is a sneak peek at what’s coming and soon. It’s not going to turn any heads. I could give a damn if it did but I’m happy with it and ready to move on. If anything I’ll beat Gruber with launching his redesign. That achievement ought to earn a few mojitos at the local realtors cougar bar.

It’s silly, really, to be so obsessed with something so small and I’d be lying if I didn’t feel dumb about it. I tell people all the time not to worry about site design in favor of creating content and there I sat in 2011 doing exactly what I preached against. Learn from my stupidity people. Look and learn.

In a matter of days the design will be finished and I’ll hand it off to a few guys who are more adept at turning it into a fully functioning, improved Airbag experience. And just in time as I have a lot of plans for Airbag, Happy Cog and the Austin interactive community in this new year–some of which has been in progress for a few months now.

I have a good feeling about this year. I don’t recall the last time I felt this positive about the prospects for the new year but I like the feeling and I’m going to go with it.

Happy New Year everyone.