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2011 Year in ReviewDecember 31, 2011

This has been the year of . . . treading water. You know those years? Those years in which you paddle and stay afloat and pull some people up on your raft and have a wee, damp party with the champagne you stole from a passing cruise ship? A good, busy year, but an exhausting one sometimes. I'm happy it came, and just as happy to usher in a new one.

I like to sum up my years here on Ye Old Blogge, so here's 2011:


We went to Hawaii for three days.


The view from our room.

You'd think going anywhere to relax for three days (not including travel time) wouldn't really work, but we did it SO well. The first day, we did nothing. The second day, we went snorkeling (the one thing Lala really wanted to do) which was great and we SWAM WITH A TURTLE. And then, to recuperate from the excitement of that and the bomb karaoke we found, we did nothing on the third day. I even beat a migraine while we were there, which I rarely do. It was wonderful, and just what we needed.



This, I think, was my favorite shot, because while lying on my back on the beach, this is what I saw when I opened my eyes.

Also in January, I came up with Four Rules for Creativity. Click there for the expanded version, and here are the Cliff's Notes:

1. Pick something already. Make a choice about what you're going to create. Don't worry about it being the wrong thing, because once you're DONE with this project, you can choose something else to do next.

2. Give yourself permission to navel-gaze. Being an artist is, by its very nature, somewhat narcissistic. Accept that and make something.

3. Give yourself permission to suck. And I mean, permission to REALLY suck. If it's the worst thing you ever made, sit back and say DAMN, that sucks. Then make it (or the next one) a little better. Fail some.

4. No excuses. If you want to write, then do it. Don't say you want to. (Everyone says that. You're not everyone. Are you?) If you want to draw, draw. If you want to play your ukulele until four in the morning, then do it with conviction. DO IT.



I learned to weave. DAMN IT. (Nancy L, I haven't forgotten your scarf! It will happen! I promise!)


I didn't want to learn. I didn't want to go that far down the crazy train's line (really, isn't the last stop just getting sheep?). But I did. And I love it.

I made up the easiest spicy chicken soup for the crock pot, and I've made it many times since.

Also, my short story, "Honeymooning," came out.



How to Knit a Heart Back Home came out! I wrote a little song for it.

Lala's parents took us to Disneyworld which was awesome. I was expecting it to be lowercase fun. But no, it was uppercase F.U.N. The weather in March in Florida is perfect (I'd only been to Orlando once before, in July, and the heat was oppressively awful, so this was a nice surprise.)


The Neph, first time in a pool.


At Hogwarts!

In Big News, I fell head over heels in love with an accordion. This was also very unexpected. I'm happy to report I'm still in love. Also, still not very good at it, but BOY do I adore it. I hear the accordion is the new knitting which was once the new black, so there's still time to hop on this trend, people. Do it!




Romantic Times was in LA. I went and gave workshops and signed books and hung out with C.A.P.:


The PensFatales (four of them at least) were there, too, and there are tales still told of us in some dive bars down there.

I felted two cashmere shawls while washing a load of laundry. That was AWESOME.


I know you feel my pain.

KnittedWit brought out the Cypress Hollow Yarn named for the characters in the books. I love this stuff, and she is DARLING. 




I switched to a standing desk! Okay, I didn't so much switch as built one for my office. I got a lot of work done at it, too. I type faster when standing, I wrote much of a first draft of a novel there. At the day job, too, I stood more often (since our desks can be raised there).

Then I kind of stopped. At the job, I still stand at least once a day for a while, but at home? Nah. Not so much. (Especially since I work so often at the cafe now. There is, however, a standing coffee bar there, and I could work there -- I've seen people do it, and I did it once. It was kind of weird.) But yeah, I've been bad about it. It occurs to me that perhaps I am just sedentary. Or perhaps I am just lazy. That's more likely, of course.

Also in May, I shared my Moleskine hack.

And as a bonus, I'll share my NEW Moleskine hack. Have you seen those tiny notebooks they make? They're just larger than a credit card, and often when I go out, I leave my purse at home. I stash my ID and debit card and one of those little notebooks in my back pocket (with my beloved tiny Fisher Space Pen in my front pocket). After a few times of pulling out the notebook and having my ID hit the floor, I came up with this little hack:


Isn't that neat? I used duct tape, and made a lined pocket to hold just the essentials. Now I can catch words wherever they find me. It ain't the most attractive solution, but I *am* very fond of duct tape, so this pleases me.



In more Moleskine news, I upgraded to a computer that could fit into one:


That was the month we also discovered Lois the Pie Queen (which I've been to at least seven times since) for the best pie in the Bay Area (and the best chicken and waffles, in my book).



I went to New York on business. I went to the HarperCollins party at the Central Park Boathouse. I felt kind of stunned to think that I was really doing it. I was really a writer.


I also set my agent's apartment on fire. You know. Like you do.

Also in July, I started my new day job, still doing the same thing, 911 fire/medical, at a new-to-me smaller agency. I'm glad I made the move. It's been good for me, even though it's always completely nerve-wracking to start a new job.

Also, I thought about the way we tangle ourselves up, in life, and in writing. And sometimes in jasmine vines.




Big things! My memoir, A Life in Stitches came out! So did my first audio-book (all three Cypress Hollow novels are now available, didja know that?).  

I started running again, and 20 minutes later, stopped as I fell off a sidewalk and sprained my ankle.

I read The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, which I hereby declare My Favorite Book of 2011.



Your cat Digit got his first chin infection. It's continued, off and on, since then, waxing and waning. I take him in every time he gets one, and they treat it, but there's not much else we can do, the vet says. It makes him very grumpy (Digit, not the vet). I mean, it makes him even grumpier than normal. Imagine THAT. Clementine lives in terror.


I did a bunch of readings. Oh, my, I'm glad that's over. I love being AT the readings, but getting there? I get easily overwhelmed with worry about them.

We went to Vegas! Just for a weekend, and BOY was it fun.




We stayed at the Venetian, because, well, you know. I love Venice, even the fake kind.

We had a party, and I played the accordion in my new dress. There isn't much happy that can compare to that.




Wishes & Stitches came out! (For those of you playing at home, yes, I had three books come out this year. And nope, I'm still not over the excitement.) 

My pop got married to Lola! It was a gorgeous backyard luau, a lovely night for a lovely occasion.


And I did Project 333! Hey, I just realized tomorrow I get to go through my Love Box where I stored the few clothes I didn't keep in my Project List or give away. In the project, you wear 33 items for 3 months. I didn't include hand-knits, natch. It was easy and awesome, and it's led me to realize a couple of things: I need a couple more nice black V-neck shirts and a dress or two with sleeves (all mine are sleeveless, something I'd never noticed before). I can't wait to go though my closet and give away everything I didn't wear out of those 33 things, because they're in there. Isn't that wild? Also this: I felt better dressed during these last three months than I have in years, because I loved everything I wore.



I did NaNoWriMo, the Rebel Remix, in which I edited 100,000 words. It worked!  This was Chris Baty's last year as its leader, so I really wanted to participate. Grateful that I did, and grateful to Our Fairygodmother for sending us to the Night of Writing Dangerously again. Thank you!


We participated in the General Strike, which was amazing. Even better, we had a knit-in at Occupy Oakland.  

I finally found my knitting mojo, but I fell for the Photo Fallacy. Again.  

I put together some of my ideas of How to Revise Your Novel. I played my accordion and my uke, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. I love doing that. I can lose myself in music in a way I can't in writing. It's a different kind of high.  



A Life in Stitches came out in Australia and New Zealand! (There's quite a bit in the memoir about my New Zealander mother, so I'm very, very proud that this happened. Thanks, you lovely new readers.)

I fell in love with the Bed of Nails pillow, which has taken away my neck and shoulder pain, period. (It doesn't work for the hormonal migraines, I'm sad to say, but for the headaches that start from neck pain? Yes.)

I went indoor skydiving. IT WAS SO MUCH DAMN FUN.


At iFly in Union City.

(And if I may brag for a moment, I was good at it. I totally was. Lala was watching my DVD of it, and she didn't realize she was looking at me and said, "Hey, she's good!" And no, I'm never jumping out of a plane on purpose. This was enough to satisfy me.)

I spun a lot (on my new WooLee Winder, which is EVEN BETTER THAN I EVER THOUGHT IT WOULD BE). I knitted a lot. I dreamed about Venice, and finally planned a trip for myself next March.

2012 is barreling in. My Australian and New Zealand readers are already there, and I haven't heard that they don't like it, so I'm willing to step forward.

Thank you, again, for being with me this year. It's meant the world.

For you, I wish this: That you will find your happiness and hold on tight. That you will take chances and make mistakes and find unexpected pockets of joy. That you will love and be loved. What could be better?


...and I was in Orlando when you were there, and in Vegas just *before* you were there. I'm very excited, because I assume I'm going to end up in Venice this year, unexpectedly. Cool.

Thanks for the recap! It's been a good year for me as well, and I'm hoping 2012 is even better!



For you, I wish you enough... that's it - enough. It's the perfect amount of everything - not too much, not too little.. just... enough.

happy new year- hope the next brings another chapter to cypress and lots of love and productive knitting!

What a great year you had! Here's to happy 2012.

Thank YOU for blogging and for writing such fun novels. A day with a new blogpost from you always gives me a little bit of extra sunshine.

Happy new year.

I love this exuberant summary of your incredible year! I can't wait for the sheep to arrive, and bummer about the cashmere shawls, but WOW you always deliver on your posts! Congrats on the books, they are a great accomplishment. Have a healthy and happy New Year! -Grace

Happy New Year, Rachael! I hope you have enough, too, and may only good things happen.

Happy New Year! You did damn good, keepng your head above water. I'm pretty sure you kept at least your shoulders out of water too.

Dear Rachael:

I wish you and Lala a healthy and lovely year in 2012. Your blog is inspiring and comforting and has always been for me. Many pages in A life in stitches are beautifully written and I am really happy I purchased your book a few months earlier. I do not like romance novels generally. Nevertheless, I will listen to your audio books this year. Have a wonderful year!

Giulietta, the Montrealer.

Even MORE love and happiness and especially more ease for you and Lala this year, all this I wish for you both. But girl, if this was a treading water year, waHOO, hold onto yer horses in 2012! you make me wonder what have I done lately, lol...hugs to both of you sweeties...

I hope some day I have what I would classify as a "treading water year" that includes having two books published, learning to weave, learning a new instrument, and a bunch of awesome trips. Maybe you need to give your year a little more credit? :-)

Happy New Year! I hope your 2012 is wonderful.

Happy 2012!!

Amazing, even in a treading water year, you still make me smile and cry at the same time. Be careful with that power, you don't know what you could do to me in this REALLY AWESOME year that we're all going to have.

Happy New Year Rach, it's already been made better.

Sweetie, your exuberance is amazing! Happy new year to you,Lala and the menagerie.

The answer to you last question: nothing.
My wish for the next year is health and happiness, creativity and joy. For me, you, and everyone else.

Uh, crap, girl. If that's a "treading water" year, I can't even imagine an eventful year might contain. Here's to more good things in 2012.

Love the year end wrap up. Happy New Year to you!

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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