December 2011

Christmas was quiet this year. Logan had to work, so we stayed in Portland and celebrated the holiday in our tiny house. Our neighbors gave us a cute little tree and we put it on the kitchen counter, right below the Christmas cards we received in the mail. Spending Christmas in the little house was the perfect way to end an exceptional year. The quiet days gave me time to reflect on 2011 and brainstorm some of the things I want to accomplish in 2012.

As I write these words, I’m on an Amtrak train that’s heading to Red Bluff, California. I grew up in Red Bluff and my folks still live in this tiny town, full of cowboys, cows, and expansive views. As the train roars down the tracks, I’ve written over 20 pages in my journal about 2011 and over 3,000 words in Scrivener. I’m not going to share all of those words because they would probably bore you to tears, so instead I’ll share the highlights and what I’m looking forward to in 2012.

The Theme

2011 was dedicated to one theme and that theme was focus. Focus was something I desperately needed to integrate into my life in 2011. Toward the end of 2010, I was spending too much time online, clicking around on Facebook and Twitter. Once I declared 2011 as the year of focus I gradually started spending less time online and more of my leisure time reading books, doing yoga, and hanging out with friends.

In addition, cutting back on screen time enabled me to focus on the work and that work is writing. Integrating single tasking and a little more focus into my life lead to an amazing year.  Here are a few high points . . .

Highlights from 2011

- With the help of my incredible literary agent, I finished up my book proposal and then he pitched the idea to a lot of publishing houses. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to sell the book, but it all worked out! In late May, I signed on with New World Library and spent the rest of the year writing and editing my print book. The project took a lot more time and energy than I expected, but so far the process has been incredibly awesome. And in early December, I turned in the first draft of my manuscript. I expect to be working on edits during the first part of 2012. Some of you have asked if I’ll be going on a book tour. I don’t have the answer to that question; at least not yet. I expect to be working on a marketing plan for the book, with the New World Library team in 2012.

- In July, I took a month long digital sabbatical to focus on writing the book and to kick the habit of constantly checking my email. Taking the time to unplug left me feeling renewed and reenergized.

- We finally moved into Smalltopia! Dee Williams designed our tiny home and Katy Anderson built it. Along the way, Logan and I made a lot of tiny decisions. Sometimes the process felt overwhelming, but the end result was worth it.

- Toward the end of December I released a new ebook, Blissful Reflection: A Little Book of Letters. I’m really proud of this compilation.

- I spoke about writing at Fishtrap. It was a thrilling and terrifying experience.

- I fell in love with writing to letter subscribers.

- Finally, RowdyKittens was realigned with the help of my amazing brother-in law. Even though the site has been revamped, I don’t think RowdyKittens will ever be “done.” The site will continue to evolve and change, just like I do.

With that I want to share my favorite posts of 2011. These were chosen by me and are not in any particular order.

The Bummer of 2011

A lot of awesome stuff happened in 2011. However, dealing with homesickness has been the most difficult part of the year. I love Portland, but I miss my family and my California buddies. When I visited my friend Chris in Minnesota this summer, he made a telling observation. He said, “When you introduce yourself, you don’t tell people you’re from Portland. You always say you’re from California.” I guess I’m a California girl at heart.

I had a lot of fun traveling this year. I went to Joseph, Oregon for Fishtrap, to Minnesota and took a number of trips to California and my travels reminded me that I have to re-prioritize family time. Part of this re-prioritization has included a lot of conversations about moving to Ashland in 2012. It’s a cute little town and it’s a whole lot closer to family. I don’t know if the move will happen or not, but it’s a conversation that keeps reemerging. For now, I’m going to stay open, flexible and call loved ones frequently.

What’s happening in 2012?

My word and theme for 2012 is experiment. I’ll be experimenting with a lot of things in 2012, including . . .

  • Getting back into lap swimming.
  • Reading two books a week.
  • Visiting family more often.
  • Editing and launching my first print book.
  • Teaching a few workshops and my first writing course at a local university.
  • Sticking to a regular blog publishing schedule. For the last month I’ve been pondering the idea of publishing to the blog everyday. It’s likely that I’ll publish more often in the new year, but I want to make sure the content I post is useful. I don’t want to publish just for the sake of publishing. So to keep things consistent, I’ll publish to the blog every Monday, Thursday and Friday.
  • Renewing my commitment to photography. I won’t be publishing to the blog daily. However, I will be sending out a daily photo, via email, along with an inspiring quote, creative prompt or story. You might be thinking, “why not post this content to the site?” Well, RowdyKittens isn’t a photoblog and I have no desire to start another site. Instead, I opted to send out my photos via email. This idea was inspired by my friend Jolie. She sends out a painting everyday and I thought it would be fun to do something similar with my photography. If you’re interested in following along, sign-up here.

Thank you!

I’ve been a self-employed writer for over two years. I couldn’t have done any of this without you! Thank you for purchasing my ebooks, subscribing to the weekly letter, reading the blog, and responding to my recent survey. I received over 100 survey responses and was blown away by all the positive feedback and constructive criticism. Your generosity has kept this site going. Thank you!

Tips & One Question

If you want to do a annual review, but aren’t sure how to get started read the following suggestions I offered last year . . .

- As you get ready to start you own annual review, think about the things in your life that are important to you. Begin by brainstorming different life categories like travel, work, relationships, money management, and more. As you review the categories, decide on a theme for the upcoming year. I think of my themes as an overarching goal that will touch all areas of my life. For example, my theme for 2010 was the year of change and transition.

– After you’re brainstormed all your life categories, start writing your thoughts down. Just write and don’t worry about grammar or how your sentences sound. Most of the time, the first draft is a shitty draft. So don’t be hard on yourself. The important thing is to get your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a private text edit program.

– As you think about each category, consider the good, bad, and surprising things that have happened to you in the past year. Ask yourself what went well and what didn’t go so good.

– Talk your review with friends and family members. Ask them if you missed anything on your list. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own head and forget about things.

– If you’re a blogger, share your review with the world. And if you don’t blog, share the results with good friends and family members.

What’s your theme for next year? Consider sharing your response on Google+ or start your own annual review.

Please comment