Proud, Excited and Thankful list 2014

Hello 2015,

How have you been doing? It has been a lovely one month since I disappeared. Where have I been? Mostly in the kitchen doing dishes. (again) We also had family get-togethers, I sewed stockings for everyone, there was some crazy Settlers of Katan playing, Zsolt and travelled to CUBA . . . and then played more board games by the beach.

Cuba Kiss

It was a holiday. A beautiful freaking holiday. Now we’re well into 2015 and there are projects ahead. But first and foremost, I think this is a good moment to stop and reflect. While on the beach in Varadero, I took out my notebook and scribbled out my Proud, Excited and Thankful list for 2014.

(I also scribbled down a few observations of Cuba. Here they are: A boy runs down the beach not checking for jelly fish – scanning the crowd of sun thirty Canadians crowding along the shore; Girls in cargo mini skirts and black fish net stockings who scan luggage as you pass through customs. Black hair, no smiles and thick black eyeliner; How do you recognize a Canadian in Cuba? They have a whooping cough; don’t trust friendly Cubans in Havana who want to take you to a ‘free salsa festival’ . . . you’ll end up in a cafe playing for all the drinks; Late night tango with couples on the Paseo del Prado, not a show – just life; bright old cars and explosions of diesel dark exhaust; casas from an age where the remote is still in the wrapping; Coconut taxis; turquoise water and shallow waves; laughter, kisses, and sun burns.)

So, 2014 was a really lucky year for me, and this is a list definitely work making

What I’m proud of:

  1. First and foremost I’m proud of my husband, Zsolt. He put a lot of work into his company this past year and pushed far, far past his comfort zone. It’s not easy for a Hungarian physist with zero business training to go into the world and advocate for his business. It’s just not. But he did it. He is doing it. I am so damn proud of him. (Of YOU Zsoltster!)
  2. Ottawa Writes. It’s a podcast about writing that my friend and I started for fun. I think we’ve been producing great content, and I think it’s only getting better in 2014 as we rebrand and reshape the show. Weird. I’m on a podcast? Weird. But cool. Frankly, I’m also proud of myself for saying “yes” to something so totally new.
  3. NaNoWriMo! That’s write. I did it. Now . . . to keep on doing it. BAH!
  4. Getting up and getting on. It’s not easy. To be honest, despite really awesome scans this past year, I haven’t made it easy on us with plenty of emotional breakdowns. But hey – we get up, and we get on. That’s something to be proud of.
  5. Magazine Article Writing – Hey yeah! I got to share some Vanier loving in Ottawa Magainze, plus I wrote one of my best articles ever in LIVES affected by Cancer.

What I am/was Excited for:

  1. Little trips. Since Big Z and I decided not to travel this past year, we’ve instead taken little weekend trips here and there. So, we have gone here and there and I love that. 2014 has been a year for little adventures – so that 2015 can be the year for AWESOME BIG adventures. Look out Hungary, we are coming for you again!
  2. Hair! I’ve got a lot of it now 🙂
  3. Ottawa Writes again! We are rebranding in 2015 as Write Along Radio – and that is a big new challenge. Every Tuesday evening Kevin and I record an episode. It’s such good fun. It’s exciting good fun.
  4. Cottaging. *See more in ‘Thankful’
  5. Christmas Stockings! I sewed amazing stockings for my whole family (not including the Samsons) and they are freaking darling. Seriously beautiful. It’s really wonderful to create with your own hands, and know it’s something that not only looks good but is clearly filled with love.Family Picture
  6. Annnd Pic Monkey. Seriously, I love that program.

What I was Thankful for in 2014:

  1. *Board games: What? Well, you see, last year my family and I began playing board games while renting a lovely cottage in Quebec. We played Settlers of Katan, to be specific, and I think it’s giving us a thread of connection. Since that cottaging time, we’ve gotten together over and over to play more. It’s so fun and to be honest, I’m so grateful for this time with them. So, that tops my list of gratitude.
  2. Health. 2014 was the year of good scans. I don’t need to say more, do I? This is a blessing. Now listen up 2015, I want you to learn from 2014 and keep on trend. Man, it’s nerve wracking business, but I am very thankful for this year of health. (Which included the Vitamin C infusions, by the way. My veins won’t let me do it anymore – they keep collapsing, but I am so very, very grateful for every infusion.)
  3. Facing Cancer Awesome Ladies
  4. I have worked with them for over two years. They made me community manager and took a chance on my social media skills. It’s been such an honour to work for them. My gratitude just pours out for all they have done by letting me do what I’ve so enjoyed – chatting online with friends, reading stories, being there for others. In 2015 I’ve officially stepped back from that role, and will now just be a happy blogger over on their site. That’s a big change, but of course they were so wonderful about it. They’re wonderful plain and simple.
  5. Hair. I’ve been growing it, it’s long now. I love it. LOVE IT.
  6. An AMAZING book launch!
  7. Cups of tea! With my mom, my dad, and my amazing friends who are always happy to trek out to Bridgehead.
  8. ZSOLT!!!! He’s my most wonderful of wonderful. My Zsolt

So there it is, my 2014 Proud, Excited and Thankful list, as crafted on a beach in Cuba. My wish and prayer for 2015 is more good scans, and also to bike along the shore of Lake Balaton, sail in the Queen Mary, be at home in Pecs, find a beautiful new apartment in Ottawa, grow my podcast, build Zsolt’s business, write more stories and have fun, fun, fun. Bottom line: to enjoy life.

Wishing you a wonderful year to come.

Till the next post!


P.S. I’m also grateful for The MixedUp Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Thank you so much, S.C.!

Proud, Excited and Thankful List: 2013

It’s evening here in Hungary, and we’ve just come from a lovely day at the Vienna Christmas markets. There’s nothing like a whole load of Christmas lights in the dark to make you think of the holidays and year-end magic. So that’s what I did today, and now I’d like to think about what I did this year. This post is for a reflection of gratitude before moving forward to 2014.


Hello from Vienna!

What I’m proud of:

1) The novel. There are so many aspects of this that challenged me, and I’m hugely proud to have faced that adventure at full-tilt, along with incredible support from you all. Seriously, I feel like I won an Olympic medal for ‘putting yourself out there, then creating something awesome from the experience’. Can I award myself a medal, or would the Olympic committe protest that? Maybe a gold-foil chocolate one instead.

2) My husband. Zsolt shines in many, many ways. I’m proud of his looking forward despite a year where he was laid off, felt displaced, and learnt his wife has stage four. This guy is pushing forward and acts as cheerleader supreme. I’m so incredibly proud of him.

3) Becoming involved with VanierNow and writing people’s stories. One story that really shines that I wrote is about Erica, the not-an-artist.

4) Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, and living my life. I’m very proud of this. I do it for myself, for my husband, for my family, for my health – I do it because life is better this way.

5) Recovering my grandmother’s furniture to give it new life. I sewed those slipcovers myself, baby! Lulu would not be impressed with the quality of my sewing, but I think she’d like the sentiment.

6) My work with Facing Cancer Together and Sister Leadership. As I said, it’s an honour to share people’s stories.

What I got excited for:

1) My husband, this blog, my friends,  and my family who always make me smile and have great times when we are together.  (We’ve drank about a swimming pool’s worth of tea during our chats, eh?)

5) Water. Last year we bought ourselves our dream canoe. This year we used it. We also found a nearby swimming hole that – despite one nibbling fish – makes me feel so happy inside.

4) This article in Apt613, and then this article in Apt613. It’s such an honour.

5) Travel. This year, we travelled through the Alps, wandered around Zurich, saw Christmas lights in Vienna, took a train across a mountain top in Italy, went up the leaning tower of Pisa, spent time in the beautiful city of Pecs, looked for bears in the Rockies, rode a 2-person bike in Stanley park, and spend much time downtown Ottawa doing our groceries.

What I’m thankful for:

1) My husband, because he sees me breakdown about every day, and he somehow finds it in himself to put me back together. So, I’m thankful for him and the magic we have together.

2) My Mom and Dad, who have been taking on the world on top of pushing me forward to push back against cancer.

3) The hug my best friend gave me on the day I was told about those spots in the lungs.

4) You and You and You! I love to see people do well and live well, and luckily enough I get to mix with people online who seem to feel just the same towards others.  The amount of talent you have, creativity, compassion, humour . . . it’s such an honour to mix with the mixers online. And thank you for your enthusiasm around my own big dreaming, too!

4.5) For the huge generosity that was shown during the Kickstarter campaign. It has been a great support in our life, and a good help with my health costs too.

blow my mind5) Camille of Sister Leadership has been coaching me through some very big emotions, so for that I cannot express enough how thankful I am.

6) I am thankful for writing. My writing gives me a sense of purpose like nothing else. When I wrote that story about Erica and featured her art – that is what it’s about. When I write little stories that makes my husband smile, that is what it’s about. When I imagine worlds that are seemingly impossible and yet happen in my imagination then fall onto the page – this is what it’s about!

IMG_0761 copy7) The beautiful photo shoot my friend Lou of Lou Truss Photography did for me and Zsolt just after I had been diagnosed again.

8) Each deep, beautiful breath of air. And for my lungs easing up on the pain, thank you so very much lungs and body.

And that is me for 2013.  I hope there’s much more to come for 2014. Like, say, Claire Never-Ending becoming a Canadian bestseller? How can I make that happen? What about the dream cottage in Balaton? Plus, more sharing of stories, more writing of fiction, more supporting of others, and loads of health heaped over that happiness.

**I’d love to hear some of your most proud/excited/thankful moments from 2013. Want to share a moment, or even a blog post? Feel free to link them in. :)**

~P.S. I have been trying to learn about making cool newsletters (as opposed to boring ones), so signed up with MailChimp & added a sign up app on my facebook. I’ve heard that newsletters are good for sending out little excerpts/nuggets people wouldn’t normally get elsewhere from your work. So if you’d like to sign up for my writing newsletter, I’ll do my best to throw in some ‘fresh for you’ fiction in the mailer! Maybe a Little Zsolti story, or some short spin-offs from Claire Never-Ending. Let me know what you’d like to see 🙂