acknowledging our accomplishments

As we’re just six weeks from saying so long to 2013, I’ve begun reflecting back on the 11 months that have passed.

It had been my assumption that 2013 was not a good year for me. Everything seemed to take so much effort, and take longer than I had hoped. But when I looked back, I saw that I actually achieved my major goals for the year:

1) to charter a new Toastmasters club;
2) to achieve my Distinguished Toastmaster Award;
3) to self-publish my chocolate travel book.


I realized that I had indeed met my goals and that 2013 in fact had been a good year that taught me many new lessons and skills.

Each of the three goals listed above were all long-term goals that took a lot of work, determination, and tenacity.

It took me nearly four years to research and write the first volume of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate. But how was I to get it into print? Any agents or publishers I spoke to were intimidated by the fact that it would be an expensive book to produce, as I wanted it filled with colour photographs. So I decided to publish it myself, as I didn’t want any corners cut. I knew how I wanted the book to look and feel, and I would find a way to make it happen. I turned to crowdfunding in March, and launched a 30-day campaign on the platform. In a matter of 30 days, I had raised $8,000 via online and private donations–enough to pay for the design and editing costs, and a small print run of 300 copies of the book.

Crowdfunding was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. You’ll find several posts on the subject on this blog listed here. I am happy to have had this challenge, and pleased with the results. And now that Kickstarter is available to Canadian residents, who knows? There may be another campaign down the turnpike.

Then there was the process of proofing the book and getting it printed. Yes, we made some mistakes and they are now being corrected with the second print run to be delivered in the next few weeks. But all in all, I’m very proud of the book and am pleased that the response has been very positive from readers. Once I have the perfected version in my hands, it will be distributed to major media and hopefully … garner some major attention. Afterall, the saying is,”Nine out of ten people like chocolate and the tenth is lying.”

Starting the new Toastmasters in the Arts club was also quite the challenge. It took a full year of encouraging members of the local arts community to come out and embrace the idea of a club that would help improve their listening and presentation skills. For the most part, artists and writers are solitary souls and not joiners. That was the biggest hurdle to clear on this project. Money was a factor as well. We were charging $120 for new members back in September, 2012. That is a lot to self-employed writers and artists. As the months went by and we were able to pro-rate the dues, we drew in more members. And finally, on September 25, 2013, we reached the 20-member mark, and were eligible to become a chartered club of Toastmasters International.

Vice President of Membership, Betty Jackson, (left) presents Lois Graham with the "Golden Larynx" award for winning the first ever Humorous Speech Contest of the Toastmasters in the Arts Club, held October 30, 2013.

Vice President of Membership, Betty Jackson, presents Lois Graham with the “Golden Larynx” award for winning the first ever Humorous Speech Contest of the Toastmasters in the Arts Club, held October 30, 2013.

Achieving the goal of chartering a new Toastmasters club enabled me to complete my High Performance Leadership Project and qualify to apply for my Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Award. I received that in the mail this month, almost 12 years to the day after first joining Toastmasters. During that time, I delivered approximately 50 speeches and educational presentations, and took on the roles necessary to qualify me for a DTM.


Receiving my Distinguished Toastmaster Award was truly an honour.

So, all in all, I’d say that 2013 was a pretty good year for me.

How has it been for you? Have you achieved the goals you set out for yourself? Has it been easy sailing, or have you encountered some storms along the way?

I look forward to hearing from you. The conversations we have on this blog make blogging a worthwhile and enjoyable part of my week. Please join us back here the week of November 25th for our next new post.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

15 Responses

  1. Doreen,

    Sure sounds to me like you had a busy 2013. No wonder there was some stress involved. As a rookie to the world of blogging, I appreciate the link to other bloggers. You’re never alone on the Net…but you have to choose your friends carefully. Funny I had all sorts of ideas to blog about and now I can’t remember any of them. Perhaps the blog support group has some suggestions when you have ideas floating around and then they just float away somewhere. Crap, now I can’t find the link to that bloogers group.

    Peace out,

    PWAC Quebec

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Ian: It’s great to have you join the blog! I hope you’ll subscribe. You’ll find our community here to be a friendly and supportive one.

      I believe I included the link to the Bloggers Helping Bloggers Linkedin sub-goup in the original post. It really is a super group to bounce ideas off of, and to give life to your posts via interesting comments streams. I’ve made some great friends in this group, an d have learned a lot from them.

  2. What a timely post. I’m also looking back on my 2013. What I’ve done and how many goals I have achieved. Luckily, I have achieved more than I expected.
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  3. What an excellent year you’ve had. You have to be so proud. It’s no minor task writing and publishing a book, nor is starting a club, never mind achieving the DTM award. Congrats on a great year and I hope that the next one is even more rewarding.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…How Do You Find Opportunity?My Profile

  4. Jeri says:

    You really have achieved so much in just one year. While having to make another big move set me back a bit, I’m most proud of the editorial internship I signed-up for as it will put me one stop closer to my freelancing goals. Good luck in the year ahead as well!

  5. satinka says:

    I have been acknowledging milestones in my life’s journey, rather than my year… and it is has truly been a time of inspiration and going within.
    satinka recently posted…Living HealedMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      So true, Satinka.

      Our life is indeed a continuing journey. But it’s nice to step back once awhile and give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve accomplished.

      Congrats on getting your book published this year. That makes 2013 monumental in my books! 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…acknowledging our accomplishmentsMy Profile

  6. Harry Hobbs says:

    Good for you Doreen. You are right that sometimes goals have to be worked on and sometimes chipped away at until you achieve them, especially if they are long term major ones.

    When I was taking courses in Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way we had to set weekly goals to achieve or make progress on. Sometimes I feel I need to get back to doing just that.

    Congratulations on your fine achievements.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Harry, and for the kudos.

      What a great idea about setting weekly goals! I think if more of us did that, we wouldn’t be so overwhelmed with the biggies!

      I hope I’ll be seeing you at the TM conference tomorrow. 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…acknowledging our accomplishmentsMy Profile

  7. You have had one amzing year my friend. I know the future holds wondrous things for you. I will enjoy watching it all unfold for you. Cheers and Viva le Chocolate. 🙂

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Susan. It’s great having you along on the journey. Here’s hoping that 2014 will be totally awesome for both of us.

  8. Doreen,
    This is such a timely post for me as I’m working with my business coach and three other women looking at goals for 2014–which of course involves looking back on 2013.

    I won’t go into what has worked and what hasn’t for me here, but I will share that one of my goals was to do more teaching and speaking and I’ve been able to do that. I also wanted to get different clients outside of magazines, and I’ve been able to do that too. So, it’s been a good year.

    Both of those goals were achieved through networking–and for that I’m grateful to you [and others] for showing me how networking really does work!

    I’m starting to join more groups, but some of those groups have people I’ve already networked with–so it’s a growing circle, which is great.

    Seeing the connections, and seeing the positive outcomes really makes all of the time put into networking worthwhile.

    I’m so proud of you for making things happen in your own way–even if it did take longer. Your “stick to it” positive attitude is inspiring.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Yay, Christine! I’m proud of the progress you have made with your business.

      Have you ever thought of joining Toastmasters? I really think it would take your teaching abilities and presentation skills to the next level.

      I look forward to collaborating further with you in 2014, and continuing to inspire one another. 🙂

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