this writer’s year in review …

The Christmas season and year’s end is a time of reflection for many of us. For me, the greatest gift of 2009 has been the immense gratitude I feel for the many blessings in my life. So the final post of the year brings you this writer’s first annual “Past Year in Review.”

I hope it will inspire you to create you own list, and to share your reflections about 2009 with us on this blog.

As I look back on this year, I can truly say that 2009 has been a year of discovery for me — in so many ways. I have learned how new technology and social media can benefit me. I have learned how hard work and embracing new challenges can bring great personal satisfaction as well as the acknowledgment and encouragement of others. And I have learned how important it is not to sweat the small stuff.
Financially, 2009 will have been my worst year ever. But spiritually, emotionally and professionally, this was a year of immense growth for me, making it one of my most successful years of my life.I learned long ago that although money is a fine frill to have in life, it is not the driving force for personal or professional growth. So it should never be the primary motive of our actions. But by embracing hard work and honourable intentions, financial reward will find its way to us through the seeds we have planted. (This metaphor connects to the modest, farming roots of my ancestors and the passion my parents shared for gardening and watching things grow.)
Here are the highlights of my 2009. I’ll be looking forward to hearing about yours.
January: My visit to the Dominican Republic taught me that my beloved chocolate grows in large unattractive pods that contain slimy beans, which after cleaning, drying and roasting, produce the basis for the delicious substance we know as chocolate. This education planted the seed for my upcoming book on chocolate.


February: The TMAC conference taught me the importance of blogging and embracing social media. So on Feb 22/09, this blog was born. Click here to see more of Paul Gillin ‘s advice on the importance of blogging:
March: I finished my 6-year term on the Access Copyright board and it led me to reflect on the 25+ years I’ve spent sitting on non-profit boards. What resulted was the idea for my book, “Before You Say Yes …” — a guide for directors on non-profit boards to be launched in March, 2010 by Dundurn Press. Look for updates at:
April: A month of networking. Book signings for the Manitoba Book of Everything. And helping out on the planning committee for the District 64 Toastmasters Spring Conference and other great events. 
May: Focus on volunteer work, including mentoring at PWAC: and the Lord Selkirk Toastmasters. Also the Matlock Recreation Club:
Satisfying work, but no wonder my earnings for the year were low!
June: Probably my best month of the year! Attended the MagNet Conference: Don’t miss it in 2010. Won two terrific awards.
July: Thanks to the prod I received at MagNet, I got on Twitter in July. Five months later, am now just shy of 850 followers and really enjoying the opportunities this form of social media can provide. Find & follow me at:
August: This was a difficult month. Writing deadlines, poor weather, terminal illness in the family. But still managed to stay positive and enjoy some summer fun.
September: This was summer in Manitoba, breaking the all-time record for the warmest September on record. Weather greatly improved, book done. Spirits rising.
October: The highlight of this month was an amazing two-week research trip to Europe for the chocolate book.
November: More unseasonably warm weather in Manitoba this month, and a trip to Las Vegas for more chocolate research. Why had it taken us 16 years to return to Sin City?
December: Plenty of amazing social activities and fun that has made me most grateful for all the positive people in my life. We may face some challenges ahead, but I know that I have a strong network of friends to pull us through.Here’s a glimpse at some of the faces that have made me smile over the course of this year. If you don’t see your face here, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t shared some good times or meaningful moments. It might mean we need to share more! Thanks to everyone, and if your year was anywhere as good as mine, we’ll all be smiling as we head into 2010.

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.

16 Responses

  1. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks very much, Cathy! I think many of us have been reluctantly dragged into the social media world. But I, and many others, have found what a valuable tool it can be — if you use it to your advantage. Quite the learning curve, but well worth the effort. I'm happy to help you when/however I can.

    All the best to you in the New Year.

  2. Cathy says:

    Happy New Year Doreen!!
    As promised, I took a look at your new website… very nice indeed! As I said before, I really admire your use of social media and how you tie it all together. I am going to look up to you this next year and learn how social media can influence my career and journeys through life.

    I love how you always look at the bright side of things. Your energy is contagious!

    Hugs tight,
    Cathy 🙂

  3. wizardofwords says:

    Welcome to the blog, Lee, and thanks for your comment. It's always interesting to reflect on the year gone by. As I mentioned in my post, 2009 was a financial flop for me, yet it has been one of the best years of my life as far as personal growth and accomplishments (of various sorts) go. We all have to find the things that make us happy and go after them, not letting the goals or measurements of others interfere with our progress or focus.

    Do check out Toastmasters if you are interested. I can honestly say that in 8 years as a member, I've never been sorry I attended a TM mtg. It has been an integral part of my personal growth.

  4. arlee bird says:

    You sound like you have things pretty well organized. I have thought about Toastmasters for years, but have never gotten the move on to attend, perhaps because I was always so busy with work.
    I did a different kind of year review on my blog post of 12/30/09 and also the following day:

    Hope my review of 2010 has a lot more to offer about my writing career.


  5. wizardofwords says:

    Hi "Jem":
    Yes, I will be covering the topics of fair trade & organic choc in my upcoming book about chocolate & travel. I don't think I will get into the subject of child labour, as this will be a book about passion for chocolate & travel. It is not at all intended to be an expose about some of the unfortunate social issues that may be a factor in the industry. I will leave that to another author.

  6. jem says:

    Blog looks great! Came to check it out as per your mention on the pwac books list. Am wondering, re your chocolate book, if you will be addressing the issues of child labour, fair trade, and organic chocolate.

  7. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Heather! Your comment actually brought tears to my eyes! I am indeed so very grateful for all the goodness I have in my life. Thanks for being an integral part of it.

  8. Heather says:

    I certainly hope you printed this out as a keepsake. I love all the gratitude you've expressed –that's certainly the best way to be "in the moment." Here's to another friend-filled, productive, successful year of discovery, Doreen!

  9. wizardofwords says:

    You'd love TM, Christine! It's such a positive org, and you can never get TOO good at public speaking!

    Glad you're enjoying my blog. I love to be able to bounce between topics a bit. I think that comes from being a Gemini — and from being a travel writer! Our focus is never on just one thing.

    I appreciate your observation that even when we may not be "achieving" according to standard financial expectations, other types of achievements we may have — be it personal (emotional), professional but non-paying, or spiritual are all worthwhile and help us move forward along our chosen path.

    All the best to you on this New Year's Eve!

  10. Christine Peets says:

    Thank you for getting back on the computer to look at your blog. What a wonderful year you've had, in spite of the personal and profesional set-backs.Your optimism and [your]determination are inspiring.I love the eclectic range of subjects on the blog, and the photos. This gives me some ideas, and wonderful encouragement on how to make my blog better. You've also given me inspiration to look into joining ToastMasters. Onward and upward!

  11. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Virginia. As someone who has primarily written about personal experiences and interests (travel, feng shui, wine resorts — and now … chocolate) I find it a very natural transition to convert thoughts and experiences into stories (and books) that will generate income for me. I find it much harder to write about things for which I have a low level of interest or passion. (i.e. I admire writers who can write about potatoes, manure & other things to which they feel no personal connection.)
    Happy New Year to you, too, and may it bring you many wonderful things.

  12. Virginia Heffernan says:

    I admire how your personal experiences and reflections became book projects that will appeal to a broad audience. Thought to action, thought to action: it's a mantra that we could all use to boost our productivity and personal satisfaction in 2010.

    Happy New Year, Doreen!

  13. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Joanne. Lovely to have you onboard.

    And yes, the cocoa beans (which grow in pods on the cacao tree) are truly unattractive and almost alien in appearance. Amazing how something so ugly can taste sooo good!

  14. joanne carnegie says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Doreen. Reading about gratitude makes me feel it myself.

    On an irreverent note, the photgraph of chocolate beans looks like some kind of alien afterbirth. Truly weird!

  15. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Suzanne. I think it really helps to have a positive attitude. I know it certainly helps me! All the best to you as well.

  16. suzanneboles says:

    Thanks for sharing your year month-by-month. I love that you always look for the positive in everything. May 2010 be your best year ever in every way.

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