Transitions: a year of gratitude

It’s the last day of 2023 and as I sit here to reflect on this year, it’s pitch black outside, with most of the day already gone, and I’m nursing a nasty cold, my first in many decades. My speaking voice may be gone, but not my writing voice. So here goes my stream of consciousness of last-day thoughts.

By the time I complete this post, we’re likely to be ready to watch the city’s fireworks from our deck. That seems the right way to bring in the New Year.

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Behind us is a most spectacular and momentous year for my honey and me.

I have written little about this year’s life events here in my online journal, mostly because the months from March to October had little to do with my health journey. Instead, we were firmly focused on sorting, downsizing, and packing up our lives in the Philippines, and, after well over three decades, moving back to, and reintegrating into life in, Canada.

Looking back on the year now, I’m overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude.

Not because there were no hardships and bumps in the road; there were plenty of things to gripe about on both sides of the pond. It was a big heartache to say our goodbyes to our closest friends and to leave a life we loved. Red tape annoys me to no end. I’ve felt devastated by world events.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

But for us personally, the scales were solidly tipped to the side of good fortune. Oh my goodness, so much goodness! Let me count the ways!

On top of my list is my honey, my soulmate. I adore my everyday life with him. I couldn’t ask for a better lover, friend, and partner in all that we do and have done together. When I asked my honey what made him happiest this year, he said, “That your cancer has not spread.

Friends who supported us. I can’t put a number on it, but it is way more than we would’ve dared ask for. A few helped us financially. Others stepped up to help with logistics, packing, driving, housing, and much more. And the breath of emotional support we have received is no trifle.

My clients stayed faithful and gave me space to get things done. It amazes me that old clients referred new ones to me. And a close friend from university days hired me part-time to support her in her office work. All so appreciated.

Whether or not you or I believe in lucky stars, or even synchronicity, the fact remains that it was nearly incredible how smoothly the pieces have fallen into place for us along the way. How often I had cause to remark, “The Universe has our back!

Our happiness, success, and safety can be measured by our genuine capacity to tune in to the loving vibration of the universe.

Gabrielle Bernstein

More than once, the right person showed up unexpectedly to work out a problem or help with some task. Car selling and buying happened with ease. And most surprising was the return to us in Vancouver of so many of the kinds of household goods we had sold, donated, or gifted away in Manila—pots and pans, cutlery, tableware, bedding, and even some furniture pieces. Simply fantastic.

Naturally, I’m thankful that all the diagnostic tests I’ve undergone so far don’t point to any metastasis anywhere. The new medical oncologist I met with four days ago confirmed what the ocular oncologist had told me earlier. Next week I undergo one more MRI, this one for my brain. The thoroughness, efficiency, and kindness I’ve experienced with the medical professionals is remarkable.

Family. For the past four decades, we’ve lived on opposite sides of the globe. While we often came to visit, this was our first Christmas with my family in 14 years. Pure delight. For the Eve, my niece and hubby hosted 34 adults and 14 children! My sister and her daughters teamed up to put on a generous, delectable spread. And we came home with an armful of goodies and gifts.

And finally, I can’t fail to mention beauty again. There is beauty all around us—the unobstructed view from my desk over the North Shore Mountains and in the old tree forests and city parks we’ve walked through. We enjoyed a long, breathtaking fall.

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

Zig Ziglar

So this is the happy state of mind I’m leaving this 2023 year with, and I’m entering 2024 with a good dose of hope.

Just over a year ago, my left eye went dark. Since then, the state of the tumor in my eye has been and still is, in a nutshell, inconclusive. They still don’t know for sure what it is; three doctors have told me it’s aberrant, not following any known pattern. The good part is that the size of the tumor seems not to be growing, which they expect it would if it was metastatic cancer. I see the ocular oncologist again in two weeks.

Your turn! What are you most grateful for this past year? What was one highlight of your year that stands out and why? Let me know in the comments.

I end this post with my favorite New Year’s quote and hope you take it to heart:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

Neil Gaiman

With my raspy voice, I say CHEERS and wish you good health and joy! 🥂

PS. If there’s any topic in this online journal that resonates with you, I invite you to sign up to get notified when I post. Go to and click on the hamburger (three horizontal lines) at the top right of the page and submit your email. Your address is safe with me.


  • Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.
    The more you express gratitude for what you have,
    the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for. (Zig)

    ….on a daily basis…..
    Oh yes !….. 42 years of continuous sobriety !
    Thanks to AA
    Thanks to life
    Surviving to a breast cancer in 2004…… Yes ! 20 years ago
    Being 80 years old, and feeling young, curious and with a good energy !
    Crying for horrible events…. sometimes close or far….
    Able to feel…. to live fully….to enjoy my two adorable grand-children

    Remembering life in the Philippines, in HongKong (where we met Francisca ) and in Shanghai….

    Much love and happiness to you Francisca


  • Welcome to new beginnings of 2024 Francisca . I am so grateful for all friends and family and being able to celebrate being alive and sharing the journey of life together at this time. My highlight was swimming with a Mama and baby whale and then watching them play.

    • How precious, Alison! Swimming with mama and baby whale may remain the highlight of the decade! And cheers to many more spectacular events, big and small, that make this life journey worth living. I appreciate you! 🌸💜🌸

  • Just too glad after reading this I had a peek, no matter how small, into your journey. Not long enough to know that it was and remains not an ordinary journey until I started reading this blog so aptly titled Heroine’s journey.

    A very balanced blog, sincerity written all over.

    Thank You and continue this travel and share with us.

    All the best. Fair winds and following seas, whenever and wherever this journey takes you away from terra firma.

    • Thanks, Arfs, for reading and commenting! Getting your book “Laughter in the South” on to Amazon was one of our fun projects together earlier now “last” year. 🌸🙏🌸

By Francisca

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