Interview With Suzie HQ: Who Transforms Adversity Into Character-Building Challenges

Get to know a globetrotting person who transforms adversity into character-building challenges.

Short Bio
Suzie HQ a very charming and popular hobby writer, lives in Dublin, Ireland. She loves to write about arts, interior design, fashion and crafts with her creative style. She has also interested in sport, travel and makeup artistry. Let see her story.

You've been a Hubber for six months now, Suzanne. How did you find HubPages? Why did you join?
In some respects the six months have flown by and I can’t believe it has been that long! HubPages was actually recommended to me by a friend who had been toying with the idea of forging a new career in writing. I had been unemployed in Dublin for just over a year after working as a store manager for an Outdoor Clothing business. Unfortunately, that store was closed like so many other businesses here - tough times.

After attending numerous unsuccessful interviews, I began to think of a new direction. Writing had been an interest of mine since childhood, but I had never written much more than humorous poetry for special occasions with the family. I have many interests, so I decided to give writing a go.

You mention in your profile that travel is one of the best educations one can receive. How has travel shaped you as a person?

Good question, Vespa!

When I was 12 years old, I went on my first overseas holiday with my family to Spain, which I still remember fondly and vividly. We took a donkey safari into the mountains and ate strawberries and cream at the roadside cafes, while the glorious scents and perfumes of the stunning flowers and plants filled our nostrils. Since then I have had a dream of travelling the world or at least seeing as much as possible. That dream was unfortunately put on hold until my early 20s due to a freak medical condition.

Travelling affords you the opportunity to experience how others live daily life and while a lot of things like customs and even language differ, at some point it dawns on you that all over this planet people are searching for similar things: living as happy a life as possible, seeing their children grow and prosper, and ultimately respecting others and feeling good about themselves. By that, I mean I found simple pleasures when abroad that left an impression on me.

For example, in the '90s I took over 14 trips to Turkey and spent time with Turkish friends, so I was lucky enough to experience an authentic Turkish lifestyle. Family, food, and living off the land were the way of life. Few 'necessities' (as we consider them) were evident. Heating was confined to an open fire in one room, and the bathroom was a hole in the floor which served as a toilet for all. With no lock on the door, whistling or humming became a must. It was an unforgettable and humbling life experience.

While some would gasp, others - myself included - realized this was real life with no shortage of family values and love. I would strongly recommend such a holiday to all as a source of inspiration, a personal life challenge, and a test of one's character.

That’s what I love about travel. If you are open to trying new foods, learning some of the language, meeting real people and embracing all that is different, you never know what will happen!

You've written many funny hubs such as "So You Want to Be Irish", and your writing reflects an upbeat outlook on life. Do you owe your sense of humor to your Irish upbringing?

A sense of humour is, in my mind, a must in life. Yes, many Irish have “the gift of the gab” and a canny sense of humour. That seems to be a requirement of being Irish! As a race, we seem to have a great ability to laugh at ourselves, which is a good quality.

My dad has a tremendous sense of humour and we all (my two brothers and I) have definitely inherited that from him. Laughter was always heard in our house while we were growing up, and we continue to share our warped thoughts and laugh when we get together. Laughter is the best medicine, after all!

You've mentioned your childhood diagnosis of epilepsy and how it taught you to push boundaries. What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

Yes, I was diagnosed 33 years ago at age 14 with Grand Mal Epilepsy, which is better known today as Generalised Tonic Clonic Seizures. A high temperature caused by pneumonia and Glandular Fever simultaneously put me in a coma for a week, after which I was given the Epilepsy diagnosis.

My first major accomplishment was travelling to New Zealand at age 21 for a whole year. That was an incredible experience. It meant I had to watch for seizure warning signs and triggers myself and be totally responsible for my medication. Two other notable achievements of mine are more recent.

One was in 2010 when I passed my driving test. I did not think I would ever know the freedom or independence of driving, nor did I think I would ever own a car. For many years in Ireland the law stated that you needed to be seizure-free for three years to drive, but I never was. I had taken lessons periodically over the years, but could never get a licence. Then the law changed to seizure-free for one year by which time I had been, thankfully, over three years free of seizures. That's Irish, I know, and still makes me laugh to this day. This time my partner Mike made the difference as he has given me a great sense of inner confidence in my own abilities and the courage to persist in getting a driver’s license, which I did!

The second proudest achievement came when I was incredibly honoured to represent Ireland in the sport of Cricket for the World Cup squad. I had grown up with cricket, all my family played, and I was the only girl and the only one to play at International level.

Many people were surprised that I would play sport with Epilepsy, but I have played many sports. I love sports and will always advocate anyone with Epilepsy to get involved with a sport they enjoy. Push those boundaries, follow your dreams and passions and never say never.

Wow, that is very motivational, Suzanne. You were recently accepted in the Apprenticeship program. Are there any surprises or impressions about the program you'd like to share with us?

When I applied for the Apprenticeship Program I had only been on HubPages three months and really didn’t think I had a prayer of getting accepted, especially when I saw the level of talent on HubPages. I was over the moon when I was accepted and I started in October.

Our team mentor is Simone Smith, which really excited me as I have been a fan of her writing since I started. She has been a great support for all of us in the group, full of encouragement and guidance. The biggest change for me personally is the amount of writing. In my first month in the program, I completed 15 Hubs. Up until then I had done approximately 18 Hubs in four months.

I have been actively supporting others on the team, which I feel is important as we can be a support network for each other, share ideas, and offer advice and critiques if desired. The AP, in my view, is “you get back what you put in”. Involvement is encouraged and I would advise anyone thinking of applying to do so, with that mindset. I, for one, want to be like a sponge and absorb as much as possible from the lessons we do monthly and put it into practice.

Thank you for your insight! Your Hubs cover a wide variety of unique subjects. Where do you get inspiration?

My Inspiration actually comes from a variety of places. My passions are Travel, Beauty, Flowers, Crafts, Cooking and Container Gardening. I have always loved travel; Beauty was my career and continues to be a real love of mine.

I have my mum to thank for my love of Flowers and Container Gardening. She loved gardens and flowers in particular. She photographed and painted them in the most amazing ways, as she was an artist. Crafts come mainly from my mum’s influence, and then I took night classes in crafts such as Jewellery, Pottery, Silk Painting and Interior Design. These have all been a great source of Inspiration. I hand-paint terracotta products, make greeting cards and design jewellery, all of which I sell at market stalls.

I love cooking, learning new recipes (especially your desserts Vespa, which you know I love) and in watching programmes on all types of cuisine. At present, I'm glued to the television nightly, as MasterChef Australia is running. My favourite chef is Jamie Oliver and I love his laid back, rustic style of cooking which is good, honest cooking with lots of attitude!

In our local village I recently saw an old stone cottage with no windows or roof, very old and derelict, yet there were two hanging baskets full of beautiful flowers at either side of the main door. It got my imagination going so I took some photos and thought, there’s a Hub there! Inspiration is everywhere and I often make notes of things that I’m bound to forget later.

In the Hub "Italian Customs & Traditions: La Passeggiata" you talk about this town's laid back lifestyle. What else about Italy makes it one of your favorite countries?

We could be here awhile, Vespa! For as far back as I can remember, Italy has been a subject of fascination and interest for me. When I met Mike five years ago, he brought me to Rome for a second date (not bad), which also happened to take place on my birthday. That was my first trip to Italy and now, five years later, Mike and I own a modest house in the south of Italy, in the Puglia region, 20 minutes from Brindisi.

It's a good thing Mike has DIY skills as this house needs his magic touch. Yes, I adore everything Italian. The passion, traditions, art, architecture, history, shopping, language, films, food, cobblestone streets and the Fiat 500 car! We hope to be moving there permanently next year and starting online writing careers. There are also a couple of small ruins on the property which Mike will fix that we will rent out. Obviously, you're first on the visitor list, Vespa, shortly followed by Simone as she's a huge fan of Italy.

I look forward to taking you up on your invitation, Suzanne! Are there any new places you plan to visit in the future, and why?

There are definitely other countries I hope to see, without a doubt. In fact, Vespa, I may well come a knocking on your door, as Peru is top of my list and has been for many years. I have always had an obsession with South America and Peru is in the number one spot I would like to visit. South America has some fascination for Mike, as well, but that has something to do with those damn cars or bikes or suicidal roads he sees on Top Gear. I suppose I'll have to indulge him as it may be my only chance to see South America. Men, bloody men!

I bought Peruvian jewellery that I loved to sell on my market stall. For me, Peruvian crafts and knitwear are stunning. The country's scenery is exceptional and the history astounding. The ultimate reason to visit, of course, is to taste your fantastic food that you have shared with us all on HubPages. Nothing like tasting the real thing in Peru. Some other destinations on my bucket list would be Australia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Alaska and Switzerland - for scenery and activity-based reasons.

I look forward to seeing you in my neck of the woods! In the meantime, what are your future goals on HubPages?

So far HubPages has brought me more than I ever thought possible: getting my very first comment, being accepted for the AP, receiving a Hub of the Day and having my first article published by Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association.

I have also made many friends on HubPages who from the early days have been a fabulous source of support and encouragement. Writers such as Bill Holland (billybuc), Bill De Giulio (bdegiulio), Terrye Toombs (TToombs08), MickeyJoe Kearney (mjkearn) and of course you, Vespa. I enjoy setting goals for myself, so for the future I look forward to hitting 10,000 page views, finishing the AP a wiser and better writer, making new friends and, finally, enticing Mr. Google to give me more traffic.

In closing, do you have any advice for new Hubbers?

My advice to new Hubbers would be to visit the Learning Center and stay there for a few days. It is packed to the gills with all the information needed to start writing and producing quality Hubs. I spent quite some time in the Learning Center and am so thankful that I did. HubPages is my first attempt at online writing and I'm so happy that they offer such a comprehensive arsenal of guides.

One of the fabulous things about the HubPages community is that when other great Hubbers see you are genuinely trying and that you respect their experience and talent, they will give you all the help in the world. I'm baffled when I see Hubs where the author obviously hasn't bothered to look at a single Learning Center entry. It is hard to take such a Hubber seriously.

New Hubbers should get involved in the community, read other Hubs and, if they enjoyed them, leave a positive, encouraging comment. All the writers here will tell you how each comment brings a smile to their face. Reply to every comment without fail. I consider it respectful, mannerly and professional and the right thing to do, since someone has taken the time and effort to drop you a comment.

Set yourself little targets (depending on the time that you have available) such as to read five Hubs a day, comment on them, answer five Questions a day, Follow people whose writing you enjoy and subjects that interest you. Don’t jump into following someone straight away. Above all, write about what you know and are passionate about, as it shows in your writing. Remember, do visit the Learning Center. This is your oracle for online writing. Getting started is the hardest thing but if I can do it, you can too!
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