Happiness and Taking Chances

Silver Seashell bracelet.jpgI start every morning at my computer with a familiar ritual.  I enter a contest to win a house. Any house. Sometimes it’s the HGTV Dream Home, or Green Home.  Right now it’s the Southern Living Choose Your Home Giveaway.  I envision myself living in Sonoma, California, or Habersham, South Carolina, or any number of fabulous places.  I furnish the houses, go sightseeing, start my garden.  Do I expect to win?  Well, somebody’s going to.  Why not me?

I was eight the first time I won a contest on the “Captain Mack” show at our local St. Petersburg television station.  I was chosen to answer the following question on live television via telephone.  “Hickory, dickory dock.  The mouse ran up the clock.  The clock struck. . .  What did the clock strike?”

I was sure the clock struck twelve and nearly said so.  Luckily my mom and dad made certain I didn’t.  And being the dutiful daughter I was, I won with “one” and received a lovely Shirley Temple doll–who would undoubtedly be a really valuable prize if I still had her.

The next year Lady Luck smiled again, and I won a green rabbit’s foot from the gumball machine outside our local soda shop.  My very first penny, and I got the prize.  I was all powerful, chosen by the gods, invincible.  Of course I immediately attempted to win another, and paid fifty cents for 50 stale gum balls and nothing more.  Perhaps this is why I never chew gum.

Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways.  The real value is the fantasy.  The real value is taking a chance, albeit a million to one, that you might just win.  Not too many chances, mind you, because they have a name for that.  But the occasional chance, the occasional fantasy, the unshakeable belief that good things can happen.  Taking chances and happiness.  I’m not sure we ever experience one without the other.

Let me congratulate two women who recently took chances right here.  Juanita, from Puyallup, Washington is the winner of the Noah’s Ark musical water globe from my contest page.  And Carol, of Pasco, Washington, won a copy of Diane Chamberlain’s wonderful novel, The Courage Tree,  by commenting on my interview with Diane.  Two women who took chances and won.  It happens–but apparently this month, only if you live in Washington.

Didn’t win?  Remember, that happens, too.  Another chance is right around the corner. To celebrate the upcoming launch of Happiness Key, I’ll be giving away a beach bag stuffed with items “donated” by the four women who live there, including, from Tracy, the lovely sterling silver seashell bracelet shown above.  To enter, just comment on any of my blogs with “Happiness” in the title, and tell us what makes you happy.  That’s all.  Comment as many times as you like, although only your first comment will be entered for the drawing.

All details, including more about the prizes, will be on my website soon, but now, you have a head start.  What makes you happy?  Did you ever win your own Shirley Temple doll or rabbit’s foot? Take a chance today, and enjoy. 


  1. Margaret on June 10, 2009 at 9:51 am

    What makes me happy? Seeing both my teenage boys succeed in school for starters.

  2. Emilie Richards on June 10, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Spoken like a mom. I have three sons. I can absolutely relate.

  3. Evelyn Ferguson on June 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Lots of things make me happy including seeing my family happy and healthy, but also when my photos and quilting projects turn out the way I want, and also reading a good book.

  4. Emilie Richards on June 10, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Then I hope Happiness Key makes you, well, happy.

  5. Marna on June 10, 2009 at 11:53 am

    You can’t win if you don’t enter. I put in a last-minute survey at the quilt show last weekend and won a door prize. If I hadn’t entered, I wouldn’t have won. So for those who think, “I never win anything!” don’t give up. Keep entering!

  6. Emilie Richards on June 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Good for you! Quilt show prizes are the best.

  7. Toni on June 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I, like you, find happiness in birds caring for their offspring, among other creatures. One of my favorite parts in Sister’s Choice was the wildlife care. I volunteer at a place called “Hoo Haven”, wildlife rehab and it is a passion bringing mostly extreme happiness and sometimes extreme sadness, but still we persevere to help our local creatures.
    In the meantime, entering home contests and dreaming of other places to live is a great pastime!
    Keep those wonderful books coming!
    Toni Murray

  8. Emilie Richards on June 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    You know, I’m going to be the winner here, because I’m going to have all these great comments to read while the contest is running. This is such a worthwhile thing you’re doing, Toni. Keep up the good work.

  9. Di on June 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Watching my little 2 year old granddaughter develop and bloom each day makes me happy. She sits on the couch close to me as I sew, and chatters away. She also loves to transfer my flower-head pins – ever so carefully! – from one pincushion to another. A quilter in the making!

  10. Emilie Richards on June 10, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I’m planning to introduce mine to quilting, too. You’re lucky to have her close by.

  11. debbie Haupt on June 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

    What makes me happy, well since I love to read it would be having a book in my hands and since I love to read Emilie’s books it would further my happiness to have one of her books in my hands and to triple the pleasure let’s make it a copy of Happiness Key!
    There how’s that. 😉
    Congrats to the winners!!! It’s so nice of Emilie to have these contests and I like her love to enter, but I only enter contests of the authors that I love because I couldn’t afford the taxes on winning a large dollar item. But Emilies right you can’t win if you don’t enter, so good luck Emilie and if you do win give us some pics of it.

  12. Emilie Richards on June 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I think you did smashingly! I actually enjoy thinking up and running contests as much as I enjoy entering them. And I’ll be announcing yet another very soon–in addition to the Happiness blog contest. As for photos of those houses? I’ll go one better. If I win one, I’ll give away a week here to some lucky winner. But I don’t think any of you should plan your vacations around that just yet. 🙂

  13. Cheryl on June 12, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Emilie, this is a great contest! I love the idea of winning for “happy” stories. And you are absolutely right about taking chances. I just entered some writing contests, although I was certain I’d be out of my element. I had to take the chance, and then I won a prize. Writing makes me happy, winning makes me happier, and even if I never do it again, I’m going to remember that sometimes taking a chance pays off! Spending time with people who tell stories (in person, in books, or in the blogosphere) is a great way to spend an afternoon.

  14. Emilie Richards on June 12, 2009 at 11:44 am

    And having you visit here makes me happy. Congratulations on winning a writing prize. It doesn’t surprise me one bit.

  15. RobynL on June 14, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Happiness to me is being able to make someone happy by doing or giving for/to them and see their happiness.

  16. Jan in TN on June 16, 2009 at 11:27 am

    HAPPINESS to me is my children. They are my greatest blessings in life. No, they’re not perfect – no one’s are, but when things are rough for me, they are always there to give me the love and support I need. I am proud of each of them, and that is what makes me happy.

  17. Laurie Mustard on June 17, 2009 at 11:59 am

    My life is full of happiness. I have succeeded in overcoming such a huge obstacle to make it so. I am so proud of myself for having the courage to say enough is enough and then to go about altering my situation so I can say truthfully MY LIFE IS SO GREAT!! I have had such support from my family and my friends. I now know happiness!!

  18. Emilie Richards on June 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    A two-fold reason to be happy. That you took charge of a bad situation and that you had help along the way. Good for you, Laurie, and good for your family and friends.

  19. Jan Warner on June 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Happiness to me is my KIDS! They are my ‘spices’ of life, each one unique and each with wonderful qualities. It has been a joy and blessing to be their mom. Watching them grow up and become the people they are has been amazing! Just having them in my life every day makes me HAPPY! 🙂

  20. Emilie Richards on June 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    We have a lot of happy moms reading my blog. Isn’t it great to know that such a difficult job can be so incredibly rewarding?

  21. Kim on June 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Happiness for me are my faith, my family, my friends and the simple things in life. Almost 5 years ago I lost my husband suddenly, and my 14 and 17 year old sons lost their dad. Our lives were turned upside down and we have not had an easy time, but we kept going, grew stronger as a family, we know what is important…people not things, and we really appreciate what we do have.
    The bonus is that I am finally quilting again, starting to read more, and will do anything I can to help others who are suffering losses of loved ones. It is heartbreaking, but I know I am a good listener, and that is what someone needs.
    I am so proud of my sons, and I know their dad would be also. They have worked so hard, and are growing into such caring, hardworking men, just like their dad…and that makes me happy.

  22. Kim on June 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Oh…and I hope you win your dreamhouse!

  23. Emilie Richards on June 18, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Kim, this must have been so difficult, but it’s so good to hear that you and your sons have picked up the pieces, and that you have honed a skill–although in the hardest of ways–that will benefit so many other people throughout your life. And yes, reading and quilting are wonderful ways to move out of yourself for a little while and take that much needed break. I’m glad they’re helping.
    As for the dream house? The fantasy is nearly as good. But you did see “nearly,” right?

  24. Ingrid King on June 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    My cat makes me happy. Doing what I love every day makes me happy. Being with my friends makes me happy. Books make me happy. Ice cream makes me happy.
    This contest makes me happy – I love seeing people focus on the positive. There is so much negativity in the world and it can be hard to not get sucked into it, so anything that makes us focus on happiness is a good thing in my book!
    And good luck with the dream house. You know what they say – thoughts create reality. Just keep on believing! 🙂

  25. Jan Theriot on June 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    There are many things that make me happy! Having my first grandbaby 6 months ago is the best!! More recently though, my husband and I retired after 32 years of teaching. What a wonderful feeling knowing we are starting another part of our lives together.

  26. Emilie Richards on June 22, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Congratulations on both, Jan.

  27. Kathie Eichfeld on June 22, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I find I am happiest when surrounded by my family. Having them join me for worship on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday was tremendous. The addition of my first grand child last year just multiplied my joy. I don’t know how I lived without these special people.

  28. Linda Gerig on June 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Happiness/ Love all your books. can’t wait for a new one. Linda Gerig

  29. Lisa on June 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Happiness to me is being relaxed and curled up under a warm blanket reading a good book with my cat. A lovely walk on a sunny day in the great outdoors also makes me happy. Simple pleasures like these make the world a more beautiful place.

  30. Virginia Campbell on June 29, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Happiness for me has been to return to my roots and reaffirm my love of books. I started out with books (and comic books), and added magazines and newspapers as I matured. Then computers entered my life and changed my world. Now, after health and career problems, and great personal loss, I am once again the girl with the book. Books are a quiet happiness, but they can be shared with others. I have discovered many book lovers among my coworkers, and we frequently discuss books. We also lend each other “good reads”.

  31. Mary on June 29, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Any time I get to spend with kids, grandkids, siblings and their families, and my parents who are a young 81, makes me happy!

  32. Vicki on June 29, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Happiness is a good book and sunshine! Better if they are together.

  33. Shannon on June 29, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Hanging out with my mom and dad, nieces and nephews and even my siblings!

  34. Karen Krack on June 29, 2009 at 10:34 am

    What makes me happy? Seeing our new granddaughter smile with her whole face and eyes at every new discovery she makes. Just can’t help but laugh with joy and joy every time she does that!

  35. Mary Treace on June 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Happiness….something I don’t usually think about. What makes me happy? There are several things: Spending time together with my husband to reconnect (he works nights, I work days), relaxing in a comfy chair with a cat purring on my lap, seeing my kids (19yrs old and 18yrs old) accomplishing their goals, waking up every day and knowing that yesterday is wiped clean and today is the day to try to get it right. That’s only a few examples. I’m sure if I put pen to paper I could come up with many more. I look forward to reading many of your books and sharing them with relatives/friends, etc.

  36. Cheryl on June 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I am happiest when I am with my family, and pets, and friends.
    I am also very happy when I get to do a little traveling with one or another of my daughters. We have so much fun going new places and seeing new things. Next year we plan to go to the east coast. This will be a first for both of us.
    I look forward to having my first grandchild someday. I think that will be the epitome of happiness.

  37. Lois on June 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Many things give me joy – and happiness – family, music, creativity, God’s creation. Just returned from a trip to Yellowstone. What wonderful scenery God created! It was great seeing family generations exploring together, hearing the birds sing in the morning, singing crazy songs to each other and having time to sit by the fire and knit.

  38. Nancy on June 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    What makes me happy is waking each day with my health and family’s health intact. And an opportunity to maybe bring something to someone else’s life. Giving is one of the greatest sources of happiness!!

  39. Gail Grainger on June 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    What makes me happy is being on summer vacation! If the weather ever gets better, I hope to get over to the coast.

  40. Kimberly B. on June 30, 2009 at 12:28 am

    What makes me happy is being inspired, whether it’s to write a story or poem, to make a piece of jewelry or knit a scarf. . .even if it’s about some research I’m doing (I’m training to be a historian). It just improves my mood so much!

  41. Lori on June 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Thank you for the reminder to appreciate the little thrills in life! I love contests so much! Someone is going to win, and I have to go in with the expectation that it’s going to be me!
    What’s making me happy right now? Dinner is in the crock pot, bread dough is being mixed in the bread machine, the windows are wide open so I can smell the wet earth and feel the cool breeze. Everything is under control, so now I can do a little catching up on my sewing and not feel guilty.
    Enjoy your day, everyone!

  42. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

    There is something special about winning a contest, even if it is just a little trinket. Winning a house or a car, that would really be something. Then we would have to figure out how to pay the taxes on it. Bummer.

  43. Emilie Richards on September 6, 2009 at 11:15 am

    A problem I have yet to face. Might explain why nobody who wins the HGTV Home Giveaways actually seems to move into their new houses, too.

  44. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Lovely bracelet. Winning contests makes me happy. I enjoy sharing what I get. The books especially make the rounds of my friends.

  45. Amber Turner on September 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I am happiest when I am with my two nephews. Their outlook on life is always so optomistic and fun that you just can’t help but be happy around them.

Leave a Comment