My Special Key to Happiness

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I believe in dreams.  Dreaming and working hard can help us realize our heart’s desires.  On the other hand I’ve seen many hard-working dreamers who never reach all their goals and consequently feel they’ve failed.  As a mother I urged my children to choose work they loved.  That way, the work, itself, would be a dream fulfilled, and whatever followed would be lagniappe, that something extra with which we are occasionally gifted.

My own work has been a dream come true.  I still, all these novels later, need to pinch myself  to be sure that my job, that thing for which I’m paid enough to feed my family, is actually writing and publishing.  Whatever else comes from it?  Lagniappe.

I’ll confess, though, that for many years, I’ve been working toward two other dreams. One of them was to own a summer cottage at Chautauqua Institution, so friends and family could gather and enjoy time together in that beautiful place.  Every year when I visited, I scanned classifieds and stopped by houses that were for sale, but never took that final step.

Oddly enough, it seems an author can take a lesson from her own work. Happiness Key, out this summer, made me consider my own personal keys to happiness.   Like so many of you who shared yours on this blog, I realized the important keys were already in place.  To remind myself, I slid my real keys on a “happiness keychain,” like the ones I presented in the beach bag giveaway, and decided to put those two dreams of mine in my back pocket while I appreciated the many blessings I already have.

What is it about letting go?  This summer we decided just to enjoy ourselves during a month at Chautauqua and forget long range plans.  We spent our weeks there ignoring open houses.  Then, out of the mists, the right house appeared.  Just like that. It would not be ignored.  


The key to that house has been on my happiness keychain since Friday, when we signed the final papers.  The house is zipped up in awnings awaiting better weather, when we’ll spend our first night inside.  “She” was built in 1895, a real Victorian lady with quirks and wear and character.  And porches?  She has enough to make even this fanatic happy.  I hope to write many books in an old wicker chair on the side porch, while I keep track of my neighborhood doings.  See if I don’t.

You’ve generously shared the things in your life that make you happy.  For the rest of November, will you do it again?  Please comment on any of my blog entries and tell me about a time in your life when a dream came true unexpectedly.  I’ll nod along and smile.  If you comment on your dream, I’ll also enter you in a drawing to win one of two lucky pewter “happiness keychains,” just like mine, along with an autographed copy of Happiness Key.

I’ll confess I’m a bit superstitious about these keychains now, and I want to pass on the good luck.  To comment, just click on “comments” (in red) at the top of this or any blog.  You’ll read what other people had to say, plus find a place to add your own.  Let’s share those good memories.

Oh, I did say I had “two” dreams, didn’t I?  Keep checking my blog.  If my second dream comes true, as well, I promise you’ll be the first ones to know.  And if it does? 

I might just go into the happiness keychain business.    


  1. Moneik Stephens on November 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    What a wonderful experience! My dream came true when I was able to work in a quilt shop part time. I loved all our customers and helping them design a special quilt.

  2. Becky in Georgia on November 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    For years I’ve wanted to spend time with other quilters. I was a “quilter want-to-be. I read everything I could find on quilting, but didn’t really quilt. Finally, about 5 years ago, I decided things would change only if I acted on this desire/dream. I began going to guild meetings, shop groups, lectures, quilt shows. I had to go alone because my friends were not quilters. In time, I began to make friends with other quilters. It took time. I have found a community of quilters to sew with and take field trips together. It is something I’ve wanted/needed for a very long timel.

  3. Diana L Smith on November 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Happiness to me is being able to chat with fellow readers online and find new authors to add to my tbr stacks. It is amazing how much you feel like you have known these people for ever. Happy reading! Diana

  4. Pat Sloan on November 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    you are amazing… and I’m SO HAPPY for you!!!

  5. Lorene Beach on November 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    How wonderful that you found your dream home. I have also found dreams when I had stopped looking and let them find me. My husband of 37 years, for example, came along when I decided to stopping looking so hard for the “perfect” man. After all, if he were perfect, he wouldn’t want an imperfect mate. We are perfect for each other.

  6. Emilie Richards on November 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    What a lovely story. It’s amazing what happens when we stop trying so hard, isn’t it?
    Thanks to everyone here for sharing.

  7. Helen Bowser on November 12, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    My first good luck was meeting my husband. We had 33yrs and 9 months together when he past away. After that i was having hard times and it seemed as things hit rock bottom the Good Lord stepped in and helped me out on several occasions. Now i am raising my 8 years old grandson so that keeps me busy. Keep writing the good stories, so down to earth and real. God Bless

  8. Toby Bobbitt on November 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I am so happy for you. I grew up in Western New York and long to return. I have been watching real estate back there for a summer retirement home someday but the time is not yet right nor is my husband convinced that this is the right place! I too met my DH at the ripe old age of 39 after reconciling to a happy life without a spouse. We actually got married twice, so we have two anniversaries per year! This year I had my 21 and 22 anniversary and I love him more every day.

  9. Shelia Chandler on November 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Wow that is awesome. So many times we forget the blessings we already have. This past year my husband and I have both realized some dreams. He built me my dream quilting studio in which I now have my longarm and now he is building his dream garage to restore antique cars. Thanks for reminding me how blessed we all are.

  10. Lucy Golden on November 17, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I was in my late 20’s, recently broken up with a long-term boyfriend, and feeling a bit sorry for myself. I really wanted to settle down & find a wonderful man with whom I could share my life. I felt like my “Prince Charming” would never grace my doorstep!
    Reflecting on my things, I realized I didn’t have anything to complain about. I was living in a brand new house, which I had contracted to be built, I had a nice job…I then thought of a woman in our church, Miss Major. She was in her mid-life, had never married, but she had a great life! She traveled when she wanted & did what she wanted, doted on her nieces & nephews. That was it! I’d be like Miss Major & have in interesting life! I didn’t need a man.
    Well, then my hairdresser decided that I needed to be set up with her brother. We went out on a few dates, but I didn’t know if it would go anywhere, but I was OK with it, I had my interesting life ahead of me!
    Well, to make a long story short, we were married a year and a half after our first, blind, date!

  11. Emilie Richards on November 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

  12. CindyD on November 19, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Just found out today you have a new book out and so I checked your blog, found your contest and had to comment.
    If you’d told me before I retired that happiness would be an active living community I would have told you you were crazy, but it’s true. We found a house both of us really love and a lifestyle we both enjoy. All retirees should move to Leisure World.

  13. Lisa G on November 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I have many dreams of which I wish to come true. I want to become a writer. I want to find an occupational interest that I can do successful. I want to live by the ocean and breathe its’ air. I just keep on dreaming!

  14. Emilie Richards on November 19, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    First you have to dream before you can make a dream come true. You’re on your way.

  15. Jean K on November 19, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    We live by a lake now and I love reading your books and doing my quilting. Happiness is today!
    You are such a fantastic person! Thank you for the amazing books you write. You are so kind and I pray Gods’ blessings for you and your family.

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