Happiness Thoughts at the End of the Year

iStock_000007693258XSmall.jpgNew Year’s resolutions.  I love them.  A clean slate, fresh start, brand new page to write a brand new history.  Every new year is a chance to reconsider life and make necessary changes.  There’s only one problem.  While we’re thinking about all the changes we need to make, and preparing for a new opportunity to fix what’s wrong, it’s easy to forget all the things we did right and all the things that WENT right in our lives this year.

My friend mystery author Casey Daniels introduced me to Manhattan’s Good Riddance Day in a recent post on The Little Blog of Murder.  On December 28th giant shredders are set up by the Times Square Alliance, and everybody who wants to can shred the negatives of the past year.  Letters from ex-lovers.  Rejection letters from editors (okay, I added that myself), disappointing report cards.  If the artifact can’t be shredded, then giant sledgehammers are available to pound it into submission.  How freeing to say goodbye to the negative to make way for the positive.

But what about all the good moments of 2009?  It’s so easy to concentrate on the things we didn’t accomplish.  What did we accomplish that made us happy?  What serendipities occurred that were simply gifts, deserved or undeserved, from the universe?  What good advice did we pass on?  When did we practice patience when annoyance would have been so much easier?  When did we NOT forget a loved one who needed us?  When did we NOT forget a stranger in trouble?

Here are a few of my own finer moments of 2009. 


Discovering that 20 of my older novels will be made into television movies in Germany.  This was truly a gift from the universe and completely unexpected.

After more than 10 years of open houses and regretful head shaking, finding the perfect (for us) cottage at Chautauqua Institution to enjoy in the coming years. Proof that even the craziest dreams can come true.

My husband’s six month sabbatical and a chance to spend some of it in Florida, where we both grew up, with family we rarely see.


A year of Southern Exposure and Facebook, and the discovery that both blogging and social networking are a wonderful way to make new friends and get new viewpoints.

Pushing deadlines back a bit to give myself room to breathe and enjoy life.

Introducing the world to the women of Happiness Key.

Reaching out:

A fact finding trip to Guatemala to visit social justice agencies trying to right the wrongs of decades.

Support for a number of causes including Child Fund International, Doctors Without Borders, Holdeen India Project.  

Now, what about you?  Are you concentrating on all the things you didn’t do this year, and all the things you want to change?  Why don’t you take a moment and list your 2009 accomplishments.  It’s not as easy to be happy with what you did, as it is to expound on the things you didn’t do.  Society trains us to be both modest  and negative.  So break the rules.  Take a chance and blow your own horn right here.  Trumpet those virtues.  Let us wallow in your good luck and enjoy it vicariously.

If you tell us something good about your own 2009 (click on comments at the top right to do so) I’ll enter your name in a drawing for an autographed copy of Happiness Key, whose four major characters accomplish a LOT over the time span of the novel.  Just tell us something good that happened to you or that you made happen in 2009 and do it by January 7th.  Or tell us a lot.

2009 is nearly over.  Let’s celebrate all the reasons we will hate to see it go. 




  1. Casey on December 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Well, I don’t need a copy of Happiness Key because I own, have read, and do love the book! But I think it’s a good idea to share as you suggested, Emilie.
    My accomplishments this year:
    Publishing three books, “Night of the Loving Dead,” “Dead Man Talking” and (as Miranda Bliss), “Murder Has a Sweet Tooth.”
    Getting bees! Oh yes, this was our first year as apiarists and we’re loving it. So much so that yesterday (12/30), we ordered more bees for the spring. That means we’ll be adding another hive. Hurray!
    Making it through (mostly sane) my thirty-year-old daughter moving back home.
    Handing the Scotty that came along with her (that’s a dog, not a man!) and finally getting him to fall into the routine of our other two dogs.
    Brainstorming in Sarasota with the brightest writers this side of the moon.
    Attending the wonderful Bouchercon mystery conference in Indianapolis this fall.
    I guess the list could go on and on, but that’s enough for now. Thanks for reminding me to look on the bright side, Emilie!

  2. carolyn mirabella on December 31, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    First thank you Emilie for the instructions.
    the best things that happened to me were living and recovering from a severe infection–recieved the Rites of the Ill and believe that that and all the prayers of family and friends brought me through the illness.
    The other best thing was becoming a CASA volunteer in November. I recieved my first case, a little girl who is doing well at this time.
    I ask all that read this consider to add CASA to your cause list.

  3. Lucy Joy on December 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Oh boy…All the good things that happened this year: One of my nephews was married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony overlooking Agate Pass in Puget Sound, I found out why my shoulder has been so painful; rotator cuff injury. After a very slow spring & early summer, work picked up for my husband, Our very old resident black-tailed doe came to our yard to die so we were able to bury her at “home”, I celebrated my 50th birthday at a surprise party my husband & two best friends put together, I went to see Bette Midler in Vegas and last, but not least our entire family was able to celebrate Christmas together! It was a joyful year!

  4. Emilie Richards on December 31, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    It’s even nicer to share your joys and triumphs than I imagined. Thank you for making my New Year’s Eve, and keep them coming this week.

  5. Becky on December 31, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    What a fabulous idea – to celebrate our positive actions in 2009. Our son graduated high school and went away for a semester of college. DH and I celebrated his accomplishments and love being “empy nesters.” We are rediscovering our relationship – a good thing. One of the highlights of 2009 was spending 3 days quilting with quilting friends in the north Georgia mountains. It was so relaxing and refreshing. A biggie was coming to terms with the “aging” issues of my Dad and MIL. I’m done with the guilt and accept the reality of the situation. Looking forward to all the 2010 has to offer. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  6. Ingrid King on December 31, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    This has been an incredible year for me and there were so many joyful and happy moments! This is the year I published my first book, Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, and that single momentous event made it one of the best, if not the best, year of my life.
    I don’t think there’s all that much value in looking back on the things that didn’t go right, I prefer to look forward to the wonderful opportunities the New Year holds. I no longer make New Year’s resolutions, I set New Year’s intentions instead. The difference is subtle, but powerful in terms of the energy behind the words. I wrote an article about it yesterday, here’s the link: http://consciouscat.net/2009/12/30/new-years-intentions/
    Have a very Happy New Year, Emilie, filled with joy, happiness, magic, and everything you wish for!

  7. Laney4 on December 31, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Many things happened that first appeared “not so great” but ended up with a positive spin. I have been very fortunate.
    I found a big lump. Scared beyond belief. Found out it was “only” a cyst. I’m fine.
    I was in a car accident. Car was written off. Can’t afford a newer one (yet). I’m fine. Others were fine. We’re saving money by not having two cars (although it is a pain in the butt).
    I had a rash on my ankles up to my knees. Took cream for it. Had severe burning. Realized I was allergic to cream. Stopped cream. Rash eventually went away. Months later determined that rash originally appeared because I was also allergic to new detergent. Now I wash all my clothes separately (until new detergent is finished). Rash is gone.
    My legs and feet swelled. Hurt to bend feet. Finally figured out it was caused by the cream, as it was a steroid. After I quit using the cream, it took several months for the swelling to reduce.
    Was so scared by all these health problems, it was MUCH easier to eat less and exercise more. I needed motivation and I certainly got it. Big time. 2009 was the year of many health problems, but it was also an eye-opener as to a much-needed change in lifestyle. I am proud to have lost 24 pounds since Aug 15/09, and I KNOW I will continue losing more, as I eat 1/2 to 2/3 of a plate of supper, don’t drink pop anymore, don’t have evening snacks anymore, and play competitive badminton five nights each week instead of previous two nights. (Now tonight is going to be difficult at a house party with lots of food, but I’m up for the challenge!) Happy New Year, everyone!

  8. Emilie Richards on December 31, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Good for you for changing negatives into positives and thinking about all that happened in a much more productive way. And yay on the weight loss. Sounds like you’re doing it the smart and healthy way.

  9. Heather Pierce on January 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Well, as I sit and think, I can’t think of many things that stand out for what I’ve done. However, many in my family have faced and overcome challenges.
    My Husband survived a fall from his helicopter which could have been much worse. He smacked his head pretty good and walked with a cane for a bit, but is doing much better now. At 38, a different outcome would have drastically changed our family as we know it. I pray that his next visit (and hopefully last) to foreign soils will bring him and all his comrades home safely.
    My oldest daughter overcame her first emotional trials of puberty and is well on her way to her “tween” years.
    My toddler potty trained very early and is smart as a whip. Rambunctious as she can be at home, she sits quietly in church every week. A testament that she is in fact learning which actions are acceptable.
    I often feel that I don’t really “do” anything as a stay at home Mom, but all the hard work I do for this family on a daily basis is reflected through the three of them.
    For the first time in about 10 years, my New Year’s resolution is selfish. I am going to spend more time on ME! Losing the “baby weight” I’ve carried for 10 years, braces on my teeth, and making alone time for Me. I know this will only strengthen my soul and make me a better Wife and Mother.
    Are you talking about the Chautauqua Institution in New York? If it is, my Mother spent a day there this year with one of her best friends. (I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. My whole family is still there, minus me). She loved it there. She said it was absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Congratulations on getting a piece of that beauty for yourself!

  10. Emilie Richards on January 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I think you have a lot to be proud of. Being a stay at home mom’s an all consuming job, but you’re reaping the rewards. And congratulations on making some room for your own needs. Yes, the Chautauqua Institution near Buffalo. It’s both beautiful and peaceful and one of my favorite places on earth. I do feel lucky to have been able to go there so often in the past years.

  11. Kristine Trout on January 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I also own and loved Happiness Key and currently have my Mother-In-Law hooked on reading it too! In 2009 I had one of the worst moments of my life lead to some of my greatest joys and bring me into the New Year with many changes for the better in my life. I was 21 1/2 weeks pregnant with my second child when my water broke slightly. I was advised by a medical professional to think about terminating because “babies born this early are really messed up”. I had already loved this baby and named her and my husband and I morally objected to this terrible suggestion, and we were shocked by the way this Man had disregarded our baby’s potential at a wonderful life. With the support of Family and friends and a lot of prayers I carried her to term and our baby girl was born perfectly healthy and happy! This experience has taught me that sometimes you have to believe things will be okay even when the “experts” say they won’t, and that Love and Faith are powerful things. I also had time to re-evaluate my life and I am starting 2010 by going back to school to finish the degree I started earning more then a decade ago! 2010 promises to be a great year for my family! I hope it is for you and yours as well!

  12. Emilie Richards on January 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    What a wonderful story, Kristine. You lived your convictions, and I am so glad you got a healthy daughter and a happy ending. Also glad the experience has convinced you to finish that degree. Bravo on all counts.

  13. Kay Myhrman-Toso on January 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

    What did I accomplish in 2009? At first blush, it seemed that this was a pretty ordinary year, but this question kept tugging at me, demanding I pay attention.
    2009 followed a time when grief and sadness had installed a revolving door in my heart. In one six month span of time, I’d cared for three friends until each had taken a final breath. I was still reeling from being caught in the slip-stream of a church implosion.
    I reflecting, I realize this was a year for gratitude and healing. It was a year to really listen to the “still small voice”, rather than to plug my metaphorical ears shouting, “I can’t hear you!” It was a year to learn that sometimes saying “no” is the healthiest response. In my case, it was saying no to returning to grad school – again- in spite of the encouragement of a professor with whom I want to study. It just wasn’t the right time.
    So what did I do? I gave myself permission to read more books that didn’t require highlighting, margin notes, or checking references. I planned and created several new gardens, while rearranging a number of other beds and borders. (Why can’t the plants just trade places, when shade encroaches on a sunny bed?) I attended the weeklong Summer Institute in Spirituality and the Arts. Heaven! (Think “Ed Wilcox meets Junie Bluebird.” ) I more than survived a three month house construction project. We were blessed with contractors whose middle names should be “integrity” and “perfection”. They even were careful around my many gardens. OK, so I did dig out the beds closest to the house! Since our dogs could not be in the yard during construction, I discovered new parks and trails on our daily explorations. Serendipity abounded! I continued to delight in children, both in a church setting and by volunteering in school. This was the 12th year that I transformed into “The Cat in the Hat” – yes, in full costume and make-up – for a celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. As “The Cat” I get to encourage reading and writing with 150 first graders each year. It doesn’t get much better than that!
    This was a year to appreciate the joy and blessings of dear friends, close family, shared meals, laughter, great books , public radio, labyrinths, surprise volunteers in the garden, (but not more angelica gigas!), the unconditional love of wagging tails, warm chocolate chip cookies, the first migrating birds of spring, an amazing community of faith, and (did I mention it?) great books and their authors!
    Maybe, just maybe, 2010 will be the year to take another class. I still have my highlighters!

  14. Emilie Richards on January 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

    What a beautiful and thoughtful response. And I’m still smiling over “Ed Wilcox meets Junie Bluebird.” I could relate. Thank you for sharing.

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