Keeping Track of the Good Things


The “Happiness Jar”

Happiness Jars have been a thing for years now, and I really wish I had made one for 2015.

This was just…not my year. 2015 was the year that nothing happened; or, at least, nothing good. I had declared 2015 a failure as early as mid-September, dragging myself for all the wasted days and failed attempts/missed opportunities to make it better. Because I enjoy making myself suffer oh-so-much, I decided to write a list of all the things I didn’t do this year, all the things I tried and failed, and all the things that just went flat-out wrong.

I didn’t feel too great by the end of this little exercise, to say the least. In fact, I was livid. Angry at myself for all the things that went wrong this year, sure, but also suddenly angry at the very notion that my 2015 was a total and complete disaster. Seeing all of my failures and shortcomings down on paper made me oddly defensive, and perhaps a bit desperate to prove to myself that 2015 wasn’t all bad…after all, only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I didn’t have a Happiness Jar to fall back on, so I went back through my memories of 2015 to see if I could come up with any Good Things to pit against my list of crap.

Here’s what I came up with:

Took a really scary writing workshop that became much less scary by the end. It was taught by a Nebula nominee and the other students gave incredibly…thorough…feedback. But I pushed through and it was worth it in the end because…

…I finally began drafting the fantasy novel I’ve been sitting on for years. I brought in really rough drafts of the first two chapters, and it was surprisingly (to me, at least) well received. I was given plenty of notes on things to improve upon, of course, but for now I’m just happy having introduced a group of people to characters I’ve known and loved for so long, and knowing that they loved them, too.

Wrote a review of a book I really enjoyed and the book’s author found it, read it, and Tweeted it

Introduced myself to one of my favorite authors at BookCon. I was shaking and terribly awkward but for a fleeting moment her attention was on me, which is plenty to feel good about.

Landed a job I had wanted for awhile, then had the courage to quit when I realized it wasn’t what I wanted, after all. I wrote about it here.

Asked another employer (who I have been with for three years) for a raise and have since received TWO. Ask and you shall receive. Seriously.

Completely reworked how I thought about my day job, and it has made a world of difference. I work from home as a web content writer. It’s not a particularly fun job and it can get lonely and underwhelming not having an office outside the house to go to every day. This was the year I really began to understand that this job is my income, not my profession, and that working from home gives me the freedom to schedule in time to work on other writing projects…my writing projects.

Saw MISERY on Broadway as a “Halloween present” from my sister. I am 100% in favor of Halloween presents becoming a thing, especially when they consist of seeing Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis in a play based on one of your favorite books by one of your favorite authors.

Discovered new means of managing anxiety…through baking.

Saw my name in print as an editorial assistant of a lit mag for the first time.

Was invited to participate in my first literary reading. I have since been told the event has been pushed back to December 2016, but it feels nice to have been asked (and now I have a whole year to write an awesome story to read).

Quit smoking. !

Got a puppy. !!!


Of course I would like to see things improve for me in 2016. Of course I have goals for the coming year and hope they don’t go up in flames like so many of the goals I made in 2015. But things are going to go wrong, and I’m going to get discouraged and it’s going to feel like my own personal apocalypse all over again…I’ll just have to remember to keep track of the Good Things, too.

I’m going out tomorrow to find myself a big, fat Happiness Jar. Here’s to filling it to the brim with Good Things in 2016.