Happiness is Starting Something New

Bob and I are starting a new book, which is terrifying. Every time I do this, I think the first twenty-four books were flukes, I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s going to be awful. Except that there are so many possibilities. I had a creative writing teacher who told us that, once we write the first sentence of a story, we’ve eliminated 99% of the possibilities in that story, which is true. What he didn’t say is that there are still thousands of possibilities left. Every sentence you write after the first one winnows the possibilities down even more, but the winnowing is exciting, like carving away the parts of a sculpture that don’t belong. After all, at the end you just want one story, one great, focused, specific story. But at the beginning of anything? Limitless possibilities.

What did you start (or finish or work on) this week?

72 thoughts on “Happiness is Starting Something New

  1. Happy to hear that you and Bob are starting a new book. I started on my Christmas cookies and my Christmas cards this week. Each card has a little gnome on it that is pieced together from little paper components. It’s not a fast process but I’m enjoying making them. I put together the urns for my front door. I bought the greenery and re-used or foraged (from my yard) everything else. Happy with the results.

    My nephew is visiting for the weekend. He’s good company and I’m always happy to see him.

  2. Happiness is new Tshirts. Tee public was having a sale and I bought six last night. Two muppets Christmas carol, one Murderbot, one last unicorn and two Lord of the rings. Oh wait, that is seven. It’s a splurge, but it makes me happy. I wear Tshirts all the time when I am not at work. They may as well be good ones.

    1. I’ve gotten hooked on Life is Good Tshirts. All cotton, hard-wearing, and they donate 10% of their profits to children’s charities. I just got two new ones with Winnie the Pooh on them. I didn’t need them…but I NEEDED them.

        1. I do, too. They are a little pricey, but they have lots of sales. Now ‘if I couldjust find the last one I ordered for myself, I’d wear it tomorrow.

  3. Thanks for the description of what writing is for you, Jenny. It takes some of the terror out of it, and makes it seem possible.

    I did not do anything spectacular, but I did finally clear out junk mail and recycled it, cleared things off the dining table that doubles as a desk, cleared the counters in the kitchen, and dust mopped the floors. I have my Solstice gifts for all but one stubborn person who is not giving me his wish list. Last night I watched “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, which made me very grateful for a sturdy house, good food in a nice variety, and a steady source of retirement income. Charlie sleeps under a “skylight” that is a hole in the roof, wears his clothes to bed to keep warm, eats plain cabbage soup every night for dinner, and his pants don’t reach his ankles, but he’s happy, because all four grandparents support and love him, his parents take good care of him, and they all live harmoniously together in a tiny little house.

    Then I put up the big lighted star in the front window, the ivy and holly wreaths on the front door and on the front of the house, set out some fake poinsettias, scented candles, snow globes, and tiny pine trees, and hung the huge sleigh bell cluster on the front door handle. Snoopy and Woodstock are on the storm door to greet visitors. Now, every time I open the front door so the cats can look out to supervise the squirrels, the bells will ring and cheer me up, and seeing little yellow Woodstock will make me happy. I’ll hang the solar lights on the red dogwood today, once the fog clears. Happy Holidays!

  4. I’m trying to decide if happiness is Home-Moanership. Transitioning from being the troglodyte in the garage to Lord of the Manor, with all the rights, duties, and obligations appertaining thereto… frankly, it’s scaring the crap out of me.

    But it is definitely a new thing, as well as revisiting an old thing. I’ve owned two houses over the course of 70+ years. I can do this. You’ve got a Bob. I’ve got a Jennifer (the dotter). What could go wrong?

    1. Change is good. Hope the new sense of security for you and your daughter adds to all the other possibilities in your future.

      Oh. And with your indoor gardens you can start cuttings of plants you want for your yard but don’t know if they are something you want to buy.

    2. I really like home ownership, all the expenses and responsibilities aside, it it satisfying and makes me feel safe. Also, I like to garden.

        1. I haven’t tended an outdoor garden in… ever. At best, I may have helped my brothers weed theirs. My step-dad grew a plot when I was in grade school. My contribution was to dig up carrots, wipe them on my pants, eat them, then put the carrot tops back in the ground. He was sure he had moles.

          The dotter sent me a satellite shot of the property. When it was taken, there was an in-ground pool. It’s gone. I could see turning its footprint into a micro-farm. Corn, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squarsh [sic], maybe watermelon and pumpkin. More likely, I’ll leave the landscaping and outdoor gardening to the dotter and her minio… kids.

          But the basement is far more spacious than the garage, and my indoor gardening will be expanding. I may have to add a few breakers to the electric panel.

          1. Some vegetables and herbs winter over and are convenient to grow outside. We have an insane amount of oregano, and nice amounts of thyme, rosemary, chives, and sorrel with very little effort.

  5. What’s going to make me happy today is taking my stepdaughter and my business partner’s daughter (13 and 15) for our annual Christmas shopping trip to the Eaton Centre (big mall here in Toronto). We will visit Starbucks to gear up for the event and then wander around aimlessly as I try to convince one to choose something, anything really, that I can buy her for Christmas and try to convince the other that I can’t buy her everything from every single store in the mall. We’ll take a break in the food court where they take about half an hour to decide which kiosk they want to visit and then they will forget I said I’d save a table and they’ll go sit somewhere else without me and I’ll wonder where they are. They’ll whisper and giggle together about things I can’t possibly understand. It’s absolutely one of my favourite times of the year.

  6. I put up my outside Yule decorations (just lights, mostly white and blue, that I wind around the trees in the front yard). The beautiful white metal tree doesn’t want to light up this year and I’ve got a sad about that, but the rest of it is very cheerful in the dark.

    I’m glad that the first phase of the 4-season porch project is finished, and a bit relieved not to have workmen here for a while.

    Getting a little bit of jewelry made and making some slow progress on revisions for me and beta reads for um, someone, and watching the snow start to come down. It has mostly rained up until now, but since I have to go into town today to work a shift at the store, today it will be snowing.

  7. My starting new was purchasing a new washing machine since the one we currently own… that is probably 20 years old… has developed a leak that is too expensive to fix.

    Plus I needed one that doesn’t require a college degree to run since my almost 90 year old mother with failing eyesight can manage it.

    Sooooo…. Merry Christmas to us!

    1. There’s a new washer (and drier) in my immediate future, too. Mine started leaking. The drier works but it doesn’t switch temps as reliably as it used to.They’re 35+ years s old so I can’t complain. I, too, am hoping for simple. I don’t really need to micro-managed my laundry.

  8. I have been procrastinating about putting up new shelves in my closest/pantry. Ridiculous really, since it just involves drilling some holes in a wall…and of course once I started yesterday I learned that I needed slightly longer bolts. So today will involve a quick trip to the hardware store for the right length and by the end of the day I will have shelves that make everything easily accessible.

    I’ve also gradually been bringing out the Xmas decorations. The most important is the balcony tree, as I am convinced it brings joy to those staying in the hotel across the street.

    And this afternoon I will be baking cookies with two of my favorite people.

    It’s going to be a good day.

  9. I managed a lot of little things that I just hadn’t been getting to, so I am feeling quite proud. AND I managed to get to the right person who can ask the actual right person if canceling our insurance will automatically cancel our auto payment. Three different entities are involved, not counting me or the bank – this is my my boss loves me.

    If I also manage to do holiday cards and muffins today, I think I will have done the majority of my to-do list. Though I am not going to make the mistake of actually looking at that list, just in case. Muffins, I am thinking about muffins.

  10. Happiness week all week. Celebrated the Big Guy’s birthday yesterday. The weather was cool and crisp, only rained while we were eating dinner. A family trip to the annual Christmas Market at Jack Poole Plaza and the most delicious dinner at a new to us restaurant; Yasma, Lebanese and Syrian food. Both the herbivores and the carnivores were happy and very full. The quality of the food is amazing. So good. And, now, back to Christmas cards and decorating.

    Oh, and my sister did not listen to her body telling her to go to the hospital. She has heart failure but they got back her from the brink. Very stubborn woman, my favourite sister. One not happy.

  11. This week I started a new novelette and finished wrapping the gift for our department gift exchange on the 13th. Also spend three hours doing yardkeeping yesterday, which basically means the front yard is finished for 2022. The only reason I went the full three hours was to get the front to a point where I can justifiably not touch it again till 2023. Happiness!

    On the happy book news front – Tamara Allen (‘Invitation to the Dance’ and ‘Downtime,’ both of which I thought were great) has several titles cheap to free right now on AMZ. I am loading up.

  12. A mostly happy week, if I ignore the computer gremlins. I went to a resale shop and loaded up on gifts for a friend’s adorable new puppy, and took them to her new(ish) home. I don’t often get to play with puppies, so it was great fun. My friend, who is 80, is exhausted by a new baby in the house.
    Had 3 rehearsals and 1 performance with our local orchestra; they and members of the chorale were the live music at a showing of “Home Alone.” Not a movie I’d care to see often–I’m the wrong demographic–but always happy to sing. Gave in and took my cane to try not to sit down; it worked for most of the performance. So I’m done with that and any minute will begin decorating. Possibly even baking!

  13. Today I am (hopefully) finishing a book I’m ghostwriting. Also, I just found out yesterday that my professors are no longer on strike (I don’t know the details, but I know they got at least some of what they originally wanted) so it turns out I will actually have a last week of classes after all.

    It’s been a weird month, y’all.

  14. I will start off with a denial: No, I am not a rabid sport fan.. however, happiness this week has been watching Les bleus beat the Lions with a tiny dose of unhappiness for my poor English hubby who is a football fan and has been waiting his whole life to see his team win the World Cup.
    Allez les bleus, we are not quite there yet.

  15. This afternoon I’ll be part of our Christmas Carol Fest at church. We’ve been working on this all fall, and it will be the culmination of a lot of hard work. I’m playing a handbell, the tenor recorder and singing – not all at the same time :). It will be nice to see all that hard work pay off. I just hope I put in enough practice on the recorder!

    I’m also thankful to be at the end of this cold. It’s going to make taking deep breaths to sing a little tricky, but I haven’t had a sore throat yet, so that’s good.

    As for starting things, I’ve rewritten our Christmas greeting, so it’s about time to get those things out in the mail!

  16. I saw three theater shows in three days, so that’s doing pretty good. I also only have one week left of work before 2 week vacation.

  17. I’m hoping to finish my final read through of Fledge-witch in the next couple of days, before I send it to my publishers. I did a final read last week, but a few problems cropped up, so this is my FINAL final read. Hopefully there will not be a FINAL FINAL final read!

    And once that’s done, I’m done for the year. And I am soooo ready for it.

  18. I woke up this morning cranky after days of heavy overcast and frequent rain (my house, although warm, is as dark as a tomb). After my post a couple days ago about the light therapy lamp I used to use, it occurred to me that the lamp might be helpful. So first thing this morning, I rummaged around in my basement and emerged, still cranky (and covered in cobwebs) with the lamp. I rearranged my desk (more cranky), plugged in the lamp, set my timer for 12 minutes, and read a book under the lamp. I have been depressed, irritable, and exhausted for weeks. After 12 minutes of light therapy I am cheerful, energetic, and optimistic. Wow. I’d forgotten how well this works.

  19. I made the decision to spend only the little time on FB that I need to accomplish keeping up with 3 people I only connect with there.

    Disillusionment sparked by what I learned about a cousin who I reconnected with on FB is why I made the decision.

    I also decided to join Instagram because I discovered the fun of attaching a photo to my haiku, senryu, tanka poems, etc.

    Jenny taught me a couple of lessons about giving and receiving critiques in comments a couple of posts back. I digested them and clarified my take away by writing my own blogpost.

    Nothing much is new otherwise.

  20. I finished (for now) the WIP’s first draft, so tomorrow I can start something new (well, it’s a second draft, but of a different manuscript, and it’s new in the sense that I’ve been letting it settle for a while, and I’ve probably forgotten most of what I’d written). Both the finishing and the starting make me happy.

    Also happy my neighbor and I have complementary food preferences. I can’t eat grapefruit (messes with thyroid meds), and she loathes green beans, so we swapped today after I got grapefruit in a gif of assorted citrus and she got beans (not sure why; I think they were also part of a gift that was a meal kit). No food wasted!

  21. Last weekend was our church Christmas Fair, and two (really good) concerts. I thought, oh, I get to rest. Then I remembered, oh, I’m taking the bus down to NYC to go see Aida at the Met. So I did, and had a great time, saw old friends, looked at Rockefeller Center. That Aida, it’s pretty good stuff.

    Back from that, still hoping to rest and get work done, but I’m having trouble thinking about things internal to only me, vs. problem solving for family and friends.

    My friend got a puppy! I get to share! A black miniature poodle puppy. So soft.

    1. Enjoy Aida at the Met. When I was 19,my sister took me to see it there. It was my first real opera and the memory stays with me 46years later. I hope your experience is as memorable.

  22. I bought myself a Christmas present: a book called Start Painting Now, which made me happy – I’m really looking forward to my hermit Christmas now, whatever the weather. Had a lovely time with fellow creatives at our Christmas drinks do. And now I have a friend staying with me: we’re having great fun catching up – it’s the start of our Christmas.

  23. I just wrote a 1000-word short holiday story about a 50 year old woman whose wife left her once the kids were grown, her Westie named Snowball, “rubbing hurt like salt into her own wounds, and a pink glass ornament that represents the marriage and holidays past.

    I also made soup.

  24. I’m super happy! WILDE IN LOVE won first place in the Contemporary Short Length (40K-60k words) category in the NJ Romance Writer’s Golden Leaf Contest last night!

  25. I started swimming again, for the first time since the world shut down. My hair is damp even as we speak.
    It felt great; I hope my coronary arteries can take it.

  26. I finally got 50 bulbs in the ground; 60 ish to go. So far I have managed to avoid digging up bulbs, by using pics to find the empty spaces. But I’m not sure I took enough for the remaining.
    Figured out presents for almost everyone on my list, and once I place a giant book order and 3 others tonight I will be mostly there.
    Cut out 2 stockings in felt and will now embroider the names of our adult sort of foster daughter and our bio daughters new partner on them. When the kids were little the kids and I made stockings for our “square family” (parents and kids) and various family members that celebrated with us at our house, but I never got around to doing one for foster daughter who had to suffer with a store bought one.
    It feels good to be fixing that.

    DS called me up to complain that his PhD advisors think he can be done in a year when he thinks he needs more time. Extensive discussion reveals that 1) they think he is productive which he has worried about 2) this timeline would put him on the shorter end of the completion time for his institution 3) he and his advisors all seem quite sure he had a good thesis topic and has done enough of the work that it will happen. So this is a happy and also makes me giggle about DS.

    One of my and DS favorite skaters, Jason Brown, has not retired and has announced that he may skate through the next Olympics! If you don’t know him, he’s an amazingly artistic skater who is best in the world at everything except quad jumps and is just fabulous to watch .

    https://youtu.be/uzaecs1ylGo is his s River dance.

    We may have found out the medical reason why I’m so tired and if we did… it’s totally treatable

    1. Wonderful about your treatment!
      Also – thanks for the link. I think I’m in love. He’s 26 now. My grandson is 20. 6 years older than my grandson is not too much of an age difference – is it? me 65 JB 26 we can make it work – right? – ok going to watch it again

    2. Yay for a diagnosis, and even better that it’s got a treatment! Too often, people get a diagnosis, and then hear that there’s nothing really to be done about it. Although having an answer provides some peace of mind, it’s better when there’s also an actual treatment!

  27. My happiest part of the week was today. My friend Barb and I went to the first Kid Series play since the pandemic. Although it was sparsely attended, the show was fun and the music delightful.We followed it up with lunch at a restaurant that had an enormous case of both Middle Eastern and Western desserts. I’d feel virtuous about resisting the sweets if I hadn’t just joyfully finished an order of the best fries I think I’ve ever eaten. I really must have enjoyed the conversation because almost 4 hours went by the time we left the restaurant.

    One of the reasons I didn’t notice the passage of time was that Barb and I were discussing health care. My first appointment with my new internist left me feeling less than impressed. She had found a doctor she liked, but had been told that the practice,which specialized in older adults, would only accept Medicare Advantage, not standard Medicare. Fortunately, they rescinded that decision and she was able to continue with the doctor she liked. I’ve seen ads for the medical group she uses and if my new doctor doesn’t work out, I will definitely try hers(if that doctor is still accepting new patients.) I think I will also call the person who gave me the name of my recently retired doctor. I wonder who he decided to try now that Dr. S has retired. The idea of having options will do a lot to alleviate my panic around this subject.

    When I got home this afternoon,I found an email from the niece I recently visited. She said the thrift shop I enjoyed in Milwaukee before the pandemic did survive and that she would take me there when I return. I now have 2 reasons to go back there and I am excited. I now have even more reason to reconnect with the 2 other people I used to hang out with when I was visiting my parents.

  28. I’ve finished the last almost two months of election board meetings-one general, one special ‘disaster’ meeting, two special certification meetings, and a special pay meeting. And the 20 pages of deficiency and provisional ballot meeting (this one was 20 pages). All completed in time for Wednesday’s general meeting when, I hope, they will be approved.

    I’ll be glad to put it all behind me.

    Of course, it starts again with Wednesday’s meeting. I’ll get those minutes done before Christmas and not have to think about elections until after New Year’s. Sigh.

  29. I’m happy that I have 4 sleeps before our 6 week European trip. Aaarrrggghhhh!!!!! (Happy, slightly manic argh)

    We’ll fly an hour 15 to Auckland, then 10.5 hours to Singapore, where we will hang out for a day, then 13 hours to Zurich.

    So I should sleep now, but to do list argh! Still happy.

    1. That sounds like a fun trip. We have decided that 2024 is the year for New Zealand so I will be picking your brain in the new year. I do have a couple of questions since I caught you before you fly. Are you flying Air New Zealand? If you are and you’re doing one of the upgraded seats, a review would be much appreciated. I’m trying to figure out if the premium economy with the extra leg room or the skycouch plus an economy seat is the better way to go for us since Paul is 6’4″ with bad knees. Thanks (even if you are flying another airline)!

      1. Oooh, I’d love to meet up with you when you’re in NZ. And you’re welcome to pick my brains too. But sadly, I’ve only ever flown economy, on any airline.

      2. Oooh exciting! I’m flying Singapore/Swiss but AirNZ is typically good, and I’ve heard good things about the premium. I’m only 4’10, so leg room isn’t typically an issue for me, but I can appreciate why it is for your husband. Seatguru is an excellent website that gives you seat width, pitch and distance from the seat in front for most planes on most airlines, so that might be a helpful resource?

        Feel free to come brain picking when you are ready. I’m allanah.nz on insta or allanahinnz@mastodon.nz if you want to DM.

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