50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Once upon a time, near the shortest, darkest day of the year, when I was feeling very, very sorry for myself, I plopped down at my desk, set a timer for 30 minutes, and started writing down everything I could think of that had given me even a moment’s happiness during the previous 11 1/2 months. And I felt much, much better. Before I’d even gotten to #10.

So the next year I did the same thing again but with only 10 minutes on the clock (thanks, Daily Post, for that prompt), and my friend Dawn at Tales from the Motherland joined in. And it was big fun.

And then this year Dawn said, because Dawn is awesome this way, hey what if we had a big blog party and tried to flood the blogosphere with happiness and gratitude. And I said (and this is what I actually said), well hell yeah, I’m in.

So today (which, coincidentally, is the shortest day of the year here in Memphis), Dawn and I and some of Dawn’s blogging friends whom she corralled (because she is awesome that way) are putting happiness front and center, sharing it with the world and hoping you might join us (see instructions, at the end).

But even if you don’t join publicly, formally in a blog post, then maybe join us informally at your desk, on your lunch napkin. Whatever. Seriously, set your watch or iPhone for 10 minutes, and just start writing whatever pops into your mind that made you smile in the past year. If you get stuck, look through your calendar or social media feed. What videos made you laugh? What dinner did you enjoy? Did you wear your dress inside out to work? (I didn’t this year, but have before. More than once.)

Do this favor for yourself, if no one else. Try it; you’ll see. You’ll feel better, almost instantly.

And if the Grinch-y curmudgeon in you is thinking, I am just so tired of all this gratitude bullshit, well, I hear you. And I’ll be clear: I am grateful for many things, particularly in the past year; but my list isn’t a gratitude list. The list, for me, is about choosing happiness – making a conscious choice to select happy over disgruntled, to reframe my perspective and focus on the good.

And, as an aside: yes, I went back after the allotted time had ended and added words (because “Seth Myers/David Greene” would have made sense to no one but me) and links and pictures (and fixed at least one typo). Life’s better with pictures, and without typos. Though there’s probably still one lurking; there always is. Damn typos.

50 happy things: Jennifer’s 2015 edition

The ambivalent Balinks

  1. Turning 50, in good health, with good friends and family
  2. Making it through the (often shitty) year
  3. Binge watching all six seasons of GLEE with my daughter
  4. My son’s last day of 7th grade
  5. Enough snow in February to need my Sorels
  6. the snowy day 2015And again in March
  7. Reconnecting with a handful of people who’d slipped away
  8. All 24 selections from Joe’s Winos wine club
  9. Bernard making all the frames for my blueprints (show in January 2016)
  10. All the Light We Cannot See
  11. Going to Knoxville for my daughter’s first cross country meet2015 TN Middle School Cross Country Championship
  12. Watching my daughter start running
  13. Watching my son re-discover tennis
  14. Playing tennis only with friends, only for fun
  15. Sitting next to my sister, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, at the birthday dinner party I threw for myself
  16. The creamy cucumber soup we had for dinner that night
  17. Bernard’s green chile hollandaise the next morning
  18. Being in Denver on 4-20, by accident, and realizing I’m old enough finally to say out loud that I’ve never been cool enough or laid back enough to actually enjoy marijuana
  19. Sewing
  20. Getting an entire week to myself while my kids were both away at camp
  21. My son’s samba-reggae percussion group
  22. The dogs lying together in a heap at my feet while I write
  23. Being invited to speak about writing
  24. Scheduling a show of my art work, for the first time in 21 years, and then actually following through with it (opens January 8, 2016)Blue
  25. Figuring a few things out
  26. Camp Bratton Green
  27. Inside Out, and that Sadness was the heroine
  28. HONY’s Syria series
  29. The Bitter Southerner’s poker story
  30. Raising $250,000 for a new bloodmobile**
  31. My friend Winky’s book, which will be available in April 2016, just in time for Mother’s Day
  32. MacGyver and the Christmas tree (a private joke, sorry)
  33. My Meyer lemons
  34. St. Paul and the Broken Bones
  35. David Greene’s interview with Seth Meyers (I have the biggest crush on David Greene)
  36. Jenny Lawson‘s book and book tour
  37. Lemon bars with olive oil and sea salt
  38. Ellen Degeneres and Whitney Elementary School
  39. Reading all the hoopla about cookbook clubs and knowing I thought of it first, years ago, and actually did it
  40. Taking my son to meet the Dude Perfect guys (who were so, so cute in person)Dude Perfect
  41. Angus Deaton’s Nobel Prize
  42. The secret to Connie Britton’s hair
  43. Trello
  44. The Prize, by Dale Russakoff
  45. Finally figuring out how to tell our blood donors where their blood went, and receiving their heart-felt responses
  46. Oliver Sacks: My Periodic Table
  47. Finding out that flip flop socks are a thing
  48. Finding a kadota fig source
  49. Ta-Nehisi Coates
  50. The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogota
  51. Luminosity
  52. Misty Copeland
  53. Helping co-workers rescue the duckling family from our parking lot and relocating them (the ducklings, not the co-workers) to Rainbow Lake
  54. Family outing to the Bass Pro Shop opening weekend
  55. Getting a signed copy of Kid President’s book thanks to a long-lost friendKid President book
  56. Salted brown butter krispie treats from smittenkitchen.com

Ok, time’s up. Now it’s your turn.

Want to join us? Here are the rules, courtesy of Dawn (who is better at organizing things and writing rules than I am) (NOTE: I have absolutely no idea how this Inlinkz blue frog thing works, and I’ve probably screwed it up):

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.
To join the bloggers who have come together for this project:
1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste these exact instructions from this post, into yours)
2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of this post.
3) That will take you to another window, where you can paste the URL to your post.
4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise.


** P.S. Today, on this fun day of sharing happiness, the new bloodmobile (see item #30) actually arrived – 2 weeks early! Merry Christmas!


  1. LOVE your list! I’m so impressed that your 50 sound so much more intriguing than mine… and make me want to explore them all, meet you for real, and go back an re-read so many of your posts! Your writing does that to me, Jen. I re-read many of them. Thanks so much for inspiring me last year and humoring me this. xox

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You inspired me to do this last year and it was fun. Okay, I’ll give it another go, only this time for 10 minutes. By the way, I loved Inside Out the movie and Anthony Doerr’s book. It’s at the top of my Favorite Books of 2015 which I will post shortly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how terrible am I?! I’m finally commenting, although I really did read the first few lines two weeks ago for inspiration and then had to stop, because if I read too much beautiful writing I find I can’t write myself. Too jealous and forlorn am I. And then after I forced out my 50, along with a ranting e-mail to poor Dawn and a full blown temper tantrum, I did read your whole lovely post. Which as always, inspired me to read more, write more, make more art, try to cook something new and so forth.
    And yes, yes, yes (Sally Albright style) to orgasms. But no, no, no to the latte, triple or otherwise. I’ll have tea.
    So glad I found that powerhouse, Dawn, and lyrical, lovely, complicated, inspirational, you. Cheers to 2016.


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