What Makes Me Happy

by Katy on January 11, 2010 · 22 comments

I am in a good place in my life. Life is good. Most everything is going well, and I want to recognize and quantify this good fortune. I had written a column entitled, “What Makes Me Happy” in October of 2008, and I think it’s time to do a re-evaluation.

So here’s what makes me happy, 2010 style:

  1. I am happy for the health and welfare of my friends and family.
  2. I am happy that even though the birth numbers for January are way down, (which means I’m hardly working this month) we’ll do just fine financially.
  3. I am happy that I found a brand new looking free-for-the-taking artificial Christmas tree on the sidewalk yesterday and brought it home. This will save us $20-$30 every year.
  4. I am happy that my indoor laundry drying system seems to be working despite the damp weather.
  5. I am happy that I was able to rewire my great-grandparent’s alabaster lamps using the works from a dull lamp that I scored for free.
  6. I am happy that I was able to work my way through a huge stack of mending last week while indulging a cold. This included 11 socks that needed darning.
  7. I am happy that my 11-year-old son helped me to clean my mother’s rental cottages yesterday. And instead of immediately wanting to spend his earnings, (which is normal for him) he wanted me to put his share into savings.
  8. I am happy that the Oregon State Board of Nursing now has their license information online for my employer. In past years, I would have to drive the 18 miles to work to have them visually inspect my renewed license. This is huge.
  9. I am happy that my mother is getting a new washing machine, which means I get her old one, which is still loads newer than the $45 Craigslist special we currently use.
  10. I am happy that my local library is within walking distance of the house. When they closed for remodeling a decade ago, I learned how inconvenient it is to have to drive across town to return a book. β™₯ them.
  11. I am happy that after almost 20 years of living in New York City, my sister now lives in Seattle, which means I get to see her every month or so, instead of once per year.
  12. I am deliriously happy that my sons are no longer preschool age. At ages 11 and 14, they are a joy to hang out with instead of exhausting. My husband remembers those times differently, but they are etched into my memory.
  13. I am happy to have the mental and physical capacity to live a creatively frugal life.
  14. I am happy to be married to a very loving man.
  15. I am happy to have a great best friend who doesn’t mind me mentioning her in the blog, (as long as she gets to choose her pseudonym.)
  16. I am happy to not be living in a part of the world that gets down to -40ΒΊ F.
  17. I am happy to have made so many internet friends through writing this blog.
  18. I am happy that my husband is able to fix and maintain almost anything he lays his hands on.
  19. I am happy for clean drinking water.
  20. I am happy that Portland, Oregon has multiple really cool second run movie theaters.
  21. I am happy to have supportive and wonderful neighbors.
  22. I am happy to have accidently chosen a college major (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) that guaranteed me an engaging career with a living wage.
  23. I am happy that I went to the University of New Mexico, which set me back $1,050 per year instead of the $30,000 per year of private nursing colleges.
  24. I am happy to have a big, soft and comfortable armchair, (with matching ottoman) as a hand-me-down from my friend Sasha to hunker down in while watching TV.
  25. I am happy to recently have discovered the TV show “The Office.” That show is hilarious! And episodes only take 22 minutes to watch when they’re commercial free from the library.
  26. I am happy that my 14-year-old son is getting the opportunity for a class trip to Japan this Spring. I know he will have an awesome time.
  27. I am happy that my family is enthusiastic about my home cooking.
  28. I am also happy for the restaurant Jade Teahouse and Patisserie, which is the only place I want to splurge on. It is worth every penny.
  29. I am happy to live in the times of washing machines, refrigeration, dishwashers, indoor plumbing, automobiles and women’s rights. Let’s not romanticize the drudgery of past times.
  30. I am happy to have two loving and supporting parents, not to mention some terrific step-parents.
  31. I am happy to enter my house and enjoy the recently decluttered entryway.
  32. I am happy to have many fantastic and thoughtful readers.
  33. I am happy to live in a city that still has a daily newspaper.
  34. I am happy to live in a part of the country where a trip to the ocean or to a snowy mountain will only take an hour-and-a-half from my life. It means I don’t require pricey vacations to “get away from it all.”
  35. I am happy to have a snowy cabin that I get to use for free, and a friend’s three bedroom beach cabin that’s only $65 per night.
  36. I am happy have an outdated CD Walkman to listen to library audiobooks.
  37. I am happy with how many British audio books my library carries. There’s just something about someone reading a book out loud to me with an English accent.
  38. I am happy that someone once left a string bag at one of my mother’s rental cottages. It takes up almost no room in my purse and has kept me from taking a plastic bag at least 50 times.
  39. I am happy that people often leave their full size shampoos and conditioners at my mother’s rental cottages. I don’t think I’ve bought either in at least a year.
  40. I am happy that people use the Coinstar machine at my local Safeway and almost always leave extra change in the coin return. It is the highlight of my grocery shopping trips. (I found 74Β’ last time!)
  41. I am happy that when bids for hiring a web designer proved too pricey, Kristen of The Frugal Girl walked, (and often carried) me through the process of self-hosting The Non-Consumer Advocate.
  42. I am happy to be able to put library books and media on hold at the library in the comfort of my pajamas while in bed. The internet really is so very cool!
  43. I am happy that when I was asked to do speaking engagements last Fall, I said yes instead of following my instinct, which would have been to run screaming in the opposite direction.
  44. I am happy for Amy Dacyczn, J.D. Roth, Trent Hamm, Natalie McNeal, Kristen of The Frugal Girl, Beth Terry, Erin Rooney Doland and all the other great writers and bloggers.
  45. I am happy that my mother gave me a copy of “The Tightwad Gazette” almost 12 years ago.
  46. I am happy for CFL light bulbs, low flow shower heads, faucet aerators and the sense to just turn things off when not in use.
  47. I am happy that instead of going to a regular high school, I got to go to a performing arts high school. Four years of tap dancing, one year of math!
  48. I am happy to work with an eclectic and skilled group of women. Let’s face it, good co-workers make all the difference in any job.
  49. I am happy to be able to use online bill pay for almost everything. To no longer have to worry about whether the electric, gas, insurance, etc. etc. got paid is a godsend.
  50. I am happy for the health and welfare of my friends and family.

Okay readers, it’s your turn now. What makes you happy?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayla K January 11, 2010 at 5:39 am

My “Happies” are very similar to yours, especially audiobooks with accents. πŸ™‚
I’d have to add that I’m happy I don’t have to drive to class today because my college town has an excellent bus system that isn’t dirty or creepy and has a stop just a block from my apartment. Students get to ride for free, which rocks!


365girl January 11, 2010 at 5:45 am

My slow cooker (crockpot?)… I do not know how I lived for 35 years without one. I’d marry it if I could… seriously!


Jinger January 11, 2010 at 5:54 am

I am happy to have 4 places to call home….Austin, New Orleans, Tucson and New England….each with its own charm and beauty. But, I am especially happy for the abundance in my life each and every day.


Kathleen January 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

I just discovered your website, and I’m loving it! I was especially excited to see that one of your happy things is that you attended the University of New Mexico, a great school. I just retired from UNM, after 15 years, and I’m discovering the joys of my local library; it is a treasure. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!


Kris-ND January 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

What a great list!

1) I am happy that my dh is still somebody I like to be around. 21 years of marriage, and not sick of him yet πŸ˜‰

2)I am happy that I had the opportunity to homeschool my children(one graduated, one highschool) It has given me the opportunity to know them in a different way than I might have otherwise, but most of all, it has forced me to be a less selfish person.

3)On the flip-side of the homeschooling happiness, I am happy that I am ALMOST DONE! lol One down, one to go!

4)I am thankful to live in North Dakota. I am much closer to nature than I would be in a city. There are trade-offs to be sure. I don’t have anywhere near the access to thrift-stores, and museums, etc, but on the flip-side, history is still new and fresh here.

5)I am also thankful for CENTRAL HEAT! 33below zero actual temps the other morning would not have made me happy to be little Kris on the Prairie πŸ˜‰

6)I am thankful for my little community bookstore that puts the “You’ve Got Mail” bookstore to shame.

7) I am thankful I live in an area and a state that is doing well economically. My dh has a steady, reliable job, and I know that is a luxury in many places right now.

8)I am thankful for my husband’s employer. He is a stand-up guy and tries his best to do well by his employees and our community.

9)I am thankful that my neurologist is willing to listen to me if I come to her with an idea or treatment I read about. She isn’t against using homeopathic medicines with my traditional meds, as long as they will work together. I feel like *I* am a part of the ongoing management of my epilepsy, not just some bystander, and that is all her doing.

10)Most of all, I am so thankful that my family is healthy! Our first baby died, so I take nothing for granted, but my children are healthy and happy. My grandmother is still as healthy as any 90 year old can be, and every year she is with us, is an extra year of memories for all of the great grandchildren. In particular, I am SO thankful that my sil, who is married to my beloved brother has successfully completed her breast cancer treatment. Time will tell, but she is a joy to us, and I am so grateful that she is still with us!


Sarah January 11, 2010 at 11:00 am

1) I’m happy that you blogged that you find your children easier to enjoy in the older years, as i have a one and a half year old and i’m always worn out with her but feel like i should be cooing and drowning in motherly bliss every second. It’s nice to know i might possibly not be lacking some mom-gene.
2) I’m happy that my family is largely healthy.
3)I’m happy to have a supportive and collaborative husband. He really is a gem.
4)I’m happy that my friend and brother take my kiddo a couple times a week so that i can go to aerobics class and sweat with all the friends i haven’t seen since my daughter was born.
5)I’m happy for the opportunity to sing with a great group of women, Northern Blend (www.northernblend.homestead.com)
6) I’m incredibly, unbelievably happy and grateful for my friend Marie.
7)I’m happy that we have two or three feet of snow outside because i LOVE to snowshoe and it’s such a downer when it gets cold but there isn’t any snow to enjoy it. It’s also a really great way to take a breather with la kiddo- she’s content to be pulled in a sled until the cows come home.
8)I’m happy that you’ve inspired me to start my own happiness list, ’cause this is getting too long for the comments section of someone else’s.


WilliamB January 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

An incomplete list:

I’m very happy about your #29. Ideally, drudgery should be done by those who don’t think it is. For example, I really like to cook but my grandmother was ecsatic to be free of the chore. I also think that if it can’t be done by someone who likes it that it should be done by someone who gets paid to do it; obviously reasonable people can disagree on this one. ;->

Also your #46 except for low-flow showerheads. They’re the bane of my existence, at least when my existence includes exercising at work. I never feel fully soap-free. Even when not at work long, hot showers are just one of life’s cheap pleasures, and the pouring large quantities of hot water on one’s head is a cure for many of life’s ills. (I timed one of my long hot showers, it was 8 min long.)

I am happy that my frugality is by choice.

I am happy that both recipes I tried out last night turned out fantastic.


Ashley January 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

For my little plant showing signs of greenery in January!!! What a lovely surprise!


Lisa January 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Oh Katy, my happiness is an ongoing , ever-changing list. Seriously! With my morning glass of iced tea, I write a notebook page of the things I’m grateful for each and every day. I’ve been doing this form of journal for probably 10 years now, and it has transformed my life.


Deb January 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Here’s my loquacious response:

I’m happy that you are blogging, and so happy to read your list of things that make you happy!

I am happy for a rewarding job that allows me to have an incredibly flexible schedule at 32 hours a week, and to telecommute.

I am happy to have found a second hand camping trailer that we scored off of CL for dirt cheap, and that accomodations for our 9 day vacation at the beach were just $240 because of it!

I am happy to have a super smart husband who is a bargain hunting wizard.

I am happy for the companionship of my dogs – they give me unconditional love and many moments of incredible joy.

I am happy that my mother shared with me her love for animals.

I’m happy I survived breast cancer – this March will mark my 6th cancer free year!

I’m SO happy that my mother and I are best friends.

I am happy to have everything I could possibly need or want in life materially.

I am happy when I hear the Great Horned Owls hooting in the woods behind our house at night.

I am ECSTATIC when I see the baby Red Tailed Hawks fledge their nests and circle our fields in early summer.

I am happy to have naturally curly hair.

I am happy when I see the hummingbirds at our feeders.

I am happy that I am fortunate enough financially to give generously to charities of my choice.

I am happy for all of the DIY publications and websites out there!

I am happy that I have everything in my fridge & freezer to make our favorite seafood stew tonight, including razor clams we dug up at the beach.

I am happy that I live in the heavenly Pacific Northwest.

I am happy for Facebook, and having been able to reconnect with many lost friends!

I am happy for the As Is Bargain Bin Goodwill stores in Portland and Vancouver.

I am happy that Burgerville is here in the Pacific Northwest.

I am happy for the library, PaperbackSwap.com, Netflix and Hulu!

I am happy that I have such kind and generous neighbors.

I am happy.


Sue Madre January 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

OK, I’ll play your game . . .

I’m happy to see my one talented daughter turn into The Pied Piper of Thrifty Living.

I’m happy to have seen my other brilliant daughter develop into amazing and successful artist — The Friendly Robot herself!

I’m happy both my daughters are healthy, smart women with healthy, smart children.

I’m happy for grandson #1, the Japanese-speaking Internet Whiz, who I got to see born 14+ years ago, and who transformed me into a rootin’-tootin’ granny.

I’m happy for grandson #2, the sweet-natured creative art genius, whose smile lights up the world.

I’m happy for grandson #3, the redhaired, freckled, beautifully-mannered, 10-year-old smarty-pants who always beats me at Scrabble and Monopoly.

I’m happy for granddaughter #1, who’s 5 and funny and smart and adorable with a Will of Iron. (And who will let me paint her toenails!)

I’m happy to be married to a quirky, loving, super- attentive man who loves my daughters and our grandchildren.

I’m happy to share our home with a great big black doggie, even tho he’ll eat an entire stick of butter off the counter if you leave the kitchen for 30 seconds. (What does he DO with the wrapper? Oh, never mind.)

I’m happy to have a super-great big brother, still my Evil Twin, and that he married my great friend who, 46 years later, remains so.

I’m happy to be able to read a never-ending supply of terrific mystery novels. I am, however, less happy that so far my agent hasn’t been able to sell MINE! (It’s got drag queens, Harley bikers, midgets and monkeys — what NOT to love here?)

I’m happy to have traveled all over the world. But India, Italy, China and so many other places still await . . . .

I’m happy to meet the people from all over the world who come to stay in our guest cottages.

I’m happy that my thrifty and accomplished daughter is willing to help me muck them out.

I’m happy that I come from a long line of people who grow to be VERY old. Which means the best is very likely yet to come!


magdalena January 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I’m happy that online I have a great community of friends and that facebook means I hear from my family more often.

I’m happy that my beloved husband survived a serious stroke last March.

I’m happy that we have a lovely, safe, warm, secure place to live with a dear friend who is like a sister.

I’m happy that I am not carrying water from the spring through four feet of snow. Pioneer life is great, but there are limits!

I’m happy to live in a great country, in a province that is farther south, warmer and less snowy than my home state! (No, not Alaska.)

I’m happy to have survived two bouts of cancer, with, God-willing, many years ahead.


Mary January 11, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I agree with so many things you mentioned esp flush plumbing and women’s rights. To that I would add the teachers who mentored me and made my current life possible and just for today, I made marmalade without using pectin and it gelled— life is good!


Mary January 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm

To Sarah with Love,
I well remember those days and as a “good” Catholic girl couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” with me; exhaustion is reality and I found babies not very exciting. I even imported a friend’s 3year old , walking talking toilet trained is far more interesting. It gets better every year. I would take teens over babies any day. Take good care of yourself.


Rebecca January 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I’m happy that my parents are giving me not one, but two undergraduate degrees from a truly excellent (public!) college!

I’m happy that they also give me a small allowance to spend on groceries, and let me use the remainder to spend as I wish.

I’m happy to have the skills and self-disciplene to let me budget and save that money so I can participate in some expensive hobbies.

I’m happy for said expensive hobbies! They may cost a lot of money, but they add so much to my life that I really don’t know what I’d do without them.

I’m happy for the health of my family (my family was not always this healthy)!

I’m happy my school offers so many fascinating class options. How many colleges offer undergraduate classes in immunology and in Classical Japanese, both taught by leading researchers of their respective field? Mine does and it ROCKS!

I’m positively ecstatic to have the most amazing horse in the world.

I’m so very happy to have the best boyfriend in the world!

I’m happy to have excellent friends.

I’m happy to have excellent teachers.

I’m happy to have a job that is engaging to me, and will hopefully help others.

I’m happy for tea. And books. And warm blankets. And fuzzy slippers. And beautiful skirts that make me feel pretty when I wear them. And homemade cinnamon rolls with homemade cream cheese frosting!

Truly, I am a very lucky girl!


Katy January 12, 2010 at 12:09 am

If your friends are all deliriously happy about parenting 1-1/2 year olds, they might just be robots. Run a metal detector over them and you’ll see that I’m right.

Hang in there.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


terilyn January 12, 2010 at 7:04 am

I am so blessed in so many areas. I am happy that-
1. God gave me a wonderful husband of the past 30 years.
2. My adult children are all healthy, and have safe homes of their own.
3. My youngest baby girl is smart enough to be picky about finding a mate instead of just hooking up with any looser that comes along.
4. I can see, walk, breath, and have a painfree body to live in on this earth, and my husband has the same blessing.
5. I am soooo happy that many places now have the $4 script plans instead of having to pay hundreds of dollars a month for medicines, we pay less than $100 for all of them.
6. I am so blessed and happy to have a warm home to live in and a reliable auto to drive.
7.I am so blessed and happy to have enough food because I know that many people in this world don’t have that.
8. My grandchildren are healthy.
9. My pets are healthy and well fed. I am especially happy and thankful that my little chihuahua dog’s abnormal growth wasn’t cancer. We sleep with three of them cuddled at our feet each night. I am so happy to have the babies. We love them. Since our kids are grown these are now our babies.
10. I am especially blessed and thrilled that God does answer prayer. That is HOPE for our my heart. Nothing that comes along is so bad that there is no hope. And that makes me happy and joyful, especially as we look at our bodies getting older and the economy looking so bad. I am happy that I don’t have to live in fear because I have hope.

And I am so happy that you wrote this piece. It makes us really think about all we do have.


Jacquelyn January 12, 2010 at 7:35 am

I LOVE your list! And I’m so happy that I have your blog to read and to inspire me every day. Thank you!


karen January 12, 2010 at 8:07 am

I too would have a long list of gratefuls. I just want to say thank you to you for the topic of the day. It is truly a gift to be able to find something positive to read when the day to day events of current life can so easily overwhelm us. Thank you for reminding us to literally count our blessings & to focus on something positive . Reading your blog is the lift I look forward to every day. Keep up the great work!


Caroline January 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I am happy that satellite internet was invented as there are no landlines where I live.
I am happy that I am able to pay the monthly fee for the service because I don’t
have a paying job (I care for my ailing parents).
I am happy that my house is paid for.
I am happy that my vehicle is paid for.
I am happy when my mother recognizes me(she has alzheimers).
I am happy that my 15 year old daughter is very understanding and helps around the house w/o being told to and hardly ever complains(even tho she rides the school bus for an hour and half,round trip. Oh, I forgot to mention that she has straight A’s ever since 6th grade, also loves to recycle!
I am happy to read your writings, it’s my time to refocus.
I am happy that we have snow on the ground.
I am happy that even tho my parents have their conditions, their illnesses aren’t life threatening, and that my daughter and I are healthy.
I am happy that we live in a rural area, right next to nature .
I do miss browsing the thrift stores but I really don’t have a need.
Thank you for your wonderful writings, very positive and uplifting!


Tracy Balazy January 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Katy, I like your statement, “I am happy to have the mental and physical capacity to live a creatively frugal life.” I second that!


Tracy Balazy January 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Wait, I found one! I just checked my eBay account, and here on the last day of my listing, someone has bid on my black, lacy, very 1980s (’84, to be exact) Gunne Sax prom gown! Its sale represents my departure from hanging onto things that are, well, just things — items that might represent memories but are not the memories themselves, so it’s time to rehome them. I’m so glad someone bid on it, because then the dress isn’t going to the landfill, either. I thought if I donated it to one of the charity thrift shops, they wouldn’t put it out for sale because the hemline is ripped, which I disclosed in my eBay description. So, I’m happy for the ability to creatively clear my home’s usable spaces and maybe make a couple bucks in the process, but better yet (and this applies to my Freecycle activities), make someone happy with their new item.


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