The Happy House: A Gift I Didn’t Think I Deserved


Several years ago, after too many hard winters spent shoveling too much snow in Western New York, Hubby decided to look into purchasing a vacation home somewhere more south. We made an offer on a foreclosure property and figured we’d have an answer within a few weeks.

But months passed and as the papers changed hands for the fourth time, someone suggested we consider building a new house.

I was horrified. Why would we build when there was so much real estate available?

I insisted we dig in our heels and wait.

In reality, I needed time to adjust to the idea.

Growing up, I knew people whose parents owned second homes. They were rich kids who were not always nice. My brother and I were raised in a modest home in a neighborhood where no one had vacation houses. I grew up with the implicit understanding that people with multiple mailing addresses were frivolous, obnoxious and ostentatious. I internalized this message.

To my very core.

I was okay with waiting to find another place.

Forever, if that was what it took.

When the bank accepted our offer, Hubby hopped on a plane to inspect the home that we had seen eighteen months prior.

Since it had been unoccupied for quite some time, the house had become a bit of a fixer-upper.

Maybe it wasn’t this bad, but it was pretty bad.

Bushes, once carefully maintained, grew wild and now covered the windows. The exterior required fresh paint. The roof needed to be replaced; the same for the air-conditioning unit. Oh, and the carpet in the master bedroom needed to go.

Because there was bat guano in there, you guys.

From 1250 miles away, Hubby called to tell me he was killing our offer.

Oh well, I thought as I wiped down the kitchen table with a paper towel. Que sera sera.

“I’m going to check out lots.”

“Lots of what?” I asked absently, paying slightly more attention to a sticky area on the table than my husband on the other end of the line.

“You know, to build on.”

I balled up the paper towel in my hands and sat down on the floor crisscross applesauce.

It had been hard enough for me to consider buying a second house, but I could justify it (somehow) if it was a foreclosure property. If the house was in foreclosure, I reasoned, we would be helping to revive a blighted neighborhood.

Building a second house seemed crazy.

But my husband fell in love with a sandy spot and took a leap of faith.

IMG956107As the foundation was poured, we promised to keep things on the down-low.

And we were doing great until Hubby told his friends about our secret project.

That’s when people started  asking questions that made me uncomfortable. I felt invisible stabby fingers pointing at me, accusing me of being “mean” or “snobby.”

Many months ago, I read Mary Ballice Nelligan’s post Hiding In Plain Sightwhere she explores her aversion to receiving expensive gifts. She wrote:

“Whenever I get a gift, especially one I’ve wanted and will treasure, the critical voices-in-my-head work overtime to ensure I don’t overdose on joy. While some people flaunt their gifts or humbly receive them, my first reaction is to hide. And withhold.”

Yes! I thought! That’s it exactly. That’s why I haven’t been telling anyone about the house.

Because the message screaming in my head was: “With all the people struggling in the world, who am I to get a new house? A second house? I don’t deserve it.”

And yet.

Owning a second home somewhere warm has been my husband’s dream for a long time. He has worked hard for decades. Together, we have saved to make his dream a reality.

And guess what?

The three of us just spent some time in the Happy House, and I want to be able to write about our adventures there without feeling ashamed.

As Mary said:

“Withholding good news or bad stunts my ability to connect and feel intimate with another human being.”

You have seen me at my lowest: when my computer crashed and I lost everything. You have read about my darkest sorrows.

So today I am sharing a bit of my joy with you.

I hope you will not think of me as being a braggart. I still squirm a little, feeling that having this Happy House is inappropriate, somehow. But I am proud of my husband for dreaming big and working to make his dream a reality. He inspires me to continue to write hard so one day I create something worthy for my readers. {That is my dream.} And I hope you are encouraged to believe that if you work hard, it is possible to achieve the results you desire. Oh, and if someone invites you to share their greatest happiness with you? For goodness sakes, enjoy it. Without shame.

Today, I ask you to share something you feel really good about. Go ahead. You have my permission. I’d love to hear about your joy.

tweet me @rasjacobson

88 thoughts on “The Happy House: A Gift I Didn’t Think I Deserved

  1. I think that quote just changed my life a little bit. It is the running joke (undertone of total annoyance) that I am painfully low-maintenance. Holidays, birthdays, whatever, I never ask for anything. I get uncomfortable when I’m given things, too. Case in point: I asked Tom not to get me Christmas gifts so we could get a new couch, maybe finish installing new blinds. He insisted I could still get a present that didn’t involve fixing up our house, a present for ME. The idea made my stomach hurt!

  2. Renee, good for you! Glad you are giving yourself permission to enjoy it. Think of it this way: there will always be folks who have less than you…BUT, there will always be folks who have MORE than you. So it’s pointless for us to compare ourselves to others, in either direction – whether it’s envy or self-consciousness. And it takes up valuable internal real estate, mentally and emotionally.

    It took me a long time to get to that place in my own life, where I wasn’t comparing myself to others, and coming up short. Enjoy!

    1. Kathy! You have taught me so many things this year! Thank you for helping me (once again) to reframe my thinking. THat said, wasn’t there SOMETHING you might want to share? Some little joy that is happening in your life? Maybe a book that might be coming out or something? *wink*

  3. Actually, I can identify with a lot of what you have written today. Our house in France, While we still have a property rented out in England (because we can’t seem to sell in this financial climate), that makes us the owners of two homes. And I still feel uncomfortable about that. So that joy of which you speak still eludes me, at least sometimes. Well, most of the time actually. This feeling is not something MY husband shares either. Blame my Calvinistic upbringing? I see Tori,above seems to have come out of the same pod too. Heigh ho.

    1. It does seem odd to own a place that is rarely peopled. I told myself maybe we would use it as an investment property and rent it out, but right now the Hubby will hear nothing of it. It’s too new, and he wants to enjoy it for a while. Thank you for understanding my discomfort. Did you want to share a little joy? 😉

      1. Oops. Sorry. This sort of got left to one side. Share a little joy? Of course! But you’ll think I’m really sad….. One of my favourite times of day is when I pop up to the roof terrace in the early evening to fetch in the clean, dry washing. There’ll be views across to the Pyrennees – snow covered just now – and the rich colours of the sky as the sun begins to set with an ever-changing palette of rusts and pinks and crimsons and purples and soft citrussy yellows. It never fails to lift my mood. Ever.

        1. Oh Margaret! Why would I ever think that’s sad? I think that is lovely. And writerly. You have described the clean laundry so beautifully. I can see it! And I also think it would make a lovely blog post, especially if paired with a photo. *nudge nudge* I love how you always remember to appreciate life around you and you never take it for granted. You are filled with gratitude. Always. Merci.

  4. Rene, this feeling guilty over having what others don’t is me all over! It really sucks the fun out of enjoying what we have–the comparing that K.B. refers to. I continue to work on that! Enjoy your new digs, and there is no need to justify …true friends are happy for us when something good happens, and share our sorrows. My joy is that my soon-to-graduate from college daughter just submitted grad school applications, and we are so proud of her hard work and dedication. Whoo-hoo!
    Great post–thanks!

  5. I get this. I came from nothing. I am doing incredibly well compared to most of my family. I just bought a car — cash. It’s not a big luxury car or anything, just a Ford, but I wrote a personal check for it and drove it home. People in my extended family don’t do such things! I feel so not worthy. But it’s okay; I’ve worked hard and had a lot of luck and have ended up blessed. So have you! Enjoy your happy house.

    1. See how you are qualifying it? I do that. You said: It’s not a big luxury car or anything. Would it be bad if it had been a fancy-schmancy car? I’m sooooo happy for you and your car. It’s fantastic that you have been able to pay for a car without debt! Drive safely and enjoy it!

  6. Everyone deserves a little extra happy without thinking that they will be judged too harshly. I think many of us have this feeling that if good things happen to us, people will look at us like we are flaunting our fortune by just being happy. I don’t know why this is.

    My entire post today is about finding good things to say about yourself at a time when you pretty much just wanna wallow in negativity. I think it relates.

    Enjoy your fancy new house, Renee!! You deserve the happy. 🙂

    1. I am now just realizing that I didn’t post anything regarding MY happy. My thing is that I have an au pair. I feel like some spoiled rich society girl when I mention it, so I never really talk about it. But my husband and I work very hard, with him travelling A LOT, so it isn’t a luxory, but a necessity. The hubs is in Costa Rica right now, I have a meeting tonight, but we are covered. And that is wonderful. Especially when I had the flu and the hubs was away as well. I don’t know what I would have done without someone there whose JOB it is to help take care of the kids. It is a blessing and necessity, but still makes me feel like a snob if I mention it. But it’s actually cheaper than full time daycare, which was what I did have the kids in, and is seen as normal. But it makes me happy to have the extra help.

      1. Misty! I am soooo happy you came back! How AWESOME and blessed you are to have an au pair. OMG! And you don’t even have to qualify your person’s presence in your life. I wondered how you were handling the kids when you were soooo sick and sitting in Urgent Care for all those hours! After spending as much money as I have on childcare, I know that having an au pair makes a lot of sense. Your person provides you with peace of mind. How do you even put a price on that? (Is he really hot? Because that would be a nice perk.) *wink* 😉

  7. Congrats! I feel the same way. I didn’t ask for anything for Christmas this year, because I didn’t NEED anything. There were plenty of things I WANT, but nothing of a great enough NEED to ask for. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself holding on to $250+ in various gift cards. I felt very uncomfortable opening them this year. Having just put an addition on my house, and basically gutted the rest, I didn’t feel like I deserved any gifts when I was already given one with my “new” house.

    I do find it funny that your second home is south of Western New York, and my family’s is much closer (in the heart of the Adirondacks).

    1. Hi Eric! I’m not surprised that you don’t NEED anything. You have always struck me as a giver. I’m glad that you have gotten comfortable spending a little on yourself this year. I’m so happy to hear that you put an addition on this year! May you expand into it and enjoy the extra square footage. 😉

  8. I wanted to share that my greatest joy is working with my neglected children as a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) in the Family Court system. Although the case i have now is a sad case and will eventually result in the termination of parental rights, I can only pray that things will work out for the best for the three children in a permanent placement with a relative where they’ll be safe and loved. They are sweet children who deserve the best life has to offer and don’t deserve the life their parents have given them thus far. My work with them is a joy; they teach me what it is to be resilient.

    1. Maire, you always amaze me. You are such a giving person. So generous. I know you have quite a history just from what you have shared with me here and on other people’s pages. I’m so glad to hear that you love what you do. That means you never have to dread going to work. And that is a joy!

  9. Give yourself permission to enjoy your good fortune! We have a Happy House in Florida too and nothing gives us more pleasure than sharing it with our family and friends. I have a feeling you will do precisely that too!

    1. Seriously? Are we near each other? Wouldn’t it be crazy if we had to go all the way to Florida to finally meet up? Hahahaha! I’m so glad to know that you love your Happy House, too. May it fill you up with joy for many years to come.

      PS: Seriously, which coast are you on? Or are you in the middle somewhere?

        1. Et moi aussi. We have family on your side — and friends, too! We will meet up. Someday. It will happen.

  10. Congratulations!
    I know exactly what you are talking about. We own a second home in the mountains and I always felt like I needed to explain since we are so Midwestern. It took me a long time to realize that no explanation is necessary.
    The first time I wrote this, I wrote place, but it is a home. See? I am still afraid of how I will be judged.

    We have had it for almost 17 years and have enjoyed having it to unwind and decompress. I ALWAYS feel like I’ve had a vacation after being up there, even if it is only for less than 24 hours! Really!

    1. Though we have only been to our place once, it already feels like it could be home someday. (Right now, it is a little too empty to quite be home.) I’m so glad to know that you have a place that you love and where you can rest your weary bones and rejuvenate. It really is a blessing. May you enjoy your mountain home for many years to come, Soooooz!

  11. My “undeserved” joy is found in travel. When I tell people how many times my kids have been to Europe and how many cruises they have under their belt, they often don’t believe me. So I don’t usually quantify it to folks who don’t know me. What they don’t know is that I can do a week in Germany for less than they can spend in a week at Disney World.

    We don’t travel big as often as we did when our kids were younger and cheaper. Now we’re paying full fare for all 5 of us and juggling different schedules. But hopefully this summer we’ll land in an exotic location to celebrate Slick’s HS graduation! And I’ll make sure to share some of that joy with you!

    1. Lisha: I know you have felt like your travel is undeserved, but I was so proud of you when you went to Paris! You work so hard, and 2012 was a rough one. I’m glad you got to enjoy some travel. And I hope you didn’t feel guilty! I will hope that this year brings you lots of pleasant surprises! I know it is a big one for all of you! CHOOSE to REVEL in JOY this year! Yes?

  12. i was Freshly Pressed recently and felt the same way about “do I deserve this?” I didn’t know if I “deserved” to be put on display with the likes of you and Jules and B-man and Darla and the countless other FP posts I’ve read. But eventually I reveled in it because I was EXCITED!

    Congrats on your house! Looks to me like you really appreciate it–if you can call it a gift then you deserve it. 🙂

    1. Revel – that’s my “word for 2013” and it is so fitting. To truly take pleasure, pride and be grateful for something we have!! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    2. Rache: I’m so glad you were SquishedFlat! And you are just as fab as any of the rest of the folks who have been FP’d. Your blog is GORGEOUS, all those pretty pictures of yummy foods. And your recipes. Yummmmmy! I’m so glad to have met you in 2012. Would you like to share the link to your post here? You know, in case someone missed it? *hint hint*

      1. Ha! Why, yes, I would love to show off my FP’d post. 🙂

        Thank you for saying such NICE things about my blog. I so appreciate it, and I’m feeling a little bit like I’m at the cool kids table. Because your blog is the SHIZ, Renzzzzz (I stole both of those words from Jules because I want to emulate her every move.)

        Excited to see what 2013 holds for our bloggy friendship. 🙂

  13. I figure if a friend takes time to lend an ear for the not-so-good, that friend will also take time and lend an ear for the good. True friends want to hear it all. Thank goodness for true friends. I’m happy for you, Rene. Good for hubby, too! Keep the updates on the fun house coming. I’m listening and I’m happy for you! 🙂

    1. Hi Sandra: My silence was twofold: First, I know people who have struggled so much this year. I felt uncomfortable with this very luxurious sumthin-sumthin. It’s not like a new stapler. It’s a whole freakin’ house. And I know people who struggle each month to make their mortgage. I know people who have had to size down. I know people who have lost their homes. Out of respect for them, I have tried to shut up about this place we have. But there reached a point where I realized, as you said good friends would not begrudge us our blessings. And they haven’t.

      The second reason I felt uncomfortable about the place in Florida was because of the people who chitter-chatter (because there are always those folks who chitter-chatter). I’m sure there are people out there who are talking about me. About us. And I hate it.

      And yet.

      I suppose there is always someone out there talking about someone. So at least this is good news and not something terrible. I’m sure we will have our dark days. But today, I’m celebrating.

      Now, wasn’t there some joy that you wanted to share here?

  14. I have great difficulty with gifts. This year for Christmas I asked (because my husband’s family always wants a list) for Tea, a hair dryer and tea light candles. I must admit the asking is almost more than I can handle. My husband is about fed up with my gift choices over the years… a kitchen collander – which is Red and makes me happy when I use it… dishes, linens.. always something useful. Frivolity is not my strong suit.

    1. but I personally think it is SO much smarter to ask for exactly what you want! (and your list of things sounds practical and FUN!)

    2. Frivolity is not my strong suit.

      I so get this.

      But I’m settling nicely into this Happy House. Hubby was right. I am enjoying his blessing as a gift. Sometimes I feel like I’m sort of like one of those suckerfish that latches onto a whale. Or something. Wow, that’s a really bad metaphor. But you know what I mean. It’s like we have a symbiotic relationship. Whatever it is, it’s working. Was there some joy that you wanted to share? It’s not braggy to be proud about someone you love. I stand by that.

  15. This is awesome! I’m so excited for you. 🙂

    My joy I’ve been hiding lately is my daughter’s high school grades. She got 4 A+’s and 3 A’s. Not just straight A’s, but 4 with the plus sign behind it. My MS kid also got all A’s so we are bursting here. 🙂 I feel like I’ve done very little to deserve such great students. But I know other’s struggle so it’s something we try to keep to ourselves. Of course, here I am blabbing about it after all. LOL

    I hope you have many years of wonderful memories in that new bonus house!

    1. Holy shizzlesticks, Annie! Four A+’s! What are you doing? Growing brain surgeons over there? How fantastic for your kids (and you vicariously)! I’m so glad that you are sharing your joy today. I don’t think it’s braggy at all. I’m thrilled for you. And I know, it’s like blogging stats: we aren’t supposed to talk about our kids’ grades. But seriously, YAY! You’re doing something right over there at the Six-Ring Circus! 😉

  16. Oh, you are so going to love having your happy place.

    We had a log house on a lake in East Texas for years. When we left the Dallas metroplex behind, it felt as if we left our worry behind, too. That lake house is where I wrote my first novel. It’s the place that held more family gatherings than I care to count. It’s the memorable place where family came to spend holidays — winter and summer.

    My personal joy? For years, I’ve wanted to indulge my wanderlust spirit. To get in the car and take free-to-be-me road trips. I felt guilty after my first trip (Texas to Pennsylvania to Toronto to Pennsylvania and back). That trip broke the ice on the home front for just-for-me adventures.

    Marriage doesn’t mean we have to enjoy everything together. I hate golf. He hates road trips. The hours each of us spend in pursuit of our own joy? It balances out over the year.

    My next (as yet unrealized) dream is to have a small cabin in a wooded area in the farm country in PA where I grew up. It still feels like home to me.

    I’m going to have to work hard and get this book published to realize that self-indulgent dream.

    Enjoy! I am thrilled for you.

    1. Gloria! I LOVE road trips. Maybe we can ditch our husbands on some golf course and travel together! I’m so sorry to hear that you had to leave your log-house in Texas. It sounds like it was a very special place for you, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your next book earns you that cabin in PA. Where are you with regard to your book? Do you have an estimated birth date?

  17. I feel good about the fact that we live overseas and I have hired help living with me. It means I can do a LOT of good things for other people because I’m not washing floors, cooking all of the time and doing the laundry. It is OH so hard to feel good about though because I feel like so many people just think I’m spoiled. By the way? GOOD for you for posting this!

    1. Naomi! Thank you so much for helping me with this post! As I told you a bunch of times, I don’t think I could have done it without your keen eye and that one perfectly crafted sentence. And I’m so glad that you recognize and appreciate the blessing of hired help. You are right, your help does allow you to do other wonderful things. I know how giving you are. Thank you for helping me to get comfortable with things.

  18. Renee, that is so wonderful! Nothiing at all to be ashamed of. You should be proud of your accomplishments including having a second home. You and your hubby worked hard for it and deserve a pat on the back for your efforts.

    I’m not as “well off” as some, but I truly do enjoy hearing about others happiness. No matter what I’m going through, I’m quite capable of being excited for you and everyone else. And I can just see your huge smile and that makes me smile too. Sooooo…here’s what you should be saying:

    “Im so excitied. And I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!” 🙂

    In this moment, my joy is your joy. Cheesy, but true!

    1. Melissa! Thank you for being so generous of spirit. I know 2012 was a rough year for you. I read a bunch of your older pieces, and I KNOW you have had to make a lot of tough choices. So thank you for being so large-hearted and allow me to express my happiness about my husband’s dream coming true for him — and, by extension, for us. I know you are kvelling for me right now, but was there something or someone you’d like to tell me about? Even a blog post about which you are particularly proud? You can share the link here, if you’d like. I’d love to have others see the words you write. You are truly a talented wordsmith! So glad to have met you.

      1. I guess I’m most proud of my last post, ‘Ignorant Nigger’. It was very hard for me to write as it was something so personal. I felt like I had to do it though because I know someone out there has either been through something similar or knows someone else who has. People need to know that they’re not alone so they won’t feel as uncomfortable.

        Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to read my older posts. I appreciate it.

        And again, yay for the new home! One more place to make beautiful memories.

        So very glad to have met you as well. I have a feeling we’ll be friends for a long time. xoxo

  19. Most excellent Renee! You both worked hard and you should enjoy it! I am always happy when good things happen for my friends! I am blessed with an amazing husband with the biggest heart EVer! I have my sweetest child Richie, who is rocking it in college! I have a few excellent friends who are true blue! I am good! Enjoy my friend, just enjoy…

    1. Look! I have stacked Melissa’s! A new Melissa and my true blue Melissa! Truly, you are another blessing in my life. It’s crazy! I have known you forever, and you have been with me since I started this bloggy endeavor a zillion years ago. Thank you for standing by me. And I’m so happy for you! You landed a great guy and made a fabulous son. Of course Richie is kickin’ it in college. He has one smart mama! So glad he is enjoying good health, too! I am enjoying, and I hope we see each other soon. When is our next reunion? 2015? Do we have to wait that long? I don’t think we should.

  20. Woohoo!

    “Deserving” is so rarely a reason anything happens. One have to wonder if the very concept came into common speech when advertising became more aggressive.

    I am thrilled that I have a cleaning lady 3-6 hours a month. I am thrilled my book is being published. And I’m thrilled I was brave enough to chop my hair into a sassy style.

    1. Shirtsleeeeeves! You know I am so excited for your book to come out. Do I really have to wait until May? For real? I need to talk to you. I’d like to help with promotion, if you’d like. But I have to read it first!

      I’m glad you have a cleaning lady, too. And I like the new ‘do. Curly haired people can’t do things like that. One person’s brave is another person’s stupid. 😉

  21. This is brilliant!!! I completely relate to everything you wrote about (including the absent-minded counter wiping!). Thank you for linking up to my post and for sharing your joy and good fortune. So hard and scary to do! And yes, I’m tired of hiding too. Bring it baby!
    A mixed bag of joy for me today – my husband had a bad accident Sunday morning and spent 30+ hours in the ER. I brought him home today and he’s going to be fine – banged up and concussion, but fine. I prefer the kind of joy you wrote about, but for today, I’ll take our good fortune and his health. Hugs to you!

    1. Mary! Of course you relate! You were the inspiration behind the post! Hopefully everyone will follow the link to your place and love you up the way I do.

      Meanwhile, I’m so glad to hear that your husband is okay. Sheesh! One week he is in Disney and the next, he is concussed! Scary! I’m grateful that your husband is okay, too. I hope he is an easy patient and has an easy recovery.

  22. This is so nice! And ew on the bat guano carpeting. Ew ew ew. We had a vacation house growing up, in Holden Beach, NC. It was amazing, but we had to sell it when I was in high school. That was definitely for the best, even though I was sad to let it go. We (and by we, I mean my parents) also built it. We’re pretty simple people, so we didn’t always jive with the not-nice second-housers, but all in all, I have some wonderful memories, and I’m sure your son will, too.

    My joy is that my parents are coming on Thursday for my oldest son’s fourth birthday (that’s Sunday). I’m so happy because I get along with my parents, they respect my lifestyle, and I am going to get a much, much needed break from parenting three kids under four. Also, my mom is like an uber-handywoman, and will fix/repair/improve half my apartment before she goes home.

    1. Oooh! Rivki! Bubbe and Zayde are coming to visit? The kids must be sooooo excited! And I’m excited for you because it sounds like your mother is Wonder Woman (without the corset and red boots). You are certainly blessed with a wonderful family — which is truly the best blessing of all. I hope that Tech will enjoy his time at the Happy House. It is my hope that he will bring friends with him (and maybe a nice girl someday, you know, later…eventually). It is truly the most relaxing place. Or it will be eventually. You know, once I finish futzing around. Speaking of which, can I borrow your mother for a week in April?

  23. Good for you Renee.
    This reminds me of the Marianne Williamson quote (oft attributed to MLKJr) about how it is not darkness but light that we fear.

    I spent the last year building a house that exists in my heart and mind. I’ve never done that before, in the past I’ve always understood spiritual and emotional strength as something imposed from the outside. It’s a pretty rad house so far, and it has given me joy and the creative force to improve my life and the lives of other people where previously I was afraid to act. My mom was and continues to be the best partner in that building process.

    1. Joe! I love that you built your HeartHouse. That is amazing! You should feel wonderful, and I really hope that you enjoy it for many years to come. And I love that your mom has helped you along the way. THAT is really cool. Have you ever written about this on your blog? If so, can you direct me to a link?

  24. Hey Renee, great post! Congrats on the Happy House! 😉 And congrats even more on Enjoying the Happy House!!

    Feeling unworthy is definitely one of my ongoing battles. It’s hard for me to even buy new clothes for myself. I think of those people who are hungry or homeless and wonder how I can justify frivolous purchases. Sigh.
    Thank you for reminding me that occasional, responsible indulging doesn’t have to mean we are indulgent.

    1. Hi Denise! I am trying to stop feeling guilty. Like you, I don’t find it easy to buy things for myself. It’s weird because I don’t have trouble buying for my son or my husband. But frivolous things or luxuries? Yes, that’s harder. I don’t think I’d ever take vacation if my husband didn’t book it. I freak out when I see the cost of the flights! I plan to continue to give of my time and my resources to those who are less fortunate, and I think I should be allowed to enjoy this life a little, too.

  25. Good for you for overcoming what seems to be an all-too-common, enforced sense of shame for being successful. As long as you didn’t steal your goodies from someone else, there’s nothing wrong with spending your own money on things you want. In fact, you building another house puts that money to work, hiring other people and giving them honest wages!

    Anyhoo, I’m getting a nosebleed up on this capitalist soapbox. I so hope your family enjoys your new home!

    1. I kind of love that you hopped up there on the capitalist soapbox for me. The discourse around this last election did seem to make demonize successful people – most of whom have worked hard to get where they are. Thank you for being happy for us. Meanwhile, I would LOVE to hear you say what YOU are proud of. Maybe your ETSY store? Or a particular link to a favorite post. You know I LOVED that last one! 😉

  26. Wow, Renee. Congrats on your (deserved) house! 😉

    I’m feeling joyful about publishing, the snowball seeming to be rolling sturdily in a positive direction and with beautiful support around it. I feel so blessed to be a writer with groovy writer friends, like YOU.

    1. I am so thrilled for you! And you really seem to have a lot of momentum! I haven’t read your book yet, but I will. I swear! I’m working hard at writing my own thang again. And it’s moving along. Maybe there is something to rewriting it again. It’s easier! MEANWHILE, yay you! I hope you sell a skillion books! Maybe some erotica next, eh? 😉

  27. Renee: You and I are kindred spirits. I can relate to you feeling like a bragger over your second home. I, too, come from a modest working-class family and those “richies” as we called them – who had second or third homes, who went on luxurious vacations were not remotely in the same boat as my family. In my world, everything was earned, day by day, nail by nail. Grit. Character. Determination. Basking in the joys of my hard work all these years, I still feel guilty for “indulging.” I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy to write this – so I congratulate you on the new second home and for having the guts to share it. Bask in it. You earned it!

  28. Renee, I am happy you have shared and I am happy you have some place to get warm when the snow is too much. There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying the fruit of our labor! Like you, I think many of us sometimes feel as if we shouldn’t ‘brag’, I think it isn’t bragging though. I think you are humble and lovely.

    Congrats on your much deserved happy home number 2.

  29. Hi Renee,

    I think that it’s natural to be apprehensive about sharing this great news. Undoubtedly, there may be some whose reaction may mirror your worst fear, but fearing that response is no way to live.

    You should enjoy your second home without reservation. Congrats to your family. May you enjoy many warm days together there.

      1. I don’t know, Renee, joy joy has been pretty sparse around here lately, but thanks for asking. How about this? My daughter is in her third year of college and I was able to pay for the first two years without loans. I wanted to spare her from a mountain of student loan debt. This year, we took out a loan for about one-third of the tuition, so even if we borrow for the fourth year, I figure that I’ve managed to make her transition into the work world a lot less stressful.

  30. Man that is so ingrained in me, too. Lately I’ve just been so grateful that I’ve finally given myself permission to pursue some of my creative passions. And, you know, my new Kate Spade bag from my brother’s girlfriend 😉

    1. Seriously, Jules. I’m going to a blogging conference. I’m giving myself all kinds of permission. It’s getting crazy around here. Somewhere between Vera Bradley and Kate Spade. (Can you say Blissdom in Texas? Better yet. Can you go?)

  31. I feel really good about the teams I coach. While I was painting lines on the field one afternoon last season, a father of a kid who has played against my team walked onto the field to gush about my teams – not that they win all the time, but how they approach the game, and treat each other, and always look prepared and happy to be playing for me.

    This means a lot to me. Those kids are mine for a season, and I get as much from them as they ever get from me.

    And if you ask me, you already are writing so much that means so much to your readers. In fact, I’m giving myself all kinds of props for having the intelligence and savvy to start reading you in the first place.

    1. CoachDaddy:

      (Am I allowed to call you by your real name here?) Thank you for sharing that story. You are a giver. I love your blog and just subscribed. You are truly a wonderful coach and father, and I love how your passion for sports (and the lessons one can take from sports) transfers into real life. No doubt, you are a fabulous coach. 😉

  32. The “gift” that keeps on giving for me is the money we spend on childcare and househelp so I can #1. stay sane and #2. not be washing the clothes of 6 individuals in every moment of my spare time. It’s the bday-Hanukkah-Anniversary gift that keeps on giving.

    Meanwhile, when should we plan our writing retreat in the new house? 😉

    1. That is truly a blessing. Not that this is ever happening, but if I ever had a second child, I would make sure that kind of infrastructure was in place because, frankly, childcare for two children costs about as much as having a student au pair. I recently researched it, and I was astounded. So props to you for figuring out how to make that work.

      But why am I not surprised? You figure out all the things that so many of us seem to struggle with.

      And yes, please, to a writing retreat. Not kidding.

  33. I think it’s wonderful that you have worked towards fulfilling a dream of your husband’s. And not that any dream is “wrong,” but his dream includes all of you and its a place where your family will share many happy memories. Heck, it’s also where you might be able to go when you need to focus on your writing.

    Ok random question – do you use Scrivener or StoryMill as you are writing your book?

    I’m proud that my kids are seeing me committed to writing. I am proud that we are putting together a plan to help this become a dream. So many things I am proud of.

    hugs to you guys!

    1. Thank you for sharing in my happyhappyjoyjoy. I’m glad that you are proud of your intentions which you have set in motion. I like having friends who are doers.

      To address your unrelated note, I am not using Scrivener or StoryMill — just plain old Word. I have heard people raving about those programs. I don’t understand what they offer. That said, I know @wayneborean uses Scrivener and @jennyhansenCA is taking a class about it now. If you are thinking about it, tweet Wayne. He is a wonderful tweep and he has put together books for other people. He may be the guy I go to to help me publish mine, when the time comes.

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