As I think about the year that is past and the one that lies ahead, the word that keeps recurring is grateful.

I’ve always been a glass-half-empty kind of girl, prone to melodrama, self-pity, and anxiety. (Does that sound melodramatic? she wondered anxiously…)

Sometime in the past few years, though, something shifted. My daughter has taken over the role of drama queen, for one thing. And though I still struggle with anxiety and have to battle self-pity something fierce some days, on the whole my vision of my life is that it is a huge gift, and it is filled with all manner of smaller gifts, the daily graces and mercies that I spent over 30 years completely missing.

Somehow, my eyes have been opened, and I have begun to see all these gifts, large and small, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

My friend Susan Forshey wrote a blog post recently in which she announced her intention to join Ann Voscamp’s Gratitude Community and create a list of one thousand things she’s grateful for.

Well, I’m never one to let Susan outdo me (uh, except she’s a dissertation away from a PhD, and I don’t even have a master’s degree, but other than that…). So I’m joining the fray, er, fun.

On the first Friday of each month, I’ll post part of my own list for that month (don’t worry; I’ll limit myself to no more than 20 items, most of which will be reading or writing related, so y’all won’t have to slog through pages of Kimberlee’s Private Minutiae) until I work my way up to 1000 things. And since today is the first Friday of the month, here are a few of the gifts I’ve noticed in the past days:

5. Sunshine on these shortest darkest days of the year

6. Beautifully illustrated books to read aloud to the kids

8. The beautiful words of Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott

13. The way Jane says “tajamas” instead of “pajamas”

17. My husband has a good job that pays well enough for me to stay home with the kids and fiddle around with words.

20. A built-in dishwasher!

23. Moleskine journals

24. My fountain pen

25. My Macbook

31. A heated house

32. Indoor plumbing

34. The art and poetry of Lilias Trotter

36. Psalm 139, especially verse 18: “When I wake up, I am present with Thee.”

46. A great conversation with my sister: she made me laugh so hard I couldn’t talk.

48. A cup of hot tea with honey

51. Books I’m excited to read are on hold at the library.

57. Watching Jane’s face as I told her my versions of “The Three Little Pigs,” “St. George and the Dragon,” and “Sleeping Beauty” – she was mesmerized, and I felt like a rock star.

59. The beautiful writing in The House Above the Trees by Ethel Cook Eliot

If you’d like to start your own list, I’d love your company. Just pick up a pen and paper (or if you’re a techie, open Evernote or a blank Word doc) and start writing – I’m numbering my list, so I know when I get to a thousand, but that’s optional – and please let me know! I’d love to hear what you notice and are grateful for.

Here’s to a glad new year. May we see it unfold with eyes wide open.

holy experience