Good morning, Sarah!

Dear friends,

I have a friend from back home named Sarah. She’s one of the most adorable 20-something girls you’d ever want to meet and she tweeted this yesterday:

Sarah is the daughter of a woman I went to high school with named Shelli. Shelli’s adorable, too, so it runs in the family. (In fact, back in high school another friend of mine used to say about Shelli: “Isn’t she the most adorable girl ever?”)  Anyway, Sarah has told me before that she likes to start her morning with Debt of Gratitude, and that thought alone makes me happier than you can imagine. Probably happier than Dr. Pepper, m&m’s and my blog make Sarah.

I was not having a stellar day yesterday. It was my first day back at work after returning from Oklahoma and it was jam packed with meetings and other obligations in which I had little interest. Everybody knew I had just returned from taking Kate to college and everybody kept asking me how I was doing.

I smiled. And I said fine. But really . . . I wanted to burst into tears. So when I saw Sarah’s Tweet mid-day, it sure perked up my melancholy little heart.

“I can’t be sad and mopey,” I thought to myself. “I have to go home and write something for Sarah!” I wish I had something more creative, something more profound, something more substantive than “thank you” to offer her (to offer all of you, really), but I don’t.

Still, since this is a blog devoted to gratitude, I can’t exactly argue with an expression of appreciation, no matter how modest.

So thank you, Sarah, from the bottom of my heart for evicting me from Mopeland and back to real life where I count my blessings every day.

With gratitude {for Sarah and all my readers whose daily visits enrich my life},

Joan, who also wants to give a shout-out to Debbie, her first college roomie who made her home-to-college transition so much more bearable all those years ago

PS: While I’m counting my blessings, will you indulge me just a moment? I want to show you some photos I took of Kate at college. She’s in a lovely environment and it gives me comfort to know her world is a pretty, happy place.

Kate outside her new apartment. She’s on the 2nd floor. Hooray for the built-in Stairmaster!

Kate’s bedroom. We both were pleased with the pink-and-black decor and the $20 craigslist desk. Hooray for cheap chic!

Kate and her roommate, Houda. Houda from Casablanca. I love saying that! You know what else I love? Houda is Muslim and speaks Arabic. Hooray for cultural diversity in Kate’s life!

The epidemic.

Dear friends,

One of the most fascinating things about writing a blog is discovering the search terms that cause people to stumble upon my site.

I had no idea when I wrote two posts early on mentioning Tina Fey that nearly every day someone would visit Debt of Gratitude as a result. “Tina Fey” is the number one search term on my site. “Tina Fey wallpaper” is number two. (I can’t explain why anybody is searching for Tina Fey wallpaper. I can, however, explain my interest in both the actress and the wallcovering.)

Lately, though, some odd search terms have popped up. Saturday it was “the epidemic of Mr. Moms.”  Really? There’s an epidemic? Not where we live. Not where we’ve ever lived. In fact, in all our married life, we’ve only known one other couple with a stay-at-home dad. And don’t get me started on my reaction to comparing a parenting choice to a disease.

Then yesterday, a search for “places to make pottery in Massachusetts” led a reader to me. I’ve written about places. And pottery. And Massachusetts. But not all three in the same post. I bet the reader was really disappointed in what I had to offer.

However, somebody else also stumbled across my site yesterday as a result of a search for “freckles.” I mentioned Kate’s freckles recently in a post about her prom photos and, who knows, maybe that reader got just what he/she was looking for.

You know what NOBODY searches for? Gratitude. Appreciation. Gratefulness. Thankfulness.

If there’s an epidemic happening out there, I’d say it’s a dearth of gratitude — which, as you know by now, is EXACTLY why I started this site and what I attempt to focus on — no matter how weakly or obliquely — every day.

So, yeah, it’s ironic that the very thing nobody searches for is exactly what I have to offer.

I’m going to keep beating my drum anyway. You never know when gratitude is going to trend.

And then, baby, I’m the number one Google search result. I can feel it.

With gratitude {for mysterious algorithms that bring readers searching for “highschool black shoes for girls” to my humble site},

Joan, who appreciates every single reader, every single day

Thirty days.

Dear Friends,

I was browsing Pinterest on Sunday.  (Is it my imagination, or has the internet gotten a whole lot easier and more fun to surf with Pinterest?).  And I tripped across this image, pinned by my cousin.

Source: Inchmark

Somebody suggested capturing happy memories throughout the year on pieces of paper saved in a jar. Then, on New Year’s Eve, pull out the memories and savor them, one-by-one.

“What a great idea!” I thought, before realizing that’s what I’m doing here.

This is my 30th post. The month has flown by and, so far, I’m delighted with my little gratitude project. My readership is small but devoted, though readers aren’t why I started Debt of Gratitude. I launched this blog because I wanted to deepen and enrich my appreciation for life’s small blessings and, on that count, I can say without hesitation it has worked.

It sounds too simple to be true, but it is: the discipline and routine of journaling every single day make a difference in my attitude that is distinct and profound. As I have reflected more and more on what I have to be thankful for, petty annoyances and frustrations have receded from my attention.

Every day, I find myself thinking “What will I write about tonight?” And after writing every night, I find myself thinking I’m the luckiest girl on the planet. My plan has worked like a charm, with growing contentment and balance as side benefits.

With gratitude {for each and every one of you — friend, family member or visitor — who have shared my first 30 days with me and who keep me motivated to blog on},

Joan, who wishes she could turn gratitude-discipline into fitness-discipline but needs a whole lot more than 30 days to achieve self-mastery

In contrast to my leisurely Saturday, I had a very productive Sunday. Head over to Domestic Dilettante for the evidence.