“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.” 

Oprah Winfrey

New Year. New Beginnings. New Resolutions. New Goals. New Gratitude.

There’s something exciting about the start of a new year, isn’t there?

A fresh start. Shake off the old and look forward to the new.

We get our new journal and prepare to write our first words of wisdom in it.  Crisp, clean paper just waiting for us to share our deepest thoughts.

Our new planner to write our first big meeting or to-do list. Big plans to do big things.

I have those – the planner and the journal. I do have big plans and big dreams. My intentions are set for exciting and new and challenging things this year.

And while I am looking forward, I remember to pause.

And I look back. And I am ever so grateful.

I remember where I came from and what I have accomplished in the past year. It makes me happy and proud.

I feel it’s important to see where you came from and what transpired in the past year. Don’t dwell on it or live in your past; especially if it was painful. But, it helps remind you of struggles you’ve overcome. Tears you shed. And, the strength you possess to get through them.

My family has a tradition at the start of the new year. We countdown to midnight. We hug and kiss and offer everyone in attendance at our little party a happy new year. Then we gather around our table and light 12 candles – one for every month of the year – and we pray. My mom leads us through a Hail Mary and an Our Father. We then go around the room and say what we are thankful for in the past year and what we hope for in the coming year.

Good grades, good health, thankful for family, happiness, hope, love.

It’s, of course, personal for each person around the table. But the theme is the same – that of joy and gratitude.

At the start of each month, we take out one of the remaining 12 candles, light it and pray once again as we think of what we hope for in the coming days. We renew this sense of hope and happiness and gratitude each month.

I’ve always wondered, why wait at the start of the year or month to offer thanks or pray for what we wish for? Shouldn’t this be a daily occurrence? A daily prayer of hope and of gratitude.

I’m continually grateful. Gratitude that warms my heart and fills my soul.

This past year I am so thankful for so many dreams that have turned in to reality. I was in two phenomenal musicals that were so enriching to my life. Roles that have spurred other opportunities that I have to shake my head and wonder how I got to be so lucky.

I made lifelong friends that are more like family to me now. Strong women that I can’t imagine being without in my life.

Companionship and warmth from an individual so loving and giving and spiritual that his friendship is enriching to me on so many levels.

A sense of self so strong that I sometimes have to pinch myself at this new normal.

New opportunities that are exciting where I get to use all my knowledge and skill in ways I hadn’t even dreamed of.

Grateful for my family’s health, my daughter’s love.

I will light my monthly candle with loving gratitude every month. But I won’t wait for the beginning of the month to be grateful.

Gratitude fills my heart.

We have a saying in Mexico for the new year. “Los deso salud, dinero, y amor y tiempo para gozarlo.”  Which translates to “I wish you health, money, and love and time to enjoy them.”

But I’ll add this: I wish you the joy of gratitude.

Find things to be grateful for in the new year, in every day, in every moment.  Big things. Simple things.  You know that new planner you have? Use a corner of it every day to write down three things you are grateful for.

A smile from the cashier at the grocery store.

How your pet greets you at the door when you come home after work.

How your coffee tastes when you sip that first cup of coffee in the morning.

A good hair day.

Food in your pantry.

A job to go to.

A warm home.

The brisk cold air that wakes you up.

A friend’s touch.

New beginnings, whether that is a new year or a new day or a new moment, bring new gratitude.

Be grateful for what you have. You will end up having more.


Carmen Garcia writes about stuff… life as a single mother, dating, weight loss, performing, and other random experiences. Sometimes it makes sense. Other times, not so much. You decide.
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