PODCAST & BLOG

PODCAST & BLOG


Is there somebody in your life who has really made an impact and you have not expressed that to them? If so, Gina Hamadey joins me to discuss her interesting take on expressing gratitude in a meaningful, yet easy way– by writing thank you notes! Writing thank you notes to others can be an aspect of taking care of yourself as well as your relationships. 

Gina is the author of the book I Want to Thank You which depicts her year writing 365 thank you notes to friends, neighbors, family members, mentors, and more (much more!)  Gratitude isn’t a new topic or conversation, but the way Gina talks about it, is unique and one I really wanted to share with you.   

Some other topics we explore:

  • What sparked Gina to write thank you cards every day of the year (9:12)
  • Some small ways you can begin to write thank you notes or go on a gratitude journey of your own (20:48)
  • There are mental blocks and excuses when you attempt to express gratitude, Gina shares ways she overcome some of them (25:25)
  • It’s never too late to express gratitude (25:52)
  • We are built for connection and expressing gratitude is so important in today's world (35:01)

Resources:
Private coaching with Andrea
Consulting with Andrea
Andrea on Instagram
Gina’s website

Book recommendations:
You know how I love a good personal development book, right? I’ve compiled a list of book recommendations, as mentioned in past episodes. Check out these amazing book recommendations here. Happy reading!

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Gina Hamadey is the author of the book I Want to Thank You (TarcherPerigee, 2021), about her year writing 365 thank you notes to friends, neighbors, family members, mentors, and more (much more!) She was the travel editor at Food & Wine and Rachael Ray Every Day and started her career at the groundbreaking titles O, the Oprah Magazine and George. She founded the content and social strategy firm Penknife Media. She has written for The New York Times, Real Simple, and Elle, and wrote the cookbook ¡Buenos Nachos!

Right-click to download the episode.mp3

 


SHOW TRANSCRIPT  

Gina  00:00
There's a thank you note and there's a gratitude note right? And a thank you note is like, thank you for the sweater you gave me. And I didn't write any of those or rarely did I write those. It was really about let me in this very specific way go through my life like topic by topic and think about who has shown him for me? Who has taught me something. Let me say at all let me just be brave and say all the things that I want to say to them.

Andrea  00:30
You're listening to Make Some Noise episode number 482 with guest Gina Hamadey.

Andrea  00:43
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the show. I'm so glad that you're here. I have so many things to tell you. I feel like we've reached the level in our relationship, you and I, where I can tell you that I finally started my period after 78 days of not having one. For the first time. Did I already tell you that? I have told so many of my friends. It's just like this common topic of conversation, I guess, when you reach this age and I forget if I've talked about it on the podcast or not. But for the first time since I've been pregnant, I skipped officially two periods and then it started this morning. And I don't know. I just was like finally. I also started ADHD medication for the first time. Stay tuned, I'm only on day five so I'm not sure if I'm just having like a really, you know, like upbeat positive day, or if I'm just feeling less overwhelmed. Stay tuned on that. More on that later.

And then also, after I record this intro, I'm going to see a nutritionist at my functional medicine doctor's office. So I'm going this route now. I've told you about this journey, I've been on this health journey and now I'm at the place where people kept telling me you have to see a functional medicine doctor, you have to see a functional medicine doctor. And I'm like, I don't even know what that is. So I did some research and it's apparently these doctors who look at the whole your whole life which makes sense, right? Not just the symptoms that you're having at present. But it was a lot of health history. It was a long initial doctor's appointment. And they're doing all new bloodwork. And I'm wearing a glucose monitor, I guess for people who've had diabetes probably have done this before. It's stuck it on the back of my arm and it reads my blood glucose…now say that 10 times fast…for two weeks. And it's been interesting. Apparently, I run fairly low. And maybe that's why you're all the time. But one of the crappy things about that is that I cannot turn the alarm off that goes off if your levels dropped below a certain level. And it happens sometimes in the middle of the night. Which makes sense for people who have diabetes, and it's a real issue if your blood glucose drops. I’m having a hard time saying that. But anyway, it goes off, it's kind of a couple times in the middle of the night and it scared the shit out of me. It is like a fire alarm on my phone and I can't turn it off. So that's been fun. So I meet with the doctor again in a month and she's going to tell me what's happening in this body. Because I've been like what is what is what is this body? What is this? What's happening here? Over the last couple of years, it's been a journey. So I hope to get some answers. Some more clear answers. I've definitely got some answers along the way but I want to figure out what's going on. So we can try to fix it and help myself. But I hope that your health is fantastic. I just am sort of telling you where I'm at.

And speaking of women's health, all of my stuff has brought me to the idea of like I need to have a women's health theme. That's coming up next. I think I think Gina is rounding out our self-care theme and it's all about gratitude, which I love that conversation. And then next we're going to do women's health. It's going to cover a lot of different bases. And I'm excited, I'm really excited to jump into that. And I've also decided, just a few days ago, I decided to make the decision and I'm going to actually be simultaneously writing two books at the same time. One is a, you know, the books that you're used to, the self-help the women's empowerment, I'm really excited about this one. It's going to be similarly constructed to 52 Ways To Have A Kick Ass Life where it's like short chapters kind of punch you in the face type of thing. But not really punching. I would never. I would never. But the other one is going to be my memoir, um, and I finally finished that one.

And speaking of books, if you are somebody who has always wanted to write a book, or people have told you, you should really write a book, and you're like, I don't know where to start. I do consulting for people like you, or maybe somebody that you know is wanting to write a book, and I don't know where to start. There are so many amazing options now with self-publishing that weren't there 5,10 years ago, especially 10 years ago, where anyone can write a book. And it does take some, you know, effort. It does, it does take some effort, but I can help you if you want to go the traditional route, I can help you write a book proposal even before that. Just help you figure out like, what is your book? What do you want it to be about? Who is it for? What is the message you're trying to get across? You know, what is the solution that you're helping people solve by writing this book, so hit me up, AndreaOwen.com/apply.

Or we also do it by we, I mean, me and my team, we help people who are stuck, who want to get unstuck, maybe it's a boundary they need to set, maybe they just feel kind of lost and they're not sure where to start. Especially people around, you know, speaking of middle age challenges, when you get to be about this age, in your 40s 50s, where you've hit the middle of your life, and you're like what is next? I don't know, if I want to make some changes in my partnership. I don't know if I want to make some changes in my career, maybe you just need to get very clear on what your values are, and find out ways to live your life more closely within those values. It could be just as simple as that. And I'm smiling when I say simple as that, because it's really not that simple. But head on over to AndreaOwen.com/coaching. You can read about it. There are some links there that will help you and there's an application, we can help you figure out what is right for you in terms of a package in terms of whether it's working with me, or one of my lead coaches.

All right. Let's talk about our guest today, Gina. Gina is somebody I met at the I always forget the name of it, please forgive me, Mark and Angel. It's the Think Better Live Better event. And Gina was another speaker there and she and I hit it off and I'm like I have to have you come on the show and talk about your book and really what it's about. It's such an interesting spin on gratitude and thank you notes. So let me tell you a little bit about her.

Gina Hamadey is the author of the book I Want To Thank You about her year writing 365 thank you notes to friends, neighbors, family members, mentors, and more. She was the travel editor at Food and Wine and Rachael Ray Every Day and started her career at the groundbreaking titles of O, The Oprah Magazine and George. She founded the content and social strategy firm pen knife media. She has written for the New York Times, Real Simple, and Elle and wrote the cookbook, Buenos Nachos. So without further ado, here is Gina.

Gina, thank you so much for being here.

Gina  08:45
Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.

Andrea  08:48
I'm so glad. I'm excited to dig into this conversation and I feel like you know, gratitude isn't a new conversation. But the way that you do it and the way you talk about it in your book is it is a slightly unique angle. So and I met you and I just loved you in real life too. So I'm like I have to have you on everyone has to know your work.

Gina  09:09
Likewise. We had the best conversation at the at the hotel bar. It was great.

Andrea  09:12
Yeah. Okay, so let's start from the very beginning and can you tell the audience what sparked you to start writing thank you cards every day for a year, which obviously became the book but I mean, that is a commitment. Like we've heard of 30 days or 90 days. But what did what made you decide like, I'm going to do this for a whole year?

Gina  09:33
So the origin was I had a stack of thank you notes that I had promised to donors of a fundraiser and I was writing those on a train commute out to New Jersey. And I sort of… it was like one of those tasks that I put off and put off, put off and finally I was like, okay, it's I should probably start this. And when I started writing the thank you notes, I, you know, it kind of started feeling good. And it wasn't something that I thought about right away. But by the end of the train ride, after writing six or seven of these notes to people who had given money to City Harvest, which the nonprofit I was, or, you know, fundraising for, I just felt like, I don't know, if it like a little spring in my step, I feel like it was just like, gonna be a great day, you know, and I felt like, I just walked through the town in New Jersey with like, big, fresh eyes. And I didn't even connect it necessarily to the thank you note writing, but I had a bunch of these notes, right. And every morning on the train when I did that, and when I wrote those notes, instead of, you know, you know, what else anybody would be doing, you know, stuck in my phone, looking at my to do list, getting through emails. It just felt like a completely different way to start the day. And ultimately, I really, you know, it was like, it was unmistakable, where I'm like, oh my God, every time I do this, you know, it's not just like a one off. Like, I feel so good. I feel like my shoulders relaxed, and my, it's like my breathing. So and I'm just like, in this great mood for the day. And I really started thinking about it when I finished my last card and now I'm like, going home on the train just finished the lesson. I'm like, What a funny thing. I was never really one of those thank you note people. Now I meet them all the time. And people assume that I, you know, was one of them. And I really wasn't, I mean, I'm a writer so I don't know. I'm sure I wrote a few kind of nice, thank you notes over the years, but it's not like, it was one of those things for me where I'm like, oh God, I gotta present immediately…

Andrea  11:35
It’s definitely a lost art.

Gina  13:37
Yeah, it's definitely a lost art and it was never really one that I was like, you know, really subscribe to in a major way, which I am now. It came out of nowhere. And it really surprised me that this task that was like one thing on a long to do list, I just felt like what a surprise that this was like the highlight of my January. What a weird thing. And I was thinking about this on the trader and home just finished. I looked at the list of recipients and it was 31 recipients. I was like, how many? Oh 31. And then that number had stuck out at me because it was January 31st. Okay, you know, I have this editorial brain because I came up in magazines, I worked at Food and Wine and Oprah Magazine and Rachael Ray’s magazine. And so it's like, my little editorial brain perked up and I was like, oh, well, I've written a thank you note for every day of the year so far, and what if I kept going? And what would that look like? And, you know, it was really in a place where I was primed for a little project. So like, a little creative outlet. So to finish the story, like I, you know, my editorial brain said, okay, I've, you know, written 31 In January, what if I did a, you know, gratitude note or a thank you note, for every day of this whole year? What would that look like? So, I, you know, immediately knew, because, you know, working in magazines, it's like, I just know how writing gets done and accomplished. And I knew that if it was just like, oh, every day, I'll like, sit down and write my note. I just knew that that would never work. So I was like, okay, January was, you know, charity, that was what that batch was. So every month I'll write like a different batch. And it'll be a different group of people. And so right on that train ride, I was like, well, what would those be? So I started brainstorming those topics. And by the end of the train, right, I had, you know, my 12 topics. Yeah, yeah. And then I just started going for it.

Andrea  13:21
It's so interesting, because I really feel like… The way I always say it is, social media has connected us in a way that we were never connected before but I think in many ways, people and I have no evidence of this, but I think people would say they feel more disconnected than ever. And I don't know if it's because of social media, or just the way things are like community is not… I don't know, I just feel like it's different, perhaps than it used to be decades ago, or maybe hundreds of years ago. But do you feel like that was one of the sort of, like, unintended side effects of what happened that you felt more connected to people? Or I guess the question is, what was the biggest takeaway or end result of the project besides you feeling good?

Gina  14:10
You know, so I wrote the book with you know, every chapter was a different month and so, you know, February my next you know, I woke up the next day and said, okay, now, you know, we're gonna do this. That was neighbors. And so that chapter is like, about February and about writing to neighbors, and then March is friends and that was a completely different, you know, thing, and then it was parenting helpers. Then it was health care workers. So it was like, every chapter goes into, you know, what the benefit was and what like, what the cool thing was about that month because they were each month was so different, you know? It's like, it's, you know, when I think about the year and I'm like, oh, yeah, I wrote 365 thank you notes. It kind of sounds like oh, wow, God, that's a lot which obviously was Yeah, obviously was but like, you know, just each month was so distinct and so different, the benefit of writing to my neighbors and thinking about like, okay, who in my neighborhood has done me a favor, done my family favor or like, you know, those booksellers that let my son and I in early before they opened and like, let us pick the music and dance around and like, you know, that month, just really thinking about my neighborhood and what I love about it, and, you know, really kind of, like strengthening those ties and all of that was so different from my career mentors month, right? Where I would like, write these letters to people who, you know, had helped me decades prior, and, you know, helped me get, you know, my magazine jobs or taught me something that I still think about every day about writing, and…

I'm not sure what the one takeaway was, because each of those, you know, for each of those months, I would sort of name you know, a benefit and a lesson and a surprise, and I would like, and it's each of them were so so different. Like my friends month, I took old photographs, and reinforced them with a picture, sorry, with a, like a mailing label and turn them into postcards and sent them off. A few of those friends, two or three of those friends, I was sort of, not as in touch with or estranged from. And so, you know, some of that month was really light and breezy and fabulous. And some of it was really heavy, because I'm like, am I going to send it to that person? Like, am I going to send it to her? I haven't seen her in years, and it kind of felt we broke up and it is this, like a flippy of getting back in touch. And it's just weird, and what will she think and, you know, each of those three people it went great with and it was a great way to get back in touch. And one of them in particular, you know, really was the first step in repairing our relationship. And she was generous and actually got on the phone with me, while I was writing that chapter, and let me interview her about like the, you know, breakup of our friendship and how it felt for her to get that postcard and, you know, what happened next and what her thought process was, and I don't know.

So it was like, the, the benefits were so, so far reaching, and so different month to month. It's like, there's a thank you note and there's a gratitude note, right? And a thank you note is like thank you for the sweater you gave me. And I didn't write any of those or, or rarely did I write those. It was really about, let me in this very specific way, go through my life. And you know, in this like topic by topic, and think about who has shown him, for me, who has taught me something, you know, let me say it, let me say at all, let me just be brave and say all the things that I want to say to them. I think sometimes if people see the cover of my book or hear about the book, you know, and that sounds a little gimmicky, and it sounds a little bit like you know, like I was super polite for a year. Because I feel like people think about thank you notes as being like, you know, so polite, and so like, gracious or something. And it's like, it was deeper than that.

Andrea  18:06
So they definitely weren't like, it wasn't like a template that you wrote in there. Like every letter was pretty much the same kind of like someone would do for like wedding gifts or something.

Gina  18:15
I found a template was nice in the sense that like, if I were to sit down and write five or six of these. So like, I didn't write one a day, except for my last month when it was my husband, I wrote him a note every single day that was like, that was the month theme was him. And that I did write one a day like that, like that pacing. But in general, I would sit down and write kind of like I did on that train where I would write like five or six, I would sort of like catch up, you know, I would like, I'd be like, oh, well, you August is almost over, I better…

Andrea  18:44
I better get on it.

Gina  18:48
Oh god, I'm 20 behind. Let me sit down and read six of them right now, when I would sit down and write like six or seven is the template. The first sentence being templated or the first like half sentence was really helpful, because it just sort of like cleared my brain and let it rip after that. So like for the friends month, for example, which was those postcards that were on old photos, almost everyone started with, ‘remember when we were young and carefree?’ Because it was like it was like a prompt.

Andrea  19:19
Yes prompts, right? When I think about the letters that I've kept, and I'm not as a typically a sentimental person. I don't… I mean of course I have like boxes of pictures and things like that. And I have kept every letter that someone has written me especially when it has to do with my work. And I feel so uncomfortable reading them because they're just so heartfelt like someone has cracked a little piece of their heart open and shown me that I matter and that my work matters to them. So all of you listening if you've ever sent an email or especially the handwritten letters, you know that come to my PO box every once in a blue moon. Those are so good. It'll be special to me that someone took the time to sit down and get out a pen and paper and write down their feelings. I'm just like, no one really does that anymore.

You know what your story reminded me of I totally forgotten that I did this. So I've been married twice. And my first marriage ended up not working out. And I always say I had the best wedding but I picked the wrong groom. I had my dream wedding, which I planned everything. My bridesmaids, I wrote them all letters similar to what you're talking about and then at the end of the letter, I asked him to be my bridesmaid. And I did kind of what you did, like I put a picture of us and talked about our friendship and like how much they meant to me. And I don't even remember where I got the idea. This was even like, pre, like, before anybody really had the internet. I don't even…

Gina  20:47
Pinterest, like your…

Andrea  20:48
Like, definitely before Pinterest. But it was just something that I had never done before. And they were also touched by it. And ido you have any other suggestions for people who may not want to take on like, they love the idea of it, but may. Not want to take on…

Gina  21:02
And I don't like necessarily recommend that anybody like, does it. I mean, I was like, a little bit fatigued by the end, you know, I mean, it was, yeah, amazing year, and I felt like I learned so much and like, definitely, by the end of the year, I'm like, oh my god, I absolutely have a book in me, because I have so much to say about this. Like, I just feel like there were so many benefits of being that open and being that brave, because there was a lot of that, you know? And just like that earnestness and like letting go of the coolness. Like I live in New York City, like, I'm so fucking cool. You know, like, I'm just so trained to be cool and it was like a year of like, uncoolness. And it was really good for me, you know. But all to say, I don't necessarily recommend that somebody take on a massive project like this, because you could burn out.

I would say what was really, really helpful or like, the thing that I continue to do now is these little batches, right? So like, when I come home from a vacation, it's a nice thing to think… I'll like write a little list of like, who helped to help a patient like so and so hosted a dinner for me, so and so gave me like this list of recommendations, you know, when it's just like four or five people. And then ideally, I will write them the real note and address them and mail them. And sometimes, you know, if I'm not in that, like, right now, I started this new job recently, and I just, you know, I came back from Spain, and I went right into a new job and so I'm like, okay, I'm just not 100% sure I'm gonna, like pull it together to mail these, you know? But it changed my brain where I'm like, I really think this is important. So like that five minutes spent was those were like, five minutes well spent, you have the five minute like, I promise, you have those five minutes, you know, it's like, it just goes so much farther. Like, it's such a better use of time than like, whatever other nonsense you would do for five minutes.

Like, it's so funny, because we're all busier than ever and yet, we're all like, I know, I'm not alone when like, the phone tells me how much time I spent last week on the phone and I'm like, what, excuse me? Like, I don't think I have time to write a novel yet I apparently I've seven hours a day for like… Anyway, so if somebody wanted to go on a little gratitude journey, I would say if you just did everything I did, but miniatures. So like, if you sat down and said, like, okay, you know, what are some things like, if you looked at my table of contents, you might get some ideas, but like, you know, friends, neighbors, family mentors, you know, health people. Like I got a lot of notes from readers that are like, wow, I never thought to think, you know, the oncologist, my mom died, sadly, but like, I've often thought of that oncologist, and I always I kept thinking it's too late, because that was 10 years ago, and you told me it's not too late. It’s meaningful for me to sit down and write to her and then, you know, like, it just felt like such a, you know, closing of a chapter, whatever, whatever. Yeah, so like to sit down and write a little bit of, you know, like, well, who would I want to think like, what are the topics that I might want to focus on? Like, you know, the career the neighbors, you know. So like to kind of think about that, and then write a little list for each five, three people maybe, like, just miniature. And then and, and more than any of that, I would say, sit down and write on gratitude letter. Like, answer the question, like, is there somebody in your life who has really made a big impact and maybe you've never totally expressed that to them?

Andrea  24:44
Yeah. Like, would you say that I'm thinking of even my neighbor who she's always the person like, if I need someone, you know, if I'm running late, and my dog's been in her crate for a couple hours, and I need someone to let her out, when really even my dog would be fine, but I just feel uncomfortable leaving her alone, my neighbor will drop everything and go and let her out. And she's just the person, the neighbor who's always there if I need a can of corn or something like that. So, yeah, people like that, that we normally wouldn't think of. And sometimes I think we don't think of them because we would do the same for them. So it feels like a reciprocal relationship and maybe that's why we forget, I don't know.

Gina  25:25
There are a lot of mental blocks for a lot of these notes and I came across every one of them and I definitely felt every one of them. And I always had to be brave and get over that. But that's a big mental block is like, you know, even with my husband writing him a note, I really had to get over the mental leap, like the little voice in my head that says like, yeah, so he did the frickin’ dishes like, right?

Andrea  25:49
He did like the bare minimum,

Gina  25:52
And like, I think once you sort of say like, okay, who cares that it's reciprocal? Like, who cares that you would do? You're not saying you did something outstanding that nobody in your position would ever do, including me. Like, you're not saying that. You're just saying, like, wow, you really enhanced my life, because I don't need to worry about this, because I know you're there. And like, saying that, in this way is meaningful. And this, I think this is the thing, I just touched on it, but it's really worth repeating because this is the thing that like, I, I feel that it's everybody's favorite excuse, and I'm here to just take it away, which is truly these notes are never too late. It's your brain tells you that you're too late on something. And it's if somebody gave you like, a, you know, I don't know, like a nice sweater 10 years ago, like, yeah, it's probably too late to say I got the sweater and I liked it. Although what a funny, you know, note to get. So even that, but um, what I was gonna say is like, you know, I still wear the sweater that's like, yeah, that's what I was thinking.

But for these kinds of things, you said something that I never forgot, you gave me help when I needed it, you were there for me, you know, and I never forgot, like, those things are not only is it never too late and actually means more than more time that goes by. So like, that is something that I think would really free you up. And you know, the little feelings that, I got the little happy, you know, starting of my day happy, you know, clear eyed way, you know, all those things that I felt on the train in New Jersey, or the feedback. In fact, I was really specific with myself, I never kept track. Like I never said, oh, wait, she never got back to me. I was like really intentional about sending them out as gifts and not waiting for a response.

Andrea  27:40
Okay, not being attached to who responds and who doesn't?

Gina  27:44
Yeah, it was really important to me, because these are our, like, random little notes. And like, of course, some people aren't going to like, exactly know what to do with them or like how to, you know, so that that was A. But of course, I did start getting like lovely responses back whether that was like letters, or voicemails, or calls or any of that. And so it just turned into this like year of like kindness. And so like I was in a dip and like many of us can be, and it just was this exercise of look, look at all the good stuff little the good stuff you have. It wasn't that it was look at all the great people around you, you kno?  Like, and it just got so much easier to see that. And it's a lens with which to see the world, that's the best way to see the world because like, who was around you that lifts you up. And it's like I was naming those people and looking and looking at them. And it's like, right, even those people haven't seen in 10 years, they really did lift me up, they really did do that for me. They're really still there for me, you know, it's like, it's sort of made the invisible visible.

Andrea  28:57
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I don't know if I can adequately describe the excitement that I feel when I see a Green Chef box on my front porch. And the relief that I feel when I open up the fridge and see the Green Chef bag and my fridge because I'm like I don't have to decide what's for dinner I already know and it's going to be amazing. I've been talking about Green Chef for so long, because I've been using them for so long. And the exciting thing is one of the exciting things, they've expanded their menu, they are going from 24 to 30 recipes every week. And you can switch out your protein. Anything that has chicken, beef or salmon, you can switch it out. And also now they have 10-minute lunches. Every week their menu includes two convenient low prep, nutritious lunch recipes that are ready in just 10 minutes, so you don't have to cook and Green Chef's dinners have pre made pre measured sauces, dressings and spices. I love their sauces. I love love love love it. So you can get more chef curated flavor in less time, go to Green Chef.com/noise135 and use code noise135 to get $135 off across the five boxes and your first box ships for free. That's GreenChef.com/noise135 and use code noise 135 to get $135 off across five boxes and your first box ships for free.

You're talking about even if it's been 10 years since someone gave you a sweater for, you know the holidays or something and you haven't responded. I think that if someone sent me a letter of gratitude about the sweater, I would never think I can't believe they didn't send this 10 years ago.

Andrea  32:27
I would think how cool is it that they still either they still wear it? Or they still remember, you know, because it maybe I forgot that I had even given it to them. And the other thing that is sort of indirectly related is that I don't write heartfelt letters like sometimes I do, but definitely not that often. But a few years ago, I started making an effort to not just look people in the eye who are like especially, you know, service providers, but pause before we jump into do whatever transaction it is that they that their job is. So this is, the people that are making my burrito at Chipotle, the people who are taking my order at Starbucks, the woman that works at the front desk at my kids school. And I'm not a big small talk person. You know, there's some people are like, oh, I hate it. I can take it or leave it. So, I mean, I think I'm just well rehearsed at it. But I can also skip right over it. I don't really care. But it's not about that. It's not about making small talk. It's about pausing and especially like I'll give you an example like at Subway or like a sandwich place or Chipotle, where they're just like, you know, person after person. And I will pause and give them an enormous smile and look them in the eye and say hi, how are you doing in this moment or something like that, where… And usually they don't dive in and tell me like, you know that their back hurts or whatever the they usually say, I'm good, how are you? And they, I would say 90% of the time, they pause and smile back and kind of like take a beat. And to me, it's just seeing someone's humanity. And I don't mean that if you don't do that you're not seeing their humanity, but for me, it just feels good to be able to… I don't know, our just our lives are so fast these days, and we don't. We don't I just feel like we don't take enough time to do that. And believe me, I used to work at a bank where some people would come in and take up way too much of my time. I was a bank teller. I'd be like, time to move on. But now… I was young. I was like in my early 20s then but now I understand and I'm like, oh, I know why they were doing it. It might have been because they were lonely or because they just hadn't talked to somebody in a while and they feel like they have a story inside them that they just have to tell or you know, there's so many different reasons. So just to me, it seems like that's a long way of me saying it feels like it's just like a like a human-to-human contact that we don't get as much anymore.

Gina  35:01
Yeah, in the, in my neighbor's chapter I spoke to this woman, the social scientists that studies weak ties, which is like what you're talking about, which is like, you know, strong ties are friends and close family and weak ties are those people that maybe you see the tellers and the, you know, the people the coffee, or the baristas, or whatever. And she studies… The upshot is like, those relationships actually go pretty far, like farther than you think. And we all probably felt it, you know, if we, if any of us were in COVID, if we were if we were quarantining, or away from people for a while. You do feel it, and, you know, she talked me through the, you know, she basically have this nice way of explaining like, there's like five ways, like, there's five things you're looking for in social interactions and weak ties actually give you, you know, they're not going to give you the two that are like the deepest and, you know, it's not a therapy session, and it's not a substitute for a, you know, a strong tie, right. But it actually does give you some things that you need, you know, it's a little charge. It's a social charge, you know, there's a little bit of connection, there's an exchange, there's a smile, and it goes kind of a long way in making you feel okay about things.

Andrea  36:18
Yeah. I found it also helpful just as an extrovert, because I genuinely love to be around people, and I love to talk to people and I love to hear their stories. And, and some days, obviously, are, you know, I'm more open to it than others. It depends. But I love that, that there's actually evidence that I mean, it just it makes sense, right? Like, we're built for connection and when we don't have it. I mean, we can, I mean, I've definitely had times in my life where I've had a lot of friends or I'm at a party, but I feel incredibly lonely and just like that crushing loneliness, of feeling like nobody really sees you. You know what I mean? Like, that feels like shit. That is so incredibly lonely, and can feel dehumanizing and that's what I don't want that for anyone. I don't want that for anyone. Like personally, I'd rather feel physical pain than that. That feeling of that crushing loneliness. So I don't know, maybe that's why I'm drawn to do it, too. But I love this idea of writing gratitude notes and I'm so glad that you wrote a whole book about it.

Well, I want to ask you one more question before we, before we close up is that you mentioned COVID. And so you did the project before the pandemic correct?

Gina  37:31
2019 was my thank you year is what I called it, yeah.

Andrea  37:35
Do you think that having done that, or gotten into the habit of doing it helped you cope better during the pandemic?

Gina  37:41
Yeah. 100%. I mean, and that's not to say that it was like a magic bullet or that it wasn't, you know, like, COVID with two little kids was extremely hard. But I think what it did was, you know, I think it raised this apparently, it apparently gratitude is one of the only things that can raise your happiness set point. That's according to one of the happiness gurus I forget which Robert Emmons or one of them I forget. It's something I thought about a lot, because I'm like, you know, I really, like I remember when I was a kid, and I was going through, you know, like, I had some stuff I went through as a kid, but I really was so positive and I really was so always looked on the bright side, no matter what was going on. And I feel like over the years, I kind of maybe lost that. Or at least in that moment, when I started the gratitude thing, I was kind of lost that, you know, like, whatever, with the little kids in the politics and everything. I felt like God who, who was that girl like, right?

Andrea  38:40
I've had that same experience.

Gina  38:45
I feel like the year got me back to that of feeling like I can be in a good like, I'm somebody who is in a good mood, most of the time, and then not, of course, not all the time. And of course, you know, but it's like the happiness set point where it's like you get back. Like whatever's going on you're of course reacting to because you're a human with emotions, you know, but then it's like, okay, let's get like the you get when you get back to normal the normal to me was higher because I had spent so much time looking around at all these people who are looking me up. That's why.

Andrea  39:24
Okay, yeah, that's interesting. I love this so much. Thank you. And I think it's such a great, I'm glad that we touched on it during the self-care theme that we're doing because even though it's a project of writing letters to other people, it's definitely can be an aspect or task, if you will, for lack of a better word for taking care of yourself and not just take care of yourself but taking care of your relationships, which in turn, is taking care of yourself. But is there anything that you want to circle back to before we close up that you wanted to make sure that you said?

Gina  39:57
You know, I have thought a lot about self-care and I am, you know, somebody who loves a massage and all and taking time for myself and all those things that there's nothing wrong with it. But I have thought a lot about like it sitting and watching a Netflix show is lovely taking a bath is lovely. Like they're things I do, and there's nothing wrong with them and I love putting a mask on. But like when I think about something that really has given me a depth of happiness and a depth of like, feeling like I'm a person in the world that's connected other people, I don't get that from those things. You know, I don't get that from giving myself a day to myself. The act of reaching out to somebody, and even if and especially if it doesn't sound comfortable, or it doesn't sound easy. Because almost none of these were. Like it was all a bit of an effort. And it was all a little bit… It's just not something people do right?

Andrea  40:58
Yeah, it is. It's really vulnerable.

Gina  41:02
It's really vulnerable. It's the least cool thing you can do. But it really went so far in making me feel good about things and making me feel good about my place in the world. And I don't know what else is better…how else to better take care of myself.

Andrea  41:21
Yeah, amen to that. I appreciate your insight so much about it, and just really allowing us to kind of see the deep dive and it's so much more than just what we see on the surface and that is, you know, writing these letters. And I think I think some people might have an aversion to do it, because maybe we grew up with and when I say you know, it's a lost art, I definitely think like our grandmother's generation, they and even depending on how old you are like your mother's generation, like I had to write thank you cards when aunts and uncles…it was usually only family members. I don't know, maybe my mom felt more like judged by them if her children didn't send thank you friends, but I always had to send thank you cards to aunts and uncles and grandparents and stuff that sent me presents. But I mean, I don't make my kids do that. Now they send a text, or a picture or like a quick video or things like that. But it's definitely like sort of something that that's gone away. And it's so much more than just checking off the box.

Gina  42:17
Same. And people are really surprised. But I'm like, no, no, I mean, my I just had a birthday party with for my little one, he just turned six and afterward we like, he helped me draft each text and we're like, oh my god, I really liked this because I'm like, I'm not going to make him sit down and write this. I just, I don't know. But like, at some point, I think it would be really meaningful for him to write, you know, at the end of the that's, that is something I make the kids do is at the end of the year, I make them write to their teacher to be like, This is what I learned from you because it just feels like that's a moment for them and for the teacher. That's, I guess that's where I'm, that's my perspective at this point where I am not a stickler for the like, check the box, do the right thing thank you not, like, express your gratitude. Don't ignore the people that give you gifts. But I think it's totally fine to use, like to do that via text or something quick, you know, as long as it's like meaningful. I think when it's when you have something to say that's from your heart, that's about somebody that made an impact on you, that sort of like goes through the back of your mind. Like God, you know, that mentor really did…wow, she really did make a difference. Like just to take that thought and to put it down and send it to me is like very worthwhile.

Andrea  43:36
Yeah, exactly. Thank you for wrapping that up so beautifully. And I am so grateful for your time today. And where do you want people to go and find out more of your work? You're at PennKnife media.com correct? But like your social media and stuff. This will all be in the show notes.

Gina  43:51
Oh, yeah,sure. GinaHamadey.com is a good place that has a link to my Instagram and my substack newsletter and how you can buy that book through there. So yeah, GinaHamadey.com.

Andrea  44:03
Is a good yeah. And again, the book is I Want To Thank You. And we will have all of that in the show notes. And thank you everyone for taking the time to listen today. You know how grateful I am for your time. I know how incredibly valuable it is. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.

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