I spent the last month writing hundreds of thank you notes.

My son asked why I didn’t have them printed, since the message is the same in each card.

It’s the time and the action and the intention.

Printing is easy.

One message. Push print. You’re done.

Writing by hand requires focus and time and purpose.

Same with gratitude. Focus. Time. Purpose.

Did you see Tiffany Haddish’s explanation of “Joyful Greens” a few months back? She was on Ellen Degeneres’ show, talking about a dinner she had with Taylor Swift, and how she smiled when she picked the collard greens in her garden and then continued smiling through every step of cooking them, hence the name “Joyful Greens” and the creation of a delicious meal.

Her description made me laugh, but it also reminded me of writing thank you notes.

Does smiling while cooking make the meal any better?

Does writing hundreds of cards instead of printing them make them any better?

If you have gratitude in your life it does.

As I wrote the cards, I thought about each word.

If my mind wandered, a mistake would follow. Same thing if the kids turned on the TV or stereo in the background. Like Tiffany Haddish smiling, I focused on saying thank you and eliminated background noise.

Thinking of Thank You for so many hours was calming.

The constant chatter in my head disappeared, as did Worry and Stress. Both took off, dragging Drama with them.

I left my office and worked at my kitchen table.

The afternoon sun was warm.

I could see the birds and the leaves and the squirrels.

It was calming.

It reminded me of all I have to be thankful for in my own life.

If you’re in the United States reading this, you likely had Thanksgiving yesterday, and then the pressure to shop Black Friday sales is on today.

As I write this, I know that I’ll do some online shopping myself. I’d be lying to say otherwise. But the rest of the day? With my family. Not working. Not on my phone or computer. Thinking about being grateful for everything I have in my life.

Do the work is a key message on this site, but just as important as doing the work is doing gratitude—and gratitude takes a clear mind. Takes Rest. Takes Reflection. Takes Calm.

I hope today finds you sitting in a sunny spot, whether in your kitchen window or office. I hope you have time for quiet. I hope the head voices stop chattering. I hope thanks are given and received.

Thank you to all of you for supporting us year after year.

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21 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on November 23, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Beautifully said Callie! Enjoy the day with your family. I am thankful for another year of wisdom, smarts and encouragement from you and Steve – being able up here every Wednesday and Friday is a privilege – thanks to you both!

    • Mary Doyle on November 23, 2018 at 5:00 am

      Oops – meant to say “being able to show up here.” I shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard until I’ve had my coffee.

  2. Anonymous on November 23, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Thank YOU, Callie, for all that you do for US!

    • Debbie Kasman on November 23, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Oops! I don’t know why that was anonymous.

  3. Brian S Nelson on November 23, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Callie,
    Echoing Mary Doyle’s comment, thank you and Steve. You may find this interesting, but we teach Gratitude practices in the Army. Helps build resilience, counters the negativity bias, improves sleep, improves mood/performance. It is nearly impossible to have negative feelings or thoughts when filled with gratitude. Great message, good timing.
    bsn

  4. Susan Setteducato on November 23, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Beautiful post, Callie. I believe gratitude and presence are the keys to a better world. I walked very early this morning in 10 degree cold and saw rainbows sparkling in the frost. There’s beauty everywhere if we take the time to see and feel it. I’m grateful for this work you do.

  5. Joe Jansen on November 23, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Yes, there’s something about the hand-written note. Removes a layer of separation. Strengthens that little filament of connection. Grateful for what happens in this space.

  6. Roy Stedall-Humphryes on November 23, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I’m a writer of 11th – 12th century historical fiction and certainly after reading your piece above, I now wonder how people of that time period would have responded… I haven’t a clue! But it is an interesting point. Here in southern Spain people do not usually respond by showing any form of gratitude… nobody says thank you, unless they have lived and worked in the United Kingdom or the United States and thereby been influenced and taken up this form of open appreciation.

  7. bill on November 23, 2018 at 8:40 am

    I read an article prior to Thanksgiving that offered this advice: Just do what you need to do when preparing the food and everything that goes along with it and don’t worry, everything will fall into place and you will have a great day, trust me. and today I read your piece and they are both true and inspiring. We need to stop the chattering in our heads and just be. Thank you.

  8. Regina Holt on November 23, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Callie! Just picked up a huge yellow Poplar leaf on the trail this morning. 😀

  9. Elise Allan on November 23, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Lovely post, Callie. Thank you!

  10. Bing on November 23, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Thank you Callie, you’re AWESOME !

  11. Eleanor F.J. Gamarsh on November 23, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I was taught the social grace of the hand written note very early in my childhood. The strongest memory of writing Thank you notes is of writing notes to my Aunt Lucille and Uncle Russell Martin, and Grandma Young for their gifts.Theirs was the first to arrive in the mail from Illinois. i practiced the handwritten note all my life. I am grateful to have this blog arriving every week in my emails because of the supportive, rational and civil content.

  12. Mitchell T. Bossart on November 23, 2018 at 10:53 am

    In my daily reading today, first sentence: a thankful attitude opens the windows of heaven. Then your lovely reminder. And now I am inspired to hand-write my Christmas cards this year. There is only one year in the past 27 where I sent a hand-written note to each of my friends and family; it was also the only year people called me on the telephone because of my Christmas card. Thanks, Callie.

  13. BarbaraNH on November 24, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Thank YOU, Callie and Steve, every week.

  14. Ingrid Beer on November 24, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Beautiful post, Callie…

    As a recipe developer and cook, I can atest that “smiling” while working in the kitchen is so very important.

    Ok, so one doesn’t technically have to smile; but the intention with which one prepares a meal hugely matters.

    I know from my own experiences from my days as a private chef to now cooking for my own family and developing recipes to share online that the love that is infused into the cooking process can be tasted. It is that magical ingredient that awakens the eating experience, and that makes those partaking in the meal feel cherished and comforted and loved. What a thing!

    So the essence or intention which we “infuse” all that we do with can, indeed, be tasted and experienced. And if the love is lacking, or if (to make matters worse) there is anger or frustration in the process, it becomes a bit like a small dose of bitter poison to those consuming the thing. They end up with a belly ache and don’t know why.

    Gratitude and love, as ingredients in any venture, are salves that sooth both body and spirit; and they, for sure, can be tasted and felt and assimilated.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  15. Sandra on November 24, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Excellent post by an amazing young lady. Thank YOU Ms Oettinger.

  16. Robert Bloom on November 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Gratitude is an essential ingredient of happiness, fulfillment, and success.

  17. Brian G on November 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Hello Mr Pressfield,

    We have a tribe in Delaware and the Warrior Ethos is one of our required readings for new inductees.
    Great work, … we love your life story…. and War of Art too.
    Thank you

  18. Order Fioricet on November 26, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Liked your blog. Nice concept of writing. keep up your good work and writing skills.

  19. Nick Shanahger on November 30, 2018 at 3:48 am

    The sun is shining on my back. Thank you for noticing.

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