My Secret Project

My Secret Project

I have a secret project I’ve only revealed to a few people closest to me. At the beginning of 2018, I challenged myself to write 365 thank-you notes by 2019. At the time, I was feeling in a bit of a slump and happened to be reading A Simple Act of Gratitude, a book about how writing thank-you notes transformed John Kralik’s life.

We live in a world that focuses on lack–we need wrinkle cream, better government leaders, more disciplined children, a cleaner environment, organized homes, etc. I’d felt for a while that I wanted to be more grateful for what I already have, and I was hoping my drastic goal of writing 365 thank-you notes would transform me to a more grateful state. It definitely has.

So far, I have written 215 thank-you notes. A few people in my life have received more than one note, but it has surprised me how many people I have to thank. Another thing that has surprised me is how others react to my notes. They are so happy to receive my expression of gratitude that over half the time I get thanked for my thank-you notes. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they were having a bad day, and my note was just what they needed.

My favorite reaction was from a Spanish-speaking cleaning lady at the hospital where my sister was staying. “Ay, mamacita,” she cried. “You didn’t need to do that.” When I left the room a little later, she was in the hall, waving the card around and showing it to all the nurses. They put the card up on a bulletin board for everyone to see. Hearing these kinds of comments has raised my spirits even more than just writing the notes. We all have so much power to make the world a better place, and it can be as simple as writing three sentences on a card you buy from the dollar store.



Jane Austen was definitely a believer in gratitude. Elizabeth thanks Mr. Darcy in person for all he did to help Lydia, and Emma thanks Mr. Knightley in person for all he did to help her. However, Austen definitely saw gratitude as a two-edged sword. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price’s family often tries to manipulate her through gratitude. For example, when she refuses to marry Henry Crawford, her uncle implies that she’s ungrateful and spoiled. In Emma, Harriet feels too much gratitude for Emma’s companionship, and thus, lets Emma keep her from accepting an engagement to Mr. Martin. I can see how the wrong kind of gratitude could be a problem in Jane Austen’s society, and it could possibly lead to abuse nowadays as well, but I think in most cases, we need to be more grateful for the good people around us.

As I think about AustenAuthors, I think all of us would agree that we are grateful for Sharon Lathan and Regina Jeffers. They work tirelessly to keep this website running and to help promote the works of their fellow authors. In a world where some authors stoop to criticism and vindictiveness, Sharon and Regina stand out as example of kindness and generosity. I am so grateful for them, and I’m thinking about the notes I’ll be writing to each of them.

I’d also like to thank all of you, our wonderful readers, who love Jane Austen as much as I do. I enjoy all your comments and have so much fun coming up with new topics for blogs, not to mention that I’m happy many of you enjoy my books. Thank you for stopping by to connect with us!

Who are you grateful for today?

17 Responses to My Secret Project

  1. I believe I read about this project prior to today, as it has been on my mind. Then again gratitude is always part of my life; each morning I thank G0d for granting me another day of life. It puts a whole different perspective on any vexations one encounters during the day. I admit that I do not always have time to read AuAu, but I do read it whenever possible and am grateful to those of you who organize and write for it.

  2. And thank you Rebecca for your beautiful post. Gratitude is a wonderful thing and I’m glad you shared it today as a reminder and a tribute.

  3. Thank you, Rebecca, for the reminder. It’s too easy to get busy and forget to write ‘thank you notes.’ We may say thank you frequently each day, but there is a difference in actually getting a note of gratitude from someone. Sending a note is so much more meaningful as the person knows we took the time to write it. I think I’ll write a couple of notes where I have been remiss.

  4. What a wonderful idea. It’s inspiring! I definitely don’t say thank you enough! And I am very grateful for all of the Austen Authors and do hope they all continue writing!

  5. I loved your note to the hospital cleaning lady. When I was in the hospital after the birth of one of my kids, I remember thanking the cleaner one morning. I’ve never forgotten the look of shock on her face that I was actually speaking to her. For the remainder of that stay, my room was spotless and she always had a smile for me. I remember a bad winter when my mom thanked the snowplow driver. For the remainder of that winter (which was the worst one in my state in about 50 years) not only was the road cleared, but also the entrance to our driveway.

    A small expression of gratitude can go such a long way. It also tends to snowball into the recipients expressing gratitude to others, and so on.

    Thank you so much for this reminder! I love your ambitious goal of sending thank you notes. I generally remember to express gratitude verbally, but I don’t do so well with more physical reminders. (I also love your timing. Summer around here tends to bring out the worst in a lot of people…like children…and other drivers…and parents of soccer players….Thank you, thank you!)

  6. Wow! What a pleasant surprise!!! I agree about the lack of gratitude we encounter every day. It is a sad how often people lose that special moment to make another person’s day. You made mine today!!!
    I love your idea of the thank you notes, and I admire your staying with your resolution. So many do not.
    I am especially honored by your recognition for what Sharon and I do with the site and the group. We all know the road to publication is tenuous enough without others tearing a person down.

  7. A lovely blog. My Mother died recently and we gave chocolates and thank you cards to three different departments of the hospital where she was cared for. Their gratitude and I have to say surprise at receiving these was heart warming. Especially in A&E which is a department that gets forgotten about a lot I think and they are in most cases the first step of the care process. It definitely gives a warm feeling when a small thing like this gave so much pleasure. Good luck with reaching your goal with the Thank You notes.

    • That was such a sweet gesture, Teresa! It says a lot about your characters that you thought of others while you were experiencing such a huge trial as your mother’s death.

  8. I thank You for sharing with us your secret project, for I find the idea simply wonderful and capable of facilitating small but substantial changes. It is a pity that personally I often forget about need to be grateful for what I already have and have to be reminded šŸ™‚ That’s what I would like to also thank you for reminding me about it with your sincere and beautiful project!

    • You are so sweet, Oloore. I once heard that the happiest people make a point of practicing gratitude. I don’t think it ever comes naturally to us. We just have to constantly remind ourselves to do the little things to show our appreciation.

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