The Uplifters
The Uplifters
The Power of Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

Cultivating Connection and Overcoming Obstacles with Gina Hamadey

Listen to our latest episode in the player here, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts. 


To fill some empty train travel time one cold morning in January, Gina Hamadey wrote out a few Thank You notes that had been lingering on her to-do list. When she was finished, she felt something different than the usual satisfaction of crossing a task off of her list. She felt a sense of lightness that carried into her day.

So, she did it again the next day and the next. By January 31st, she’d written 31 notes and felt energized. She became curious about what would happen if she kept writing one note each day for a year. It sounded crazy, but as she started to think about the groups of people she’d reach out to: her neighbors, family, and friends; the store clerks who made her daily life warmer; the restauranteurs, servers, and chefs who made meals memorable; and people who had mentored and guided her in her life and career, she got so excited that she turned it into a plan to write 365 Thank You notes to people who were important to her. 

She started simply, but as she went along, she began to face and overcome big emotional obstacles by reaching out to people she’d lost touch with and people with whom the endings hadn’t been simple. In doing so, she healed fractured relationships, rekindled lost connections, deepened her sense of belonging, and even though the year didn’t mark any major life milestones, she looks back on it as one of the best years of her life. 

I thought Gina’s story would be a reflection on gratitude, but it turned out to be a how-to manual for something much more significant: connection. In my research, I’ve asked many thousands of people what it means to live a good life. Their answers boil down to three things: to be well physically and mentally, to leave a positive impact on the world, and to connect with other people. Gina’s story teaches us how small and simple acts can deepen our sense of connection, which can feel difficult to cultivate, especially in adulthood.

Aransas Savas (28:02.962) Your book is a challenge to all of us to look at where we feel a little craving for deeper connection, from our weakest to our strongest ties, and to reach out bravely and take action to strengthen those ties,

Gina Hamadey (28:36.58) We have more ties than we realize. If the prompt was to write 30 mentors or 30 neighbors, you might be surprised to find that you have those people there. It's just that some of those connections need fostering.

Aransas Savas (29:02.962) Yeah, just like anything that matters. My plants die if they don't get sunlight and water. My relationships wither without attention. 

Want to embark on your own gratitude journey? Gina offers some powerful prompts in our conversation, and offers this as a starting point: If you want to just write one gratitude letter, think of somebody who has meant a great deal in your life, but who isn’t aware of that impact, perhaps a teacher, role model, or mentor, and write to them letting them know of their impact on you.


While I truly love Gina’s focus on connection and gratitude, her book is most universal for the lessons it teaches on how to work through mental hurdles to accomplish our biggest, scariest goals. Here are a few that you'll hear in Gina’s story, that maybe you’ll want to add to your story too:

  • Build a plan made up of actions that energize and excite you.

  • Timebox it in small chunks.

  • You are in charge, so if something feels boring or uninteresting, look for ways to make it more compelling.

  • Build your muscles by starting with the most do-able and clear tasks first, and use those newly honed strengths to make the next section of your long-range goal easier

  • When it feels like you can’t go on, change your rules to make it easier

  • Use accountability as a forcing function by telling other people about your audacious goals

  • Release any expectations of any response or reply from others. You’re doing this for you, so focus on what you are doing, and do it well.


Paid subscribers: stay tuned for the full video episode coming your way on Monday.

Let’s keep rising higher together 💓,


More on Gina

Gina Hamadey is the author of the book I Want to Thank You (TarcherPerigee, spring 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!

Messy Transcript

Aransas Savas (00:02.838)

Welcome to the Uplifters podcast. I'm your host, Aransas Savas, and you just heard the wonderful Rachel Lipson, who you met in episode four, nominating a woman who inspires her, Gina Homidy. And Gina's book, I Want to Thank You, is about her year writing 365 thank you notes over the course of a single year.

Aransas Savas (00:27.51)

And I will say that when I started reading this book, I thought, oh, wow, cool, a book about gratitude. I love gratitude. Gratitude is awesome. I know all the research on gratitude. I know why it matters. I know how transformative it can be for our presence. But what I was deeply surprised and thrilled by is that it wasn't just a reflection on gratitude. It was...

Aransas Savas (00:53.69)

actually a how-to manual for something that is so much more significant. Human connection. And in my research I have asked so many thousands of women what it means to have a good life and their answers have boiled down to three things. To be well physically, mentally, to leave a positive impact on the world and to connect.

Aransas Savas (01:22.994)

deeply with other human beings. And this book is a beautiful demonstration of how we can use just small and simple acts to deepen our sense of connection and presence at the same time. It's truly essential to our well-being.

Aransas Savas (01:48.778)

And even though it can feel really difficult to influence or change that sense of connection, Gina's book teaches us how. So Gina, thank you for embarking on this journey and then sharing it with all of us so honestly and so specifically. And that's really one of the things that I was most moved by as someone who studies human behavior and habit. I think the topic itself is really exciting. I think your journey is really exciting. But it was that process that you built and that you shared with us in such specific detail that made me so excited to share this with the Uplifters. But before we get into all that process, Steph, let's talk, my absolute joy. Let's talk about your journey.

Gina Hamadey (02:46.866)

I came up in magazines. I was a magazine editor, journalist, and over the last number of years, I've pivoted into content marketing, mostly lots of different projects. And one January, January 2018, I had a new gig out in New Jersey. I live in Brooklyn. It was for a sheet company, Bowl and Branch. And I was spending that hour-long commute.

Gina Hamadey (03:16.278)

doing all kinds of stuff the first few weeks, what you would imagine on my feeds, in my to-do list. And then one day I had thank you notes to write. I had organized that December a big fundraiser for City Harvest, and I had promised a bunch of thank you notes. And so it was just the next thing on my to-do list. I pulled them out. I started writing them. Everything was like a checklist. I had two little kids at that point.

Gina Hamadey (03:43.902)

You know, just everything was like, okay, next thing on the list, go, go, go. And now it's thank you notes. Okay, let's do it, let's get it over with. And after that hour spent writing those thank you notes, which was, you know, basically just thank you to these random people in my life, some of which I haven't seen for years. You know, thank you for donating to this, this cause that means a lot to me, how nice. You didn't have to do that, so nice, thank you so much. After an hour spent writing that, it just felt...

Gina Hamadey (04:13.79)

really, really good. Like I felt like I exited that like ticking off a to-do list, go, go, go. It felt like it delivered me to a different plane, you know? I just felt my shoulders relaxed, my breathing slow, and my whole day sort of started on a different, I don't know, like a different tone. And that nice light mood kinda carried into my day. And I don't know that I...

Gina Hamadey (04:40.978)

very much noticed that the first time. I had a general background sense of that, but I had 31 notes to write. So after the third, the fourth, the fifth day, I was like, this is weird. I'm like a happier person when I start the day with thank you  .. And I was reflecting on this when I finished the last thank you note, and it was January 31st, and I was thinking,

Gina Hamadey (05:10.754)

This was so positive, this was such a surprise. I've never been like a huge, now I meet them because I'm like a thank you note lady, officially, like with a book. And now I meet the thank you note people but I wasn't really one of them. It wasn't like that was something that super important in my life. You know, it's just, I would say I was neutral on the topic. And I was reflecting on it thinking, okay, this was really positive.

Gina Hamadey (05:34.774)

How do I, what would that even mean to keep it up? It seems crazy, right? Just keep writing thank you notes for what? Like, what does that mean? You know, but I have this background in magazines and a lot of experience writing an editorial calendar. So I just sort of challenged myself, like, what would that mean, right? Especially when I noticed it was January 31st and the number kind of stuck out at me because I had just written the 31st thank you note. So it was like 31, 31. And so I was like, huh. Like I've written a thank you note for every day of the year so far, so what if I did keep it up? Like what would that even, I probably won't, right? Like I probably won't, because that's nuts, but like what if I did? What would it even look like? You know, and I figured January was already done, that was charity, if I'm gonna calendarize it. And then what would February be kind of dedicated to? I knew, because I had all this, you know, experience in content, I guess, slash editorial, you don't just start writing.

Gina Hamadey (06:34.538)

Like everything has to, you have to have a plan, right? So I figured if I were to do this thing, that kind of seems weird and like who does this, but if I were to do it, I would have to organize it in some way. So let's say it was by the month. And so let's think of 11 more topics, charity was already done, what would those 11 topics even be? You know, and so I had a little brainstorm and started getting excited. Like, okay, well there's neighbors, that's obvious, there's friends, that's obvious. And then when I started thinking of some of the other more obscure,

Gina Hamadey (07:04.226)

kind of creative topics like food and travel and health and parenting. I kind of was like, that sounds like fun. It sounds like fun to think about 30 people in my food life to say thank you to. And so by the end of that train ride, I had a little plan for the year.

Aransas Savas (07:25.638)

I think anything we want to turn ourselves on to doing, we can usually amplify that little desire by integrating some amount of joy or pleasure. And so you tuned in naturally to, oh, this feels good. And I feel a sense of joy and purpose, right? Like, I do think there was some element to, I've got this time that I'm in the train.

And it's not that high value or impactful in my busy life. So how do I also give that a little more purpose along with that connection that you were building with those people that was giving you that endorphin hit?

Gina Hamadey (08:06.45)

Right, as soon as I turned it to like, I don't want this to feel like a homework assignment. I don't want this to feel like, and that's the whole thing with thank you notes, they always feel like that. They always feel like this should, and you should, and you're late, and it's like, bleh, it's etiquette, and you're already late, and you forgot the last time, and this was like, what if, like what if this was just fun? Like what if it was just like a nice fun thing for me? And then obviously there's that, you know.

Gina Hamadey (08:35.75) 

I haven't even sent them yet, so then there's that. But just actually doing it sounded like fun.

Aransas Savas (08:42.63)

I love that. And then you said, I'm going to turn it into a plan. So I actually have a method for doing this that highlights my interests, my passions, and my community. So you gave yourself a way to doing it, which I think is so powerful. What was the hardest part about continuing on?

Gina Hamadey (09:09.694)

I think probably the emotional obstacles could have derailed it some of those were very hard to write and hard to send.

Gina Hamadey (11:43.13)

I really went kind of deep with the thank you notes. I really pushed myself in a lot of ways to write something meaningful to somebody who meant something to me at a certain period of my life and maybe we're not in touch anymore. And that is a scary thing. It's a very vulnerable thing to send that out and say like, hey, I don't know if you remember me.

Gina Hamadey (12:11.478)

thinking of you still. You know, it's a, that's a challenge emotionally. And I felt like it took a lot of bravery. And then that becomes sort of addictive though, because it feels really good to like, do something emotionally brave in that way. if there are any repercussions, they're positive, you know. It's, you know, got me back in touch with friends with whom I'd become estranged. It kind of healed.

Gina Hamadey (12:41.422)

some tricky relationships, a boss who had laid me off, I feel like it really created this nice closure on my end and for her, I think it was really positive too. 

it was just a great year and nothing spectacular happened. Do you know what I mean? Like, I didn't have a baby or get married or get a new job or make the most money I ever made or anything like that from the outside would kind of mark it as a great year. But it was a great year because I was like steeped in

Gina Hamadey (14:08.146)

you know, everything that you've read about gratitude that I hadn't at the time, but then in writing the book, I really boned up on all that gratitude research. You know, I was really steeped in all of that. Like I was really rewiring my neural pathways to be more positive and more grateful. That's one thing, the gratitude thing. And then the other thing is just how much more connected I really felt in all of these circles in my community.

Gina Hamadey (14:37.914)

with my friends, even the ones who don't live nearby, even in my own house and in my own family with people who I see all the time. My husband, I spent a month writing him a note every day. You know, just sort of reinforcing these ties that were already there, but naming them and expressing that gratitude so specifically and like bravely and open-heartedly just made me have like one of the...

Gina Hamadey (15:06.698)

best year, maybe the best year of my life, and nothing outstanding even happened.

Aransas Savas (15:14.858)

Ugh. I think from the outside, it's such a powerful story to be able to tell. Because what it says to all of us is that by these simple acts of courage, and you're right, it is really freaking courageous to put ourselves out there and to say, hey, it's me. And I'm thinking about you.

Gina Hamadey (15:41.022)

I don't know if you remember you, I think of you constantly. It's like the least cool thing you could do.

Aransas Savas (15:47.286)

Oh, I am so not cool, girlfriend. And I am such a big fan of not being cool because I think you're right. It's being cool that stands in the way of connection. And it's like one of the things I preach most often to my 12 and 14 year old daughters. Like we celebrate awkwardness in this household. Every time we do something that feels awkward, it's a party. Because I do think it's like, we...

Aransas Savas (16:15.986)

My kids talk about it all the time. They're like, oh, it's so awkward. And I'm like, yay, it's awkward. That means we're uncomfortable. We're in unknown territory. And you started out with sort of low-lift awkwardness, which felt really important. You walked into the market, and you said, thank you for your tiny act of kindness in my daily life. But even that felt awkward initially, I think.

Gina Hamadey (16:44.63)

the neighbor month. Yeah, yeah, I started with the lowest, yeah, I think I started with the lowest stakes because the neighbors, you know, I'm just writing to the guy at the mozzarella store, the owners of the bookstore, and I'm saying like, I love that this is in the neighborhood. I have that one time that you let us in early and you let Henry pick the music. Such a great memory. You guys are the best. Like, it's very, you know, it's, it's...

Gina Hamadey (17:11.354)

is nothing but pleasant, you know? It still does take a little something. Like I remember when I gave the mozzarella guy his card and then he read it later and the next time I came in, he came out and gave me a hug and he's like, are you moving? And I'm like, no, I'm not. I'm just, I mean, I know it's kind of weird that I did it. I'm not even moving, you know? But then, but you never know when it is your last chance that Esposito's that was in the.

Gina Hamadey (17:39.37)

book that, you know, if you read the book, there was an illustration of Espositos with the little pig out front, and I wrote both brothers thank you notes for specific reasons. And now it's closed. It just closed last month. You know, so you never, it's like somebody's going to be moving sometime, even if it's not you right now. But it was great to start there, because if I had gone right to like estranged friendship or like...

Gina Hamadey (18:07.658)

write to some of the harder notes I wrote to family members or, I don't know, trying to find my fifth grade teacher and all I had to say to her. Neighbors was a great place to start because it was just kind of fun and easy and short and pleasant.

Aransas Savas (18:25.878)

Yeah, and so many of the things I watched you do in the book were like, how do I lower the complexity and the barriers here and just make it a little bit easier on myself so that I can keep going? And I think so often we're afraid to lower the walls, A, because our society...

Aransas Savas (18:45.738)

rewards effort and an overwhelm and over structuring so much, but also because we think that makes things more worthy or right. And you challenged that every step of the way. You're like, oh, this feels hard signal time to make it a little bit easier on myself. And just from the outside doing that, what you allowed yourself to do is to build that muscle.

Aransas Savas (19:09.366)

so that you were a little more comfortable with the awkwardness, you were a little more comfortable with the vulnerability, and you let yourself get rewards right away. So that hug, right? That was a big hit of dopamine to walk in, and the Esposito brothers now know you. You're not just the woman who gets this cold cut, you're the woman who wrote the thank you note and gets this cold cut.

Aransas Savas (19:37.258)

And I think there's so much power in that reflection. And so that was one of the big lessons, I think, from your book, was just the power of reflecting on what's easy and what's hard. And you worked your way up to those really deep connections and the really vulnerable notes and outreach. How have t hose relationships now two years later

Gina Hamadey (20:06.23)

Well, some of the, some of the, I mean, there's three, there are four. There were four notes in my friend month in particular. And that, so for my friend month, and one of the fun things about this was every month really felt different. Like it was a totally, the audience, the different audience made for an entirely different approach. So the neighbors, quick note on a little card and handing it probably in person.

Gina Hamadey (20:33.878)

For the friends, I just couldn't figure out what to say exactly, like beyond a generic like thanks for being a friend all these years. It just sounded so generic and like couldn't... That's the other thing is I just don't like being bored. So like anything that sounded boring, I was like, I'm not going to do it if it's like I have 30 stack of like, well, I'm not saying anything, you know, like it has to feel fun. So I ended up...

Gina Hamadey (21:02.994)

I remembered that you can turn a picture into a postcard. So I found, I kind of opened up a shoebox of all these old pictures, high school, college, and people say, whenever I tell the story, they're like, oh my God, you gave away pictures. I'm like, oh my God, it was like the 90s and the early 2000s, there's so many doubles, and they're all getting yellowed, and it's fine. You could also just print them out or make a copy. I just was like, this is better suited out in the world than like...

Gina Hamadey (21:31.766)

getting even more yellowed in my shoebox. So I just like reinforced those with four by six stickers and turned them into a postcard. And then it became really fun because there's something to write about because there's like a memory attached to this picture. And so four of those postcards I sent, the last four I sent because I kept kind of shuffling those postcards to the back of the pile, were people that I had been in some amount, some degree of estrangement with for some.

Gina Hamadey (22:01.374)

reason or another. And all four of those, one of them I haven't seen yet, but we had such a wonderful exchange. It basically just did, it was so impactful in getting us back in touch in this really lovely way. One of them, my friend John, he and I now have a monthly standing Zoom and he's in Finland and so that's just special that we are both

Gina Hamadey (22:30.166)

back in touch in this way once a month. One of them, Sarah, she was kind enough to let me interview her for the book and she was really open about, it was this crazy conversation where we really talked about why we had stopped being friends and my impression of it versus her impression of it and why this postcard was a really good way for us to get back in touch versus an email versus a call versus any other way you might.

Gina Hamadey (22:58.346)

get back in touch. She said it was a very slow way of communicating which offered a slow response. It was just gradual. There was no time stamp on it. So she explained what was going on in her head when she...

Gina Hamadey (23:26.37)

got the card and she said, oh my god, this is so, what is this magical thing among all my bills and like, oh god, it's Gina and how is she doing? Oh god, I really messed that up. I, she, she, you know, I think it's like too late. Like she's not going to want to hear from me. And then it's like a day later, it's like, but she must want to hear from me because she sent me the card, you know? It's like a day later, like, maybe it doesn't matter that I don't know exactly what to say. it was this

Gina Hamadey (23:55.042)

kind of slow way for us to get back in touch, which turned out to be a perfect way for us to get back in touch. And it starts with gratitude, right? I didn't say anything untrue. I didn't say our relationship is without its complications, you know what I mean? But I started with the gratitude for what we had and how important she was in this time in my life, of which she played a crucial role in my life.

Gina Hamadey (24:24.514)

20s. So it was just starting from there, just allowed us this relationship again. And we have, I mean, I saw her two weeks ago. I mean, we were very much back in touch because of that.

Aransas Savas (24:39.642)

I loved that story especially because so often when relationships end, and they do, they end with our own individual stories and beliefs. We don't have that sense of clarity about, well, what were they thinking? Why did this relationship end? It just feels like, especially in friendships, right? Like we in like...

Aransas Savas (25:00.878)

dating relationships, we often have a moment of clarity where people say, I am leaving this relationship because of this. And at least people express some of their truth, just in that discussion. Whereas in friendships, it's just like a slow fade.

Aransas Savas (25:19.722)

And what was once intense is just gone. And so that slowness, I think what Sarah's saying, is it gave me a chance to reflect on why I started to slip away. And it gave you a chance to reflect on what your stories were for your choices and what you believed about Sarah's. And for the two of you then to come back together and say, no, no, no, no, no, no, this is actually what was going on with me.

Gina Hamadey (25:45.854)

Yeah, yeah. One of the people I interviewed during this book, and I can't honestly can't even remember which one, but I always think about how they said, we think we are great at knowing what the other person is thinking and we are actually terrible at it. Like we have no ability and yet we still walk through the world as if we are good at it and that we know.

Gina Hamadey (26:11.742)

what people are thinking. And you really don't, and you really can't.

Aransas Savas (26:17.366)

No, and then you show in this book how these thank you notes as a practice can open up even more of those tougher conversations where we say the things we might not otherwise. So do you want to tell the story about your mother-in-law and what happened there?

Gina Hamadey (26:29.462)

Yes. Okay, so one thing is I didn't send out 365 cards to 365 people. I sent the 30 notes within the month based on whatever that theme was, so a number of people got more than one note. Everybody in my family got a number of notes because they qualify as maybe food and travel and...

Gina Hamadey (26:58.458)

um, you know, and parenting or, you know what I'm saying. So it started becoming interesting how many notes my mom got a lot of notes in a lot of different months and my mother-in-law got so many notes. And just, just that, just knowing, just seeing how often she, you know, is working to meet our needs and anticipate our needs and how much she gives is just a powerful thing.

Gina Hamadey (27:28.094)

when you see it all together like that. And then I noticed the more that I would be expressing my gratitude to her for these really specific, granular things, you know, you bought Henry Winter jacket, you noticed it was getting too small, you took that off my list, whatever, you know, all throughout the year. I felt her kind of, you know, it just meant a lot to her, that she was really being seen in that way for all that she does. And by the way, I should say, we started off like not with a bad relationship, we had this nice relationship.

Gina Hamadey (27:58.154)

But something that really changed was, you know, A, it just softens any edges when you are feeling that thanked for something, right? And when, on her end, and on my end, to just really see how much she does, it's like, how could you not be kind of amazed at how much this woman does for her family? And then what I noticed was, she and,

Gina Hamadey (28:24.35)

my father-in-law, they are the nannies on Mondays for my kids. And so they are very much in our lives. Like, they are very, very much in our lives. And there can be conflict with that because there's little kids and maybe just different opinions on how different issues should be handled. And I was just... Any kind of harder conversation that we had to have or that I brought up, it just felt like a much... We were...

Gina Hamadey (28:53.87)

we were approaching it from a much better place because it was understood that I wasn't saying I'd I you guys you don't do anything and also I'm pissed at you about this one thing it was clear that it was like I am so grateful for everything I think you guys are amazing about this one thing I would have done it differently and here's why can we talk about it and it's like it could just be about the thing it was about you know and it without

Gina Hamadey (29:18.534)

sort of a defensiveness of like, oh my God, can't she see all the stuff we're doing and she's got this complaint? It's like, I'm allowed to have a complaint because it's not even really a complaint, it's just like a conversation we should have. Because by the way, like, we're starting from a place of like such,softness and,gratitude where we are starting from, you know, that really positive place and then the Like the little problem can be what it is 


it's easy to see how it improved your relationships. And because of the process of segmenting your outreach, you worked on what you refer to from sort of sociological terms in strong and weak ties.

Aransas Savas (00:29.686)

and you balance those. So talk for a second about what those are and what you learned about them through this journey.

Gina Hamadey (00:36.424)

Sure. So, weak ties. I did this research when I was writing my neighbor's chapter. And, you know, basically a weak tie is, you know, your neighbor, an acquaintance, the people in your life that you, you know, it's low stakes, basically. And then a strong tie is your good friends and family. And, you know, the research that I was...

Gina Hamadey (01:04.312)

reading and speaking with some people who did that research, basically the upshot is weak ties are quite important. You shouldn't discount weak ties. They sort of go a long way in making you feel social and you being a social person in the world saying hello to that mozzarella guy, the bookstore owners in my case, having a basic...

Gina Hamadey (01:33.368)

even if it's a little, if it's kind of surface, but it's regular and it's friendly and it actually goes a long way in making you feel like you're part of something. But the feelings I was getting, like, you know, as you said, the dopamine from the hug from the mozzarella guy behind the counter, but just all of it just felt so good.

Gina Hamadey (02:32.888)

felt good for me, felt good for them. And it just gave me the sense now that I have the, you know, that term weak ties, I didn't have it at the time, just felt like it's, you know, you just can't discount it. It actually means something.

Aransas Savas (02:48.554)

Yeah. Yeah. And it doesn't happen by accident. It was really an act of you. You talk about waving first and being the one who says, Hey, I'm reaching out to connect as opposed to waiting. And I do think that that we do that so often. We're like, well, if I matter, if I'm important, other people will reach out to me. This whole project, though, was you saying

Aransas Savas (03:17.963)

I'm gonna be the one who reaches out.

Gina Hamadey (03:19.816)

I'm gonna do it. Yeah, I was quoting somebody that said, nobody waves, but you always wave back. I decided to make that explicit, that this was my project. I was the one reaching out.

Gina Hamadey (03:48.804)

and I would have no expectation about what comes back because I felt like this could get very depressing very quickly if I'm like, in fact, I opened up a spreadsheet where I started writing the names of the recipients and then I deleted it because as I started sending them out, it's like there was a column that was just waiting for me to say, how did they reply? What did they say? Was it a voicemail? And I'm like, I don't wanna, some of these people won't write back or won't respond or won't.

Gina Hamadey (04:18.628)

And I just can't, I can't get in, that can't be the point of this year, is to like wait and what does it mean? It's been weeks, did they get it, did they not get it? Did they think it's weird? And I'm like, so I just deleted the spreadsheet and I'm like, I will, this has to all be a gift. It just has to be. And anything that comes back to me, I will think of as a lovely bonus, but it's just not the point. The point wasn't, let me do this and...

Gina Hamadey (04:48.004)

get a bunch of love in return. The point was like, let me give it. Let me say all the stuff I have to say. Let me remember who I am in the world and in my community and what's important to me and let me name it and name the people and tell them. And that's the point.

Aransas Savas (05:12.286)

Yeah. And it is so easy though, right? To not, to miss those little thoughts that say, oh, they didn't write me back. This is hurtful. And ultimately that's going to stop us from doing the things that feel good. And so you just, you were so honest with yourself. And again, I, I, I feel like the

Aransas Savas (05:32.278)

greatest thing about this book, the thing that is most exciting for me as somebody who cares about human behavior and who understands motivation is the awareness you had of your own mental hurdles.

Aransas Savas (05:48.546)

and your honesty because you were able to say, oh, this might stand in the way of my progress. So I'm gonna acknowledge, yeah, there is a part of me that would like a response, and I'm going to reinforce for myself that that's not the truest, most important thing. And so I'm gonna set that aside and refocus my energy and attention.

you use the word generosity a lot in the book about the you do that the idea of gratitude is an act of generosity, but also the responses as an act of generosity. And I do think that that is the more generous approach.

Gina Hamadey (07:47.321)

Oh, did I? That's interesting.

Aransas Savas (08:00.05)

is to say, I'm gonna put this gratitude out, I'm gonna send love, but without an expectation of receiving it back. And I think that conscious awareness of that distinction probably had a big part to play in you finishing, because you could have stopped. Like you said, it was all self-imposed. You could have stopped any of this at any time, but you kept simplifying it. You kept facing the mental hurdles and you did it.

Aransas Savas (08:29.226)

And then you shared it with us. Yeah, thank you. It was really generous of you to give us all of your lessons that you learned in the process of it, and to remind us that those thoughts are going to come up for all of us too if we try to 

Gina Hamadey (08:29.636)

I did. Thank you. I did.

Gina Hamadey (08:49.864)

I'll tell you the usual ones that I hear all the time, just to get ahead of people. My handwriting's too bad, and I always say it really doesn't matter. I mean, A, you could type and print if you want, if you want it to be something that you mail,  everybody's handwriting is bad, nobody's is good, yours is fine, And it's never too late. Everybody thinks it's too late.

Gina Hamadey (09:40.912)

Maybe a lot of people who, maybe people didn't write me back because they wanted, instead of doing a text, they wanted to really put that time into a response and really do it right and then months go by and now I'm too late, you're never too late. Because this isn't a thank you note from, for your aunt for the sweater that is there really to serve as a confirmation receipt. I got your sweater, thanks so much. This is different.

Gina Hamadey (10:09.296)

this is thank you for something you did or said that meant a lot to me. And nobody ever writes to say thank you about that. So if you write it 10 years later, not only are you not late, it actually means more because you can share your perspective, what you remember after all this time, Also, people are worried about how to get an address. And I'm also like, just text somebody for their address.

it's this sense that people are going to be judging this project or this act. And what we hear in your story is people are just going to be excited. They got a thank you card.

Gina Hamadey (11:05.564)

Totally, totally. Yeah, I had this wonderful conversation with a social scientist who studies the impact of gratitude letters on the recipient, He studies how it feels on the receiving end. And he had a great way of putting it, as the writer, you're thinking about all these choices. You know, the letter, the stationary.

Gina Hamadey (11:34.524)

your handwriting, the examples you're using, the greeting, like you have all these choices that you're making, right? And so you're in your own head, maybe I made the wrong choices, is it good, is it not? On the receiving end, they don't know any of that. They're just thinking, this is so nice. This is so delightful. What a gift.

Aransas Savas (11:56.03)

And so when people want a lightweight taste of this without committing necessarily to a 365 day journey, what do you recommend?

Gina Hamadey (12:13.252)

If you want to just write one gratitude letter, If you could think of somebody who has meant a great deal in your life, who maybe doesn't know that they've meant that great of a deal, or maybe they just haven't, you just haven't thanked them. So maybe that's...

a teacher, maybe a mentor, maybe that's... I wrote this letter to my best friend growing up, her dad. You know, people in your life that were sort of accidental role models or purposeful role models, that showed you something about yourself or taught you something and you just never told them. That's kind of the first place I would go.

Gina Hamadey (13:10.084)

My career mentors month was one where I'm like, people should be doing this more often. 

Aransas Savas (14:20.484)

You described it as the most authentic networking.

Aransas Savas (15:12.534)

Yeah. Well, and I think to universalize your guidance, it's really, consider where you want to deepen your connections. Is it in your neighborhood with the people you meet each day for a sense of place? Is it with your family? Is it with friends? Is it within your career? Where do you want a tighter web of connection and start there? Yeah.

Gina Hamadey (15:36.904)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Another topic that was just like, oh, this was so fun,My son Henry and I, in my author's month, which was like my fan mail month, he and I wrote to his eight or 10 favorite authors, and a lot of them wrote back.  I talked to this expert that wrote the book, um, Making Grateful Kids. And he said the thing that kids really need help with is umaking this connection that there are people behind the stuff you love. It's like obvious but it's like not obvious. So it's like you love this book, like somebody wrote it, somebody drew it, like this was somebody's idea so one of the things we like to do in every episode of the show is to do a quick lightning round. So what is one quick way you raise your own energy, Gina?

Gina Hamadey (17:59.528)

So I live in New York City, and any time I'm walking in a neighborhood that I haven't been to in a little while, the city just fills me up with energy. I spent COVID-2020 in nature, and I realized, I love nature, nature's great. It doesn't feed my soul like this city does. 

Aransas Savas (18:42.494)

I think, yeah, I love that answer because it points toward this sort of core piece of you, which is that you are somebody who thrives on connection, who clearly enjoys and appreciates humans. I love the weirdos. I love, like, just seeing something new that's a new idea and like a cool outfit. And I, yeah, I just love to see people and what they're making and what they're doing and the art they're creating. And that just fills me up with energy.

Aransas Savas (19:23.298)

We are kindred spirits in that way. So what's one easy way you boost other women?

Gina Hamadey (19:25.905)


Gina Hamadey (19:31.3)

So, okay, so one thing I do for anybody who asks, I will send my book proposal to anybody. I feel like there is this scarcity thing. I also do this with my friends who do similar things, my fellow content marketer, writer people. If I can't do a project, I am sending it to somebody.

Gina Hamadey (20:01.448)

um, somebody wants one of my contacts, there you go. Like I feel like what I have is yours. A book proposal is a specific example where when I was writing a book proposal, I could not find good ones. You can't just like Google that. Like it's really hard. And so I will send mine to anybody that wants to write a book.

 So how do you elevate your community, the planet or the world in some little way? just expressing gratitude to the people in my community was just so, so meaningful to me and so impactful. You know, it's just something that I wouldn't have done if I hadn't challenged myself to this. If I didn't say, okay, Gina, February, you were writing to 28 neighbors.

Gina Hamadey (22:32.892)

thanking them for something. It's a challenge. And it was, you know, just really felt like it took these weak ties and it just strengthened them. And it just made me feel like I was part of this community that I love and it made, I don't know, I kept hearing this made my day and like, what a nice thing to hear, you know?

Aransas Savas (23:16.182)

Yeah, and even hi Gina

Aransas Savas (23:20.266)

You are known, you are seen, and that's what humans want. So one of the reasons I started this podcast, Gina, is because I have a lot of really beautiful, amazing women in my life. And I wanted them all to know each other. And I wanted to know their women.  So who is a woman that you know and love that you think we would know and love?

Gina Hamadey (25:14.896)

Yes, okay, so Molly Chen, you should know and love, and maybe many of you do, because she is the greatest connector that I know. It's just the way her brain works. It's like, as you're talking, she's just thinking of like eight people who she wants to connect you with, who can help you, who you can help them. It'll, you know, she's just that kind of person.

Gina Hamadey (25:39.3)

So, Molly Chen started like me in magazines, and then she was a co-founder of Birchbox.  She is just a interesting person in the world and is always up on so many things and is a true, true booster uplifter of women. Like, absolutely walks that walk.

Aransas Savas (27:04.782)

I can't wait to meet her. She sounds amazing. So as I start to wrap this up, I think maybe your book is a challenge to all of us to look at our own relationships, to look at where we feel a little craving for more connection or deeper connection.

Aransas Savas (27:30.57)

And it may be in the weak ties, it may be in the strong ties, but to use your journey as our own invitation to strengthen those ties that are calling for a bit more attention. And it doesn't have to be a big freaking deal.

Gina Hamadey (28:36.58)

we have those strong ties, we have those weak ties. You know, if you wrote, if the prompt was to write, like I said, 30 mentors or 30 neighbors, you know, you'd be surprised that you,have those people there. It's just, some of those connections need fostering.

Aransas Savas (29:02.962)

Yeah, just like anything that matters, it needs attention. Yeah, my plants are gonna die if they don't get sunlight and water. So will my relationships if they don't get attention.

Gina Hamadey (29:09.272)

Yeah. Yeah.

Aransas Savas (29:19.53)

Thank you so much, Gina. It truly is an act of generosity. Thank you for sharing your story with us. For those of you listening, you can find more from Gina at Substack, at her website, All the links to all her things will be in the show notes. So find her there. Come over to and join the conversation with us about what it means.

Aransas Savas (29:45.462)

to reach out, to connect, to be well in our relational lives, as much as we are in our physical and emotional lives. Gina, thank you for being here. And to all of you Uplifters, thank you for listening

The Uplifters
The Uplifters
This podcast is dedicated to celebrating the Uplifters.
In every episode, we share the tools and strategies Uplifters use to take care of themselves.
You'll hear the deeply personal stories of inspiring women who have worked through challenges to create big, joyful lives; how blocks and barriers became tools for success; and powerful mindset techniques you can use to live up. 💫