November 29, 2019

How I discovered the power of gratitude

This week as we prepare for Thanksgiving at home, the team at Lisa Kahn Designs and Finding Sanctuary is preparing for a different kind of giving thanks in our office.

This is the story of Project Gratitude, as we call it, and how it came to be an annual tradition for us.

Several years ago I was in a bind.

When the Great Recession was in full swing, I had a number of good design projects that kept us going. But they were all beginning to wrap up.

I had been so focused on providing excellent service to the clients we had that I didn’t look ahead, to see what else was coming up.

One day I woke up and realized that we didn’t have any new projects on the books.

Also, our cash was low. Really low. We didn’t have enough money in our back accounts to go on for more than a few weeks.

It was then that I decided it was time to practice what I really believe to be true.

In truth, I didn’t know what else to do. And my intuition gave me that push – you know the one. The one where it says, “Hey, over here. Let me show you the way out.”

So here’s what I did: I went to a nice stationery store, bought 50 of the nicest notes I could afford, and found my favorite pen.

I had 50 notecards and envelopes, so when I went back to my office, I made a list of the 50 people who had the most positive influence on my business and my life in the past year.

I wrote a note thanking each person for every single way they had blessed me in the past year.

The first few were kind of hard. I gritted my teeth as I wrote them. I was suffering, after all. (Being a victim of circumstance is hard work).

The next few notes flowed out a little more easily.

By the time I got to the end, my heart was bursting with gratitude for what seemed like an entire field of glorious roses planted just for me.

Here’s what I didn’t do:

I didn’t ask for anything.

I didn’t mention our need for work.

I said nothing but “thank you” to each person for everything I could think of.

I licked fifty stamps and sent them off with a prayer of thanksgiving.

And then an amazing thing happened.

A few days later the phone started to ring.

People called to thank me for the notes. Some called me in tears, moved by what I had written.

Some sent me emails, and others texted me.

Every single person on my list reached out for me over the next few weeks.

While I didn’t plan it, and didn’t bank on it (this wasn’t some sort of quid pro quo), my friends and colleagues started to refer work to me.

Within a month of sending those letters of gratitude, I booked more business than I had done in the previous year.

Gratitude saved my business.

It ushered in that magical shift that comes with deep and heartfelt gratitude: it opened my eyes to the beauty and abundance that was already all around me. The generous hearts. The helping hands. The kindness. The camaraderie. The laughs.

The beauty of it was blinding. And so we celebrate that shift every year.

Every year we put together gifts and notes of gratitude for our colleagues, vendors, and clients to let them know that we are so very grateful to be taking this amazing journey with them.

This year we have over one hundred very special people on our list, and most of them will all have a token of our gratitude in their hands by the time you read this.

It’s Thanksgiving, after all. And we are very thankful.

And I am especially thankful for you, for coming along on this journey of Finding Sanctuary.

This journey has just begun.

I can’t wait to share the rest of it.

With love and oh so much gratitude,


Logo flourish

One response to “How I discovered the power of gratitude”

  1. Michelle Snyder says:

    I am not sure I ever really knew how you started this tradition and loved hearing the story. And most of all, as someone on your receiving end of gratitude and love you, I am humbled and blessed.! You my friend, spread, joy, inspiration and grace to others.
    Xoxoxo Michelle

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