Thank you!

Best "thank you," EVER!

When I graduated high school, I decided to use this great stationary I had and write “thank you” notes to some of my teachers. I didn’t write one to every teacher I had–though they all deserved thanks–I wrote to those teachers who played an important role for me personally as I developed through school. I wrote one to my junior high English teacher who was the first to really believe in my independent voice; to my 5th grade teacher who gave me a book for Christmas that was one of my favorites (I still have it!); to my TAG teacher (enrichment class), who showed me that intelligence was a gift and who introduced me to the idea of higher education; to my physics teacher, who engaged in philosophical debates with me regularly and let me keep my physics text book (still have it, too I think!); one to my second grade teacher, who had this giant Garfield tent that we could read in if we behaved; and more.

This week I was reminded of the value of a heartfelt “thank you.” I received one of the most delightful, lovely, and thoughtful thank you’s I’ve ever had! The wonderful Ms. Anita and her fabulous 7th graders from Brooklyn compiled a little stack of colorful notes, drawings, and a homemade scarf (!) and mailed them to me as a “thank you” for posting their work on this blog! (If you need a reminder, search the category “Brooklyn students embroideries” and you’ll find over 20 posts on the topic!) As I opened the package, all these bright paper hearts came falling out, and I read every message out-loud to my husband as I giggled, and smiled, and laughed! Each message was so sweet–and the drawings on them were terrific! One of the students, Lucara, added the “Be Nice” to the scarf–it is perfect! One of my most prized possessions (and how did they know how much I love scarves!?)!

The sheer joy I felt receiving such a thoughtful message of gratitude made me think of an article I had seen on CBS awhile back, about writing “thank you’s.” As the commentator mentioned, thank you notes are on their way out–specifically the hand-written kind. But some of us still do it, and some of us write them all the time. Take author John Kralik.

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams–including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge–seemed to have slipped beyond his reach.

Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year’s Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had.

Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal–come what may–of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year.

One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank yous–for gifts or kindnesses he’d received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who’d done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he’d sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John’s way–from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John’s whole life turned around. (source of this text: click here)

Being grateful is linked to a number of amiable characteristics: patience, awareness, humility, value of community, receptivity, positivity, and so on. I imagine people sensed a transformation, or a certain openness, in Mr. Kralik’s character as he began to change his perspective, and responded in kind. And while sometimes a verbal “thank you” might not yield the same response, I believe any form of gratitude is an awesome sentiment to express regularly. These Brooklyn kids, their teacher, and John Kralik could all be wonderful role models as we begin to recognize the good things in our lives day to day.

So, I’ll start now by saying: Thank you! For reading the blog, supporting the project, for being a kind person. It means the world to me.


You can watch the CBS article here or read it here. Check out more of the book “365 Thank You’s: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life” by John Kralik here.

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 20

This is the last post with work by the Brooklyn middle schoolers who so generously allowed me to share their work with you! There aren’t any excerpts with these pieces and a few are unfinished, but they are all quite accomplished and amazing! I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Believe, by Jane

This is really interesting Jane! I love the beginning of the border. I hope you finish it!

Promptness is a... virtue!, by Briana

That is so true Briana! And this is very well done!

Be honest, by Amber

This is really interesting Amber! I like how the “e” works for both the “be” and the “honest” parts of your image.

Live life, by Lucara

This turned out great Lucara! The border is very nicely done and I enjoy the multi-colored words.

Always try Your Best, by ?

I didn’t get a name for this student, but this turned out to be a lovely image! Well done!

Never Give Up, by Jada C

This is very interesting Jada! I like how you chose to make your letters with the dashed lines.

Vino y risata, by Madison

This, I believe, is Spanish, translated to “live and laugh.” Excelente trabajo! Me gustan los colores!

Don't Hate! Congratulate! by Nathalie

This is a marvelous message Nathalie and well done! I enjoy the different ways in which you stitched the words. It makes the image all the more interesting to look at!

In Mandarin, "Wear Helmet", by Anita

And last, but not least, the piece made by the teacher of these accomplished students, Anita! Her student challenged her to sew her phrase in Mandarin and she did a stellar job!

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 19

Walk Rambo, by Miguel

Miguel wrote, “I chose my message because at first my dad would walk my dog, Rambo, but now I walk him everyday. At first I didn’t know anything about cross stitching, but now I know what to do. I make a number line to help line everything up.”

You did an excellent job Miguel! This turned out great, and I’m sure your dad is grateful you walk the dog every day!

Unfortunately, I don’t have images for the following stories, but I felt that these students deserved recognition for their work. I hope you enjoy their thoughts, as much as I have! :)

Sam W. – “Do Great”
I worked hard and I am working hard at doing my best. I think that my choice for a message was appropriate and it’s a thing I do need to work on. I made a number line. I feel that I am on my way to greatness.
Colin –  “Pronounce Pinyin Fluently”
Yeah, this was my way of learning the pinyin tones (for Mandarin). I did not use a number line on my Aida cloth because it would just have made it harder. Unfortunately, I did not finish my project.
Zoe  – “Don’t Carry The Weight Of The World”
Viewers will learn that I am trying to not be so stressed out and that I work hard.
Viewers might notice that I always think about “what I could have done,” or  question “if it was right to have made a certain choice.” I like my message, it’s personal, and by stitching it, I feel like I’ve learned to actually “LIVE IN THE MOMENT.” I enjoyed making this.
Penelope  –  “No More Tacos”
I really like tacos and I need to stop eating them so much.
Luis – “Study Luis”

My message as “Study” because I don’t really like to study. So I made it to remind me to study and to learn more and pass tests.

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 18

Some of the works here are unfinished, but they look wonderful and I had to share them with you! Enjoy…

Don't be late, by Sophia B

Sophia wrote, “Viewers can learn from this piece that I am late sometimes and I really need to stop this because it is hurting my grade. They can also learn that I like the color pink and that I am trying to not let myself get a bad grade by being late. I actually do care!”

You know, Sophia, this may not be done, but it looks great! You can see the effort you put into the stitches–very clean, very consistent. Embroiderers everywhere would be proud! I hope you finish this piece for you, even if the deadline has passed.

Don't Rush, by Jessica P

Jessica P wrote, “Viewers can learn that I hurried a great deal on this project instead of taking my time. I also change my mind a lot. I started out with the message “Don’t Over Think,” but I decided that was really a problem for me, so I changed it to ‘Don’t Rush.’ I did make a number line.”

I have that problem too Jessica (over-thinking). You wouldn’t believe how long it takes me to decide on dinner! This is a very dynamic image. I know the project was focused on cross-stitching, but it is interesting how quick the word “rush” looks.  A little ironic, funny, and a nice way of getting the message across. Sometimes a balance between rushing and working slowly pays off!

Get back up, by Owen

Owen wrote, “My message choice was ‘Get Back Up’ because I really need to stop beating myself up. When I strike out in baseball I get mad at myself. If I miss a practice, even accidentally, I think that I’m stupid. I need to remember that sometimes it’s not my fault.”

One thing I am still learning, Owen, is that our “failures” or “mistakes” or “strike-outs” are sometimes the best way to learn. We wouldn’t become the people we are if we didn’t make mistakes (all of the great inventors “failed” a ton of times before they discovered their “great invention”). It is how we bounce back and learn from our mistakes that defines us. We can never be perfect. We can be better at something with practice and hard work (like baseball), but we can never be error-free. Your message is great! Excellent work!

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 17

Be a Better Person, by Abigail

Abigail wrote: “I work[ed] really hard on this project and I’m learning to ‘be a better person.’  ”

You’re not alone Abigail! I think most people want to be better people. The other good news is that most of us are already pretty superb people. 🙂 Great work!

In Mandarin, translates to "Don't be afraid." by Lucara

Lucara wrote: “Viewers can learn that I am precise and I like doing cross stitching. I followed my pattern except in a few places where what I had drawn wasn’t possible on the Aida Cloth. I made it all work out though. My number line didn’t really help me after the first few stitches. My attitude towards the project stayed the same the whole time; it was very positive and excited.”

I really enjoyed the lower border on this work–it really brings out the middle character. This is a great piece, and message!

Decide, by Merlin

“People might learn from my project that I can be indecisive. That’s why I chose DECIDE. To help me make my project I used a number line and made a pattern to follow. However, in the end I didn’t use the exclamation points that I put in the pattern because I thought they were excessive. After doing this project, I have become better at deciding.”

In my experience, too, I am awful at making decisions! My poor husband has to wait all the time while I figure out what I want (he doesn’t need to learn patience, that’s for sure)! Making decisions is a tough thing to do. I admire you, Merlin, for achieving that goal!

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 16

In Korean, translates to "Eat less junk." by Nina

“My Aida cloth project is in Korean and it says, ‘Eat Less Junk.’ I’ve wanted to eat healthier for a while but when I started working on this I actually began to follow my message. It took a lot of persistence and hard work to make the Aida cloth because it would get knotted and the needle would get stuck. I persisted to the end though and achieved my goal. Now I can officially say that I’m eating healthier. It’s not about weight it’s about being a strong, healthy person and achieving my goals.”

Nina, you have a great attitude and should be really proud of yourself! I can tell you from experience that when I started to eat healthier, I felt a lot more confident because I was achieving my goal. Your focus on being healthy is really admirable. And your piece looks marvelous!

Never say never, by Jessica O

“Viewers can learn that I never gave up on my cross-stitching. I followed my pattern very well. I didn’t need the number line because I had an imaginary one. I used graph paper. I loved doing the project from beginning to end.”

I’m so glad you liked the project Jessica–it looks great! I hope you keep cross stitching if it’s something you continue to enjoy!

Neat handwriting, by Sebastian

Sebastian wrote: “Viewers can learn from my personal message that I need to work on my handwriting. I worked on 14 count cloth so I had to split all the threads. It was challenging. My project shows how my technique worked out, and how it helped me. One thing viewers cannot see is that the back of my project looks just as neat as the front. : ) ”

Sebastian this looks great and you are right: splitting threads is trying on one’s patience sometimes. My husband loves the back of my embroideries too–the “map” the threads make as they overlap and criss-cross each other is really beautiful! I’m glad you liked the outcome of your project.

Brooklyn students embroider their ideas: Part 15

Be a hard worker! by Jackie

Anyone who completes a cross-stitch project like this for the first time is definitely a hard worker. Keep it up Jackie!

Be with the flow, by Michael

“I always had trouble focusing in class. So I decided to do this message to remind me to be with the flow of the class. I made a number line. I ended up really liking it in the end.”

This turned out really great Michael! Your border is a nice addition to the image, too. Good luck with your goal, I bet you’ll have it done in no-time!

Text code, by Elijah

Elijah wrote: “That things look really good,” probably in answer to the question, “What have you learned from this project.” I’m not sure that my interpretation is 100% correct, but this piece looks really nice so I’ll assume that is it! Good job Elijah!