Birthday Fairy

birthday cake
It all started with the birthday cake… and a lot of complaining from me.

It was the end of January, and everyone at my small company got invited to the kitchen to share a January Birthday’s cake. What was there to complain about? But that was when I realized, I didn’t know that some of my co-workers just had their birthdays. “How come we don’t know each other birthdays? Why do they go by unnoticed and uncelebrated until the end of the month?” I complained to my friend.
The truth is, I really like birthdays, so that thought continued to bother me. But what could I do?

That’s when I found that everyone’s birthdays are marked on the company’s public calendar, which meant that it was possible to do something besides complaining. Of course, I knew that doing that would make me feel quite out of my comfort zone.

Yet I figured I could just try to do something small.

Lisa’s birthday was first. For her, I bought a small “Happy Birthday” beaded necklace and put it on her monitor when no one could see me. That small act made everyone to notice her birthday, and wonder where that necklace came from. It was fun!

For Ryan’s birthday, I put three necklaces around his office, and again it was fun and no one could figure out where they came from either. Talks about the Birthday Fairy started to spread around the office.

Now I felt more confident. I decided to buy a small Start Wars Birthday banner for the next birthday. It did looked small on Amazon, but turned out to be a big wall banner. Could I pull it off? When everyone left, I got up on Peter’s desk and put the banner across the window over his cubicle. I was so proud of myself. Peter was new to the company, so he assumed that people just decorate your cubicle when it’s your birthday. He was laughing and saying that Jackie’s probably the only person who could put the banner that high. It made me think, that it would be great to get other people involved in this Birthday Fairy business.

I bought a pink banner for the next birthday. Jackie’s hobby is boxing, so the plan was to print and cut out a pair of pink boxing gloves to go with it. The day before her birthday, Jackie mentioned that she used to be a dancer, even spent a year in Paris doing that. That gave me the idea of a dancer with the boxing glove on. I don’t have Photoshop at work, so I asked Peter to find a dancer and a glove and put it all together. He got all excited about it, and the end result was super cute and funny. We put the banner and a couple of those boxing dancers around Jackie’s cubicle. She was really happy next day.

That started the idea of custom Birthday themes and pictures. Slowly more people got involved in decorating, figuring out perfect themes for every birthday, cutting out pictures, and getting on the tables to hang something on the ceiling.

There were times when I was away, and someone else had to be a Birthday Fairy… Then there was time when I knew that the person won’t come to the office on his birthday, so I didn’t do anything… and my co-workers thinking that I forgot, did all the decorations. That was so nice.


Then there was my birthday… I have to say, that it was quite special, since almost everyone added something to my cubicle. My Birthday theme was ‘Yoga Dogs’.

It’s nice that people leave a little bit from their birthday decorations in their cubicles, so as you walk around the office you can see butterflies, flowers, yoga dogs, cookie monsters. I think it makes our office friendlier and more fun.

At times I still complain about this and that. But then I remember this story – The Birthday Fairy story. It did happen. I did start with really small necklaces, let it unfold, followed my heart, got inspired… and everyone around me got inspired too. This means that every time I feel like complaining, I can try to figure out if there is anything I can do instead.

I guess that is the secret! Don’t complain – just do something about it! Even it it’s something really small. It might unfold into something bigger than you expected.


Love-Fear Exercise

Love/Fear Exercise
I’ve learned about this exercise during the workshop with Gary Quinn and Tim Braun.

It’s very simple. You stand up and open your arms wide. Then imagine that you have love in your left arm, and fear in your right. Turn your head to the left and look at the left arm, and imagine that you see love; turn your head to the right and imaging that you see fear.

The point is that you can’t see both love and fear at the same time! It’s either one or the other. You make the choice where you want to look and what you want to see.

Gratitude Practice

Gratitude Practice Bowl

A famous man once said, “I urge you to please notice when you’re happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point ‘if this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.’” But noticing all those little moments can be difficult, unless there were a way to train the brain to do just that.

Diana Christinson, owner and a teacher of the Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Dana Point, has invented that way. With her daily Gratitude Practice, it is possible to adjust the mind to think positively, and that is a powerful idea.

Recently, Diana challenged her students to a simple task: take two minutes a day to meditate on what they are grateful for. Along with the things they are always grateful for, Diana also asked that her students find three new things every day. According to her, this practice eventually leads the brain to automatically notice things it is grateful for. It literally trains the brain to go to a positive place.

Diana always teaches the importance of being in the present moment, especially during meditation. So she found a way to help her students bring this idea into their gratitude practice. According to her, having something tangible helps “bring us to the present.” This is why she encourages using beans, or pebbles or anything of that nature.

Handfull of Beans
Sit with a bowl of beans, she advises, and pick a handful. Go through one by one, using each bean to represent one thing you are grateful for. The beans can be big things, the ones you always remember, like your parents, or yoga. They can also be little things, like an unexpected call from a friend or your favorite pizza. According to Diana, it’s these little things that we tend to miss, but with gratitude practice, we start to really notice.

Diana says, “Our lives are made of all these beautiful little things…[and] if we’re grateful for all the little things we start to see the beauty in every little corner of our lives.” Her gratitude practice allows her students to notice when they are happy. But even more than that – it slowly teaches them to automatically think positively. Diana ask her students to commit to a yearlong challenge, so hopefully by the end of the year they will notice the difference – they will see the world as more wonderful and beautiful.

Would you take on a Gratitude Practice challenge? It takes only two minutes a day!


Gratitude with Ashtanga yoga teacher Diana Christinson – Out on a Limb with Sarah Vogel