Small Things Make the Biggest Gifts

Today as I sit down to blog, I feel myself getting a little choked up. I’m a little overwhelmed by how much kindness I received this weekend for my birthday. Birthdays are not always the easiest occasion for me. As the day approaches, I usually start feeling old and begin listing in my head all the ways in which I haven’t accomplished enough at this point in my life and all the ways I don’t have it together yet. Then that makes me feel like I don’t want to celebrate at all and then that makes me feel old because I am the kind of person who loves an excuse to get together with people for a shin-dig.

When you’re in this state of mind about your birthday, what’s the best thing to hear from your best friend?

“We’ve reserved this day just for your birthday and we’re coming over with everything.”

And did they mean everything. My friends, Kat and Steve, came with their daughter, Tasha, along with snacks and fixings for a tasty taco dinner and made me a birthday cake. If that weren’t enough, I got a beautiful handmade knitted purse made by Kat and a card, proudly hand-drawn by Tasha.

Today I woke up to sleeping in and snuggling up with the husband to a “Top 10” birthday email from a dear friend of mine which immediately made my day. Easter celebration with family followed today, but my mom was sure to have a birthday cake for me, the kind I always asked for growing up: angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries.

Say what you will about Facebook, but the icing on the cake (pun intended) was to read all of the “Happy Birthday” messages on my Facebook wall. Yes, I know Facebook tells you when it’s someone’s birthday. But I’m incredibly touched by people who took the time to write me a birthday message, be it old friends, work colleagues, former classmates, family, or close friends. It’s these little things that make someone feel like a million bucks on their birthday.


Special birthday artwork

Reflecting on all of the love I received today, I realize how lucky I am. What are accomplishments or appearance or items checked off a to-do list when it comes to people? To have lived this far and have my world full of so many people that make me happy, well, that’s quite the best measure of life.


Comedy vs Yoga

My brother, Sean Keane, is a very funny guy (if you think I’m biased, just ask the SF Weekly). Today is Sean’s birthday, so it has me thinking about Sean and comedy. Building a career as a stand-up is a tough one. It takes no small amount of guts and hard work to show up at various settings where stand-up comedy takes place: laundromats; sketchy nightclubs; college auditoriums, and eventually on to the top local venues (in the bay area, these being the SF Punchline and Cobbs Comedy Club).

I have proudly watched Sean’s career move from many of the former to the latter venues and frequent out-of-town gigs.  More than once, I have admired how Sean gets on stage again and again. When I first started teaching yoga, it was petrifying enough to be teaching a group of people. I could not imagine the pressure of standing on a stage and making people laugh.

It got me thinking about the parallels between stand-up comedy and teaching yoga. Both require public speaking, some advance preparation, and ability to improv and play to the energy of the crowd. Here is a point-by-point comparison of comedy and yoga, determining which one has the advantage for each aspect of the job:

Comedy: Keep people laughing
Yoga: Keep people breathing
Edge: Comedy (if you are Sean)

Average Set Time:
Comedy: 10-45 minutes
Yoga: 60-90 minutes
Edge: Draw. If you are eating it on stage, you do not have long to win back the audience. On the other hand, you only have to sink for a brief time before the set is over. If you’re teaching a yoga class that is not going well, you have time to turn it around for the better. On the other hand, it might be a long class…

Comedy: Endless open mics
Yoga: Minimum 200-hour registered program
Edge: Yoga. I can’t think of much scarier things than continually getting up on stage at open mics.

Audience-Enhancing Beverages:
Comedy: alcohol
Yoga: coconut water
Edge: Comedy. Plus alcohol tastes much better than coconut water.

Physical Interactions with Crowd:
Comedy: Aggressive heckling
Yoga: Hands-on adjustments
Edge: Yoga. Why is it some people do not realize what happens when one chooses to sit in the front row at a comedy show?

5-Minute Wrap-Up:
Comedy: People in drunk, happy laughter
Yoga: People in savasana
Edge: Draw. Generally it’s easier to get people to laugh than it is to get them to relax. But if you’re Sean, the laugh part is not a problem.

Happy Birthday Brother Sean!