It's my birthday! Gifts for everybody!


Giftivism 2012 is complete. It was *amazing*. Thank you so, so much to everyone who participated.

First, some background:

When I was in my twenties, I used to give my friends a wish kit on my birthday. It included a small candle, matches, a piece of paper, and a tulip bulb (I’m lucky to have my birthday in autumn, which means it’s bulb planting time).

My instructions read: Make a serious wish. Write your wish on the paper. Plant the bulb, and bury your wish in the ground with it. Light the candle, let it burn over the new pile of earth you just packed down. Close your eyes and blow it out, birthday-style. Then be patient.

In the spring, that tulip comes out of the ground like a miracle! Like a wish come true.

One year ago today, I buried a digital tulip bulb of my own: I launched my new website. I also introduced the Story Course to the world.

In the past year, my wishes have come true. I lived in Hawaii for the winter and looked a sea turtle in the eyes, spent Valentine’s day eating vegan chocolate truffles in San Miguel de Allende, took the sleeping car train from snowy Chicago to cherry blossoming San Francisco, and woke up early to watch the sun rise over the Grand Canyon on Easter Sunday. And that’s just the start.

Some miracles I’m still keeping as a surprise (right now I’m working on something so incredible that it still feels unreal when I say it out loud). This is the truth: I really feel the need to celebrate. So…

Story Is a State of Mind is (almost) free today!

This is inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s fantastic PWYC birthdays and this TED talk by Nipun Mehta. In it, he introduces giftivism, which is a made-up word for radical acts of generosity that can change the world. It’s a concept that’s heartening and positive in a life-changing way. It also explains why our entire economy feels like it’s built backwards.

Giftivism is radical because it assumes that human beings are generous.

Here’s how it works:

A stranger is going to give you Story Is a State of Mind. For free. It’s an anonymous act of kindness, like buying coffee for the next person in line. You don’t have to pay for yours. Then, you get to buy it for the next person.

You pay what your heart feels is right.

Anyone who reads this today is invited to be part of this experiment in generosity.

Pretend you’re waiting in line to get into Story Is a State of Mind. You’re the first person in the queue: you get in for free, because someone you don’t know has given it to you as a gift.

You, in turn, get to buy the program as a gift for someone else in the queue.

You can write this person a special message – I’ll make sure s/he gets it along with his or her free access.

Then the person who receives your gift will have the opportunity to buy the program for someone else. And so on.

A writer who asked to remain anonymous generously started this pay it forward chain with a donation. You also may donate as many gifts as you like with your donation.

At the end of the day today, I know I’ll have at least one extra Story Is a State of Mind gift with no recipient. I will give these extra gift programs away – they will be scholarships for writers who need it but can’t afford it. (Details TBA.)

 Ready? I have no idea what will happen.

But it’s my birthday, and I want to give presents!

With love,


Sarah” width=


Instructions and guidelines:

1. Giftivism is only for today. This surprise birthday experiment runs until 11:59 EST Monday September 17th, 2012.  If you were on vacation when you got the email, or didn’t open it until after midnight or didn’t read it until later – I’m sorry you missed it. If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for my newsletters!

2. The minimum donation is $60. There is no maximum. The program is normally $250. Many of my mentors told me to charge much more than that, but I feel strongly about making the program accessible. Every program has overhead costs (copyright permissions, etc). I would love to make this experiment totally unrestricted, but I have to charge a minimum to cover costs. We reserve the right to refuse your donation if it doesn't meet this request.

3. You can donate by credit card or through your PayPal account. Think about the value of your gift donation. Imagine the person who’s going to receive it. Think about how you want it to help them.

4. You may leave a message for your gift recipient (optional & encouraged). This is a way for you to be someone’s Secret Writing Fairy Godmother or Godfather. You’re granting someone’s wish and making magic happen: have fun with it! 5. You can divide your donation into multiples. Multiple donations will help fill my SSMind scholarship supply. Let us know how many copies you want your donation to cover in your email to us {details below}.

6. If you already have Story Is a State of Mind, you can give your free access as a gift, too. Use the form below to let us know that you don’t need access yourself, and include the full name and email address of the person you want to receive it.

Okay. Can you see yourself in that line? Feel the generosity? Share it!

Thank you so very much for helping make my birthday so special.

The most important thing you can do.
The Birthday Experiment


Mary Nicholson

Of course. I have a very special person whose birthday would have been Tuesday, and she LOVED her fairy godmother. Beautiful gesture Sarah.
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Shenee Howard (@heyshenee)

thanks SO MUCH!
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I keep reading and re-reading this email because I can't believe it. Yes, wishes do come true. Thank you Sarah.
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My sincere thank you Sarah!!!
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