Tag: fika

Current State

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“I like coffee exceedingly…” ― H.P. Lovecraft 

My love of coffee knows no particular place, but I lust after and linger with it most at coffee houses. There’s something to be said about the lost art of creative, eclectic, and independent coffee houses. You can’t replicate vibes and the very best cafes produce them effortlessly and consistently. Today I’m at Sweet_ness 7 Cafe in Buffalo, New York. I believe I’ve discovered and tasted heaven on earth. Copious amounts of charm live within the walls, words are flowing freely, and my lavender latte has given me a new purpose in life. Seriously, it’s that good.

I like to talk and write in coffee houses, and usually, I prefer the company of strangers. The majority of my passion projects are centered on exchanges with people I’m unacquainted with or I’ve been interested in meeting. There’s something to be said about connection and discovery. Unearthing is enlivening.

For the people closest to me or most familiar with me, this fika thing is a mystery. Sure, we fika. Pausing with the ones I love is forever a favorite past time. But there’s a curiosity about the greater vision within my fikas that remain unclear to them. Truthfully, I like it this way.

I am knee deep in collecting and curating stories. I am grateful for the power of connection and the undeniable value within a good cup of coffee.

This is my current state…just in case you’re wondering.

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Labels and Titles

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Labels and titles. Titles and labels. They’re everywhere. Some claim and cherish while others run from restrictions and stereotypes. I straddle a line here. Some labels and titles are appropriate and necessary. But there’s a sad reality that a lot of people self-proclaim and misrepresent and do so to the detriment of others.

To begin, yay Internet. I love you. Social media, you are capable of engagement and entertainment. Together, you’ve taken the world by storm. But what qualifies someone to be an influencer? Is a health coach certified via education and/or degree, or did they pay for a title without experience? Listen, this isn’t an easy topic to discuss. It feels judgmental, but I assure it’s not intended to be. This is about evaluation, which we’ve stripped from many processes and scenarios. We need to evaluate who is an expert and entrepreneur. Just as importantly, we need to decide what authenticity looks like in a world where we can purchase likes, self-label, self-title, and filter images.

Are you ready to hear about my experiment? This week I subscribed to twenty-five websites or services that promised promotion, brand recognition, all the follows and likes one can get, etc. I did so in the midst of the great Instagram sweep, where tons of big named celebrities, influencers, and artists complained about follower loss after Instagram attempted to weed out the imitators and bots of the world. Guess what I learned? This is only a small part of the problem. Soon, my numbers will return to their original state. Currently, it’s about self-portrayal. In my case, it proved anything can be acquired. But, I can also self-label myself without very little informative inquiry or research. Someone quoted me as being an expert in my field. Um, excuse me, but have you read this blog? I’m not an expert in anything. This is about conversation, exchange, and personal development. It’s a need and possibly a niche, but it’s not expert based. Anyone can facilitate. My how and why are self-taught through experience. But I’m not trying to lead or teach. I’m trying to relate. There’s a difference. Sometimes leading and teaching are byproducts. Regardless, I’m not going to claim expertise when it’s not earned or deserved. But I could have and that’s the dangerous reality we find ourselves in these days. We need to evaluate more than ever before.

My experiment also taught me that the quality of product is that much harder to recognize in a world oversaturated with experts. And now, more than ever, numbers matter. This had me wondering what we did before the Internet. Seriously, what did we do?

I’ve decided the reason it’s so hard for me to explain this thing I’m doing is because I fear categorization.

In my opinion, it’s important to know that starting at the bottom, with little to nothing, is still the way to go. It’s entirely too easy to overinflate and misrepresent, and aside from a raised eyebrow or occasional accolade, it gets you nowhere.

Phew. That felt like a lot. I’m off to go unsubscribe and get rid of some shady stuff on my Instagram account. The experiment is over. It’s time to return to being authentically ordinary. But trust me, extraordinary fun and potential are within us all. No lables or titles are necessary. Let’s unearth it together through some coffee and conversation.

What Marriage Needs

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I’ve been in love with my husband for fifteen years. This past August we celebrated seven years of marriage. He is the ying to my yang, calming force, and favorite partner-in-crime. Our history is worth sharing.

I met him in college.  Our love story begins in a crowded and dark fraternity house basement near a keg of Keystone Light. He sported ugly red Adidas sneakers, a God-awful bright yellow Northface jacket, two silver studs in his ears, and a mischievous smile. For me, it was love at first sight.

Those fashion remarks are what happens when I look back upon our initial interactions fifteen years later. Sarcasm aside, he wore all the things one would wear in 2003. Plus, he wore them well. And at that moment, and even now, I recall his powerful presence.

From early on it was clear we were different. But our differences elevated and encouraged one another. Together, we marched through our twenties.

But if I could tell my sorority-self one thing fifteen years ago it would be this: remember.

It’s entirely too easy to forget our beginning.

Currently, we’re in the hamster wheel. We’re running, spinning throughout our day, changing diapers, teaching manners, working hard, demonstrating good teeth brushing, preaching kindness, encouraging effort, and everything else under the blistering sun known as parenthood. And while we sit down to talk, swap stories of napless preschoolers or stubborn toddlers, relay random encounters, or dabble in heavy real-world debates and dilemmas, we’re tired. Sometimes in our exhaustive states, we forget about the keg of Keystone.

Why is the beginning so important? Because when we lose sight of where we started, where we are doesn’t mean as much, and where we’re going is void of inspiration.

We had a big argument yesterday. We were tired from a long day and weary from an even longer week. And we had forgotten to do the thing all marriages need, which is to remember.

This phase of life is every emotion and then some rolled into magic, mystery, and mayhem.

But I’m taking us back to that fraternity basement. We remember. Now, we refresh.

Before Cupid invades us with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, long-stemmed red roses, or overpriced greeting cards, remember. It’s the key to happily ever after.

37

benjamin-davies-287077-unsplash.jpg“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is a word queen. She gets it, makes it better, and then sends it out into the world for the masses. She somehow manages to make me feel like it’s solely for me, hence her powerful influence.  The words above are my exact birthday sentiments. Each year I feel a profound desire to consider and celebrate every gain and growth. Too often, a lack of examination results in feelings of inadequacy or disappointment.

There’s some real truth behind gratitude and its marriage to motivation. Birthdays are markers of milestones. Candles illuminate more than our age. Discovery and delight are found in the smallest and most unexpected corners of our lives. There’s more to celebrate, I know it. In pursuing praise I find presence.

I’m working on a fiction novel, I think. It’s my first fiction novel and ignorance is bliss. I’m going with my gut and relying on instinct. We shall see how it unfolds. But as I wander through this project another one stirs in me. It’s what I refer to as a #passionproject. There’s no lure of compensation or expectation for it become something other an answer to a call. It’s part of my 38. 

I’ve been feeling the urge to Facebook Fika for awhile. Usually, I scroll through my friend list to stumble upon acquaintances from 20 years ago or long-lost friends from elementary school. It’s a distraction instead of discussion. These days there’s no need to ask “whatever happened to” because the answer is lurking somewhere in the wild world of social media. So what have I learned from profiles and status updates? I know people who are doing incredible things. I’m not talking fame. And my interpretation of incredible might differ from yours, but in ordinary days there are extraordinary moments. Thanks to social media I’m glimpsing into a patchwork quilt of these moments via friends.

I’ve decided to write about it. I imagine it will be strange for people who haven’t heard from me to get a request for a coffee chat. Hopefully, they’ll see the value in this #passionproject for what it is, which is a chance to connect. The connection I’m craving is because I see the value in celebrating.

I’m spending 37 focused on the possibilities. In a world where problems reign or occupy the spotlight, my rally cry is to celebrate.

 

 

 

I Failed: Christmas Presence

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“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

On Christmas morning after we thoroughly inspected Santa’s cookie crumbs and opened the first stocking stuffers I made my way to the kitchen to produce pleasure in the form of traditional Christmas cuisine. I had prepped the Quiche and monkey bread the night before. Each recipe was carefully adhered to and I knew it was minutes before the bulk of my efforts were unveiled.

Cue chaos.

I opened the fridge to find egg dripping down the side of the door. Somehow my Quiche had tilted and spilled onto the monkey bread. I remember saying to myself, “I can handle this.” I scraped what I could off the monkey bread, preset the oven, and believed it to be salvageable. I got to work on remaking the Quiche and congratulated myself on saving breakfast. I retreated back to gift distribution with great confidence and self-worth.

Minutes later I smelled burning. The bottom of the monkey bread pan had residual egg on it, which was now burning in the oven. As I opened the oven door to grab the monkey bread my oven glove caught fire. Panicked, I dropped the monkey bread pan and sticky contents spilled everywhere. I mean it. No surface was safe.

As I set to work for a quick clean up to ensure I wouldn’t miss more magic, I noticed my Quiche wasn’t rising.

Cue meltdown.

I had tried so hard to create a perfect Christmas morning breakfast. I failed.

It became apparent to my parents and husband that I was in crisis. Ever so gently my mother pulled me aside. She took it upon herself to remind me that a perfect Christmas breakfast was far from what we were celebrating or what mattered. She urged me to sit down and watch my girls, which of course instantly brought me back into the realm of reality. This, their faces, their wonder, and their joy is what I’d remember. The messy magic and the miniature hugs were all that mattered.

The kitchen was sticky for a few days. My parents ended up walking to Dunkin Donuts to produce our morning Christmas feast. I sat, coffee in hand, next to my love watching our little loves revel in the spirit of the season.

I think my mother was wrong about one thing. I won’t forget about the Christmas morning I failed. It reminded me about the power of presence.

For 2019, here’s hoping we remember perfection is overrated and that presence is the perfect present.