This morning I sit on my back patio, coffee in hand, birds chirping all around me, and reflections welling deep within me. This morning, I have finally allowed some of the tears to flow from the emotions that have surrounded me over the last few days. This morning, I am bringing to you the story of the closing of my coffee chapter of life.
Finding the right words for what the last few days....(or even years) of what my time in the coffee world has been is difficult to do. Coffee became much more than a poured latte or a fresh brewed cup. I will never see coffee, or any job, the same way.
I have spent 7 years now in the world of coffee. My journey began at Starbucks, in 2007, in a town in Florida. Little did I know then that I would be doing it for so long. When I began the job, it was out of pure need. I really did not want to work at that time, I had to. However, I loved a cup of coffee so it was a great place to find a job. When I began coffee, I was terrible at it. But at that time of my hiring, my boss saw something in me that I didn't see. My first week at the job I burned my hand so badly, and did not even whisper a word about it because I didn't want to be in trouble. (Hindsight: that was a terrible way to handle that, but never having been in a real job before, I was clueless and thus, that was how I learned to report work incidents!) a couple of months later, the Colonel Glenn Starbucks became my new coffee home due to our move. Although I had learned a little, everything about life had changed and thus, once again, I was entering feeling extremely insecure. There it took some time, but eventually I found a groove and joy in what I was doing. In time, I moved up the ladder to become a shift supervisor.
Once again, there I learned i was capable of far more than I'd ever imagined. I could lead a team of 4 baristas and take charge of circumstances, events, problems and crazy moments. I wanted to be a shift supervisor in part for a little more money, initially. But there were greater purposes behind that new position. There were lessons imbedded for me to learn new capabilities. Characteristics I didn't know existed. I faced rough sit downs with employees, forcing me to learn confrontation. I learned how to stay calm in moments it was total chaos, and how to keep the team calm as well. I learned how much value comes with a smile and a kind word. I learned that I could lead and direct. During my years at the Colonel Glenn Starbucks, I went through difficult life changes. A move, job changes, entering the work world full time as a mom, and hardest of all, the death of my mom. I made coffee every day, but the life lessons I took away from those years will reside with me always.
Lastly, I have spent the last 3 years in a different coffee atmosphere. I took my Starbucks "skills" and lessons learned to a "calmer" or different, environment. I moved to serve coffee daily inside an office building. This change came at a perfect time in life, but little did I know what the future would hold. Again, here I say my soon to be boss saw something in me I did not recognize in myself yet. I had no idea I would be there 3 years. But upon my last day there, reflections of the time spent there has run deep. I made friends I never expected. Many of them have become a part of the 5K done in memory of mom. I became the "bartender" of CareSource, they would say. When people needed a smile or a slice of quiet, they came for their coffee. Coffee became much more than that latte or brewed cup. I say this not to say "yay, me!" I say this because through my time there, I came to learn some valuable lessons about myself. Through different circumstances of life and even my day to day interactions, my boss taught me a lot about what was in me that I did not know was there. Little did the customers know that although they came for their coffee, they were in essence teaching me lessons at times, too. I believe I learned a few very strong lessons about life while there.
One is: there is no such thing as just "a job". Everywhere we are placed in life to work is no coincidence. We are there for a reason. To work, yes. But even more so, to use who God has created us to be for a larger purpose. You never know what kind of difference you are making just by being who you are where you are placed at that time. Yesterday, as I said goodbyes, that truth became more evident to me than ever. Please understand, I do not share this to say how great I am: I share this to tell you what I have learned and how that lesson came to be. The flower arrangements came in all day long. I was overwhelmed every time a new one showed up. The cards kept being handed to me. The hugs were so much doled out that customers came to say it was like being in a receiving line at a wedding or something. I share this to say that it was through that, that the truth of there is no such thing as just a job really sank in to me yesterday. The love I felt was evidence of that truth. I repeatedly said "I'm just me. I'm just a barista" And while there is truth in that, God uses the "just me's" in far deeper ways. No one is "just" someone. Everyone can be used. I made coffee. Simple as that. But that being said, He took that simple task and turned it into so much more, simply because of who I am. Through my time at the HeartBeat Cafe I saw great evidences of that truth. I think it took until yesterday to really fully believe it. Now I can take that into my next job and pour my heart into that in the running industry.
The second most valuable lesson I have learned is that you cannot let your circumstances, your past, or words others say about you define who you are or what you become. My customers there would share their life stories, their hurts, their secrets, and their journeys with me often. Through listening to these of varying degrees, I often did not respond with words. However, when/if I did, it was more to tell them that those things or events or words were not who they were. In saying this to them, I was really more preaching to myself just as much. Words hold grips on me. And so often, words have prevented me from becoming something or someone I have a capacity to be. As I listened to their stories, I think I began to see this lesson in my own life. I wanted them so badly to rise above whatever pain they were sharing and see what I could see in them. But....I have to do the same for myself. Once again, in ending my chapter yesterday, I believe that truth resonated deeply in me for the first time.
My years working as a barista taught me much more than how to make a good latte. I learned through various people and circumstances these valuable life lessons. The coffee stories will continue to flow, but the reflections needed to be the theme of today. The coffee chapter closes. A new depth of running chapter will open. These 2 loves of my life have come full circle in some aspects. The path of what has occurred the last several years is amazing to look back on. Were it not for me working in Starbucks, I never would have gone to the Air Force Marathon. Were it not for that, i would not have developed a love for running, or met those who will now be my current boss and coworkers. Were it not for my love of running, I never would have started my 5K. Were it not for the 5K, I would not have become certified as a race director. Were it not for that, I may not be having my new dream job.... Coffee and running colliding with God's perfect plan unfolding. Lessons learned and a path well worn and journeyed. But perfect all the same....
One chapter closing, another opening. 2 Loves colliding. One day at a time.