Even as a kid, I was fascinated with cool words. ‘Serendipity‘ sounded like some kind of caterpillar. ‘Ironic‘ came to mind the day my mom had me stuck inside on a summer day with the starch and the shirts. And ‘paradox‘? You guessed it: two boats tied up on opposing wharfs. You’ll be receiving your prize notification in the mail.
Paradox: Fitting the bill of seeming, yet coexistent contradictions to the ‘t’, I think ‘routine‘ is another word undeserving of its bad rap. Personally, I depend on routine to keep me on track. But on the other hand, routines can get, well, routine.
I’ll just come out and say it: ‘Whoever came up with the idea of adding a timer to a coffee maker deserves a Nobel prize‘. It’s early Saturday morning, a little after 5. I just walked into our kitchen and saw the reassuring steady blue light that tells me ‘Coffee’s Done‘.
As I took that first taste of my beloved java, I traveled back to last night. It was almost time for bed and maybe like you, I have a routine.
First, I check the windows (and maybe the thermostat). Next, I try the front door to make sure it’s locked. Then, I go to the kitchen to set up the coffee maker for the next morning. That done, I swing by the alarm clock, making sure it is armed for dawn as I tap the sound machine button on the final approach to my pillow (last night it was ‘rain with a hint of thunder’). And then? Assured all is well in Wellville, I drift off and sleep the sleep of the Blessed.
Good sleep is important.
Having a routine to get me there? That’s just good planning.
But the fresh-brewed aroma of the Hawaiian Kona beans I grind the night before, now greeting me in their liquid form as I round the corner into the kitchen?
Favorite mug in-hand, I know it’s going to be a good day.
This morning, I spent the first hour or two writing. Another good swallow and it’s time for my second cup.
Setting down my pen, I return to the kitchen. Filling the mug to about half, I splash some milk into the steaming coffee. Returning the milk to the fridge, I pivot, filling the cup the rest of the way…the turbulence from the 2nd pour mixes just right. We don’t need no stinking spoons!
Coffee Part Deux in-hand, I’m back.
But as I return to my scribbling, I do so thinking back to a morning not nearly as peaceful and not long ago.
That particular morning, I came around the corner like I had so many times before. But this time, I pulled up short. In stunned silence, I say my precious coffee slowly spreading across the counter, cascading off the counters and forming pools of my squandered treasure.
For miles around, startled birds erupted from their trees. What had happened!?! It’s the time for my coffee!
Wishing to spare you the mind-numbing detail of the forensics report, seems I had not emptied the coffee reservoir the night before. I had done everything else right. So as the sun came up the next morning, the timer came on and the water heated. On cue, hot water dripped through the freshly ground bean and joined the coffee from the day before. A + B = Java Tank-atticis Floodicus.
So what’s a fellow to do?
After paging for a clean-up on aisle three (“with a mop”), I reviewed the evidence.
When it comes to making coffee, I know the routine better than a marine knows his rifle. But the marine understands the importance of what I had not: following good sequence is just as important as knowing all the parts. Parts I know. What I needed was a new routine to prevent this spillage situation from ever happening again. So I instituted a new routine, then and there.
Now, the first thing I do – the very first thing – when I set-up for the next morning’s brew is empty the tank.
Here’s the real kicker. As much as I love my java, establishing a new routine was tougher than I thought.
Despite the flooding episode just a few days prior, there were several nights in the following week when I forgot to empty the tank FIRST. No calamities, I got to it, but jeesh, what’s a guy gotta do to remember something so simple and new!
After consulting with Juan Valdez and a panel of experts (not), I decided on a complex and intricate solution. I pulled out a Sharpie, an index card and wrote two words, “Tank First”.
For nearly two-weeks, the message stayed taped to the counter like a doormat in front of our coffee maker. Every night, I literally reached across my message to myself as I went through the nightly brew prep routine. And every morning, I smiled as I rounded the corner, greeted by the little blue light beaming over everything exactly as it should be.
The card is long gone. But because I minimized risk by adding a new routine to the one I thought I knew so well, the coffee is hot and ready. I am pleased to report that I’ve successfully incorporated my new habit into an old routine and made it better.
The moral of my saga?
Change and continual self-improvement do not arrive without motion (e.g. ‘action’). We’ve heard it all before. Things in motion tend to stay in motion, but things at rest, stay at rest.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got an old and sedentary habit in need of an upgrade, there are a few things fact-certain: A) I know it’s going to take at least a couple of weeks to make a dent in it; B) I know if I’m going to make it stick, I need to keep the new habit front and center, in plain sight and; C) If I can’t distill the new habit down to just one or two words, no index card or post-it note is going to help me. I’m not ready to start.
New habits aren’t always easy. It’s no fun feeling like you’ve got one foot on the boat and the other on the dock. But squeeze a little and you might just surprise yourself.
If you’re even remotely like me, you have my sympathies. But try this: Use a post-it note and put it next to your keys. Write on a bit of masking tape and put a sign up on your bathroom mirror. Use the back of an envelope and make a sign for yourself to set on the passenger seat each time you come home and park. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is going on record with yourself.
As ever, I don’t pretend to know what ‘it‘ may be for you. But you do…the ‘Real You’ always does. I’ve also come to understand that it’s almost always the ‘Pretending You’ who’s hellbent on muddying up the issue in our brains. So if your ‘Pretending You’ won’t make coffee for you, you may want to call him into your office like I did and say those seven little magic words: ‘You’re Fired. You don’t work here anymore’.
Life’s too short and there’s only one barista in your Life and that’s You. Need a new routine? Make one. Grind it out. Brew it now. Coffee’s ready and the milk is over there.
(September 3, 1932 – July 28, 2013)
Veteran Actress of Broadway and the Big Screen Dies at 80
“A supremely gifted, versatile player who could reach dramatic depths, as exemplified in her weary-eyed, good-hearted waitress in The Last Picture Show (1971), or comedy heights, as in her masochistic drill captain in Private Benjamin (1980), Eileen Brennan managed to transition from lovely Broadway singing ingénue to respected film and television character actress within a decade’s time. Her Hollywood career was hustling and bustling at the time of her near-fatal car accident in 1982. With courage and spirit, she recovered from her extensive facial and leg injuries, and returned to performing… slower but wiser. On top of all this, the indomitable Eileen survived a bout of alcoholism and became recognized as a breast cancer survivor, having had a mastectomy in 1990.”
READ MORE ABOUT IT: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0107281/bio
Sources: Picture – http://wnyt.com/wnytimages/repository/2013-07/eileen-brennan.jpg
John Spencer Palmer
(September 10, 1935 – August 3, 2013)
NBC news reporter John Palmer (77), remembered as ‘tireless reporter, always a gentleman.
NEW YORK, Aug. 3 (UPI) — John Palmer, who spent decades covering many of the world’s top stories for NBC News, died Saturday after a brief illness, the network said. He was 77.
Details of the Tennessee native’s passing were not provided.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news that we have lost a valued friend and colleague,” the network’s statement said.
“John was a brilliant, brave, and tireless journalist who guided viewers through many of the most significant events of the past half-century — from the early days of the civil rights movement through the tragedy of 9/11. He covered five presidents and traveled to every corner of the world, always showing the empathy and compassion that helped set him apart.
“His kindness is remembered by all of us, and it built lasting bonds throughout our news division.”
READ MORE ABOUT IT: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/08/03/NBC-newsman-John-Palmer-dead-at-77/UPI-99091375583345/#ixzz2b1d95Njq and http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/longtime-nbc-news-correspondent-john-palmer-dies-at-77-worked-for-the-network-for-40-years/2013/08/03/28a79528-fc9b-11e2-89f7-8599e3f77a67_story.html
Source: Picture – http://www.flnewscenter.com/archive3.htm
When those times come where I need to tend to my Soul, I write. But there are other times when it is difficult to even hear my soul, much less write from it.
When that happens, one thing I have been able to manage to do is check in with my deep gospel roots.
Theology aside, you may remember this week’s selection from Sister Act. Many others have covered it, from Marvin Gaye to Ms. Jennifer Holliday and her stirring 8-minute rendition of the same song. It never fails to move me from my seat. But this time, jump in the Way-Back machine with me as we reverently travel to a secret place and visit the Old Source: Ms. Mahalia Jackson.
In the meantime, be gentle with each other. We’re all we’ve got.
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
coffee and creamer: http://rowdykittens.com/2011/10/coffee/ ; 2-two-docks-420: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:2-two-docks-420.jpg; Old School Coffee Brewer: https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.svpply.com/large/1790918.jpg?1372886420 ; ARRRGGGG – 101050253_argh_answer_1_xlarge_jpg: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/002497813/101050253_argh_answer_1_xlarge.gif; AAAZ001084~Steaming-Cup-of-Coffee-Posters: http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/CORPOD/AAAZ001084~Steaming-Cup-of-Coffee-Posters.jpg ; yellow_merge_sign: https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/tccc/files/yellow_sign.jpg ; dock – boat: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-I_pc_R7T7zU/UV2k35UAciI/AAAAAAAABaQ/gX0Nrjn2iGE/s320/dock+-+boat.JPG ; Notes to Self: https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/p480x480/75952_445425365517538_659997041_n.jpg
– ## –