Like all days, yesterday had some major moments of struggle. Part of my life involves managing a hustling cafe which many of you readers know and frequent (Water Shed Arts Cafe). I love the role that I get to play in this business however yesterday held a fair amount of frustration. Over the last month or so I’ve been spending more time working ‘in’ the business rather than ‘on’ the business. It’s been a humbling process as I’ve been making new neurological pathways and learning, learning how to fail well.
The icing on the cake yesterday was when things decided to get busy whilst it was only two of us on shift. This busyness has no regular, consistent and predictable pattern to it (I’ll write about this flummoxing reality again sometime!). A number of people just decided to all come in at the same time to order food and blended mochas.
Jenn was flying with making lunches and I was attempting to manage till and make drinks. Now drinks are a growing edge for me especially making blended mochas (don’t understand why people want coffee blended especially when it tastes WAY better over ice! Try it sometime. Honestly.) There’s an art to getting the shot, chocolate, milk, and ice ratio just right (we make our mochas with real chocolate – absolutely delicious).
So, in the flurry of busyness I had four mochas, all different chocolates, milks and coffee blends that needed to get made.
My internal dialogue went something like this:
“Nae, you’ve got this. Just think. Pull the shots. Okay, dark chocolate. Breathe. Oh shit! Another customer. Better take that order.”
Take the order. Back at the bar.
“Okay. Shots pulled. Okay, pour over dark chocolate. Let it melt. Okay, put that one aside and pull another shot Nae. Crap. What am I gonna melt this one in? Cup. Use another cup. Right. Pour shot over the milk chocolate. Melting. Right. Done. Oh boy . . . here comes another person.”
Take the order. Another drink added to the list.
“All right. This is crazy. How the heck am I going to make all these drinks in time for people? Focus. Okay dark chocolate mocha. Right, need ice. Got my two blenders. Put the ice in. What would Ivan do? (Ivan is my barista idol!). Okay, pour dark chocolate in this one. Milk chocolate in this one. Remember they’re two different sizes Nae! Oh crap. I’m so behind on this. Can Jenn help on this one? Nope. She’s running around. Okay breathe. You can do this! Alright pour some milk in them. Wait. How much? This much I’m thinking. Crap. Crap. Crap. This isn’t looking right. Just keep blending Nae. Okay here we go. Nope. . . . it’s not looking good. Yup that looks like a runny brown pee not a blended mocha.
What the heck! I can’t do this.
And there’s 3 more to make plus another drink. . . . Jenn! Can you help? . . . Nope. Arghhhhhh. I can’t do this. Why?! This is stupid. I’m meant to be the manager and I can’t even make a freaking mocha properly. I’m no good at this job. I can’t do it. I’m not cut out to be a barista. Oh shit. People are waiting. What do I do . . ? What do I do?”
“Nae do you need some help?!” Up pops Ivan’s head on the other side of the bar!
“Oh my gosh. Thank God for Ivan.”
This final frustration pushed me to my universal challenge line and when I’m at that line my thoughts are often about flight. I wanted out. I wanted to crawl into a corner and cry because in that moment I believed I couldn’t do the job.
I seem to be visiting this line a lot these days. Not a bad thing. What I’m learning though as I experience the line’s terrain is that the thoughts I have when I’m in this space can make or break me. These thoughts can change everything about how I view myself and how I am engaging with the present moment. One thought like “I’m no good at this job” or “I’m not cut out to be a barista,” can lead me to a place of absolute self-annihilation. One thought can change everything.
After Ivan stepped in to help, I thankfully managed to catch my self talking thoughts and change the dialogue. I experienced frustration, however I was able to stand back somewhat, chalk it up to the learning process, and reflect on how I might navigate that situation better in the future. That universal challenge line always extends an invitation to us. What we need to remember is that one thought, in response to that invitation, can change everything. So, maybe my mindfulness practices are working, helping me detach from my thoughts, seeing them as events that will pass, not getting sucked into the vortex of self-deprication.
Out of the frustration I’ve learnt that I need to practice my mocha drinks. I need to think through scenarios of how I might juggle till and barista-ing when there’s a flurry of customers. If you live in the area and have read this entry, why not stop in and ask me to make you a blended mocha!
Happy Thursday everyone!
Andy’s Headspace App was a really useful introductory tool for me when I began to take meditation more seriously. His guided meditations were super accessible and helped me begin to get into a daily rhythm of sitting. Since then I have 100% recommended this tool to those who maybe can’t make the leap to a mindfulness/meditation class but are curious as to what it’s all about. The New Yorker has written a great article on Andy’s story suggesting his work to be pioneering in the ‘digital therapy’ oxymoron sweeping the globe. Take a read. It’s a great article!
I heard this quote on SuperSoul Sunday when Oprah was interviewing Jon Kabat Zinn, the grandfather of the mindfulness movement in the West. At the start of the 8 week mindfulness course (MBSR program) that he teaches, Jon often begins the course with this statement above. Jon tells his patients that over the duration of the course they will be pouring energy, in the form of attention, into what is right with them – much of which we never notice or take for granted, or don’t fully develop in ourselves – whilst letting the doctors or health professionals take care of what is wrong with them!
I love this statement. Why? Because it’s a good, positive and true starting point for understanding ourselves.
So often we can be predisposed to the negative in our life – the soundtracks, thoughts, memories or voices that speak to us about how crap we are at things or how there are so many things wrong with us or that we just need to do more in order to have significance.
This statement pushes back against that. If you are breathing, right now in this moment, as you read this post, then there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is wrong.
And this is how the story begins in the ancient Jewish text called Torah. God created humankind in his image and said that humankind were not just good, but very good – there was more right with them than wrong with them. And even today, many, many years later that is still how God sees you.
So, image bearers, why not decide to start the day by celebrating what is right and very good about you. Why not write out this quote and stick it somewhere you’ll see every morning and when that negative voice creeps into your consciousness and pronounces it’s judgement, tell it to [ . . . .] off and speak these words out over yourself!
It starts with a thought. Then before you know it that thought expands into a full blown conversation, a conversation that ends up expanding into a whole story or movie. Then the heart might start racing. Hands might start to sweat. Stomach might start turning. Then before you know it you’re whole being is transfixed with the thought-turned-into-a-movie and you’ve lost all sight of of what you were actually doing in that moment whether it be shaving your armpits or playing with the kids.
That one tiny thought expanded into an all encompassing, fully engaging take-you-out-of-the-present kind of experience that sometimes can last for hours, even days. It can happen with good thoughts. It can happen with not so good thoughts.
What . . . you . . . focus . . . on . . . expands.
Jesus knew this. That’s why he talked about worry a lot. Paul knew this. That’s why he invited his readers to transform their minds and meditate on good things.
So here’s my invitation for you.
Slowly take a few deep breaths.
In through your nose and out through your mouth.
And then focus on this:
“Hi God. How you doing today? . . .”
This post is an email that I wrote to the small crew that I have been pastoring over the last 6-7 years bringing people up to speed with some decisions I am making. As with all decisions there are consequences.
Hey all . . .
Just wanted to bring you all up to speed regarding our gathering yesterday as not all of us who are part of the Christchurch swirl were there.
It was about this time last year that we were in a process of re-evaluating who we were, what we were about and where we were going. At that time we decided to put a stake in the ground and say YES to continuing this journey together as Christchurch. The purpose of our time together on Sunday was to re-visit this conversation again regarding where we were all at concerning Christchurch a year down the road. During our time together I shared some important news regarding where I’m at.
I believe that it is time for me to step out of my role as pastor of this community. This decision has not been made lightly and there’s been a ton of getting quiet and listening to my heart, the wisdom of others and the voice of God. What has made the decision more interesting is that I have no clear definitive idea regarding what I’m going to be stepping into. All I know is that I have to step out of my role here before I can embrace what is to come, and I know there is something to come.
The last few years journeying with you all have been some of the most formative, healing and transformative years of my life. I’ve discovered a whole new dimension of God’s personality that’s good and beautiful. I’ve learnt what it means to be vulnerable and open. I’ve learnt what it means to be comfortable with ambiguity, pursing the questions more than the answers. I’ve learnt how beautiful life can be when you journey with people who don’t hold the same beliefs or values as you do. I’ve learnt what it means to love and be committed to the other. I’ve learnt that relationship is what life is all about. And I’ve more deeply fallen in love with the person and story of Jesus and his followers the church. More strongly than ever I am thankful for the church and how it has shown me in all its brokenness and scarring the beautiful face of God. All of you have revealed God to me in some way and for this I am so deeply thankful.
There are a couple of things that I want to make really clear in stepping out of this role.
Stepping out of this role does NOT mean I’m leaving relationships (or the country!!).
I am very much committed to continuing to participate and invest in the relationships that exist within Christchurch.
Stepping out of the role does NOT automatically equate to the dissolving of Christchurch, however, it does raise questions as to what the future might look like.
Over the next month or so myself and the leadership team will help facilitate listening to God, one another and processing what the future might hold for us both personally and as a group. We will also create space to remember and celebrate what we have learnt over the last few years as well as articulate what we want to carry forward into the rest of our lives. Any decisions we make will impact Dawn and our sister community Strathcona so we’ll be giving good processing time to this.
I will not be stepping out of my role until this process of determining what the future of Christchurch might look like is clearer.
My hope is that I will officially step out of this role by the end of June at the latest.
Lastly, I am available to get together with anyone if you have further questions or thoughts.
Peace and tons of love to you all.
“And just remember: you can always begin again”
Those are the words that I hear most mornings when I sit and do my guided meditation. They invite me into freedom. They invite me into life.
Last semester (well actually last year) was what I would call FULL ON! By the time September hit in, I was teetering on crashing. There were a number of circumstances that were colliding all at the same time (new job, family stuff, pastoral responsibilities) and I was struggling to breathe. So, I signed myself up for a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program – an 8 week course that provides people with stress dealing tools aka it helps you live and breathe!
The course was a life saver and enabled me to not spiral out of control. I would recommend it to everyone whether you are stressed out or not! It was a course in the school of Wisdom. You address issues such as turning off the autopilot; becoming aware of how to engage with emotions, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations; dealing with perceptions; responding rather than reacting in communication; healthy eating and much more. The course was really practical and we were I introduced to the practice of mindfulness (some call it sitting meditation) and mindful movement (easy forms of yoga).
One of the beauties of the practice of mindfulness is growing in the posture of extending loving kindness towards yourself. After 10 minutes of silence you discover really quickly that its super difficult to focus simply on one thing such as your breathing. There’s thoughts firing your conscious off in all directions, emotions swirling around about people, places or circumstances, bodily sensations (pain, itching, dead legs!), and if that isn’t enough theres sounds and smells to deal with! You kind of feel like you are setting yourself up for failure when you begin this practice however that’s when these words cut through the noise and remind you to “remember, you can always just begin again.”
When you learn to begin again in the small things it becomes a little easier to apply it to the larger things in life. Beginning again is about resetting and there are so many unnoticed rhythms in our lives that can foster those fresh starts we long for. Take a look at your life. You never know what resetting spaces you might just find!