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day 64: liquid energy

April 6, 2011

For the last 63 days, I have yammered on incessantly about my need to “think small” and not allow my perfectionism to paralyze my good intentions.  Well, folks, I think I’ve finally heeded my own rallying cry.  Forget thinking small; on Day 64, I was thinking absolutely tiny.

My thinking was chump-change-tiny.  Like, change-you-find-between-your-couch-cushions-tiny.

On Day 64, my gift was exactly four dimes and four nickels — sixty cents, if I trust my math skills.  When I gave those eight coins away, though, they felt like gold doubloons.  Let me explain.

If you know me, you know that I love coffee more than the average person.  I love coffee so much that some nights I coast off to sleep with a smile, comforted by pleasant thoughts of the next morning’s first hot cup.  Beyond mere adoration, I truly need it.  While I’m not proud of the fact that I depend on chemicals to get me going in the morning, this is an iron-clad truth about who I am right now.  With children who reset my alarm clock to blare hip hop music at 3:15 a.m. (I wish I had hidden-camera footage of that fine “good morning”), a week of four hour commutes and twelve hour workdays, and a house for sale that must remain in show-ready condition, caffeine fuels me.  I know many of you reading probably do more with less help, and I raise my coffee cup to you.

I, though, am a fiend.

Since I committed on Day 39 to give up restaurant/coffee shop coffee until the end of this project, staying fueled on long work days has required some forethought (how spoiled I am, invited to a nice cup of coffee on almost any street corner at almost any time of day).  On days like 64, when I had to leave my house at 6 a.m. not to return until 7 p.m., I have taken to filling two thermal coffee mugs to take along for the morning.  When those are empty, I am finished with caffeine for the day.  On average work days, this system works pretty well.  What’s challenging is that I don’t really have an “average work day.”

One of my favorite things about my work is that it is dynamic.  Teaching adult learners is unpredictable — some participants are interested and engaged, some resent leaving their work behind to sit through three days of training — which keeps me engaged.

Another thing I love about my work is my colleagues.  This week, my training partner is C.  She has a sarcastic, deadpan sense of humor that unsparingly zips from one subject to the next, waiting for no one to catch up.  C always delivers, winning over training groups with her straight-shooting manner.  In addition to being an excellent trainer, she is a mother of  four who always manages to balance her parenting duties and a demanding travel schedule without complaint.

Things were going swimmingly for C and me until about three o’clock on Day 64.  While our participants took a short break, she turned to me.

“I am about to fall asleep.”  She looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes.  “I can hardly keep my eyes open.”

Before she spoke, I’d been about to say the exact same thing to C.  In fact, I’d earlier spotted a Coke machine on the first floor of our building.  Surreptitiously, I had counted out the paltry change in my wallet, finding exactly sixty cents (four dimes and four nickels) — the price of a Coca-Cola at the small town community center vending machine.  While I’m not a soda drinker, these were desperate times.  The only way I could stay awake for the rest of the day, I was convinced, was with a can of Coke bought on our afternoon break.

“Good news!” I told C, excited to help her, “There’s a Coke machine downstairs.  Go down and get a soda.”

She shook her head.  “I know,” she said, “I saw it, but I don’t have any cash.”

Well, there you have it.  Sixty precious cents was my gift on Day 64.  When I handed the money to C, she practically jumped out of her seat to buy some liquid energy.  She thanked me effusively, and that afternoon she delivered one hundred percent of her sardonic wit to our expectant trainees.

For the rest of the day, I was entertained by C and engaged by our purposeful group of social workers.  As it turns out, I didn’t need caffeine to stay awake after all.

I hope you have more than enough energy to thrive today.  Thank you for showing up.

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