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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: Spilled

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I love a reusable cup. I feel so smug and environmental carrying around my coffee travel mug or Tervis for water or any other beverage.

I take a relaxed early morning wander with my girlfriend Mandy twice a week. Six a.m. is the easiest availability in our hectic days so one of us pours coffee into travel mugs and we head out. It is usually her coffee. She is rich in delectable pour over coffee and so it is usually her pouring for us. Once in awhile I offer and she generously accepts my more traditional brew methods. Coffee is pretty great unless you work really hard to ruin it.

I grabbed two one-dollar reusable Starbucks cups…the ones that cost $1 and look just like their disposable cups. Usually I have a more substantial, sealed travel mug, but this morning these cups felt right. They were wrong. They were thin and I didn’t have practical sleeves for them. I corralled the hot cups and the dog’s leash heading out to walk the one block to meet Mandy. Cassie the dog decided to take care of business much earlier than usual. I still juggled the two cups and tried to enjoy the gorgeous orange and raspberry sunrise creeping up. The pup finished and I managed to take care of the situation without spilling a drop, but my early morning mood began to darken.

I greeted my pal who waited at the sidewalk for us and handed her a coffee cup. I was warning her it was thin & hot when I threw my cup to the ground. Not on purpose, but I still do not know what on Earth happened. I can balance and juggle when overextended, but then when all is simplified, I botch it? I was so pissed. I really want and need that morning cuppa.

Mandy offered her unscathed cup to me and I said, “No…you keep it!” and chucked my empty cup on the ground in anger. We stood there for a few beats and I sighed, picked it up and set it upright on the ground where I planned to leave it while we walked.

“Here, lets share this one.” My friend said. She worked to open her lid and gestured to my empty vessel. “We can share it and it will cool off faster.” It was such a good idea! Where had my brain been? Of course, I tried to say no, that she should enjoy the cup, but sharing prevailed and we split hers.

She took good care of me. It was a simple thing. I would have reacted the same way if roles were reversed. Why did I try to refuse her? Why would I have offered similar care to a friend but attempted to refuse accepting that same care? (It was just half a cup of coffee, after all!) It is more than a cup of coffee, after all.

I am not nice to myself. Sure, I give myself tasty treats and get my nails done, but I am not kind or generous. With my inner self I am more like the snowplow parent removing all difficulties from life. I make excuses, I am self-deprecating. I lavishly compliment others because I desperately need to hear the same kind words myself. I feel trapped and stuck inside my poor habit. I give reasonable reasons for any of my failings in the moment, with an audience. BUT when I get myself home, I am in trouble for them. I would sacrificially take coffee from my own cup for a friend but cannot easily accept the same in return.

I’ve been a horrid grouch lately. I know it is stress and uncertainty and weight gain. I know how to feel better, do better but I marinate in it all instead. I’m reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron about unleashing creativity, and I am taking workshops and I am trying to turn it around. I am learning to be aware of what could be underneath my initial reactions. I am channeling my inner artist, my inner child into all sorts of activities and exercises to live a better life. I don’t have time to train wreck even one hour of my day when something spills. The good work on Earth needs to get done. Not everyone is built like me to encourage, challenge and break through the piles of muck. When I am kind to myself, I can be more loving to others throughout my day. I want to spill out all the goodness I can and share a view of sherbet sunrises for all to see. The only thing I want to spill out of my cup is encouragement. Shall we walk?

Music: "Black Coffee in Bed" by Squeeze