Mastering the Coffee Break by Cheryl Butler

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butler_cherylI know this is going to just blow your mind, but I don’t drink coffee!  Furthermore, neither does my husband of 22 years, and I’m certain that was his choice, not mine.  It’s a good thing I’m a modern housewife in the 21st century and not in June Cleaver’s day or news like this could really damage my reputation.

It isn’t one thing in particular about java that doesn’t float my caffeine boat—I mean I absolutely love the fresh aroma of a pot of coffee brewing, and believe it or not, coffee ice cream and coffee milk are tops on my list of favorites.  Perhaps it stems from when I worked in a dental office and was on the receiving end of coffee breath! No, just kidding!  For some unknown reason the taste of coffee and I just do not agree.

With that information now aired in public, I think my strained relationship with a good cup of Joe is partly to blame for my latest challenge in life—mastering the coffee break.  Looking back at my working years as a babysitter, a waitress, and then 15 years in the dental field I don’t recall ever taking a single coffee break.  Not a one.  And now that I’ve moved up the ranks to the CEO of a family of ten, my idea of a relaxing break is sitting alone in the bathroom, never mind sitting down with a hot drink for a few minutes.

I got to thinking about all of this recently because we have just entered my favorite time of the year—beautiful fall.  It’s not just because the kids are finally back in school (yes, you heard me correctly) but the change of seasons is just stunning and the crisp snap in the air along with all those freshly sharpened pencils leaves me energized and wanting to learn a few new things myself.  Now, I may not be a gal who actually drinks coffee, but I recently laid claim to a total of eight childless hours each week so before I turn those into a deficit like I did during the last school year, I decided to give those old coffee breaks a whirl.

Being new to this whole break thing, I had to learn a few things the hard way.  You have to keep in mind that this is only the second spell in 16 years that I’ve been alone.  If it’s not one of the kids or my doting husband claiming my personal space it’s the dog, the orthodontist or the nice young man gathering the runaway shopping carts at the grocery store.  So you see, the first step to a successful coffee break was being able to quiet not only my mind but my nerve endings as well.  That said, I don’t recommend scheduling your very first coffee break with acquaintances that have vocal chords or still have young children in tow themselves—what was I thinking?

Timing seems to be an important part of this equation as well.  Never schedule your escape mid morning after eating late at Taco Bell the night before—need I say more!

And then there’s the late afternoon coffee break, which in some countries is referred to as a siesta.  Yours truly sat down the moment after completing the drop off at nursery school only to be awoken by the sound of the phone ringing—”Hi Mrs. Butler, we were just wondering who was supposed to pick up your daughter today—we finished an hour ago.”

Still not ready to give up on this just yet, I actually took out my calendar and my Sharpie and scheduled them in each day.  To bad it was last year’s calendar.

Lastly, I unplugged all the noisy electronics, including the doorbell chimes and I decided to just sit and be still in the moment.  Not knowing anything but the art of frantic multi-tasking, I felt completely out of my element, yet it still felt quite familiar.  My mind began racing—did I remember today’s milk money, who needs their toenails clipped, will I ever get rid of my wonder girdle, why does the dog smell funny, when was the last time I mailed a love letter to my hubby, who is that knocking at my front door?  What?  Yes—someone is knocking at the door.

I regain consciousness and exit my own little world only to find my mother in law standing at the front steps.  Startled, I jump up and begin making excuses as to why I am just lounging on the living room couch and not hovering over the washboard removing the grass stains from one of my five son’s pants.

Clearly I have a lot to learn about mastering the all-important coffee break because the intention is to feel refreshed after taking one, not to feel guilty.  The great thing here is that I have eight glorious hours per week to perfect it and until I do, I will simply enjoy all the trial and error that comes with this and I will never unplug our doorbell chimes again!

Copyright 2009 Cheryl Butler

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