Clink [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Not that Starbucks should be our sponsor but Starbucks should be our sponsor. And every independent roaster across the country, too. A quick stroll through our photo roll will reveal way-too-many shots of our espresso-cup-clinking-toast-pix. When traveling, we send them to 20 to let him know that we are alive and well and attending to our priorities. Coffee rules our world. Coffee is the organizing principle of our day. If you wanted to pry deep-secret-information from us, the best and most effective torture would be to withhold coffee. We’d weep and tell all.

Our play, The Roadtrip, is taken from the 5-month daily email chain that Kerri and I wrote to each other prior to actually meeting. When we invited an audience to hear the  play in order to get feedback before attempting a performance run, one audience member exclaimed, “You talk about coffee a lot!” It’s true. In the play, as in life, we talk about coffee a lot.

For us, coffee is a ritual. For kicks, I just Googled ‘coffee rituals’ and read about the varied and rich traditions that coffee inspires all over the world. Some are new. Some are ancient.

The riches in our life are simple and accessible and never taken for granted. And, that is exactly how we like it. A good day includes a walk holding hands. DogDog and BabyCat antics. A sip or two of wine. Good bold coffee. A moment when we stop and realize how fortunate we really are. And another cup of coffee to clink and celebrate.


read Kerri’s blog post about COFFEE


coffee hydroflasks website box copy


[note: All product placement and logo shots are merely coincidental. Any resemblance to products, actual or imagined, is purely accidental and should not be taken for an outrageous appeal for support. Really. No, Really.]


Stand In Happiness

655. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I drive to Capitol Hill early every Saturday morning to take Tai-Chi class. I go early to get some coffee and a scone and have started a special ritual of sending photos of my incredible morning bounty to torture Megan-the-brilliant who responds in kind, sending me photos of her bagel and jet fuel coffee from The Blue Moon café. Soon I plan on recording my scone enjoyment moans and sending the sound effects along with the photos. Torture is torture and I can’t wait to see how Megan-the-brilliant responds; she has a competitive nature and will one-up me somehow. Video maybe, or her food enjoyment sounds will come with a Hollywood soundtrack. She’s young and has the technological advantage in our torture game.

Although there are several coffee houses within walking distance of my class I now go almost exclusively to the Starbucks – not because the coffee is better or because the scone is world class, I go there because of the way I’m greeted by my barista. As I come through the door he shouts, “Hey! You’re back!” He’s often singing a song or bantering with his co-workers. His joy and enthusiasm is infectious. And, although I am only there one early morning a week, he no longer asks what I want; my coffee and scone just show up. We laugh at something, I pay and move on, and then he brightens the day of the next person in line. He has unwittingly made my Saturday morning ritual, previously a time of quiet reflection, a solitary act, into a homecoming. A simple thing, a greeting, a decision to stand in happiness, has deeply impacted my life to the point that I build my week around walking through a door into a welcome that warms me.

It is a season of giving (and, really, why do we need to define a season when this life could be a generosity fest) and when I think of all the amazing people in my life, the people who nourish and enrich me, my mind does not go to the big events, it goes to a video chat, the pizza that showed up at my door, a barista, a note from a top secret person, a tai chi teacher who has no idea of the impact his quirky sense of humor has on my life. My barista hasn’t a clue that he is my barista and has no idea that he enriches my life. My top secret person knows but has no idea of the profound impact she’s having on my life. At the center of each of them is a pattern, a ritual of generosity, an intentional sharing of heart that these amazing people bring to each day of their lives. From their point of view, their generosity is ordinary; they do not see it as special. They greet. They act. They support. Today, I count myself the most fortunate man on the planet to walk in their circles.

Buy The Man A Coffee

651. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I was all night at the studio. When I spend the night in the studio I become gushingly grateful for the Starbucks that opens at 6:30am. It is only a few blocks away and I staggered the distance and collapsed on the counter. They know me so I didn’t have to speak – a good thing because I was desperate beyond words – and the nice baristas tilted back my head and poured the rejuvenating elixir into my mouth. My dad used to call coffee “the nectar of the gods” and on mornings like this I am certain that there is nothing more true in the entire universe. Soon I was sitting upright at the corner table, holding my enormous coffee cup with both hands, watching the early morning commuters’ bustle in on their way to work. “How can anyone bustle at this time of day?” I pondered feeling vaguely assaulted by the brisk pace of business.

In the far corner of the café, slightly hidden by the holiday products display, a man was sleeping. Like me, he was holding his cup with both hands but I could tell, even from across the café, that he’d pulled a used cup from the garbage, maybe several days ago; his cup hadn’t seen coffee in some time. His head had fallen backwards, his mouth was wide open, and he was snoring. The other customers pretended he wasn’t there. A barista tried to wake him but he was sleeping the sleep of someone, like me, who’d been up all night but unlike me, he’d been out in the cold and freezing rain. He believed his paper cup gave him admission to be inside; if he could not afford to be a patron he’d pretend to have coffee and hope no one would notice – at least until he was warm. I’m certain it was not in his plan to sleep but the truth of his exhaustion took over.

The police came. They were about to call the paramedics when the exhausted man blinked open his eyes and, confused, not knowing where he was, so deep was his sleep, that he jumped up. The police tensed as if facing a threat and almost as an act of unconscious surrender, the man sat back down. Then he recognized where he was, groaned and looked for his cup. It was gone, and with it, his hope for staying warm. “Are you alright?” the cop asked. He was kind. The man nodded his head, “I fell asleep I guess,” he said. The cop nodded his head. “Do you need some help? Can we take you somewhere?” The man shook his head, apologized to the police, pulled his coat around himself, and walked out into the wet dark morning.

“Is he alright?” a barista asked. The cop wanted to say, “No!” but instead looked out the door and said, “I guess so. He’s gone.” The cops went to their next call. The bustle resumed. Genuine concern eclipsed only by the needs of commerce. None of us transcended our inability to connect with the real human need even in the midst of this season of giving. We betray so much in the actions that we do not take and the things we do not say.

Sitting at my corner table I remembered a phrase that I learned last week from Kevin Honeycutt. He was talking about doing anything and everything to change the culture that produces bullies. He called it – us – The Mean Culture. Bullies are not the aberration that we like to pretend; they are an expression of cultural value, dog-eat-dog-business-is-business and all of that. Sometimes the beating is subtle, more public, and so commonplace as to be invisible amidst the hustle and bustle. Sometimes changing the mean culture can begin with something as simple as buying a man a cup of coffee or perhaps simply letting him sleep.

Truly Powerful People (462)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

If you’ve ever spent any time with me you know that I am more often than not clutching a cup of coffee. I say clutch because coffee is more than a nice hot drink to me. A significant portion of my identity is invested in it. The remaining portion of my identity is invested in my ratty old studio clogs. I am lost without them. No coffee, no clogs, no idea who I am.

The first passage ritual that I was consciously aware of was steeped in coffee. At 12 years old I was invited to have coffee with my father and some older relatives. I was finally included in the circle of adults and coffee was the portal. I held my cup like an old pro. Coffee and I loved each other from the first sip. I was already a worshipper from afar: the smell was close to the top of my list of smells, second only to my cedar closet (I could sit in that closet for hours luxuriating in the smell and reading by flashlight in the dark).

In my first run at graduate school I nearly overdosed. I sat at my drafting table for hours with a pot going all the time. One week I counted the cups and was shocked to discover that 16 cups was my minimum daily intake. That year a doctor told me I was killing myself so I backed off by half. I had to retrain my heart to do beat without assistance and was delighted to find my worldview improving. Stress and caffeine are a formidable tag team. I drew slower which was disconcerting; my mythology of fast-means-good crumbled.

The second passage ritual came many years later while visiting my grandfather in Iowa. He took me to his afternoon coffee with the boys. The boys were all north of 70 years old and I loved their banter, their easy laughter, their teasing and prompting for me to go “ask out the serving girl.” “Come on,” they winked, “you only live once.” She was an Iowa farm girl that could snap me like a twig. I reasoned with the boys that, with only one life to live, it would be foolish to pursue a woman that might inadvertently kill me. They laughed and reasoned that a little danger might be good for me. I drank my coffee and avoided eye contact with all forms of danger.

Now I travel with my own coffee. When I visit my father I tell him his coffee tastes like old sock water, “It’s old guy coffee,” I charge. He tells me that I’m ruined, that I have no taste buds and even less taste. I make a pot of my special brew. and he wrinkles his nose and cries, “What is this stuff?” It is one of my favorite rituals, the passage happening again and again and again.