Tag Archives: follow your dreams

My Heart Almost Died.

I was always known to take chances, for following my dreams and being a free spirit. At times it was a little scary, but the thrill and pure joy of doing what I love outweighed that fear. It squashed the doubt inside too; all of those practical questions about money and the future didn’t matter. I was living in the moment, for “right now”, and I wasn’t going to grow up and let my “heart die” like Ally Sheedy claimed would happen in “The Breakfast Club”.

I spent my twenties finding myself, building my self-confidence and reaching for all of the exciting possibilities as a journalist and author. Money was not an obstacle; not because I had a ton of it, but because I could make almost anything work on very little.

I interviewed some of my favorite celebrities, could state I was the first person to interview Taylor Swift, made so many wonderful connections in the entertainment industry, and published 5 books all by the time I was 30. I even started seeing more money from book sales and actually got some paying gigs for articles.

I moved around a ton, leaving New York, my family, and some of my closest friends, always knowing they were there, cheering me on. To Nashville, back to New York, then to Anna Maria Island, and my 6 months of travel of the West Coast and New Orleans, and back to Nashville… something changed after that last move.

It wasn’t that money started to matter to me, but time did. I spent so much time running toward my next adventure. I gave so much of my time working as a barista even after it stopped supporting my free spirit lifestyle.

Suddenly, I was back in Nashville, where I had felt so alive just five years ago as I wrote “The Watch Dog”, but now I was stuck. Stuck being underpaid and overworked as a barista. Stuck doing digital marketing to create more income, and because I was trying to force myself to like it more since it was related to my chosen career path.

I always knew journalism wasn’t going to pay much, but times have really changed. With every high school and college kid blogging and writing articles, talent doesn’t mean as much as the time, energy and social media strategy you can bring to the table.

This past year, I have lacked in all of those departments. I’m fully aware I’m no longer 25. I don’t have the energy to run around behind an espresso bar for eight hours, write a chapter of my novel afterward, interview a singer-songwriter, write three articles, spend an hour on social media, cook dinner, and still have a social life.

Believe me, I used to do it all. I used to wake up at 4am and go to bed at midnight, and be at my best. I was bubbly about it all, too. Now, I’m a grumbly shift manager at one of the busiest Starbucks I’ve ever worked at, lucky if I write in my journal twice a week and my energy along with my spirit is depleted.

Ally Sheedy was right (or John Hughes rather)… I feel like my heart died a little. But I’m determined to get it beating again. What’s equally as bad as my dreams, or the energy to pursue those dreams, being on pause, is I miss home. I miss my brother, sisters, my niece and nephew. I hate watching them grow up so far away when I was there every day with them for so long.

It’s time to come home. I’ve spread my wings. I’ve left the nest. I soared. I fell. I got back up and soared again. And fell again. I’m tired now. Time is precious. I don’t want to waste that time working just to pay the bills. I am so drained and stagnant that I am not living.

When I move back to New York, I will be a nanny for my niece and nephew. There is nothing like being around children to awaken my creativity and remind me of all the excitement left in this crazy world. I will no longer have to waste all my energy at a job that underpays and overworks me. I will be making quality moments with people I care about, and when the little ones are off at school, I can focus on my writing.

I will encourage those kids to follow their dreams and that anything is possible. Along with their parents, I will try to help guide them with advice, but I know—and I hope—they won’t take all of it. Everyone needs to find their own way in life. There were tons of advice and warnings and discouragement thrown at me growing up.

Some of it was good advice, and maybe I should have taken it into consideration, but I wouldn’t have had this amazing journey with all of its ups, downs and wonderful surprises. My mother always said to me, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up”. To this day, I try to always get my hopes up. Sorry Mom, I know you didn’t want me to get hurt, but really, I’m fine!

Hope is one of the most important things. It’s our life line. Even if something didn’t work out, I never regretted the hope I felt beforehand. That feeling is magical; to allow yourself to get buzzed off of excitement and believe that anything can happen. I will always tell my niece and nephew to keep their hopes high. It’ll keep our hearts from dying.

Traveling Barista: Cutting The Apron Strings

Well, last week was it — my final week as a barista. After 9 years, I thought I’d feel more sentimental. I figured I’d cry. As I blended frappuccinos on my last day, I reminded myself that I would never do that again. You know what? That made me happy.

I guess I’m sad I’m not sad. Does that make sense? How can I turn away from something that’s been a part of my life for so long and not shed a tear?

Starbucks has brought so much to my life. Aside from the health benefits, stock options and steady paycheck, it has allowed me to follow my dreams. I was able to manipulate my schedule any way I wanted to, for the most part.

Because I was a good worker, my managers would go the extra mile for me when I needed a day off to cover a concert for my magazine, or when I needed to cut my 40 hours down to 20 so I could do public relations/marketing.

On top of that, I was able to transfer to different areas, like Nashville and Florida, although the latter district was a hot mess about it, and I almost quit then.

Anyway, I am so thankful I was able to have a job to go to while I was finding my way. I was even more thankful that for the most part, I enjoyed my job — the past couple of years aside.

The friendships and connections with co-workers and customers that I have made are valuable, and I have taken them with me from city to city, year after year.

Still… on my last day, I found myself relieved. I clocked out, gave my co-workers high-fives and hugs. I changed out of my work clothes and threw the tattered, coffee infused items in the trash with excitement.

I guess it really is time to cut the apron strings. To move on and not look back. The truth is, Starbucks has become increasingly more corporate, and less about the connections. Creativity and supporting our side gigs was very much apart of our coffee community. I’ve held book signings at one location and promoted my events at others.

My co-workers, though we always vented about nasty customers, supervisors who were always in the backroom, and the ‘right way’ to do a task, have become disgruntled more than I’m used to. Even me, someone who is described as patient, positive and sweet, feels my blood boil easier while I’m behind that line.

It was time. When you no longer find joy in something, it’s time to move on. It doesn’t dull the memories; it reminds you of how it could be, and should be. For the sake of my fellow baristas, and new ones to come, I hope Starbucks rekindles that joy, and not just plaster it on the red holiday cups each year.

Now, what does this mean for the Traveling Barista blog? It lives on. I know I am not a barista any longer, but in my heart — I think I will always be one. My goal with this blog is to keep that connection alive. I plan to visit many coffee shops on my upcoming travels, and talk about the connections, and still reflect back on my own barista memories.

My apron is off, but I’ll always make time for a cup of coffee and good conversation.