Thursday, October 30, 2014

The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment (#13: Coffee Virgin No More)

by Pam Victor

[The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment is my one-year challenge to make a living through creative pursuits. Read all the updates here.]

"If you don't drink coffee, what do you do when you're tired?" incredulously asked Sasha, my coffee enthusiast friend.

I stopped to ponder her question for a few moments before answering, "I guess I just feel tired."
Photo credit: Coffee Quests
(Nice coffee review blog)


Except for a year in high school when I lived in France, I've never drank coffee in my life. Though I do tend to poo-poo our culture's generalized coffee fetish, I don't have any great philosophical objection to coffee. I didn't drink it because it didn't make me feel good. I'm a delicate flower and coffee felt too intense for me. My beverage of choice throughout growing up was orange juice, which seemed to do the trick. (Thank you, hyperglycemia!) Then OJ stopped feeling good, so for the last couple decades I've woken up naturally, though not gracefully, throughout the morning and enjoyed a cup of tea with lunch. 

This summer, I had an opportunity to revisit espresso, and I enjoyed the nostalgic taste of youth and France. The pick-me-up and mental alertness was nice too. Hmmm ...

Recently, the biggest side effects of the "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment has been stress, exhaustion, and a generalized feeling of being stretched too thin. I narrowed the cause down to the fact that I was working most evenings. Before the Experiment, around 8pm every evening I collapsed onto the couch in front of the TV and next to my dear husband. I've long said these evenings were my favorite time of day, the recuperative reward at the finish line of a long day. But evenings are when the paid jobs are so those TV couch potato nights are gone now. And it's taking its toll.

This week is fairly typical. The evenings look like this:

Sunday - See my daughter playing Witch #2 in an immersive
My Witchy Kid
production the Scottish play at her high school.

Monday - Couch time with my man!

Tuesday - Rehearsal for show next weekend.

Wednesday - Rehearsal for show this weekend.

Thursday - Teach improv.

Friday - Halloween celebration with a gal pal. (Normally, I would be teaching another improv class.)

Saturday - Perform in a show!

Sunday - Stay home at last. (Husband might be at a practice with his band though.)

Over the past week, I've been sitting with this issue of needing to restructure my rest and restorative time, hoping that a solution would arise. I've been asking, "How can I shift my feeling of relaxation from evenings on the couch to other experiences?" This is what I've come up with so far: 

  • I've started to take more advantage of the three mornings each week when I get to sleep in, letting go of the guilt of snoozing until 10am and enjoying a couple slow mornings each week. (The guilt part is a challenge.)
  • Though I don't usually take weekend's off - a habit formed from working from home and in my "spare" time most of my adult life - I've started carving out some conscious relaxation time during the weekend. Sometimes that just looks like thirty minutes with a cup of tea and the New York Times on Sunday. Sometimes it looks like taking the rare nap. I'm trying to work up to crashing on the couch with an afternoon movie some day. (I know. I'm obnoxiously Type A.) 
  • I've started being more conscious about screen time at night. I've given up late night web surfing, instead rediscovering the joys of reading good fiction in bed before falling asleep (a habit that had fallen away when Facebook came into my life.) 
  • I'm trying to exercise and practice Alexander Technique more regularly. I fucking hate exercise, but I'm trying to be better about it. Again.
  • I've learned to appreciate the evenings at home with my husband. Gratitude for small gifts!
  • And coffee. I've started drinking coffee.
A couple days ago, for the first time in my whole damn life, I bought my first canister of coffee for myself. I was shopping at Trader Joe's and they were offering samples of their Five Country Espresso Blend. I took a little cup - the taste of France! - and on a whim, I put a canister in my cart. 

This morning, I enjoyed a cup of café au lait soya. My mouth tastes all coffee-ish and I can feel the acid reflux, but I'll be alert enough to teach my class tonight. Coffee cherry popped.

And I'm already eagerly anticipating catching up on The Good Wife and Scandal on Monday night...

* * *

Pam Victor is the founding member of The Ha-Ha’s, and she produces The Happier Valley Comedy Show in western Massachusetts. Pam performs  "Geeking Out with: The TALK SHOW," a live version of the written Geeking Out with... interview series, at comedy festivals throughout the land. Pam writes mostly humorous, mostly true essays and reviews of books, movies, and tea on her blog, "My Nephew is a Poodle." Currently, Pam is finishing up work on "Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book" with co-authors TJ Jagodowski and David Pasq

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