paul drinking a coffee

How Gas Station Coffee Saved My Sanity

The clock on my dashboard read 6:17 AM. I didn’t bother to look at the temperature on my screen since my windows were frosted over.  I hadn’t slept well in three nights, I had more deadlines to meet than I could remember, and worst of all my gas tank was on empty. Of course I noticed this as I backed out of my driveway. 

I pulled into the gas station all I could think about was how bad I wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible; a fact that was made worse by the fact that the gas pump kept rejecting my credit card. Remind me again how chips on cards are supposed to make life easier?

I filled my tank and grumbled my way into the store to pay.  

The lineup at the register was unusually long and instead of cursing out loud (like I wanted to do), I decided to walk a lap around the premises. That’s when the aroma of coffee caught my attention. For a moment I was relaxed and dare I even say calm?

I staggered towards the five large carafes and took another whiff. I then glanced at the titles of the different coffee flavors. 

There was hazelnut, dark Columbian roast, Sumatran Medley, and premium decaf (two words that should never go together).  I began to wonder if the coffee really came from Sumatra. And what about it made it a blend? They never mentioned what they were blending with Sumatra.  And did the Columbian coffee come from Columbia? Would Juan Valdez and his crazy mule appear behind me if I purchased it?  

And then….

I laughed….

Loud enough for others to hear. 

I didn’t care.

It felt good.

I hadn’t laughed in a long time.  I decided to treat myself to a large and delicious cup of Sumatran blend with a splash of premium decaf and topped with Coffeemate’s finest French vanilla creamer that came from an enormous dispenser. I tried not to think about how long the creamer had sat there.  All of it for the fabulous price of $1.09.  

As an added bonus if I bought five cups I’d get the next one free.

And just like that a new addiction (and tradition) was born.  These days, every early morning that I fill up my tank I get the gas station coffee. I’ve earned 4 free cups since I started this.

I don’t know why reading coffee titles sparked my creative mind and made me giggle like a high schooler but it did. For me it has become an important ritual; a way of giving thanks for making me laugh and reminding me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

It’s a ritual I look forward too even though the coffee isn’t what most would consider drinkable.

Every time I select and create a caffeinated concoction I find that my long morning drive is more enjoyable and I experience better inner peace. 

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR GAS STATION COFFEE?

Our lives can be stressful and complicated and in that grind we sometimes create processes and expectations that are toxic or at the very least, keep us away from happiness and self-care.  It is important we create rituals and processes that center us and bring us to the happy place. 

It doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be an exercise routine, watching a show that you love, or a call with a family member or friend who knows how to supercharge your happiness. 

But whatever it is, guard it fiercely and visit it often.

I think my tank is empty again. Time for another cup.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager

6 Lessons My Car Accident Reminded Me About Work-Life Balance

All I heard was deafening silence.  For a moment my podcast cut out.  I felt an impact on my left side.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw the front of another car tear my front end off.  My eyes followed as I watched my bumper bounce through the intersection.

The podcast broke the silence.

I looked down at the deployed airbag that apparently hit me.  I got out of my beloved Honda Civic for what would be the last time.

Being in a car accident is never any fun.  I spent the initial 24 hours worrying about my deductible, how much I would get for the car (I knew it was a total loss), and what a replacement vehicle would end up costing me.

Eventually, my mind focused away from the business and (most importantly) into the life part of the accident.  Here are six simple work-life questions I was reminded of as a result of being in a car accident.

  • What are you grateful for (and do you practice it)? At the end of the day I was just grateful.  I try and practice gratitude daily but after an accident I really focused on it.  I was grateful for my health, grateful I got to see my family that night, I was even grateful that the accident occurred near my house (vs the middle of a strange road or highway).  The next morning, I woke up as the sun rose over the pond in my yard and I just felt grateful for that moment of beautiful peace.   Although the experience was stressful, gratitude helped center me and even forced a smile out of my occasionally grumpy face.
  • Is your workplace supportive? Whether it be a car accident, illness, or other household emergency, having a supportive and flexible work environment has a value that goes beyond dollars and cents. Having enough sick/personal days to bridge any time off is helpful as is a system that allows you to work from home, shift hours, and generally make any reasonable accommodations needed.   Above all else, the response you want to hear is “Take care of yourself and we will find a way to work it all out.”

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