Messages come to us in many ways. My latest came through the coffee to go window of my Latin Cafe.
I had recently started a corporate opportunity that everyone thought had potential, only to end abruptly right at the end of a never-before-experienced, three-month-testing deadline dismissal.
The day after this demoralizing experience, and regardless of how broken I felt, I headed to my holy grail of morning glory, the Latin Cafe window in my Brickell neighborhood where I order my daily dose of Cuban coffee, my morning nectar.
I placed my order as usual, and the woman manning the window asked me how was work. My reply was as brief as my outlook that morning: “Over.”
She told me to sit down in one of the tables right across the window, and that she would be happy to serve me. I insisted that there was no need for her to to go out of her way, but she was resolute, and since she’s also the one who makes the best coffee in the place, I thought it was in my best interest to say yes. This was no morning to make matters worse.
Minutes later, she approached my table, placed my tiny cup of caffeine octane on its center, and respectfully told me to be positive, not elaborating much in case I did not want to engage in conversation. I thanked her, told her that I appreciated her gesture, and thought that would be the end of it.
Not a chance. I was out of work, not my new friend. She had a story to deploy, a mega dose of sweetened caffeine for my soul.
“I don’t know if you know about me,” she said, even as customers were lining at her coffee window, surprisingly not in a rush that morning.
Time stood still as she focused her eyes on mine.
“Do you see those buildings behind you?” she asked me, pointing to the high-rise Brickell buildings in construction right behind my back. “I used to work there,” she said. “I managed construction projects, I had a secretary, and a big stack of papers on my desk. I worked so hard, managing offices where things also ended for me,” she went on. “Nobody really cared about me, my hard work, my time, until one day I said enough of this. No more.”
My eyes were watery. My heart in my throat. Her story resonated. Does it ring a bell or a fire alarm?
Read on, it gets even better.
“You see me doing coffee, right?” she pressed on. “What would people think of me, right? I don’t care. I love it, I come here every morning happy, I like working with my people, and my customers are very generous with me. I work half-day, then I go swimming, and at home I do my own thing! It may be a bit less money, but I am free.”
In my case, years of successful corporate experience with outstanding performance reviews and recommendations seemed like an illusory past after the low blow of my dismissal. I recall the moment as an emotional tsunami at the core of my “not good enough” fault zone, one of mortals’ most dreaded fears, to be found out, to be good at nothing, disapproval, labeling one’s strengths as non-existent. I felt my body sank, drowning into the depths of insanity, all of it questioning if I had gone mad, if I had made my years of professional seniority, sacrifice, and glory all up.
Fortunately, I did not. My corporate history, my stellar recommendations, and my successful tribe, speak for me. My formative amazing years with brilliant mentors reached an temporary halt, literally yesterday, bringing me to the arena — an personal ground zero, an ego crush, a life-kicking fracture, yet a jump-start to my intentions and personal joy which had been on life support for weeks, trapped in a cubicle, accepting the unacceptable.
Little did I know that the dismissal that felt shocking, embarrassing, humiliating, and so shameful, came to me to unveil the purpose-honoring person I am today.
God bless you.
“Look at you Mami!,” my Latin Cafe server smiled as if questioning my wistful look. “You are a beautiful woman, do something creative — go for art — you are probably very good at it, write a book girl!”
All of it prophetic, particularly knowing that what I love to do is precisely what she mentioned, what you see in this website, in the words of those who know me and motivate me, my gift – an eye that beautifies. I am a curator of the extraordinary, a photographer, a style house, a voice to write, a spellbinder. I am an artist.
I am no longer the woman in the corporate cubicle. I seek exciting climates that resonate, rewarding creative fields to write a well-deserved glorious chapter.
Here, my empowering server delivered her glorious closing remark.
“The people who we think have so much power with our paychecks in those offices? Most of them don’t have it, and I don’t want to be like them.” And do you know why?,” she asked as she took two tiny steps closer to my table. “Because they don’t know how to live.”
And just like that, she manifested my current mantra, Oprah Winfrey’s most treasured teaching from Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul : “When the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment.”
Up to this day, I had never taken the time to read the uniform name tag of the lovely server I now hug, respect, and refer to as my friend.
Her name is Wendy. And rightly so, the meaning of her name is “friend.”
By having a clear intention and living on purpose to her calling, she is her best friend.
Shouldn’t we all? Isn’t this one of life’s best friendly reminders?