Finding Positives in the Midst of Negativity

There’s a lot of negativity in the world. I don’t need to tell you this. You don’t even need to walk out your front door to be assaulted by pessimistic views on the economy to health scares and every little thing in between.

I struggle with confronting negativity as much as anyone else. Which is why one of my earliest pins to Pinterest was a quote: “The words you speak become the house you live in.” In fact, this pin is still the cover of one of my quotes boards on Pinterest.

Why does this saying resound so much for me? Because in one sentence, it harnesses the power of what the psychology world calls “self-talk”, defined by Dictionary.com as “the act or practice of talking to oneself, either aloud or silently and mentally”

Now, you may consider self-talk to be a futile exercise, something advocated by inspirational gurus and talk-show hosts. But in a world where negativity is a minefield (or should I say MINDfield), a few optimistic affirmations can’t hurt. I mean, did you know that your brain actually changes based on the thoughts you filter through it? If you feed it only with the negative, then negativity is going to become your default outlook. No joke.

Thus, the words you speak (whether internal or external) become the house you live in.

That’s why I try to remind myself, on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis to feed my mind a little self-love and hope multiple times a day. This includes everything from affirming my value to counting my blessings. Anything to keep my brain from forming patterns of despair. Some days, it’s easier than others. But every day, it’s important to try.

All of this leads into the latest addition to my ongoing A Story Life giveaway. I found this tin sign about Gratitude on an impromptu Hobby Lobby run with a friend, and I thought, “Yes, this has to become part of the blog giveaway!” Make sure you enter each week (the entry options change with each post!) and check back in next time to see what prizes will be added!

Until then…remember that there is always hope. And that’s the house we choose to live in.

Introducing A Story Life

My 3 Favorite Things About Being a Barista

For over six years, I’ve worked as a part-time barista for Starbucks, juggling a crazy schedule that includes writing, working another job in my family’s construction business, and, more recently, attending college online as part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. Despite the hectic pace, I have loved my time as a barista, and over the years, I’ve come to really appreciate certain aspects of it.

At the end of this month, I’m leaving my role in the Starbucks stores for a different job with the company. While I’m excited about this new opportunity, the fact that I’ll no longer be working behind the counter had made me nostalgic about my time as a barista. In light of that, I’d like to share the three things I love most about working in a coffeeshop:

  1. The customers (especially the regulars.)

I know what they say. Many people think working with the general public is a pain. And some days, it is. But on the whole, most of my experiences in a customer-service oriented job have been positive ones. For every rude or negative customer, there have been a hundred wonderful ones. I love my regulars, those customers that come in every single day. I’ve learned their names, their orders, and I’ve gotten to laugh and cry with them. I’ve seen children born and loved ones lost. And over time, these people have become more than customers. They became friends. Like Bruce and Heidi, who were so consistent in asking me how my manuscript was coming along that it earned them a mention in A SONG FOR RORY‘s acknowledgments. Or any of the dozens of regulars who ask me on any given day how my writing is going or if I’m enjoying my college classes. My customers over the last six + years have made my job a pleasure.

2. My fellow baristas.

In addition to loving the customers, I’ve bonded with some pretty wonderful people over the years. See, I have this theory about baristas. We tend to be a pretty tight-knit community. I think it comes from working back-to-back in the pressures of a fast-paced job. When you’re a man down with twenty-four drinks lined up on the bar, and a fellow barista steps up to help you out by prepping drinks, stocking your syrups, and generally helping you out, you forge a pretty quick bond. I’ve met some of my very closest friends while working as a barista. And even while they’ve moved on from the job, we still check in with each other often and get together on a regular basis. In the barista world, we say, “Once a barista, always a barista.” It reminds us that we’re a family, even when we’re no longer working behind the counter.

3. The stories.

Many people have told me I should write a book about my coffeeshop adventures. In truth, it would have to be a compilation including stories from fellow baristas. Any number of which might include midnight police calls, lost kittens, fisticuffs in the parking lot, flooded back rooms, more misplaced keys than I can count, and even a dead body in the restroom (not on my watch but no lie.) It is a job fraught with anecdotes. And, being a writer, I love nothing more than hearing (and sharing) some of the stories. I doubt I’ll ever write a memoir of my time as a barista. But I’m pretty sure I’ll find ways to work my adventures into a book or two.

There are plenty of other things that have made my time as a barista a worthwhile experience. But these are the three that will stand out, in years to come, as the lasting legacy of my time working in a Starbucks cafe.

And don’t think I forgot about the next item in the giveaway for A Story Life’s debut! This week, in addition to the Thirty-One bag I mentioned for Week 1 of the giveaway, I’m adding a pound of Starbucks Veranda Blend blonde roast coffee to the prize package! If you haven’t already, make sure you enter via the form below. And remember, some entry options, like Twitter, can be done daily for extra entries!

Check back next week for another addition to the prize, as well as to find out what I’ll share next on A Story Life.

Introducing A Story Life

A Story Life: An Introduction

Stories matter.

This is my life’s refrain. From the time I was a child, I recognized the power behind a well-told story. I decided to become a writer at the age of ten, when I watched a movie where the main character was a novelist. It was at that moment I realized all stories begin with an author, and I knew I wanted to focus my life on stories, both real and imagined. But additionally, even at that young age, I recognized the value behind such narratives.

The thing I am most passionate about is recognizing the greater story in each of our individual lives. I believe we love stories (film, books, video games, art) because they reflect deeper elements of ourselves. The problem is that too often, we minimize the importance of the little things and how they contribute to the whole. In every single day of our lives, there are tiny, extraordinary miracles.

Through this blog, A Story Life, I hope to break down the details and present the everyday as something more than the mundane. You can look for a variety of posts including categories that revolve around inspirational, home and family, writing, entertainment, and everything in between. For those of you who remember my first author blog, The Cerella Life, you can find similar content here with a bit more focus on the overlooked aspects of daily living and the meanings behind them, along with the same type of heartfelt and humorous posts I’ve shared in the past.

Look for a new post each week, here on the blog, or sign up via email on the sidebar to the right to receive each new post straight to your inbox.

To celebrate the launch of A Story Life, I’m hosting a giveaway, and to keep things interesting, I’ll unveil a new item to be added to the giveaway with each week’s post for the next four weeks! There are plenty of ways to enter via the form below. The first item in the giveaway is in keeping with the theme of the blog:

A retired Thirty-One skirt purse, featuring words of encouragement from their Inspiration line. When I saw this purse, I knew it was perfect for my first blog giveaway here because of the many heartwarming phrases included on the bag.

Make sure you enter via the form below and check back every Friday, when a new post goes live, to find out the next item included in the giveaway!

And thanks for joining me here on the blog. I’m looking forward to sharing my story life and learning more about your own in the days ahead.

Introducing A Story Life