Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Black Coffee And Other Grossness

Black coffee is gross.

Apparently, when I say “I like coffee” what I really mean is “I like coffee sweetened and with cream” because I can tell you for a fact I don’t like coffee without those two options.

So here we are. I read “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker a little over a year ago. It wrecked me. I mean, we kind of live the minimalist lifestyle as a matter of necessity rather than choice just because of the whole single mom working for a nonprofit thing. But the introspection, the idea of our attitudes, the beauty of fasting, our responsibility to others/our kids/our environments/ourselves. It was amazing.

I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t read it at this point, but if you haven’t…do it. Seriously. Oh, read Interrupted first…it’s a good book and helpful to know the backstory.

Anyway, ever since reading the book, I’ve been wanting my own “council” so I too could go through the experiment. I knew I didn’t want to go through it alone since it wouldn’t be as fun…and, to be honest, I would cheat without the community, encouragement and accountability of fellow sojourners.

When my friend (and soul sister) Emily read the book, she felt the same way; so we used Facebook to gather members and scheduled our first meeting. I was so looking forward to it! This was finally happening!

I had to sleep through three alarms to miss our first meeting. But I managed it. Luckily Emily caught me up to date and we have our “secret” Facebook group to make observations, etc  so I’m not entirely out of the loop.

The first month is food. There are a couple of options presented in her book and our council came up with a couple of others so my choices were: only eat seven foods for one month, eat like seven of the poorest countries of the world for three days each, commit to the SNAP challenge for one month (where you live off a grocery budget that reflects average amount of food stamps a family your size receives), or come up with something of your own. Thanks to missing the meeting, working Friday night/two shows on Saturday/and closing show on Sunday, I hadn’t really wrapped my brain around what I wanted to do for the month. In fact, members of the council were already craving foods before I even posted my plan. Better late than never I suppose.

Since we live the SNAP challenge, it didn’t seem like a fair option but because of that eating only seven foods wasn’t really economical either. I couldn’t purchase my foods and separate foods for the kids. So what I decided to do was give up seven foods. That way, I can fix the same meals and just make modifications for myself. In addition to giving up seven foods, I committed to a total fast for one day a week for four weeks to pray and focus on four major issues: extreme poverty, slavery, empowerment of women, and education for children.

I went about making my list with purpose: salt, sugar, meat…

That’s only three and in giving up salt and sugar, I’ve kind of went broad in eliminating other foods so I can’t count them…what else? Emily suggested cheese. I put hummus on the list even though I knew Jason had made a fresh batch. What else? 

Oh please, no please…not coffee!

For the last year I’ve sworn that no matter what, while going through the experiment, I would not give up coffee. When Bree heard I was considering coffee she exclaimed “I’m not okay with this!” and, while I can’t prove it, I’m fairly certain she started looking for a temporary home.

Coffee was fifth on the list. What next?

NOOOOOO…not peanut butter AND coffee! I racked my brain for over an hour until, finally, peanut butter rounded out my list of seven foods that I would give up for four weeks. I knew as I wrote it what had happened. I had given up every single one of my comfort foods. Me, the stress eater, in a month that included unemployment, possible eviction, my Dad’s birthday and who knew what else…had given up ice cream, coffee, cookies, potato chips, hummus, AND peanut butter.

I was not very gracious about it. I grumbled “Guess it’s just you and me God”
To which God grinned and replied “Sounds good to me”

I posted my plan on our page with the stipulation that I wean myself off coffee: One cup a day for one week, half a cup per day next week, and two weeks with none whatsoever.  Lots of herbal tea and honey in my future.

So this morning, I fixed a half pot of coffee, knowing I had one cup to savor. It’s hard to “savor” a cup of java with no sugar. I had no milk and the only creamer I had is flavored and includes…sugar. I tried to rationalize the one packet of Stevia (HOW is that even on my shelf?) by saying it wasn’t sugar so technically within letter of law, but it made it worse instead of better. Basically, I waited for it to cool down and chugged it. Reminding myself as the bitter concoction made it’s way into my system that it’s better than the detox headache that would render me useless, that it is for a good cause, and will make for a good story.

I then had eggs, with no cheese and no jelly. As I tried to read and chew without being aware of what I was tasting, I reminded God that as I was doing a good thing, I deserved a pleasant morning…no bill collectors calling or other unpleasantness. Several minutes later, the cat threw up on the floor.

As I was cleaning up, I mumbled “It’s not fair” while simultaneously being aware that I was being melodramatic. But it reminded me of another time when I was literally screaming at God (no, not in my head voice…literally screaming…out loud…out on my lawn…at two in the morning) that it wasn’t fair, that He owed me, that He had to fix this right now! It was a terrible time. As in, took at least two years to get my mind back right terrible time. But God did amazing things through those times and as a result of them.  It was a good reminder when I look at what we are going through now. It renewed my hope. Which is better than coffee. Right?

PS Totally forgot about the whole meat thing until I was ¾ through with my chicken sandwich this evening. Oops.

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