It’s 6:00 AM. As I reach for the coffee pot to begin my morning routine, I am aware that there is still left over coffee clinging to the side of the pot from yesterday. I pause for a moment, reminded of a time when I would drink it, fearful of throwing it out because of how wasteful it would be.  A quick “minute plus” of the microwave and there it was….burnt, stale and reheated.  I would make it my first terrible taste of a brand new day while I waited for my second cup of fresh brew. I recall turning my nose at the repulsive rancid smell, wanting to throw it out but sucking it down instead like bad tasting medicine as if I had to drink it in order to reward myself with the better second cup was generally my choice.

Being of the depression generation, my parents voiced their distaste of waste because of “the starving children in China,” and said how lucky I was to have any food at all! Like every other child who heard this mantra, I would suggest that they pack up my meal and ship it off to those who would appreciate it more then I.. Nevertheless, I would eat it because it was better than the consequences: sitting at the table for hours until I was hungry enough to eat, or tired enough to fall asleep in it.

Years later, following in my parents mantra, I would save every last morsel of leftovers in unlabeled Tupperware containers and stuffed in the back of the refrigerator with no intentions of eating it but knowing I could though it out only when it grew hair.  Why do we do this?   If the world were to end later today, will this last cup satisfy me, enrich me, or bring me joy?

Once I came to terms with the “drink the old coffee first” memories, I realized how programmed we are to accept that which is engrained in us, and to not question what we have been punished into submitting to. Hours at the kitchen table with nothing to do but look at my half eaten dinner and think about what I could be doing instead, taught me to give in rather than choose to not partake. How often do most of us make mindless decisions or accept things people have said as our own thought, simply because it was easier to give in and react rather than decide for ourselves and risk punishment from others.

Why don’t we treat ourselves to the best when we can?

I once saw a couple in my office who would dress nicely when they saw each other for dinner every night.  That is commitment to being their best!

As women, we are often programmed to not ask for everything, and grow up to believe that we shouldn’t ask for the best. That is for other people, or for “someday.”  But as Yoda would say “Someday there is not; only today!”

As I reached for the pot, the voices of my past softly calling out to not waste. I dumped it down the drain anyway, filled the pot with cold clean water, and brewed fresh Italian roast, my favorite…because life is too short for stale coffee!

~Wendy Pegan, Relationship Builder

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