Living one day at a time has been my consistent approach to life. Being present. Enjoying the moment.

Preparing for the future but focusing on the now. Being mindful of what is rather than dreaming about what could have been or how things should be.Granted, it’s not always easy. There have been many times when I got disappointed because I expected things to go one way and they went in a totally different direction. Times when I wished for what I didn’t have. Others when I looked forward to a moment in the future when I’d be enjoying x. But through the years, I found myself coming back to living one day at a time in a very concrete way. I exercise my gratefulness and practice what is now referred to as “mindfulness” and used to be known as “being present.” I find joy in simple things and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. They help me build my confidence and keep me aligned with the here and now.

This short story deals with this topic. It’s a reminder to make time for yourself every day, no matter where you are, no matter how busy you are. It’s also a reminder of the value of sharing your life with those with whom you spend most of your time. That almost everything is better when it’s shared. That being human together enhances our experience. Enjoy your coffee break!

Living one day at a time at Paul's in London
Living one day at a time at Paul’s in London

Coffee Shots: A short story about living life one day at a time— by Mariela Dabbah

She had been collecting pictures of her coffee drinks for the past ten years. Cappuccinos, lattes, cortados… You’d think she was creating a photographic exhibit or a connoisseur’s guide to the top espresso bars worldwide.  She used the shots to remind her of where she’d been, what she was doing right when she stopped to smell the coffee.

That small instant when she interrupted her journey and froze time in one frame was precious. Put side by side her coffee pictures told the story of her life during the past decade.

Having coffee with medialunas, in San Telmo, Buenos Aires
Having coffee with medialunas, in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

She used simple, dark wood frames and carefully hung them around the walls of her home office. From the ceiling to the mid wall, the little frames went round and round like custom-made tridimensional wallpaper.

The effect was mesmerizing. You could even smell the intoxicating aroma as soon as you walked into her house. But that may be because Alexis Beaumont grinded fresh coffee every morning.

As an international sales executive, she practically lived on a plane. Jet lag seemed inevitable until many years ago she discovered that a cup of espresso at the right moment helped her ease into whatever time zone she happened to be in.

Creating a collection of pictures of her drinks gave her the perfect excuse to take periodic breaks during her travels to avoid becoming so sucked into business that she forgot to experience life fully. It reminded her not to take things for granted.

Her husband and teenage kids teased her about her compulsion. They were convinced that had she not be consumed by the coffee shots she’d be doing drugs, or drinking. And perhaps there was some truth to that.

One afternoon, while in Rome, Alexis had taken her team out for a drink. They went to an old restaurant off Piazza di Spagna. Although the cobblestones were still glittering from a recent summer shower, the group decided to sit outdoors under a red awning and take advantage of the cooler air.

The waitress brought a big tray with drinks. And as usual, Alexis’ was the only one who had ordered a cappuccino rather than a glass of wine.

She quickly reorganized the items in front of her. Pushed the salt and pepper shakers out of the way, positioned a small vase with a lovely bunch of wild flowers right next to her cup, and turned the chocolate square that had arrived with her cup, so that the label was facing her. Then she angled her phone just so and took the shot.

Living one day at a time on board the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, having coffee at Cafe al Bacio
Living one day at a time on board the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, having coffee at Cafe al Bacio

She put her phone away and returned her attention to the group. But an obvious silence had fallen over the table. Alexis caught a few furtive looks passing among the members of her team and even perceived that they were avoiding eye contact with her. She wondered what could possibly be going on.

Not one for ducking hard questions, Alexis asked as lightly as she could not to spoil the mood:

“Am I missing something?” A few giggles confirmed she had read the situation accurately, but she was still in the dark as to what had happened. Nobody seemed interested in looping her in. Some took a sip of their wine, others were suddenly immersed in the menu or in their screens. “Come on now, what is it?” she fixed her stare on Jackie, one of her most recent hires. This was her first trip overseas and she had Alexis to thank for.

“Just you taking food pictures… We thought executives didn’t do that,” Jackie turned crimson. Nice going with her new boss.

“You mean my coffee shot? I collect them,” Alexis replied nonchalantly. “I’ll invite all of you to my house one of these days so you can see my private exhibit.”

The group quickly moved on to other, more interesting topics but the episode stayed with Alexis through the evening. She didn’t know what bothered her more, the fact that her own team didn’t know that she was a collector of coffee shots or that she had obviously never bothered to tell them. Had she always taken her pictures when she was alone? How could she have not shared this hobby with the people she worked closest to? Over the past few years they had spent such a large poriton of their lives together, how could that even be possible?

Iced coffee at Aroma, Israel
Iced coffee at Aroma, Israel

The next afternoon, after a long day of visiting clients, Alexis took the group to a favorite coffee shop of hers. This one had a view of La Fontana di Trevi. It was quite a bit more touristy than the place they had gone to the day before but that was part of her plan.

When the coffees, teas, and juices arrived, Alexis asked for a minute of attention.

“I’d like for all of you to capture this moment. Right now. Here, in front of this beautiful place. Focus your camera on your drink,” and Alexis started moving things around her latte while she explained. “Make the table around it look pretty.  Then, place the fountain in the background so you remember where you were, who you were with, what we were talking about… Like this!” she said and showed the picture she had just captured on her phone.

They all bought into it immediately. Comparing shots and helping each other get a better angle or a better composition.

“Now, all of you, text me your pics,” Alexis said.  She quickly created a collage with all their shots. It was really something. It quickly became their thing. Every time they traveled together they took coffee or drink shots when they went out at the end of the day. A moment to take stock of how fortunate they were to be together, to be doing something they enjoyed, or to simply be alive. The nice thing was that when they traveled separately, most of them sent Alexis a coffee shot as a way of saying, I’m okay, making time for myself during this business trip.

Six months later, Alexis invited her team for dinner. It was the first time she had them over at her house so she introduced them to her family and gave them a tour. She left the home office for last. They couldn’t believe their eyes. The walls were covered from ceiling to half the way down with small, white frames of the drink shots they had taken all over the world.

“I realized seeing you take pictures and receiving them on my phone made me happier than my own pictures ever did. So I redecorated a bit. These used to be all my coffee shots,” said Alexis smiling. And without missing a bit, the team posed in front of one of the walls and took a selfie.

Coffee shot with shoe design in El Salvador
Coffee shot with shoe design in El Salvador

I hope you enjoyed the story! Would you share with me any tips and tricks you use in order to remember living one day at a time? Leave your comments here!



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