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Adjusting My Jetpack Joyride with Mindfulness

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Coffee is my elixir. Raising my attention and energy for the dawning day ahead. Sometimes, I wake up early and can’t get back to sleep because I’m thinking of my great coffee.

Of course, coffee has limits. Too much and your manic anxiety kicks in and your jetpack veers off course into a crash. Hopefully you didn’t get hurt. Not enough fuel and the day drags along. No joy. Dial the fuel mixture and burn rate correctly, and even the sun comes within reach.

I’ll admit to being a coffee enthusiast, but I dont’ go overboard. I use my Keurig at home. (I know, killing the planet one pod at a time.) And I’m sure that’s not artisanal enough for some daily grind > French press > black tar folks. Perhaps not strong enough either. Let’s say this: you’ve got to find your optimal mix and burn rate.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been ratcheting up my intake. I’ve learned a few things that I thought I would share. Coffee may not be an antidepressant, but it quacks like one. I do notice that when I’m hitting a down jag (5+ years ago for me, god bless America) coffee no longer interests me. I’m so down I don’t want to get up. The taste of coffee is more like medicine I require to function. But, I’m not on a down jag, and I’m trying to prevent my current sustained altitude from reaching dangerous velocity.

First, I need to start with my current fuel mix, developed over 40+ years of coffee addiction. I have one pod, a little whole milk, and some non-hallucinatory CBD. If I’m feeling rad I’ll add a spark of cinnamon or a touch of coconut milk. I brew up a smoking Yeti of my golden brew. Nothing too special. (I personally like Pete’s Major Dickison’s Blend.)

As my morning blasts on, I will refill my cup with unleaded decaf. I use a store brand in bulk, at about 20 cents a pod. This is more like hot water, but it gives me the continued pleasure of sipping a warm beverage. In the past, I noticed my second cup making me a bit irritated, ambitious, and fast. Driving, I would notice how EVERYONE IS BLOCKING MY WAY. That’s when I get a message from the engine room, “Captain, you’re overheating the warp drive.”

So, I eliminated the second cup of real coffee. Over the last three years, this has been my mix. Light up early, get altitude, and cruse without adding additional rocket fuel. And I could go on with an endless cup (yes, decaf has caffeine) for most of the afternoon with no adverse effects. Well, my sweat gets a bit acrid and if I eat too much fruit I’ll get a sore tongue. Smooth soaring.

What has brought me to this moment, and the moment that I wrote this poem last night while trying to go to sleep. (Yes, there might have been a little ambien aboard.)

POEM: escape velocity

A few times I’ve gone wild, loading up another Major Dick’s and going for a singularity moment. High, but not too high. Flying but not pressured speech, flying. Flying with a good sense of self-awareness is key here.

In my earlier days, I’d hit warp speed with a second cup of coffee and the ideas would begin igniting with a satisfying warmth. And my youthful artist brain would say, “Hey, one more cup and I bet we could actually touch one of the sun’s eruptions reaching out toward me.


Not dead, but creatively incapacitated. The opus I was vigorously working on became tripe. An idea for a drum beat led down a two-hour quest for the right snare sample. Bonking off the ceiling was one of my mental traits. This model, the coffee version, is fairly benign. I could avoid total meltdown if I killed the engines, gave up, and went to bed. Not sleeping, mind you, rhuminating. And often, not about music or art or poems, but about Dad, Mom, and my dead sister.

So, I wade into the rocket and booster rocket approach with some historical awareness and strategies for extending my flight each day.

If I listen to what’s going on in my mind and my physical body, I can hear what I need. Sometimes. If I tune into my fuel mixture and burn rate, I can adjust my flight plan throughout the day. This could be a day of long meetings on Zoom, long documents to be written, edited, or AI’d. If I could squeeze in an hour for a short story, a poem, a song, or an idea discovered, I would count even my busiest days as a creative/creation success.

Listen to your engineering team and race director. F1 cars are dangerous and require a varied support team. In my camp I have: a long-term partner, two best friends from elementary school, a talky therapist, and a meds doc. You’ve got to have people to talk you down, talk you up, and talk you into your YES MOMENTS. Celebration with my team is part of the beauty of getting the mix and apogee right.

If you’re flying solo, I’d encourage you to look into a few resources for the LOW times. Al-Anon meetings and the serenity prayer have saved my lonely and broken ass many times over. Sometimes, just the hug and prayer at the end of a meeting was exactly what I needed to break my isolation. Whatever you do (coffee, no coffee, stimulants, fuzzy stuff) do it with self-awareness.

Did this experience get me further along in any of my projects or goals? Do I need additional resources or team members? Then you can point your life, your daily living, and yes, your coffee intake, to support YOUR GOALS. We don’t need stuff. We need to feel like our lives are meaningful, to ourselves, our family, and others. (Your meanings may be different than mine.)

In this short life, what ways can you improve your own performance and your ability to delight and engage with others? That’s what I got.

Note: sipping my 2nd loaded cup, measuring the response one sip at a time. Sip. Write. Pause. Repeat.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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You can find my books on Amazon. Including this one:

the little red book of mindfulness - john oakley mcelhenney

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