Frustrated? Laugh and Eat Cake.

The weather is warming.  The sun is shining.  The flowers are blooming.  I want to be outside.  Yes, I said it.  I want to be outside running around in the grass, eating fruit, and letting the sun shine on my skin.  Instead I am in my office, surrounded by grey carpet and white walls.  My post a few weeks ago promised you all that the sunshine was coming.  Now it’s here, and I’m having a very hard time concentrating.

I’m sure many people feel like I do; especially AmeriCorps members.  We are at a place in our year where things are starting to wind down (for some of us) and we are working on sustainability plans for our host organizations.  The newfound time in our schedules breeds wandering minds.  We are asking ourselves questions like: what does the future bring, will we find a job, will we get into the school we want, what to do with our education award? 

With all these uncertainties coupled with the frustration of being stuck in an office all day, it’s sometimes hard to remain positive.  It’s at these points of frustration and irritation that I turn to two of my very favorite things to get me through: chocolate and humor. 

We deal with some heavy issues in the nonprofit field; why not learn to laugh a little?  I’d like to tell you a story with the hopes that it too will lift your spirits as it did mine and make you chuckle as you attempt to power through your workday.  This story has nothing to do with service, nor does it have anything to do with volunteer management, or the nonprofit sector.  It does, however, have everything to do with the need to laugh and not take matters so seriously that it negatively affects our mood in the workplace. 

I am a lover of chocolate.  I am also very particular about my chocolate.  It must be dark.  If there are nuts, they must be almonds or hazelnuts; absolutely no peanuts!  I love all things chocolate flavored: cakes, brownies, cookies, muffins.  I recently discovered the combinations of dark chocolate with chili, dark chocolate with sea salt, and dark chocolate with cracked pepper.  It’s delightful. 

Yesterday, while wading through the never ending sea of documents, file folders, and notepads I heard a voice yell three magic words: “I’ve got cake!”  Startled and confused, I turned to see a woman standing in the middle of the hallway holding an enormous tray of what looked to be dark chocolate devil’s food cake.  “I’ve got cake!” She repeated, holding out the tray.  I had to pause to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and that what I thought was occurring was really occurring.  I carefully asked, “What are you looking to do with the cake?”  She responded in a jolly voice, “Well, someone needs to eat it! I don’t want to take it home.”  I looked over in wonder at Megan, my fellow Regional Coordinator and admitted chocoholic.  This could not be real.  This complete stranger was offering a huge chocolate cake to two unassuming, chocolate-loving AmeriCorps members in the hallway of a government agency!  Fantastic!  This was a chocolate lover’s dream. 

I was so confused by the encounter because the woman was so nice but politely aggressive about giving us this cake.  This was no store-bought cake, people.  This was the real deal and it smelled delicious!  I was not only caught off-guard by her niceness, I was caught off-guard by the fact that someone would offer me my very favorite (not so healthy) thing to eat.  Usually, when people offer you free stuff, it’s something that you have no real use for like a refrigerator magnet with a letter opener attached to it.

I don’t know if this woman was a mind reader or what.  All I know is that Megan and I had a good chuckle over the woman’s insistence.  I immediately felt less stressed out about the fact that Destination AmeriCorps is only one week away and spent the last hour of my workday being extremely productive.  Sometimes, that’s all it takes: laughter and some chocolate cake.  (I didn’t rhyme on purpose either!)

Tell us about an unexpected surprise that refreshed you after a long workday!

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