Drama at the cafe … a tale of self expression.


We’re sitting in front of one of the legendary Italian eateries in my neighbourhood, eating our legendary Paninis on a sidewalk table. Next door is a café. An independent, run by two generations of Italians.

A woman with a baby slung across her chest is sitting down drinking her coffee—from, ahem, the international coffee franchise across the street.

As we bite into our sandwiches, we realize that we have ring-side seats to a midway argument. Junior Italian comes out and says, “Listen Lady, you can’t sit here, I already told you.” He’s forceful. My kid looks at me with saucer-sized eyes that say, He’s yelling at a lady with a baby! Her back is straight, her feet are firmly planted next to her wilted grocery bags. “I don’t have to move and you can’t make me.” She replies. She looks over him, like he’s invisible, and defies him with a slow sip of coffee — out of the international coffee retailer’s cup.

Jnr. Italian theatrically removes the chairs from around her, pushes a table away from her. The metal grinds against the cement. I stop eating. This could get bad.

Then Senior Italian comes out. And he yells at her. “You can’ta sita here a- lady. You buy a coffee from here or you a-go.”

“I’ll go when I’m done.” She says. He curses. Goes back into the café. She’s strong when he’s there, but when he walks away, she takes a deep inhale. She’s determined not to crack. My heart is aching for the baby who is acting as an energy shield between the mom and the Italians. I send the baby light.

Another round of arguing ensues. Jnr. Italian comes back out to make a very loud point. She says, “Look, it’s public property and I can sit here.” It’s actually not public property. And they actually do have a right to ask her to leave.

Next come the Community Police. By the time they arrive, she’s done with her coffee and is packing up to go. Moot point.


We finish our paninis. My heart rate subsides and I announce, “I’m going in there to say something to that guy.” My kid: “You are?!” Amazed, like I just put on my bullet proof bangles. If I back out now, my kid will think my super powers have weakened. I have to go through with it.

I walk into the café and Senior Italian is sharing an espresso with a customer. He’s one of those silver-haired, tanned, older gentlemen. Handsome. He sees me coming and he seems to sense that I’m not here for a cappuccino.

I’m a bit nervous. My tone is soft, “About what just happened out there with that lady … ” I touch his arm, because I’m like that, always affectionate when it’s okay to be. “Look, she was wrong, and you were right. It’s tacky to bring someone else’s coffee into this establishment.” He nods, solid, proudly in agreement. “But you know, man,” I go on, “you treated her like shit and that was so not cool.”

Amazingly, he’s not defensive. He’s more… curious. Conversational. “I was a-nice to her at first. But she was a-rude.” He points out.

“Who cares if she was rude. She was carrying a new baby — who got caught in the middle of all that, by the way, and she’s probably exhausted. You coulda just let it go, ya know.” I’m still really uncomfortable but I’m in it now.

Raises his eyebrow. “So you think she was a-wrong and I was a-right?” He wants to verify this before he makes his next move.

“Totally. But you could have been The Bigger Guy. Did it feel good to yell at her like that – in front of all of us – because that was really upsetting.”

“No, it felt like shit. I don’t wanna do that to a-nobody.”

Time to crack a joke: “Well you won’t have to do that again because she won’t be coming back here for a coffee!” We laughed together.

We smile. Maybe we’re agreeing to disagree but we’re not fighting. He nods with respect. I nod with respect. The match is over. Curtain closes.


You know what gave me the moxie to speak up? The countless other times that I didn’t speak up. When I let someone yell at someone else on the bus. Or witnessed rudeness in a restaurant. I’ll never forget the time I stood by and watched a teacher humiliate a fellow student. All those times when I walked away wishing I had the nerve.

When you speak up as a habit, you start to realize that you don’t need to have a result in mind to step forward. If you make it about winning, you’re less likely to stick your neck out.

It’s not about wrong-making or right-doing, but the space in between that we connect to each other.
Self expression is motive enough to speak out.

Say what your Soul needs to say.


related posts

What’s underneath wishful thinking?

Wishful thinking is tangled up with craving. We want what we want. So we ignore the evidence that we’re very likely not going to get what we want out of a situation. Craving… wishing. Craving… denial. Craving… tolerating. It’s a wishous cycle.


Don’t worry about being invited back. My Manifesto for Creativity.

Meaningfulness. Reveal myself. Be compassionate. Don’t worry about being invited back. Go there. xo. I jotted this down when I began writing my book. I wanted a manifesto and it had to happen quickly because…I had a book to write.


Life is what happens on the way to the finish line.

If you’re not loving what it feels like between your various life destinations, then get off the ride. Burn the itinerary. Fuck “motivation” and be still long enough to find your inspiration.


Let the Love in. Because, “It’s an honour to help you.”

I was in a spiritual tizzy — that’s an esoteric term for 80% emotions-running-wild, and 20% having faith that everything will work out. I can’t remember what it was over (probably divorce papers, or a publishing contract, or buying a house. But it involved documents and beaucoup emotion.)


What to do after you have a breakthrough. (You’re going to shrink after you expand, so, listen closely.)

Threshold, crossed. You got there. After the grinding, the repetitive strain, the cord-cutting, the screams of release, the bliss of relief — the training paid off. Muscle burn got you across the finish line. Soul fire resurrected you. BREAKTHROUGH.


Why jerks show up in your life.

We attract jerks to burn karma — old agreements to be broken in current time, vows to be rescinded, slates to be wiped clean. We attract jerks for contrast — jerks show us what deception and manipulation feels like. They show us how we DON’T want to feel — which is excellent intel for knowing how we DO want to feel.

Featured @2x 456x456 (20)

The epidemic of the brittle woman and the salvation of softness

You know her. Maybe you are her. Or you were. Sisters, please don’t become her. Sisters (and brothers), let’s heal her. She’s giving up on love and life. Sometime, as a result of having to try too hard to get her very essential Soul needs met she… just… got… worn…down. She had no choice but to stiffen. Then she realized that she had a choice.

Featured @2x 456x456 (19)

5 pointers for developing freedom-based creativity & work habits. Which is to say, you’ve got to dissolve guilt and rock your own rhythm.

A note on CREATIVE FLOW…. I’m “working” today. Wasn’t planning on it. It’s a sunny, gorgeous Vancouver Sunday. But since my kid is running around the block with his neighbour buddies, I’m using this time to write, respond, vision.

456x456-Are you hanging by a thread?

Are you hanging by a thread?

It’s hard. It’s wrenching. It’s incredibly painful and it’s difficult to feel lightness. Or to see clearly. Hanging by a thread can be really disorienting. What you’re going through undeniably sucks. It may be hard to believe right now, but not only will it be okay, not only will you get through and over this, you will thrive again…

456x456-in praise of women- magnificent, spacious, fiery witnesses

in praise of women: magnificent, spacious, fiery witnesses

I often hear “women are our own worst enemies” in terms of our culture. I’m tired of that argument. I think everyone is their own worst enemy, and I don’t think it’s about something women have specifically against each other.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This