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  • Writer's pictureLisa Blair Fratzke

It just happens

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

No one plans to spill a Hot Americano. It just happens.

On a Thursday morning I found myself staring down at my car seat, splattered in dark brown stains with the piping hot Americano in my right hand. Then the pain kicked in from the heat. It seared down my leg and onto my right hand. I quickly pulled my coffee-soaked dress off my leg in the parking lot of Starbucks and assessed the damage on my arm.

For a flash, frustration filled my mind. Why would Starbucks make their drinks so hot?! Don’t they know this is a safety hazard. Who knew that a morning cup of coffee could be so dangerous. Maybe we do know deep down. Maybe that’s why we come here. We wake up in the morning and order a grande cup of risk with room for cream.

I was going to be late for work, this I knew. I quickly readjusted my morning plan and drove back home with a beach towel in my car seat to dress my wounds. I calmly wiped the Americano from my dress and sweater and applied wet towels on my leg and arm.

I decided to wear the dress anyway. And then, I went to work.


I’m learning that I’m a minimizer. I have a partner at work right now that is a maximizer. They want to do as much work as possible, even if it is not needed. It takes them an essay to share something that could be fixed in three words. And, that’s okay. We are all different.

I have always been about pairing life and what matters down to the bare essentials – what is the truth of this moment? What really matters? What are you trying to say and how can I help you say it in the least amount of words possible?

When I told my coworkers and friends about the Hot Americano spill, they reacted in horror. I did not understand. I took care of it. I couldn’t help the red spot on my hand and the blisters on my leg. They would just have to heal and that would take time. Being upset or angry at Starbucks wouldn’t help.

Did it hurt when it happened? Yes. But I don’t remember the pain as much as I remember the precious moments I had to spend taking care of myself instead of doing what I really wanted to do.

Get to work on time.


For the past few years, I’ve been on a journey to let myself feel the pain of the things that burn. I’ve been learning that being a minimizer isn’t helpful. I had a realization a few months ago that I’m really good at pain management. What I’m not so good at sometimes is joy management.

Minimizers are great at dealing with pain because it’s something we want less of. The problem with being a minimizer is that it applies to everything: Joy. Love. Peace. Hope. Minimizers live life in small portions and call it “enough.”

I don’t think we need to exaggerate pain or joy, we just need to feel it for what it is. Brené Brown, a storyteller and researcher, has been my mentor during this process. Brené is all about feeling the feelings, the good and the bad.

I was talking to a good friend who lost her husband a few years ago, and she said one of the worst things that people could say to her was: When are you going to get over it? She said, “I don’t want to get over it. I don’t want to forget the life we had together.” She said that she still thinks about calling him when something funny or important happens. And, it’s something she doesn’t want to lose.

That's the beauty of life. It's made of these everyday moments that can’t be minimized or forgotten. Moments that loom large because of the meaning and impact they’ve had on us. Every so often, in the middle of those moments, we’re going to spill the Hot Americano.  It just happens.


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