Living the Dream

We all have a dream.  It is what makes us get out of bed in the morning, it is what keeps us going through the hard times; that hope, that belief that one day, someday, our life will be different.  We all dream of a better life where there is no pain, no struggle, no hardship…but what if you have found your dream and there is still pain, there is still struggle and there is still hardship?  Does achieving your dream really mean that you get to coast for the rest of your life?  And really, what does “living the dream” actually mean?

I am a romantic; a visionary.  I dream a lot of dreams and see visions of the future as if they were real, but the reality of achieving those dreams and realising those visions is not what I’d imagined.  The work doesn’t stop when you achieve your goal, when you hold that dream in your hands, in reality, the work has only just begun.

This happens to me time and again.  I work toward my dream, I sacrifice and suffer for my dream.  I work through all the obstacles with my faith and hope intact until finally, finally, I have it in my hand and I am left bewildered, astounded and a little miffed.  This dream, this vision that I have worked and strived for that was supposed to make my life easier has totally exploded in my face.  I have achieved my goal, but instead of feeling like I have won the race, I feel like the race has only just begun.

You see, all that striving, all that sacrifice and suffering that I lived through and persevered through to reach my dream…that was all just training.

In the past when I have reached this point I have given up.  I have looked at the reality of the dream and have wondered where I went wrong.  This wasn’t what it looked like in my vision.  In my vision, when I had achieved my goal, it would be all smooth sailing and it isn’t, so, that must mean this isn’t my dream.  I have been side tracked somewhere along the way and although this looks like my dream, it mustn’t be it because if this was my dream it wouldn’t be so hard!

What I am now starting to realise is that achieving your goals and reaching your dreams does not mean the end of the struggle.  All that went before, all that pain and suffering and training is just preparation for living your dream.

My son is a runner.  He has a dream to run a marathon.  He trains every day…he runs every day.  He has spent months running.  He tries to run further every day and he tries to do it in a shorter amount of time every day.  He is continually pushing himself past pain and struggle to train his body and his mind for the marathon.  When he finally stands on the starting line for that marathon he will have achieved his dream…but to live that dream he is going to have to put his body through more pain and more struggle than he ever had to while he was training.  Achieving the dream is not enough, he needs to live the dream; run the marathon and reach the finish line.

Living the dream is hard.  We see friends post on Facebook that they are ‘living the dream’ when in reality, they are on a holiday or it is a snapshot of a moment where they feel an accomplishment.  That is not living the dream; that is enjoying the dream.  Living your dreams is about getting your hands dirty; rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.  It is not easy and it is not always fun but…there are moments, sometimes only rare glimpses when you feel that this is what you were put on earth to do.

So many dreams are aborted too early because of the pain and struggle it takes to achieve them.  Other dreams are abandoned just after they are finally born because the reality of the dream did not match the vision of the dream.  Like a mother giving birth, the pain of the labour is soon forgotten when you hold the baby in your arms.  For that moment all the struggle has been forgotten as you look at the miracle that you hold.  But that is just a moment.  The reality of having a child is very different.  There is still pain and struggle and heartache as you rear that child.  Living your dream is the same…there is more work to do, not less.  There are more obstacles to overcome and holding onto to your faith and your hope is more important than ever.

As I write this, I am living my dream and I am realising that it is really, really hard.  There are moments when I feel accomplished and fulfilled, but there are still times when I feel completely overwhelmed and inadequately equipped.  There are days that I ponder the saying ‘be careful of what you wish for’ and then there are days when I can’t imagine doing anything else.  There is a constant tension, a pulling in opposite directions and a very fine line between success and failure.  Living your dream means making hard decision, it means growing as a person, it means doing things that scare you.

Living the dream is not rainbows and lollipops, sometimes it is more rain than rainbows and more cavities than lollipops, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.  Yes, living the dream is hard work but what would you rather do?  Living someone else’s dream is harder and living with no dream at all is even worse.  Yes, living the dream is hard, dirty, sometimes frustrating, heartbreaking and tough, but when you hold that baby in your arms and look into his adoring eyes, even if the house is a mess and you haven’t showered in days, it all melts away when you realise that you are, in fact, living your dream.

Photo Credit: iStock

The Third Day

31 Days of Blogging – Day 3

Today was an RDO! Yay! A day off, a day to sleep in, a day to do whatever I want…well to some degree anyway.  Gavin and I always try to have at least one day off a week together and today was that day.

I woke up at 4:30am…my body clock doesn’t know what an RDO is.  I snoozed for a bit and checked Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest on my phone for a bit and I researched some recipes for a bit and then at about 5:50am I got out of bed and headed downstairs to my computer.  Although it is a day off, I still had some work to do…not much though.  We had to drop some supplies into each shop (all that Coldbrew that I made yesterday) and decided that we may as well have breakfast at one of them while we were there and before our 9:15am appointment.

The staff working hard

The staff working hard

Before we could leave though, I needed to do some printing.  I had to print some new price tags for a couple of new salads we had started at Panino and I also had to do, what I call, “build lists” for these new salads.  Build lists are what we use to create the items on our menus.  If you walk into either of our cafes’ kitchens you will find the walls plastered with our build lists.  Every item on our menu has a build list and it is a step by step process on how to “build” a particular item.  They are similar to recipes but are set out in such a way that you can read and build as you go.  We do it so everyone knows how to make any new items, so that there is consistency in everything we produce, so that new people can learn quickly and so that there is a specific process for everything we do for efficiency and accuracy.  Sounds OCD doesn’t it, but it means that we can have confidence to know that when we are not there, things are getting done the way we want them done.  I am very passionate about my brand and the way a menu item is made and presented helps to create and maintain our brand.  There is nothing worse than going to a cafe everyday and ordering the same thing and each time it comes out different.  Having comprehensive build lists goes a long way to preventing this.

Light Start


After finishing my printing and laminating, we loaded the car with Coldbrew and headed out at about 7am.  We headed to Fresh first and I had a chat with our coffee supplier, Craig.  Great guy and always gives us great service.  He was working out a way for us to save money on our coffee cups (what supplier would do that???) and let me know that last week Panino had gone through 30 kilos of coffee beans.  I knew we had gone through a lot, but that was incredible!  We normally average about 15 kilos, so we had doubled the amount of coffee we normally sell.  So amazing, I’m still floored by it.

After saying hello and goodbye to our staff we headed to Panino for breakfast.  We have recently updated our menu for summer and we added a new breakfast item called “Light Start”.  It is a toasted ciabatta with ricotta, rocket and fresh tomato…I am a little bit obsessed with it and it has become my favourite breakfast to have on my day off.

After breakfast we had a few minutes to kill, so we headed for Alex hill to take in the scenery.  Living in such a beautiful place means that you sometimes take it for granted and don’t take time to enjoy it.

The view from Alex

The view from Alex

After our little moment to enjoy paradise, we headed off to our 9:15am appointment.  We have a standing appointment every week that is probably the only reason we can keep up the pace of our busy lifestyle.  It may seem extravagant to some, but to us it is a necessity…it keeps us sane.  We have a guy…I don’t quite know how to explain what he does.  We say that it is a massage, but it is not like any massage you would normally get.  It is a treatment that comes from a tradition of treating martial arts and other sports related injuries

these robust treatments have evolved as an effective means of healing and returning martial artists back into the training and fighting arena.

I am fond of saying that I need these treatments due to the high level of martial arts that I am involved in (tongue in cheek of course).  We have been seeing him for about three years and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my weekly treatment. (If you are interested, check him out Joost’s Sports Injury Clinic)

Gavin receiving his treatment

Gavin receiving his treatment

With our bodies realigned we headed home.  My car temp gauge said it was 33 ºc so we decided to head straight home and put our feet up.  That’s what we did 🙂 We spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv and reading and napping (except for the bit were we had to do the rosters for next week which takes a couple of hours) and then we headed down to the pool for a well deserved swim.  That was day 3.


The pool

Work Life Balance – A Business Owners Unicorn


It has been quite a while since I last blogged. It is not because I have been on a technology fast or that I have lost interest but rather a lack of time and energy.

I live a busy life, as most people do these days.  With my husband, we own two cafes which trade seven days a week, we both work long hours and time seems to run away from us.  The past year is a blur and although we love what we do, having a successful work life balance seems to be elusive.  As my friends (what few actual friends I still have) will attest to, I don’t have a social life.  What little social life I do have consists of Facebook statuses and Instagram posts.  For those opponents of social media, I say to you, without it I wouldn’t have a social life at all.

My day generally starts at 4am (I don’t use an alarm clock, my body has adjusted to automatically wake up at this time regardless of if it is a work day or not).  I get up and dress and am at work by 5am where I start the day by making two batches of my famous muffins.  While they’re in the oven, I get my coffee machine ready for our morning caffeine rush.  I open the doors at 6am and greet my customers with a smile.  My day in the shop consists of making coffee, baking, doing food prep and ensuring our sandwich and salad cabinet is stocked and beautiful.  I generally finish in the shop at around 11:30am -12:30pm depending on the trade conditions.  As I leave the shop, I may grab a snack (my first food intake of the day) and jump in my car to move onto the next part of my day.  I know it is unlawful to eat and drink while driving, but if I don’t eat while I drive, then I don’t eat at all.

The next part of my day is usually running errands, doing banking, picking up supplies before heading home at about 1:30pm-2:00pm.  But I am not yet finished my work day.  When I get home, I take a short lunch break and then open my laptop and start working on marketing, menu design, food research and other administration duties.  If you follow me on Pinterest then you know I am obsessed with it, but if you look at my boards, 90% of them are work related.  Although Pinterest is fun, I also see it as an important work tool.  This time at home is time for me to develop plans and opportunities for the future of our business.  I usually work on my laptop until about 6pm when we start dinner (Gavin and I share the cooking duties thankfully).  After dinner I will continue to work on my laptop until about 8:30pm – 9pm when I will head to bed.  That is a typical day when I am working in the shop.  I work in the shop on an average of four days per week (two of which are Saturday and Sunday). I often joke that Monday is my Friday and Friday is my Monday.

I spend another two days in the office doing bookwork.  The administering of two cafes is quite a job and I do employ someone just to do data entry and filing, but that still leaves payroll, bill paying, reconciliations and other administration jobs that I have to do.  I try to limit it to 9am-5pm on those days that I am in the office, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

That leaves my one day off.  Gavin and I try to have a day off together, and most times we manage it.  Unfortunately a day off just means a day that we are not rostered on to work.  There is not an RDO that goes by where we don’t have to do some sort of work-related activity.  At least we get to do it in casual clothes though 🙂

Now, when you look at all of that you might be thinking that I am whinging and if I didn’t want to work hard then I shouldn’t have made the decision to own a business.  Let me just say that I am not whinging.  I take a sort of twisted pride in the fact that I work so hard.  I love what I do.  I have never regretted buying our first cafe and I am always on the lookout for ways to increase what we already do.  The issue for me is not the amount of work I do, but how do I maintain a life outside of work with the hours I keep.

I do love my work, but when you do it week after week, while one part of you is fulfilled, another part of you is going without.  My husband and I rarely go out because we are simply too tired or we have to get up early the next day.  One of our cafes is across the road from the beach and yet I never go there.  I don’t exercise even though I know I should and I haven’t picked up a book in about three weeks (which is extremely unusual for me).  I find it almost impossible to sit in front of the television without my laptop and the majority of conversations I have with Gavin are work related.  I think I am obsessed!

What would my ideal work life balance look like?  Maybe a weekend off here and there.  One night out a month with friends.  A regular date night with my husband.  But mostly I would like to not feel so tired all the time.  I would like to eat three meals a day without having to eat in the car or standing over the sink.  I would like to be able to go to the gym, the beach, the movies and not feel guilty for not working.  I would like to be able to make regular hairdresser appointments instead of ringing up the day before and hoping they have a spare appointment.  These are not big things, but these things are my unicorns.

Unicorns are beautiful and exotic creatures but all folklore agrees that they are elusive.  They are also a myth, as is work life balance for a business owner.  Business owners choose the life they have and there is always a season when work seems to be overwhelming and the small business owner has to decide whether it is all worth it.  I believe it is.  I may not be solving the worlds problems with my two little cafes, but I am making a contribution.  I employ staff, giving them opportunities to work and study and earn money.  I contribute to our local economy and support other local businesses.  I support our tourism industry and most importantly I am teaching my children that following your dreams is hard work, but well worth it.

Until I can find my unicorns I will continue to work hard and remember that I am blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love and when this season is over and my life slows down, I hope all my friends will understand why I was MIA and we can pick up where we left off.

Michelle xxx