57: Living Our Dreams

57: Living Our Dreams

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Living Our Dreams

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.

~Bruce Barton

By eighth grade, I still didn’t know how to read. Putting a sentence together seemed like an impossible feat. My teachers gave up on me, writing me off as lazy or just plain stupid. I was told that I would never amount to anything, that I would end up living in a cardboard box and eating garbage for the rest of my life. I’m sure this was an attempt to scare me into trying harder, but all it did was add to my already horrible self-image.

Finally, while watching a movie about a boy who had dyslexia, I figured out what was wrong with me. I wasn’t stupid after all! I just saw things differently from everyone else. All I had to do was train my brain to adjust what I saw, to the way the rest of the world reads. I saw all the symmetrical letters normally but I saw all the asymmetrical letters backwards. It was like going through life where everyone knew the secret code, and then suddenly figuring out the code on your own. It took me a few years to get used to it. Even now, in high stress situations, I still make mistakes.

By high school, I started working as a barista at Clarence Center Coffee Co. I thought it would be a cool, laid-back summer job. Boy was I wrong! The owner had traveled all over the world studying coffee, and she was going to make sure her baristas knew their stuff. We were given reading assignments and expected to pass weekly tests to keep our jobs! I was afraid my teachers were right. I would be fired from my first job because of my horrible reading comprehension.

Somehow I managed to pass her tests. Reading about coffee wasn’t hard because I was interested in the topic! A few weeks later, I realized that I was the only one left from the original employees. For once I was good at something. It hit me one day while wiping down a table. “I could do this for the rest of my life and be completely happy!” I said to myself.

For the first time in my life, I set a goal for myself. I was going to own a coffee shop. Most people laughed at my pipe dream. I was used to being laughed at so I didn’t care. I was going to accomplish this, or die trying.

At that time, the Internet started to become more accessible. Now that I knew how to read, I could search for anything I wanted! I noticed a hunger for knowledge begin to grow in my soul, specifically for coffee. Now that I knew how to read, I could go to college! That seemed impossible before. What would I major in? In 1998, the closest major to coffee shop management was hotel restaurant management. I applied to five colleges that offered the major, and I got into every college I applied to!

While attending Niagara University, I met my amazing husband. He had a dream of his own. He wanted to be a professional firefighter. He understood my passion and we supported each other at working toward our dreams.

As I went out for dinner or coffee with friends, they saw my attention to detail as I observed the quality and service experience. Most encouraged me to write, but I brushed them off. The thought of writing was impossible, especially the thought of being published!

By age twenty-six, I had an amazing job as a general manager running three hotel properties. My husband was the well-respected owner of a security company specializing in custom camera systems. We had a beautiful home, with the latest furnishings and electronics, drove fancy cars, dined at the finest restaurants, traveled frequently to exotic places, and all of our bills were paid!

Despite all of that, we were both miserable. We had become complacent. We were stuck in a lifestyle that lived up to everyone else’s expectations, but not ours. Worst of all, we had given up on our dreams.

Spontaneously, we gave up everything we knew. My husband sold his business, I quit my job, and we moved to a different city to pursue our dreams.

Currently, we are the proud owners of Café Roche Espresso Bar in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My husband is a firefighter for the busiest fire department in the Department of Defense.

After years of trying without success, within a year of our move, we were blessed with the birth of our first child and we are currently expecting another. Our dreams have come true, and we couldn’t be happier.

I was asked to write for Fresh Cup Magazine, an international coffee publication! The fact that I am now respected among my peers as an industry expert, or that I could be published in an international trade publication, is beyond my wildest dreams.

~Sarah C. Hummell

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