This delicious email came to me through friends yesterday. They didn’t know where it came from, but that they too had received it by email. I searched the web and have found this posted many places, and some clear back from 2005, but no references or sources. But the Mom that originally coined this wisdom is extremely wise indeed. So, I pass this along to you as food for thought.
“A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’
‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
So now; ask yourself: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? “
Okay, so how does this relate to a shamanic blog??? My answer is that in my opinion, this is one of the core tenants of shamanic healing. Through the process of shamanic healing and soul retrieval that we get to CHOOSE how we RESPOND to the hand that life deals us. We are the only ones responsible for the outcome.
Sometimes personal responsibility sucks. It would be so much easier to blame someone or something for our present situation, but it truly comes down to whether we react like we always do or make the choice to respond from a place of strength.
Sometimes people I work with have difficulty understanding the difference between reacting and responding. But the difference is huge and once you get the “aha moment” it becomes perfectly clear. When we react, we are simply following the patterns that we have set up over the years, repeating the same behavior. No thought, just action. How many times have we done the “open mouth, insert foot” scenario? This is reacting… speaking or acting without thinking about it. The patterns are so deeply ingrained that we are on autopilot. The worst part is we are acting the same, but always expect the results to be different. Someone told me somewhere along the line that this is the definition of insanity… and I believe it.
So, let’s talk about “responding”. When you respond to a situation, you are making a CHOICE. You are not being triggered by old wounds and patterns and are choosing what to do to achieve the outcome that is most beneficial at the time. Sounds pretty simple, huh? You are acting from a position of strength or from your center, instead of “having your buttons pushed”. Amazingly these choices can come in an instant when we have done our work and are connected to ourselves. Of course, when we choose, then we are then responsible for the outcome. Yup, back to that being responsible for our choices, actions and their outcomes!
Big deep stuff and I honor those who step up to the plate and choose this path.
But to finish quoting that very wise mother …
“When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.”
May we all learn to be COFFEE!!!!!!!
Until next time….
Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),
P.S. Don’t forget, March 15 is the drawing for the book Joyce Sequichie Hifler’s book, A Cherokee Feast of Days: Daily Meditations.
You can enter the drawing in one of two ways. First you can simply send an email to me at
become a fan on our Facebook Page (our Facebook fans are automatically entered in our drawings each quarter.)