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Why I Gave Up Coffee for a Bit

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So I had finally booked all of my Australia trip and was printing out confirmations and attachments when I noticed something shocking: The spa I had booked for two days and really, really wanted to go to listed caffeine as "contraband" and not allowed. WHAT??!! I really had to question myself at that moment. As some of you know, I am a lifelong coffee aficionado (i.e. ADDICT). Was I really willing to give up coffee for the first time in 25 years just for a two-day spa visit? Oh, the headaches!

I've been drinking coffee regularly since I was 16. Black. Always black. I gave it up once when I had my first job in Washington, DC. And after a few weeks my boss told me I needed to start drinking it again. Without caffeine, I had sort of lost any interest in speaking to anyone, basically, and with a job in PR, that really wasn't cool. So I got back on the coffee train, and all was right in my world again for another 25 years. I love my coffee. The morning ritual of it all. The bitter taste. The buzz. It's the rocket fuel that has enabled me to accomplish so much in my life.

Who would I be without coffee? No, seriously, I realized I didn't know who I was as a person without coffee in my life. Would I still be funny sometimes? Would I still be able to run? To write? I realized I needed to know.

So began my monthlong weaning. First to go: the afternoon cup. Two days of headache helped by Advil. Then, I began a gradual decrease of the morning cups: from three to two and a half, down to two, then one and a half. By the last week, I was going inch by inch. The good news? No headaches! The bad news? Those last few days of a few gulps down to one were very unfulfilling. But no headaches.

Who was I then, after coffee? A very tired person. A person who, given freedom, would have taken three naps a day. I was still able to communicate, although with a little less enthusiasm. After a few days, I started to normalize a bit, but life wasn't really normal. After all, I was getting on a flight to Australia (4½ hours to Dallas and 16 hours from Dallas to Brisbane). The morning of my flight I went for my first caffeine-free run. I did it! It was slow, but I think that was more because I hadn't run in a few weeks than anything else.

And then, a funny thing happened. I realized I didn't have to manage my addiction anymore. I didn't have to do complicated time formulas to figure out when I needed caffeine even though it was the middle of the night on Aussie time. I didn't have to worry about waking up in a strange hotel in a strange country and wonder desperately where I was going to get a cup of coffee three hours before anyone else was awake. What a strange new sort of freedom for me!

So here I am, my first morning in Australia. It's 4:30 in the morning here (2:30 in the afternoon in Pennsylvania--coffee time in my old life), and I had a good night's sleep. Instead of venturing out to find coffee in the strange darkness (it's pretty wild here!), I am sitting comfortably in bed writing a blog for all you. It's a lovely sort of freedom!

I still have a day and a half before I get to the spa, clean from all addictions that I am aware of at this time. But the big question I have is whether I'm done for good with coffee. I can't really imagine that possibility. Soon I'll be in Sydney and Melbourne, where the coffee is flowing freely at all times. I mean, can I really come to a new country and not taste its brew? I think there are even coffee plantations near where I am staying right now. I've heard that a "flat white" is a must-have.

I don't know!!! How about if we take a vote? Tell me what I should do! Of course I will always make my own decision, but I'd love to know what you think and get your advice.

G'day! (Still haven't heard anyone say that yet).

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com

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