For The Love Of Coffee

As a writer/blogger/lover of words I spend time reading in a variety of formats. I love getting lost in a good book when I can but often I’m on the go so my phone offers opportunities to access many interesting things to read.

As in… I started reading an article one day by a local girl who has a blog. She was writing about local coffee shops.

Coffee. Well she had my attention. Tell me more.

love coffee

 

As she opened up her post about the local shops she then backhandedly said she left out Starbucks ’cause we all know what that’s about. ( big chain coffee shop, no explanation needed, I guess)

I’m not unfamiliar with all the small local places. In fact last year when our Starbucks ( you are welcome for all the free advertisement here 😉 ) was under renovation I did my own independent coffee shop field trips.

Some standard. Some cool. Some eclectic. Some had great coffee, others not so impressive.

Her article addressed not just the coffee but the people in the shops and the staff who worked there.

I thought the article interesting as she listed various places and shared about the coffee and food she had tried.

I guess I understand how she might have not viewed Starbucks ( large mega coffee chain) as interesting, fun, or engaging as a local quaint spot. I have friends who frequently dismiss Starbucks as unworthy of patronage or attention.

I think she missed out not learning about our Starbucks. I think many local people miss the point too when they mock “big corporation coffee”.

Sometimes, it’s just not about the coffee.

Oh don’t misunderstand me here. I do love the coffee. Hot or cold I’ll take it.

Starbucks is mainly, convenient for me. But in the years I’ve been hanging out there the coffee is sometimes just an added bonus to the relationships that I’ve built with those who are there whether they are the baristas or the customers.

In a previous post I wrote for National Coffee Day https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/09/30/celebrating-coffee/  I talk about some of the people I’ve met and the encounters I’ve had.

Coffee and meeting people, engaging with other lives. It’s a rewarding experience.

The baristas I come to really care for and I hate it when they leave. I’m fortunate to keep up with so many of them after they head off to new adventures. I get to see them get married or start families, finish school or follow along with their life. Sometimes, my heart hurts for pain, struggles and loss they go through.

Then there are the familiar faces, the regulars, who are there. Ones you come to expect at certain times and who are there for various reasons. In the mornings it can be like a big family meeting with everyone hanging out for morning coffee.

Of course there are the random strangers that I get to have one time conversations with and that’s ok too. I often learn a lot about someone in a short time.. just a glimpse into another life.

One man that I wrote about in my last coffee post, an older man, who was old enough to be my dad, was one of the regulars I probably knew the longest there. He often asked me about my athletic shenanigans admiring me for what I did, challenging me when I needed challenged and wanting to see my medals after I had finished a race. He was one of the few people at the time who knew I was considering running a 50K.

I remember telling him ” it’s just such a long race. It scares me to think of doing it”  he simply told me ” you can do it. Think of all you’ve done. Now you just need to get signed up. I want you to tell me you did the next time I see you.”

And the next time I saw him, I had registered.

He would ask about me and my family and I would tease him about not chasing wild women to which he’d laugh. I’d ask him if he was sure he didn’t want to go for a ride in my Charger and see how many seconds it took to get it from 0-60 mph… for some reason he always passed on that offer haha

Over the past few years he’s been up and down with health issues and we’ve all celebrated when he’d be back in for coffee in “his” chair having his iced coffee and bagel with cream cheese.

He was like the Patriarch of the place.

I was leaving one Sunday the week before Christmas when one of the men who took turns bringing him stopped me in the parking lot and delivered the news to me.

He had passed away that morning in his home.

I was heart broken. I had just seen him the day before. The tears freely fell as I thought of him and the fact he would never be in his place there anymore. I cried at the loss of another older person I cared for now being gone.

I still see him sitting there in my mind when I go in for my coffee and feel that sharp pain in my chest. I guess in time, that will go away.  I will always cherish his sweet spirit and loving attitude to not just me, but everyone he encountered there.

So maybe that’s what I would say to not only the girl writing about coffee shops but to those who dismiss it as big corporate coffee.

It’s not “just” the coffee. It’s about the people who come there to drink it, whose lives begin to engage with yours who somehow make it richer in different ways and add to it from your ordinary world. People you might not have otherwise known who offer wisdom, friendship, encouragement, laughter, and most recently for many of us, grieving together over the loss of our friend.

The coffee is great, but the gift of relationships and a richer life is often, far more satisfying.

 

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Where I enjoy writing and having a cup ( or two!) of coffee at my home away from home 😉
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Celebrating Coffee

coffee words

This is a day late…but whatever… I never like following the rules anyway.

Yesterday was National Coffee Day so I’m going to give a nod to it and say of all beverages… doesn’t it deserve a special day of recognition ?

Those who know me, know and understand it helps operate me on a daily basis, hopefully on a high level 😉

I’m an easy to please no frills kinda girl with my coffee….I like it bold and black.

My day starts early and I am a happy camper to have a coffee pot that can be set to brew coffee before I roll outta bed. I mean really, to slowly be coming to life and smell it waiting for you ?

Ah… one of the 7th wonders of the world… glorious….

Stumble out… beady eyed… messy hair… find fav big cup… pour…. breath in…. and you begin to be infused with….life….

coffee victory

Once it brings me to life and my day is going, it is almost inevitable that later morning I’ll be making a stop at my fav coffee shop, Starbucks.

Now if you have issues with “the corporation” over something… don’t blow me up…. I do enjoy the coffee and since I drink it black it’s the 1) cheapest and 2) zero calories to the desserts in a cup they serve up as drinks.

I’ve been hanging out there for years now. And there is something ….soothing on a day that’s yucky and cold… or has been stressful… and grabbing a cup… and breathing it in… and all the sudden… the world feels upright 😉

But I figured out a long time ago as much as I love the coffee, I love the people who are there.

You may or may not have figured this out from me, but I’m very… social. That’s a gift, right ? haha

So over the years I’ve built friendships with people who work there and people who hang out there… the regulars if you wanna call them that… I guess I am too. One of the young girls who worked there recently caught me on her last day and hugged me and said…

“you’re our favorite regular here…”  aww that made me happy =)

Ok… the baristas. Hard working, most of them youngish, often in school, and full of ideas and new dreams. I love getting to know them and make a point to connect with the new ones who show up. I love their energy and for some reason they think I’m cool. It’s a win/win thing.

I’ve had times of hanging out with some of them and having some really good conversations. Or listening to their struggles or whatever they were currently up to.  They are often hard worked and sadly, can be treated badly by people. I try and bring them homemade treats at random times to let them know I appreciate them and their work. They know what I like and often have it waiting for me by the time I get in the door. I often hang out and read or write and they just let me make myself at home.

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And when they love you they write on your cup =)

The regulars. The ones who are there predictably at the same times, in the same places. There are a group of guys who hold down one corner and they always are wanting to know about my running and what’s going on athletically. One gives me weather reports when I tell him my run days. Another is an older man who could be my dads age. He want to know if I’m over my running injury yet, or if I ran or cycled that morning. He was the one who kept asking me and encouraging me when I had confided in him I was toying with a 50K race earlier this year. He told me he was proud of me when I finally signed up. He is a sweet man who’s wife passed away a couple years ago. The entire place has kinda claimed him as “family”.

One older man has been a runner for years and has done countless marathons. I met him before I ran my first one and I shamelessly picked his brain for training ideas. None of them seem phased when I come cruising in my athletic clothes, no make up and sweaty from a long run. Many times they will offer to buy my coffee.  Several of them think I’m crazy for doing what I do… but they admire me for it.

They all make an interesting group of individuals. Of course there are the friends I know and run into while I’m there OR my favorite, a total stranger that I can have an interesting conversation with.

No… I didn’t listen to my mommy when she said not to talk to strangers 😉

My favorite place is to be on the patio on a perfect day, reading or writing, and watching the world go by. It’s my favorite escape activity…. all the while enjoying coffee too….

I mean, is there a time when coffee isn’t a perfect accessory to daily activities ?

So, here’s to the designated coffee day, although I personally embrace and celebrate it each day 😉

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This is my kinda coffee cup….

What about you ? Are you a coffee drinker? If so, do you have habits or rituals you do with it ?

Things My Mom Taught Me

My mom passed away last year in the early morning hours of April 24, 2014. I won’t ever forget the day she quietly stepped out of this world as it was also my daughters 16th birthday.

I miss her.

I miss her sometimes in ways that crush my chest and leave me feeling breathless. There are moments I still can’t believe she isn’t with me. Grief is a weird animal and yet, another blog I have yet to write on. I think perhaps, in a way, I’m still kind of afraid to sit down and write about it. I don’t like pain but I also understand there is healing in pain too.

Ah well dear reader in another moment I will feel up to tackling that topic because I know there isn’t a person on this big planet who won’t walk through the avenue of grief at some point in time.

But for now… for this post… I’m reflecting on things my Mom taught me. Maybe in a way, some type of tribute to her for what she invested into me and my life.

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Circa…. mid teen’s…….

Her first born and only daughter ( my brother would come along 15 months later) we shared a close bond and enjoyed many similar things. She was always proud of me and supported me in everything I did. I can’t tell you the times I’d show up at the hospital and some member of the hospital staff  (whom I’d never met) would see me and say… “you’re that marathon runner, aren’t you?” My mom had pics of me running hanging in her room and she took every opportunity to tell a new victim  person about my activities.

Marathon running ( and training) of course requires a tremendous amount of strength, physically and mentally. I learned a lot about being strong from my mom.  I am grateful in the last few months of her life I was able to recognize that strength in her in a new way and see how I had been blessed to have that as a part of my makeup. I don’t mean strong physically, although I am, I mean the deep strength of a woman who goes through difficulties and can stand under them. One who learns to move through the storm and grow in the process. A woman who chooses to keep seeing good and joy even in the face of hardship and difficulties.

A woman who makes a choice to fight back and not curl up and die. Strength. My mom embodied that and I’m grateful to be molded in a similar way.

Moving into fall and the approaching holidays makes me miss her more acutely ( I encountered this last year) the changing of seasons and upcoming festivities reminds me how much she loved and embraced all activities from now through New Years.

I’ve missed her enthusiasm and planning of dinners and activities. The plotting of menus. The brainstorming over gift ideas. She approached the “holiday season” with a childlike enthusiasm.

So I’ll start with this… she put a love in me for all things holiday. With the first crisp of fall air pumpkins, scarecrows and her homemade pumpkin bread showed up. Thanksgiving was always accompanied with some new recipe she wanted to try and her “gifting” was to deliver pies to suit every tastes for each person who would be there.  When I say they dragged like, 12 homemade pies over to my home, I’m not exaggerating. Last year her gifting was sorely missed. I bake but don’t put the spread of pies out like she loved to do.

Christmas? Oh my goodness. It was a time to bless not only her family, but anyone in need she could find. Christmas was (is) about giving, sharing and family. She baked goodies to share with everyone she had connections with. Our home was always decked out ( no wonder I’ve grown up and my home is always all dressed up. Imagine my shock when I learned not everyone went through such effort to celebrate)

Special cookies. Stockings gently used from years of being hung with care. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival.  Putting cookies out. Late night Christmas eve service. The picking of just the “perfect” tree. ( to this day… I want a big one. I have 12ft ceilings so why not ??) The lights. Evergreen. The Nativity set carefully arranged honoring Christ’s birth. The old cardboard village with the ( lead!)  Barclay Santa and skaters nestled around it (this is my FAVORITE Christmas display which I’ll share in another post) Every area with something tucked into it.

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Mom and I our last Christmas together December 2013

My kids have grown up loving it and their friends have viewed it as going to a Christmas shop at times 😉 It makes the work all worth while. There’s something magical…. and that is the thing I guess my mom ( and grandmother) gave to me and I’m glad to give it to others.

I do so many similar things… traditions. Traditions that now my grown children want to do… there is something satisfying in that. Traditions involve family and a sharing of events that have been passed along from each generation.

She taught me how to invest into my family, my husband, to cook, bake, sew, keep a home, artfully arrange flowers, and make beautiful things. To be a cheerleader and encourager. I learned a Mom keeps things spinning.

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My wedding, 31 years ago. Can I mention, she made my amazing dress? And did my flowers ?

Random things were meant to be celebrated. A good report card? It was Friday? Nailed a new job ? Successful on a test or something challenging? Whatever… there were simple moments that were worth something celebratory.

She modeled loving sacrificially in marriage. She went through many difficult things with my dad, one of the biggest was his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few years ago. She would share some things with me about dealing with him but as a mom, I know, sheltered me. Since I’ve had the responsibility of caring for him in this last year I see some of what she dealt with and feel bad I didn’t really understand to offer her more support in the difficulty of what she dealt with.

She taught me as a mom, that a mothers love is bottomless and that no matter what she was always there. Even in her last days she was concerned about some difficulties I was currently going through and insisted I talk about it. I miss being able to share those things with her.

She taught me how to love and be loving. How to give freely and from whatever I have.  To be generous and selfless. To be kind to others.  I learned to be content with what I have because if you aren’t content, then you are ungrateful for all you do have. I learned about working hard for what you want and not having an attitude of expecting to have things handed to you.

She told me about God and faithfully took me to church. She put me in a place that in the years to come would allow me to move into my own relationship with Him. She taught me how to love and trust Him.

She taught me to embrace life and that every single day we are given is a pure, sweet gift. She encouraged me to see the beauty of the world around me and always pointed me to the fact we had a Creator who had fashioned all we see.

On being a woman… she taught me things that I value so much now….

How to be a lady. To act classy. To stand up straight ( in my …younger years… I hadn’t embraced or become confident in my 6’0 frame and sometimes tended to…slouch) I’m grateful I learned how to carry myself with confidence thanks to her “encouragement” 😉

She taught me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments and to always keep trying no matter what.

I was raised to be polite, courteous, and respectful.  On the flip side, I was also taught to stand up for myself and take nothing off of anyone.

I learned how to use makeup so I enhanced my looks without ( in her words) “looking like a clown”. I was schooled in the wearing of high heels so I didn’t “clop along like a girl who fell off a tractor” haha (My mom always had some lovely visual illustration to use)

let me tell you… today….I can rock a pair of high heels like no ones business… thanks mom…..

She often reminded me that being a woman, wife, and mother required some time to step away for myself and that was an ok thing to do.

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A Sunday afternoon hanging out. Me most definitely pre-transformation days…

My mom was an amazing,strong, passionate, loving, generous and giving woman. I’m so blessed to have had her and her influence for almost 50 years of my life.

I do miss her tremendously. However, if somehow, I can carry on and share the things she taught me, her life will continue to live on as well.

And hey… if you still have your mom.. right now… call and tell her you love her and thank her for what she’s taught you.