Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm Grateful For... Coffee

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Betty Smith- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 

After Matthew died, I read a lot of books on grief and loss. Many of the ones that spoke to me the most were on mindfulness. There was something about the way these books talked about paying attention to the present moment that made sense to me, since you never know what the future holds. The idea of gratitude permeates mindfulness thought, and gratitude was what kept surfacing in my own mind. I began to see how the transformational power of grief and loss could work its way into your life on a daily basis, if you let it. 

So today I have my first post in what I'm going to call my "I'm Grateful for..." series. Periodically, I will look at some of the things that may seem ordinary on the surface, but in fact are part of the many little moments that make up my life.

It only seems appropriate to start with one of the first things that occurs during the course of my day: my daily coffee. I have my regular order (double tall split shot Americano with room for half and half). I try to remember to always bring my own cup (just about 70% of the time). The price isn't too bad ($1.73-$1.85, depending on my cup situation). I have a favorite place I buy from (our local market's espresso stand). 
The coffee and the milk are organic. And, most importantly, I have live interactions with the most wonderful baristas who help get my day off to a good start.

Eric, Andora, Kristen and Britany make up the morning crew at our local market. They always greet their customers with a smile, and many times know our orders by heart. Just a note for people who don't live in the Seattle area. Northwesterners have complicated coffee orders, so it's no small feat when I say that these guys have hundreds of orders in their heads. Sometimes the pleasantries are just superficial commentaries on the weather, sometimes authentic interchanges; more often than not, there's laughter involved. There is heartfelt warmth in these exchanges, and I always walk out the door with a smile on my face, ready to meet my day.

Today as you go about your day, take note of some of your little moments and see if it makes a difference in how you view your day. I know that when I do this with genuine intention, I am more attentive and grateful.

So to conclude this post about coffee, here's a fun tribute to our favorite morning beverage by Marge Piercy 

In Praise of Joe
by Marge Piercy 

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,

I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech when I 
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink. 


  1. I would also like to raise my cup to the afternoon crew at T&C, especially Denise and Patti...They were so kind to Hannah, always remembering her special order of an almond hot chocolate with whipped cream at just the right temperature. Now Andrew's a loyal customer there! Thanks for reminding us of the little pleasures and people that make up our day, Robin. XO

  2. Ah, Denise and Patti-the afternoon crew. I know that they too put smiles on the faces of everyone who graces their door.(I sometimes go in then to get a Town & Country mocha--yumm!!) Thanks Reba.

  3. you've hit upon one of the things i dearly miss. The people on BI who you see every day and who know you. It's a beautiful thing. As for mindfulness: i'm completely with you on that. Staying in the present moment, realizing there is no past, there is no future, there is only right now, is the key to truly living. I work to stay in the present, but it can be very hard. Thanks for the post--i read it as I drank my coffee, which my boyfriend makes me every morning! xoxo

  4. Yes, the beauty of living in a small town becomes particularly evident when you go through something like our family did. You feel held, even by people you barely know. I like the idea of Kenji making you coffee every morning, Mary. ;-)

  5. In our climate, a hot "cuppa Joe" is a welcome gift in the morning. I'm partial to our local Grounds for Change brand, and agree with you that the folks at T&C are wonderful!

  6. Yes--Mindfulness--Attention to the moment, a release from needing to know what comes next. Now listening to the rain splatter on the roof and windows, the thunder roar in the distance, I am grateful for my warm, dry house. In the mornings, I go to Yoga (after my coffee) where I have learned to breathe deeply through all parts of myself...It never fails me. I am so grateful for a body that cooperates, grateful for the teachers who lead me through. Having grieved, my gratitude is deep. Thank you, Robin, for reminding me...XO