Coffee at the Spa

A few years back, it was my first night at the New Age spa. A silver-haired woman sat across from me at the communal dining table; she slipped me something, very sly.

“You’re new here right?” she asked.

“How did you know?”

“You’re wearing a cashmere sweater and pearls. Look around — Everyone else is in sweats.”

I looked around. She was right. I smiled. I could see I was going to like this this place.

“I’m checking out tomorrow morning,” she said. “But you can have my packets. Don’t let anyone know.” She looked around, eyes squinting. I looked at the packet — Sanka.

I went cold turkey for the next couple of days. I never used the packets, but just to remind myself they were there, I’d occasionally tap them in the pocket of my sweats.

Just the idea of coffee comforted me.

Coffee was there for me if I needed it. And I do need it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere have been times my family, friends, colleagues failed me. But not coffee.
Coffee loves me unconditionally.

Studies show that coffee keeps women from depression. The Consumer Report Study on Coffee says Four or more cups a day? Fine, you’ll be 20 percent less likely to be depressed. So, go ahead. Have another cup of coffee. Better yet, have four. I dare you. Yea, try to keep up with me!

Not that I’m competitive. Okay, yes, I am a competitive person. I blame the fact that I have three brothers. I have even found I can be competitive in a spa-like setting – in yoga class or a moment for meditation.

How fast can you get into a meditative zone? Oh, yeah! I can meditate and relax twice as fast.

This summer I went to Kripalu, a wonderful, place. The breakfast is a silent meal. And guess what? I am more silent than anyone. I am also the slowest and quietest eater there.

In this political season, you may hear some politician brag of having good words or the best or hugest plans. Yes, well. I have the best silence. I have a huge mindfulness practice. The hugest.

I have trouble letting go of my competitive drive even while receiving a massage. I am probably the most relaxed person the masseuse has ever laid hands on.

Oh, God, who am I kidding? I am never able to relax. I am so tense. It is from the coffee. Or maybe the chai tea latte. Yes, they serve that at spas now. I had that at the quiet breakfast at Kripalu. I was bursting to tell someone — anyone — “Wow this is some good chai!”

But everyone was so quiet — unlike the old days when we chatted and discreetly passed one another little Sanka packets. Coffee tasted better when it was forbidden.

Still. Coffee’s perfect. With conversation or with quiet. Communal or solitary. The world may bring you down. But coffee and chai and a few days at the spa? They lift you up.

I read this tonite at noson lawen, translated as “happy evening” at the Welsh Church. 

Writing and Coffee

Amy Carr and I started a writing support group on Monday nights. One of our members, the brilliant DeBorah Gray, (“MaMa Dee”) offered this assignment from a writing contest. Use the following words in a piece:

butter, music, coffee, constellation, illumination, window pane.

Here’s what I wrote during last week’s ten minute in-class writing exercise.

There is nothing I like better than coffee, no friend as dear or faithful. Every morning my coffee is there for me. Friends, lovers, or husbands may come and go, but my coffee will remain.

I sometimes whisper to myself, “First sip of the day,” right before I take the first sip of the day.

I feel illuminated, lit from within. I take my pen to paper. I begin to write. I write about three pages long-hand every morning, a la Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. Sometimes I stop writing to stare out the windowpane at the empty, abandoned courtyard outside my kitchen.

I lose my flow. I long for a constellation of meaning. I begin to dread the next task, having to wake the kids. I hate, hate, hate having to rustle the kids out of bed. It is my lowest part of the day. When I have to set down my notebook and pen and take up the harpy role.

I have to shift from writer to mother. Ugh. All I want to do is write. I feel irritated that I have to do anything else, like butter my children’s toast or pay the bills.

I turn the radio up loud, alerting the kids that life is happening.English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

I detest the move from solitude to sharing space. I feel ill prepared to assume the responsibility of motherhood.I love my children, but honestly, first thing in the morning, I love my coffee and writing more.

Coffee & Meditation

Some mornings I only get out of bed because of the coffee. And my journal. And my friends. Okay, and my family. But coffee comes first.

Today’s Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it’s a little depressing for many? Like my family of origin, my husband’s not too big on gifts, cards, remembering holidays. I, on the other hand — the one who overcompensates — made every one a personalized Valentine’s Day card. And though I didn’t get much — or anything — at home, I did get some little cards with fair trade chocolates and a pink Valentine’s dish towel at work. I love my work peeps!

It was an ordinary day. I worked my job, did Pilates at lunch, worked again, then taught a session of comedy/improv at the Middle School, made dinner, shared dinner with the fam, went to the theater with my husband, (we saw The Broken Heart a play from the 1620s by John Ford — it was a bit of a slog). I took the subway home alone (I couldn’t stay for the second half). I shooed the kids to bed. I did the dishes.

And tomorrow I’ll do it all over again (though I hope I don’t have to see that play again).

I want to be grateful for every single day. I want to have an open, loving heart, especially on Valentine’s Day. And I did find one moment of deep calm and contentment in my day. At the end of Pilates class, Shayne, our teacher, turned off the lights. We lay in the Yoga corpse pose, Savasana. Then, Shayne read this poem by Hafiz:

The Sun Never Says

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

Is that amazing, or what? Meditation is almost as good as coffee.


This November I am going to enter and win NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month.

As the days get colder and my psyche more depressed, I want to hunker down with my dreams, like wrapping my hands around a warm cup of coffee.

Some runners complete the NYC marathon, some women have babies, some consumers shop early for Christmas presents. I’m not those kinds of crazy. I am the kind of wacky that gets up at 6 the morning and stays up until 11 at night (I told you, CRAZY!) hunched over my keyboard, spewing out meandering plot points about imaginary friends.

Why do it? I have a lot on my plate (4 blogs, 3 kids, 2 jobs, and a partridge in a pear tree!)

I do it because:

  1. It is there, like Mount Everest.
  2. My imagination will surprises me.
  3. It’s a communal writing experience. Tens of thousands of writers will appear at the start line, encouraging one another as they write.
  4. It feels so good when it’s done.
If you want some writing done, a novel written, give the assignment to a busy writer. She can do it. This is not the first year I’ve been contemplating nanowrimo Last year and the year before, I wanted to embark on NaNoWriMo, but didn’t want to start a new novel until I rewrote, sold and published my last masterpiece. But life is a work in progress. And so is my writing. Lost characters roaming around my unfinished novels will have to wait. I’ve got something new up my sleeve. And so have you. Think about joining me. nanowrimo sign up now!

Started Nanowrimo

Oh it is so hard. Here is me whining. It’s too hard. What am I doing?  I wanted to finish the 2,000 words every day before noon. And sat with my notebook at the kitchen table, writing before the kids had to get up. They were late for school and complaining of sore throats. I might’ve written 500 words…

And now I’m at work and have to do work-type writing. Ah well, the solution is always – MORE COFFEE. 2,060 words done, 47,940 to go…