The Life You Really Want Begins With The First Step

I woke up at 4am, and couldn’t decide whether or not to go back to sleep. It’s amazing how many tiny choices we make in a day, with each one altering the next.

I began thinking of my French Press and how I haven’t used it very much. It was one of those things Barb ‘had to have’, but I couldn’t get satisfied with the taste of the coffee. I have read articles from coffee experts, and the instructions that came with the press, but this early in the morning, I wanted some simple steps. Google led me to an article by the easy to follow woman behind Gimme Some Oven.

Her way of making it just made sense to me, so I hopped outta bed at 5:00 am, and strolled quietly into the kitchen with instructions in hand, ready to try again. There are several steps involved in making a French Press, but anything that’s worthwhile has steps.

First I had to see how much water the press would hold. It held 4 cups, so I poured the water into the gooseneck kettle and sat it on the stove to bring it to a boil. Then waited. After it begins to boil, the water needs to rest for a minute, so I took it off the burner to rest.

I opened the timer on my phone and set it for 4 minutes, and poured the freshly ground beans into the French Press, just going through the steps. The hot water was poured just over the bed of grinds, about 2 inches, and stirred with a wooden stick to wet every grind, and the timer began.

My favorite part is watching it bloom. Putting my face over the press, I inhaled the magical aroma. If it’s really good coffee it should bloom, or foam up. The more it foams, the higher the quality. After one minute had passed, the rest of the water was poured in and the lid was put into place. The screen rested on top of the water with the plunger standing up.

I watched the countdown of time ticking by with the numbers illuminated blue in color. It was interesting when the timer got down to the last 30 seconds, the numbers turned red.

The one thing that bothered me about using the French press in the past was the feel of the pressing. I know how it’s supposed to feel when you press the plunger down with the palm of your hand. It should have some resistance, and not be effortless. This time it had plenty of resistance, so in the past I hadn’t poured enough in.

Le Creuset Café Stoneware French Press

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t roll over and go back to sleep. The day is waiting for you to step into it.
  2. Use what you have and get it right.
  3. Follow some instruction. If the first ones aren’t for you, find better instructions.
  4. There’s a waiting period after every step.
  5. You want the water boiling hot, but don’t let it spew. Anything that gets that hot needs a minute to rest.
  6. Watch your time, and be attentive to the red zone.
  7. Pause and enjoy the bloom. Breathe it in.
  8. When you begin to press through and there’s resistance, it’s normal. Nothing worthwhile should feel like an easy plunge, just continue to gently press.

Was getting up early, and trying once again to make a French Press worth it? You better believe it! That was excellent coffee. Keep trying and be willing to go through some steps to get to where you really want to be.

It all begins with the first step.

Dusting My Soul

I noticed the piano sitting away from the wall more than it used to. It’s out on the floor. It used to be pressed up against the wall out of the way, with the music stand folded down. It was a piece of furniture dusted off every week.

I took piano lessons as a child, but didn’t like being made to do something. I’m still that way, but a couple of weekends ago, as my daughter was leaving the house, she looked at me and said, “Do something special for yourself.” The Rolodex in my mind started flipping through images, but came up empty on something specific.

I’ve created the kind of life where I enjoy everything I do, but what about something for my soul besides writing. Playing piano was a part of my childhood that feels incomplete. My neighbor offered piano lessons a while ago, so I walked inside and sent her a message.

I asked if the offer still stands, and if she’d be willing to give me lessons. She said yes, and we chose a day and time to begin. When I asked whose house she wanted you use, she chose mine and referred to it as a calm getaway.

The piano doesn’t need dusting as often, now that it’s being used. Everyday I sit down to practice, and run my hand across the keys I feel the progress dusting my soul.

When Grey Turns to Blue

Refining what we have. Paying attention to what’s in front of us and making small adjustments toward better.

I painted a wall, and it wasn’t even a large wall, but it is the first wall you see when you walk in the front door. The paint job has always bothered me. Before we moved in, someone touched up the walls, and used a shiny finish paint, instead of flat. It’s the same color as the wall, just a different finish, so the touch up was noticeable.

Before

Walking by the wall this morning, I’m really glad I only painted the one wall and not half the house. The early morning light made the grey look blue.

The framed note you see hanging on the wall is my newest addition of reminders. I walk by it 100 times a day, and each time I glance at it to remind myself of what’s here.

There’s a lot of grey in the world today, but we hold the paintbrush and can paint our little corner of the world any color we choose. If your world is looking grey, my hope for you today is just like this wall, your grey turns to blue.

After

Moments in Waiting

This week, I meditated in the parking lot of our Vet’s office. It was an unconventional space, but it was a moment.

Our cat needed a checkup, so I loaded him up and drove to the Vet. As I pulled into the parking lot, there were signs hanging in front of the parking spaces, and I chose the one that said, ‘Cats’. A Red SUV pulled into the space next to me with a dog, a toddler, a baby and a cell phone on speaker. The nurse came out and retrieved our cat.

I sat patiently in my truck and tried to read, but my Kindle was acting up and I chastised myself for not bringing a real book. Technology has added to our lives, but it can take away moments. I’m really passionate about how we spend more time staring at our phones, than our loved ones faces. I was a prisoner to my phone, but not anymore.

There was a lot of activity in the SUV beside me. The toddler was jumping around, climbing all over the place like he was trapped. The sun was slowly setting and the parking lot was almost empty, so I paused to smile at the little boy and moved my truck to the empty part of the lot. If you’re not happy where you are, then move.

I parked my truck, got out and walked to the back. Dropped the tailgate and sat down Yogi style. I told myself, “Take a deep inhalation Barb and just breathe.”

The Red SUV drove by and took note. Did it look like I was sitting on the back end of a truck mediating? Sure it did!

I didn’t have my headphones with me so anyone standing in the parking lot could hear the meditation as well. Across from where I was parked, a woman got out of her car, ripped off her mask, took a deep breath and stretched before reluctantly getting back into her car. My phone rang and paused the meditation. It was the Vet letting me know our cat was ready to leave.

As I was loading kitty back up, I noticed the Red SUV was back, but it was a different scene.

The lady driving it had opened the back of her SUV, and was having a quiet moment talking with her toddler. She was making the most out of waiting, and I was pleased she had found a moment. Instead of filling that space of time, allow it to open up to you. There are moments in waiting.

Moments of Gratitude

There’s something about November that brings gratitude to the forefront. I saw a post written my Michelle GD and signed up for her Gratitude notes. This morning, I found myself looking forward to her email of ‘Day Two’.

Michelle and I have similar philosophies. It’s the little things in life that I’m grateful for the most. In yesterday’s gratitude notes, she asked that we make note of what we see that we’re grateful for, so I took a few pictures.

I bribed myself to go for a walk.

Actually, I thought of it as a reward. I made a Chemex and let it sit telling myself it would still be hot and ready to enjoy on my return. On my way out the door, I snapped this pic of the steam rolling off. It’s a thing of beauty.

Chemex Coffemaker with Bluebottle Coffee

When it was time for brunch, I grabbed Leo.

My daughter brought him home because we use fresh herbs to cook with, and Leo makes chopping herbs fun. He’s our pretty, yet highly functional find. It’s celebratory when it’s pretty and practical. Sometimes it’s just pretty.

She found him on the clearance rack.

BergHOFF Leo Herb Cutter Set

While in the kitchen I glanced at the front door standing open. I told my daughter we need to petition fresh Christmas Trees being available for purchase November 1st. If they were, our tree would already be up and decorated. We love Christmas decor!

We have balls!

Scrolling through my camera roll this morning, it resembles gratitude notes. That’s what a photo is for me. Moments of gratitude.

In The Quiet

The stillness of the morning.

The cat is curled up on an ottoman nearby and the dogs are lounging in the hallway. The quiet is my sweet spot.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

I was at the pizza place lastnight helping out during rush hour. Music was blaring through the speakers in the ceiling, and the guys in the kitchen where sharing loud banter. The phone would ring and I’d answer, trying to sound composed in all the noise.

The noise level was intense for about an hour and then it all died down. Sitting here this morning I realized I can get the job done within the uproar of the noise, but where I really hear what feeds my soul, is in the quiet.

In An Instant

As I mentioned in a previous post, my daughter met up with a friend she doesn’t get to see very often. They met on the college campus last year, and the friend moved away to attend another campus. The best thing to come out of college, in my opinion, has been meeting this friend.

They stayed out late shooting pool, so her friend came home with her and crashed here. The following morning, her friend woke up and walked through the house looking for coffee. There’s no automatic brew here my love.

But I can make you a cup of coffee that’s memorable. I stood with her at the coffee bar and went through the choices. Chemex, a vessel of coffee, the French press, or a pour over. She was intrigued by the pour over and asked, “What’s a pour over?” This made my heart sing.

Bluebottle Coffee Dripper

I have a confession to make. I’d become really slack recently about taking the time to make a Chemex, or pour over for myself in the morning. I’d walk by the coffee bar, over to the tea cart and turn on the electric kettle for a cup of instant coffee. Within minutes I was sipping on a cup of rehydrated beans, sort of, and not enjoying it.

That’s just not me. I don’t do anything in an instant.

This morning I stood at the coffee bar, remembering the fascination of the friend and treated myself in the same manner as I treated her. “What’s your pleasure Barb?”

The Chemex is what I made for myself.

Photo by Purple Smith on Pexels.com

I remember the friend sitting at our kitchen table sipping the cup of coffee made by hand. The look on her face after each sip was like she had never experienced coffee like that before. I told her, “That will get you going”, and she responded with excitement, “What are we doing today?!”

Yesterday my daughter told me something her friend said about that morning at our table. She said, “Sunday morning was one the most beautiful morning’s I’ve ever had.” Those words were music to my ears and yet it also confirmed:

Beautiful moments aren’t made in an instant.

To Step Away

I had to step away from my work.

We moved to a new online customer service platform last week, the second one since June, and there’s a lot to learn. I’ve also learned how and when to step away.

I read Stephen King’s Memoir, ‘On Writing.” He talks about how he always had a nook to write in. Underneath the stairway was one, but he does his best writing tucked away in a corner. He discourages writing out in the open and suggests going into a room, shutting the door and forbidding anyone to open it.

Well Stephen, I’m sorry, but that’s not me.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

I need an open, yet peaceful space for writing. I can see myself sitting outside once the weather cooperates.

Going off Stephen’s suggestion, I slid my desk into the corner of the room to do some serious writing, but here’s what evolved. It’s where I do my best work, but for my job. When I walk over to the desk I know it’s time to get serious about work, but writing is not work for me.

I don’t have a distracting environment. It’s peaceful for the most part, so I unplugged my laptop, took it off my desk and walked over to the kitchen table to write. Here I sit writing this post because this was a hard lesson to learn. I have to step away from work and take time for this Blog. It’s almost a need to take time for writing.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

No one is going to do it for me, but if I’m not careful, I’ll get wrapped up in work and it will take away my writing.

I’m no Stephen King, but I fancy myself a writer. Life is a beautiful thing to be enjoyed, but writing can easily get knocked down the list. If it’s important it will take time and the path is long. Anything worthwhile doesn’t happen overnight, otherwise it’d be easy to succeed.

Thank you for meeting me here today. I’ll go back to work realizing writing may not feel like work, but it’s just as important as work. There are times my work can wait, but writing cannot, and it’s okay to step away.

Let It Bloom

It’s been a life-long love affair with the Hydrangea, but the seasons are changing and it’s going away until Spring. This morning I noticed myself having a bit of trouble letting it go.

My daughter and I were out shopping this week. When I disappeared from view, she knew where to find me. We were near the flower department and there I was staring at the massive bouquet of multicolored Hydrangea. We carried it to the checkout, and when she beeped the bouquet and saw the price, she gave me a surprised look, or maybe it was shock.

I knew better than to meet her gaze and looked away thinking, you only live once. We came home and put them in water.

This morning I walked by the coffee table where they sit. Some of them had drooped overnight, so I grabbed the vase and took it into the kitchen. I laid them out on the cutting board, grabbed a sharp knife and sliced a good chunk of the ends off each stem. I chose a different vase, filled it with cool water and placed them in. They looked pretty sad, but I remained hopeful.

Looking out the window, I saw my neighbors outside, so took a walk around the block for a short visit. There’s nothing like listening to a toddler talk about life. When I returned home, the Hydrangeas were perking up and struggling their best. As I write, all are standing tall and looking refreshed, except for one.

We have a fear of loss and try and fix things to make them last longer. As I saw this one stem not revive itself I thought, well, I can always buy more, but then stopped that thought. It shouldn’t be that easy to replace. I’m just going to let them bloom, stay as long as they wish and move into a new season.

Seasons are temporary and I look forward to seeing the Hydrangea in the spring. Until then, I can have peace in knowing I didn’t try to make it stay. All I did was let it bloom.

Now and Next

I’m taking steps this year, toward where I want to be this time next year. It takes some planning, but I keep an open mind. One of my most used prayers is, “God, if this is not your will, stop me now!”

I jotted down this note from 7/26 in the Jesus Calling book. “RELAX AND LET ME LEAD YOU through this day. I have everything under control.” The first sentence wasn’t capitalized by me, it’s in the book like that. They say using all caps is like yelling, so I can see the irony in this. Then there’s the whole giving up control thing and being willing to be lead.

If you haven’t read Stephen King’s, “On Writing”, it’s an inspiring read and one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you want to be inspired, read something inspiring. It’s that simple.

What you do now plays an integral part in what will happen next, but the most important part is to start. If there’s something you’ve been putting off starting, look at where you are now, start and watch for what’s next. That’s the funny thing about purpose. We were designed to be so much more than we currently are, if only we’d let go of our preconceived outcome and start.

I believe each and every one of us has a calling on our life, but we get scared. Then we start running our ideas by others and it’s hard for them to be supportive because they have a dream in their heart that scares them too. You can be scared together and encourage one another through the scary start. You will know if it feeds your heart, but you will never know until you start.

It’s okay to be scared, but I always tell my daughter, “What do you have to lose?” There’s usually nothing to lose, but oh so much to gain. Another line in the devotional says, “As you look to me, I show you what do do now and next.” Our roadmap for where this life will lead, if we’re willing, is in the now and next.