Inevitably, on every work trip, there comes a time when anxiety starts to creep into my body. My breathing becomes more shallow, and there’s a knotted-up feeling in my chest. Depending on where I am and what’s going on, I’ll self-soothe in different ways. And if I have a bit of free time, I go to Starbucks. I used to be a snob about Starbucks. Who needs their coffee from a chain when local spots have so much character? But my feelings have changed. I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks in Hampton, Virginia. I’ve been to ones in Boston, San Diego, Dallas, Spokane… The list goes on. They all have different layouts, are situated on street corners, in strip malls, and in airports, but there’s also something about them that is always the same. There is always an earth-toned decor. It always smells like sweetened coffee. The music is always chill. There’s always a bathroom. And the drinks always taste the same, wherever I go. Starbucks is many different locations, but for me, it’s all the same place. When I’m feeling unsettled and want a taste of familiarity, to Starbucks I go. And when the idea of choosing a drink and ordering it from a stranger feels like too much, I just place the order from the Starbucks app on my phone, no pressure necessary.
That’s what I did today; I’m flying home in a few hours, and didn’t have anywhere else to go. I ordered a mango iced tea, and settled down at a small table with my journal to calm myself, to reset my breathing, and to feel more grounded. The music hasn’t disappointed (currently “Somewhere” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros), and I felt comfortable enough that my efforts to self-soothe actually helped make me feel better, rather than just keeping me from feeling worse. I can explore my emotions and how my body is carrying them, and be gentle with myself because even though the barista’s never seen me before, this is a place I know. So thank you, Starbucks, for giving me somewhere that feels like my home-away-from-home, no matter where I go.
P.S. This totally sounds like an ad, but I promise it’s not! What do you do when you need a home away from home?
I love a good TV show intro. As I get more and more invested in the characters and the story, the intro becomes emotionally charged in the best way. The music, the visuals—they start to embody my anticipation, and they get me ready for the episode.
The whole thing is a ritual, really. It’s like praying before dinner, or the call to worship at church. The show’s intro prepares me for what’s next, giving me time to get into the right mindset. Continue reading
Uncertainty is my life right now. One of my favorite ways of dealing with it is sinking into the tranquil moments of my routine: Get home from work. Put away my bag. Change into comfy clothes. Make the bed. Tidy up. And then my favorite part – dinner.
When I’m really feeling the stress of uncertainty, I like to make hearty and simple food. Today, it was Continue reading
Yesterday, between writing class assignments and running off to work, I squeezed in a little break so that I could make some roasted poblano white bean soup. I’m kind of slow in the kitchen, so I wasn’t sure if I could finish everything in time, but it was so, so worth it. It’s spicy, comforting, and much lighter than what we had the other night.
P pointed out the only thing missing when he said, “Eating this makes me wish it was raining outside…”
Well guess what, folks? It’s raining this morning! Continue reading
Yesterday, we had some friends over for a beginning-of-the-week dinner party. They live in the dorms on campus, so we like to cook “real food” for them (as opposed to cafeteria food). A few minutes into the meal, someone said, “It feels so good to be in a home.” I cannot express how it felt to hear those words! P and I have invested a lot of time and effort into cozy-fying our home, so that was a wonderful reward.
These dinners have been one of the really lovely parts of early married life. We have our little routine: P and I choose a recipe and cook dinner together, and then about a half hour before everyone arrives, while he’s putting the finishing touches on the meal, I set the table, light lots of candles, and put on some music (yesterday’s soundtrack was The Avett Brothers’ album “I and Love and You”). And sometimes we have to run around the apartment, frantically putting away sweaters, socks, homework, books, and, if I’m honest, more books. Continue reading