A cup of coffee and some thoughts

I sometimes think there’s nothing better for a person’s brain than sitting down with a cup of coffee to hash out some thoughts. And this past semester was so crazy on so many levels that I often wondered if and when I’d ever have time to just think again. In celebration of an end to that semester, I’m finally sitting down with my favorite mug to collect my thoughts, which I think is probably important for my sanity at this point. Here are some things I learned about myself this semester:

1. There is a whole lot I don’t know – and that’s ok. This semester I learned that the more you know you don’t know, the more you’re probably learning. It’s good to be aware of what you don’t know so that you can learn it. It’s amazing to think that six months ago I had really no idea how to, for example,  write a broadcast-style script or design an infographic. I’m far from having any kind of mastery over those disciplines, but I feel like I have a better idea of what I don’t know, so I know where to start when I continue learning.

2. Sometimes the forces of the universe just really aren’t going to be on my side. I’m going to have days when I get a ticket for parking my car in a garage for 10 MINUTES while I return equipment to the lab, days that start at 4 a.m., days that last until 1 a.m. and days when it seems there isn’t enough caffeine on the planet to keep my eyes open and prevent my brain from frying. It’s all part of the reporting lifestyle. But that being said, I also learned caffeine is not a sufficient replacement for sleep.

3. If I want to grow and learn, I have to continue surrounding myself with people 100x smarter than myself. Nobody who was ever successful got to be that way by surrounding themselves with a bunch of morons. I’ve learned a lot this semester simply by absorbing all the wisdom my professors and fellow classmates had to offer. Smart people are fun to be around and they challenge me to be better. I hope to always be fortunate enough to have as many intelligent and creative people in my life as I do right now.

4. I need to always pull my weight in my relationships. No excuses. I think this is the most painful lesson I had to learn this semester. I’m 100 percent guilty of letting my work consume me. My work is the first to receive my time and my energy. And there’s a problem with that, and I hate the person I am when I allow my work to swallow me. Going forward with my life, I need to be more conscious of the fact that I tend to distribute my time this way. And I need to never take for granted all the caring and supportive people I have in my life, no matter how fast or slow the news day.

5. I must really love journalism or something. Because otherwise there’s no way in hell I would have made it through this semester otherwise. When things got tough, I got tougher. I’m proud of myself, and I am better equipped with the skills I need to tell the stories I want to tell. I fell in love with journalism while simultaneously hating it. It was a weird feeling, but it forced me to appreciate how difficult reporting can truly be. I have my faculty editors and teammates to thank for encouraging me, teaching me and reminding me why I came to Mizzou in the first place.

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Micheala’s Coffee Bucket List

My travel bucket list is basically the same as my coffee bucket list. No one who knows me is even remotely surprised that I would arrange my global adventures entirely around where I’ll encounter the best coffee. Here are just a few of the cities I hope to sip coffee in during my lifetime. 

Melbourne, Australia

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This is an entire street/sidewalk dedicated to coffee shops and roasters. It’s outdoors and surrounded by local art. Sign me up!

Seattle, Wa.

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This one should have been crossed off my bucket list already, but spring break travel plans fell through. One day I’ll take a coffee tour of America’s coffee capital. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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This actually isn’t coffee, it’s “mate” (pronounced MAH-tay). It’s kind of like tea except without the tea bag. It’s really important to Argentinian culture because it’s often shared in group settings, and each person passes the bombilla (straw) around the group and drinks from the same bowl. It’s usually done during conversation or after dinner. 

Café de Los Deseos, Costa Rica

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Café de Los Deseos, “Cafe Wishes,” is one of the only cafes in Costa Rica that serves cold brew and frozen coffee drinks. 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Ethiopia has a coffee ceremony – how cool is that?! The ceremony starts as raw beans are roasted over hot coals, with each person in attendance being invited to savor the smell of the fumes. The beans are then ground with a wooden pestle and mortar before finally being brewed twice in a clay boiling pot called a” jebena.”

Four of my favorite coffee blogs

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Of course, there’s this coffee blog. But there are other great ones out there, too. There’s nothing better than sitting down with a steaming cup of coffee to read a coffee blog. So this Saturday morning, I’m sitting down with a steaming cup of coffee to write a coffee blog post about other coffee blogs.

I Need Coffee

This blog is great if you actually NEED coffee. It has lots of really awesome recipes so you can make your own drinks and basically train yourself to be a super skilled barista. Check out this blog if you want to impress your friends with your creative homemade caffeinated beverages.

In My Mug

This one might actually be my favorite because it has TWO of my favorite things: multimedia and coffee. The guy who runs this blog has literally made over 300 episodes for his video blog. He’s on a world coffee tour and makes a new episode each time he goes to a coffee conference or finds some interesting coffee shop abroad. It’s incredible. This guy is like the Anthony Bourdain of coffee.

Sprudge

Sprudge is great because it finds and reviews all kinds of cool, modern coffee shops that are popping up around the country and the globe. If you’re a world traveler and need to know which coffee venues to hit up during your trips, Sprudge is a great resource. But it’s still interesting even if you’re like me and enjoy just being a hermit and taking up space on your living room couch while reading blogs.

Dear Coffee I Love You

This blog just brings happiness to my heart. It’s honestly a coffee-lover’s Internet paradise, and it even has gift ideas for all the coffee lovers in your life. (I may or may not have already referred my friends, boyfriend and family members to this blog…)

The coffee/creativity correlation

Maya Angelou was generous to share her wealth of wisdom with us during her time on this earth. She really did us a favor when she gave us the following:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 

Anyone in pursuit of a creative life can find comfort in these words. Trying to be creative sometimes feels like you’re a dog chasing its own tail – often you can’t tell if your efforts are getting you anywhere. “How do you measure creativity?” is the existential question we all want an answer to. But Angelou reminds us that simply the act of creating sparks new ideas.

I agree wholeheartedly with Angelou’s words here – but I’d like to make a small addendum. I think it should read as such:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more [creativity] you use (and the more coffee you drink), the more you have.”

Now I’m not going to pretend to know even an ounce of science. But according to the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (which is a real thing), caffeine acts as a substitute for a chemical called adenosine, which basically helps your neurons better connect to transmitters or something like that. Caffeine is better than adenosine at this, so your neurons stay connected better.

Implications for creativity are such:  Stronger and longer lasting signals between neurotransmitters in the brain means you’re more likely to make connections between pre-existing ideas (which is basically what creativity is).

I’m always sure to brew myself a cup before sitting down to paint, or even read. It’s a routine, and that cup of coffee lets my brain know that it’s time to power up, think and look alive. Having my coffee in a mug adjacent to my paint brushes is important to giving my brain in the right place before I start. Coffee is one of my greatest simple pleasures in life, so a cup of coffee goes a long way in making me feel in the moment and ready to create.

Micheala’s favorite caffeine facts of all time

Caffeine, in my humble opinion, is the best form of stimulation for the central nervous system. With that being said, my caffeine addiction has compelled me to do some pretty extensive Internet research over the past few years. So, I decided to share my five favorite caffeine facts with you folks. Enjoy! 

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Caffeine fact #1: The Bible Belt, the Corn Belt, the leather belt. There’s also a thing called the Coffee Belt – which is this fantastic section of the globe that has ideal coffee-growing conditions. I’m currently adding all of these countries to my personal travel destination bucket list.

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Caffeine fact #2: There’s an Ethiopian legend that traces back to perhaps some of the first realizations of caffeine’s magical powers. According to the tale, shepherds discovered coffee’s energizing effects once their goats started eating coffee berries and subsequently went into hyper-goat mode. Which leads right into caffeine fact #3….

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Caffeine fact #3: COFFEE BEANS COME FROM BERRIES.

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Caffeine fact #4: There is scientific evidence that outlines the best times of day to drink coffee. (But coffee time is any time, in my opinion.)

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Caffeine fact #5: This is just about as much science as my brain can wrap itself around, but nevertheless, this is what caffeine looks like under a microscope. Caffeine is a crystal compound, but I’m not even going to pretend like I know what that means.

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Pre-Seattle reflections

At this time tomorrow, I’ll be en route to making without a doubt the most pious of pilgrimages a caffeine devotee can make. 

Seattle is a Mecca for religious coffee drinkers like myself. And while I think the whole Mecca comparison is an exhausted metaphor, I felt like using it anyways because A) it’s incredibly accurate in this case, and B) I promised myself that I wouldn’t think too hard over spring break. 

Even Wikipedia recognizes Seattle’s spiritual grandeur:

“Seattle is a world center for coffee roasting and coffee supply chain management.”

It’s a world center for coffee. So as much as I would just LOVE to spend my spring break being incoherent at PCB with the rest of my age group, I think this trip to Seattle is exactly what I need. (I hope the sarcasm there was obvious).

This is kind of a silly thing to say, but my coffee consumption is a pretty surefire determinant of my happiness (wE hAvE aN aDdIcT oVeR hErE). Here’s the thing: everyone who is even remotely a part of my social circle knows how much I love coffee (See my first blog post). But no one has ever really asked me to explain why I love it so much. So for the sake of championing emotional intelligence, I’m going to briefly explain my arduous relationship with coffee.

The thing about coffee is it’s always there for me. Whether it’s a relaxing Sunday morning when I’ve had the chance to sleep in, or the butt crack of dawn on a stressful deadline day. It fuels my creativity as I paint and as I write (you better believe I’ve got a cup o’ jo adjacent to my Macbook as I write this). It reminds me that I’m a hard worker, and gives me the slight kick in the pants that I sometimes need to keep going. Whether I’m drinking it on-the-go or sipping it comfortably at home from my favorite mug, those moments with coffee are the ones I reserve for me.

So in case I haven’t made it clear enough how I excited I am to be heading to Seattle tomorrow, I’ll provide a few more reasons for my anxious anticipation. I’m embarking on this pilgrimage with one of my best friends whose love of coffee rivals mine. And sometimes there’s nothing I love more than sharing my coffee moments with someone I love and care about. Also, this trip to Seattle will mark the first time in my entire life that I’ll see an ocean. I’ll be crossing a few items off my personal bucket list this week.

I can’t wait to be reminded of some of the things I love most in life: adventure and sharing coffee moments with friends.