Opening Doors to Compassion

I love compassion and this morning I was given a gift.

For starters, I went to my favorite coffee shop for my mocha. Anyone who knows me knows that I used to be at Caribou every morning – rain or shine and holidays – even the biggies like Thanksgiving or Easter. The only day I can think of Caribou being closed was Christmas day. Christmas was a hard one for me.

I went to Caribou pretty much every day. I wrote from there, I took the real estate course online there, I studied for my Orton Gillingham classes there, and I had what I called my “coffee shop buddies,” who were the people, mostly men in their 50s and 60s, who also went to Caribou daily. To me, it wasn’t just a coffee shop; Caribou was a representation of what I thought of as “community.”

So you can imagine my dismay when I went to Florida to visit my mom for a long weekend during Thanksgiving break in 2015 and I came home, went into Caribou that Tuesday and one of my buddies, Kevin, said, “Have you heard?”

“Heard what?”

“Caribou is closing on December 6.”

That was less than a month away. I had about three weeks of my community haven to enjoy and it was done.

The Sunday, the day before they closed, I wrote this on Facebook: “Today’s the day… for years on Sundays my routine is to get up early, walk my dogs and sneak off to the coffee shop. I just ordered my last Sunday dark chocolate, almond milk, 2-scoop, no whip mocha. I’m in the big leather chair by the fireplace and I have my book in my lap to read after I post this. I am so grateful for the space and the light I have been offered here. Trying not to cry in my coffee or make this a sad time so I can enjoy it and say good-bye. Tomorrow I’ll start the journey of finding another happy place. The gym?” (Sad, blue face with a tear falling emoticon.)

After this day, I tried three different Starbucks locations near my house, but none offered me comfortable chairs and the comradery with people like I found at Caribou. The mochas there are just okay, not anything I would label “heaven in a cup.” Eventually, I started to experiment making my mochas at home. I bought two cushiony outdoor chairs from Costco for a great price and put them on my deck.



My new coffee shop


That’s where I spent every morning this past summer while the kids were out of school. I got up, walked the dogs, made my mocha on the stovetop and went straight to my deck. I watched the sun rise on the trees. I listened to the birds. I read metaphysical books, and I meditated using tracks from my phone – Don Simmons from Phoenix and Dragon makes meditation CDs and I have just about everything he’s ever made. He’s even on iTunes.

I really miss Caribou near my house and going there every day. Fortunately, there is another Caribou. It’s a little far for daily visits though. A few of the old Caribou gang migrated over to the “other” Caribou, so when I go, I still get to see familiar faces.

So, today, it’s a Sunday. I walked my dogs this morning in the cold – too cold for a porch sit. It was an easy decision to sneak out and drive the distance to the “other” Caribou. Besides, I needed more ground espresso for my espresso machine and I buy it there (a $20 Mr. Coffee espresso maker).

Once I got to Caribou, I ordered my coffee then flipped the switch on the fireplace (I may not be a regular, but I know how to act like one), and curled up in the leather chair beside the fireplace. It’s not as cozy as “my” Caribou, but I felt at home. I breathed in the smell of my mocha, a.k.a., heaven in a cup, sighed in what felt like relief, and took my first sip. Ahhhh.

I began reading my Mom’s Soul Café book that I am in final edits for (coming soon to an Amazon near you!). I also started to people watch. Each time the door opened, I looked up. I couldn’t help it.

I saw this couple in the parking lot. It was hard not to see them. The woman was “normal” looking enough. She was wearing Ugg Boots, jeans and a long sleeved tan thermal shirt with small pretty flowers covering it. She had long, straight hair parted in the middle. Her man was another story. Think Bon Jovi. His hair was almost wig-like, he had on cargo shorts and a long sleeved t-shirt, nothing too weird, but his hair and face were disheveled, in a hip way. He had earrings on. His face was a little older, but his look was that of a young musician with poufy Bon Jovi hair. I would not label this guy a gentleman by his looks.

I was curled in the big chair and after they got their coffee they sat at a table directly in front of me. They were by the window. I was still reading when the man got up. I watched him walk to the door. That’s when I got my big, wonderful dose of human compassion for the day.

The man had jumped up to open the door for an elderly lady who was struggling just to walk. There was no indication she would have a hard time with the door, but the man anticipated her hardship and decided to help her even if the door was not a problem for her.

You may not think this is a big deal, but I do. Oprah says, after all of her interviews over the years, from Beyoncé to the murderer behind bars, there is just one common thread weaving through us all, and it is this: everyone wants to be seen and heard and to know that they matter.

That’s it. That’s humanity in a nutshell and why compassion is so very important in this world. Seeing that man jump up and open the door for that woman told her loud and clear: I see you. I see your struggle and I am going to help you. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

The elder lady could have been a younger woman pushing a stroller, or a beggar on the corner. She could have been someone being mean because she’s had a life of feeling unloved. She could have been anyone anywhere. Today, it was a woman struggling to walk and a man who saw her need and got up from his seat and helped.

With all of the news lately, the discord we all feel over our beliefs, it was really lovely to see a man get up without considering if they agree on issues and if they are of the same ilk, and just be nice.

I probably won’t be back in the Caribou for a while. I’m happy on my deck with the birds and the trees, but I’m glad that on the day I did make the drive, I got to see kindness in action. It filled my heart and made my soul happy.

Today, I will carry compassion in my heart and look for ways to help others.


Mocha on the Stovetop

Make two shots of espresso or 2/3 cup of coffee.

In a saucepan on the stove, put 10 oz. of milk. I use almond milk. Now, put in 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate).

Heat the milk and chocolate over medium high heat. Wisk the two together. Do not boil! But get it hot to your taste.

Put the two shots of espresso in a large coffee mug. Pour chocolate and milk mixture in. Stir. Enjoy.

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2 Responses to Opening Doors to Compassion

  1. memagigi says:

    I so loved this little story and the feeling that went into it, Jennifer. It is a gift that you have the heart to notice the small things and to appreciate kindness.

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