How I Stay Grounded Afloat
This guest post by Gil Lhotka is part of our How Do You #StayGrounded? series. We wanted to give our customers a chance to write about how their coffee ritual helps them thrive in daily life, and we invite you see how well brewed coffee impacts the lives of people all around you.
So without further ado, here’s Gil’s story.
Beep Beep Beep. I turn off my alarm in one quick and smooth motion attempting to keep it from waking my wife. I exit my berth before the light of day and make my way to the head for a quick shower before starting my work day.
It will be a hectic day, most are when you are launching something new and running a team of professionals in a billion dollar software company. I know the pressure of making sure my work is the best it can be, and I focus on hard work.
My lifestyle seems odd to others, and I am conscious of the fact that assumptions about work ethic can be made in these situations. Some days I overcompensate for this, but it’s less common today than it once was. Over the years, I have learned to focus on the present and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Grounded From The Beginning
I start my day alone with my own thoughts and a great cup of coffee.
When I start my day personally grounded, my actions are well thought out. I am so much more productive and less distracted throughout the day. I end my work days satisfied at the progress made, and I attribute this to the first 30 minutes of my day.
I go up the two steps to the galley and prepare for my morning coffee. I am alone in my thoughts as I fill the stainless steel tea kettle. Time is moving slowly at this point, and I feel like I am seeing my movements in slow motion.
My finger clicks the trigger of the lighter as I turn on the burner of the stove. The flame ignites and makes its way around the burner in an unhurried pace until it is a blue ring of fire. I place the kettle on the stove as I slide open the cabinet that contains my coffee supplies.
My mind wanders to the things I have to get done at work today. As those thoughts come, I recognize they are there and bring my focus back to my coffee.
Today is going to be a light roast day. I pour a generous scoop of whole coffee beans into my JavaPresse manual grinder and set it for a coarse grind. There is a deliberate focus on every movement, and it feels as if I am watching a movie of myself from afar.
The beans make a quiet clinking sound as they fall from the scoop into the coffee grinder. As I place the lid on the grinder and attach the handle, I look forward out the window to the pre-sunrise sky.
Holding the grinder in my left hand, I begin to rotate the handle clockwise with my right hand slowly. I can feel the gentle resistance as the beans give in to the ceramic burr playing its part in my morning routine.
The coming day's activities continue to make their way into my mind. Each and every time one of these thoughts pop in, I bring my focus back to my grinding.
The grinder makes a muffled gnashing sound as the beans break into pieces and drop into the coffee chamber awaiting their destiny. The faint gray sky is starting to brighten with wisps of orange, yellow and red as the sun prepares for its appearance above the horizon. As I stare out the window, I feel the motion of the handle becomes smooth and know the last beans have been ground.
The steam is starting to rise up from the spout of the kettle as I walk back to the counter. As I move, I can hear the hissing of the water as it moves gently up onto the hot sides of the kettle from the motion.
Coffee At Sea, Coffee With Miss Ann
I raise the ground coffee beans to my nose and take a deep breath. So fresh, So clean, the smell of coffee often transports me to the places I remember enjoying it.
Today's mental journey will be to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.
I savor the scent a moment longer, then pour the grounds into my french press. The steam continues to exit the kettle with increasing velocity, and I turn off the burner on the stove before it begins to whistle to avoid disrupting the silence of the morning.
The water makes a soft gurgle as it’s poured to cover the coffee grounds in the press. I let the grounds expand in the water for about 30 seconds. The smells of coffee are getting stronger as the beans bloom in the water below.
Thin foam forms on the surface of the water, triggering me to mix the grounds with the yellow plastic cocktail stirrer that I keep handy for this particular task. Time and motion continue to be slow and deliberate.
This is my time, and I like to savor it.
I pour the rest of the hot water into the press and give it a tender stir with an up and down motion before putting the lid and letting it steep for 3-4 minutes.
While it steeps, I recall my first cup of this fantastic coffee. In Jamaica, Miss Ann brewed it on an open flame in a dented cooking pot. There was no french press or coffee machine, just fresh ground beans dropped into a pot of boiling water. After a few minutes, she poured it over cheesecloth into my mug.
I was blown away by how good it was.
Sitting in that wooden chair, the smell of flowers and coffee, chatting with Miss Ann, is a memory that I will never forget.
Morning As It Should Be
I like my coffee with a bit of sweetener and cream. I don't hide it in a ceramic mug that I can't see through. It is beautiful, and I like to see the colors of coffee and cream swirl together when pouring it. I get out one of my double walled clear glass coffee cups and pour myself a cup.
As I pour, the steam rises up carrying its aroma and memories right to my nose. I rinse and dry my press and put my supplies back into the cabinet so it is ready for tomorrow, or depending on the day, in an hour or two.
I slide open the hatch with my right hand while holding my coffee in my left. I step up and out of the companionway onto the deck of the boat, making my way forward to have a seat and enjoy my coffee and my surroundings.
As I watch the sun rise and the lights of the world increase in brightness, I realize how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
We live on a sailboat, and we planned long and hard to make this change in our lives. We didn't want to "keep up with the Joneses" so we downsized and got rid of most of our stuff. We traded the back yard for the water. We traded cars for a dinghy. We traded stuff for experiences.
In about 15 minutes I will be starting my work day, and there will be conference calls, employees, customers, and the tasks of the day. These moments in the morning are what keeps me grounded in who I am and what is important to me.
My morning coffee routine and the act of grinding my own coffee, steeping my own beans and savoring every moment is what sets the course for the day's journey. Starting my day this way lets me do it without chaos.
I encourage you to get personal with your coffee and the creation of a great cup of joe. Do it not just for the result of a cup of coffee, but for the journey and the peace that each step can bring you.
This is how I stay grounded while remaining afloat.
And there you have it. Gil’s post is a brilliant testament to the power of using your morning coffee to stay grounded in the moment you love.
This guest post by Gil Lhoktka is part of our How Do You #StayGrounded? series. If you’re interested in sharing your story about how our products fit into your day-to-day routines, please email me personally at email@example.com to get featured.
Cheers to living the lives we love.