Crying Over Spilled Coffee

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

I started 2020 with hope and excitement. I was looking forward to a new life. Literally. 

Late in January, I moved into a new place in anticipation of getting married in February, and I had lots of big plans for my business–a coffee shop that I own with my parents. I love developing both staff and recipes, and those are the tasks that I had on my agenda for the upcoming year. I was training people for new positions, training new hires, and working on new recipes to put on our menu.

I moved across town in January. Erin, my roomie, and I had lived together for nearly 4 years, and while I looked forward to living by myself (for a whopping 3 weeks before the wedding) for the first time in my life, it was definitely bittersweet to say bye to my friend and her sweet kitty, Rory.

Tim, my husband, and I had a lovely, relaxed winter wedding, complete with breakfast foods and board games. We headed out the next day for a week-long honeymoon just outside of the charming Charleston, SC, where we enjoyed a beautiful hotel and lots of delicious food. We came home and had a week to get him moved and settled in our new place.

GIB Photography

I had left my coffee shop with a bare-bones staff, but I was confident it would be enough to get them through 3 weeks while I enjoyed my wedding and honeymoon. After 8 years+ at this incarnation of the shop, and nearly 15 total, burnout was real. I deserved (needed) 3 weeks off and to be totally disconnected before I started throwing coffee at people.

I came to work on March 1st to find that a nearly full-time barista had quit with less than 2 weeks notice the day after my wedding, leaving my mom, who hadn’t been heavily involved at the shop for over a year, to deal with the fallout until I got back and could take over. My optimism for 2020 began to crumble.

As I scrambled to find coverage, working overtime and by myself a lot for 2+ weeks, and to find a new barista to hire and train now, suddenly the entire world went topsy-turvy…

I kept hearing things about a virus named after a beer, and at first, I legitimately thought it was a joke. I don’t watch or read the news unless someone gives me a reason to, so I rely on people around me to fill me in. All of a sudden everyone seemed scared and suspicious, my business dropped off rapidly, and I had all of these new safety regulations to contend with. I chose to reduce our operating hours and eventually close temporarily. That was over a month ago.

I went from being optimistic about my busy year to crisis management to being bored and trapped at home. It was like a record scratched and everything was different. Talk about a roller coaster.

Separated from everyone but Tim and our cat, for the first time in my life I was neither working nor in school and had absolutely nothing to do. My coffee shop, a catalyst for community connection in the neighborhood, sits dark and empty.

As a veteran business owner, operator, and manager, I am a planner to my core. I like to see what’s ahead of me and to know how to handle it. Right now, I can’t plan even a week ahead for most things.

My emotions are complicated, to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ennui so much in my life. Disbelief, fear, grief, anger, sadness, hope, loneliness, gratitude, amusement, and who knows what others, make an intense emotional cocktail that I haven’t experienced before, and don’t know how to navigate. I don’t think anyone does.

Feeling the negative emotions is healthy. Wallowing in them is not. Instead of crying over spilled coffee, so to speak, I am trying to accept that I can’t control or plan almost anything right now. I’m living life one predictably-unpredictable day at a time, and I’m doing my best to feel the emotions as they surface. I’m aiming for no numbing, and no catastrophizing.

To curb my ennui, I’m planning in small ways where I can. I plan our meals at least a week in advance, and I’ve become the Dungeon Master Mistress for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I’m trying new recipes, watching new shows, reading new books, listening to new music, trying new hobbies, doing a safe amount of introspection, and resting. And, I’ve started this blog.

Early in 2019 I decided to start a blog about my management style, but could never find time to get it going. Time is definitely one thing I have in spades right now. Staying at home is allowing me to get the ball rolling on a blog. My adventures in battling boredom will be chronicled here, as well as some bits and pieces about business, theology, charity work, and whatever else pops into my head. Welcome to my life!

Until next time.


Published by Noelle

Noelle lives in Denver, CO with her husband Tim and their tuxedo cat Betty. She's worked in customer service for 20 years and is an expert manager. She's sarcastic and has a dry sense of humor. She loves cooking, all things geeky, self-improvement, charity work, learning about God, and creating community.

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