I think my coffee habit started when I was 5 years old. We were living in an apartment in San Leandro, California and, every morning, my nana would wake me for school with a little rub on my back and no words. I’d get dressed, rub the sleep from my eyes, and work my way down the staircase to my dad’s antique rocking chair – a chair with a dark oak frame, velvet cushions, and ornate lion heads made for a big man to grasp as he rocked away. I’d curl up into its massive frame and… wait.
The house was always dark and quiet. I never remember announcing to my nana I was in the chair, but she was always shortly behind my arrival with breakfast: toasted Roman Meal wheat bread with butter and strawberry jam, and a cup of coffee – extra carnation milk (it’s a Guamanian thing) and a bit of sugar. Sometimes there’d be a scrambled egg, but usually not. Toast and coffee was it – and then away I’d go for the two block walk to school.
So, when I tell you I love coffee, I LOVE coffee. Coffee is history to me. Coffee is quiet time with my nana… it’s feelings of peace… it’s comfort and place and simply part of me. I’m one of those people who, literally, dreams of my morning coffee as I’m going to sleep at night. I feel the warmth of the mug between my hands – I hear the sweet morning conversations that will carry over my cup.
Coffee + morning… there’s never been another way.
While we were going through the darkness with the house transaction, however, I found myself drinking more and more coffee than usual. Yes, I’d have it in the morning… but then I’d have it again about 10am, I’d grab another cup sometime mid-day, and (as crazy as this sounds), I even found myself making a small pot while I made dinner at night!
Coffee… coffee… coffee. It was the easy go to, you know?
Something not right? Drink coffee!
Feeling a little tired? Drink coffee!
Wish you could crawl into bed and cry over all the stress? Drink coffee!
I was easily at 4 mugs of coffee a day – and, if a large mug is really 16-24 ounces (and a ‘cup’ is 8 ounces), that means I was drinking 8 cups of coffee a day. 8 CUPS OF COFFEE. (Gosh, just writing that makes me sick right now.)
Then, one day about four weeks ago, I was standing in the kitchen… exhausted. There were two Starbucks cups of coffee on my counter, both half-finished. I had run out to my car to grab something for one of the kids and, lo and behold, there was yet another take-out coffee cup in my cup holder. I grabbed it, took it into the house, and, as I stood at the sink pouring out the three half-drank cups, it hit me: Elisha, pull it together, girl.
It was in that moment I decided coffee and I needed a break. I was embarrassed to realize the habit that was taking over and surely contributing to my lack of energy and clarity. I had stopped appreciating what I loved and enjoyed because I had stopped being intentional… and, because I had stopped being intentional, coffee had stopped being my friend.
No longer was coffee my sweet morning companion, it was my bane. It was zapping my brain, taking my money, and giving me the most horrendous taste in my mouth at all hours of the day. I felt gross every night.
So, in that very moment, I made the change. Literally, I simply chose different – and, instead of making coffee, I made a pot of green ginger tea.
“It’s better for you”, I told myself. (Agh! But it’s not coffee!)
No, it’s wasn’t coffee – it wasn’t my love; but, it was pleasant. It was so light on my palate. The ginger was spicy, the honey gave me that bit of sweet I needed.
The next morning – it was an intentional decision again: tea over coffee.
And the next day… and the next day.
By the third day my man was asking for some of the tea instead of his coffee.
Fourth day, fifth day… a whole week went by. While I still woke up wanting coffee each morning, I’d say to myself, “Self-control, Elisha… drink the tea.” Moment by moment, day by day, it was a decision I made. If I was out and about where coffee was offered, I’d drink ice water. If I met girlfriends ‘for coffee’, I ordered tea. INTENTIONALLY I choose to say no to what I felt was zapping me – and, after I had suffered through four or five days without it, I wasn’t going to give in and make all that suffering for nothing, you know? (Remember: I LOVE COFFEE. So what I’m telling you was not easy – it took effort!)
To make a long story short, here I am: back in the light and about four weeks without coffee and, let me tell you: I FEEL AMAZING. I’m not dying for a cup of coffee the way I used to; and, as a matter of fact, I don’t even find myself really wanting it anymore. Truly. I feel brighter, I’m not tired in the afternoons, I don’t have that constant nasty taste in my mouth that coffee leaves. I’m not saying I’ll never drink coffee again. As a matter of fact, just yesterday I ordered a cappuccino while I was writing and it was really, really good… and I only had ONE.
What I am saying, however, is that what I learned in the dark is this: sometimes the things we think we need are really things we should do without. We can get into habits, or patterns, or whatever… and we can crave and desire because it’s just ‘who we are’ or ‘what we do’… and, when we add stress the mix, those ‘things’ can even seem like our very best friends! But the truth is this: “God does not make us timid, but gives us POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE.” GOD MADE US FREE PEOPLE – PEOPLE WITH POWER OVER OUR CHOICES. This means when we’re in the dark and we discover there’s something breaking us down instead of building us up, our God gives us the power to change it!
For me in this season, the ‘thing’ I needed to do without was my coffee crutch. And, thanks to the darkness I walked through with my Father before me, I was able to see I’m better off without it.
The conclusion? Coffee is not my friend… but self-control sure is.
Ginger tea anyone?
If so, here’s what you do:
In a high sided pot, add 2 cups of water, 2 green tea bags, 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 2 minutes.
Add 1 tsp of honey and a bit of milk (if desired)
Pour into your favorite mug… ENJOY! (Oh, and don’t use a strainer! You really want the little ginger bits… they’re delicious.)
FYI: My favorite green tea is the one at Costco:
And, for the ginger: use the back of a spoon to scrape the skin off, then use a microplane (or other fine grater) to grate it:
(NOTE: Green tea alone is like a superfood in a cup… and then you add the benefits of fresh ginger and raw honey! Wowza! Seriously – you’ll feel a difference if you replace your coffee habit with this concoction. I’m walking proof.)