Black Rock Coffee Bar-A Very Good Place

Black Rock Coffee Bar

We have this great place in my hood to meet for coffee, or to get a little work done with a cup of coffee out among other human beings. The first time I walked into this new place to meet a friend, Kathy (she’s very nice, you should try to meet her there for coffee too), I immediately noticed that I suddenly was in a better frame of mind. I almost never notice things like that, but goodness is obvious here the moment you walk in.

Coffee brings us together, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a treat. It provides a socially acceptable meeting location for our stimulant fixes.

It’s possible that the late, great, NBC sitcom Friends and Central Perk may have given us this gift of a great way to hang together. Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross and Rachel became a family at Central Perk.

We meet friends or get a pick me up to brighten our days at coffee houses. If you’re ever in my area, I strongly urge you to go to Black Rock Coffee Bar! This is who they are:

THE WAY WE LIVE

We strive for excellence in everything we do in life. Our crafted drinks are a way we show respect for our customers and ourselves. They are the beginning of a relationship built on trust and care that through time grows to see our stories unfold in our city.

As part of local communities, each Black Rock Coffee Bar team finds ways to serve their neighborhoods. And by doing so we help raise the bar for relationship and compassion.

As relationship grows, so does accountability. We hold each other to higher standards for the good of all. Whether it be care for nature, care for those in need, or just a sincere desire to see others do well, we learn to expect a lot from each other and a lot for our customers.

Our priority at Black Rock is not for others to know who we are and what we do… but for others to allow us to know them, to add fuel to their story, and to share in the journey.

MORE THAN GREAT COFFEE
No person is an island. No matter how many friends we collect on our devices, there will always be a longing to truly know others and be known. At Black Rock, our aim is to fuel that fire by being more than a place for coffee… we are a place for connection. Whether she’s a barista, an owner, or he’s a customer, supplier or neighbor: we’re all crafting our story one day at a time, one connection at a time.

When I grow up, I want to be just like the peeps that began Black Rock Coffee Bar. My local one is in Chandler, AZ, but they exist in several cities. Check out their website to see if there’s one near you and then stay there to read every single word about who they are. I was inspired to become a better person just by reading their website. Truly.

Are you busy this Sunday at 1:00 PM? Cause I’m gonna be at the Chandler location working on my laptop and enjoying some form of espresso. Come on by and say hi! We can chat. Maybe we’ll become Friends. You’ll find my picture on the home page and my laptop has the initials KB in gold glitter on the cover. Even if no one shows up, I will be happier just because I got to spend time among kind people. I hope you’ll stop by though! I’ll see if Kathy can come…you’ll like her.

hope you’ll at least drive through for a delicious cup of coffee one day when you need a little goodness. Smile at your barista and tell them Karen sent you!

 

Baristas from Left to Right: Dakota, Lindsee, Maddy. I hope I spelled your names correctly. You are all fantastic!

 

The Neighborhood Table

Kindness tip for the week:

He's the Man!

It’s okay to ask for help.

Allowing help gives a chance to shorten the distance between loneliness and a life shared.

A few Christmases ago I asked for a new kitchen table, the current “table” was about to disband into dust. The Husband, Keith, found a very cute table and chairs at Wal-Mart online. It was delivered with “some assembly required” about a week before Christmas to our neighbor Jeff’s house.

We have the family Christmas Eve dinner at our house. The four ‘fancy’ plates we got for our wedding come out to play for this night because there is never a worthy occasion to use them. Since we only have the four, it takes awhile to make the table look like it was arranged with a plan in mind. I spend about an hour, choosing the tablecloth and napkins, setting the table, arranging the seating and centerpiece until we can all fit, if we keep our elbows in, and I’m reasonably happy it looks magical. After baking and cooking all morning/month I thankfully disappear to finish wrapping presents behind closed doors while something cooks slowly in the oven. Egg Nog may, or may not, be invited in. Every year this is my schedule. Every. Single. Year.

This particular Christmas Eve, as soon as I closed our bedroom door to tackle speed wrapping, a silent mayhem began in the kitchen. The Youngest,Talia, having memorized exactly how the table was set, took everything off as quickly and quietly as she could, The Husband and The Oldest, Hannah, immediately sent four texts to neighbors who were on stand by to help assemble the table and chairs, run them to our house, silently set them up in our kitchen, dispose of the old table and chairs while The Youngest perfectly reset the new table to look exactly like the old one as fast as was safe.

I heard nothing.

The crew all excitedly waited in the kitchen for me to come out. Two hours later, I did. By that time, the neighbors had left and everyone else was annoyed with me. I didn’t notice the new table for way too long, even with all the beaming faces glaring at me. Since everything looked exactly like how I left it…no need to comment.

Finally, The Youngest sarcastically bellowed, “NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN THE KITCHEN??” I looked quickly around from my perch in front of the sink, “Ohhhhh! New chairs!” This was met with a simultaneous group sigh. If I just hadn’t gone with a tablecloth that year, I would have seen the new table and we would hardly remember this even happened.

The whole Christmas Eve shenanigan uprising is priceless to me; the new table that wasn’t crumbling down, the group effort with their commitment to sneakery (should be a word), The Husband who had the thought and generosity to pull this off, the family that is sheltered at this table. Buying anything large at that point in time was a huge committment, even though we needed it, we still were anxious about the choice. It was a screamin’ deal though.  My husband propped up a poem he found in the middle of the table. I still can’t read it without tearing up. (You can read it below.) The words in this beautiful piece, gave our lives purpose and comfort that a table is a worthy investment.

This gift was way more than a new table from Wal-Mart. It was a step back to barn-raising’s and a step forward to neighbors taking care of their own in times of flooding and fires and shootings and innocent Christmas magic.

We can never get rid of this table.

Try to love your time with your family this week and with all of those who have landed near you. In my experience, time together as a family went faster than I could fathom. Well, on most days, some days time actually went slower than originally fathomed.

Do you have a story? Please share it! Everywhere! A positive story can change the course of any day.

The poem that was placed on my magical Christmas table:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

BY JOY HARJO

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

 

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

 

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

 

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

 

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

 

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

 

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

 

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

 

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

 

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

 

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Where we learn to be human. And the fancy plate is the first one on the right. 🙂
“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo.

The Kindness War

“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

Stephen Stills 1967

Kindness is at war with evil.

The battle lines are being drawn by celebrities, politicians, comedians, some cats, my next door neighbor. It’s a battle to fight violence, judgement, hatred, intolerance, apathy, by way of being consciously kind.

It’s a victimless war.

It’s a hard time to believe in people right now–between child detention, the constant revelations of the #MeToo movement, the racial, economic and gender-based injustices we witness every day.

It could not be a better time for a movie about Mister Rogers. But, when has there ever been a time when it wasn’t a good idea to listen to a peaceful man? Our family went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor this past weekend. It was a 10 PM showing on a Friday night after a long week. We were in recliners at the Harkins at the mall. I had a glass of champagne to sip during the movie. Our kids came with us, they’re 20 and 22, and we’d all been swimming in 110 heat for most of the day.  Although,It was the perfect storm to sleep from opening to ending credits, no one slept. It was even kinda riveting. It’s a very quiet, beautiful film about a very quiet, beautiful man who embodies unconditional love. He makes seeking kindness first seem easy. It isn’t always. But, Fred Rogers shows that kindness is a choice we can make daily, that feelings are important and valid, and that love, or its vacancy, is the dynamic force behind our actions.

And then there’s Lady Gaga!!! She’s so much more than we were led to believe at her beginning. She is actively speaking out to make a difference in the world she sees. Personally, I see humans in most places trying to change the world by spreading kindness.

Here’s a thing: To be consciously kind takes a little effort, but not nearly as much as hate requires.

Then! Here in Chandler, is my friend Helen. Un-frickin-believable Helen.

If she reads on facebook that I’m sick or injured, which, to put into perspective, I am injured/sick more often than not-that-way, she goes into high alert as to how she can ease my pain. For exp: a coffee mug of George Clooney’s self-portrait (a personal fave), An In-N-Out gift card, root beer, chocolate covered cherries when my father died because he loved those things, anything from Disneyland that involves magic or Tigger. These perfect gifts will just appear on my doorstep, and after Helen ding dong ditches at a speed only a 5 year-old should be able to achieve, I will open the door to see only the evidence of love and compassion sitting in a potted plant. I’m just one of hundreds of people she stalks for goodness.  My daughter, Hannah, calls her S.O.G. for Sister of God. We are humbled by her very nature. S.O.G. you rock.

Let’s be Helen today and do one thing for one person who doesn’t expect or maybe even deserve a little surprise. Even a flower from your yard on their front door is enough. Let me know if you actually do this please!

Your one act of kindness shared can reach the world. This little blog alone is reaching Russia. You have a chance to reach across this huge cultural divide just by saying “Hi.” Or “I put a flower on my neighbors door. They never noticed it…”

Aforementioned cat changing the world…

Neighbors For Good

I see a world where we continually define ourselves by the way in which we are divided.

Our family moved to Chandler, Arizona from Los Angeles 18 years ago. We found a nice house we could almost afford in a safe neighborhood. My husband and I had two small daughters at the time. I suggested leaving L.A. the day helicopters were hovering over our house bellowing repeatedly through a blow horn for everyone to lock all doors and windows and stay inside. An armed robber was thought to be hiding in one of our backyards after shooting the owner of our corner grocery store. I love LA, but life in Chandler has been way less “survival of the fittest.”

The first day of house shopping brought us into 20 identical, beige, stucco houses in 20 different neighborhoods between Scottsdale and Chandler.

Amazed at the lack of trees or anything green and the sheer amount of people that chose to landscape with beige rock, I decided we should stay in LA and  take our chances. But, we tried one more house, at the urging of our eager realtor, and there, gleaming like a diamond rising up through beige stucco were the most beautiful cherry wood cabinets. We would never be able to afford cherry wood in LA, so we moved. And stayed. And planted grass and trees and painted our house a rebellious taupe. We still live in the same house we bought 18 years ago in the Fox Crossing/Ocotillo neighborhood of Southern Chandler. We landed in such a good place.

Here is what I have grown to love/sometimes find annoying about living in our ‘hood:

OUR NEIGHBORS!

Across the street is Danielle’s family. Danielle calls me on occasion just to see if there is anything she can do for me. I teach her daughter how to play the piano. Danielle and her husband helped us move furniture we inherited from my sick mother into the house at an ungodly hour one Saturday morning. Their son has rescued our flight risk of Chewiethedog at least 3 times just because he saw her fun by his driveway. On his own initiative he hopped on his bike and ran her back home. He’s not that old. This family inspires me to reach out beyond my driveway. Every neighborhood needs a Danielle and fam.

Jeff and Katie are the neighborhood welcoming committee. Friendly, always ready to lend a hand or a tablespoon of chillies, and well, they’re so much fun. Jeff own’s a pool service, works early hours, comes home for lunch and is frequently home to play with his kids when they’re done with school. He loves his stunningly beautiful and wise wife, Katie. Katie, Jeff and Danielle are incredible examples of, well, the perfect neighbors. So, I’m trying to be that too….it’s a work in progress.

Here on our cul-de-sac we are divided by fences and garages, politics and income, interests and age. But, I’ve noticed that here on our little street we are better defined by our similarities. We are all humans, we are all a part of a family, we are all neighbors.

If you had told me when I was 10, 20, 30, that I would want to live in a suburb one day, I would’ve never spoken to you again. But now that I’m here I see that suburbs are essentially good, and therefore valuable. We take care of each other here. We are defined by the commonality of being alive.

Neighbors are anyone who you happen to be standing near. For today, I’m going to define myself as a neighbor first and try to let the rest of the crap go, i.e.: politics, interests, keeping up with the Joneses, age…barking dogs (not that our dog doesn’t bark too).

It’s nice here in Fox Crossing. I’m so grateful the cherrywood cabinets yelled at me.

Is your neighborhood this nice? Do you like your neighbors? Do you want to like your neighbors? I’d love to hear how your ‘hood is working out for the good of it’s inhabitants.

If your neighborhood is not this nice, I suggest that you through a party in your driveway and invite every single neighbor. We have a fire in our driveway for Halloween and place invitations on every house the week before. It’s been a game changer. If you try this, let me know how it goes!

This is Jeff’s business! Hayden Pool Service! He’s really good at this stuff! If you call him, tell him I sent you.

Thanks for stopping by for the read.

“Hi” never started a war.

Just For Today

Maybe just for today we can find a way to offer hope just by being open to someone else’s walk through humanity. In my opinion, this is vitally important because now more than ever, Americans seem to rise up through tragedy just too often to keep going on. 

Jane, a friend of mine from my distant adolescence in California, posted this on Facebook after one of our way too many mass shootings, or maybe it was in response to the divisiveness of our political climate…

“This is how I have been trying to live my life in my community. I think it makes a difference somewhere. As America figures this all out, I’m going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, being patient with a waiter, and smiling at strangers, as often as I am provided the opportunity. Because I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible. Join me in showing love to someone who may not necessarily deserve it. Find your own way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love. Because today, sadly, hate is winning. Just be nice to a stranger today and everyday.” 

I have been the recipient of love and forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it, sadly, a lot…From Jane, from my parents, and husband and children and way too often, in traffic. On a daily basis I need to be reminded to see every person as they were originally created to be. This is actually how I start each day: A very quick prayer asking to see each person as they were meant to be, usually said as I’m literally running everywhere and traveling too quickly through my life. It helps my patience and level of joy, especially on days when I could swear I have neither.

Maybe give this little thought/prayer a try tomorrow morning and see if you react differently as you wildly go about your daily life too. Then, if we crash into each other on the road or at the grocery store or waiting in line at Pei Wei, we’ll be quicker to forgive ourselves and each other in this moment where we don’t necessarily deserve it.

I’d love it if you’d let me know if this helps at least you, if not everyone you encounter for the rest of your life, or at least for the next 15 minutes. Maybe 15 minutes will be enough to change your attitude for the day, or week, or forever.

This attitude might ripple across the street and eventually move on to Romania and Rio de Janeiro and possibly even Rough and Ready, California. We only need to be a little light to make a difference.

Just a little flame, not a bonfire.

How do you start your day?

The Fingerprint of Second Thoughts

“Thank you for not abusing me” she said.

“You’re welcome……….it hasn’t been easy” I replied.

My daughter, Talia, is training to be a volunteer on Teen Lifeline, the suicide hot line here in Phoenix. We had the above conversation more than once after the session on abuse.

I didn’t plan to have children. They just showed up. I thought about having a baby once and then BAM! pregnant. That first one just about killed me too, not all the way to fully dead, but dented into an unrecognizable state.  I have a salvage certificate.

Six months after the first baby was born, in a moment of weakness to many, many, things, I thought about a new baby again, and BAM! same thing. I have not allowed myself to “think” since. 

Talia Hope became the second “thought.” Before she was Talia, she was 25,023,800 seconds of panicked thoughts. 24, 419,000 seconds is the length of an average pregnancy. Talia stayed another 7 days to put up shelves, it seems, in the hope of staying.

There are times in my life where I have been closer to God than others. Waiting for my second child to emerge while caring for a seven-month old was a time spent in close proximity; through prayer, pleading and endless bargaining.

At the risk of sounding crazy, when I was about 2 months into the pregnancy, I heard these words in reply to an outcry, “You’re having a girl. Her name is Hope.”

“I am? Whose hope is she? Mine?”  I replied. “Nice.”

Since you can’t name a child Hope Burns (for obvious reasons) we named her Talia Hope. Talia is Hebrew/Greek and means “Dew from Heaven.” Hope and dew from heaven are maybe too much to expect from a small person, especially since I’ve only ever hoped to keep my children alive or on good days to walk upright.

Through much doubt, I was “believing” for a pain free natural child birth while waiting for Talia to be done with her shelves. The pain free part didn’t happen, which leveled my faith for awhile. When Talia was done with her shelving project, she came hurtling out of the shoot with such a force that she broke her face and her collarbone and arrived the color of soot. Since my husband and I are not that color, it was a little suspicious…But, within 24 hours she was back to resembling us, along with a little bit of Yoda..(She still doesn’t like that comparison.) (The resemblance was striking though!)

The moment she was placed on my chest after her shoot hurtling entrance into this world, she cracked me up. She had a remarkable over-bite. ($5,000 later this has been fixed. Thank you Dr. Chamberlain!)  “This is the one that’s going to make me laugh” I told my husband through sobs and chuckling. Which has turned out to be true.

My second moment of weakness has become a person who notices “an underlying tone of agony” in humanity and is on a mission to find out why that is. And to make everyone laugh; at her, at themselves, at all the other ridiculousness in this world. It is her sense of curiosity and humor that focuses her listening so intently. Laughter and listening. Good qualities in a hopeful lifesaver.

She won’t find out if she “made” the Teen Lifeline team for another 2-3 weeks of training and finals and mock-phone calls that make her alternately break down in sobs and beam with pride. I dearly want her to pass these tests, just as I am deeply afraid that this may have too much tragedy for a tender 16-year-old to take on.

My second thought…noticed her life with us has been free of abuse,  thinks I’m cute, wants me to think this too, and is learning how to offer hope.

It’s enough to make me start to “think” again. Because one sarcastic, snarky, overly observant, sweet, clever, sometimes insecure, kind, fingerprint, maybe wasn’t enough.

Have you had a second thought that worked out better than you hoped? Has it changed your life? Or someone else’s life that you’ve had the privilege to notice?

If not, here’s mine. Maybe mine will help you find yours.

Yoda at 14.

Talia’s fingerprint:

* kindness wrapped in sarcasm.
* Compassion covered up in a contrary, perky, shell.(hence the “it wasn’t easy” comment above.)
*  is not gentle with herself, but is with everyone else.
* is love. A rescuer of precious creatures. Not the least of which is me.
 * is permanently pink, just because…

Talia, I suspect that God is giggling about His creation of you.