Hey! Come on in. I’m so glad you stopped by.
My name’s Stacey (as you could have probably guessed from the name of this blog), and I’m a 23-year-old, 5 foot 3 inch drain pipe for all things espresso, black coffee, Kombucha, oolong, and earl grey.
Since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to work in a coffee shop–specifically the Starbucks store that was nestled in the center of my hometown. Say what you will about the coffee tycoon, but it always seemed like a magical oasis to me. And maybe, that’s because I was trained from a young age that if I went to church on Sunday and we had the budget for it, I might be rewarded with a Starbucks trip.
Now, if you were a little kid who would rather play with the box your toy came in as opposed to the toy itself, then you can imagine the insurmountable joy I would get from sprinkling chocolate powder and raw sugar into my mom’s Venti Extra-Hot Cappuccino, then being allowed to stir it all up with a wooden stick.
It didn’t matter to me that whenever my mom offered me a sip, I’d scrunch my nose and stick out my tongue in disgust. I was still hooked. It was even better than playing with my Polly Pockets outside in my turtle sandbox.
Just call me Pavlov’s dog. After a few trips, she’d say church and I’d think Starbucks. (Sorry, Jesus.)
Then, when I was older, I worked at that very same store.
I was hired in May of 2017 during one of the darkest periods of my life. Starting out as a closing barista came just a few months after surviving multiple accounts of sexual assault and rape on my college campus. That following summer, I spent way too much time fighting with family and friends. And I spent way too many off days driving to meetings with investigators and advocates, police officers and trauma therapists. But somehow, despite all that, the moment I started my barista basics training, it felt like I had come home. I not only found another family, but I discovered that by being forced to focus on the recipes and making customers’ drinks in a timely manner, I could keep from dissociating, having panic attacks, and flashbacks.
I think I even managed to smile.
That smile was one that I had hoped would last, but it didn’t.
My last days of working at Starbucks came at the end of August, and so did the start of the fall semester. Just days before I was scheduled to move back into my dorm and resume my undergrad degree where I left off, I got the news that the school dropped my case. There would be no hearing, no closure, no chance for an apology, and no chance to ask questions. The moment I stepped back on campus, my progress reverted, and I couldn’t even look up from the sidewalk out of fear. The more I learned about what the investigator wrote in his report, the more I wished for an escape.
Within one week, it was blatant to everyone around me that I wasn’t capable of taking care of myself anymore. Nor did I want to. I didn’t want to.
By the end of September, I was back home and living on a very short leash.
For the first few months, every time I walked out the front door, my dad thought he’d never see me again. It took a long time for me to rebuild his trust, but once I had it, I knew that the best chance I had to create meaning and stability in my life was by getting my job back. The second time at Starbucks was a paradox. It was the same. And, it was different.
It was the same in the facets that I could stay present during my shifts, and everyday provided me with endless opportunities for growth. I re-learned how to say no. I re-learned what my boundaries and non-negotiables were. I practiced small talk, and came to know what genuine, human interaction was. It was all of those familiarities combined that made this experience different.
As the weeks passed, and my mind and resolve grew stronger, I was able to notice everything that I was blind to before. I was awakened to all of the beautiful moments of complete strangers bonding over our menu or our company’s news. That previous summer, I interacted with strangers a hundred times over as I made their order or took out the garbage, but because of the fortress I built around myself for means of survival, I could no longer feel the magic of human connection. I had barricaded myself from it. And, I didn’t trust it.
But the second time working at Starbucks, everything changed for the better.
And, as I reflect, there was always something new and exciting in the cafe—new customers who become regulars, regulars who become friends, many milestones, and a whole lot of laughs, all while crafting the perfect cup of coffee–that was until I fucked up the cutest little latté heart. Or until the tea shaker exploded all over me.
But eh. We all have those days. And I didn’t dwell on them. Why should I have?
Instead, on bad days, I preferred to count my blessings, journal my gratitudes, and thank the universe that I was healthy and that I was alive. It was days where life kicked me in my teeth that I realized that if a great cup of coffee could bring people together and inspire genuine conversation, I had to share it. There was no way I could keep all of these bright, little, positive gems all to myself. And what better place to share them then here, on this blog?
So, welcome. Welcome.
As founder and (the early bird) co-creator of SMK Sites, I’ll be waking up with you to ensure that you feel inspired by the time you put on your slippers.
You see, I love, love, love waking up before the sun comes up, which is probably the time that Sahv’s head is hitting the pillow. But for me, that’s the time when my energy and potential for the day starts percolating in my veins, and as corny as it sounds, it’s more than enough to get me up and about to work on my goals rather then to dream about them.
But let me be real, I still have to make my bed—complete with all eight pillows—to destroy any temptations of crawling back in just for a minute with my boyfriend, Joe, and sometimes a doggy we bring over from our parent’s house.
They’re all quite the character—especially the BF. Think: a camera shy, house-flipping, Jeep-o-phile who rivals Jack Dawson when presented with a string of inspiration, a piece of charcoal, and a sheet of paper.
As for the dogs, Peanut’s the needy little Dachshund in the pic above. Then there’s a Boston Terrier – Chihuahua mix named Baxter who low key loves coffee, and Chachi, Joe’s pug, who low key loves Baxter. When I say Chachi low-key loves Baxter, what I really mean is that he looks at her the way Tormund looks at Brienne in Game of Thrones. It’s true love if I ever saw it. Too bad she doesn’t reciprocate.
Beyond taking care of them, I adore my cacti. I know they don’t have feelings, but they’re very important to me, and that’s because they serve as a living reminder to connect to nature, to go outside, to breathe, to explore, and to be kind to this place I call earth.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Andy Goldsworthy, which reads, “We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we have lost our connection to ourselves.”
It’s a great quote to ponder and mull over, especially when I have my nose to the grindstone. It’s a reminder to look up and to appreciate the world around me as I hustle my ass off as I embark on a new chapter of my life that doesn’t involve me working in a coffee shop. Instead, I get to focus on being a self-employed real estate agent and blogger. And, maybe, even find my way back into the realm of theatre. I don’t mind the hard work though, and this is something I talk a lot about with my life coach. I always say to her, “Today, I am satisfied and I am unsatisfied.”
For me, there’s this constant duality in my work ethic and approach to self-betterment that some could find frustrating, but I choose to find freeing. It keeps me on track with putting one foot in front of the other. Every day. Not only to see what happens but to see what grows.
So, I invite you in to grow with me and to explore this space–whether it’s just for a minute or for a couple hours.
I’m glad you’re here.
+ To view my digital C.V., click here.