Panic Attack! It’s Only Coffee…But

I almost had a panic attack Tuesday evening. I have this routine before I go to bed. I make my coffee so all I have to do when I am bleary-eyed in the morning is to punch the button. I knew I had finished my one container of coffee the day before, but I also knew I had another full container in the cupboard. However, now I am questioning everything I thought I knew.

I went to the cupboard. I found the can. It seemed awfully light. I pulled off the cover and it was…wait…for…it, EMPTY. My can of coffee was empty. There was no coffee. Did I put that empty can in the cupboard? Was I sleepwalking when I did it? I quickly dismissed the thought and blamed it on my Natasha, my crafty kitty who haunts my cupboards or tries to. Let’s pass the blame because I could not handle doing that to myself when it came to coffee.

Immediately I could feel the panic fill my body. There would be no coffee at 6:00 a.m. as I leisurely took my time waking and getting out of bed. Usually, I wallow and read in bed with my coffee at least for an hour. It is my routine. I could handle the not wallowing, but NO COFFEE? Tea wasn’t going to cut it.

Then came the what-ifs.  Would the grocery store let me do the curbside pickup for only coffee as I was stocked up on everything else I needed? And…I am leary about this old person going into a store where no one is wearing masks, That in itself brings panic because I know people in other areas mired in virus problems, and as much as we think we are safe in a low virus county, you never know. Still, even if I did do that in the morning there would be no coffee when I woke up.

It seems like a small thing and it is, but coffee helps because it is a routine and something stable in my life when all else seems to be upended.

Did I have anything stuffed in the freezer that I forgot about? I quickly dug in my freezer and pulled out an old bag of leftover beans that were hidden in the bottom of the freezer, enough to make a pot. But where was my coffee grinder? Did I even have one anymore?

That led to another foraging at night looking for my coffee grinder. I was a madwoman rummaging through cupboards where I stored that which does not get used often. I found it stuffed in the back under some other appliances I haven’t used in years.  I rushed it to the cupboard and put the old coffee beans, as in years and years old, in the grinder. I couldn’t get it to work. I dinged around for a short time and I found success, and ground my beans, dropping them into my Cuisinart, ready for the morning.

I didn’t sleep well that night wondering if I would be able to even drink the coffee. Would it be horrible because the beans were so old?  As I pried my sleepy eyes open and pondered the headache I had, I staggered to the kitchen and pushed the button. The coffee maker sprung to life. I pondered how to get some coffee without visiting the grocery store for one item. I know it seems silly, but did I also mention anxiety is my middle name and I like to avoid it at all costs? There was my neighbors, Brian and Tammy who I knew would go to the store for me, but they do so much for me I hated to ask them for just the coffee, and I feel though they are young and out and about, it is hard to ask for something so silly.

I decided that just once until I needed the next big grocery order to buy from my local grocery, because I believe in buying the things I need that are available in town, to order coffee online.  I thought I had enough beans for maybe two days although the taste wasn’t the best.  Buying online wasn’t an option if I needed it within the next day or so as shipping was two weeks out. I could feel the panic set in again along with my migraine pounding my head, so I gave it up and called my neighbor and he immediately brought my coffee.

As I ponder what I normally wouldn’t have gotten anxious about, which is going to the grocery store, I know I was overreacting. Everyone is going to the grocery store on their own in my community. Masks still haven’t been the norm and we don’t even know if they protect us, but they make some of us feel protected. Part of my anxiety is knowing my friends from all over the states and other countries who have the virus, lost loved ones or have medical conditions, and tell me this could come here easily and all it takes is one person out and about who infects others. We don’t have it in such numbers here but those friends are always in the back of my mind.

And then the thought came to me as I called my neighbor…what if there is no coffee? What if there is a shortage? There is no toilet paper but will we add coffee to the list? Coffee seems to be my security blanket in this time of fear. In the time of not knowing when we will be able to hug our children and grandchildren again. I can’t even go there thinking about how our interaction with other people is going to change. I can’t imagine never hugging anyone on a spur of the moment meeting again. So I choose coffee to panic about. I can’t go to the other possibilities in my mind. But I can do coffee. I can’t think about the hugs shortage that would go far beyond panic.

Let me panic about coffee. It is a small thing to obsess about because it doesn’t let me think about all the other places my mind could go. Let yourself have your feelings in this time about whatever insignificant thing is causing you to freak out. If it gets you through the bigger things then you have got this. Stay safe.

Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.

Martha Beck

Ringing in the Old

As I read the news this morning I decided to do something different on my blog the next few weeks that doesn’t speak of the virus. As some of you might remember, I wrote a column for the Albert Lea Tribune titled Something About Nothing. I wrote for them starting in 2005 and quit in 2019. I decided to dust off some of my favorite columns and post them on this blog the next few weeks. I am going to take these columns and put them in a new book to be read, either all at once, or a little at a time. My goal is to lift someone up especially at this time. I find writing helps me and I hope my words help you.

This column is from way back and I can’t you what year probably 2009 or 10. Enjoy.


The beautiful tall tree in my front yard that shades my house and keeps us cool is withering. I called the tree doctor. He diagnosed stress from this spring’s weather. He told me my tree would come back but possibly not until next year. In the meantime, I see its withered leaves and know there is nothing I can do to bring it back to health. It has to heal on its own with the weather and the water from the earth.

It strikes me that the tree is like our lives. When the storms of life descend on us, we seem to wither and droop. We feel helpless because there is nothing we can do for some of the stresses in our lives, such as friends’ illnesses, financial problems, and other things over which we have no control. We can only wait and heal until spring comes again.

I have said that it will be a miracle if my tree makes it. We use the word miracle lightly in our lives. We throw the word around as if we do not believe miracles can happen. describes a miracle as “An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause….”

Perhaps we are skeptical of miracles because we Christians believe miracles have to be huge. The Vatican and Lourdes carry out scientific investigations of miracles of healing. They have to meet strict criteria to be called a miracle. We also may think of miracles as those in the Bible, such as Jesus turning water into wine or Jesus rising from the dead..

C.S. Lewis stated that one cannot believe a miracle occurred if one has already drawn a conclusion in their mind that miracles are not possible.

I am currently reading Expect a Miracle by Dan Wakefield. This book is about miracles in everyday lives. I expected the book to tell of great miracles that happened in everyday lives such as miraculous unexplainable healing, instead the book opened my eyes to the miraculous things that happen every day.

Do we miss small miracles every day because we are looking for something grand and bigger? Do we throw the word around because we feel a real miracle can only happen if it is huge, like water being turned into wine? Or are miracles happening in small ways inn our life and we miss them because we truly do not believe in miracles? Or we believe a miracle cannot happen for us.

My friend recently had surgery for cancer. It went well. She has been through many surgeries through the years for this cancer. She has a cancer that most people do not survive. I consider her life to be a miracle. I am sure she does, too.

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I know there are scientific reasons for rainbows, but that rainbow always seems to appear when I need it most to give me hope. When my mother died in the midst of a cold February winter, a mourning dove visited my window. The mourning doves hadn’t been around since fall. Usually they come in pairs. That winter, one morning right after her death, one mourning dove visited my window. To me that was a miracle, and seeing that dove made me feel that things would be all right.

My tree is withering, but if just one leaf comes back, it could be a miracle that there is still life in my tree. Pat Gralton makes this statement as she listed one hundred miracles that she sees in her life. This is one of them.

My garden is a miracle. It teaches me everything about life that I will ever need to know: anticipation, birth, joy, changes in color and texture, different shades of the same color, buds, dead blossoms, killing frost, burial, saying farewell, hope for the spring, renewal. (Dan Wakefield, Expect a Miracle,

NOTE: My tree lived and is thriving today.

Sharing A Little Of Myself

This morning I picked up a pamphlet that was on my bookshelf titled Expect A Miracle—-Make Miracles Hqppen by Norman Vincent Peale. It was a quick read and it gave me moments of clarity.

We so need miracles right now with what we are going through. When we think of miracles we picture big earth shattering happenings and we feel because of what we view as miracles we could never experience them in our life. Norman Vincent Peale tells us to expect miracles if we believe, when we become right within ourself. He says we should make miracles happen by believing in God, by believing in your country and by believing in ourselves.

Now you might think this is a post to tell you to pray and I think if you are a believer you probably are already doing that, but that isn’t what this is about. I am going to take a risk and share a little about our circumstances.

Facebook and online media is a great way of connecting with people and friends right now. I am always chatting with someone. We look to the posts and texts and phone calls to lift us up and they do for a short time. We all are going through a different journey right now and there is no right or wrong to what each person is feeling whether it be fear, anxiety or complete trust and peace at our situations.

As I was reading I realized that we are always looking outside ourselves in the loud world to make us feel better about our situation. We are with ourselves 24/7. Maybe the pamphlet was right. I need to be right within myself to find any kind of peace and to do that I have to shut out the world for me to find that peace, even if it is for a few hours. Maybe peace just comes from acceptance of our situation. I haven’t quite totally learned that yet but sheltering at home is the perfect time to look inside ourselves for answers.

Last year was a tough year. There were many doctor’s appointments for my husband. His short term memory is very sketchy. It happened a couple of years ago during the summer. We have done many tests. It will not come back and they don’t have an answer for us. It may be an injury, a light stroke or Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t seem to have gotten much worse but the frustration is hard on both of us. Our patience with one another is not always there.

The biggest problem is dates and times for appointments. It makes him anxious he doesn’t remember them and doesn’t want to miss anything. He does remember most things but occasionally conversations slip by him and some of it has to do with his hearing when he is not wearing his hearing aides. It is not his fault. We don’t talk about it with people except our closest friends because there seems to be a stigma out there about automatically assuming it is dementia or Alzheimer’s and it could be, but we don’t want to be treated differently. But…here is my reasoning. It is like the elephant in the room and everyone knows but doesn’t want to say anything, and so the silence builds. There seems to be shame and stigma attached to the person, which makes them feel worse. I am outing us in the hopes that if you are going through the same thing you can find some peace in the situation.

Part of the reason last year was so difficult was me and my lack of acceptance of what is. There was a part of me that said, “It is just a husband ignoring what his wife is saying.” This year has been much better for both of us. This is our life. We have a good life and I accept I may be asked the date and a few other things over and over again. There is peace in the acceptance.

We aren’t strangers to this, going thorough it with my mother, his mother, and my brother-in-law and his sister. We have experience with this and should be old hands at it. However we are human, and we are married, and we are now in our house 24/7 together during this pandemic.

I have been pushing to move because there are other health issues at play such as a bad back, which makes it difficult to do our own repairs and upkeep anymore and the finances are not there to hire someone. Being closer to our children would make it easier for them to help us. We were almost at the decision and then the virus struck. Acceptance. This is where we are. This is where we live and we are blessed to still be here in our home and with our small communities of caring people. Acceptance that is this is where we need to stay, at least for the near future.

Yes, I still get very anxious because of what is happening in our world. I have to pray and meditate and calm myself down, but I do like to sit in the silence in the morning and pray and be with myself to become right with myself. If I am not, then even the positives on the media are overwhelming to me. We need the support of our friends but we need the miracle of ourselves. Yes, we are a miracle. God made us each differently. Each of our lives are different. Our feelings are different. We can’t be like someone else. We shouldn’t want to be.

Accepting our life as it is, the good, the bad, the ugly is hard. It is hard to sit in the silence with ourselves. I need to remember and believe I am never alone in the silence and that God is with me whatever my circumstance. I also need to accept that every day I might fail in some way with acceptance. I might not have the patience to answer the same questions or I may get upset when I am interrupted while I am in the midst of a project to explain something. I have to accept I will fail and then maybe I won’t melt down. I also have to remember how frustrating it is for him.

I can only give you what I feel in the moment. That is all we all can do because it is the moments that shape our lives. Maybe that is all we are meant to do, live moment to moment.

I leave you with the last line from the pamphlet by Norman Vincent Peale.

“Always remember you are packed full of potential miracles put there by the One who knows you better than anyone-the good God, the Creator who made you.”

Any my words. “Know thyself.” Be safe in this uncertain time and remember each person’s journey with the virus is different, so have patience. We will get through this together.