Conversations Over Coffee: Navigating a Chaotic World

The kitchen table in Mikelle’s cozy condo hosts countless conversations. It’s where the Shining Beautiful team gathers, supporting each other through the chaos and adventures of everyday life. Each day, the table—and sometimes the coffee table—is laden with coffee mugs, a fresh breakfast or a plate of freshly baked chocolate croissants, and the weight of the world’s troubles.

As we settle into watching GMA or the nightly news, per Katherine’s request, we hear the familiar background hum of urban life outside the window—traffic, sirens, and the chatter of pedestrians—that seems to fade into the background. The focus is on the pressing issues that dominate the news and their minds.

Israeli/Hamas War

“I can’t stop thinking about the Israeli/Hamas conflict,” says our newest member, stirring her coffee intently. “It’s heartbreaking seeing so many innocent lives caught in the crossfire. How can a resolution exist when there’s so much history and pain?”

She prepares Mikelle’s oatmeal with bananas, peanut butter, and chia seeds. Mikelle nods her approval. “It feels overwhelming. The cycles of violence and retaliation seem never-ending. But we must hope for peace and support those working towards it.”  What follows is a robust discussion of the history of Israel and the student protests as we try to comprehend something we most likely will never understand.

Ukraine War

The next day, we hear the update on the Ukraine war. “Then there’s the war in Ukraine,” adds one of more senior members. “The resilience of the Ukrainian people is incredible, but the devastation is immense. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to live through that.”

On the next shift, LL folds a laundry basket and comments, “It’s a reminder of how fragile our world is. One day, everything is normal, and the next, everything changes. We’re so fortunate to have this stability in our little community. And, it’s important to stay aware and help however we can.”

We know that we will all be voting in the upcoming election.

Women’s Rights

Women’s rights have become a hot topic around the breakfast table as these young women see women’s rights that always seemed to be progressing inequality be systematically attached.  The young blonde team member leans back in her chair, her expression thoughtful. “And closer to home, the fight for women’s rights is far from over. With recent setbacks, it feels like we’re moving backward in some areas.”

She sighs, “It’s frustrating. We’ve made so much progress, but there’s still much to fight for. Access to healthcare, equal pay, and safety aren’t things we can take for granted.”

I find it intriguing that these women, who dedicate themselves to caring for others, may one-day lack access to adequate reproductive care, continue to be underpaid and struggle to pay the rent. What makes me hopeful is that they are paying attention. I see the seeds of advocacy starting to take root.

Climate Change

“And don’t forget climate change,” adds MM, her voice tinged with urgency. “It’s like the planet is screaming for help, but many people are still in denial. We have to do more, both individually and collectively.”  MM works another job at a local urban farm three days a week during the summer. Among her many talents, she is learning about restorative farming and conservation.

Each conversation eventually drifts into silence for a moment, as we all know the enormity of the issue. Mikelle glances at the small garden on her windowsill. Her condo is filled with plants and art as she holds a place for creativity and hope. Even small actions matter.

Mikelle sips her coffee and smiles. We all look to her for her continued resilience. Every day, she shows us how to overcome adversity. The energy it takes for her to function is immense, and her laughter in the face of difficulty breaks our despair. We realize the best we can do is be a positive force in the world, be aware of others’ experiences, and support each other.

Upcoming Election

The upcoming election is the final topic on the table. “It feels like so much is riding on this election,” I say. The decisions made on November 5th will affect all these issues and more. It’s crucial to stay informed and vote.”

Each team member agrees, “Absolutely. Our voices matter, and we need to make them heard. It’s about choosing leaders who will address these problems head-on. Even if our system is broken.”

Living Life Supporting Mikelle

Despite the weighty topics, the team finds comfort in each other’s company. They balance these heavy discussions with moments of laughter and light-heartedness. Supporting Mikelle in her daily activities brings us purpose and fosters solidarity.

On most evenings, Mikelle’s nightly routine includes preparing dinner, setting out clothes for the next day, and ensuring her world is organized. The conversation then shifts to more personal matters. They share stories, offer advice, and remind each other of the importance of self-care in a chaotic world.

Amid global turmoil, Mikelle’s kitchen table is a sanctuary. It’s a place where we can all voice our fears and frustrations and find strength and hope. Together, we navigate the complexities of life, finding solace in our shared commitment to supporting each other and striving for a better world.

Here are some tips from a prior blog on self-care.

Seven steps for finding balance.
  1. Boldness. Take decisive action in your best interests when the opportunity presents itself.  That opportunity may not come around again.
  2. Authenticity.  While you can fake it while you make it, you need to imagine your best life.  Only you can know what that represents. The more you respect your inner voice, the more authentic your actions will be.
  3. Love.  If you have to choose between fear and love, choose love. The heart/brain connection galvanizes resolute creativity, helping you create a more vibrant future.
  4. Action. Even small steps make a big difference!
  5. Non-judgment.  We are our harshest critics. So quiet the negative self-talk and encourage yourself in positive ways.
  6. Calmness. Breathe.  Slowing our breathing does calm our nervous system.  Focus on what you are grateful for, which will help you balance.
  7. Energy.  Once you have done all the above, watch, and your energy levels soar!

Enjoy the journey. We are right there with you!  Remember, balance equals power.