April 2010

While I was roasting beans for tomorrows’ breakfast …..(Yemen Mocha Mattari from my last Hasbean order) I was taking my time, relaxing and surfing through some coffee links.

I love this photo and got to thinking about Life’s too short…..and was musing about taking time… and so got to thinking about ….What about coffee and the slow food movement?

and lo and behold came across this……..

 Slow coffee  http://www.slowcoffee.com/


I also came across this article  – Christoph Niemann’s coffee doodles 



What a delight! Sheer brilliance! I love them!

I’m glad I “allowed” myself to take the time to look, I’m now going to take my time to savour ….. Life’s too short to rush good coffee.


What helps lessen the risks and fears associated with change?

I had arranged a telephone co-coaching session the other week. We are friends, ex colleagues and had benefited from a co-coaching relationship when we trained together. We haven’t been in touch much since I moved and the conversation became a bit loose and we soon slipped from coaching and into more a friendly conversation between friends.

Inevitably it was only partially beneficial and my friend remarked afterwards that my line of conversation which was blatantly offering advice set up resistance. She described herself as probably not a very good coachee in that sense as she felt quite averse to direct challenge. However she helpfully identified parts of the conversation where I had raised a question or challenge in a more subtle way that led her into a challenge that seemed ok. An example was when I said….”when you say that, it makes me wonder if………”

It was a very helpful pointer for me to not only clarify the style and what the person would like before starting coaching but also the blatantly poorer outcomes if the language of change is not in tune with the recipient.

It was also a powerful reminder for me as to the intrinsic qualities of the methodology Appreciative Inquiry to assist change. It’s all about the crafting of the questions we ask and how they are articulated……”We create our destiny by the questions we ask…..”

“The types of questions we ask determine the types of answers we receive; and “the seeds of change are implicit in the very first questions we ask.”

We manifest what we focus on, and we “grow toward what we persistently ask questions about.” (both quotes from Cooperrider & Whitney, 1999)”

 So!  I ask myself…….. “as well as what to I ask, how best to ask it?”

I’m savouring a cup of Finca El Carmen Occidente from El Salvador in my favourite cup.

We’ve now returned from spending a few days in Paris last week celebrating my 60th birthday with friends and family. A great time!

Contributing to my excitement was following my post – Le Cafe en France est étrange!  Grant Rattray at Mercanta recommended I visit Café Soluna or The Caféohèque whilst in Paris.  http://www.cafeotheque.com/index.php?langsite=en  It’s located just opposite where we were staying on the left bank. We managed to visit on three of the four mornings we were there.

A couple of coincidences, we arrived the first time on Saturday 10th and met Gloria Montenegro, the owner. She was excited to show us an article by Oliver Strand which had just been published on Thursday 8th in the New York Times….. http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/ristretto-why-is-coffee-in-paris-so-bad/

The Caféohèque is definitely a find, David Lebovitz considers it “the best coffee spot in Paris” (“Living the sweet life in Paris”, “I find most of the coffee served in Paris cafés undrinkable, so I’m grateful for the existence of Soluna Café (52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 4th), otherwise known as the Caféothèque.


I also was interested to read Julie’s post about Coffee in Paris on her excellent blog  According to Julie  http://www.espen.com/julie/archives/2008/02/coffee_in_paris.html

Most French cafés use Robusta coffee, which is cheaper, can be stored for longer, and is generally considered to be of lower quality than Arabica coffee. About half of the coffee beans imported by the French are Robusta beans, according to the International Trade Forum. US coffee imports on the other hand, are composed of 76% Arabica and 24% Robusta. Canadian and German imports are similar to the US, and the Nordic countries barely import Robusta at all.”

A great blog to read by the way…

I returned the following day to order some green beans as Gloria said she would not be there on the Monday and Tuesday. I mentioned to Gloria that it was my birthday, I was 60 that day, she congratulated me and said it was her birthday on the 19th !   Coffee Arians together!

I met Bernard, Gloria’s partner, as well when I collected my beans on Monday. Happily we made good use of our friends’ buggy as it would have been literally a drag to carry around 7 kilos of beans for the rest of the day.

Gloria and Bernard exude passion about their coffee, they have created a delightful, easy going atmosphere in which to relax, and drink and enjoy good coffee.

What better way to celebrate turning sixty!

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine!  -“Coffee Cantata”, J.S. Bach

Every now and again a friend prods me to write something about aging given my focus and involvement between 19996 and 2006 in the public sector with improving quality of life for older people.

We used to point out that it’s one of the last great unknowns….we are creating new footprints into uncharted territory as the world’s population is living longer and  we have no forbears experience as to how to deal with it!

There’s a lot written about aging by many professionals; gerontologists, social care, actuaries, economists; the Government get exercised every now and then urging the public sector to prepare for the changing demographics… which largely goes unheeded. The default focus is health and social care… especially as  the UK elections loom. The majority of blogs and articles I happen to read focus upon health and care issues so I was interested  to read the post on The New Old Age blog by Paula Span, although the focus was still about attitudes to the  “problems” of aging. 

Will Boomers Be Any Different? In 20 or so years, when we baby boomers enter the ranks of the “old-old” ourselves, will we be any different?


But then, maybe in my innocence, I was taken aback by the apparently large amount of negative resentment the post drew. 

In a later post Paula writes:- “I was pondering this month whether the next generation of old people will have values and attitudes different from the current one. I’d intended the post as a way to mull over whether some characteristics that cause widespread complaints among families –  intransigence about accepting help, for instance — were related to membership in a particular cohort as it aged or were products of aging itself.

Is the Greatest Generation (do these folks owe Tom Brokaw, or what?) more apt to be so single-mindedly independent that its children go a bit nuts trying to provide care? Or will its children, the multitudinous baby boomers, behave the same way when they round 80?

What ensued in the comments section was mostly an anti-boomer slugfest”.

How sad that we seem reluctant not only to accept aging (and changing aging) but also nor to learn about change.

So to return to the prod…..I continue to be fascinated by other emerging indications that we are discovering hand and footholds to traverse this new territory……beyond the usual dominance of dealing with “problems of aging”.

I discovered recently Advanced Style. I think this blog does more to profile aspirations and “on the street reality” of well being for people of age than a lot of the well intentioned but slightly patronising obsession with health. It features… fun, dignity, independence and hope!

Its strap line is Proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age. http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/

Maybe we should look more to the Arts, fashion & design to highlight what shapes our changing attitude to age.

Barry commented on my last posting “How might we “remember to remember” that “first time” risk is not all that unlike just getting up in the morning?”

Thanks Barry, I’m intrigued by this challenge, to “remember to remember”.

I’ve long been curious as to how we prompt ourselves to shift perspective, to trip ourselves up to avoid slipping into habits, continuing to walk well trodden paths….

What tricks, Aide-mémoire….what kinds of knotted handkerchief might we find useful?  People comment though that tying knots on handkerchiefs or pieces of string around your finger (an American folksy aide memoire apparently) can often founder when you see the reminder and remember you have to remember but can’t remember what!

In my experience of coaching, people often wish to change their behaviour or thinking and seek to identify that moment when they want to shift away from prevailing habits.

I liked the story of the two executives who acknowledged that their respective behaviours at work wound each other up. They agreed that if either of them were to behave in the same irritating way in future,  the other would simply bring out a toy which reminded and prompted them, in a fun way, to alter their habitual behaviour. Although this is a prompt to another person rather than remembering to remember for oneself. 

I can’t help but mention the Seinfeld episode (season 5: The Opposite) where George states that every decision, every instinct he has had in the past has been wrong Jerry challenges him “that if that is so then you should do the opposite!”


Maybe the trick is to take a moment and not have a goal, remember to forget the past …….not have a predetermined focus …but simply see beyond the fingers…..

I recall the lines in the film Patch Adams when Arthur (a patient) frequently holds up four fingers to people and asks….

Arthur Mendelson: How many fingers do you see?
Hunter Patch Adams: Four.
Arthur Mendelson: No no! Look beyond the fingers! Now tell me how many you see.

Arthur Mendelson: You’re focusing on the problem. If you focus on the problem, you can’t see the solution. Never focus on the problem!

Arthur Mendelson: See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see… out of fear, conformity or laziness. See the whole world anew each day!

Maybe sometimes we might enable change to happen by not having a goal as such but just remember to look beyond the fingers,  forget the past……and just look!