This too shall pass

The light truly is at the end of the tunnel, you just need to keep walking.

I don’t think I could live without my Spotify account. To say that music is a means of release for me would be a massive understatement – whether it’s listening to a song that describes exactly what I’m feeling, or listening to one that just says what I need to hear at that point in time, music is such a universal outlet. I don’t play any instruments or sing, but I know that many would agree with me saying just listening to music is therapy in itself.

For those who don’t know, Spotify is like a better version of iTunes where, instead of paying for each song individually, you pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access to all music. Through my job, I get a free Spotify subscription, but even if I didn’t I’d be more than willing to pay the $7.99/month or so for it. Spotify even has a free subscription, where you can’t download songs, but you can listen to (I believe) anything as long as you have an internet connection.

But I digress – this isn’t an advertisement for Spotify. This is where I mean to go with this – Spotify has this thing called Discover Weekly where, based on the songs already in your library, it gives you a list of 30 songs each week that it thinks you might like. My music taste is super varied – I’ll listen to a great many things. As such, my Discover Weekly is quite a grab bag when it comes to genre. Once in a while, though, the program will come through and give me a gem. This happened last night as I was listening to the songs it gave me for this week.

The song was simply entitled “This Too Shall Pass,” by an artist I’d never heard of before, Sinclair. To be completely honest, it isn’t the type of song I’d normally listen to – a simple, almost quirky song (what I’d consider a Zooey Deschanel-type song), but this one hit me for whatever reason. I didn’t have a particularly bad day or anything yesterday, but my anxiety makes it so that each day has, to at least some degree, some form of worrying.

The song itself doesn’t mention anxiety in any form, but it doesn’t have to. As the title suggests, the song basically sets the scene for someone in an unspecified bad situation worrying about what comes next. The chorus is simply: “I don’t know when, but I do know that, this too shall pass.”

Obvious? Yeah, probably. Nothing, whether it be good or bad, lasts forever. But I know I speak for many when I say that it’s easier to forget that than many others might think. In the heat of a situation which spikes anxiety, many of us quite simply don’t care that “this too shall pass” in time, we just want to be out of the anxiety-inducing situation ASAP. It’s easy to talk about patience and not panicking when we aren’t in a situation that requires patience or calm. It’s a hell of a lot harder to reassure ourselves in the heat of the moment, though.

It’s quite often difficult to see that light at the end of the tunnel. All we care about then is that we’re in the dark, alone with our harmful thoughts, and for many of us that is simply terrifying. For those of us suffering from it, anxiety loves to make us picture the worst situation possible – in the present or future. Even if you “make it through” this, what’s to say that I won’t bring it up again in your head? With anxiety, it feels like we’re never entirely free from these thoughts, even on our best days. The gnawing bite of anxiety threatens to sneak up on us at anytime, anywhere.

So how exactly do we combat this type of thinking? For me, anxiety is, I genuinely feel, the hardest thing to deal with. As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression, I’d snap them away in a heartbeat if I could. But, if I could only choose one to vanquish, it’d be anxiety, every time. Yeah, depression is bad. Really bad. Low self-esteem and a sense of overarching worthlessness is terrible. But I still have my good days, where I can push my depression aside and focus on the silver linings in my life. Anxiety though….it’s always there. Even in the most inane, illogical situations my anxiety will find a way to worm into my head and make me think of things I never thought possible. To an outsider, how I come up with these worries must seem as random as grabbing names out of a hat – hell, for all I know they basically are. But the fact of the matter is I do worry about these inane things. I can tell myself that my worries are completely unfounded over and over and over again, but it still doesn’t help me stop worrying about them.

I’m not a hateful person. I was taught growing up to never use the word hate unless I truly meant hate, and to this day I still very rarely use the word, outwardly or internally. But it’s safe to say that I have never come so close to hating something as I do my anxiety. I despise it. Some days I just want to bang my fists against the wall, asking why I can’t just have one damn day where my anxiety doesn’t crawl around in my head. I’ve accepted the fact that I have anxiety and I always will, but still. For me, it doesn’t make it any easier.

If I could list some definitive methods here for pushing anxiety aside on a daily basis I would. I’ve taken medication for anxiety, gone to therapy, tried multiple outlets to release my worries…and these things helped. Truly, they did. But I’m not going to lie to you or myself by saying that these made my anxious thoughts disappear. However weak they may have been, they were still there. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, I cannot stress how important I believe it is to find an outlet to begin to release these fears. I guarantee you, there is something out there that will trump that anxiety, because in the end, your mind knows that it needs to concentrate on something good, as opposed to all the bad. For me, that “thing” is nature. Just going for a 30 minute walk in the woods does wonders for combatting my anxiety. The trees and dirt and streams don’t care about my stress at work or my anxiety over some presentation I have to make, and that’s strangely comforting to me.

I may be calling the kettle black here, but if you suffer from anxiety and haven’t found that outlet quite yet, the best thing you can do whilst looking for it is remember: this too shall pass. Yes, I did say earlier that it doesn’t help cure my anxiety – nothing likely will. But if you’re struggling like I am, trying to find that something to hold on to that, in the end, remember everything will be okay. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help, therapists or otherwise. Music truly is therapy in itself – turn on a good tune. Take a day for yourself.

I know that anxiety is running rampant this time of year, being in the midst of the holidays. I feel it too, believe me. But I’ll pull through. You’ll pull through. This too shall pass. Stay strong.

  • Ryan

 

Holiday Stress

There’s probably no need to tell you that the holiday season is super stressful. Between gift shopping, family get-togethers, and travel planning, it’s enough to make even the most composed of us sweat a bit. I love the holidays – getting to see most of my family who lives half a country away from me makes it all worth it, but to say I make it through the season with a smile on my face the whole time would be a lie. I take round-trip flight each year, and airports are quite literally my least favorite public places. Ever. I get that airport staff are just trying to do their jobs, and passengers are sometimes rushing to catch their flights, but the amount of stress buildup in airports is almost unreal. It’s isn’t even the actual flying in a plane part that I dislike, just the process of getting on and off it. Very rarely does my anxiety climb to such high levels than when I’m in an airport. Also, I live in the Chicago area, so I always fly out of O’Hare, one of the largest (ohhh no), busiest (ughhhh), most crowded airports in the U.S. Being right in the horizontal middle of the country makes Chicago a HUGE port for travellers.

Also, the last Christmas, my flight back to Chicago was cancelled, so I was stuck in the Newark, New Jersey airport for nearly 24 hours. Newark freakin’ New Jersey. For those who don’t know, Newark…isn’t the nicest place. So, instead of venturing out of the airport to find a motel for the night, I made myself nice and “comfy” on a booth in the food court. Being a naturally anxious person, you can probably imagine how much sleep I got being in an unknown, not entirely secure food court booth for the night.

But I digress. In the end it’s always worth it to see my family. But the mere act of getting on a plane is enough to make me dread it for weeks to come. Society looks at the holiday season as a time to be happy – a time to spend with family and friends and give, give, and give. But rarely is it that simple, it seems. There are so many stress factors involved, depression and anxiety have been scientifically proven to spike around this time of year. It’s almost like society views the holidays/end of the year as a finish line – once we pass this gift-giving season, we have quite a few months before another major holiday. So when that finish line is in sight, we sprint for it, giving it our all to finish strong, even if it takes its toll on us physically and emotionally. Just cross that finish line, and then we can rest…

To me, that seems to be a very unhealthy mentality. I respect people who want to really make others’ holiday seasons special by buying the thoughtful gifts, cooking the best holiday meals, throwing the best end of year party. But we’re only humans, even those of us who don’t suffer from seasonal depression or anxiety. We aren’t cars – you can’t just keep pumping us full of gas and hope we chug on. Our bodies need rest, in more ways than one. Physically, of course, but the constant barrage of holiday gift-giving and family reunions in such a short amount of time can drain us mentally. I’m not saying that spending time with your family is going to drain you, but whether we admit it or not, there are many social “obligations” forced on us during the season, whether it be gift-giving, holiday cards, lengthy, intrusive conversations with family members who want to know everything that’s going on in your life. I know most of them mean well, but still. It takes its toll.

I suppose the point of this post to to remind you to relax, even in this time of the year. You aren’t doing anybody any good if you burn yourself out before you reach the actual holiday. I’m not saying don’t do anything, but just because it seems like everyone else around you is rushing to get things done and bought like there’s no tomorrow doesn’t mean you have to. This may sound a bit selfish, but you really do need to take care of yourself first. People can sense when you’re burned out, and it can reflect on them. I guarantee that the people who truly care about you care far more about making sure you’re happy and functional than the cost of the gift you get them. 

If you’re stressing out this holiday season, breathe. Relax. Do something for you. Make yourself a nice meal, do some drawing, talk with some friends. Don’t be afraid to recharge; you aren’t a phone battery being pushed to the last percentage of its life just to get a few things done. You are far more complex. And the people who love you know that. Stay strong.

– Ryan

Winter Wonderland 

In which our hero snaps pictures with his definitely not fancy camera

As I’m sure you’ll be able to tell by the unprofessional quality of these pictures, I am by no means a photographer. I have a few photo-savvy friends, with hundreds to thousands of followers on Instagram, with their fancy, expensive cameras and lenses, which they edit every night on their computers, making sure every inch of every photo is flawless (picture-perfect, you might say. Ha! …sorry). I don’t have any of that stuff; no fancy camera, no crazy editing program, and certainly very little knowledge on what makes a photo “good.” But, I can appreciate a beautiful photo when I see one, even if I can’t take many myself.

So, for that reason, I want to post a few photos I took today of the beautiful snow coming down in the little Illinois town where I currently reside. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I appreciate nature immensely. I can appreciate a dark, stormy day just as much as a clear sunset over the ocean. And I don’t care if you hate driving in it, you can’t deny snow looks super purrrrty. I’m a sucker when it comes to pretty-looking scenery.

– Ryan

Comparison, the Enemy of Joy

Comparison is a pretty vile thing. In order to compare ourselves to someone else, we have to accept (to an extent) that there is some “quota” that we must reach. Some undefined line that begs us to surpass it, otherwise we failed in that regard. The problem with comparison, however, is that that “quota” is constantly in flux, depending on who we compare ourselves to.

From as far back as our early childhood, many of us are taught (albeit unknowingly) to judge our own worth based on how we stack up against others. “Tom’s only a freshman and he made the varsity team, yet you’re a junior and you didn’t? Why not?” “Potter is only eleven and he already defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time and he’s the Seeker of the Gryffindor quidditch team, and you can’t even keep your wand intact?? Shame!”

In the end, aren’t we all a Ron Weasley?

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. But humans truly have a nature to treat life accomplishments as a competition, as so much of society tends to urge us to. There are seriously so many problems with this mindset. Unless you consider yourself the best of the best in everything you do (and I have never met anyone who thinks that), the comparison mindset only promotes thinking of yourself badly. In competition, the goal is to be number one. Olympic atheletes aim for the gold, American football teams fight to reach and win the Super Bowl…the list goes on. Anything less than the best isn’t good enough.

Then there’s that line. “You tried, and that’s all that matters.” Yeah, sure, great. In a perfect world where depression, low self-esteem and a naturally competitive society doesn’t exist, that’s all that matters. Truth of the matter is, though, that isn’t the world we live in, and if you’re reading this then you probably already know that. As nice as it would be to just move on from something we consider ourselves “failing” at, for those of us with depression, it frankly isn’t that easy. Hell, even for those without depression is it rarely that easy.

Depression causes many of us to think that we’re not enough without even somebody else in the picture – basically we don’t need to see how we stack up against someone else to see how much we fail. When comparison is brought into the picture, however, it’s a whole new level of beating ourselves up. “I already knew that I was bad on my own, but now that I see just how good this person is doing at [insert literally any action], now it confirms that fact that I really suck at it.” Like I mentioned, unless you believe you’re the best in the world at [thing], you’re automatically put in a position to beat yourself up.

Now, I could go into the whole “you’re a unique snowflake with your own qualities and quirks and you can’t compare yourself to anyone else, because every snowflake is different” thing. As poetic as it may be to say that we’re all snowflakes, it rarely helps us stop comparison. Yeah, we’re each unique, but if you take two different snowflakes and look at them each under a microscope, you can still say, “Ooh, that one’s prettier.” I would absolutely love to be able to convincingly buy into that mindset of uniqueness and individuality, but comparing myself to others is something I struggle with every single day. I rarely resent people for being what I consider being “better” than me, I just beat myself up for not being able to reach that level of quality myself. You don’t have to tell me that’s unhealthy, I know, that’s why I’m writing this post. I compare myself with others every day, but only recently have I started to look at it from an outside view to see how emotionally damaging it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely do believe that each and every person is unique, and there will never be two human beings with the same combination of qualities and flaws as each other. It just isn’t logical to compare ourselves to one another, because we’re all different in countless ways. But let’s be honest here – when has simple logic ever stopped a depression-addled mind from thinking the way it does?

So I won’t try and convince you to stop comparing yourself to others. As much as I would love to spout the snowflake argument, I have trouble applying that to my own life – I won’t force you into applying it to yours. However, I can say one thing about comparisons – I can guarantee that anyone using comparison as a means to judge you and your life isn’t worth being around.

I promise you, the people who truly care about you don’t put you into a ranking system. There’s no top ten list or medals to award. There is just you, as a person. To the ones that care, you are you, and someone else is someone else. There is no you vs. them. There is you. And there is them. Seperate entities, seperate people, each with their own accomplishments and flaws, each completely seperated in that regard from the other. This isn’t to say that you aren’t connected in any way, but when it comes to “winning and losing” the battle of being worth something, it’s safe to say that doesn’t exist.

In short, you may compare yourself with others, but others don’t compare you with others. At least, not the ones who matter in your life. There are times when I myself stray from seeing each person individually, and internally judging them based on how they rank against each other. I’d like to think that, most of the time, I catch myself, because their worth is not based on my judgement (or anyone else’s, for that matter) of them. I say this over and over again in my posts, but it’s because I truly believe it: worth is inherent. Nobody can take it away from you, and no one person is born with more or less worth than another.

I mean it when I say nobody can take away your value and worth to the world, and that includes you trying to take it away from yourself. If you view yourself as a failure as a result of comparing yourself to others, it doesn’t affect your value as a human being. I know it isn’t easy to just change your mindset to one of constant self-worth: hell, I’m writing this post tonight, truly believing everything I say here, but I’m still probably going to go into work tomorrow and judge myself against others (and when I judge myself, I generally come up with a very low score). But I’m working at changing that. I’m getting better at catching myself in these destructive thoughts; reminding myself that I’m worth as much as anyone else no matter my “failures.”

I know that it’s nearly impossible to change a way of thinking overnight. It comes slowly, but if you keep working at it, your mind will accept it. If we’ve been taught as a society to compare ourselves to others, we can teach ourselves to tell comparison to go screw itself. Don’t view others as an object to compare yourself to. View others as a person, like you, but not you. You aren’t brands of steak – you or they aren’t a finer or lesser cut. You’re people. You have such value to just your existence, imagine how much you can build on that by your actions and words, not by your accomplishments compared to others.

I feel like this post is a bit scattered – I didn’t plan this topic ahead of time, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about and wanted to share my thoughts on. Like I said, this is still something I struggle with every single day, but I do believe in everything I argued for in this post. You have value inherently, that can’t be changed by you seeing yourself as a failure, either to yourself or to the world around you. Please, try and remember that. Stay strong.

– Ryan

A Day with Depression

Morning. Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze button – 30 more minutes won’t kill me.

Alarm goes off again. I should probably get up now if I want to be productive today, actually do something other than the bare minimum: shower, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat. I should get up.

Hit the snooze button – 30 more minutes won’t kill me.

Repeat 3-4 times per day. Finally get up, just in time to get ready for work and make it there on time. Take longer than I should in the shower because I’m too busy worrying about anything that could go wrong today. Or already has gone wrong. Have I already screwed up something? “Yes,” my mind says. “Probably.”

Get dressed, drive to work. Radio is on, but it doesn’t matter. My own thoughts are much louder. My boss will probably get mad at me for that thing I did yesterday. My hair looks stupid. Did I take out my trash? Work is going to drag on today. I need more coffee. No, coffee won’t fix this.

Walk into work. My co-workers probably don’t want me here. They’d prefer working with someone “happier.” More talkative. Energetic. Outgoing. I’m none of those things. I smile and say hello, they smile and say hello back. Friendly greetings, bright smiles. How nice of them to put on a show for my sake.

Start working. Work sometimes distracts me long enough that I forget how miserable I am at points. It’s not the job making me miserable – I like the job. It’s the person performing it. I make myself miserable, because what reason do I have to let myself be happy? What have I done to earn that?

A customer is a jerk. Don’t take it personally, Ryan, they would have gotten mad at anyone, you just happened to be there. They probably just had a bad day. Don’t take it personally. Don’t take it personally.

Dwell on it. Make the situation worse by wondering what I could have done to prevent it. Probably nothing – I’m not skillful or smart enough to make good decisions. Somebody else would have handled that better. I screwed up, didn’t I? Yeah, I must have screwed up.

Get through the rest of work. Drive home, mind slightly calmed because I have a whole (at least) 12 hours before I have to deal with life again. But not fully calmed. Never fully calmed.

Get home. Eat. Man, I wish I knew how to cook. I can’t make anything but the bare essentials when it comes to food – no woman is going to find that attractive. No woman would find me attractive anyway. I’m probably going to eat and just get fat. No, I’m probably already fat.

Change into comfier clothes. Headphones in, music up. Music way, way up. If I can’t get these thoughts out of my head, then I’ll flush them out with music. It even works for a bit. A bit.

Depressing song comes on. I could skip it, but I don’t. I listen to it. People have it so much worse than me, yet here I am sulking in my room. I should be ashamed of myself. I already am ashamed of myself. “Not ashamed enough,” my mind says.

It’s getting late. I should go to bed if I want to get up at a reasonable time tomorrow. But. The sooner I go to bed, the sooner my mind will reach tomorrow. The dreaded tomorrrow, with all of its worries and fears and insecurities. 30 more minutes awake won’t kill me. Or an hour more. Or two. I’ll keep distracting myself from my own mind that way. That’s good, right?

Late night, definitely A.M. I suppose I should get to bed.

Morning. Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze button – 30 more minutes won’t kill me.
——-

Just one of those days. One of those many days. But I stay strong and soldier on. Depression is a plague, a virus, an intruder, a locust, a storm, a dictator. All of these things inside my own mind. But I don’t let it define me.

Don’t let it define you either. You are so much more than that. You have so much to offer. Remember that, like I do, even on the hard days.

– Ryan

Which coffee brewing method is best for your tastes?

Pour over, french press, Chemex, the science-y Syphon?

^ Here we see the coffee geek (c’est moi) in his natural habitat

Alright, all you basics. You PSL’ers and extra-caramel caramel macchiato’ers. I’ll give you fair warning right now: this post will probably bore you. This isn’t about Starbucks secret menu drinks or frappucinos; this is about coffee in the same way Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins are quality pastries.This is the bare bones stuff. This is for the people who want to savor coffee and the experience it offers for more than just the cream and sugar put in it. This is about appreciating the coffee bean at its core. For those who want to get the full taste, warmth, and complexity out of each cup they brew. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against sweetened coffees – a vanilla latte or caramel macchiato can do wonders for me when I’m both sleep-deprived AND craving something sweet. I just wanted to give fair warning to those who don’t look at the coffee they drink much beyond the taste and how many pumps of flavor go into it.

Whether you already consider yourself a coffee afficionado or just want to learn more about your daily dose of caffiene, this post will aim to differentiate between different brew methods and which would best suit you based on your situation (and tastes!). In future posts, I will go into growing regions, roasting processes, etc. But for my first coffee-centric post, I wanted to start with something that nearly all home coffee drinkers can relate to – how to make it taste good. 

I don’t claim years of expertise on this subject – in fact, I’ve only been genuinely interested in coffee culture for about two years. I do claim a passion for it though. I’ve loved coffee since the first sip I’ve had, but only recently have I truly begun to appreciate the work that goes into growing it, the care that goes into tasting it, and the love that goes into preparing quality drinks with it. My work as a barista has allowed me many chances I wouldn’t get otherwise to really delve deep into coffee culture, and I’m grateful for those opportunites. That being said, I know that many people out there love their coffee, but don’t know the heart and soul of preparing it to make it the best it can be. So, without further ado, brew methods!

….but before that! Only you know how much coffee you can handle, so I won’t be listing specific sizes for each of these brew methods. However, a commonly followed rule for coffee brewing is:

                    2 tbsp. coffee per 6 oz. water (ideal water temp. just below boiling, just above 200F)

For each brew method I’ll list the ideal brew time and coffee grind (coarse, fine, or somewhere in between), as well as the differences between each end result, which should hopefully help inform your brewing decisions. Coffee brewing is largely about preference, so feel free to skew that formula a bit as you please. But for newbie brewers, this is a good starting point. So, with that in mind, let’s actually get started.

Pour over (V60)


How it works: The pour over method is as simple as it gets. Also known as drip brewing or gravity brew, this method is completed with a cone shaped funnel being put into either a stand with a vessel below it (as shown above) or straight onto the cup. A paper filter is placed inside, folded along the seams and rinsed with hot water. After rinsing the filter, emtpy the rinse water and add the grounds directly into the filter, pour roughly 1/4-1/5 of the water over the grounds, saturating them enough so that they all get wet, allowing the coffee to “bloom.” After 30 seconds, pour more water over the coffee. Upon 90 seconds, all of your water should be poured over the grinds. Allow it to finish dripping.

Overall brew time: 2:30-3:00 mins for 15g of coffee

Grind size: Medium fine

End result: A clean, medium bodied brew

Chemex


How it works: At first glance, a Chemex appears very similar to a regular pour over method. In many ways, it is – they both brew coffee by letting gravity do the work, drawing water down through the grounds and into a chamber. The big difference between the two comes down to the filter. Both use a paper filter, but the Chemex’s is much thicker. As such, the coffee produced is much cleaner and, depending on the coffee, tangy. The Chemex method is great for entertaining groups, and even the stingiest of people can’t deny it looks pretty. Like the pour over method, add a filter to the top chamber, putting the triple-layered side facing the pour spout (this allows a proper rate of flow from the top chamber.) Rinse the filter through and empty the rinse water, and proceed to follow the same method as a common pour over. Pour just enough water to rinse the grounds completely, allow them to bloom, then add the rest of the water over a 90 second mark.

Overall brew time: 4 mins. for 25g of coffee

Grind size: Medium

End result: A clean, fairly light brew

Coffee (French) Press


How it works: One of the most reliable, hardy brew methods, the French Press (or cafetière, as it’s officially called) has loyal followers all around the globe. Often recommended as a beginner’s brew method, the French Press makes a great cup of coffee simply by taking water, coffee grounds, and time. Take your 55-60g of coffee and insert in into the press. For an 8-cup press (the most common kind), pour 850g of just below boiling water over the grounds, make sure to evenly distribute the water as much as possible. Place the plunger cap on, but do not press down yet. Set a timer for four minutes, and then stir the grounds/water three times with a spoon. Place the plunger cap back on, and push down. The metal mesh filter will push the coffee grinds down to the bottom of the press, while leaving the brewed coffee ready to be poured from the spout. (Note: Cups of coffee brewed on a French Press will very often have a small amount of grinds in the bottom of each cup. This is normal and very rarely affects the taste – it is simply a side effect of the metal mesh filter on the plunger.)

Overall brew time: 4 mins. for 55-60g of coffee

Grind size: Coarse 

End result: Heavy-bodied, fuller tasting coffee and complex, roasty flavors

AeroPress


How it works:  The AeroPress is a newcomer in the game of coffee. Light, portable, and quite cheap, it stands as the preferred brew method for travellers. It comes in two seperate pieces, a bottom chamber, and a plunger-like top chamber used to extract the coffee. They are pictured above together. To start, place a paper filter into the AeroPress cap and secure it to the cap. Place it over your cup directly, with the cap facing down. Run hot water through the AeroPress, which serves both to rinse the vessel and preheat it. Discard the rinse water, then insert your ground coffee into the contraption. Pour in 250g of water, ensuring that all ground are wet. Using a spoon, gently stir the coffee inside for 20-30 seconds. At an angle, insert the plunger, then pull it up slightly to create a vacuum. Let it steep for another 30-60 seconds, then plunge. Be careful – make sure to push down evenly and not to one side, unless you want to end up with coffee all over the counter. Put your back into it! Extracting all of the coffee should take roughly 30 seconds.

Overall brew time: 2 mins.

Grind size: Medium-fine

End result: A medium-bodied cup, with a fairly intricate flavor profile

Syphon


How it works: One of the most unique brewing methods out there, the Syphon (or Siphon, depending on where you’re from) has been around for nearly two centuries, mixing coffee with science and beaker-like containers. Keep in mind that for this method, not only will you need an actual Syphon, but also a heat source to fit under it, such as a burner or a halogen bulb (as pictured above). To begin, add 385g of water to the bottom, bulb-like chamber. Activate your heat source, allowing the water to reach a gentle simmer. Whilst waiting for the water to reach that simmer, take the two metal discs (filter assembly) and add the pre-cut circular paper filter in between them, screwing the discs together to hold it in place. Using the chain hanging from the filter assembly, fit the hook through the tube of the top chamber, hooking it to the bottom rim of said tube. Once your water has reached a simmer, gently put the top chamber into the bottom, making sure the seal is airtight. This will create a vacuum, and between it and the now boiling water, the water will rise to the top chamber. A small amount of water will remain in the bottom chamber – this is normal. This keeps the bottom chamber from overheating while the water is in the top chamber. Once most of the water has risen, add 25g of coffee directly in, stirring gently to ensure all grounds are wet. Reduce the heat to a medium-low, allowing the coffee to brew in the top chamber for 90 seconds, evenly stirring 2-3 times during the process. After 90 seconds, remove the heat and the coffee will flow down to the bottom chamber, with the paper filter keeping the grounds in the top.

Overall brew time: Depends on the strength of the heat source, but the coffee grounds and water should be in contact for about 1:30-2:00 mins.

Grind size: Medium-fine

End result: A unique, very aromatic cup of coffee, clean with a complex flavor range

So there’s my spiel. Again, I’m no expert on all things coffee, but I like a good cup of coffee just as much as the next guy. If you’re out shopping and see one of these brew methods, check to see if it results in a cup of coffee catering to your preference. You could end up finding a new favorite!

– Ryan

You’re worth so much

Despite what society feels fit to tell you

I use the word ‘worth’ a lot in my posts. It’s one of my favorite, but at the same time, least favorite words. It’s one of my favorite words because worth is something everyone has, whether they realize it or not. There are no varying degrees of worth, there is simply worth. You are a god-given human life, you have a soul, a conscious, and no one thing or other person can replace you. Whether you realize it or not, you have inherent value simply because you have a beating heart.

So why is a word that describes something so beautiful also one of my least favorite words? Simply put, the definition of ‘worth’ has been so incredibly skewered by human society that we’ve lost the true meaning of the word. When we talk about society as a whole seeing your worth, what exactly are they searching for? Money, career, social status, living conditions, clothes…the list goes on. Your “usefulness” to society is seen by what you can contribute to it, whether it be through your career, your money, your connections. In far too many people’s eyes, worth is nearly nonexistent if it doesn’t directly affect people other than yourselves. People jump to America as being the prime culprit of this mindset, but in reality most first-world countries subscribe to this way of thinking. Society doesn’t see worth as inherent value present in everyone regardless of their personal situation, but instead sees it as a tool; a ranking system for determing who is the more important individual.

I’m sure that many of you have heard this spiel before, but in my personal experience it’s one of the hardest to actually take to heart. You can tell somebody that they’re worth something a hundred times over, but when a large chunk of (generally fairly prevelant) society tells you your worth is based on matching or beating the status quo, then who is prone to have the larger voice? The multi-billionaire sitting in his high rise with all the luxuries of the modern world, who society sees as more worth their time, or the average person in their 1-2 bedroom apartment, just making enough to pay rent?

It’s not often that I’ll come straight out and say that something so engrained in our society is wrong, but this is absolutely one of those times. Society’s definition of worth sets the bar the same height for nearly everybody, not taking into account familial, monetary, or health situations. What does that mean for somebody who grew up in a slum, whose family is so poor that they can’t even afford community college? Even though that person doesn’t physically have the materials needed to get simple access to the same opportunities as someone else, it makes no difference. You have money, or your don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a PhD, or you don’t. Worth vs. worthlessness. You have a spacious house, or you don’t. I repeat, worth vs. worthlessness.

That. Is. Bullshit. Worth is inherent to every human being on this earth; a poverty-stricken individual has just as much capacity for good as a person with millions of dollars does. Is that ‘easy’ to see? I don’t know. Maybe not. But it’s there. That worth is there, whether or not they choose to accept it. It’s so damn tragic that so, so many people will go through this life without realizing they had even the slightest bit of worth, simply because a brainwashed society told them they didn’t. I know it isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and then seeing the light that is your inherent value appear before your eyes. It’s especially easy to forget that value when something bad happens to us or someone we care about – a death, a breakup, being fired from a job – even something as simple as having a nasty thing said to you. But, in the same way society cannot take away your worth just by saying you don’t have any, no one action or failed relationship can take it away either.

In your darkest times, please try and remember that. Unless you stop being a human being, you will never stop having worth. To yourself, to others, and even to society (even if they don’t realize or accept it). 

So…whenever I talk about worth, that’s what I mean. Not your social status, not your bank account or education, but your value as a human life. Oh, and if you don’t buy my spiel? Too bad! You have worth just by being, and even if you deny that, it’s still there. If you can’t point it out to yourself, then let someone else do it with you. Talk to your friends, your family, your significant other, spend time with your pets, do something you’re really good at. I say this in nearly every post, but don’t be afraid to reach out to me, either. Send me an email or write a comment on here and I’ll get back to you. 

Like I mentioned before, I know it isn’t easy. There are times when I mentally break down because I feel like I have no value, to others or the world around me. But I jump back from that mindset, because I do have worth. Despite what happened to me on a crappy work day, or what stupid thing I might’ve said in the heat of the moment, I’m a person. I remember that, and so should you.

Stay strong.

– Ryan