When I realized the enormity of the workload that looms between me and Christmas “break” (remember that awesome time as a kid with about 3 weeks of nothing to do? Ah, memories!), I employed the best coping mechanism that I have found in the area to keep my sanity: coffee and books for lunch.
My office is in St. Joseph, Michigan. On stressful days, I use my lunch break as a mini escape, and have honed this into a very specific plan.
Step #1. Run away from the office at the strike of noon!
Step #2. Drive to downtown St. Joseph, Michigan, and park along the lakefront bluff. This overlooks Silver Beach, and is very calming. You can sit on a bench for a couple of minutes, but save that for the end of this quick sanity-saver.
Step #3. Walk to Forever Books on Main Street. Step inside. Breathe in the smell of fresh books. Everything will be alright.
Forever Books is a home away from home for me. They have a great kids section, where I buy presents for my nieces and nephew. There are history books about the local area. There’s a section of staff favorites that rotates enough that I’m able to see something new there almost every time I stop in. (It’s a lot. I’m pretty sure I give 10% of my income to this place.) They have SIGNED copies of books from authors, and very often have authors stop on book tours to give readings. AND, you can register in their system, and after you spend a certain amount, you come in one day and the really nice guy behind the cash register says: Hey, you earned a discount! And you get your book for less than you thought! It’s like the best thing ever.
Step #4. Take your new treasure(s) around the corner to Caffe Tosi on Pleasant Street. This adorable place (pictured above) is the best cafe and coffee shop I can imagine. It’s got atmosphere. There are tables tucked into corner booths. Frank Sinatra is often on the sound system. Illy Espresso, pastries, soup and sandwiches, and really beautiful meals like vegetable lasagna or caprese salad make up the menu.
In the picture I’ve included above, you see a Cafe Borgia—espresso and chocolate milk topped with froth and orange zest— and Creme brûlée. (And yes, that was my lunch.) The book is called “The Sparrow Sisters” by Ellen Herrick, and is the perfect late fall read.
Step #5. In the last 10 minutes of your lunch break, walk back to the lake bluff, and finish your coffee while you look at the crazy waves breaking against the Light House.
Now, go back to the office. Make a list of what needs to get done, and get to work!