Monthly Archives: April 2015

Little Beans of Wisdom


Little Beans of Wisdom with Vintage TypewriterTHE COSMOS AND CREATIVITY

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day, and I overheard a woman telling how a cosmic explosion inspired Mary Shelley to write the novel, Frankenstein.

Having been rather fond of that character and his story, I found this tidbit so fanciful to be true that I craned my neck in the most graceful way and began serious eavesdropping.

She went on to explain that a star burst in the night when Mary Shelley, her future husband – the poet Percy Shelley – and Lord Byron were vacationing one summer’s eve in Geneva. It was a cold and stormy night, and the trio of writers was trapped indoors. To stave off the gloom, they told ghost stories and goaded one another with a contest to tell the scariest.

As the anonymous narrator spun her yarn, she said that late into the night, Mary Shelly contributed Frankenstein – the tale of a monstrous creation gone awry – and won the challenge without debate. She credited Mary’s spontaneous creation to the cosmic energies that she was unaware of.

There was mention of fire in the sky, an eery illumination inside of the bruise-black clouds, a comparison to the aurora borealis. Fragments of imagery floated in and out of earshot like flotsam and jetsam .  .  . a searing white light, all twisted and sinewy like a light bulb’s filament. Something sizzling. An electrical connection gone haywire.

“Would you like some more hot water? Lemon slices?” The waitress was standing next to my table. Hovering with the slightest sense of urgency.

I reconvened with the moment and realized that people were waiting in line to be seated. Probably the mid-day patrons. The decibel level was rising; the lilting voice behind me was being swallowed. The enchanting tale was left hanging in my imagination.

“I’ll just take the check, thank you.” And off I went to research the details of this cosmic outburst of creativity.

As it turns out, Mary Shelley’s classic novel was sparked into being by a planet-altering event that happened 200 years ago.

Mount Tambora rose above a small island in Indonesia. It staged a powerful eruption on April 5th, 1815. It rumbled for a few days more, than blew itself to bits on April 10th — the most powerful eruption ever recorded. The mountain turned to “liquid fire,” and dozens of cubic miles of smoke and ash were blasted into the sky.

The smallest particles of ash made it all the way to the stratosphere, almost 30 miles high, where they spread around the entire planet. They reflected a lot of sunlight back into space, causing the global temperature to drop by a couple of degrees.

In America and Europe, 1816 was called the “year without a summer.” Crops failed, farmers were bankrupted, and the hungry staged food riots.*

The details proved to be not quite as beguiling as my invisible storyteller led me to believe. But, that’s the magic of storytelling .  .  . it’s open to invention.

And, Mary Shelley did indeed create her Frankenstein during a night of ghost tales. She and her author friends were in Geneva, and her contribution was inspired by a monstrous explosion half a planet away.

Quite cosmically alluring, I’d say. And to think that in all my years of studying literature, I never heard this charming anecdote. How dull academia can be!

*Source: Damond Benningfield, written for StarDate, April 5, 2015.

Easily Bored


I want to heartily thank Debra Marrs for providing the substance in yesterday’s issue of The Grind.

She did a great job of provoking thought, especially within me!

EV001120When I read her submission a few weeks ago, I knew the content would be perfect for Mocha Muse’s newspaper, but, I didn’t expect to be haunted by its title. Nevertheless, I’ve found myself chewing on the fact ever since that creative people are “easily bored.”

I’m not sure what gnawed on me first, the creative part or the bored part. But I haven’t been able to reconcile the connection within myself, so, I’m going to write out my quandary and see where it goes.

My first prick of discomfort was: I consider myself to be a person who exercises her creativity, however, I’m also rarely bored. So then I sat with that contradiction and wondered in good old Aristotelian logic:

If creative people are easily bored

And if I’m rarely bored

Then can I really be a very creative person?

And this logic, of course, scraped at the scab of my ego that defines me as being creative. It was like starting to shed the snake-layers of my protective personality and that felt uncomfortable. I shivered with a little anxiety; felt perhaps a little too exposed as a possible fraud.

Well, that was stage-one panic and once it passed, like any good storm, the thought-winds calmed and I was able to go forward without judgment or fear. Rather like a member of the audience watching a theatre production . . . I could lean back in the upholstery of my mind and relax. Not think. Just accept the delivery of free-spirited thoughts as they arrived at my doorstep.

And this is my favorite stratum of life to inhabit. Actively focused upon an idea, while the orbiters of observation roam around, encircle the topic and surveil it from every direction; all the while, my mind remains concentrated. I liken the process to a barn owl triangulating its evening meal.

It’s that inner faith we can rest in, knowing that all nourishment and wisdom will come if we just simply relax and stop fretting.

And, sure enough, after a week or so, I had new colors of vision. It was no longer about a threat to my self-identity; it was really more a situation of semantics.

I mean, what the heck is boredom, anyway?

By dictionary definition it may mean blasé and unconcerned; even the rather quaint “lackadaisical,” but, in my personal lexicon, I think it may just be a time of reflection. A time of ascending the clouds of daily chaos, and crawling into the lounge chair that glides along the stream of glass air up above where electronic signals can’t reach and distractions are never available. Romantically speaking, it’s that place somewhere over the rainbow.  Woman in retro kitchen.

That special timezone where technology is inaccessible; where conversations are mute; where traffic jams are unclogged; where I’m able to touch the quietest observant state possible. It’s when I’m sitting at the corner of contentment and attention that I receive subtle impulses that urge me to create – to express something visually, orally or in writing.

So, I don’t know. Is being bored – or being reflective – a lost art?

“Boredom” has some edges of darkness, so do many people run away from it into the bright wattage of gadgetry and social gatherings? And are those who stay behind the ones who receive the messages of creativity?

Is this the connection between being creative and being easily bored:  Just being open to receive the instructions of how to make something different?

To be un-rushed and available to search for more beautiful or provocative or poignant ways of expressing ourselves in this physical world?

Lots of questions remain, but at the moment I’m comfortable with understanding boredom as reflection – and for me – that feels healthy and creative.

Or, perhaps, “contemplation” is the word I’m reaching for .  .  . yes, that feels even more balanced. The fine art of contemplation. I believe in keeping it alive, and trust that it will, in return, enliven me.

The Grind by Guest Author: Debra Marrs


Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, snuggle into the sofa,leather sofa in Home Interior unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the fourth issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

The Grind by Debra MarrsThis week’s article has been submitted by guest author: Debra Marrs, Creativity and Writing Coach, and Blogger.

Many Thanks, Debra, for this inspiring and revealing post!!

If you’re interested in making a submission to The Grind, the maximum word count is 160, so, this is a challenge in minimalism. Please visit the Contact Page for entry information. This is a great opportunity for publication, so, please don’t hesitate. It’s never too late to puncture the literary landscape!

Little Beans of Wisdom


Little Beans of Wisdom - Blue Brushstroke & Blue Beans


This week blue has emerged as a spontaneous color-theme, so, I’m going to follow its current.

I had a vision of blue coffee beans and then I saw this photo. Such synchronicity caused me to wonder: why not? Roasted coffee beans on wood and blue sky on black coffee in a g

So, I did a little research and found something delightful .  .  . there is such a bean and it’s known as Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. As suggested by its name, it’s literally grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. This exotic variety of bean is noted for a mild flavor and lack of bitterness.

Over the past 20 years or more, this coffee has developed an international reputation for its seductive quality. Needless to say, it’s highly sought after and expensive.

Apparently, Japan benefits the most – importing over 80% of all Jamaican Blue. And in Tokyo, it reportedly sells for $10 a cup. So, for the rest of us, Jamaica Blue remains an exotic rarity, which excites me. I love a quest for the uncommon – the blue diamond; the blue moon; the blue coffee. Such a lovely triad.

In addition to brewed coffee, this bean is the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur. Yum! An essence favored by my taste buds.

Traditionally, only coffee grown at elevations between 3000 and 5500 feet can be called Jamaican Blue. Any lower an altitude and their value decreases, rendering them known as “Jamaican Low Mountain.” (I’ve lived in mountain altitudes for most of my life, so, this little nugget brings a smile to my face .  .  . Yay altitude, I’ve always suspected that it makes us hearty and savory!)

The region between Kingston and Port Antonio is where the highest mountains in the Caribbean nest, and, they provide the perfect climate for nurturing these finicky little coffee berries both slowly and lovingly.

With the combination of cool, misty air and high rainfall, a rich soil with excellent drainage is created. This duo of climate and soil is considered ideal for high quality coffee.

Now, I can’t say for sure if the beans have an actual blue hue to their skins, but, I choose to fantasize them as Caribbean Blue. Even if the brew in the mug is just a reflection of the azure island sky .  .  . I’m willing to suspend belief and indulge in a secret island adventure. Cafe on the beach

How about you?

**Resource: Wikipedia – Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Why Blue?


VW VanSometimes words paint pictures; sometimes pictures write stories.

When I first glanced at this photo, I was struck by its symbolism of my generation. It immediately flooded the theatre of my mind with hippie memories. However, what branded my attraction most deeply to this image is the color.

The statement of Blue.

And that reminds me of how predominant blue was in the late sixties/early seventies. Despite the beads and embellishments and embroidery of lavish colors, the culture’s canvas was  .  .  . every hue of indigo.

Which makes me curious: why select indigo-dyed cotton – the classic uniform of Americana – as a statement of rebellion and revolution? Funny. I’ve never noted this contradiction during the decades since my youth. But, it just took one simple photograph to cast me back into reflection and question: Why blue?

It’s a deep, calming blue. It’s introspective with a hint of melancholy. Immediately I’m propelled to Joni Mitchell’s archetypal album, Blue. Joni's Mitchell's Blue

With personal and poetic crafting, she chronicled the color of a generation. She voiced the concerns and dreams through words and paint.

But still, why blue? What did it say of the times. To this day, I  outfit myself primarily in black, white and indigo with splashes of color as accents. And for anyone who has so much as peeked at my, it’s obvious that I’m color-zealous.

I’m high-voltage Crayola happy, yet, when it comes to real life, I’m serious, almost solemn, about blue.

What is its power? And why have I been rather blind to it until a random photo slid through my inbox like an apparition?

Now I live in the West, in the heart of ranching country where cowboys, cowgirls and cattlemen dress almost exclusively in blue denim. These are rock-solid people who never sought to upheave the earth of America. While my tribe from the East Coast was restless and angry; impatient and self-righteous. We wanted to till the morals of our parents and plant new ideals in fertile furrows.

How ironic that so many of us moved westward in our faded jeans and linked arms with the un-restless folk in their darker, deeper tones of denim. We found stillness when we thought we wanted revolution. We found big sky after we left big sea.

But still, why blue?   My Indigo Heart-1

Two interesting facts crept right in through the back door after I wrote this piece: “Blue is a creativity-enhancing color.” And: “Blue is considered to be the most appealing color for websites, according to designers.”

Hmmmmm .  .  . it does seem to be a color with a complex bouquet for contemplation.

The Grind


Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, snuggle into the sofa, leather sofa in Home Interior unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the third issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

The Grind                          **Resource: Daily

If you’re interested in making a submission to The Grind, the maximum word count is 160, so, this is a challenge in minimalism. Please visit the Contact Page for entry information.This is a great opportunity for publication, so, please don’t hesitate. It’s never too late to puncture the literary landscape!

As I mused about in my introduction, it seems as though my craving for the external sensory aspects is, perhaps, right on track as far as creative triggers are concerned. Recently, I read this article in Success magazine:

Why Coffee Shops Boost Brainpower

(Hint: It’s not the caffeine.)

When you visit your neighborhood coffee shop to jump-start your brain, the jolt isn’t just from the java. Turns out it’s the noise! A study in the Journal of Consumer Research tested participants at 50 decibels, which was a bit too quiet; 85 decibels, too noisy; and 70 decibels – the gentle buzz experienced at a hot-beverage purveyor – is just right. The results confirm what many creatives, freelancers and home-based workers have long experienced: Exiting your normal routine is a better way to juice up your creativity and productivity than hunkering down all by your lonesome and trying to power through a problem.

— Mary Vinnedge

Of course, we’re limited to a virtual coffee shop and I can’t raise the decibel level to 70 . . . BUT . . . if we imagine the sounds in the background, perhaps, the Mocha Muse can be used as a place to break routine, loosen up some latent stories, roust memories, stir emotions, animate dreams . . . .


Little Beans of Wisdom


Little Beans of Wisdom - 5

Here’s an aromatic story to begin your day .  .  . a mythical tale of the origin of coffee from a faraway land:

Once upon a time, in an exotic land, in a country called Ethiopia, there was a fine goat herder named Kaldi, who suddenly awakened from a rather restless night to discover his goats behaving with somewhat balletic grace. One of his old bucks was kicking up dust and cavorting around like a kid goat and the rest of the herd, well, to be tactful, they were quite rambunctious.

Upon further investigation, he discovered that they were quickly and happily consuming the berries of a native bush. Still recovering from his fitful sleep, Kaldi, pinching himself to make sure he really was awake, decided that what’s obviously good for the goat must be good for the goat herder. He thus descended upon the bush with abandon, gulping berries with unbridled enthusiasm!

Soon he became full of vigor, completely forgetting his bad night, and joined in the happy dance with his goats. It would have been a sad thing that day if Kaldi had taken this discovery to his grave but, thankfully, fate took a much kinder twist.

One fine day a monk happened by to discover a mesmerizing ballet of sorts going on with Kaldi and his goats. In his astonishment, he questioned Kaldi in regards to the origin of such riotous celebration. Kaldi joyfully shared the story of the bush and the magical berries.

The monk, being a wise old soul, perceived the magical enlightening berries as a divine revelation of sorts, a gift from God as it were, solving his problem of falling sound asleep during meditation. He saw it as a way to help his brothers solve similar problems with focus and concentration desperately needed during long hours on the cushion!

He then spent many days experimenting with the cleaning, drying, and grinding of the berries and the making of a “tea”. Thus, Kaldi and the wise old monk, however inadvertently, gave the priceless gift of coffee to the world!**

And the Mocha Muse gives you the last drop of magic to start your day.

(**This story was inspired by my memory of a tale from Lakota Coffee Company and several other sources that spoke of a mythical goat herder.)