Coffee with Mimi: The coffee filter lesson — keeping supply balanced

Published 7:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2016

By Mimi Becker

Contributing writer

We use the cone shaped coffee filters.  We purchase them in boxes of 100.  That is one-third of a year of coffee mornings —  four months, give or take days away for vacation, business travel, visiting family. 

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The brand we buy comes in a box which has no plastic windows.  It sits up in the cabinet.  We take it down once a day. 


Along about what could be day 85, or so, I note we seem to be getting low on coffee filters.  A few days later I mention it to my husband. 

No one puts coffee filters on the grocery list. 

Day 101…

That seemingly endless supply of coffee filters is gone.  We saw it coming.  We open the box virtually every day.  How could we have missed it, the diminishing supply?  Coffee filters aren’t like, say, the automatic ice maker which will crank out cubes, pretty reliably. Or the gas tank which has an annoying warning bell when you get close to a bad situation.  The coffee filter supply needs our attention or the box will be empty.

The solution would appear to be quite simple.  Keep your eye on the supply.  Replenish before the supply runs out. 

Problem averted.

You can see where this is headed. 

Our lives are full, busy, running like clockwork. 

We fit in social activities, work, family, our latest Netflix obsession, new projects, exercise.  We can do it. The schedule works like a charm.  Plenty of energy here.  No need to worry.

One day a little glitch, a delivery is late, one of the kids calls with a car problem, the tree lights worked last year. 

Our reaction is not charming.  Our supply has run out. 

When you think you have it all under control, you need to back up and actively check the supply.  Now.  “Under control” is not an attractive or healthy way to describe living a full life.

“Under control” means it is just getting done as planned, on schedule. 

I retired from a very structured career as a teacher partially because I wanted to be free to explore some options.  I could do this; I could do that and that, and that.   

That is a coffee filter moment.  I plan to be active for a long time and I’m not sure what experiences are in store for me entirely. 

I do hope I have learned one thing to prepare me — allowing space for life to develop may be the best check on my supply of emotional and physical energy. 

There will always be times when activities and commitments are more demanding than others (coffee filters should be equipped with alarms at the holidays), but those days should not rule every page of the calendar.  The special, well-chosen experience will keep the supply balanced for many days and ensure the next special day is actually today.