Coffee has a Story – Review: The Coffee Room

Much like recent posts, the focus of this one will be a review of a local place. Coffeeshops and cafes have my attention. Each one has a particular story, unique coffee, and a style all its own. The Coffee Room is no different.

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It is elegant and warm, quiet and refined, and their team seeks to provide high quality coffee that has been ethically sourced. There is a story for every cup and passion for every pour. If you’re interested in some quiet time in a quaint downtown cafe, The Coffee Room is for you. It can be found in downtown Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Not only is the coffee wonderful, but they also have quite a selection of delicious food. I enjoyed the peanut butter, green apple, and strawberry jelly panini. It was the perfect balance of tart and sweet for a late afternoon snack, which paired well with the lavender latte.

Amanda Yats, fellow coffee and travel enthusiast, described the mozzarella, pesto, and tomato panini as mouth-watering. “All of the ingredients on the panini have flavors that really compliment each other.” (@amanda_yats – Twitter). Marry Moore, a graduate student from Ireland, studied while waiting for a bite. She also found the peanut butter, apple, and strawberry jelly panini to be a fantastic choice. (moorem29 – Instagram)

The Coffee Room is an inviting space where you’ll find baristas who are happy to welcome you into their home for a warm cup of coffee or breakfast on Sunday. It is a place where passion rules the day and a commitment to the process really makes all the different. You’ll find good coffee with a story to tell. From pour overs to onsite roasting, The Coffee Room is must visit.

Follow The Coffee Room: @narrativallitycoffee on Instagram

Follow Amanda Yats: @amanda_yats on Twitter

Follow Mary Moore: @moorem29 on Instagram

What Dreams Are Made Of – Review: The Dreamer Coffee Shop

Cafes and coffeeshops are among my favorite places in the world. You can find them in almost all cities, towns, and communities. Even if you can’t find a good coffeeshop, you can find a place with its qualities – warm, creative, simple, and just what you need to slow things down. That’s what dreams are made of. In the busyness of life, coffeeshops are the place I come to be still for a while.

As of late, my favorite place has been The Dreamer Coffee Shop; affectionally known as Dreamer to regulars. Dreamer has a simple, warm environment that is welcoming for individuals looking for a creative space to relax or groups looking to study (really procrastinate). The open concept, bright walls, large bay windows and warm lighting make this the perfect coffeeshop to start a quiet weekend or spend your Wednesday evening to get over the midweek hump.

The coffee is great, the people become friends, and the space is perfect. Some of my favorites are the Maple Latte, Apple Chaider, and just their plan Cafe Latte.

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The Dreamer Coffee Shop is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Follow them on Instagram: @dreamercoffeeshop

Follow me on Instagram: @vince_thurman1

 

One Year of Blogging – Number 50

This is blog number 50! I started using The Big Picture to reflect on my experiences a year ago this month. It’s amazing to think about all that has happened in a year’s time and to see it backwards by revisiting certain posts. Some highlights are My Life or Master of None, in which I compare my life with a Netflix Series staring Aziz Ansari, What do you want to be when you grow up?, which focuses on navigating life as a young professional and developing skill to land a job you want, and the recent Office Spotlights.

For this post, I want to talk about the benefits of blogging:

  1. My writing has become more precise and focused. Blogging has been a great tool to practice writing without pressure. I can write at my own pace, revisit thoughts, and make edits after taking a step away from it. Is my writing perfect now? Not particularly, but it has gotten significantly better. Some people are gifted writers. I am not one of them, but that doesn’t stop me from practicing. Progress not perfection is my current mindset.
  2. Reflection is immensely important for learning. I have learned many lessons hours, days, weeks, and even months after having experienced some event, taking a class, or participating in an adventure. Quiet, intentional reflection leads to a deeper understanding of some concepts, a heighten sense of self-awareness, and a strong connection to what I experience. It is one thing to take in new information. It is another to process the information so it can be applied later. (It’s also one of my favorite activities as an introvert.)
  3. Stories. Stories. Stories. Storytelling is powerful! I look back on some of my blogs and laugh my heart out. I look back on others and feel a sense of contentment because of how far I have come. While I have gotten better at storytelling, I must say I have a long way to go before I have mastered this skill. Stories bridge the past with the future, which allows us to revisit moments that are important to us. This was a lesson learned from a friend and mentor, Carlos Cortes.
  4. Lastly, I’ve learned that blogging is a simple way to connect with people. There is a human element to many of my posts and often times they serve as a mirror to what others may have experienced or are currently experiencing. Making simple, yet meaningful connections that are rooted in authenticity is deeply important to me. Being able to do that through blogging is an avenue that is only just opening for me. I’m excited to see where it leads!

Here’s to one year writing for The Big Picture.

 

Office Spotlight – Dan Gaken

I listened to the Cubs fight song while writing this if that tells you anything about Dan Gaken. Last night the Cubs moved onto the World Series for the first time since 1945. History was made; much like what has been achieved under the leadership of Dan Gaken.

Over the years, Dan has served as a mentor, supporter, champion, and advisor to many students across the country. Though he gets to call CMU home, Dan has done some tremendous things for the lives of students around the United States. From the famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) ESPN speech to the HEEYYYYYY LAS yell to get everyone’s attention, Dan has stewarded the resources and energy of CMU’s Leadership Institute for nearly 20 years. He’s not old. He just started early.

Much of that time as an individual professional staff member with the help of students and volunteers. Because of his commitment and effort, CMU has truly dedicated support and resources to giving every student on campus the opportunity to discover the leader within and to gain the skills to be their best. I’ve been around long enough (not that long) to see the office increase from two professional staff to the current seven. Much of that is because of the compelling arguments, the unrecognized humble service (thanks for that term Denny), and the consistent belief that leadership is for everyone.

In the slide show, you’ll only see one photo of him at work because he as has a balanced life. He and his partner Erin have a baby girl and a bigggg puppy, Wrigley. Our team in the Leadership Institute is much more than that. We’re a family committed to empowering students to give a damn about the world and making it better. We get to do that because of the vision casted by Dan Gaken and all the work that came before we showed up. Thanks for all you do, Dan.

 

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Dan is the Director of CMU’s Leadership Institute, a Cubs Fan, Husband and Dad, and a Wrigley enthusiast.

Office Spotlight – Ellen Wehrman

Today’s Office Spotlight is for the cool aunt that everyone wants to talk to at holidays. The one who looks out for your best interests, but also gives you candy before dinner. Ellen Wehrman joined the Leadership Institute team a little over a year ago and she’s been on a roll since the start.

Ellen is passionate about her husband and kids, sharing desserts, and assessment. I’ve never seen anyone more excited about finding new and INTERESTING ways to gather data and figure out what to do with it. Ellen has also served as a guiding voice for me as a young professional. As one who is passionate about assessment, you can imagine she is passionate about feedback as well. As a young professional with a lot of passion, you can imagine how enthusiastic I am to share my thoughts and ideas. Basically, I need a lot of feedback to flush out my ideas fully.

Ellen has given me tips and coaching on how to balance listening and sharing ideas. She coached me to see that there is power in letting people get their ideas out fully before finishing someone’s sentence or chiming in every few minutes. (I promise it’s the passionate in me). Much like her coaching, Ellen follows this to a T and is a phenomenal listener and coach. It’s been great to have you in the office Ellen and have you as a mentor and coach. We also appreciate the treats, desserts, and candy before lunch!

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Ellen is an Assistant Director in CMU’s Leadership Institute.

Style Revisited – Something New

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about style, being unfamiliar with fashion, and finally taking risks. I’ve decided to revisit the topic to share what I’ve learned about myself and style in the past few months. Here are six lessons I’ve learned:

  1. My confidence has grown tremendously. Taking risks and seeing them pay off is a great way to boost confidence. I’m not talking blind risk. I’m talking thoughtful, calculated risk. Making smart decisions after going through some trial and error. Some outfits were great and others were… Well let’s just say I won’t be wearing a few of them again. This has benefited me in my personal and professional life. Decisive. Bold. Flexible. Creativity. These are the words that come to mind.1
  2. Less is more… I paired down my wardrobe down to the essentials and a few extra luxuries. I have 7 pairs of paints including jeans/denim, 3 pairs of shorts, closes to exercise in, 8 dress shirts, approximately, and 10 t-shirts varying for seasons. Based on that count I’d say I’d have approximately 40-50 total items of clothing, excluding shoes. That can be saved for a different blog. I have less stress about deciding what to wear because I now have less an 100 items to choose from. It feels great. You can always buy what you need to fill in gaps.2
  3. Understand the occasion. Thinking back to a few years ago, I would dress how I wanted to dress. It wasn’t bad, but sometimes I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the occasion. There were times when I was overdressed and others when I was woefully underdressed. If you aren’t sure about what’s appropriate, ask. It’s okay to ask questions. Better ask and find out, than show up and be out of place. 3
  4. Be comfortable. Look Good. Feel Good applies here. First and foremost, you have to be comfortable. If you aren’t, people will notice, which doesn’t matter a ton, but you’ll probably hate every second of it. Constantly readjusting is a sign that you might not be comfortable. Make sure the fit is right on whatever you’re wearing. When the fit is right, the entire outfit looks better.Style 1
  5. Own your style and try new things. If you’re creative, find a way to pull an outfit together that you didn’t see before. If you’re unsure about that haircut or hairstyle, try it. If you don’t like it, change it. If you like to dress up, get out of bed a half hour earlier and get ready for the day. If it’s Saturday and you aren’t going anywhere, rock the joggers or sweatpants. 4
  6. Don’t let people dictate what is right for you. Style is about a swagger or an expression of your personality. Don’t force it and play around with the ideas you have. You might find that you like something you were afraid to try.

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Also a special guest quote from my friend Julie Fredrick: “SHOES ALWAYS MATCH THE BAND OF THE WATCH.”

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Photos taken by: @SarahFiorillo (Instagram)

 

Office Spotlight – Jesi Ekonen

Etsy Shops. Just Follow Your Art. Associate Director. Jesi is the creative genius who doubles as a Student Affairs professional who basically does six jobs. This spotlight is particularly special because I’ve known Jesi for a little over six years now. She interviewed me for LAS Competition Day in 2010.

Knowing Jesi has been a privilege. From the great conversations, to the times she’s pushed me to become a better professional, and all fun and funny moments in between, Jesi has been a tremendous mentor and friend over the years. She loves Dan Ekonen, Betty White and Mr. Jones. She’s wildly talented in the realms of art, whit, and sarcasm, which resulted in the creation of Just Follow Your Art (http://etsy.me/2eqYyTC). And she’s just cool.

Jesi and I share a love of wine/champagne, leadership development, all things potato, and just giving a damn about making the world better in big and small ways. Knowing Jesi has helped me become more creative, professional, and thoughtful. I’ve been lucky enough to work with you, learn from you, and just celebrate good times. Thank you for all you do, Jesi.

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Jesi Ekonen is the Associate Director of the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University

Out of Office Spotlight – Dan Ekonen

Dan Ekonen – the man, the myth, the Squatch. Dan spends time outside of the office playing with Betty White, listening to the Lumineers, high-fiving Porkchop, and buying endless amounts of champagne. While enjoying craft beer, he mocks hipsters by wearing homemade, capri, cut-off sweatpants, not fitting in phone booths, and hosting baked potato themed tailgates with Jesi Ekonen, his domestic partner.

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Office Spotlight – Hannah Long

From her love of plants to veggie burgers (irony…am I right?), Hannah is a character in the best way! She adds a lightheartedness to the office that keeps us on our toes. Hannah and I had the pleasure of working together during her last undergraduate semester with the Ignite Leadership Program (Miranda Joynt was her co-coordinator).

Last year we shared weekly meetings and now we share the Grave (Grad Cave) w/FeFe. Though we’ll only get one year as grad students together, we’ll definitely have many memories to share. One of those memories is when my mom decided to give her a plant, which happened this week.

If you know Hannah, you know that fun, bulldogs, and bird doubles are not to be missed. That’s the energy she brings to our team. She keeps us fun as well as productive. She stepped into the graduate assistant role right away took off running (not literally). She’s been a great friend and team member in the Leadership Institute and we’re lucky to have her.

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Hannah Long is a graduate assistant in CMU’s Leadership Institute completing her first year of graduate school in the Master’s of Arts in Higher Education Administration.

 

Office Spotlight – Jeremy Heinlein

Superman is better… for the record, but we both can appreciate The Flash, Star Wars, conversations about community, culture, positive change, and just about anything (including Batman I guess). We also share a passion for Mexican food, sushi, and chicken and waffles. (Not all at the same time – that would be a bit excessive).

Have you heard of Kip Dangerfield (Jeremy’s LAS Competition Day Alter-Ego)? Well I didn’t either until I returned to CMU for grad school. Jeremy is a creative, passionate individual who adds positive energy to any room. If you’ve seen Parks and Rec, Jeremy is a blend of Chris Traeger and Tom Haverford; positive, excited and up for just about anything. In many exchanges over the last year, Jeremy and I have come up with ideas for a Roman-like communication forum to discuss and debate ideas, potato theme restaurants (copyright pending), and intricate future endeavors.

If you know Jeremy, you know you can always count on a positive environment with lots of laughs, movie trailers, and a willingness to help out whenever. Jeremy’s come in the clutch many of times when putting together programs for the Leadership Institute and Special Olympics. Lastly, I admire Jeremy’s admiration for Noelle, his fiancée, and how he treats her. You’re a stand up guy, my friend. So here’s to you, Jeremy and the many adventures to come.

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Jeremy is Executive Assistant in CMU’s Leadership Institute and is completing a Master’s of Art in Communication. He is a young professional seeking to make a positive impact on the world.