My love affair of coffee has not been as long as it may seem but it is a strong one. In honor of National Coffee Day, I will share:

Starbucks was a new thing when I was in high school. I remember one of my best friends trying to drag me there after school or before youth group meetings. I went for the social aspect but always had a hard time ordering from the menu. What was a macchiato? Do you have anything fruity? This was when the menu at Starbucks wasn't so expansive and I had relatively few options that weren't coffee-based. I just didn't like the taste of coffee and associated it with older men at church with yellow teeth and bad coffee breath.

Then I went to college. I still wasn't a big caffeine junkie (I don't know how I got through!) and still managed to be productive on natural energy alone so I didn't pursue it. A couple of summers into college, I counseled at a summer camp. The previous semester had been rough personally for me and I think I was having a little situational depression. I just could not pick myself up and get going which was so different than the usual me who rolled out of bed easily before 8am every day. So, I began to experiment with flavored creamers and started to enjoy coffee a little. I also took a lot of road trips that summer and needed it to get me through some of the nights.

After a relatively rough next year at home, I bounced back emotionally and started to pour myself back into studying and school. By that time, I was working on prerequisites for a degree in healthcare. I don't think coffee became a daily thing until the end of pharmacy school and I was having to get up early for rotations. By the time I started my first job as a pharmacist, I relied on caffeine and my Starbucks stop before work was something I looked forward to. Then I got lucky and started working in hospitals that had Starbucks!

After I had children, coffee was here to stay. Those early morning wake up calls can be brutal if you have to self-start. Coffee to me symbolizes warmth, comfort, and productivity and I am happy to celebrate it today and every day.

WellnessJoanna Simmon