On our recent trip to Indonesia we stayed one night at the education centre in the Seloliman nature reserve in central Java. While there we learned about local products and customs as well as organic farming; all of the food served at the centre was organic and mainly from their own gardens. One of the activities was a walk through the nearby village where we got to pay a visit to a coffee grinder, Sufina.

Sufina is ninety-five years old and lives alone in a small house in a village nearby the nature reserve. She gets up each morning around 3am to pray before preparing traditional Javanese coffee for the local farmers who come by her house before heading to work in the fields. They talk about the weather, politics, and village gossip; up to fifteen people filling her small two room home. 

Her house is part café and part production facility. She gets coffee beans from a local plantation and then grinds them herself at home. Using a heavy wooden pummel, which she has had for the last twenty years, Sufina pounds and grinds the coffee in a stone bowl, while sitting on the floor of her house. She works grinding the beans for eight hours a day in order to support herself, selling cups of coffee for 10.000 rupiah (about 0.65EUR or 0.75USD) or the same for a small sack of grinds. Periodically, the education centre brings by groups like ours to meet Sufina and taste her coffee. She was full of energy and happy to chat away with us for awhile through our local guide and translator while we watch her grinding process and sampled some of the delicious coffee.

She’s a pretty impressive lady for ninety-five years old; she lives alone with children and (great) grandchildren living nearby in the village, works constantly to support herself, and enjoys two cups of her coffee each day. What could be her secret? No stress, she says! The only thing that causes Sufina any stress is when she can’t remember where she left the pummel she uses to grind the coffee.

Sufina’s main piece of advice for avoiding stress? Focus on the present.

She says nothing is gained by looking backwards with regret or what-ifs, and no sense in looking forward and anticipating changes or possible scenarios; just focus on the present. For example, they don’t ask questions like how, or why, when someone passes away. Instead they celebrate the life that was and continue on moving forward.

It was great advice for us in that moment, as it’s so easy when travelling to get focused on the next day, the next activity. Each day of our trip was filled with amazing new discoveries, that we would have missed out if we were constantly anticipating the next. Now that I am back home to our everyday life, I’m still trying to incorporate it; it’s even harder once you are back into your routine! But it’s a good piece of advice I think we can all try more to work into our thoughts and lives.

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