A Carmel coffee shop owner launches a website to heal hurting hearts.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
After two failed marriages, Carmel’s Mira Schumacher didn’t know what to do. She was desperate.
“I went from a size 12 to a size zero,” she said. “I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat.”
She hired a psychologist, talked to friends and read endless articles. None offered an exit from her suffering.
She turned to the Internet, spending countless hours over several years scanning the web for answers. She says she found everything – financial advice, entertainment ads and a great deal of celebrity gossip – that she didn’t want.
“Sites were overwhelmed with ads and links to other sites,” she says.
Little by little, though, she found worthwhile tidbits here and there, and realized what was missing: a comprehensive source of help, “a relationship department store,” as she puts it.
Schumacher began to jot down ideas, in her native Korean, for her own website. It would prove an involved task. But Schumacher had handled tough assignments before.
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Schumacher arrived in New York from South Korea with her first husband, their infant daughter and $5,000 borrowed from her mother. They took a grueling cross-country drive, staying in cheap hotels, looking for work and watching their funds trickle out. By the time they reached the Peninsula, they had less than $200.
Schumacher landed her first job at a Korean restaurant in Seaside and her husband set up San Luis Obispo to go to Cal Poly while she moved to Salinas. She says the long-distance relationship and her husband’s infidelities precipitated a separation; despite the falling out, she says she supported him financially through college so her daughter would have at least one educated parent.
Between restaurant work, caring for their infant and taking business and ESL classes at Hartnell College, she scratched out any job she could, working as a housekeeper, even picking strawberries for a few days.
About four years ago, spurred by her second divorce and the challenge of a being a single parent to three kids, she approached the owner of Carmel Coffee & Cocoa Bar in Carmel Plaza, who agreed to let her take over the remainder of a 10-year lease.
Schumacher knew the basics of coffee making but attended the Seattle Barista Academy to cement more skills. She studied coffee beans, blends and roasts.
“I go the extra mile,” she says.
She seems to do so daily, often spending 12 or more hours behind the counter. If she’s not in the store, she’s shopping for supplies at wholesalers, completing work orders and procuring pastries from local bakeries and coffee from Carmel Coffee Roasting Company.
“She’s such a hard worker,” says CCCB’s Carolyn Sinclair. “She puts so much effort into the shop, the website and her kids. She’s amazing at juggling everything.”
A subtle but essential (and often elusive) accomplishment to include on that list: creating a welcoming environment.
“She knows everyone by name gives them a hug and makes them feel great,” longtime customer Kipp Stewart says. “It’s always mobbed because of her.”
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With her newfound web expertise in tow, Schumacher took a more holistic approach to relationships. She knew she wanted to address more than chemistry, offering insights into relevant personal issues such as sexual history, food addiction and substance abuse – in addition to other such topics as single life, infidelity, self-improvement and spiritual and alternative healing.
The diverse wealth of information available at her new site, www.neverendingjar.com, includes links to veteran professionals. Clicking on the topic “Surviving Infidelity” summons real people with real credentials; here that means Dr. Frank Gunzburg, a marriage counselor who has devoted his life to helping couples survive affairs. It’s updated every three days with more than 50 different fresh articles, often using current events to get at greater lessons. (Tiger Woods’ debacle made for a teachable moment or two.)
A section entitled “Wisdom Café” provides uplifting sayings and an article of the day. Another, “My Story,” creates kinship by allowing visitors to open a personal account and relay their own story, which might provide the most valuable insights of all. The familial feeling evokes that of her coffee shop.
On the home page, a website motto reflects Schumacher’s resilience. “Don’t give up,” it reads, “don’t stop looking.”
The site name, meanwhile, echoes her philosophy. In the original myth, Pandora’s box was a jar, but the ending’s the same: When all else had escaped, hope was left in the bottom.
A jar sits on Schumacher’s office desk. “Relationships never end,” she says. “Hope never ends.”