Sandra Myrick has a boundless energy most mothers of teenage children would envy.
Myrick's mile-long "to do" list includes managing her 12-year old daughter's busy schedule, serving on several boards and keeping the books for two local law firms. That leaves the 5-foot-4 dynamo precious little down time.
"I'm in a book club with some friends," Myrick said, "and they'll call me up and say 'Have you finished yet?' and I'll laugh. I'm lucky to get through a couple of pages a night before falling asleep."
When her daughter, Frances, recently skipped off to meet friends to shop on Bay Street, Myrick took a few precious minutes to share what keeps her going.
Back when her daughter was in first grade, Myrick wasn't quite as trim and energetic as she is today. A chance stop at Beaufort's Chocolate Tree changed all that. She recalls popping in for a treat with her daughter just before Christmas and discovering chocolate covered espresso beans. She ate a couple of handfuls of them and just "rocketed."
"I went home and wrapped about 20 Christmas gifts," she said.
That is when she knew "there was something to this" coffee phenomena.
"When I was in college, I worked in a shop that sold coffee beans," she recounted. "I couldn't understand why people would spend $4 for 12 ounces of the stuff."
A few caffeine kick-starts later, though, she was hooked.
Warming the heart aspounds melt away
With her newfound affinity for caffeine, it didn't take Myrick long to find Common Ground. She discovered the shop about 10 years ago, chancing upon the location while traversing the pedestrian alley off Bay Street that connects to Henry C. Chambers Park.
Lantz Price, longtime area restaurateur and owner of Plums and Saltus Grill originated the quaint little coffeehouse in 1998. Since then, the establishment has changed hands and is now owned and operated by Jeff Nash, Mary Horton and Liza Bethel, who have expanded the store and the menu.
"You couldn't ask for a nicer spot," Myrick said.
One look at the shop's sweeping view of Beaufort's postcard perfect waterfront -- not to mention, the bevy of fresh pastries, salads, a wine selection and, of course, every coffee concoction imaginable -- it is easy to appreciate what keeps Myrick coming back.
She found that after adding a cup of coffee to her daily routine, she was eating less and losing weight.
"The pounds just melted off," she said.
Having a cup in the morning would get her through lunch and beyond, with enough energy to make it to her daughter's afternoon swim practice. But it wasn't just the pick-me-up that made her a fixture at Common Ground. Near the time of her discovery, a good friend was confronting a particularly disheartening situation, and Myrick began bringing her a cup of coffee each day to buoy her spirits.
"We'd sit and talk and it would just take her mind off her troubles for a little while."
Enjoying a cup of coffee with friends "just warms your heart" she said.
Although she doesn't visit the shop every morning now, the coffeehouse's barista, Kelly Moreland, still starts making a single-shot double mocha when she sees Myrick come in. (A double shot makes her jittery.)
Myrick sings Moreland's praises.
"Kelly takes really good care of me, even when they are really busy, which they are when the cruises come in."
Since Common Ground is a short walking distance from the law offices of Tupper, Grimsley & Dean, P.A., where Myrick works as the firm's bookkeeper, she still manages to come by on a regular basis. She said she often pops in during her mid-morning break to "clear her head" and to enjoy the comfortable ambiance and view. The sweet beverage continues to give her a "boost" and her coffee time affords her an opportunity to make new acquaintances.
She finds that people love to use getting a cup of coffee as an excuse to socialize, and Myrick is happy to oblige. For this convivial local, life is too short to pass on an opportunity to make new friends.
With such an outgoing personality, it is no wonder that Myrick is so active in the community.
"I'm always going. … I'm a doer," Myrick said.
It shows in her dedication and service to numerous area foundations and charities. After serving on the Board of the Historic Beaufort Foundation, she was asked by Kevin Cuppia, owner of Modern Jewelers, to lend her talents to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation. Although she is scaling back her involvement to spend more time with her family, Myrick feels a sense of accomplishment about her time there.
"It's a great board, and the people are fabulous to work with," said Myrick.
She is especially confident of the group's commitment to handling its responsibilities in a moral, legal and ethical manner.
"Funds go to where they need to go," she says.
Her belief in moral action has also garnered her a position as head of deacons for First Presbyterian of Beaufort.
When she does take a break from
her busy schedule, it is often to make a mission trip abroad. She has traveled to Japan with the Rotary Club and has made a mission trip to Africa. She has climbed the Great Wall, rode on an elephant and been in a cage with a tiger in Thailand.
In all her travels, she's tried more than a few different brews.
"I still don't know really where the best coffee comes from," she laughed, but it's a safe bet that her next cup will be from Common Ground.