Friday, January 29, 2016

Reflections on Tea

I having been reflecting on the significance of tea in my family. With a British mother, we grew up drinking tea. I did the above graphic and sent it as a card to Mum a few years ago. It was the first thing Mum said when I walked in the door; "Would you like a cuppa tea?"  It's the first thing we all say, no matter what the weather is. I have memories of greeting Mum at the airport after her long international trips with a thermos of tea.  Tea is delight and comfort and welcome and warmth and family.

It was the last thing Mum said, when Hospice got her all settled into her bed. "I would like a cup of tea now." And we gave her tea, from a little sponge, on the end of a stick. It looked like a sponge lolly pop. And she was so happy. 

At her funeral, we gave out little bags with P.G. Tips in her memory:

Now, weeks after her death, a cup of tea is my connection to Mum. Especially in these cold, wintery days, tea brings me such comfort and warmth. 

These memories of tea have been sparked by a comment I received on one of my Magnolia May videos. I was watching a journaling video with MissVickyBee on YouTube. Now,  I have to say I don't personally know Vicky, but I feel like I do. She is very chatty and when I watch her videos, it's like having tea with a friend. She's introduced me to planners, pens, Traveler's Notebooks, journals and a lot of things that contribute to my planner addiction. [Insert eye roll from John Morgan]

In this video, she says, "If you are thinking this is going to be a quick video, it's not. Grab yourself a cup of coffee, tea, water, whatever you want, sit back and relax and we're going to go through it all."

So I wrote:

I really did stop the video and go get a cuppa tea! Thanks for the inspiration! :-)
And THEN! This comment shows up from Cindy Bin on Magnolia's Walk in The Woods video:

Hi, I saw a comment you made on another video where you said you drink tea. I have ranted against tea for years online, trying to help people understand why we shouldn't drink this stuff. It isn't good for you. I'm a convert to the Mormon church and we have The Word of Wisdom which is direct revelation from God saying that alcohol, tea, coffee, cigarettes and mind-altering drugs like marijuana are not for the body. We are taught the moral and physical reasons to avoid using these things. This HELPS us. It is good to understand why we shouldn't use these things. But I never drank tea (or coffee) even BEFORE I had religious beliefs. BLECH! I always felt that "tea and coffee is for grownups" and I never felt or wanted to be "old enough" to consume these strong, hot drinks. How do people even get started drinking this stuff? You didn't drink it when you were a sweet, innocent little girl, did you? Of course not. So what happened to you to go from a sweet, innocent little girl who wouldn't think of consuming this strong, hot drink, to suddenly drinking it? So many people think they have to drink things like tea and coffee to fit in and be an adult and be social. It shouldn't be that way! There is a better way to live.

Wow. Where to start? If I'm taking this seriously, first of all, it was the afternoon, so I wasn't actually drinking black tea. I was drinking my favourite Rooibus which has no caffeine. Secondly, there are many health benefits of black tea, here's 23. Thirdly, some of my dearest friends are Mormons. I am here today because of Dr's John & Brett Brimhall who are Mormon. When I travel and the dogs go to their "other" mommy Rita, they are going into a Mormon household. Rita is one of my dearest friends, and I am so blessed that she is my neighbor. I have attended services with her at her church, I've gone to Relief Society, I've talked to scads of missionaries. I'm familiar with the Word of Wisdom. I joke about it when Rita's husband is nursing a giant bottle of Pepsi. Lastly, I find it curious that Cindy didn't write the reply to me on Vicky's page or even comment to Vicky about tea or coffee, since Vicky mentions it in her video.

So I did some research on Cindy. I went and checked out her channel. She's a doll collector, the kind that look real, called "Reborn dolls," and she has all these doll videos. I had no idea this world existed! Here's a Reborn baby articleI watched her Christmas video. I also noticed that she gets into a lot of arguments with people in her comment feed. ("You people are HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE!") Because, come on. So many dolls, so many jokes. But it's more than that, she really does, as she says, "rant" especially against marijuana. So just like her anti-tea comment on my video, she has done the same thing on pro-pot people's videos.

I had a better picture of who this woman was. I sent her comment to my friend, Radio Guy, & told him I would post his response. I tweaked it and then posted:

Thanks for stopping by and shaming me for my evil tea drinking ways. Not only did you bring in your own personal bias of " BLECH!" to make me wrong, but you backed it up with God and made it a sin. Well done.  You're right, I began drinking tea at an early age to "fit in and be an adult and be social." How did you know? I went from being a "sweet, innocent little girl" to wanting to be one of the cool kids when I got to Middle School. They were known as the "Tetley Teasers," a group of jittery, caffeine-fueled, stained teeth, mean girls who sat together at lunch, drank tea and got all the attention of the boys-mostly a gang of ruffian coffee drinking teenagers called the "Folgerms." I desperately wanted their approval like a man wants a wife and then soon after, another wife.   I see now, thanks to your unnecessary kindness, that my addiction to tea has led to a series of unfortunate life choices, from overdue library books to the collecting of tea pots, strainers, and other paraphernalia to support my horrible tea habit. Thanks for setting me straight and giving me my life back. Now I can devote the hours I spent drinking tea, to other hobbies such as collecting planners, fountain pens, and brainy-type books on Time Management and Quantum Physics.

"Tetley Teasers" and "Folgerms." Genius! That was Radio Guy. I didn't want to be unkind, but I also felt like I needed to respond. You can read the rest of it on the video page, because she did respond again; this time louder with more assertions. And then I read this Grasshopper Note : 

It may be hard to believe but our beliefs strengthen our resolve and weaken our ability to learn.

So true. Whenever you know something, there's no room for anything else. You stop being curious about other ideas or possibilities. 

I ended the back 'n' forth with "Sorry, what you're saying isn't my cup of tea."  

Monday, January 4, 2016


It's been 6 weeks since Mum died. I am navigating my way thru uncharted waters--and there's a lot of water because tears are still so close to the surface. I am simultaneously surprised and not surprised. I've experienced deaths of family, friends, dogs in expected and unexpected or tragic circumstances. I was a Hospice bereavement counselor; I've had official training! But you only have one mother.

I got pulled over by a police officer on Saturday for an expired inspection sticker. I was holding it together until he asked, "Is there some reason you didn't get your car inspected in December?" 

And then I dissolved into a puddle of tears.

I have a piece of paper from him. I'm not sure if there's a fine attached to it, or not. I know that I have until February 10th to get my car inspected. So I will add that to THE LIST of all the stuff I have to do in the wake of her death. 

Note to self: Smile and say "fine" when someone asks how I'm doing. Say "wonderful" when someone asks about my Christmas holiday. Parrot back "Happy New Year" when someone says that. Get out of bed, when I don't want to. (The dogs help with that one).  :-)

I read a post, originally from Reddit, in response to  the question, How do you cope with the passing of someone you are close to?   I found comfort in the answer:

Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don't want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter". I don't want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can't see.

As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.


I am able to go minutes, sometime a couple hours, and not think about her. And then I see something that reminds me of her, and my first thought is to call or email and then I remember . . . and another wave comes. 

I find comfort in my dogs and in having a cup of tea. That's what I want; comfort. I know that Mum, even after 30+ years, still missed her mother, and father, and sister. I always made sure to be with her on my grandmother's birthday, so that she wasn't alone. I don't think the sense of loss ever goes away because it's so permanent. 

I was googling Anderson Cooper's thing on dogs for a  client, and found this interview about grief, with Liam Neeson 

Favourite quotes:

"There's no timeline for grief; there's no clock for how long you're supposed to grieve for somebody. It takes many different forms from many different people. And it can go on for an entire lifetime, obviously." ~Anderson Cooper

In answer about what surprised him about grieving, he answered: "I was surprised by the outpouring and well being and good wishes that I received from people; just a wonderful feeling of 'Yes, this terrible thing has happened, but we're all connected . . . and people say, 'We feel your grief.'"

It's always validating to hear it from other people. "You're not alone." We all grieve eventually. None of us is getting off the planet alive, so however we do it, it's going to happen. Mum just had a quicker exit via car accident, than an illness--which she would have hated. "I don't do sick."  So I am feeling a bit better, having written this. I've written other blog posts, not published, because I don't want to be a downer, especially during the holiday season. But--holidays are over. And who's reading my little blog anyway, when I have the dedicated dog blog, now? So, my 2 cents on grief and grieving . . . .