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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the gospel of tea

the author's

the author’s

No one who knows me more than a few hours misses that I am nuts about tea. It not only tastes good: it’s good for you. And not just those polyphenols.

Something there is that loves a break in the day. A short moment of respite from computers, or customers and clients. A. quiet moment with ritual light to remind us: there is more than work…more than hectic…more than the demands of time & others. There is tea.

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origami teapot

via google

There is hot water, and the time to boil it. Or microwave it, although it’s not as much fun as hearing the music of the kettle coming to boil. And there’s the sensory pleasure of fragrance, and the choice of cup or mug and spoon. All this has saved many a day for me.

Yesterday my beloved niece (one of several, but this one my favourite, as I’m with her right now!) had a s ip of my tea while we sat in the beautiful center courtyard of the Harvard Art Museums. And she said I like this! I could drink this — it’s great! Now, she already drinks tea. But not fancy ones — she’s more a coffee drinker, really. So that was nice, to share tea & make a connection.

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via google

via google

Then this afternoon my absolutely perfect DIL emailed me to say she’s not feeling the coffee thingie, either. She’s been drinking green tea (yes!), and wanted to branch out. Sooo…I had the delight of pumping her w/ questions for more specifics: green or black? flavoured or plain? how much at a time? And by the time an extremely pleasant hour had passed, an order of varied white/black/green teas (and of course a pretty cup!) is on its way to her!

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It doesn’t feel like so much a ‘thing’ I’m sending her, as time & love. I’m sending her succor, that lovely old word that means time & support in times of hardship or stress. Because that’s what tea is to me: memories of all the women I’ve sat with over the years, drinking tea & sharing lives like the teabiscuits in front of us. It’s the time to breathe during a busy day, or a break on a plane (I carry tea sachets, of course!). It’s a hug, kind of: warm and comforting.

My advice to you for your beginner’s heart today? Make a nice cuppa. Sit down for a few moments — maybe just 5 minutes. And listen to your everyday life. Your troubles will spiral into the air just like the steam from your cup. Honest.

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The sting of snow and the warmth of hearts

Via google

Via google

Snow doesn’t bother me. As long as I don’t have to drive in it…! In fact, I quite like it.

So knowing that there was going to be snow while I’m visiting my beloved niece in Boston, I came prepared. I thought… I brought face scarves (which I forgot to wear today!), an ear/headband, gloves, even hiking boots with good tread.

I just didn’t figure on WIND. And windchill! And slick! I mean, there’s already snow on the ground, so this new snow shouldn’t be slick, right?? Riiiight.

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Being (relatively) intrepid, I set out from my niece’s home for the nearby library. Given the governor’s warning that ‘nonessential’ personnel shouldn’t go out, we decided that going in to Boston on a day w/ closed museums and drifts of snow probably wasn’t my best plan. But hey — I can walk six blocks, right?

the author's

the author’s

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And I certainly can. Good traction on the old boots! However, I didn’t figure on a windchill of THREE DEGREES! Sheesh.

But it’s so beautiful…

Now safe & warm at the local library, cosy in my two layers of snuggly sweaters and central heat, I can hear the voices of immigrants learning English in the classroom next to me. It warms me, knowing that despite the vitriol in the news, people are still coming to America. As my family did a century or more ago. As yours did, too, almost certainly.

I’m surrounded by books, and the quiet of readers & writers. I couldn’t ask for warmer company.

Via pixabay

Via pixabay

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Plus the knowledge that tonight my wonderful niece — who asked me to come see her! — will sit in her lovely home w/ me is another glow. We’ll trade stories like motherhood cards, as a new life grows inside her. While her husband attends a distant business meeting, we’ll curl up in her warm living room, or sit across from each other at the kitchen table (the best place for conversation!) and link generations.

Somehow, the sting of snow is a very small price to pay for these kinds of warmth.

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saving the world

via google

via google

I can’t save the world. And it makes me crazy. I can’t even save individual people. Or cats & dogs. And that makes me crazy, too. Because I’m a fixer, by nature. It’s what I do: I try to fix broken things. Now, that doesn’t mean people are broken — that’s not what I’m saying. But sometimes things in their lives are, and I too often want to fix those.

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And what I’ve learned is that this saying by smart ol’ Unknown is true: very few folks I love want to be saved (re: have things ‘fixed’ for them). They want to be loved.

via google

via google

I’m pretty good at that, actually. I love so very many people. And cats. And dogs. And bees & neglected children & the sad lawyer at the courthouse today who needed a hug (I didn’t give him one — learned that lesson a while ago!), but who received instead a compliment on his tie and a huge smile. It’s what I do…

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Still, when people I care about have things that are very badly cracked (some might say breaking), I want to fix them. And save at least their place in the world. Instead, I’m trying to learn grace. Which is pretty hard for non-Christians to define: the term has been kind of coopted by the idea of divine Christian grace. But grace predates Christianity — I’m not sure what it was called then, but the idea remains consistent. It’s what the universe offers us when we are in harmony w/ our lives, our world. It has to be one of my beginner’s hearts hardest assignments, and one I continue to study. As if my life depends on it. Which it does, of course. All our lives depend on grace.

So in the meantime? Instead of beating my head against the I can’t save the world wall, I’m practicing grace. It’s kind of like when I went back to ballet as an adult, I’m sure. My practice bears little resemblance to real grace! But it’s a start. And eventually? Like ballet, I may get most improved. While it may not save the world, it will help. It will help.

 

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a happily full-isa calendar, and a thank-you to Jimmy Carter

via google

via google

My calendar for the next few months is filling up quickly. And while usually that makes me feel overwhelmed (and I confess to moments of that still!), my upcoming events are all about the ‘rocks’ in my jar. You know, those values that are more important than anything? In my case, family, writing, service.

I’m going to spend a few days w/ a beloved niece in one of my favourite cities. I’m facilitating a writing retreat/ workshop. And I have several meetings w/ my favourite non-profit. I also have my grandniece’s FIRST birthday party to help host, as well as a much-anticipated watch-the-grandson trip.

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In other words, I’m elder-ing.

Jimmy Carter & grandson  via flickr

Jimmy Carter & grandson
via flickr

It’s a rare blessing, to be called to elder. And yes, sometimes it’s challenging to juggle things. But when your life is full, it’s a good thing, signifying much love and good fortune. Certainly many of my rôle models are personal — my wonderful old ladies (grandmothers, great-aunts), my almost-godmothers. They loved me enough to teach me, not always an easy task. There were also professional rôle models, a boss or two who taught me the rules of my various professions (sales, journalism, scholarship, writing). But recently, they’ve been more universal: Jimmy Carter comes to mind. Here’s a picture of him with his grandson, eldering. It’s a verb, you know: to elder ~ to serve as an elder to one younger and/or less experienced. Originally used by the Quakers in reference to the ways older Quakers mentored younger ones in faith and education. Jimmy Carter has eldered me (& many many others) for decades.

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In time of crisis? Carter turned to his spiritual values; he kept his faith. When he was ridiculed, even slandered, Carter kept on quietly doing what he has always done best — helping others. I have no idea how many homes Jimmy Carter has helped build for Habitat for Humanity, but surely it’s in the hundreds by now.

role modelAnd now, in his 90s, he’s still doing it: showing us how to live, how to age with grace and dignity. Reminding me to remain true to my own values — the ‘rocks’ in my life’s jar. Illustrating what it means to live a life that makes a difference. And nudging me not to complain because I have arthritis, and babies are hard to pick up — Jimmy Carter has cancer, for cryin’ out loud! Babies are soooo worth a little pain. As are nieces, and grandnieces, and grandsons & sons & the humanities & all the people & things that crowd my calendar. My wonderfully full & busy calendar, filled with myriad opportunities to aim high. To elder, like Jimmy Carter.

Previous Posts

the gospel of tea
No one who knows me more than a few hours misses that I am nuts about tea. It not only tastes good: it's good for you. And not just those ...

posted 2:07:06pm Feb. 10, 2016 | read full post »

The sting of snow and the warmth of hearts
Snow doesn't bother me. As long as I don't have to drive in it...! In fact, I quite like it. So knowing that there was going to be snow while I'm visiting my ...

posted 11:34:35am Feb. 08, 2016 | read full post »

saving the world
I can't save the world. And it makes me crazy. I can't even save individual people. Or cats & dogs. And that makes me crazy, too. Because I'm a fixer, ...

posted 7:51:19pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

a happily full-isa calendar, and a thank-you to Jimmy Carter
My calendar for the next few months is filling up quickly. And while usually that makes me feel overwhelmed (and I confess to moments of that still!), my ...

posted 9:25:31pm Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

temper temper
I don't have a terrible temper. I can take quite a bit of hassle, as long as it's just about me. No one will agree w/ you all the time, nor will everyone ...

posted 3:16:38pm Jan. 27, 2016 | read full post »

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