Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wisdom from a teapot...

I'm not a tea drinker.  I much prefer coffee - not just the taste, but the experience of it.  The smell as it wafts up my stairs and curls into my room, the way it gently wakes me up and the milky balance of sweet and bitter as it courses down my throat.  I'm not a coffee aficionado by any stretch of the imagination.  I do not own a Nespresso (much to my brother and sister-in-law's distress) nor do I get my designer coffee freshly ground and delivered to my door.  I'm a good old-fashioned Nescafé coffee drinker.  One of my favorite things is to open a brand new jar of Nescafé, peel that foil sealer back and dip my head in for a good whiff.

I'll drink tea, don't get me wrong.  But I usually have to be running a fever or battling a stomach ache, and it has to be something red, fruity and sugary sweet.  That was until I got hooked on Good Earth's sweet and spicy tea.  Besides the fact that it tastes like heaven - with NO sugar necessary - it manages to lift my spirits at the same time because printed on the tiny little tag at the end of the tea bag's string is a quote.  A different quote for every bag, and I contemplate that quote and what it means as I sip the cinnamony heaven that it is my mug. They are inspirational, funny, witty and hopeful.  And sometimes I need that more than my daily dose of coffee.  

Today's quote is one of the best.  (Seriously, I have to hold myself back from ripping each of those tea bags open because I just want to read every single one...). It's an ancient Chinese proverb and it says: "Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up."  Epic.  Fantastic.  So unbelievable obvious but it's so perfectly succinct and hits it right on the nail.  It's the kind of quote you want to paint across your kid's room so they don't get down about failing a test, or losing a game, or screwing up in the way only teenagers manage to do.  

Yesterday's quote was a great one too:  "I make the most of all that comes.  And the least of all that goes." -Sara Teasdale 1884-1933
That one had me thinking, because it could be interpreted in so many ways.  Again, not a bad way to spend the ten minutes it took me to sip the tea.

And then this one: "As we grow old...the beauty steals inward."  As a woman approaching my mid-forties, I had to think about this one a lot.  In the middle of writing this piece, I had a phone conversation with a woman who was picking my brain about a preschool art project that she wanted me to help out with.  After a lengthy conversation, she asked me if I had any young kids and I responded that my youngest is fifteen and a half and my oldest is twenty one.  She said, wow, you sound so young.  My instant response was, "I AM young."  I'm not suffering from delusion.  I'm perfectly aware that I don't look like I'm twenty one anymore and that my body is bearing evidence of that, but I still feel like the same wrinkle-free twenty-one year old on the inside.  

So while I'm a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I think he might have dropped the ball on this one.  Recently a friend of mine, also an avid blogger, posted something about her crow's feet.  I commented that she should wear them with pride because it means she laughs a lot.  And while I appreciate the sentiment of Emerson's quote, and I understand what he's trying to say, I vehemently disagree.  The beauty is still there, both on the inside AND on the outside, but it's just taken a little bit of a different form.  It might not be the beauty that Instyle magazine endlessly pushes - the smooth flawless skin, tight body, lustrous hair - but it's the beauty of a life honestly lived - through real-life experiences, both difficult and easy.  It's a body that's spread and expanded with the burgeoning of a life growing inside it, the silvery lines like a roadmap marking our hips and thighs as evidence of that life, it's the crow's feet adorning our eyes that tells of a life filled with laughter, it's the worry lines on our forehead that our kids undoubtedly put there, it's the grey stray hairs that are starting to thread their way through our dark hair, it's our feet that no longer can wear those stilettos without pain.  And no doubt, our partners, who have been with us every step of the way on this fantastic life adventure see just that when they look at us.  They see the beauty that tells the story of our lives.

And that brings me to the final quote from my teapot.  Which sort of sums things up.  "Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life." -Herbert Henry Asquith 1852-1928
We were so busy planning, moving and heading towards what we thought would be our final destination that we failed to enjoy the journey along the way.  (Thank you, Dieter F. Uchtdorf) 

Now, that we are older, wiser, more wrinkled and walking with sensible shoes, it's time to do just that.  Revel in our newly-defined beauty and be proud of those stretch marks and crow's feet.

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