tea & lea & nudity...

it is no secret that i love tea. i am kind of a tea snob. and by “kind of” i mean “really really am”...

and i for YEARS/DECADES i have taken my tea with cream and sugar. and by “cream” i mean real cream. or half and half. skim milk in my tea makes me hate someone. and by sugar i mean turbinado cane sugar. splenda in my tea makes me want to punch out the someone that i hate.

BUT, this year for lent i decided to give up two of my favorite things and see if i could get by without being arrested for punching out someone that i hate. so i said a “see in after a while” to cream and sugar in my tea.

and something really strange happened. 

while i was in jail for punching out a total stranger... (just kidding about that part)


i learned to really love tea. in its natural state. in all its nuditea.

because i realized that i wasn’t really loving tea as much as i was loving cream and sugar. i mean who doesn’t love fat combined with sugar? and if you don’t love fat combined with sugar you might have been the target of my fists swinging because that just ain’t normal behavior.

but then i started really tasting the tea. the subtle flavors. the fullness. the body of it. really knowing it. and enjoying tea for tea. not for the cream and sugar.

i ordered this tea kettle, the ulitiTEA from adagio tea. so i could brew my tea at the correct temperature. and it makes 4 cups. 3 for me and one for millie for breakfast. it makes her like me more in the morning if i make her a cup of tea with her breakfast. so she won’t punch me out for me waking her up to go to school. 

and eventually i settled on my favorite tea. hot cinnamon spice by harney and sons. loose leaf because i can really taste the tea bag now and the loose leaf brews up stronger. and to be fair this tea does have a sort-of sweet taste to it somehow even though there is no sugar. which i never would have noticed if i had still been sweetening my tea.

so i never went back to cream and sugar in my tea. every now and then for a special occasion i spluge and add a splash of half and half. but no sugar, i like it better unsweet. i have stopped sweetening my iced tea too. i am naked hot and cold (referring to tea only).

which of course made me think. because i had plenty of time to think while waiting on the water to boil and the tea to seep and no sugar or cream to add...

what else in my life am i missing the FULL flavor of because i add things? to make it sweeter. to fatten it up. 

and the answer is “almost everything”. there is very little “nudity” in my life.

so many things in my life would be better left “naked”. i am always “dressing things up” that should be in their natural state. (and do not worry, i am not considering a visit to a nudist colony anytime soon. this is a metaphorical “nudity” that i am speaking of here). i would learn to appreciate many things more without those additional elements hiding what is truly valuable. i am missing out on experiences that might be richer, fuller, and healthier without the things i think i HAVE to add...

some examples of nudity that i am experimenting with include...

taking part of my daily walk without any music or podcasts of anything other than the “naked” sounds around me with my own thoughts and prayers. 

talking with my kids without checking my cell phone, thinking about what to make for dinner, or thinking about my next response to them. just naked listening. no agenda. no lecture series planned. no three point salvation plan added in at the end.

raw vegetables and fruit without frying, adding sugar, hiding in a pie. naked food.

giving a gift just because without a reason and not even telling someone who it is from to get credit or love or appreciation. giving for the purity of giving.

not wearing clothes while i go and get the mail.... just kidding on that one. that would enhance no one’s experience of life. and would land me in jail. naked.

and i am learning that at first it is hard to strip down to the basics. it feels, well in a word “naked”. but over time i might just acquire a taste for it and taste something REAL for the first time. and like it. and realize the wheat is better than the chaff.

so practice some “nudity” of your own today. and if you are arrested... don’t call me. i am busy sipping my naked tea.

#16 one lesson from a shrew and one from a spinster...

subtitled... why i love shakespeare and drink hot tea

 spent my junior year abroad (and the rest of my college years, i was just a regular girl... ba ding ching, insert drum sound here....) anyway while i was in stratford, UK being all shakepearean and theatrical (which is pretty much how i still spend my days), i learned two important lessons.... 

here is what i learned from the ending of “taming of the shrew” ...

while we were discussing the play “the taming of the shrew”, the professor from stratford, uk was explaining how the final speech by katherine (the shrew that is “tamed”) can end the play on a depressing note (she is beaten down and bested by her husband) or a triumphant note (it is all a joke and she has triumphed and made a great marriage). the theme of the whole play can be changed by how the lines are read. 

i remember writing in my notebook in nice swirly letters “her attitude can determine if it is tragedy or triumph”. and then i looked at what i had written and thought that i certainly was a genius and would be touring the country soon with speaking engagements galore based on my incredible insight at 20 years of age. ok, so i was a bit overdramatic even at that age... 

but nevertheless, it is something that has influenced my life. no matter the hand i am dealt (the lines of the play that are given to me), i CHOOSE the way that i say them (linked to my dr. blazer story on that one, didn’t i? you are reconsidering the genius part, aren’t you?). everyone can leave the theater of LEA depressed or in a great mood. i like the latter of the endings. i also wished everyone paid $$$$ to enter the theater of LEA to hear my lecture on “shakespeare changed my life”, but that is not happening. but some people are reading my blog, so that has to count for something...

and then there was the little old spinster lady who ran the boarding house where i was living. you see, SHOCK TO YOU ALL COMING AHEAD... even though technically i was still kind of sort of dating adam, i was kind of sort of seeing an actor guy in stratford. he was very exciting, wrote sonnets to me, and was a member of the royal shakespeare company, so let’s just say that i was getting some GREAT ideas for all of my papers. 

i remember sitting down with the old spinster lady who ran the boarding house and having a cuppa tea one afternoon (she didn’t sit and talk to us a lot so it was a bit awkward) and she politely asked about my current suitor (the boisterous actor). i explained that he was fun and exciting but that i kind of sort of had a boyfriend back home. i began to describe hard working adam who was working in atlanta in a start up company and trying to make ends meet, some of the sweet things he had mailed me (like secret deodorant since they didn’t sell it in the uk.) and other small things about him... she then began to talk about the difference between hot tea and spirits (alcoholic beverages). i thought she might have had a bit too much of each beverage since this talk was making no sense. i just nodded a lot.

i really thought she was a bit off her rocker until later that night as i was just about to fall asleep when in hit me like a ton of bricks. i think that she had been comparing my two suitors to those beverages. she talked about how one made you feel so unlike yourself and then left you with a hangover and regrets and how the other just let you put your feet up for a few minutes left you feeling warm and satisfied and steeled your nerves for the rest of your day. 

i am not sure why she was a spinster lady, but i do know there were rumors of her having a “friendship” years ago with an actor who was already married. from the tone of that talk, i think she may have had a taste of the spirits at one time and all she really wanted was a cup of hot tea to sustain her every day. 

so even when my sonnet writer asked me to write him and to call and to come back... i didn’t. i came back to the states and i married a man who is a steady and warm as a cup of tea at breakfast and at 4 p.m. (which are the times in which i have a cuppa tea daily). i have never been a big imbiber of the alcoholic beverages and she was absolutely correct in her analogies for that choice at that time of my life. even without her little lecture, i don’t think that i would ever have stayed with the actor. but remembering her voice when she held up that cup of tea and wistfully talked to me has reassured me many times that tea is a choice that we can make for a lifetime....