National Tea Month

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Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.

 – Chinese Proverb

I don’t know who decides these things, but rules are rules. January is National Tea Month, not to be confused with National Hot Tea Day (this coming Saturday, January 12) or National Iced Tea Month (June) or the United Kingdom’s National Tea Day (April 21). I’m certain there are more if you choose to look for them. (I don’t.)
Tea has been around forever, longer in fact than Christianity, by about sixty years. Officially discovered in 59 B.C., but more than likely around prior to that, tea has developed into a cross-cultural, multi-faceted sensation, sometimes a curiosity that has its own rituals, not only ethnically but also individually.

It’s been used for medicinal purposes. Still is.

It is offered monthly by my therapist, something to do with my hands, I suppose, although I usually settle on cold water.

It is the morning beverage of choice by a plethora of people, writers at keyboards, spiritual directors at retreats, teachers awaiting their classroom full of eager faces, business people scarfing down toast or filling travel mugs to take with. Many cups of tea grow cold during the daily work of their drinkers. I have the dregs of tea leaves and sugar granules at the bottom of my morning cup right now.

There are formal tea ceremonies, welcoming honored guests or memorializing those who have gone.

There is High Tea and Cream Tea, hot and cold bubble tea, and tea as an afternoon meal.

There are teas that aren’t teas – herbals and infusions, also called tisane that are easier to offer as tea than explain the difference between tea plants and other plants. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch recently went on a rant about chamomile not being tea at all (see my reference to tisane above; chamomile is a flower). On a related note, my friend Tom never removes his tea bag letting it continue to steep as well as teaching me long ago not to squeeze my tea bag (it makes the tea acidic), a practice that I now cringe at when I see others do it.

Tea has been used as protest, albeit a waste of perfectly good tea from Boston to Washington DC to Manchester, England (April, 2018), although in Manchester, he didn’t get rid of it, but serve it in protest to war (make tea, not war).

From its initial popularity in the Chinese Tang Dynasty to the drinking of tea that spread across Asia through Portuguese priests into Europe during the 16th century and soon after becoming part of UK culture beginning in the 17th century continuing through the present day.

It is India’s most popular hot beverage, and Ireland drinks by far the most tea in Britain at four cups per person per day, some as much as six cups a day.

Many people have their own recipe for the perfect cup of tea. I prefer to follow Douglas Adams’ specifications. I did this for a few years and it really was better; perfect, in fact.

Since getting our electric kettle, I drink tea nearly on a daily, sometimes multi-daily basis, and like to try new teas depending on my mood, although overall I prefer black tea as the base. When we went to Ireland and Wales for a family function, my kids brought back bags and bags of British candy; I brought back tea and Welsh cakes, and it still wasn’t enough.

For Christmas gifts this year, I blended my own Masala chai, which was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed doing it, deciding how much of what to put in. I did have a base recipe (that I will share in a future week).

For the next three Wednesdays, I will share a different type of tea that I’ll have drunk during the week past. I’ll share something of a review, a photo perhaps, and links to find those teas plus at then end, possibly the first Wednesday in February, all the tea links I have. Even the grocery shelves have plenty to select from.

In addition to those four Wednesdays (including today), I will also share a few of my other tea posts from years past. If you can’t wait, just check the search box on the left and find some on your own schedule.

Onward to today’s tea: 

Twinings Prince of Wales tea. Twinings has been manufacturing tea for over three hundred years, so I’m going to guess that they’ve gotten the hang of it.
The Prince of Wales tea is a bit less strong than the English breakfast tea from the same company that I often drink. It is also less strong (by a mile) than the Welsh tea I brought home from Wales. Part of the strength of the tea I brought home, which I should have read on the box is that it’s made specifically for the Welsh water. When I was there I didn’t notice a strength difference, but when I got home it was more than I’d expected. I’ve adjusted to it, but it took a few tries.

The Prince of Wales tea is a lovely black tea that is mild and a bit woody. It is blended from several provinces in China and was originally created in 1921 for THE Prince of Wales at the time who went on to be crowned King Edward VIII. I like it both with and without milk and always with a bit of sugar. It’s my primary choice for the mornings to go along with eggs and toast, a bagel, or the ever more common for me, healthier oatmeal with craisins and granola. I can drink several cups of this a day and it’s also my go-to for a late afternoon cup. It’s good during the autumn and winter, but I have no prejudice – I’m a hot tea drinker year round.

Budget Travel – TSA and the Government Shutdown

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I discovered this link in my email from Budget Travel. It has some useful tips on getting through security.

While the government is partially shutdown, several of those agencies that are deemed essential and working are not getting paid. This makes for a(n) (understandably) frustrating situation for those employees and their families. Some have been calling in sick. I can’t say I blame them.

Budget Travel has offered what it thinks you can expect, and some ways to make it easier on you and your family when you’re traveling during this time.

Please also don’t forget the TSA employees who are working to keep all of us safe and not getting paid for their important work. (Not everyone will be given their back pay; I don’t know the specifics of who will and who won’t, but I do believe it would need an order signed by the President.)

Mental Health Monday – Understanding Mental Illness – An Interview with Stranger Thing’s David Harbour

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One Look at Understanding Mental Illness.

I think it’s important to hear from people we like and respect and hear their stories. David Harbour says a lot of things in this short interview that I’ve heard before and that I try to promote in my own life. He is known recently from his role in Netflix’s Stranger Things and is starring in the upcoming Hellboy 2.

 A few takeaways:

1. Stop the stigma.

2. Mental illness is not the completely negative thing it implies to many people. We can live with various forms of mental illness, or rather we all have mental health issues that we contend with and need to adapt to, regardless of level.

3. Medication is not a bad word. It is also not an end-all solution. It is so very helpful when used in conjunction with other therapies.

4. You are not stronger if you avoid taking medication for your mental illness/continued mental health.

5. If you and I both have depression, we may  understand and empathize, but no one’s situation is exactly alike. Despite that, we can help each other and share ideas that work for us.

Mental Health Monday is Coming

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Tomorrow begins a new, not so new series on mental health. It will include links, resources, my own reflections, and other relevant items. It won’t necessarily be every week, but I do have four in a row planned out for January. 

I personally find January and February to be difficult for many people, what with the come down from the busyness of the holidays, the winter months that keep us more isolated, and the lack of holiday time or days off from work and school. Sometimes, it’s good just to sit back, take a look at what we did for those busy days, look at the photos, re-read the Christmas cards, and enjoy our new found time. That doesn’t work for everyone, but hopefully, everyone will find something for them on these Mondays.

Trump Used Her Slain Daughter to Rail Against illegal immigration. She Chose a Different Path.

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We all have choices that we make on a daily basis on what kind of life and world we are leaving for our children. One of my intentions this year is to be conscious of what I take in and share.

This is more than a feel good story.

Mainly, because there is nothing about any of this that feels good. A woman has lost her daughter. A boy has lost his parents (in a different way). And our country has lost its way.

I can only  hope that it’s not too late for any of us.

Link to article

What is Compound Time and Why Should You Try It?

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For many of these types of posts, I would skim through the article, decide whether or not I thought it was beneficial to share, and then share it. However, after skimming through this one, I realized that I was already doing two and a half of the six hacks they recommended. With that knowledge, I wondered how my time spent was comparable to their other recommendations.

I sat down at my dining room table, cup of tea in hand, Kindle propped up, and read the article carefully, taking a few notes in order to be able to express what it was that I liked about the concept of compound time and why I thought it was worthwhile to share.

Beginning to read this article took minutes for me to convince myself that I wzsn’t wasting time and that it was important for my writing as well as my life. That’s the first conflict for most of us in reading an article like this. Take naps? Seriously? I already waste enough of my day staring into space. But what if that staring into space is something that jump starts a project? Or a thought that takes us to a new idea to work on?

We’re constantly being told that daily rituals are good for our creativity as well as getting us motivated to start our day. For the last couple of years, I’ve read what I call “daily books;” books that are meant to be read a page a day, whether they be devotionals and religious, prayerful or secular, they are something short to read to begin the day; to know that the day has begun, and we can go on.

Some of those past books have been:

Through the Years with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President

Three Hundred Sixty-Five Happiness Boosters by MJ Ryan

Women of the Bible: A Year Long  Devotional Study by Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda

365 Saints: Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker

Currently, I am reading G’Morning G’Night: Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun. Every morning, I read the G’morning passage, and then before bed, I read the corresponding G’night. There aren’t enough to get through the whole year, but the beauty of this book is that I can restart it. The messages are universal, positive, and uplifting.

What is compound time?

Continue reading

Fandom Friday – In This Family…

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I won’t be posting the monthly pages this year, but I thought I’d share the first month of The Women of Supernatural’s 2019 Calendar, In This Family. There’s space for writing a thought to go along with the theme of the month or I can add a picture of my and my family. I love the Supernatural family!

Happy New Year!