Shazaam! And just like that…

By Suzanne Wiggins

I have loathed tea my entire life. Iced tea, hot tea, sweet tea, you name it. I’ve been a coffee snob since fifth grade when my mother encouraged me to start drinking it to curb my appetite and lose weight. That, however, is another story for another time.

Over the past year I have been trying to like green tea for its many health benefits. Friends and co-workers have shared their favorite brands and made numerous recommendations for how I may develop a taste for something I’ve abhorred my entire life. Nothing really worked and every morning my hand would narrowly pass the box of Yogi Green Tea on its way to a Paul Newman k-cup I would brew into the most delicious cup of coffee.

About three weeks ago, I decided to re-read one of my favorite books on creating habits. The author is an avid tea enthusiast, but that wasn’t always the case. Many of the friends he found most inspiring and credible were also tea drinkers so he hesitantly decided to see what the fuss was about. He is now a die hard tea drinking convert. In his book, he suggests developing the habit of drinking tea for a long list of reasons and notes that, unlike me, you can’t give it an occasional try. With any habit, you have to develop it over time with consistent action. So after yet another health conscious friend recently made the suggestion that I drink green tea daily, I decided to give it another go, and Shazaam! Just like that, I began to drink several cups of green tea a day and actually enjoy it.

For two weeks I’ve frequently found myself lost in thoughts of amazement regarding how sudden and easy it was for me to overcome a lifelong aversion. That was until I made the discovery. I thought my new found enjoyment of tea was a happy coincidence, but now I know the truth. The Universe is communicating with me via tea bags. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, the Universe is sending me messages. Being a novice tea drinker, it took a couple of weeks to notice that at the end of every tea bag there is a message printed on the paper tab. It is similar to a fortune cookie, however, the difference with my tea is that each message I receive is entirely relevant to questions or thoughts I’ve had earlier in the day while writing in my journal.

For example, over the past three days the Universe has told me, “Live by your inner knowledge and strength, Let things come to you, and You don’t need love. You are love.” Holy crap, I feel like I’m watching BRAVE when the witch tells Merida, ” Fate be changed. Look inside. Mend the bond torn by pride.” Maybe it’s a Scottish thing.

So what questions have you been asking yourself lately? What should I do? Where do I start? What now? Why now? Why me? Regardless of the question, I strongly encourage you to keep your eyes open for the answer. Like my tea bags, it may appear anywhere, but you have to be aware or you just may miss it. Another of my favorite books at the moment relays a Hindu story about a woman who wants to meet Krishna. She goes to the forest, kneels in the soft grass, closes her eyes, and prays and meditates on making Krishna appear. Lo and behold, Krishna comes walking towards the woman and taps her on the shoulder. Without opening her eyes, the woman tells the stranger to go away because she is busy meditating on a very important goal.

Who knows what wisdom and guidance I missed the first two weeks of drinking tea? Two or three bags a day over 14 days really adds up. Perhaps if I had paid attention, I could be on the verge of a few more life altering changes right now. I’m grateful however, that I’ve started to listen.

I can’t remember who, but someone very wise and inspiring said, “Things happen FOR us, not TO us.” My decision to create a habit of drinking tea has turned out to have a benefit far more valuable than good health or a higher metabolism. Unlike the woman looking for Krishna, I intend to keep my eyes wide open and look for answers in the most unexpected places. And I hope for someone, my blog turns out to be a place where the Universe speaks to them. Until then, I will continue to drink green tea and see what the Universe has to say.

The Art of Appreciation

By Suzanne Wiggins

Many years ago, a close friend told me her husband had formed a habit of regularly bringing home flowers. She complained that it had started out as roses, followed by mixed bouquets, then on a whim while paying for gas, he grabbed a bouquet of carnations. Not surprisingly, her husband observed that the carnations stayed fresh a very long time and were very “economical”. From that point on, the flowers he brought home were always carnations. This was a serious problem for my friend because she preferred roses and in her mind they meant something deeper.

Like most men, I am certain my friend’s husband had no knowledge of women’s general feelings and beliefs about carnations…until that fateful holiday party. The group was playing one of those games where each person in turn gets a word and has to provide clues to help their team guess it within the allotted time. My niece was up and once the timer was started she excitedly shouted, ‘What do men buy when they are too cheap for roses?” In unison every woman in the room screamed, “carnations!!” Having secret knowledge of my friend’s story, I quickly looked over at her husband only to see what I interpreted as confusion followed by realization cross his face.

The carnation story has always stuck with me simply because I could never figure out why receiving the flowers irritated my friend more than they made her happy. But according to Pema Chodron, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” It’s important for me to point out that I have never been married, however, I do realize that relationships are extremely complicated. With that disclaimer noted, from my perspective I was impressed with how great it was that my friend’s husband even thought to bring her flowers. To me, it seemed like a simple gesture of love. I’m thinking now, however, that my friend’s response is not so uncommon. We often overlook meaningful gestures because the offering isn’t what we want (roses), or we deem it too convenient or easy so we devalue the effort (purchased at gas station), or we interconnect it with a million other issues so it gets lost in the frustration of the daily grind of life (kids, work, finances). Alas, my friend’s flower dilemma was resolved as her husband eventually stopped bringing them home.

Like a children’s Easter Egg hunt, I have found that valuable life lessons and nuggets of wisdom are hidden all around, just out of sight, waiting for us to come searching. Although finding love was not an original goal of my life-changing journey, it has become part of the plan. If you’ve read my past posts, you know that I was an overachieving, self-reliant, workaholic, who never made time for romantic endeavors. When I finally acknowledged that I would like to experience deep and extraordinary love, I realized that I hadn’t a clue about men or relationships. So I started reading books and blogs on the subject, but more importantly I began interviewing my many male friends, and on occasion some willing strangers. What I discovered, and believe at my core to be true, is that men are at their best when they feel respected and appreciated. So I continued the process of honestly and objectively assessing my behaviors, beliefs and habits, now as they applied to men.

It didn’t take long to understand that I had some serious work to do. I remembered back to when my nephew got married, and as it is with every single family occasion, my “plus one” was my mother. Like usual, I booked a hotel room for us, picked her up and drove her to the venue. At the hotel registration desk during check in, I was cheerfully informed that the reservation for our two-night stay had been taken care of by my brother-in-law. I am certain the clerk was not expecting my response. I was pissed. My mother, who is hard of hearing and was not paying attention, saw my face and asked what was wrong. In a venomous voice I told her the hotel bill had already been paid. Like a normal person, she thought nothing of it.

As we made our way to the room I was seething inside. I alternated between the thought that my brother-in-law either paid for the room because he worried that I couldn’t afford it (which insulted me) or it was guilt over the fact that yet again, I was the one taking responsibility for my mother (which irritated me even more.) So I plotted my revenge. I decided that I would take the money I would have spent on the room and I would give it to my niece and her fiance to pay for their stay, thus demonstrating that I could afford the hotel by using the money anyways. Yes, I agree, my reaction was even crazier than being upset over regularly receiving carnations over more expensive flowers.

During the wedding weekend, I eventually thanked my brother-in-law for paying for the hotel room, but I realize now that I did not truly appreciate the gesture. His intentions were nothing but generous and sincere, but I was wrapping them up in years of family history, my habit of unrelenting self-reliance, and my ignorance of men and why they do what they do.

Looking back, I feel so incredibly fortunate that I have accepted the challenge and adventure of re-making my life. The journey is far from over, but I acknowledge that I have aspired to do something that is extremely difficult and uncommon. I have chosen to re-think and re-evaluate every aspect of my life; my beliefs, my goals, my limitations, my behaviors and my self-concept. In just four short years, I’ve learned so much and I have definitely changed. Not so much for others to have noticed, but there is a deeper self-love growing inside. Lately, I have been working on being more grateful and appreciative, especially towards men. No matter how small the gesture, be it making me laugh, holding the door, thinking to ask questions, offering to help, remembering something I said, or any other gentlemanly gesture, I say thank you. If I ask for help (which is another struggle I’m working to overcome) I make an effort to let go and allow the person to fulfill the request in their own way and not the way “I would do it” or “want it done.” And most importantly, I have learned and accepted that when my brother-in-law pays for something, like most men he does it because he wants to. All I have to do is say thank you, which I do now from a genuine and sincere place in my heart.

Truly there is an art to appreciation. It requires having an open mind, attention to detail, noticing subtleties, and understanding that what is presented may not be what we expect. Sometimes we are not impressed by the works with the greatest value. Recently I saw something on Pinterest that said, “We attract what we are, not what we want. If you want great, be great.” I’m hoping to be a real masterpiece when I’m done.

P.S. Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time. 🙂