HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: Tea time offers sweet opportunity

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For years, I have been a coffee drinker. 

It doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but it does have to be in my mug first thing in the morning. Throughout the Pandemic my coffee consumption grew. 

Since I was home daily, my morning cup of coffee quickly became two cups and then spiraled into my morning pot of coffee. 

Yep, the only person in the house drinking coffee is me, so I know I’m to blame for the empty mugs in the dishwasher and empty pot by afternoon.

Back at school, my coffee consumption continued but had been limited to two (large) cups. 

I have always figured if coffee is my vice, it’s not too bad.

BUT let’s be honest here…it’s not the coffee, it’s the flavored creamer that truly overshadows the antioxidants and other benefits. 

With 2022 goals on my mind lately, I have taken the advice of a dear friend and scaled back on the overly sweet coffee concoctions I was reaching for much too often. Instead, I have been filling my cup not only with much more water throughout the day, but also with hot, caffeine-free, herbal tea in those hours when I would have chosen coffee before.

Sometimes trying something new makes you realize you don’t have to leave something you love behind, you can simply expand your interests and learn more about other things. 

Ironically, in the midst of my new fascination with tea, I was invited to a tea party by a friend from church. She was holding an Afternoon Tea on Saturday, January 8, with teachers from the district she teaches in; she asked if I would like to attend as well (we do not teach in the same school district).

At first, I will admit, I was reluctant. 

Even though the other women who were invited are members of my church, I didn’t know them very well. Oddly enough, I was nervous about attending a gathering without my regular girl squad. 

I have known most of my good friends since childhood; others have become my close friends through running. Clearly, I have plenty to talk about with both of those groups of people.

This would be a new atmosphere with a newer group of acquaintances, and could possibly have new expectations.

As the day of the Tea drew closer, I really didn’t have a reason not to go. I sent the hostess an RSVP on one of the final days. 

I would attend. Was there anything I could bring?

She responded that she was excited I would be attending, and to just bring myself.

Boy, was I in for a learning experience like none other. 

When I arrived, the table was adorned with not just tea cups and cookies, but a full China tea set featuring plates for each course, silverware of various sizes at each place, cloth napkins, and treats I wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce.

For the next three and half hours, not only did we indulge in course after course of soup, sandwiches, scones, and various teas, we also talked, laughed, shared ideas, and learned more about one another. 

There were no awkward silences, no controversial politics, and no judgments. 

By the end of the afternoon, this group of women were no longer newish acquaintances, they had become friends I am so eager to learn more about. 

On my drive home, I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about the new relationships I was forming with a group of women I was nervous to have tea with in the days prior. 

Isn’t it funny that sometimes our childhood insecurities find their way to us in adulthood? 

This Afternoon Tea not only reinforced my newfound love for tea, but also reminded me that sometimes trying something new or surrounding yourself with new people doesn’t mean you have to leave the others behind, the world is big enough for all of it.