Tea For Two Or More?

May I be a boring old woman who talks about her health? 

Thank you.

Because what I’d like to say just might be helpful to you:

Like many people my age, my cholesterol’s not been great and, like many people my age, I’ve been told by both my primary care provider and my cardiologist I should go on statins. But I’ve resisted. Mostly because I’ve heard many things about statins’ nasty side effects—muscle cramps being the one I’d feared the most—and would prefer to not wonder, with every other ache or pain, “Is this the statins? Or something else?”

But a dear friend’s stroke this past summer forced me to look at my own mortality more honestly—so I succumbed. And started taking this new medication in late September. The day before the Kavanaugh hearing. And during that hearing, had a violent, horrific reaction!

Was this the statins? Or my body’s revulsion at what I was watching unfold in a United States Senate chamber? I guessed both —but mostly the meds. So stopped taking them.

Here’s where my story gets weird. Because at this same time I was also reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, a novel about China, mothers and daughters, and puerh tea. Towards the end of the book, one character references Alice Waters (a household god around here); Waters states that by drinking puerh tea, she cut her cholesterol in half! Hello!

So I made a deal with my cardiologist. For two months I would drink a mug of this tea, a tea which quietly invites me to sit, to ponder, contemplate, savor with others, every day. And then I’d have my cholesterol tested. 

Dear reader: It’s working! In two months my cholesterol has lowered enough so that it is not longer flagged as a health concern. 

You’re welcome.

Muscle Memory

[Patsy Cline’s salt and pepper collection, Patsy Cline Museum, Nashville, Tennessee]

A wonderful surprise happened in 2018: I made two new, wonderful friends, both in their seventies, too. Over tea last week with one, a fellow peace activist and feminist, we discovered that although we’d grown up in very different parts of the country, our families’ respective religions differed, and she’d grown up with more siblings than I, in one respect, her parents and mine were exactly the same. She and I, who’d both grown up in the fifties and early sixties, had both taken piano lessons. And ballroom dancing!

We snickered. And agreed that learning how to waltz or foxtrot was not something young people ascribed to anymore. She quoted that famous line: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did—only backwards and in high heels.” And I shared a story from my thirties, when my then-husband and I—probably chemically enhanced, shall we say?—had crashed a big, fancy, neighborhood party one summer night, a party held in a tent and with a live band. Boldly I’d invited a neighbor I really, really admired to dance with me. Kind of shy, not a dancer, he’d hesitated: “Don’t worry, darlin’,” I’d assured him. “I’ll make you look good.” And I did. Because from my ballroom-dance classes, I knew how to balance my weight on the balls of my feet; how to lightly rest my left hand on my partner’s shoulder in order to sense whatever direction he would go, and in a split-second, feet poised to respond, to accommodate that movement—wherever!

What a dated, horrifying story! But it begs me to wonder: Do I still do that? Do I still, in ways I don’t even realize because it’s just what I was trained to do, do I still wait, poised to move in response to someone else? Do I accommodate? Dedicate myself to making someone else look good?




December 3, 2009: (kinda) Happy Birthday

Today’s my birthday; I am now 65. And while it’s sobering to realize I only have 20 or so more years left on this precious earth—if I’m lucky—you know what’s really sobering? Call me naive, call me immature (!?), but in my heart, I think I’d always believed that by the time I reached this venerable age, war would be ancient history.

Yup. I really did.

So: Do I take comfort from that wonderful quote from John 14:27? “Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.” * Is this what a serene, wise old woman should do? Set my troubled heart at rest? (I’ve only been legally old for a few hours, now, so am still finding my way.)

Well, yeah, there is comfort in that “such as the world cannot give” reminder, that what-can- you-expect? /violence-is-fundamental message from You Know Who.

Even so, dear Jesus, in this month of celebration for your birth, I remain sad and angry and deeply disappointed. Pissed, actually.

I do draw some small comfort from gatherings such as I attended last week, sponsored by Somerville Medford United for Justice and Peace (SMUJP.), when twenty or so people watched a devastatingly depressing documentary re Afghanistan.(No, no, not that part.) During the discussion that followed, to hear others express their confusion and disappointment re Obama was somewhat consoling. As was the fact that there were peace activists there even older than me! Still at it. Still waging peace. Yeah!

So, here we go again. Another war.

* This quote, which always makes me cry, is part of the 12th query from  New England Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice. One query is read aloud each month  at Friends Meeting at Cambridge.