This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of sharing my morning with an amazing group of women at Replenish. Replenish is an opportunity for women to come together, be inspired and focus on ourselves for a bit. As ladies, we tend to lead full lives tending to the needs of others. While this can be very rewarding, it is also really important to take a little time out for ourselves.
Every year I have the pleasure to share something special from the world of nutrition. This year, I wanted to focus on tea and it’s health benefits. I also wanted us to share a tea cup or mug story.
A tea cup could tell a thousand stories…
Some of them have been passed down, their history rich.
Some have been tucked away in a cupboard for far too long, hiding from the spotlight.
Some of them are like a best friend bringing us comfort and warmth when we need it most.
This is my mug story…
This Winnie the Pooh mug really isn’t my style. I am more of a funky pottery, or plain kind of a cup girl. I also like delicate china cups with saucers. Nothing too flashy for me. Loud colours – no thanks. Lot’s of writing with sarcastic undertones – not me either. I chose this mug because it was the best I could find at the time. I wanted a souvenir of a very special trip. This mug signifies a time in my life where I was desperate to find hope and an escape from the ache in my soul. After nearly 2 years of trying to get pregnant, multiple visits to the fertility clinic, being poked and prodded more times and in more places than I care to mention, my husband and I were told that we only had a 5% chance of ever hoping to conceive.
Miraculously, shortly after this news we did conceive and I carried our first child for only a few short weeks of pregnancy. During my 6th week of pregnancy, we said goodbye to the child I already had fallen completely in love with, and had began making plans for. This was the beginning of the deep darkness. I spent the next several months mourning and trying to get to the bottom of why I had so much difficulty getting and then staying pregnant. I am a ‘doer’ and a problem solver. The hard part about this is that there aren’t always easy solutions.
I learned a lot about myself then – some of it was really good. I did make some drastic improvements to my overall diet. Did you know I used to be able to eat nearly a whole batch of cookies – both dough and baked by myself? I started going to the gym too. But, I was also was angry and hurting. I spent my days caring for other people’s children at a local child care centre and yet my heart ached so deeply. I barely got through a day without crying. Baby bellies were appearing everywhere and I was rarely without a baby shower to attend.
During this time, my husband and I decided to pursue adoption through a local agency. It was a long process and at times grueling. Asking our friends with babies to write us reference letters confirming we would be good parents was humbling.
My husband and I decided we needed a break and planned a little adventure. We were going to Disney World! We arrived in Florida in February 2004. I am not over exaggerating when I say that during this time away, something awoke in me again. I laughed and was wowed by the sparkle and imagination of that magical place. I remembered to appreciate the wonder that was all around me all the time. I bought this cup to remind myself of this when I got home.
I began feeling like less of a failure and stopped seeing not getting pregnant as a punishment or because I hadn’t earned it yet. I have always believed that God has a plan for me and this belief was rekindled. I felt hopeful and excited for the future.
That Spring, we were approved to become adoptive parents, birth moms began viewing our profile and I was shocked and thrilled to find out that I was in fact pregnant once again. I actually found out I was pregnant the day after Mother’s Day of 2004! Nine months later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! It took 4 long years to hold our child. 24 months after him, we welcomed another beautiful boy to our little family. We found out I was pregnant with our youngest the day before Mother’s Day. Perhaps if we had gotten pregnant again, I would have found out right on Mother’s Day?
This is my mug and it represents hope and joy… Thank you for letting me share this story with you. I really do want to offer hope to others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
After I shared this story with the ladies at Replenish, we took a few minutes and everyone had the opportunity to share. I learned about a precious mug that a young child bought for his mom with all the money he had in his pocket. There was another story of a chalkboard mug that was used to write encouraging notes on. And yet another mug that was a special gift from a loved one. Getting to hear these stories is a special glimpse into someone else’s life. I wonder now as I write this, what is your cup story?
We also learned how to make authentic chai tea with my friend Joy. Joy grew up in India, and if anyone would know how to make a great cup of chai, I knew it would be her! If you like a good cup of chai from time to time, this may just be your new favourite recipe!
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon clove (optional)
- 2 black tea bags
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups milk (usually in India whole milk is used, some of my classmates suggested half and half, others suggested Carnation Evaporated milk)
- Sugar to taste (typically chai is quite sweet – honey is also quite wonderful!)
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil together with the spices, milk and sugar. Let simmer for a 2 or 3 minutes, then add the tea bags, take the pot off the stove and let stand for 2 or 3 minutes. Normally chai is cooked for a long time (15 minutes or more so that it is quite concentrated and strong.)
Health Benefits of Chai Tea
Cardamom – spicy & sweet flavour, third most expensive spice in the world – about 30 USD per pound, supports digestion, can help alleviate constipation, heartburn, supports circulation, has been used as an aphrodisiac, to help treat urinary tract infections, is a source of manganese, vitamin C, calcium & magnesium.
Ginger – is part of the same plant family as cardamom and turmeric, supports digestion and helps relieve nausea, may help reduce bloating & constipation too as it helps relax the smooth lining of the digestive tract, supports the immune system, enhances insulin sensitivity
Cinnamon – natural sweetener, helps with blood sugar regulation, high source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, supports circulation and heart health, freshens breath naturally and supports dental health
Cloves – promotes digestion, supports immune system, freshens breath and supports oral health