I knew I had to do this post just as much for myself as for anyone else out there who might be going through something similar. I’ve found that grief is something that comes in waves. It is a process. It doesn’t have a rule book or manual. It is an individual experience, and it takes however long it takes. Going through it alone however is a kind of self-induced torture.
During this time of covid-19 and human rights atrocities, we’ve lost so much: structure, outlets, human contact, jobs, income, security, respect, freedom. Some have lost their lives or people they love or beloved pets.
In a time where we are asked to stay alone or in small groups our grieving process has been taken too. Funerals, wakes, gathering together to celebrate the life of another, are limited if they are available at all. This makes it even more important to create new rituals and to soothe ourselves. It’s also extremely important not to become emotionally isolated. A phone call or video call may not substitute for a hug and an actual shoulder to cry on, but they’re better than being alone with cycling surges of loss.
I’ve had two personal situations during this time that made me realize how important it is to engage in self-care and to reach out. Someone dear to me thousands of miles away is being cared for in a facility, but no one is allowed to visit. I don't know how much time she has left. The powerlessness. The uncertainty.
Then my beloved cat fell ill and deteriorated. This magical creature that has been a part of my life every day for years was in pain. Not getting better. Having to make a decision when or if to end his life before he was in excruciating pain is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Watching the light leave his eyes felt like light was leaving my life.
Waves still hit me.
Rituals like tea and conversations with friends don’t eliminate grief, but I’ve found they help me process it. That’s the goal. Not to wallow in grief, not to reject it and have it haunt me later, but process it, get on the other side of it, and continue to live.
There have been some days that looking forward to a cup of tea is what got me out of bed. When so much of life feels out of control, making a cup of tea the way I like it reminds me that I do have choices. The calm from the L-theanine and the energy from the caffeine are a feel-good combo. They help my focus when my mind wants to fly away or just put me to sleep.
Video calls with friends over tea (and sometimes something stronger) give me a feeling of connection. To share something positive with those I love and who love me in return does more than ease grief, it builds relationships, continuing the story until the next time we can take hands and breathe the same air.
I don’t believe we are meant to be islands. Though it is difficult to be vulnerable in front of others, handling emotional pain alone isn’t heroic. It doesn’t save the world. Vulnerability isn’t shameful. I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust.
Perhaps you feel everyone in your life is currently so burdened you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about your pain. I get it. Perhaps you don’t feel you have someone in your life you can be that vulnerable in front of. I get that too. If you’re surrounded by empty platitudes rather than people who actually show up you can still show up for yourself. You can also reach out to a third-party like a professional. Sometimes it is easier to talk about something emotionally heavy with someone who is completely uninvolved. They’re not someone you will see on a regular basis, their opinion of you matters less, and they’re not emotionally attached to the issue.
Now I’m not a counselor or psychologist. I’m just a person learning to manage my own sadness during this time, and sharing what I hope will be helpful to you managing yours. Even though I do have people who are in a good place to reach out to (and who I appreciate immensely for supporting me), I do occasionally use a couple of the resources below. I hope that they are helpful to you when you need them.
Whatever your loss or grief I wish you healing and that love and joy win the battle for your heart.
Grief and Mental Health RESOURCES
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Video resources, therapist directory
No insurance, low cost:
Messaging therapy (fee based/weekly), paired with a therapist
Crisis Text Line
Free 24/7 resource in US, Canada, UK, Ireland
Pet grief resources
Multiple resources including a forum, chat, coping suggestions for children and adults and more
The Rainbow Bridge poem: https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Rainbow_Boutique/Rainbow_items/Poem_upclose.htm
Though I started this in May, I needed time and clarity to complete it. This is not a sponsored post. Resources were just those I've found and/or used.
For the more delicate of you who dislike discussing any of the body’s magical fluid management techniques read no further (are any of you even reading this blog, lol?) For the rest of you let’s get sweaty ‘n stuff:
With temperatures above 100° F and beyond, breaking records, hydration is yet again a hot topic. Literally. I find myself in a water bottle fill-empty-repeat cycle multiple times a day (mine also has a mister on top that I love. Less exciting than running through a sprinkler but more portable). I also find myself taking trips to the toilet more often.
I know that as a singer I drink more water than the average person and if you factor in my tea intake even more so. Still, sometimes on days where the temperatures are relentless and the running about causes me to slip from my hydration routine I feel my mind slipping away. Apparently this is a sign of possible mild dehydration. Research shows that most people in the Western world are in some state of dehydration and are unaware of it.
There have been conflicting reports over time about whether or not caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea contribute to dehydration. I have never felt that my tea intake hampered my hydration efforts and a 2018 article in Time magazine supports this ‘tea and coffee are helpful’ side of the argument with info from a Doctor/Professor at UCLA Medical School. A Live Science article agrees indicating that increased intake of any fluid will cause increased urination. That doesn’t mean dehydration is occurring. From my scrapes with heat exhaustion while performing outdoors I learned it’s when you stop urinating or sweating that there’s a real problem.
The Live Science article also refers to a 2005 study that indicated a higher dose of caffeine had no more impact on hydration than a lower one. That doesn’t mean you can’t overdose on caffeine, but it’s hard. Like really hard. Like 100 cups of coffee a day hard, which means many more cups of tea (though different types of tea have different amounts of caffeine a cup of tea is usually around half that of a typical coffee or less. Check the Mayo Clinic’s breakdown ). Likely you’d have some heart palpitations giving you a clue to slow down way before that happens.
Now what about sweat? According to Dr. Weil, perspiration doesn’t smell in itself. It is when it mixes with bacteria on the skin. Ick. We are such interesting beasts aren’t we? We have 2 types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine, and it is the apocrine ones which are in the hairy areas that contribute to stench. Caffeine can increase sweating and Dr. Weil suggests removing caffeinated beverages from your diet if excessive sweating occurs because of them. Interestingly though, he suggests using deodorants which contain green tea extract to help control the smell as it is naturally antibacterial. I found multiple mentions about coffee potentially contributing to body odor but none for tea. Another point for the tea lovers!
So tea can contribute to your hydration when you ingest it (drinking a ton of water alongside it doesn’t hurt) and it can reduce your body stench if you rub it on your pits. Tea might help get me through this summer after all. What is your summer go to tea? Have you ever used a green tea deodorant? Let us know on social here or here. Stay frosty, people.
One of Greater Los Angeles’ very cool evolving areas is Highland Park. From music venues with an independent community scene, to vegan cafes, to dollar stores, to long standing local favorites to new privately owned specialty shops Highland Park is eclectic and surprising. I became intrigued by this area when hosting for the Youbloom music festival at the Hi Hat. Recently I felt the urge to do more exploring there. Interestingly, the very first place I discovered after parking was Wild Terra - an herbal apothecary with a small, carefully curated tea section. They had only been open a week. The owner Danielle Noe and I got talking about a mutual love of tea. She said Earl Grey was her ‘comfort food’ growing up.
The energy. The serendipity. I had to do a blog on this place.
Even better for this tea and entertainment blog, Danielle has a wild background as a special effects makeup artist having worked on some stuff you may have heard of - HBO’s True Blood and the Aquaman film, for example. As a matter of fact, the windows at the back of the shop were from Merlotte’s bar! (see the gallery below) Man, TV and film are everywhere in this town. So cool.
From Bon Temps to Herbs and Tea
Danielle has a clear love for herbs and spices, how they grow and what they can do for the body. Most of what she carries herb-wise is from California and all of it is organic. She even grows some herself. There are two sections of wall dedicated to herbs and spices including 3 types of Holy Basil, Damiana, Mugwort, Skullcap and on and on.
Tea-wise the selection is small but carefully chosen. Some of the teas are from Biodynamic farms, most are organic except for those from Africa which are Fair Trade. She orders directly from some of the estates including Bitaco, a certified organic tea farm from Columbia which has been growing tea for 60 years. Danielle shared their Tippy Negro 2 with me which reminded me of a light Yunnan - smooth and mellow and the color of liquid amber. She has multiple teas from Kenya, including the new purple tea (read more on what that is here). She has an organic Assam from India and some compelling Chinese teas. There are teas from Japan on the way too.
Included in the tea wall are Yerba Mate, and the only US native plant with caffeine, Yaupon. It is in the same holly genus as Yerba Mate and Guayusa and contains similar amounts of caffeine. Danielle also carries two types of Coffee Leaf, regular and mango scented. Yes, there is such a thing as coffee leaf that is steeped like tea! Crazy! (I got to do some tasting and will share that part of the experience in a separate post).
Other Unique Finds
Wild Terra has a variety of mushrooms including whole Reishi mushrooms which look like some pre-historic relic (see pic). She makes tinctures from them too with a triple extraction process:
Wild Terra also carries:
So go get your tea and herb on in this little gem in Highland Park! Tell Danielle the Tea Deviant sent you;)
I am a natural night owl. Well, at least until 12-2am. But I also love the beauty and energy of early morning. I’m talking when the sun is already out not that pitch black morning crap. I only get up that early if there is a really sweet carrot in it for me. I’m talking 7ish. The tricky parts for me are late morning and early evening. I kept trying to coax myself into earlier nights just to get the mornings on track consistently rather than just for projects, but it always failed. Then I discovered polyphasic sleep. As the name implies it is sleeping in multiple stretches of time rather than just one long one.
I had found a video of someone who had tried it and gave a detailed account of his experience. I thought it was a really clear account and very encouraging (I'll post the link below). There are many polyphasic patterns you can choose like one long period with other shorter periods or just a series of short ones. Now this guy went in bold and immediately dropped his nighttime sleep amount to four hours and added two 25 minute naps during the day. Like he said, it is hard on the body and he walked around like a zombie for days.
I wasn’t on board with that. For me it made more sense to do a more gradual dip. Usually I would sleep between 7 and 8 hours at night unless I was ill or had a particularly demanding day. While I was thinking about trying this polyphasic sleep I found myself naturally moving into a 6 hour nighttime sleep period from 2/2:30am – 8/8:30am with one nap during the day in the early evening. It wasn’t hard because it wasn’t drastic, but the reboot feeling I got from the nap and the consistency of when I would sleep and when I would wake made me feel like I was getting two days in one. I know this is mainly psychological, but greater productivity, clear focus and satisfaction were what I was going for rather than just a huge time gain. Now, technically my schedule was biphasic sleep as I was sleeping in two periods of time not more, as in polyphasic. I just felt this naturally worked better for me. I tried moving the nap to late morning sometimes instead of early evening. I was just listening to my body and taking it when I needed it most depending on schedule demands.
Now how does tea factor into this, you might ask. Well, I had always been able to drink tea whenever I wanted to, even late at night, and I would still be able to sleep. I know that is not the case for everyone and it may have had to do with my constantly changing schedule. I felt that to be successful with this test it would be best if I stopped my tea drinking in the 5-7pm range. So, I would have my last cup of tea after my nap (if I took it in the evening). This kind of gave me the feeling of a second day even more. I found it worked so well that I started to wake up just before my alarm. That’s something the man in the video mentioned, that he had gotten to a place where he no longer needed an alarm.
He also continued to drop his nighttime sleep amount until he was only sleeping two hours per night along with his two daily naps. He said his productivity was amazing. I have not gotten that far. I am going to try to gradually reduce my nighttime sleep period to about four hours and see if that works for me. The time gain is attractive, just so long as I don’t feel deprived.
I am also curious to see if a tea done in a Bulletproof coffee style would give a more sustained caffeine release to make my mornings even more effective. For those who are unfamiliar, Bulletproof Coffee was designed by a man named Dave Asprey. He was inspired after being rejuvenated by Tibetan yak butter tea while in Tibet. The basic idea is adding high quality fats (like MCT oil derived from coconut oil and grass fed butter ) to the coffee which allow for a more effective use of the caffeine and slower release eliminating the crash and extending the brain boosting energy effects. I have tried some variations using tea and did find I enjoyed it. I will have to report back on how well it works with polyphasic sleep. I might even compare the Bulletproof Coffee effect against a tea-centric version.
Now there are some challenges to this kind of sleep pattern. As most of our society doesn’t function this way it is a bit of an isolating experience unless you are in a tight crew of people all taking this on together (which sounds brilliant!). The naps are key but it may take some planning to work them into your schedule. For 9-5ers a nap during lunch and/or a nap after work may suffice. Working around children’s schedules in addition to work schedules may make this a no go for some. Also, it is easy to fall off the pattern. All I needed was one day where I missed my nap and I got off. Also, if you get sick or have the occasional 16-20 hour workday, like us crazy creatives, it can shake the schedule. Still, I feel like I want to see how long and far I can go with this as it really felt right for me. It was like I finally found a sleep pattern that fit my life rather me trying to fit it.
There are many videos and articles out there but if you’d like to watch the video I referenced it is on Youtube. Interested in trying polyphasic sleep or do you think it sounds too radical? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook. Wishing you great sleep and great tea!
by Cassandra Vincent
This is not a sponsored post
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