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How do you know if something is worth it?

Worth the time, the effort, the struggle, the pain, the recoil, the rebound, the sacrifice, the negative or not-so-pleasant consequences?

The answer seems easy when the end result is good.

A goal achieved. Success attained. The betterment of a person, place or situation. A reward. Happiness. Even simple satisfaction. 

Worth it.

But what about when the end result is not so good? Or even bad? Even when there is pleasure or goodness in the process?

It seems a very basic logic would say, not worth it.

I think of sin and how we often give warning that “momentary pleasure” is not worth “eternal destruction” (or any of the other negative consequences of sin)…

But I have to believe there’s more to answering, “is it worth it?” than by evaluating only the very end result.

Because there are more complicated situations.

It was nearly 2 centuries ago now that Tennyson penned his famous line, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

If the very end result is the only determining value, then Tennyson got it wrong.
And I don’t think he did.

So there must be another way to figure out if something—a decision, an event, an investment, a sacrifice—was worth it.

But I don’t know what it is.
And I’m having a hard time navigating such things right now…


Yesterday I went to tea.

With all my health problems, symptoms, reactions, restrictions and issues—not to mention being an HSP Introvert—it seems easiest and safest to stay hidden away in my little Hobbit hole.

Which for the most part, I do.

I leave the house for doctor and chiropractor appointments and some trips to the pharmacy, for salt cave and sauna sessions, for work (when I can make it there)… occasionally to a “safe” restaurant or (carefully and with masks and filters and backup helpers and drivers) to the grocery store.

I almost never make it to church anymore. Even more rarely do I socialize.

And I miss going to tea events and craft shows and game nights and shopping and exploring new places and visiting family and friends and getting out and about.

I mean, as an HSP Introvert I never did those things in abundance to begin with.
But I could.

And I miss it greatly.
And I grieve the loss.
And it hurts.

So after awhile I get fed up with the isolation, with feeling trapped, with the loss of it all and I get determined to try and get out and do something.

Mom and I had been talking about “doing tea” at Kristtany since they opened years ago.
A full tea.
With friends.

For Administrative Professional’s Day in April my boss gifted me with the money to go and do an afternoon tea there. Some four months later Mom and I finally make plans to do so. Mom makes the contacts, gathers a group of lovely ladies from church and makes the reservations.

I look forward to it like a fresh spring in a desert wilderness.

It takes work to get there. I need to make sure there is no air fresheners or potpourri in the tea room (there wasn’t) and they need informed of my black pepper allergy and we have to ask the ladies who will be joining us not to wear perfumes or body sprays or scented lotions that day…

And in addition to normal tea day preparations like picking out which skirt and hat I want to wear and packing my little tea purse with my tea fund, my hankie and my travel Stevia and ensuring I have plenty of battery and memory card space on my camera, there is this whole host of other preparations that take up most of the remaining hour we had until leaving to meet the ladies—

I had to figure out my medicine timing, pack extra meds to help my body handle the unusual influx of sugar and gluten and the pain that would come with the excursion, prep my diffuser necklace and my nose filters and put them in and get my face mask. My little tea purse isn’t quite big enough anymore… So I packed a back-up bag with more meds and oils and a water bottle for afterwards. I took my first dose of meds when we left the church parking lot, the next when we arrived, the third when the scone course arrived and the last when we were finished.

It’s work.
It’s tedious.

But I told myself it was worth it.
To be out and enjoying one of my favorite things with some of the ladies I enjoy the most.

The layout of the tearoom meant that our party of 13 was split between a table of 6, a table of 5 and, a little ways back from the others, a table of 2.

Mom and I took the table of 2.
Which was quite a sacrifice for my more extraverted mother who loves being a part of all the conversations.

But it was better for me to be a bit removed from the movement and commotion and scents. Because not everyone got the message or remembers to come sans fragrance. And even then, while I can ask folks not to don perfumes and the like, I can hardly request folks not to wear clothes washed in normal, fragranced detergent or with fabric softener or dryer sheets. And those insidious laundry chemicals and scents are some of my most problematic instigators…

And it was tea and it was lovely. I was able to remove my face mask and eat and drink freely. There were scones and soup and salad and savories and desserts and they gave me special treats to replace the two items that everyone else had that contained black pepper. And it was beautiful and there were conversation and laughter. And my new supplements really helped to curtail the more acute gut symptoms of consuming tea treats.

And I took it all in and smiled wide and basked in the pleasure and enjoyed every minute of it…

… for about 90 minutes.

Before I even started in on the desserts I could feel my energy waning and my eyes beginning to gloss over. My chronically ill body and HSP introverted spirit had reached their limit. The food and tea didn’t taste as good or rich and the conversations just sounded like noise.

I kept smiling, albeit weakly.
And I grew quieter.
And when all were standing around chatting afterwards I stood off to the side.

I’d gotten up to go to the bathroom and when I stepped in I was immediately overwhelmed with scents. My eye caught two bowls of potpourri in there that I hadn’t noticed earlier with my face mask on (in addition to my nose filters). I quickly exited and headed back for my face mask and when I went to reenter the tea room itself I was hit by a wall of scents again (likely from people moving around at that point). Those two scent-overdoses on top of all the “little bits” of scents I’d been dealing with the rest of the time took everything else out of me.

I came home and changed clothes and rested the rest of the afternoon and evening. I couldn’t make us dinner and each time I got up from the recliner I felt weak and woozy and had to do what needed done (getting more water, using the bathroom, etc) quickly and sit down again. And I crashed into bed while leaving the kitchen cleanup (from earlier stuff and what I was able to grab for dinner) and my normal morning/breakfast prep for my parents to do…

And I slept nearly 12 hours over night and even today I am still symptomatic and weary and mellow…

And so I wonder, was it actually worth it?

All that work?
All those symptoms?
All the other stuff that I should be doing getting put on hold while I rest more?

I want to say yes.

That getting out and about and having a special treat and enjoying (at least for the most part) something I love is worth it every now and again.

But I wonder.
And I question.

Because there are other things I choose not to do because of the work or symptoms or consequences involved. For so, so many things, “making myself sicker” is distinctly not worth it.

And maybe I question because I fear the validity of my choices and what I enjoy.

Or I fear that others will see what I do and do not choose to “sacrifice” for and think it silly or stupid or wrong. Misaligned priorities on my part…

So I wonder if there is a better way to figure out if something is worth it.
Or maybe there isn’t an easy standard of measure.
Maybe it’s on a case by case basis.
And maybe we’re meant to wrestle with it.
And maybe that’s part of the process.

 


I was ruminating on the “was it worth it?” question yesterday afternoon and evening and even as I was in bed trying to sleep.

And sometime this morning a thought occurred to me.

It is usually worth it.

But maybe I also need to somehow balance and take into account more of not just how often I do something like that, but other factors… time of day and day of week and just keep it to 4-6 other people (or no more than 8) because being socially overextended impacts how my physical body handles everything else.

Earlier yesterday I told Mom that I wanted to join them again this November for the Hickory Bridge Tea. I’ve gone the past 2  years and the folks there do a wonderful job and it’s always a delight and they work well around my black pepper allergy.

But I told Mom today that I’m not going this year.

Because we usually have 10 or 12 ladies there and it’s an event tea in a packed room with dozens of other chatting ladies which means much more movement and commotion. Plus it’s on a Thursday and I have to work the next day (and Fridays are always big days at work).

So even though I’ll miss it. And I’ll probably be mellow and bummed that day knowing I’m missing out… I think it’s the best decision.

Because in my case at least it would seem, stuff like that isn’t always worth it all the time.
And perhaps few things are.

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I dreamed a dream…

… and in this dream  I found myself in a somewhat artsy semi-urban area of a nameless town.  It wasn’t exactly a big city, but neither was it a small town.  The street and its shops and business were bustling with life.   Not crowded or busy like New York or Chicago or LA, but vibrant and alive with fairly steady traffic and spots of people here and there.

Across the street was a business.  It was a tearoom.  Outside it seemed quaint, inviting.  Inside it was spacious and relaxing.  The walls were stone or brick with wood beams showing.  This building had lived another life at one time.  Tables for two, three or four lined the outside rim of the space and some dotted the center space.  It wasn’t quite Victorian.  It wasn’t quite urban.  It was an eclectic mix of the two.  Tables had different lengths of table cloths in different materials and some went without completely.  Tea sets and service items were mis-matched and ranged from modern white with metal handles to exquisite china.  Teas and tea wares for sale dotted shelves and racks along with unique hand-made goods from across the world.

The tea shop was open Tuesday through Saturday, serving breakfast, lunch and tea.  The foods served were sometimes unique, always made with the best whole grain and fresh ingredients, low in sugar and yet delicious.  Nothing was advertised as “healthy” or “low carb” or anything like that, it was the quality that drew return customers and those who knew appreciated it.  Those with special dietary needs who wanted to come for tea always knew they would be cared for… but no big fuss was made… that’s just how the place worked.

The place featured the work of local artists – with photos, paintings and prints on the walls (and sometimes for sale) and even sculpture pieces made their way into the shop from time to time.  Special tea events were often accompanied with live music by local musicians and every now and again an artist would hold a small concert or showing and tea reception there.

So in addition to regular hours and menus there were sometimes special events.  Some tea related such as Mother’s Day teas and Daddy-date teas and mystery teas.  But as often as not they had nothing to do with tea.  Such as evenings for artist showings, live music and even an occasional poetry reading.  A few times they even maneuvered enough space for some physical theatre and drama.  There were two different small groups that used the shop on different evenings to hold their artists’ group Bible study meetings.  I even noticed a sign that would be put out on Sunday mornings that said, “Closed for business, open for worship.”  I did not inquire about this.

There was a young woman in the shop.  She was either an owner or a manager, but based on the sparkle in her eyes you could tell that the overall vision for this place had been hers.  She was in her mid to late thirties, or maybe her mid-forties, it was difficult to tell.  In some ways she stayed as a background character in her own shop, there were others, more outgoing others, who did much of the serving and conversing.  But she loved to serve as well and make sure that folks were being treated well and she would even seek out people from time to time and strike up interesting conversations… or was it that they sought her?  Perhaps they had picked up something from her in a previous conversation and so came to her when they had various questions…

There were others there, of course.  Others who served.  Perhaps even a co-owner or close associate who shared in the dream and the business.  Couldn’t quite make out whether that person was male or female or the exact relationship between the two.  But this friend, this partner, was a good counter-balance to the young woman. Similar vision and goals for the shop, yet they rounded out each other’s skill set well.

It wasn’t a Fortune 500 company by any means.  Nor wildly successful as some would define it.  They had their struggles, and getting to this point was something they had sometimes wondered about, but overall things were well.  Most importantly, people were served well and the community was invested in.  The shop had become an important part of the fabric of that community.

Close to the shop was an empty lot.  Or at least it used to be an empty lot.  If a building had been there at one time, it had been abandoned or run down or condemned and torn down… and the lot had sat as an eyesore.  Whether it was purchased when the shop was or at a later time, it was now owned by the same hands.  And now the once trashed ground held a vibrant community garden.  The community participated and the community benefited.  In fact, the tea shop itself featured a portion of its fresh bounty.  Though the idea for the garden had been a part of the vision of the young woman, it was the greener thumb of the other which brought it to fruition.  And it truly blossomed.

And then I awoke.

And it was a good dream.

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