When someone states, beyond my wildest dreams, it is impossible for me to gauge, as my dreams and theirs are not the same. So I will leave it to you readers, to determine if this trip was at all close to yours, as it definitely surpassed mine.
About a month before the events below I had a conversation with a few tea minded friends in a local tea establishment.
A question was posed, “Where would you go in search of tea” note, I paraphrase.
One of my dear friends mentioned Taiwan.
I, on the other hand, one who has a wide set of dreams grounded in financial reality, replied I will stay close to home and begin visiting the tea fields in the U.S.A.
To my friend I replied, I know your day is coming.
I felt the words flow from my heart to her.
Someone is going to offer you a fully paid trip to hear you speak about tea. You have so much to give and your work will be rewarded…
Little did I know at that time, what I wished for her would boomerang to me.
It started with a short e-mail and attachment.
A dear friend in tea, Michele Brody had received an invitation to Taiwan to be a part of the International Forum on Tea Culture, Creativity and Science, Taiwan.
Noting Michele’s world-traveled status and identity as a F.O.I.L. (this term new to me is defined as Famous On an International Level), I was happy to see her expertise recognized with again being requested to share her knowledge and to show the incredible work she has done.
As I read on, the request also mentioned her suggesting another resident from the U.S. that could speak about tea in the environs. She asked if I knew anyone who would be interested.
Immediately, names and faces popped into my head and most of you know who you are.
Suddenly my thought processes came to a screeching halt!
Who should I contact?
Who would be able to go?
Could I recommend one and not another?
My analysis brain began to take over:
Thoughts: Ok, this person, well, they are working.
Counter: Who wouldn’t proceed to ask for time off for an opportunity such as this.
Thoughts: Well, this person has children and since the trip is in three weeks, that wouldn’t work.
Counter: Well, they travel often, maybe something can be arranged.
Thoughts: Well, this person speaks the language and has experience way more extensive than most.
Counter: They just started a new job.
The thoughts were coming fast and furiously; I needed a cup of tea.
As I sipped and pondered taking time to breathe, epiphany!
I heard a tiny voice from the deep depths of my brain, What about you? …
Fear immediately overcame me.
This was not just another presentation of my own visions and constructs addressing topics and questions concerning our marketplace, this was international. In the past I have always included those more knowledgeable than myself to contribute to tea discussions, as one leaf does not a cup of tea make.
How could I justify placing my name in the hat?
Yes, I have studied.
Yes, I have read.
Yes, I have tasted and experimented.
Yes, I have somewhat of a finger on the pulse of leaf consumption here.
No, I am not a professor, nor can I speak for all.
No, I am not, nor even close to a master in any area of tea or consider myself such.
Shades of self-doubt began to overtake me and another quote came into my head
“If not now, when? If not you, who?”
― Hillel the Elder
I responded to Michele’s e-mail and suggested myself.
Ok, those of you who know me are aware, many times I will throw ideas against the wall and see if they stick. No, risk no reward.
A reply came back requesting my credentials.
My thought: “Aha! The jig is up”!
I collected information about myself and prepared for the rejection I was certain would come, although my positive self began to create notes and power point outlining the presentation I would give.
I justified this exercise in futility by saying; I could always use it for something else at another time.
This first draft ended up being 12 pages long; apparently, I had a lot to say.
I few days later I received a request for my photo, abstract, and C.V. Along with this came deadlines for paper submissions and power point.
My thoughts: “Didn’t they read my bio/profile? Didn’t they notice my photo on the document”?
My centered brain began the planning/work I needed to do and this broke through the cloud of doubt and fear attempting to fog my thoughts.
I had been hesitant to share this joy with anyone. First, as I thought it unbelievable, second, the fear that others would deem me unqualified to be chosen and I could not chance any negativity for I was holding much of my own already.
I shared it with a few friends and family and went for guidance from those more qualified than myself to gauge the constructs of my work.
One thing I was sure of, I wanted to take the TeaBloggers with me as I truly believe in the influence we have in the industry and in consumer choices.
Yes! I cannot leave them behind for it is not through me, but all of us that tea has continued to make the strides it has had in the marketplace.
One of my dear friends I mentioned the trip to became so excited and decided to take this journey with us. Darlene Meyers-Perry aka one of my number one cheerleaders began checking out fare costs and travel arrangements.
It was maybe, two weeks later, that we all pressed the button for airfare and that’s when it all became more real, though the wonderment of the dream was yet to come.
Part two: The Trip – Taiwan 2015