After just over a month of being re-opened inside at the tea shop, I cannot believe I am writing this - I am headed back out to the curb. Today, Arkansas was marked as the 2nd most dangerous place in the United States in terms of contracting the new Delta Variant of Covid-19. With 1,000 new cases yesterday, and another 1200+ new cases today - our state is experiencing a THIRD surge of the virus.
I am so discouraged. I just got used to the shop being open again - feeling a little bit back to normal, and yet we are not back to normal. I would rather be hot and tired on the curb than feeling anxious about the spread of the virus inside of my shop. I am a small business and likely my decision will make a very small ripple in this situation, but I feel a responsibility to myself, my family and to my customers to make efforts to curb the outcome of this next surge.
Many of you already know that a large part of our customers are under the age of 15 - little cuties who love to visit the shop with their parents or neighborhood kids who ride their bike to the shop to share a jug of tea on the porch. These kids have zero choice in vaccination. And, now with new information coming out that there are many breakthrough cases (people getting the Delta Variant of Covid-19 who have been vaccinated for months specifically those who have the Pfizer vaccine.) I know this to be true because a friend of mine who has been vaccinated with Pfizer since April just tested positive this past week right here in Little Rock. Fortunately, I had not seen him for awhile, but the news was enough to have me more than worried. You see, I have the Pfizer vaccine and so does my Grami. The risk of either of us contracting this new and more contagious virus is not worth it especially after I spent 15 months out there keep this little dream alive already.
So, out to the curb we go again. I did it last year - in the heat - and I can do it again. But this go around, I am not going to be as perky about it. Here me when I say, please DO NOT come to the tea stand without your masks on your face. I will not be apologetic about asking you to put one on while you're with me. It is impossible for me to know who is vaccinated and who is not - and by us all wearing a mask that takes the stress and anxiety off me while I sit out there in the sun serving my tea.
If you are out of town and you are reading this, you can still support me! Please shop online - I have a free shipping promotion on the site running through the end of July with coupon-code SUMMERTIME at check-out. You can see my various loose leaf tea blends & other tea accessories at our online store.
Thank you all so much for supporting me thus far - this was a very hard decision for me as the heat is at PEAK levels in Arkansas right now. I will likely only have 2 tea stands per week during the hot weeks but if I see a cool day, I will pop out there more - you can keep up with this info on my social media pages.
Please wear a mask, please get vaccinated, please be mindful of the kids around you, please be kind to each other. - Abbi
Name: Meaghan Ferneau
Where are you? Little Rock, Arkansas
What do you do? Regional Demand Generation Manager (basically Tech Marketing) and Princessing as a side hustle!
Favorite blends? Gentle Dreams / Rose Mint / Peach Mint
Iced or hot? Hot!
What's your ideal tea experience? Sitting out in the French countryside with a cup of Gentle Dreams and no one is around, except Chris Pratt - he’s there. Did you say ideal experience or day dream? Same thing right?
What got you into tea? I have always enjoyed it, but in all honesty I have never had blends as creative or delicious as Abbi’s!
Any fun cocktails or weird/fun things you do with your tea leaves? I use the Rose Mint leaves on my hands for eczema- and we have made cocktails with a few blends making a simple syrup!
What are you reading? I finally opened up “Untamed” which I’ve had sitting unopened for quite some time!
What are you listening to these days? I’m an old soul - I love old records mainly from the 60s and 70s.
What's a blend you'd love to try but haven't yet? Goji Ginger
Thanks for always making me laugh, Meaghan and for all the kind words & drive by honks from the Jeep on your way home!
A really small and insignificant event just happened that triggered in me a deep cathartic cry that I feel has been dwelling up in me for a few weeks now. One of those cleansing “make things new by clearing things out” types of cries.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when I was trying to figure out what retail would sell and would be easy to move in and out every day out at the tea stand I made some purchases of teapots.
Typically when I buy teapots or things for the store, I choose things that I really love in hopes people will love it like I do.
So, when I found this matte gray teapot with a cream accent, I really wanted to keep it for myself but alas, I have so many teapots. I couldn’t let it pass and there was only one left from this manufacturer, and I needed it for the stand.
I knew it would sell.
Well, the year passed - in and out this gray teapot came and went with me out to the stand. In every season - cold weather, spring weather, hot humid weather, fall weather, and repeat.
When we got to the point where I was ready to open back up, I was merchandising and buying for the gift shop room & the gray teapot was the last remaining teapot from that initial pandemic buy. I just didn’t understand why no one loved this little teapot like me. So, I told myself that if it was still here at Christmas this year, I would take it home, and it would be mine.
Today, I sold the gray teapot.
I do not know why it touched me so much, but when they came around the corner after spending much time debating which pot to choose for their tea nook, they had the gray teapot nestled in their elbow.
Tears sprung to my eyes and I said, “Oh, are you going to buy that one?!” They said “Well, we’d hoped so!” I quickly said “yes, yes please!” and unintentionally I let loose some tears on them. I explained to them about how this was the only teapot that literally came in and out every single time at the tea stand for a year and a half - and, how I just didn’t understand why no one would buy it.
The loneliest but most loyal teapot to survive the elements and the hustle without even so much as a chip on her. She’s a resilient little pot, that one!
The tears were rolling at this point and I said, “That teapot has just been waiting for you! It’s just been waiting to find you this whole time and I hope you will just love her and cherish her.”
They were super cool about it even though my sappy ass was having a bit of a moment. We chattered about books and other things and they headed out the door with her.
But, as they are standing on the sidewalk - teapot lovingly held in their arms - I feel like the whole load of this year just came rolling out of me. The weight of making it through it all. The weight of hauling my shop in and out every single day.
Farewell, teapot friend. You are the only one who saw me laugh, cry, dance, sing, work, sweat, read, & work my entire self mentally & physically to keep this tea shop afloat. You did it with me - all on the side of the curb during the hardest year of my entire life. You hold so many stories and sights and memories that only you could see & many only you will ever know.
I hope you get used fully and often and I bet you make the best damn tea a pot could ever make because you survived this year just like me — and now you are right where you belong! We made it. We’re okay. We survived - and now we can go back to doing what we were really meant to do.
I made it! I keep whispering that to myself these days. February marks the start of my fourth year in business. It also marks the 12th month of operating 100% curbside with the tea stand. I spent 10 of the 12 months of my 3rd year outside in the elements of Arkansas weather slinging tea and finding solace in the faces of my neighbors and customers. I MADE IT!
The loneliness of 2020 was really hard for me. Not just at the tea shop that sat quiet and empty day after day, but the world in general was a hard and lonely place. Isolating from those we love, the tensions of extreme partisanship in our country, and the loneliness of being misunderstood and directly lied about were all things I struggled with more than ever in year 3.
If you asked me last year if I would be sitting in my sweet little tea shop reflecting on the first 6 months of business today, I'd have likely not believed you. This tea shop has been a dream for so long, and those closest to me over the years have known of my love of tea, my heart for service, and the always present call back to waiting tables.
One of my last conversations with my dad was about why I was afraid to open a shop, and all the reasons why it wouldn't work or how it could go wrong. My deep fear of failure. He laughed with me and at me and told me to be brave. We talked about how I felt silo'd in a career that I was very good at, but not very fulfilled. We talked about who I have always been in his eyes, in my own eyes, and who I wanted to be going forward.
At the time, just a year ago, the tea shop was a symbol for who I wanted to be eventually. But to my dad (and to my mom) - they knew it was who I was all along.
When I decided to quit my very GOOD job at a very respected agency with a title and salary that I was very proud of, I had decided to let go of that chapter in my life.
The letting go wasn't really easy, but the 9-12 months that followed - - where I was forcing myself to BE STILL and figure myself out - - that was the hard part.
The starting over.
This morning, I'm sitting in my tea shop reflecting on all of the things that have changed in my life since last February. And, in these last 6 months.
How I've changed, how I've come back to life, how I've stayed true to myself after getting a little lost for a few (like 10) years. I'm thankful for my parents for seeing me even when I couldn't see myself. I'm thankful for my husband who has loved, supported, and cheered me on through all those decisions up the ladder, and now back down it.
And, I'm thankful for every single person who has come to the shop, talked about the shop, and all of you who are not just guests here, but friends.
Gotta go! Aspen is here for his morning treat & head pat! I'm thankful for the sweet puppy friends, too. 💚
When you put your heart on a shelf, it might stop beating.
For years, across various jobs I have decorated my cube, office or corner - surrounding myself with quotes, notes, gifts from friends, art and --- tea. Teapots, tea cups, tea steepers, and actual tea of every kind. Often my desk was known for the afternoon hang out or the place to smell a fancy candle or to just take a minute away from email to laugh, and many times I would make a cup of tea for those who stopped by.
My shelves were covered with things I loved, quotes or articles signifying who I strived to be, notes and kind words from friends and colleagues that were meant to act as reminders of who I was to them at some point in life.
You see, at the heart of me, I so desperately want to be liked - to be loved - to be accepted. I often have to remind myself that I don't have to try so hard, and that I am already loved by so many. This deep seeded insecurity - this forgetfulness of the goodness of my heart (JUST AS IT IS) - this desperation .... it is one of my biggest flaws and a point of frustration for those who love me best.
I am a constant and unnecessary apologizer, too. A resolution I have for myself this year - but one I fail at almost every day - but I swear I am trying!!! And, as soon as I apologize I instantly want to say "I AM SORRY I AM SO SORRY ALL THE TIME!" Sigh.
So, I placed my heart on the shelves of every office I have ever worked in. And, many times that's where it stayed - except for that quick afternoon break. As the years passed and the jobs changed and my shelves got higher and the jobs got bigger in responsibility and "importance" -- that heart of mine remained tucked up on those shelves...untouched, dusty, neglected, and sometimes even too high for me to reach at all.
I would forget to read the words I intentionally put in front of me, and instead I was focusing on the words in my inbox, or the words whispered in hallways about my type A awfulness, or worst of all...the words inside my own head:
"You're so annoying." "Wow, what an idiot, did you just do/say/type that?!" "What's wrong with you, Abbi?!" "God, look at you, you're disgusting." "You're so stupid." The tea shop has been so incredible - we've been open going on 3 weeks. But, to say that it has fixed every single struggle and bout of anxiety, insecurity and depression I have is simply not true.
I am human. I am flawed. I still so desperately want to be liked. I so desperately want to please ... everyone.
But, everyday, I get to be myself.
And instead of having my heart on a shelf I get to wear my heart, I get to share my heart, I get to cover my walls with my heart.
My heart is in the tea, my heart is in the jasmine I planted on my patio this morning, my heart is in the apron stitched together with love and sewn into my father's favorite shirt that I gave him so many years ago.
My heart is in that little kitchen where I bump up against my mom who reminds me every day that I am worthy of this dream come true. That it's okay to be happy for myself. That people like me. That people love me. That I am cherished.
My heart is in every crack and cranny of that old house.
My heart is beating again.
It has been raining for days and it really has impacted me. I am all about some rain once in awhile but the first 17 days of being open 13 of them have been rain and the other 4 have been cloudy or foggy. It's been bleak and I have tried so hard to SHINE BRIGHTLY. Some days I shined brighter than others, but it's been a real struggle to keep the brights on inside of me. Yesterday, I was discouraged and cried quietly in the back tea room with self doubt and frustration. I said to my mom, "I just need the sun to come out. I need to feel the light again. This weather is hurting my heart."
As soon as I got in the car, Who Am I by Casting Crowns came on. Instant tears came to my eyes because it is shamelessly one of my favorite songs and I belt it out every time I hear it.
I have sung this song in the car so many times - second only to Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson - I have sung it on mountain tops at sunrise after hours of driving at night, I have sung it driving over Bonner Bridge, Alligator River, on the beach walking in search of beach glass, and on so many rainy and sunny days. It's one of my favoritest songs.
So, I sang all the way to Home Depot. Embarrassingly loud and with my windows down. When I arrived, they had jasmine. Fragrant, beautiful - jasmine. I bought two trees, and a few other annuals, and some lavender. I headed to the shop and got my hands deep into some soil and let the garden loosen me up. I set up Mimi's garden tables along with a few of mine from the house.
It was the perfect morning. I had dirt under my nails, I had damp spots on my jeans from watering, and I smelled like the earth.
My heart was beating. My was heart praying.
"Let this garden be a safe place for my friends and anyone who gathers here. Let this patio be filled with laughter. Let my heart shine with your light and let that light fill the walls of this tea shop every single day."
And, as my first customer for the day strolled up, my heart was singing...
Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I fear?
For I am your's .... I am your's ...