New Year's Eve 1982: holiday break from our junior year abroad in Paris. A friend's parents had invited us to Sri Lanka and one of their magical gifts to us was leading us on a Buddhist holy trek to the top of Sri Pada (also known as "Adam's Peak"). At this point we had been in the country for about a week and were already infused with the elixir that is the essence of Sri Lanka. Issuing in 1983 in such a glorious and sacred way was almost too much goodness for our 20-something minds and hearts.
We hiked through the night, arriving at dawn at what felt like the top of the world. Awaiting us at the peak were Buddha's foot prints set in stone. Next to that was a huge bell. Clang! Clang! Clang! We each rang the bell three times to celebrate our arrival and to honor Buddha. We then silently sat down to watch the sun rise. The fluffy cloud carpet below us made its gentle journey from dark purple hues to pinks, oranges, glistening whites, and then ultimately parting to reveal the brilliant green valley below.
I have often prayed that I will never forget the details of this life-changing journey. When the memory is sparked it feels like something sacred has occurred: a heat seeking missile has entered my heart to touch off a Technicolor explosion sending me right back to that transformative moment.
Zhena Muzyka, creator of Zhena's Gypsy Tea, is nothing short of a heat seeking missile in the body of a gorgeous, brilliant entrepreneur and author. When I met her recently she gently, compassionately directed her arsenal straight into my soul quite a few times. But, you don't need to meet her in person to be touched by her gifts. You will feel like you are right with her when you read her new book Life by the Cup, which is an effective missile unto itself.
A good book ignites many pieces of our souls, some previously lit on fire, others never yet warmed. Zhena's ability to start these heart fires likely comes from having walked through so many in her lifetime. There are many who have a zest for life yet have a hard time embracing those uncomfortable, seemingly life-threatening fires that life brings us. Zhena says "It's that fire that creates the diamonds."
The thread throughout the magic carpet ride of Zhena's story is the unshakable faith in those diamonds, a faith she inherited, at least in part, from her Grandma Maria. They both -- in spite of daunting circumstances that would fell most of us - did what they were called to do. Grandma Maria escaped the forced famine in the Ukraine to follow the trail of Nazi leaflets promising a better life in Germany, only to narrowly escape to the United States.
Zhena's diamond-inducing fire stories are exhilarating. Between adventures, though, she lands the magic carpet in calm and lovely places for respites of tea and reflection. You will be dying for a delicious cup of tea so I recommend you pour one before you sit down with the book. I didn't stop for a cup of tea when I read it, but it wasn't for lack of unceasing desire. I simply couldn't put the book down. Yet, even at this very moment, I feel like I sipped each and every one of the most aromatic tea blends Zhena mentions. Each chapter begins with a splendid description and the inspiring story behind each blend. She does for tea what Like Water for Chocolate did for cocoa.
Yet this is far more than a story about Sri Lankan tea farms and the tasty offerings that have made Zhena one of America's most successful entrepreneurs (watch for her next book Business by the Cup). It's even bigger than the very moving central story of why she started her company: to pay for her son's mounting medical bills due to having been born with a life-threatening medical condition.
Zhena is the poster child for the Superhero of Love power, Super Hearing. She listens to her heart, clears away the muck and mud, and invites the messages to guide her to her highest calling. Her keen listening leads her on a never-ending magical trek. And she wants us to all to have that power. Zhena is one of the most generous spirited entrepreneurs I have met. She truly wants everyone to benefit from her own lessons learned and wisdom gained. At the end of each chapter, she offers exercises to help us all improve our own Super Hearing. We will all be heat-seeking missiles in no time!
This book is a perfect reminder to us all to listen to our hearts, have faith that the guidance will come, and to rest assured that we are supported in ways we cannot see - even when we are surrounded by seemingly destructive fires. Zhena shows us that we need only lean into faith's arms to make our own string of diamonds.
Magical treks feed our souls. We need to seek them out. They make a difference. Listen for the next time someone invites you on one, and say "yes" before you stop to doubt what you have heard. And if you need some inspiration to make the leap, sit down for a delicious cup of Zhena's book.