Tear-water Tea

I vividly recall my kindergarten teacher reading a book to our class called Owl at Home. The book includes a story where Owl makes tear-water tea. He puts a kettle on his lap and declares, “Now I will begin.”

Owl begins to think of many things that are sad: pencils that are too short to use, leftover mashed potatoes that no one wants to eat, mornings no one saw because everyone was sleeping, songs that cannot be sung because the words have been forgotten.

Owl’s large teardrops fall into the kettle. Soon it is filled with his tears. He puts the kettle on the stove until it boils. Then, he feels happy filling his cup and drinking his tea.

The story has stayed with me for decades. It’s a reminder that we have permission to cry about things, big and small. It’s also something more. It’s the acknowledgement that tears can be the ingredients for something cleansing and healing, if we allow the sadness in.

Filling our cup isn’t always about finding things we are grateful and glad about. Sometimes we fill our cup through the cathartic release of things that make us sad. Sometimes a brimming cup of salty tear-water tea offers us the nourishment and strength we need to face the day.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.