Stepping Outside of My Box

by Dec 29, 2011Hyperhidrosis, other adventures5 comments

This year I joined the women’s tea committee for the 8th annual women’s tea event at my church. I was in charge of publicity for the event (postcards, signage, programs, social media, music, etc.) I’d never done anything like this before, but I love tea, so when I heard about it I was excited to participate. In addition to being on the committee, I also hosted and decorated a table of my own. I wasn’t sure how things would go since this was my first time participating in the tea, but I accepted the challenge.


The committee started out by decorating the room the weekend of Thanksgiving. I helped to string garland, wrap the hostess gifts, and cover bulletin boards with wrapping paper so they looked like presents. I had to ask for help once I got to the bulletin boards since my hands started to sweat while holding up the wrapping paper. The other women on the tea committee know I have hyperhidrosis, so it wasn’t a shock when I said that someone else would have to take over so that I wouldn’t ruin the paper.


Once the room was decorated, the hostesses who also were on the tea committee came in to decorate their tables first. It was 20 degrees outside that night after snowing the day before. After unloading my own supplies and making several trips back and forth to the car, I finally took off my jacket before going back outside to help the others unload. Yep, 20 degrees outside and yet my back was dripping with sweat. I try to avoid jackets as much as possible. They become another thing for me to carry around once I get too hot and then rip them off. I didn’t have gloves on, either. What’s the point if I had to shove them back inside my pockets while they were wet?


I began unloading my decorations and setting them up. I had a grand idea of what my table would look like and even did a trial run at home on my dining room table prior to the event to make sure it looked okay. I hosted a table with 8 guests rather than the standard 6. Once I got all of my china on the table and the place settings arranged, I had very little room left on the table for all of the decorations I had brought. Immediately my mind went to the negative self talk. I thought my table was going to look stupid since I had to omit half of the decorations on which I had put personal touches. I kept at it and put what I could on the table. I had saved 8 wine bottles and slipped handwritten quotations around the necks to add to my theme, but there simply was no room for the bottles. I improvised and put the quotations on top of the place settings along with the gifts I had for each of my guests.


After a few hours of decorating my table and placing tablecloths on all of the other tables for the other hostesses, I was ready to leave. I said my goodbyes and kind of left in a down mood, not being proud of my table and what I had envisioned it to be initially. I thought it looked bland and boring and no one would like it. The head of the tea committee noticed that I left in kind of a funk. When I came back the next night to help the other hostesses with their tables, she pulled me aside for a moment and said, “I didn’t get a chance to see your finished table last night, but I noticed that you seemed kind of down when you left. I know that money has been an issue for you since your layoff. We are well within budget for the tea, so if you feel like there’s anything missing from your table and would like to buy a teapot or some kind of decoration, I’m happy to give you the money to do so.” Well, that was when I lost it. I wasn’t even there for 5 minutes before I was crying in the back room.


The last couple of months have been rough being unemployed. I thought I was in a much better place these last few weeks emotionally and mentally, but when she said she noticed I seemed down, it dawned on me that everything was right there under the front I apparently was putting up. I thought I was fine, but all it took was for her to verbalize what I truly was feeling for me to recognize it myself. I thanked her profusely and told her she was very perceptive, but that I physically had no room left on my table to even take her up on her offer. But what a nice thing for her to say!


After I pulled myself together, I returned to the main room to help set up all of the tea bags on each table. This also was challenging, as I was outside of my comfort zone even being involved in the women’s tea, and then I had to run around the room holding huge boxes of tea from CostCo. I had a hard time opening the packaging to get to the tea bags, and then I had to balance several boxes in my arms and then distribute the tea bags equally among all of the tables. Some of the tables had special dishes designated for the tea, so I was extra careful when picking them up since my hands were wet.


The next morning was the tea. I arrived early to help with any last minute things and was wearing dress clothes. I hate dress clothes. They are not sweat friendly, at least most of them that I’ve found are not. I do have a couple of pairs of cotton pinstripe pants that I really like, as they are about the closest to jeans I can get. I also had on a new cashmere sweater that I learned wasn’t conducive to air flow, either. It was a bit warm in the room where the tea was held, so that probably didn’t help. I was excited for the event, yet also nervous about sweating through the entire thing. I did the best I could and tried not to focus on it too much.


One of the things that helped me get through my sweating that day was that as a hostess of a table, I had a decorative theme. The theme of my table was Caught Between Jane Austen and Twitter—Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing. My table was the only one with a title. 🙂 Part of the table included gifts for each of my guests, and one of the gifts was a copy of an article I had written about holiday greeting cards. At the bottom of this article was my byline, part of which says that I suffer from the medical condition known as hyperhidrosis and that you can find me blogging about it. I used this as a way to introduce myself to my guests and then I explained what it was. So right away it was out in the open while not being the main point of conversation, and then I could worry about it less.


All of my guests had a good time, and I got many compliments about my table from them and others who walked by. This was reassuring since I had so many “ANTs” (Automatic Negative Thoughts) occurring a few nights before. The lesson here is that I don’t give myself enough credit sometimes. I hold myself to a very high standard and sometimes my expectations get in the way of the good things I am already achieving. My table was creative and thought provoking with its title, and my China pattern stood out against the other tables. I volunteered to be on the tea committee, hosted a table, and stepped out of my box without thinking twice about it, for once. Tea is one of my passions. Because I know what inspires me, it made it easier to venture outside of my comfort zone and do something in which tea was directly involved. I’m glad I signed myself up for the event over the summer. It ended up being something that kept me busy during this sucky and totally unexpected time of unemployment.


I encourage you to do something out of your norm even if you know ahead of time that sweating will be involved. Do it anyway. Don’t let your condition dictate the enjoyable experiences you might have if you just reach for them.


Here are a few photos of my table.

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