“[Zhena] Muzyka’s charisma leaps off the pages of this unconventional, touching, and personal guide to success” (Publishers Weekly), featuring seventeen soulful lessons and simple rituals for finding your life’s purpose, improving your relationships, and becoming healthier—all in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea.
Drawing on lessons she’s learned throughout her amazing and sometimes difficult life journey, the social entrepreneur and founder of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea shares seventeen soulful lessons to help you overcome obstacles, clarify your purpose, and bring awareness to each moment of your life. An inspiring roadmap for discovering the secrets of happiness and success for yourself at any stage in life, Life By the Cup’s message is that, no matter where you are, you can change your circumstances and live your dreams.
As a twenty-four-year-old single mom, Zhena had an infant in need of life-saving surgery and only six dollars in her wallet. She also had two other powerful motivators: hope and a passion to share her unique tea blends with the world. Combining her kitchen hobby of blending tea, her knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy, and her gypsy grandmother’s wisdom, Zhena started selling custom teas from a cart on California street corners. Now, over a decade later, her son is healthy and Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a multimillion-dollar brand.
Zhena’s insights and gentle guidance will inspire you to increase your compassion toward others as well as yourself. You’ll also gain wisdom on how to hone your intuition, ask for help, and live out your true purpose without drastically changing the way you live. Discover your calling, bolster your courage, develop your own flavor of success, and you’ll see your own passion make a meaningful difference in the world.
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About the Author
Zhena Muzyka is a socially responsible business leader who founded Zhena’s Gypsy Tea in 2000 and pioneered fair trade in the industry. An inspirational speaker, meditation teacher, and podcast host, she is celebrated for her work in sustainable business practices. Zhena was named one of Coco Eco’s “20 Most Inspiring Women,” Country Living Women Entrepreneur Honoree, and has received the Enterprising Women of the Year Award and the Socially Responsible Business Award, among others. Zhena lives in California and can be found at www.Zhena.TV.
Read an Excerpt
Life by the Cup
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
—FRANK A. CLARK
December 1, 1999
As I lifted the cup of tea to my nose, inhaling the steamy, sweet scent, anticipating my first sip, I saw Kevin, the utility man, tiptoeing into the yard through the side gate like a cat burglar. Looking over the rim of my cup, through the faint waves of circling steam, I fixed my gaze on him.
He was so focused on reaching our fuse box that he didn’t see me sitting only a dozen feet away on the front porch steps, bundled up in an old red Indian blanket, warming my face in the distant morning sun.
Quietly putting the cup down on the weathered porch, I watched as he neared the back of the house. Standing as quickly as I could without setting off a symphony of creaks in the old wooden steps, I balanced my enormously pregnant belly and stepped onto the dead grass, making my way over to where Kevin was about to close off the valve with his wrench, which would leave me without precious fuel to heat my one-room cabin or cook my daily lentils, rice, and tea. I cornered him and yelled, “Hey!”
He jumped and almost dropped the tool. He looked over at me, raising his shoulders to his ears, grimacing as if he thought I would hit him. “If you do that, my baby and I will freeze to death and you’ll have to sleep at night knowing what you did!” I pointed at my nine-month pregnant belly for good measure.
He looked at me sideways. It wasn’t the first time we had met and wouldn’t be our last.
I smiled nervously, feeling bad to have scared him. “In all seriousness, Kevin, you know I am going to pay the bill, so why come out here and do this to me?” I smiled again, trying to be charming.
“It’s four months past due,” he pleaded. “You’re going to get me fired!”
“Look,” I said, “I’m about to give birth, then I can get a job. Can you just wait for a couple of weeks, tell your boss I have a scary dog or something? Anything?”
He looked at me for a few hard beats before dropping his shoulders. “You’re gonna have to do something, you know. The county has programs . . .”
I knew. I was about to have a kid and my only assets were a rusted-out, thirty-year-old car with no driver’s window and perpetually less than ten bucks in my bank account. How does one go about “doing something” when there is so much surviving to do?
“People don’t hire pregnant ladies, you know,” I told him, squinting back my tears.
He shook his head and stomped back up the driveway and onto the worn-out canyon road, thankfully without cutting off our power.
Somewhere along the line, God and I had gotten our wires crossed. I blamed my impulsive nature and sometimes believed that my destiny had come and gone already. I felt like I had missed my boat. I was a broke, pregnant twenty-four-year-old college dropout, fending off a kindly utility man.
I headed back to the front porch feeling seasick. To steady myself, I grabbed my anchor, that simple cup of tea.
I had been an honors student, a full scholarship recipient, a girl with so much “promise.” Then I followed one too many yearnings in my Gypsy blood and took off. I dropped out of college, headed to Peru, studied herbal medicine, got married and divorced, all the while earning my keep by making healing herbal concoctions and reading palms like my Roma Gypsy family in the Ukraine once had.
This hadn’t been my plan, having a baby on my own at twenty-four. I was heartbroken over the circumstance. I must have sat there for a long time, because when I took another sip of tea, it was ice-cold.
I begged out loud, “God, you have to help me here! Tell me what to do!” Silence.
After a few beats, the odd answer that entered my mind as I looked out at the mountains was two mismatched words, “Gypsy . . .” and then “tea.”
“Seriously!?” I yelled, looking into my teacup as if God presided in there.
I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. After all, I was a Gypsy girl drinking tea, so the idea had to have come from my desperate mind, not from the Almighty. But the idea of taking my heritage, my deep love of botanicals, and my passion for crafting healing gifts became more than just a momentary impulse. It became motivation to build something beautiful that mattered in the world.
Sage, my beautiful baby boy, was born with a life-threatening kidney defect, and we spent weeks in hospital waiting rooms and surgery centers. In between prayers and tears, I’d close my eyes to escape the fear of potentially losing my precious child. My mind conjured visions of children laughing as their moms sipped from colorful teacups and other women danced around them in brightly hued costumes. Beautiful Gypsy women proudly displayed their art, handmade jewelry, and palm-reading wisdom with kind smiles across their faces. There were cups of tea everywhere, filled with potions that I had blended from inspirations of famous perfumes I loved—floral flavors made for spiritual healing. These potions would soothe mothers’ worries, inspire love in lonely people, encourage girls’ ambitions, and calm everyone’s nerves, bringing them together in a sort of tea communion. It was all there in my mind’s seeking eye. These images of Gypsy-themed tea parties grew into hope.
A coping method, a promise, a dream—tea became all of those things to me.
Table of Contents
1 The Carving of the Cup: A Cup of Capacity 5
2 Pride Cannot Feed a Baby: A Cup of Lentils, Fennel Seeds, and Chamomile Blossoms 17
3 Just Show Up: A Cup of Lavender Blossoms and Local Heroes 29
4 Start Where You Are: A Cup of Milk and Honey 41
5 Turn a Burden into a Blessing: A Cup of Heaven-Scented Jasmine Blossoms 55
6 Pluck the Positive: A Cup of "Good Morning, Sunshine!" 67
7 Get to the "Heart" of the Matter: A Cup of Organic Roses 79
8 Blend What You've Got: A Cup of Liberating Limitations 93
9 Collaborate to Be Great: A Cup of Classic Twists 105
10 Answer the Call: A Cup of Connections 119
11 Cultivate Curiosity: A Cup of Curious Combinations 143
12 See the Forest for the Teas: A Cup of Perspective 155
13 Without Hot Water, the Leaves Impart Little: A Cup of Character 167
14 See (for) Yourself: A Cup of Self-Validation 179
15 Allow Kindness In: A Cup of Kindness 189
16 Surrender to Your Promises: A Cup of Night-Blooming Jasmine Nectar 199
17 Generosity Eliminates Fear: A Cup of Giving 217
Host Your Own Gypsy Tea Party: A Cup of Celebration 231
Tea Party Recipes 239
About the Recipes 255
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Life By The Cup will remain by my bedside as a permanent fixture. I planned on reading it in “sips” but I gulped down every drop of wisdom, insight, and inspiration in one long sitting. Now, I can go back and take the sips again. Zhena’s tenacity and resourcefulness and her open-hearted honesty touched me deeply and reminds me how truly connected we all are in this life journey and how choosing love and following our instincts is in the best interest of all. Life By The Cup will fill your tanks. A story that starts with a vulnerable single mama and ends with a confident business owner, parent, partner, and friend continuing on her journey. A great read!
I absolutely love the idea for book... inspiration and life lessons "by the cup"... chapters "short enough to sip." Through her personal experiences, Zhena Muzyka shares with us plenty of wisdom, and her strength and passion can touch anyone. Something I loved about Life by the Cup is Muzyka's writing style: it is all beautifully, eloquently written, yet I, as a reader, was able to connect with her so easily. A lot of self-help books out there try to inspire readers by doing something similar, but Muzyka really takes it to a new level. Besides sharing with us her hardships, her happiness, and everything in between, she also gives us tools that can help us, in the form of quotes, exercises, and lessons. This is a book that can benefit anyone--whether you are just in search of a story, or in search of some needed inspiration.
This story is so inspirational to me. The author is a highly successful entrepreneur and the way that she started her business truly motivated me. Zhena was a 24 year-old single mother and her son needed surgery. Zhena didn't have any money and she didn't know what to do. Instead of panicking like most people might, Zhena took her talents and decided to do something with them. She took her love for tea and decided to use her grandmother's recipes. She started selling the tea on the streets and it was highly successful. Her son is now 13 years-old and she owns a multimillion dollar business. I loved the idea behind this book and the messages that it sent. I have wanted to become an entrepreneur but I have never seen the opportunities for me to succeed. Zhena's story was truly motivating and I found it to be inspiring to my own life. I loved Zhena's story and loved reading about it. This is a book that I would recommend to all women and mothers. It's such an inspiring piece of work that really got me motivated!
Life by the Cup is the deeply honest, practical, warm and inspirational autobiography of Zhena Muzyka, a woman who found herself in a seemingly impossible and heart wrenching situation and made the absolute best of it. For an entrepreneur this book will have special significance, as you follow Zhena on her journey to create ethical and delicious tea infusions and make a living out of them. Her determination and audacious spirit is infectious and a number of her valuable life lessons, both personal and in business, are included. I really enjoyed the way each chapter was laid out into three parts and the idea that each chapter should take just the amount of time that drinking a cup of tea does. Zhena’s story is such a positive ‘rags to riches’ tale that it is truly heart warming and will stay with you for a long time after you have read it, I know that it will certainly cross my mind often when I sit down for a cup of my favourite brew.
This book is a gem. It is a diamond that sparkles and makes the heart smile. It is so touching and heart warming. The inspiration I got from it stayed with me long after I finished it. I was captured by the courage of the author, in not only sharing her life stories but the fact she survived them and grew as a stronger person. It is beautifully written with a wonderful smooth flow. I was held in a comfort zone as I drank in her words of compassion and was reminded each of us suffers and how we respond makes all of the difference. The exercises and advice are amazing and easy to do. I was left feeling empowered to take what ever life throws at me. I have never read a book quite like this and needless to say I want more. Zhena Muzyka is so gifted and her beautiful soul simply glows. I will definitely be looking for more of her work. I am hooked. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It will lift you like wings and help you to soar.
Inspirational and touching - I just finished Zhena's "By the Cup" and am pretty blown away at her ability to tell a riveting story and to inspire through her actions and words. The story of how she started her successful tea company, as a single mother with a sick child, this is more than just another success tale. Zhena's story is one of resilience and of illustrating how a person who is determined to do good, help others, and walk a spiritual path, can't help but find success and happiness in this world. I have always believed that it is the positive people that find success and true happiness and Zhena's story is clear testament to this. A really well-written and inspiring read from start to finish.
There is a nourishing quality to this book. You get the feeling early on that just reading it is probably doing you some good. The writer shares valuable secrets and practical exercises that she used to draw upon her strengths and achieve her financial goals. The chapters are short and to the point which allows you to digest a little at time. Each deeply personal experience reads like a parable, showing a direct connection between events, emotions and the lessons learned. Bottom line - it's a book that will fuel your fire and get you working toward your ideal future.
This book is really unique and I had a hard time reading it slowly. The book is divided into chapters that are intended to be read in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea. Each chapter has 3 parts: a personal story, a discussion about the story and bigger ideas/philosophies, then a take-away activity the reader can apply to their own lives. The personal stories were the best part: some are hilarious, others heart-wrenching and all are very inspiring. I found myself thinking about some of the stories and lessons throughout the day and while I won't say this book "changed my life" I will say that if that if you are looking for some inspiration to have more positivity in your life and relationships, this is a great start. I am definitely getting this book as a gift for some of my friends (I think it will be super cute to give with some tea and a special cup!)
I have been a huge fan of Zhena Muzyka for years. My wife & I love her tea! Needless to say, it's no surprise that Life By The Cup is a home run read. I definitely suggest it for the start-up entrepreneur as well as any one who has a passion for business!