Monday, June 27, 2016

What's your mantra?

I have a confession.  I have 11 mantras and they are as follows:

My gifts
Hope leads
Silence is power
3 30 rules
Day One
I'm a ballerina

Some are used more often than others.  They represent different needs in my life.  The acronyms are personal meanings that I hope will encourage me to reflect on my "keeping my soul in check".  Some, such as "Dead", are shorter versions of longer sentences.  I think you get the point.

But how did this all come about?

Last fall I began seeing a therapist.  I was experiencing an extremely difficult year and I needed to release my frustrations.  It's been incredibly helpful thus far.  I have been inspired to dig into my soul, make self discoveries, and recall childhood memories.  Shortly after the visits began, I discovered other things that needed my attention in my life and the timing of everything slowly came together.

One of the things my therapist suggested for me was to come up with a mantra.  One that would inspire me to trade my negative mindsets in for positive ones.  It could be my own form of expression and I should repeat it to myself when the need for its creation arose.

As time went on, I realized I couldn't just have one.  There's one for when I feel my anger start to boil and one for when I forget my accomplishments - they are different pains that require different remedies, i.e. unique mantras.  In fact, just the other day, I used "Silence is power" for the first time and I was amazed at how calm I remained while the storm took its course.

Once it passed, it felt good to know I endured the situation.  I didn't let my emotions get the best of me and that's the beginning of building strong habits that enforce me to stay focused on taking care of me.

The best part about having mantras, is it's free and unique to each and every one who so desires to reap its healing properties.

It brings me to a quote a good manager once told me, "Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of intelligence".  I used to think that if I needed to see a therapist that meant I was crazy or incapable of keeping my emotions in check.  But we're all human and it's o.k. to care a little more about your feelings; if I need exercises that will keep my soul aligned then I am not ashamed to admit it.

So go ahead, create your own mantra.  It doesn't have to be poetic or rocket science.  Use an acronym if you want no one to know what it means, but do yourself a favor and create one for your soul bank.  Trust me, it'll thank you and you may end up with just as many as me.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Have you made your bed today?

Welcome back, to my blog.  It's been a while - seven months to be exact.  My absence is due to a multitude of reasons, but I'm ready to return with short stories and insights to daily adventures, life lessons and surprise dealings.  My first blog post for 2015 was born of an unfortunate exchange of words that left me wounded and perplexed about the constant occurrence of losing friendships over unbalanced expectations.  I'm still in shock, yet I'm learning more everyday as to why it is more important than ever to make sure the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is make my bed.

Photo credit:  Crane & Canopy


I have daily discussions with my eleven year old son about why it is important to make your own bed.  Possibly more stubborn than my mother, he is relentlessly confused as to why the task must be facilitated. It may be the millionth time we've discussed this, yet I still laugh and enjoy these moments of debate.  I, on the other hand, lavishly welcome the thought of straightening my bed immediately after I wake. Everything about it must be perfect - the sides are even, the bed is leveled and the duvet looks calm and pressed.  When it comes to putting on new sheets, my husband and I often have contests on who could put the pillow cases on the fastest.  These moments make me happy and feel safe. Sometimes I forget how that feels -- the little things that mean the most.

As I approach the anniversary of the last time I spoke with my best friend, I reflect on how much I've changed.  Learning not to have a best friend is difficult because I literally could have called her at any whim's moment and I do believe that to be a strong descriptor of best friends.  Realistically though, when a line is crossed for me, I can't turn back.  It's harder. There's a certain distinction about the type of sadness you experience when someone you trust and care for is the responsible for this feeling.  It affects everything about you because a friend is someone you choose; accepting misjudgement brings about self blame and the equation of these emotions make it much harder to trust again.

That was three years ago.  These days, it's easier not to care.  That's the scary thing.  I've been hurt so many times that I just do whatever I can to fill in the holes.  I strive for staying focused.  I don't have time to waste on those who don't give a shit about me.  I am my own guard.  I am responsible for protecting my soul.  A big and important job considering it controls every function I have been bestowed with.  I want to savor these gifts.  I have the ability to feel because I'm alive and truthfully, even when I'm hurting or feeling let down, I am thankful that I can feel an array of emotions.  This enables me to express my stories through artistic forms.  I choose writing because it paints a unique picture in each reader's mind - making it his/her story.

So why make your bed?  Because that's where your day begins.  It's the first thing you do and when you return to sleep, it's a reminder that you can count on yourself to make it right, be strong and start over.  It's proof that you can stay focused and loyal to your daily regimen. It shows consistency can triumph over disappointments that we have no control over.  It's the little things, remember, that make everything worth it - that mean the most. So make your bed and make it good.  You'll set the pace for strength regardless of the cards you're dealt; and after a long day there's no better feeling than returning to a bed that's comfortably made and ready to take you in.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Once a tree

The stump was gone
What once laid in its place, held glory
for quite some time
Flourishing in the spring; its grand entrance
branching out from its wings
Showing off colors missing from previous months' season
Green, in its prime hour
The new always looks so pretty
Climates shift; breezes anew
We stumble across the hues of gold and red
It is warming and a mesmerizing display of a growth spurt
But last year marked its death
No longer did the view from my bench give me continual immense pleasure
as the previous years had gifted me
I knew the tree had passed
In its dormant progression, at a time I had not been watching
I arrived home one day, saddened that my neighbor did not waste any time in its removal
The produced stump caused me to capture its final existence
Then it was no more

November 10, 2014
2:27 p.m.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The special touch of Don Melchor

Recently I had the most amazing opportunity to taste through the seven parcels that exist in Don Melchor's esteemed Puente Alto vineyard in Chile's Central Valley Region in upper Maipo Valley.  The guest of honor was Enrique Tirado, sole winemaker and technical director for Concha y Toro.  Enrique, a reserved yet sincere figure, spoke with us regarding the winery, its terrior and the distinctions of the seven parcels that eventually will become the blend for the 2013 vintage, release date of Fall 2016.  Shortly thereafter, he blended the parcels and we tasted the special blend that was equally approachable as the 2010 vintage that will be released next month.

The beauty of this event was the unique experience of tasting each parcel individually, followed by its final 2013 vintage blend.  The varietals spoke differently to me as a result. I had gotten to know them first as a single player, then met them together as a team.  It was truly incredible.

Seven parcels of 2013 vintage.

Parcel 1 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  22%

This had an oxidized nose upfront that was quickly muted with a bowl of cranberries/red currants, bell pepper, bitter chocolate and nutmeg.  I liked the mouth feel the most -- it lingered for a while.

Parcel 2 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  4%

Interesting nose of potpourri, black currants, tomato leaf, clove, stony and dark chocolate pieces.  Tart fruit with a menthol finish.  It opened up after sitting in its glass, an imperative deed if consumed on its own.

Parcel 3 - Cabernet Franc (25 year old vines):  13%

Us wine snobs will contest that Cabernet Franc doesn't get as much attention as it so deserves.  This is quite true with this parcel.  The structure resembled one of a black tea's tannin profile.  The black berries, brown spice and clay participants are complementary. This is a wine I'd drink on its own with some age on it.

Parcel 4 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  17%

Mint, pine tree, stony and baking spice notes cascaded along the nose and palate. However, dried roses were the surprise in the wine for me.  The structure has potential, and in a very good way.

Parcel 5 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  20%

I fell in love with the sweet nose of ripe black berries, raspberries and currants - a wine that held a lot of confidence in every element.  Wet stones and its constant overturning of notes won me over.

Parcel 6 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  17%

Deep and full wine carrying a bit of each previous wine's characteristics, definitely needs to breathe in its glass.

Parcel 7 - Cabernet Sauvignon:  7%

As if Merlot had bitten its skin, this wine was jammy and inviting.  Almost euphoric, as my notes read.  Wow.  Wish I had a glass of it now.

Blend of 2013 parcels, to be released 2016

The wine was an elegant example of each child's strong features.  The balance of the parcels blended drank beautifully.  I could only imagine its ability to please upon its release in two years.  I must make a note to purchase its offering and compare my notes.

Additional notes:

The Don Melchor wines are aged in French oak barrels (mostly new) for 12-15 mos, with an additional one year in the bottle.  The Puente Alto vineyard sits at the foot of the Andes Mountains, on the northern side of the Maipo river basin and 2100 feet (650 meters) above sea level.  There are 127 hectares in total, in addition, Enrique grows Petit Verdot, planted in 2008 and Merlot, planted in 2006.  His favorite vintages of Don Melchor are 2010, 2008 and 2001.  He has a twin brother who produces Sauvignon Blanc and red blends under his own private label.  Don Melchor means Sir Mentor, the name referencing the namesake who began the winery in 1883, Concha y Toro.

In conclusion, I really like Chilean Cabernets.  For someone who doesn't drink red often, I was surprised that I had repeated after thoughts about wanting to drink Cabernet Sauvignon for several nights.  Only problem was:  I wanted the 2008 Don Melchor and I didn't have a bottle to open.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

untold story

Thus far, 2014 has been quite a life-changing year.  To start, I made big plans.  Set goals in motion, took on another opportunity and learned a different side of the industry.  I built endurance, speed and knowledge.  I signed up for an exam that I rescheduled once and was committed to studying every freaking minute I had.  On top of this, one goal -- to move out of the state -- forced me to finally get my house into shape in preparation to sell.  That is, until I decided to commit more time to the exam.  Neglected, my house grew chaotic.  I realized the truths behind having a middle school child, my first born.  This was emotionally the hardest - learning to let go, trusting my gut instincts, and being more firm than I've ever been took a toll on me.  I struggled with decisions and as a result of letting my guard down - I had the worse experience yet of 2014.  Even worse than realizing I didn't pass my certified exam.  And that broke my heart bad.

Trust is a funny thing.  You need it to survive, but it messes with you.  I think "to trust" is a sacred act.  I've tried to loosen the trust strings while standing on guard when dealing with an unfamiliar environment, but I strongly believe in giving those the benefit of the doubt until they've done you wrong.  Of course if and when that happens, it sinks deep and you get angry with yourself because you didn't put your guard up more.  You trusted them and they stabbed you in the back.  I don't take being accused of something that is the absolute false, lightly.  You can't destroy me with your words because I stood up for myself.  Of this, I'm proud.  And I'm more than happy now that I am reserving my talents for those that deserve it.

It is also funny how you really learn who your friends are when swimming through troubled times.  It doesn't exist if it's one sided.  Hey that's cool, I can take a hint.  Probably why Twitter is a safe bet cause it's non-committal and I don't have to wonder if you're going to respond to my text cause I don't care anymore.

I also learned that people with power are the most self-centered people I've ever met and that it's unfortunate that success has come at the price of being cold yet never realizing that your happiness will never be fulfilled until you realize how to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Finally, I learned the only person in the world who truly knows you for who you are and will always be there until the end, is yourself.  Once I accepted this fact, I began to find peace in my journey.

This is why I write.  It's my deepest form of therapy.  In fact, for many years I kept journals that helped me survive all the stages of my life.  I am learning to be content with the little things.  I confess that, prior to my revelation, technology had encouraged me to succumb to the immediate need for everything.  But now, now I really crave a simple, yet deeper life. One that wastes no time on negativity, lost souls, one sided friends, and employers that don't acknowledge your contributions and strengths.  I am urging you, whomever reads this, to reflect on you and who you are inside - there is an untold story in you and those who are worthy - should hear it.  They exist.  You know deep down who they may be and you know who they definitely are not.

In honor of a great writer who recently passed, Maya Angelou, I leave you with this inspiring quote.  I know I am not perfect, but I refuse to surrender to the negative influences that attempt to pull me away from the simple, yet profound life rule I really believe in.  To be polite and respectful.  And if you don't receive it in return, turn your cheek away.  Don't expend your energy on the unworthy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Introducing Sacy

I prefer to look at genuineness as showing real expression, whether agreeable to those around you or not.  I believe it to be honest in a sense of accountability.  In other words, owning up to whatever you put forth.

Loire Valley is a region within France that both illuminates and surprises me every time I brush up on the diverse appellations it showcases.  The Loire river is responsible for keeping the temperatures as nature intended, a few degrees warmer based on individual macro climates along the stretch that begins on the east side from the land of Massif Central, all the way west to the Atlantic coast.  At this time you may be wondering how the word "genuineness" comes into play here, alas, it has most to do with it.  It is because I believe if there's one word that had to be reserved to forever describe the fondness I have with Loire Valley, it would be genuineness.

What I have come to appreciate most of Loire Valley is the ability to offer every type of wine category.  It has sparkling, and tons of it.  After Champagne, it produces the most sparkling wines in all of France.  It produces aromatic textured whites from Melon de Bourgogne aka Muscadet and the dominate white varietal responsible for the famed Vourvay and botrytis-like wines and finally, the notable wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé which highlight Sauvignon Blanc in its finest mineral hour.  That is only to discuss the whites of Loire Valley.  But there's also lesser known varietals...

Sacy, the white varietal indigenous to the appealing wines of Saint-Pourçain AOP is known as Tressallier in the Auvergne region of Central France, located southeast of the Central region within Loire Valley.  Oddly enough, the dominant variety title in the encépagement belongs to the international grape Chardonnay, with an option of ten percent Sauvignon Blanc.  Some have compared Tressallier/Sacy to Viognier, yet I beg to defer.  I see a resemblance in the texture and structure profile of Pinot Blanc.  I bought the Domaine Nebout Saint-Pourçain 2009 last Spring.  I remember trying it back in 2011 and I wanted to revisit its progression.  What I witnessed in its first try was a mineral focused, funky and vague apricot nose that left me stumped.  The palate was developing and it hadn't won me over, yet.  When I took my second taste I decided that it would be more enjoyable five degrees warmer.

I suspect this wine style is enjoyed on a daily basis, but I chose to wait another year before indulging the bottle below for the second time.

100 percent Tressallier 

It matured really nicely, at five years vintage.  The nose subdued on the mineral front, retaining its funky tone with a pale golden hue.  There existed soft white flowers, caramelized lemon rind, dried fruit leather of apricot flesh and subtly wet pebbles.  I was in awe and bummed at the same time because I had opened the bottle I had no more chances of buying in this vintage.

But that's what it's about.  We must live for today.  What better region to sink your teeth into than Loire Valley.  It's real, it doesn't pretend.  And it most definitely lives up to genuineness.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Distraction: friend or foe

When I was in college, I had the keen ability to focus on my studies like it was nobody's business.  I was in school and worked full time.  I had no social life and was too busy to care of its stance lacking in my life.  No regrets ever surfaced and I was completely fulfilled when I graduated.

Since then, my life has multiplied in layers.  Not only do I maintain a full time work schedule, but being a mother of two is a full time and a half gig on its own.  It's the best job I've ever held but it comes with an expense and I am not only referring to the monetary kind.  I confess to being a worrier and I am constantly thinking of their well being 24-7.  I don't have days off and it will be a position I will hold honorably until I pass.  Even still, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Yet in the midst of my crazed life, I often forget to chill out.  I envy those who find time to read a book in its entirety and practice yoga four times a week as I once did not too long ago.  I definitely contest that one is responsible for his/her own actions and in this case I have myself to blame.

So why the blog title?

I recently had a distraction.  Call it what you wish, but an incident that caused me to slow down and take softer breaths.  I am usually not a fan of distractions as I believe in being focused at all times, but having experienced "a time of reflection", I am thankful.  It reminded me that I am not merely defined by my being my mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a service professional, a friend, etc., but by Linda:  the individual I am that came to be through my life experiences.  I don't want to forget her because then I would be neglecting the dire importance of keeping her soul intact.

So I will search within, each day going forward.  I will pick up that book I've been etching to read, follow the recipe of rose water shortbread cookies, study the grand crus of Burgundy, and forget about the laundry so I could have quality time with my children.

My soul will thank me and as a result I'll probably smile more often.  This in turn will spread the cheer as I do believe smiling is contagious.  Thank you distraction, for this awakening. You've proven to be a friend.  A true one at that.  You're invited to come back at anytime.