Greetings everyone and happy holidays. As I write this today, a matter of days before the close of 2016, I find myself overwhelmed with gratefulness. "My heart is full". I have seen people use that expression and wondered what exactly they meant and was admittedly suspicious of their motives. Were they saying it because they thought they were supposed to? Because they had fulfilled some sort pre-destined future for themselves and as such, had internalized what it was supposed to feel like? Or was I projecting? There is always so much happening that we don't share, even with the closest members of our tribe (sometimes especially), even with our therapist who is allegedly confidential and even if we are an extrovert. Then there is social media, where we portray our lives and our humanity as a stylized piece of art, and hope the reality will follow. As I write today, I am in the most sincere place of gratitude. My heart is full and I want to tell you about it.
I have some news.
In September, I began an on-line prep course to study for the CSW exam. Depending on your professional circle, those letters could mean very different things. For this context, I am referring to the Certified Specialist of Wine exam, developed by The Society of Wine Educators. In essence, a certification which signifies that a person has taken it upon themselves to seriously study wine. As in the history, the geography, the grapes, the terroir and more. I have been piecing together my tapestry of wine knowledge for many years now, and this was the moment to give it some structure, like a well aged Bordeaux. And that is what happened. I followed the lead of our vivacious expert, Jane Nickles. Also known as The Bubbly Professor, and she is! She is also a very good teacher. She laid out an organized course with many resources for the candidates. I loved every minute of her courses. My only challenge was having a full-time job and all the other business of being a human. I followed the plan, availed myself of the materials and guess what happened? I passed! As of Saturday December 17, 2016, I am a CSW! Once more for posterity, Certified Specialist Of Wine.
But wait, there's more!
Several months ago, I learned about an opportunity for a wine writing fellowship. The Wine Writers Symposium, to commence in February in Napa, is a chance for writers to come together, explore topics, network, receive coaching and education. Though I felt uncertain about my actual chances, I met the qualifications. I was compelled to at least attempt. Here is an excerpt from my cover letter:
I have traveled a long windy road through a career in Higher Education and non-profit work, across the country, only to return to the roots. I am proud of the career I have built and also feel ready to train and flex different muscles. I have been a life long writer, enjoying all manner of writing from poetry and plays when I was younger, to memoir, fiction and now the blog and wine travel writing. In my profession, I write from a scholar-practitioner framework for varying purposes: policies, conference proposals, campus documents, the website, newsletters, flyers, presentations and of course, our mainstay of communication, e-mail. Writing about wine has been like summer vacation for me, even in winter. I love it. It blends two of my passions like a new world meritage, reinvigorating my writing, while bringing wine to the party.
Like a predictable and romantic Hollywood script, you may have guessed by now where this is going. I got in! I am a 2017 Fellow with The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. I am humbled beyond belief. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the other fellows via the wine blogging community and know just how talented they all are. And the professionals we will have audience with are a force. I will be in tremendous company.
I share all of this good news in contrast with the irrefutable fact that life is topsy-turvy. Every week-day morning at 6:20 am, when that unwelcome alarm disrupts my repose, or even those mornings when my anxiety racked mind stirs me an hour before the alarm is to go off (why is it ALWAYS an hour before?!), I have to actively resist resentment. I choose gratitude for my great job, wonderful partner, comfortable home, able body, community of support and the knowledge that at some point after a long day, I can, if I feel so inclined, sip on some delicious wine. And so I circle back to what I started with. My heart is full. I want to thank all of my family and friends who have supported and encouraged me. I really like this quote, which somewhat sums up the purpose of my offering here today.
“Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful.” - L.R. Knost
Happy Holidays To All and Here's to a Magical 2017!