Friday, May 28, 2010

Lessons Learned from...A glass of wine

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love wine, vin, vino. Yet, to call me an oenophile would not be accurate. The way a wine drinker approaches wine can be revealing. Wine is something that draws innocents towards snobbery and influences moderates towards over-consumption. There is so much to learn about wine that knowing even the tiniest bit enables us to pass ourselves off as experts in certain company. I am no expert, but I do know this:
  1. Wine reminds us of the fruits of hard work. Wine is a living thing. It takes work to make and years until its ready (well, sometimes). Just as a glass of wine is influenced by it's environment, people need to be constantly responding, anticipating and evolving in order to stay relevant.
  2. Wines attunes us to the joys of moderation. Wine makes you feel good...if you drink in moderation. It's deliciously yummy until you've had too much. A professor of mine once said that our weaknesses are our strengths overdone. I contemplate this as I bashfully enjoy my third glass of Shiraz.
  3. Wine shows us the beauty in relationships. Food and wine have the ultimate relationship. They are definitely better together, but can easily be enjoyed apart. Wine also brings people together. Whether to show off your wine knowledge or just get a bit tipsy together, raising a glass with a friend is the ultimate wine pairing.

What more reason do we need to drink? Cheers.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lessons Learned from...Not learning a lesson the first time

Anne Shirley has a saying that my dad loves: "never make the same mistake twice". If I could abide by this mantra, I would consider myself successful indeed. But despite constant attention and best intentions, I often find myself replicating a mistake over and over. Granted, I may learn something new each time, but at a certain point I just want to learn the damn lesson and close the case. Life doesn't seem to work like that. Perhaps some lessons are harder to learn; perhaps we spend our whole lives learning them.

I am a morning person: I see mornings as an opportunity to start over. The mistakes of yesterday no longer hold as much consequence; hopefully we have been able to transform them into lessons for today. With each setting and rising of the sun we get a chance to begin anew - yesterday's mistakes made, yesterday's lessons learned.

Ultimately, I believe it is about respect and love.
Respecting and loving the many gifts from above: gifts of people (relationships), gifts of experiences, gifts of the physical world. Enjoyment of these blessings can so easily spill from joyful abundance to over consumption. Proper respect and love can safeguard against this spillage.
Respecting yourself enough to give yourself the tools and will power to succeed, but also loving yourself when you don't succeed - and allowing yourself the opportunity for a second (or third, or forth, or fifth) chance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lessons Learned from...The Biggest Loser

So I am not normally an avid consumer of reality TV. However, I must confess that NBC's The Biggest Loser inspires me. I get excited by the prospect of taking control of your life. What more tangible example is there of making your life better than shedding hundreds of pounds, adding years to your life expectancy, and gaining energy you never knew you had plus perspective you thought you lost?

Lately the question "if you knew you could ___, wouldn't you?" has been perplexing me. Insert whatever you wish for ___: prevent cancer, live longer, be happier. If we knew we could do these things by making changes to our daily lives, wouldn't we? No. Human nature illustrates that we would not necessarily make the required changes. People constantly eat the wrong things, drink too much, watch copious amounts of TV, snap at their children and behave nastily towards their friends. I do understand that we all have momentary lapses when we overeat or say things we don't mean. But often I realize I'm doing something wrong while I'm doing it AND I KEEP DOING IT. As my husband recently reminded me, that is the very definition of being an idiot (thanks, darling...I love you too!).

Well, thanks to The Biggest Loser I am going to be an idiot no longer. If the contestants on this show can make such monumental changes to the way they live, surely I can make the relatively microscopic ones that my life requires. My first adjustment is to eat more slowly. I have constant issues with digestion and I have repeatedly been told that if I eat slowly and chew my food, I could likely resolve these issues. So if I knew I could, why wouldn't I?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lessons Learned from...Donkeys

I recently visited The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, a place where donkeys who have been abused, abandoned or neglected can go for refuge and a happy life. Apart from being touched by the attentive care provided by volunteers and restrained excitement of visiting children, I felt I had a lot to learn from the donkeys themselves.

Donkeys are humble. Donkeys have a bad rap. They're famous for being stubborn and synonymously known as an ass. Yet, donkeys don't behave in hierarchies and find pleasures in simple things like lining up for a carrot. It was from donkeys that the whole 'carrot and stick' incentive concept was developed.

Donkeys are gentle. Seeing my 16-month-old niece pet the donkeys' mangled fur, I realized that if I had children poking and prodding at me all day, I wouldn't just stand there and enjoy it. I'd find something to complain about and probably end up kicking a child. But not donkeys. They stood there and found pleasure in sweaty little palms rubbing them down.

Donkeys are hardworking. It was a donkey who carried Jesus Christ both to his birth in Bethlehem and to his death on Palm Sunday. Did the donkey break down when there was no room in the inn? No. Did the donkey buckle beneath Jesus's weight on the way to Jerusalem (even though he had never been ridden before)? No.

Perhaps donkeys aren't so lowly after all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Getting a Starting Point

One of my dad's favourite sayings is "get a starting point and go from there". So this post is my starting point. And I have no idea where I'm going. But I hope this blog helps.*

Since no experience is a waste if you learn something from it, I've decided to turn the wasteland of my life into sometime valuable by chronicling my Lessons Learned. Yes, I think there are worthwhile lessons in everything, from messing up a batch of cookies to having a disastrous argument with your friend or partner. I intent to document at least one a week.

Reading is also a fundamental part of personal growth. As much as I learn from my own experiences, I also learn from other people, often through words they have written. So I want to include excerpts from novelists, poets, dramatists, thinkers and soothsayers that have said something which appeals to me.

With the help of numerous discussions with friends and family, I've recently been trying assemble the criteria for an interesting person. So far we think that someone is interesting based on their ideas, experiences and relationships plus their ability to tell a story and constantly surprise.

I hope you find this blog interesting.

(*Yes, this blog is selfishly for personal growth. No, I don't think what I have to say will be particularly fascinating for anyone else. Indeed, I am appalled by the number of idiots who think they are writers just because they have a blog. Alas, I am ready to join their ranks.)