A few months ago I spent a long weekend in Yountville at swanky Bardessono. Wine tasting and gourmet meals topped off by a night in San Francisco featuring dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Slanted Door.
Wine country visits mean wine tasting. Because, Napa Valley. I drank a couple of glasses each day. I even bought wine. It seemed logical at the time—support the producers! But here’s the thing. Wine broke up with me a while ago. I did not want to accept it. I would not listen to wine. I wanted us to stay together. We were so good! I grew up Catholic and I’m Irish; I was practically baptized in wine. “Meet for a glass of wine”, dinner alone with a glass of wine…bring a bottle of wine, can you get the wine? Wine at a picnic, a bottle in front of the fire, long paired dinners, big easy parties. Once I grew out of Miller High Life, I grew right into wine and stayed in that cozy relationship for decades.
Stubborn about the message wine was giving me (we’re through) I stuck to Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand at home (fresh and clean!), ignoring the very obvious symptoms I experienced almost every night. Lately I’d been better. I almost felt good enough to risk it with the Napa Valley wines. Or more accurately, I was determined to overrule my own body by having the social experience I’d planned.
Bad choice. I wrecked my trip. I didn’t even enjoy the final day in Yountville (though I blithely ignored my symptoms and treated them by drinking yet more wine). By the time I got to San Francisco I felt horrible. I was so sick that I didn’t enjoy a single bite of the dinner at Slanted Door. It took me a week to recover and a month to get back to normal.
I teach people how to listen to themselves to clear blocks and get right in their lives and bellies. Yet I was not listening. I did not want wine to be on my naughty list.
After that trip, I gave up wine completely. I would have enjoyed every minute of my time in Napa if I had abstained from wine and simply had a single perfect margarita every evening. I would have enjoyed my long planned dinner at the Slanted Door. I would not have had a week from hell on returning home. The mood swings alone are awful, but combined with belly discomfort, a ruined appetite and a sense of being burned from the inside, well, it’s too much to pay for a weekend of wine. My yoga practice was a mess for several weeks after that trip, and I really hate it when that happens. Yoga’s my main buoy.
I haven’t been back to San Francisco yet, but a few months after the trip I tried eating a piece of bread from Great Harvest Bakery. Grains are my bête noire; it was a big test. The simple joy of eating a piece of toast washed over me. I knew that I was able to eat the toast because I’d finally accepted my lot—no wine.
I savored the crunch of the toasty exterior giving way to the squishy soft middle and the melted butter taste. Tears sprang to my eyes as I bit down. I felt safe; I knew the bread was okay. I ate it ravenously, imagining making the bread into avocado toast or a fresh tomato sandwich. After five years of agonizing illness, I was healing. A rush of powerful happy energy surged through me.
I don’t’ even miss wine anymore. I would be thrilled to be invited back to Yountville and I would cheerfully decline every sip of wine. Feeling good is more important.
This is a learning that appears simple, but can take a lifetime to internalize and refine. Our minds and our habits guide our choices, we override the brilliance of our bodies. Don’t do that. Listen in.