“Gail, I like what you write, but it’s missing something…” my friend told me one sunny afternoon.
“I don’t know… Lately, your writing is missing some heart. I mean, they’re good and all, and trust me when I say I like them, and I love the general accuracy of what you write… But you don’t seem to be translating to the page.”
“Elaborate,” I said as I poured her another glass.
“Gail, for as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been sarcastic, and your humour is so dry. I don’t see it as much in your writing.”
Now, if I were any less of, well… Myself, I would have gotten immensely butthurt by her comments. Thankfully, I am pretty picky with friends, and my real friends are pretty much like me: Blunt, honest, loyal, and as kuya puts it, have a propensity to “call a spade a goddamn shovel.”
In a similar spirit of honesty, I confess that this conversation happened years ago over a dining table full of French notes (I was getting tutored in French at the time, something I really need to get back to) in our old high-rise that overlooked everything north of Manila during one rare smog-less afternoon. I didn’t think anything of it. In my mind, I held fast to what I thought made the blog work. Each article is extremely researched, and my litmus test for each one was its ability to teach a reader something. After all, I am an educator by profession (heart might be debatable to people who have seen my brand of snark during some of my lectures), had zero training in writing, and knew that the blog was just a happy accident (i.e., not my bread and butter).
Fast-forward to about four years after this particular conversation and I found myself burned out.
Let nobody get me wrong: I still love this blog (and sit down, naysayers and haters, we’re still gonna keep this going until I say I don’t want to anymore).
I knew, however, that changes needed to happen… And fast.
I tried cutting back on the amount of articles (from twice a week in 2015 to a healthier once a week), got people to contribute and attend events (shoutout, in alphabetical order, to Alex, Chia, Jean, and Judd!), got a self-professed “schedule b*tch” (hi, P!) to manage me… It didn’t work.
A few months ago, I decided to really sit myself down and ask myself the following questions: What is burning me out? Why am I beginning to dread putting up articles?
This “soul-searching” (God, I ate the cheesiness of this term) happened around the time I started exploring different philosophies to manage the anxieties I began to develop because of all this “fear of the unknown.”
Yes, my name is Gail, and I struggle with anxiety.
I realised a couple of things from some of the books I’ve read:
- Life is fluid. Applying this to the site, my initial goals for the blog could, would, should, and are allowed to change according to the phase I’m at in my life. While I am still not willing to let go of its key differentiation (properly researched, educational material), I can, and am allowed to, introduce changes.
- Life is temporary. I have got to do things that make me happy.
I hope I’m stressing this enough: I’m not unhappy with the blog… I just realised I needed to make it work with the things that also make me happy:
- Home – I am a homebody. I like cooking, playing with my dogs (yeah, yeah… I call them Dumb and Dumber, Satan and Flunky, or Murky and Lurky as an homage to my inner 80’s Rainbow Brite loving child, but they do “spark joy”), and just enjoying the house. Don’t get me wrong. I love – and am truly honoured for being invited to – events around the metro, but several days in a week of being consistently out of the house makes me very cranky.
- Being alone – I know it’s such a trendy thing to self-identify as an introvert these days but I really, really am one. I come home after a series of events crashing down from, as P puts it, “people-ing.” I constantly make a joke about wishing I’d wake up the following day after partying the night before with an alcohol hangover instead of a people hangover (not that I don’t get one, I just rarely do), but it is what it is.
- Privacy – I have a major problem putting myself out there. I can do an 8-hour lecture day about alcohol, but I always freak out whenever the conversation turns to me. I hate the idea of posting selfies, I don’t like attention, I hate putting milestones on social media (I did, once upon a time… Until I realised the kind of reach it has, and the concept of keeping screen shots for all eternity).
- Family – Confession: I’ve only found my support system during the last few years. I’ve also come to understand that family isn’t necessarily the people you are born into (at the risk of over-inflating his head, let it be known that I really love my younger brother) or married into (though I’m the first to say that my sister-in-law is a bad*ss). Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond one’s control (or the way I see it, God’s blessing), one’s real family is the one they choose. I’m deeply and truly grateful for my circumstances and the family I’ve been adopted into.
- Wine – It’s still my forte. Much as I love writing about spirits (and honestly, the spirits calendar from the blog is quite long), I really and truly miss writing about wine. Thing is, when I looked back on my favourite moments with wine, I realised that they weren’t in a restaurant with a bunch of people… It was at home with one (or two) friends over intellectual conversations, a pichon in a café somewhere I was left alone with a book (or a killer view of the Seine), a carafe in a place where nobody paid attention to me (with a delicious meal to match), a cellar halfway around the world, or killing a couple of glasses while watching TV – alone or with Chad – after a long day.
Which brings me to my so-called “epiphany”: I decided to dedicate one section in the blog for, well… Me. My home. My family.
And the wine that we drink.
To manage people’s expectations, here’s the format of this section that I call “From the 2 Shots Cellar”:
- It won’t be a regular thing, so I can use whatever time I have spared within the week for myself and my family and not chase another deadline.
- It will only talk about wine (and maybe the occasional spirit, just because Chad and kuya are whisky-philes) that we consume inside our house, sponsored or unsponsored.
- The wine (or spirit) won’t necessarily be pricey or affordable; it just has to mean something to my family and me.
- It will talk about some technical aspects of the wine (country of origin, label design, personal tasting notes, or whatever it is I find intriguing about it).
- It will be personal. Yes, it took me six years to get here, but just as I respect everyone’s journey, I hope people reading this would respect mine. It will, badly put, talk about my life at the moment, and the wine (or spirit!) discussed would be complimentary. Most likely, I’ll be plugging in excerpts from conversations I’d have because honestly, the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with are fascinating (P alone has fantastic zingers when she’s livid!).
With that in mind, I gravitate towards the beginning of this article, the discussion over French notes one sunny afternoon in my head. My thoughts are filled with proper French rosé. Top of mind for this is one that I had a couple of months ago, which I bought from my last trip to Paris (PS, a succeeding trip to France is calling my soul). As another French friend (with a degree in oenology) and I discussed, the Bandol style is unique in that it has potential for ageing (versus the very light Provence style). It’s slightly richer, but not as rich as a Rosado (a specialty in Navarra), which makes it perfect for both drinking alone, or with cold cuts… Definitely during a hot day.
I know this was a long read, and if anyone’s still here, I’m truly grateful. Here’s to a brand new journey. Cheers!
For me, and my wonderful family