The last two months have been a bit of a whirlwind with two trips to Italy in a month and a half, a job layoff, and now figuring out what to do next in my life. Well, I find myself with some time so might as well write…right? After returning from Italy after my first trip which consisted of judging at 5 star wines, then the organized chaos of Vinitaly, I discovered that my hours and wage would be cut at my full time job as store manager and wine buyer. Clearly, it’s much more complicated than that, but after further conversation, I discovered that those who invested in the store didn’t want me there anymore. Decision made: take the layoff. Off to Italy again, just two weeks ago, with a chance to learn further with the larger-than-life Ian D’Agata. And learn I did. After a flurry of three day learning, I came away with the 3iC Educator designation (3iC stands for Italian Indigenous international), which is D’Agata’s new school). I had to come back to three more slightly awkward days at the store knowing I was done, but not trying to make it awkward for the customers either.
Yesterday was the final day in the store with the completion of the Spring Open House – one of three large store events I always plan and execute every year at the store. It was bittersweet. Now, I’m officially done, going my own way, or not sure which way I’m going. Summer might be a time of relaxation and reflection as I contemplate my next moves.
I always seem to have some sort of excuse as to why I can’t (or don’t write). I guess I have no excuse now, rather all the time in the world to learn and experience new things and in time, hopefully find the next great thing.
As I write, my daughter sits next to me on her computer studying, as she is in her last year of University studying to be a nurse. She is not taking a break, but going straight though the summer in order to finish by Christmas. Brave she is. So her tenacity is inspiring me to write this post and get it out there before it becomes older than me.
What I will miss most is tasting new product and getting my hands on some of the new Italian native grapes that have made their way into wine bottles and into the market. I have great working relationships with all the reps with whom I bought from, so I know that if I ask them to taste something new, they will accommodate me. I’ll miss the camaraderie with my customers and showing them what’s new and unique. But I will forge new customer relationships and that is always exciting!
Many of my readers are not religious or spiritual (and that’s ok!) but I am, and I get great inspiration from the Bible, along with some very great verses (think of them as quotes). There’s two books of the Bible that are named after women – Esther and Ruth. Ruth is the story of a daughter-in-law who makes a decision not to leave her mother-in-law, even though by every accounts she could. They stay together and Ruth ends up marrying a guy named Boaz and becoming the grandmother of the Great King David. I love both of these books, but my favourite is Esther:
Esther, the young Jewish girl originally named Hadassah, who on her Uncle Mordecai’s advice, presents herself as one of the thousands of young virgins to be considered as the next wife to the very powerful King Xerxes of Persia. Mordecai was raising Esther since both her parents had died. As Mordecai is encouraging in this venture, he also advised that she not say anything about being Jewish. Esther was very beautiful and decided against many of the beauty treatments that the other girls were getting. In fact, the dude in charge of the harem was rather fond of Esther and when she asked him for suggestions on how she should present herself to the King, she listened. When it was her turn to meet the King, he was “so delighted with her”, he put the crown on her head and declared her queen. Long live Queen Esther.
Meanwhile, Mordecai was watching from the outside, to keep an eye on Esther and make sure everything was ok. He even uncovered an assassination attempt on Xerxes, reported to Esther who in turn let the king know what was going on. Mordecai was made to be a hero and acknowledged as such. This didn’t make Haman, a very high official in Xerxes court very happy. In fact, Haman hated Jews, and made it his mission to eliminate them at every turn. He liked being in a position of power, and quite frankly, abused that power. Haman devised a plan to get rid of the Jews, and take all their money (which would allow him to get rid of Mordecai too) and went to the king with his plan. The King, of course, agreed, because they always leave decisions to their high ranking officials right? But of course the King didn’t even realize his own wife was a Jew. This was not good…Esther’s people annhilated and slaughtered? What could she do? Mordecai came to her with this dilemma and told her as queen, she needed to go to the king, beg for mercy and plead for the people. But her dilemma: If she approached the king without being summoned or invited, she’d be killed. Whoa…that’s harsh. But perhaps one of my favourite verses (quotes) of the Bible is Mordecai’s reply to Esther saying she could die by approaching the king:
Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all the other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?– Esther 4: 14 (New Living Translation)
For such a time as this. Powerful words that mean something. When one door closes, another opens, when a door closes, a window opens, a gate opens…whatever you want to say, it’s true. There’s always something around the next corner, and I heard this week too, that sometimes it’s important to wait for things to come to you, rather than go looking for things. I’m talented, I’m educated and I know a lot about wine. I’m also personable and friendly. Such a time as this…I don’t know what that necessarily means right now, but I’m willing to wait and find out. I’ve had a whole lot of great affirmation from people I’ve worked with from in the industry and taking the summer off would not be a bad thing! I’ll still write, pour, taste, judge…keep my palate attuned! It would be easy (and still is sometimes) to get down on myself and feel sorry for myself. I mean, I thought I’d end my career at this store…I wasn’t looking for anything else.
Plus to add to all that, in 9 days…I turn 50! Ack! As much as I try to avoid it, it’s going to happen, so I’ve decided to embrace it and celebrate…with some good wine and good friends!
Oh by the way, waiting for the rest of the story? After some time to think and pray, Esther forgets that she could potentionally be walking to her death, rather presents herself to King Xerxes. He’s pretty smitten with her, so he holds out his sceptre (which means she won’t be killed). He asks what she wants, and instead of coming right out to say what she wants, she has developed a plan: serve food and wine to both the king and Haman, THEN tell the king about her heritage! (There’s just something about food and wine, right?) She does this for not one night, but two. On night two, she lays it all on the line and tells the King to PLEASE not kill her or her people. Xerxes is puzzled and can’t help but ask who would even want to do such a thing! She replies that the wicked Haman (who turns completely white when he hears this news) is to blame, and in a rage, the king takes a moment in the garden to think and compose himself. Haman, trying to defend himself, sits next to Esther on the couch to beg and plead for his life. Well, that was a mistake, because when the king returned to find Haman on the couch next to his wife, he lost it. Haman was killed, the Jews were spared, Mordecai was honoured, and the Jews celebrated with a feast (more food and wine!) Esther’s name would go down in history! (all paraphrasing in the story is mine, but taken from the book of Esther in the Bible)
For such a time as this…meaning everything happens for a reason. If I never believed it before, I totally do now. Here’s to the next great thing! Salute!
(NOTE: There have been some movies made and novels written about Queen Esther. If you’re curious, check out your local library)
Great blog Marcia. I’m certain your sommelier expertise and credentials will be appreciated and welcomed by others in the hospitality and wine retail community. Best of luck!
Thanks so much Joe! And thanks for following the blog! See you soon!