What's me-time, to you?

A first blog about heading off Island and getting a little R&R.

My mother still laughs, lightly, at the term me-time, although she now has plenty of it and doesn’t know it.  We were not raised to turn the spotlight on ourselves, and never to become self-absorbed. But it seems, me-time, is a modern day necessity.

For some, it will be a game of golf, tennis, a stroll on the beach or a day at the spa, for others it will be time with friends, or time alone. We are all so unique, me-time, will be different for each of us.  What is it really and how do we deal with it when we get it, this precious resource?

This April vacation I had a very fortunate occasion. I took my family, a husband and three young kids, to my sister’s resort, the West Sonoma Inn, in Sonoma Valley.  My father flew from Ireland to see us all. It was great.  We walked the Armstrong woods with reverence to the sequoias, built driftwood forts at the beach at Goat Rock where the Russian River meets the Pacific; we ate in funky cool restaurants.

A surprise! My father and sister had conspired to give a gift to my husband and I. We were booked into a B&B in Calistoga, Napa Valley for a night alone. We were to go and not return until the following day where a picnic was in order at a friend’s winery.


“Really!” she said.

“You want to mind my kids, overnight?”

“Just go, pack some clothes.”

We waved so hard as we drove out of her driveway, I had to hold my fingers to my lips and kiss them all goodbye. I love my sister. This was going to be great. Things were blurry with excitement.

We drove, from Sonoma to Napa, the sun shone and made the hills and vineyards and huge friendly trees even more beautiful. We came to the quaint little town of Calistoga, a neat tourist town tucked into the hills and surrounded by some name-dropping wines, castle-vineyards and mega ranches.

In our abandonment and lack of planning, we got there way early. We had no idea where we were or what to do. I didn’t really care, I could have sat in the car and just looked at the neat little rows of vines, like three stick candelabras, holding hands, again and again and again. Their buds were beginning to open and I felt like if I waited an hour, just sitting there in the sun, I would see something miraculous. I think this was the point where you detach from your kids, breathe deep, and realize you are whole, not split five different ways, like a vine, but one.

We checked in. We met Ric Pielstick of Chanric Inn, he was tall and too handsome, I couldn’t look him in the eye. He brought us in and showed us around, everything was perfect, the kitchen an open delight for chefs, which it turned out Ric was, a very, very, good one.

He took out a map and began to point to regions we should visit according to our grape preference. I love wine, but have no clue about which blend of grape I enjoy most! Did I mention I had three kids?

In trying to get a better understanding of us and in what direction to send us, he asked, “So, what do you like,” I thought I would have a panic attack, nobody’s ever asked me that. Well maybe they did, but I can’t remember anything much anymore. What do I like? How would I know? I can tell you what my daughters like, love and hate, I could tell anyone about what my son thinks of hockey or spaghetti, but what do I like? Oh boy. Could I call a friend?

“Maybe art, do you like art?” Ric said with a pleasant, caring, warm, look.

“I do,” I thought of all the lovely stick figures and smiley faces on our fridge.

“Great,” he circled Clos Pegase, described as, an intersection of wine and art with a passionate estate-grown winemaking balanced with an openhearted spirit of celebration.

“Great,” my husband said, asking questions and drinking in Ric’s detailed answers.

Did you know the vineyards were mixing themes now? Good idea right! There are historical themes, art exhibits, authentic 12th century Tuscan, winemaking tours of all sorts, just packed with knowledge. Hundreds of different wineries waiting to be explored. How could you choose?

“Do you like champagne?”

“I DOO,”

Bingo. He circled Mumm Napa. So it turns out I like art and champagne. Ric was a pro, in not too long a time he pegged what we would enjoy and to top it all off he pointed out where you could get a beer and the Bruins, game 4! (I know, we are uncultured heathens)

And that is what we did. On the drive to Mumm, my husband explained a few things to me. It must have been obvious I was an amateur me-time person.

“Let yourself be fussed over, feel special, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.”

It was the switching of the hats, so to speak. Ok I got it. I was a queen for a day.  When they poured the wine ever so carefully into the flutes at Mumm, I could feel the imaginary tiara on my head, when the tour guide bent to pick up a bunch of grapes, I thought he would kiss my feet. I got a little carried away, relaxing and enjoying and feeling special, everyone was so nice it just didn’t stop.  I was getting used to it by the sun-kissed minute.

We slept in. We strolled to the garden for coffee. We sat in the flower-filled patio under a shade and beside a fountain, reading the New York Times. Ric and his partner Chan served us a breakfast of kings. It was art/food fusion and I had never (of course) seen or tasted anything like it! In his starched white chefs coat, Chan, presented thinly sliced mango and apple, with proscuitto, toasted walnuts and cherries, with a little of the cherry juice lightly topping this creation. It was fabulous. When he brought out the soufflé, it looked like a chefs hat of spinach and cheese and I don’t know what else but you could not feel it when you ate it, it was not a normal eating experience, you could taste it, but not feel the smooth richness in your mouth. Unforgettable, it was a culinary delight.

By the time we were heading back to Sonoma, my husband was probably hoping I didn’t get to fond of the old me-time. That’s the thing, once you’ve had some precious moments of me-time, once you surrender to the moment and the intent of the experience, to enjoy, enjoy enjoy, that is what it becomes, pure enjoyment. I would of course want more queen time. Thank you Calistoga. Thank you Chanric and thank you sister for the gift of cherished time.

If anyone wants to check out the Chanric Inn for an experience of a lifetime, go to www.Thechanric.com and met Ric, Chan and their funny, beautiful yellow lab, Dinagen. Or www.westsonomainn.com for a great northern Sonoma, Russian River romantic getaway.

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Aisling May 03, 2012 at 06:57 PM
What a beautifully written piece.. it made me want to go there and do the same trip you did. I can nearly smell the wine, and the food from here. You should have lots more me-time, and write about all the places you go to. It will inspire us all to have some more much deserved me-time. Keep up the fab writing.
Ciara Collins May 03, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I want me time after reading your piece. We all should meet ric . It sounds like he knew exactly what you needed.very well written piece. Keep writing and hope you and your husband has lots more of Me Time.
Lara O'Brien May 04, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Thanks Ciara, I hope you can get some time to visit Martha's vineyard! how bout those Caps??
John May 04, 2012 at 01:30 PM
great article I had some 'ME TIME" recently and know what you mean
Alexis May 04, 2012 at 04:52 PM
lovely piece... well written and leaves me wanting more.... so I can read it during my own "Me time"!
Amanda Watson May 05, 2012 at 01:41 AM
You're article made me feel very happy for you and just a little jealous!! As the mother of an almost one year old, "me" time is fairly rare these days.. That's OK, I wouldn't trade it, however, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind an ol mani/ pedi!! Great piece!
Veronica Stack May 05, 2012 at 01:43 AM
What an amazing writer you are. I felt i was sitting in your car, sipping Mumm and eating souffle. You described everything so perfectly. I want me-time now. Loved the piece, can't wait to read some more pieces from you.
Lara O'Brien May 05, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Oh Amanda, I remember well the first year of the first child. It probably seems a distant memory the idea of quality time to yourself. As you can see, it has taken me twelve years to get it! The idea even. So, the lesson I learned was to enjoy what small amount come your way. Next week it's mothers day, carve (as hard as it may be) out the time to go get the mani/pedi open a pinot and love every minute of it!!! . Think Tiara!
Maggie Dempsey May 07, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Wonderful blog! For me - me time is embodied in where we live - here on MV. My place in Chilmark is the perfect little spot, so quiet and wooded. I can begin every day with a cup of tea, listening to the birds and looking out onto the ocean. Its the simple pleasures, even just 20 minutes of me-time in the quiet that gives real meaning to life! Everybody should do well to remember to take their little bits of me-time when they can! :)
Lorin Stevenson May 07, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I absolutely loved this gorgeous piece! Your words made the experience come alive. And kudos to you for taking time for yourself and embracing your inner "queen". We should all wear our "tiaras" more often.


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