Archive for the ‘Editorial Thoughts’ Category

A Year on the Road

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

As this article publishes, my home is probably empty or nearly empty. Today is the day that the movers come and take everything to storage.

Storage?

Yes, you read that correctly. In 2019 my husband and I were supposed to determine where we wanted to live in the coming years. Although New Hampshire has been a wonderful home for us, we decided it was time for us to live somewhere new. The reasons for this are multiple. First, we are empty nesters. None of our children live here nor plan to live here after college. Second, we own racehorses, who run in many locations but not in New Hampshire (or New England for that matter). Third, I’ve lived in New Hampshire since I was in third grade, and I’m ready to live somewhere else.

However, in 2019 we didn’t figure out where we wanted to live. We spent a month in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and enjoyed that. We spent a week in Saratoga Springs, New York, and enjoyed that as well. We still weren’t sure. So, last summer I suggested that in January we put everything in storage and spent multiple months in a few locations.

And here we are.

Some of our locations will be based around our horses. Our first stop is once again Hot Springs, Arkansas. Our summer will be spent in Lexington, Kentucky. The end of the year is still up for debate. We’re considering one other horse location for half of it and a wine location for the other half. There are so many options.

All of this is, like many life changes, bittersweet. I’m utterly excited to spend the year exploring new places and figuring out what works well for us. I’m also excited to be doing this with my husband; he really is a great travel partner (once the long car ride is done). I’m also a little sad. I’ll be leaving friends, who are so very dear. I also know that come end of semester I will truly be an empty nester. Yes, we’ve lived that role for almost four years now, but this time no one will come home for the summer. My time of a being parent of a child at home is fully done. However, since they’re spreading their wings and starting their careers, it’s exciting also.

As I sit in my home and look at the boxes and piles of to-be-packed items, I know how fortunate I am. To be able to take on this journey, due to the jobs we have, is amazing. With much gratitude, a lot of excitement and a small lump in my throat, I’m ready to take on this big adventure.

Christmas Reflections

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Christmas may be my favorite holiday. What I love about it is all of the excitement and joy the season can bring. However, as an empty nester, I have wondered how the holiday season would be.

This is a topic my husband and I discussed in December. Is Christmas as joyful when you don’t have young children anymore? We haven’t had young children in quite some time, but as all of ours are basically on their own now, we pondered Christmas with adult children.

I understand on a basic level that some of the magic has changed. No longer are we writing letters to Santa, reading holiday books at bedtime, or decorating cookies to be set out on Christmas Eve. However, there are new things to experience with our adult children.

There still are stockings and presents to start our Christmas Day. Then there are new things, such as games played with much laughter during the afternoon. Instead of a bedtime story, there’s a special cocktail had in front of the tree while we sit together and talk.

No, these aren’t the Christmas joys of younger children, but they’re still joys had with family. That’s what makes it magical: time together.

I know that at some point in the future both distance and schedules may make celebrating Christmas together a difficult task. I won’t despair. I’ll just need to find a new way to keep the magic alive.

With creativity and thoughtfulness, my hope is to always have magic at Christmas no matter where, when, or how we celebrate.

Merry Christmas, Dan

Thursday, December 19th, 2019
Excuse the late 80s hair, please

Dan,

“Because I miss you most at Christmastime,” sang Mariah Carey.

I’m sure you’d love the fact that I’m starting a letter to you with a song from Mariah Carey. I can hear your laugh and see you roll your eyes. Maybe that makes it a little easier to write.

This is the fourth Christmas we’ll celebrate without you, but it’s the first Christmas letter I’ve written to you. In 2016 I added an event to my calendar, “Christmas Eve letter to Dan”. For the last three years I’ve watched the event approach and pass by.

The first year my feelings were just too raw. My heart ached and my eyes welled at the thought of you. My goal for that Christmas was to make sure that there was as much joy as possible for all of our family. With that task in hand, I just couldn’t write.

In 2017 and 2018 I didn’t write again. My feelings were less raw, but I was afraid. If I wrote this letter to you, would all the pain and hurt return? In hindsight it was a silly sentiment. Although the emotions aren’t so raw, the hurt never goes away. 

As Christmas approaches, I think about memories we shared from the holidays. I like to remember you as you really were (as we all are)- imperfect and lovable all in one package.

There couldn’t be Christmas shopping without a text from you needing clothing sizes for my kids– in about two minutes because you were leaving that store soon. It wouldn’t be December if I didn’t hear you quote Clark Griswold’s entire speech from the party scene of Christmas Vacation. Christmas wouldn’t be the day it was without you either (A) arriving late or (B) hosting but being in the shower when everyone arrived. Baking wasn’t complete until you texted for a fifth (sixth) time asking for the sugar cookie recipe. Again, needed right about that moment. Above all of that I remember planning with you when we’d see each other because it wouldn’t feel like Christmas if we weren’t together.

So, here I am, days away from Christmas writing to you. For a fourth year you won’t be there at Christmas. No last minute texts or Clark Griwold quotes. I know I was fortunate to have spent 41 Christmases with you, but if I can be greedy, it wasn’t enough. I really thought we’d have many, many more.

And although I started with Ms. Carey’s song, the truth is I don’t miss you most at Christmastime. I just miss you.

Yes, I’ll Take the Wine List

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Before we get to the wine list part of this post, I’m going to start with a few fun facts. When I am working on an article, I do my writing on one day, and I do my editing a day or two later. That time away from my writing allows me to edit better. It also gives me time to reflect on what I’ve written.

So, when I wrote this article last week, I took a non-confrontational approach. I shared my thoughts on being a woman with a wine list and then kindly asked others to respect the fact that if a woman orders the wine, she also gets to be presented with the wine. I thought about this post for an extra day, delaying my editing. Something wasn’t sitting well with me. So, below is my edited post on women and the wine list, and I’m not quite so passive.


I’ve been on this wine education journey for a couple years now. Although I have been enjoying wine for longer than that, I began to take wine fairly seriously two years ago. Part of the reason for this newfound interest was a trip to Napa.

After a week spent in the Bay Area for work, my husband and I headed to Napa for a couple days of goofing off. One of the stops was at the RARECAT winery in Saint Helena. A childhood friend of mine worked there and provided us with the most wonderful afternoon of touring and tasting. While there I learned more about the founder, Sharon Kazan Harris, and became intrigued with wine and all there was to learn.

In addition to making fabulous wines, Sharon runs a program called Take Back the Wine List. It’s an educational program that teaches women about wine. So often at corporate dinners, one of the men at the table is given the wine list. The goal of this program is for women to be knowledgeable enough in wine that they can ask the wine list be given to them. As a female, who is used to being in the minority and possibly not heard, I loved this concept.

Between this inspiration and my love of wine and food, I decided to work on Wine Spirit and Education Trust certifications over the past couple years. As such, I now have greater wine knowledge than my husband. So, when we are out, I order the wine. I don’t say this to brag, it’s simply a matter of fact.

Recently, we were at a nice dining establishment in Boston, and the wine list was placed in the middle of the table. I took the list, chose a bottle, and placed the order when the waiter arrived.

So far, so good.

When the waiter returned with our bottle, he presented the label to my husband, who nodded. (Side note: I did mention to my husband that he could have redirected the waiter.) The waiter then poured a taste in my husband’s glass and asked for confirmation.

So far, not so good.

I’m not good with confrontation, so I didn’t correct the waiter. I just felt like I’d be perceived as rude, but I was unhappy that he didn’t present the wine to me. I reviewed the wine list. I placed the order. I should have been presented the bottle and the tasting.

I should have said something. I wouldn’t have been rude; I simply would be correcting the situation. I ordered the wine, so I should have been tasting it. I know better than to just sit and let things happen.

In so many roles I have been overlooked. I’ve been told by a male presenter that I “should take a seat”. He didn’t need a moderator in a breakout session. I’ve been introduced to a committee as the wife of Mr. Kuegler, when I’m Michele Pesula Kuegler, who’s good enough to be introduced by her name alone. Sometimes it simply is that I’m only 5’3″, and I am literally overlooked. None of these things are acceptable.

Deep breath.

Look, there are many times when I’m seen and heard, and for that I’m grateful. But when it’s something as simple as ordering a bottle of wine, present the bottle to me. I’ll let you know if it’s good.

Thank You for Being My Friend

Monday, November 25th, 2019

It’s Thanksgiving week, so what should my personal blog be about besides gratitude? I know this isn’t a unique topic. I’m sure almost everyone with a blog or social media outlet will opine about being thankful this week. However, I don’t write this blog for metrics; I write it as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. It just so happens that an event from last week made me reflect on gratitude.

Last Tuesday I received a text from a very dear friend, who’s really more like a sister, that her brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. I immediately sent my condolences and offered to do whatever she and her husband needed. She said they were fine at the moment.

On Wednesday evening I received a text, asking if I could drive them to the airport on Thursday morning. I said I could do that and then asked which airport. She replied that it was Manchester, which is only fifteen minutes from their house.

Thursday morning, as we approached the airport, her husband commented, “Isn’t this better than Boston? You said yes before you knew where we were flying. That’s a good friend.”

I smiled and replied, “If it were Boston, I wouldn’t have minded.”

And I wouldn’t have because that’s what good friends do. They are there for each other, and certainly in this particular relationship we have been through thick and thin. I can remember vividly a day when I called my friend, sobbing. She took the day off from work, drove to my house, and spent the day with me. She wiped my tears, made me laugh, and helped me pull myself up by my bootstraps. She didn’t ask for thanks. She didn’t remind me what a big thing she did. She just did it.

So, when she texted me this past Wednesday, the reply wasn’t, “What airport?” It simply was, “Yes.” If she had said Boston, Providence, New York City, I would have driven them there.

I realize not every friendship is like this. Some of us just are very fortunate and work to have a relationship like this. So, very fittingly this week, I am grateful to have a friend this dear.

Thank you for being my friend.

Give Yourself a Push

Monday, November 11th, 2019

If you know me well, you know that working out is central to my being. Monday through Saturday you’ll find me at the gym in the morning. If travel or work interferes with this, it’s certain that I’ll do that workout in the evening or add one on Sunday morning. Working out keeps me centered, makes me feel good in general.

As I mentioned a while ago, I also try to attend yoga once a week. There’s a 5:30 pm class at my local YMCA, which fits nicely into my schedule. It’s a the end of the normal workday; we’re more than halfway through the workweek; I like the instructor who runs the class. Additionally, the Y is near my husband’s office, so he’ll workout, and we’ll meet after my class for dinner on the town.

However, there are those weeks where I debate whether I should attend, especially with the time change. Now, when I head to the Y it’s already dark outside. And cold. Why leave my cozy home office to go into the cold New Hampshire night?

Then there’s also the tricky part of yoga. Although I’m a fit person, I find yoga to be my most challenging workout. It’s not the stretching, bending, or attaining certain poses that troubles me. Nope, it’s the mental aspect. I try to focus on what my body feels or finding an inner zen, but for a majority of the class I am thinking about the never-ending checklists of life. When I realize that, I redirect my mind to the zen I’m seeking. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So, between the cold, the dark, and the challenging mental part of yoga, I often think about texting my husband that I’m not going. Then I think about it- what good would it do me to stay home? I’m not going to get anything done. I’m going to be lazy.

With those thoughts in mind, I get myself ready for yoga class. Of course, this determination doesn’t create a miraculous yoga class. It’s not like I show up and suddenly the skies clear and I’m able to focus only on yoga. No, not at all. However, as class ends, I feel pretty darn good. I got a great stretch; I worked on my focus. I was productive.

The moral of this story is pretty simple: Sometimes it’s good to push yourself. The thing you dread/avoid could be that which makes you feel accomplished.