Cheryl Koshuta

Aware Life, Midlife, Good Life

Living with Zest and Deliberation


Hidden Gem: Wine Tasting in Livermore

One of the advantages of my new flexible schedule is the ability to travel on short notice. When friends of mine who live in Livermore, CA suggested a weekend of wine tasting to celebrate Spring, I jumped at the chance. Livermore is not very far east of San Francisco and is mostly known as being the site of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. If you go, you can fly to San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose and still have a reasonable drive of an hour or less to Livermore.

I say it’s a hidden gem since most people gravitate to the big name areas of Napa and Sonoma to the north. There are some big name wineries in Livermore,too, but also many smaller or emerging ones. As always, there are wineries making ‘okay’ wines, but I’m going to tell you about three wineries that are making dynamite wines.


3 Reasons to be Careful What you Wish For

About three months ago, I decided to self-publish the novel I’ve been working on (and trying to sell the traditional way) since 2006. I chose a publisher, Abbott Press, and started the process. Which meant that I needed to read the whole book yet one more time before sending it to them for editing. 

I’d been writing/reading the darn thing for six years and knew it would be a massive commitment of time–and patience– to read and edit it yet again. I was working 60 hours a week with a lot of time on the road at my regular job–the writing was always something I did on the weekends when I could find time. 

So I really, really, really wished I had a block of time to get at the book without having to use my precious vacation hours.

So why should you be careful what you wish for?

1. You might get it and it will not be good.

2. You might get it and it will be good.

3. You might not get it and you will be disappointed.

Well, the third one didn’t happen to me. I did get my wish. Was it good or not good? Both!

It was not good because I was laid off unexpectedly and so now have to deal with finding a way to make some money. But it was good because I got my block of time. So be careful what you wish for! 

My April musings about beginnings have new meaning now. And to illustrate just how beautiful new beginnings can be, here is a shot of the tulips in front of my house–their first year blooming!

I’ll keep you posted on the publishing journey!


What is Tomb Sweeping Day and why should I care?

Yesterday was Tomb Sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese holiday known as the Qingming Festival. I’m not Chinese and I only know about this day because it was identified on the calendar that hangs on my wall. I started thinking about it in terms of ‘new beginnings’ though and it fits in a weird way.

The festival is a combination of sadness and happiness.  It’s a time to honor our past relatives by cleaning their tombs and paying respect with offerings.  I’m thinking it is maybe like our Memorial Day. When I was growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, Memorial Day started with a parade (fun) to the cemetery where long speeches were given (not fun). At the cemetery, all families made sure the grass was mown and fresh flowers placed on the graves of family members. If a grave seemed untended, neighbors would just chip in and fix it up. And then after that, it was all picnics and playing and looking forward to the summer of no school. Everybody in town was religious, it seemed, and the cemetery was divided by iron fences into areas associated with the different churches.  Mine was Greek Catholic and so this little chapel building at the cemetery really stood out with its different cross.


As it turns to springtime now, with summer’s promise still a ways off, Tomb Sweeping Day may be a good metaphor for our own lives. Is it time to sweep away some old grudge, bad habit or toxic relationship? Is it time to start fresh with a celebration of the change of season, fresh tulips in a vase, a new outlook or outfit?

Spring is traditionally a time of renewal.  Take a moment and reflect on what bad spirits are holding you back that need to be swept away. What flower might you bloom into if given the opportunity–or taking it? What will be different in your life next year at this time and how can you embrace that change?

When’s the last time you went to a cemetery? I like to visit them when I travel–they reveal so much about a place.  One of my favorites was a cemetery in Austria where many of the graves had coiled ropes and ice axes on the tombstones–for the men who died climbing. If you go to the one in my photo, you will see the Eastern European heritage of the town in the unpronounceable last names on the tombs. You can go to the one in DC where J. Edgar Hoover and many of his famous contemporaries are buried and the local people use it as a dog park.  Visit a cemetery near you this weekend and realize how rich the culture is around you. And realize how fleeting our lives are and how important it is not to waste a day of them on things that aren’t important. Then share your thoughts or photos.

And remember, sweep away the ghosts of the past, respect those who came before you, and then move on to make the most of tomorrow by having some fun.

It’s a great day to start a blog!

I recently got a “new beginnings” lotus necklace as a gift. It’s beautiful and perfect (even as I wonder if the term is redundant). I love new beginnings even when they are scary. Starting this blog is a new beginning. Self-publishing my novel in a few months is a new beginning. Dating after the end of a relationship is a new beginning. Changing jobs or careers is a new beginning. If we get right down to it, every day is a new beginning.  And how often do we appreciate that?

Think about what you do every day without even thinking about it. There are the mundane choices and chores–brushing your teeth without being grateful they are all intact, kissing your partner goodbye as you leave for work without thinking it might be the last time you see them, spending the day at your computer at work without acknowledging your co-workers, or spending the night in front of the TV without the energy to do anything else.

Then think about the serious stuff you never think about–or if you do, you push it to the back of your mind and say you’ll think about it later. What is it that drives your passion? Are you living your life the way you always wanted to or are you just reacting to what life throws at you? Are you choosing the easy and comfortable way instead of the way of fulfillment?

I live in a glass house and am not throwing stones, but these are questions I’ve asked myself for many years.  Sometimes I’ve chosen the easy path and other times I’ve surprised myself with my choices. How can we be more aware and deliberate about our choices? I think it is just by stopping and thinking about it. And then finding courage to change things if what we see doesn’t make us nod and say, ‘yeah, I’ve got it right.’

This week I’ll be focused on new beginnings–it is spring, after all.  Do  you have a new beginning right now? What does it look like and how does it feel?  Are you grieving for the “old” and what you are giving up or are you embracing the new beginning with gusto? This week, let’s talk about it and reflect on it.