life is like a wine tasting

sunstone winery

Yesterday, we took a “family staycation day” and drove up to the San Ynez Valley to explore the beautiful vineyards. It was a gorgeous day and we ended up doing a wine tasting at Sunstone Winery, which was absolutely delightful. It was my first time doing a wine tasting at a winery, and got me thinking about the ways that life is like a wine tasting:

1. Each taste is unique and lovely in its own way, and should be enjoyed for what it is. For example, if you expect a pinot grigio to be a merlot, you are going to be disappointed. But if you pay attention to the distinct flavors of the pinot grigio, you are able to appreciate it for what it is. In the same way, each season of life has different flavors — pros and cons, perks and disappointments. Try to appreciate the season of life you are in for all the gifts it has to offer, instead of wishing for a different season. You will get there soon enough, and there will likely be things you miss about your life here and now!

me and mom winery

2. Each pour is meant to be savored, not rushed through. So often, it can feel like we are rushing through life: counting down hours in a workday, scrolling through email constantly on our smartphones, yearning for the weekend or for our next vacation. Even meals are often hurried affairs, something we rush through rather than enjoy, or mindlessly eat in front of the TV — have you ever finished eating something and realized you barely even tasted a single bite? In a wine tasting, each taste is sipped slowly and savored. Can you imagine what life would be like if we treated every meal with such respect? Not to mention, if we tried to savor each moment of our day as if it were a sip of expensive wine?

greg and pops winery

3. The joy of the experience doesn’t come from the wine itself — it comes from the people you share it with. If I had gone wine-tasting by myself yesterday, I would have had an okay time, but I would not have had anyone to share the experience with. Much of the fun of trying out the different wines was sipping them out on the verandah together, talking and laughing and telling stories and discussing our opinions on the different wines. That was where the joy truly came from. Our family visit to the vineyards wasn’t even really about the wine tasting at all — it was about spending time together, enjoying each other’s company, and sharing a fun experience with those we love.

me and gb winery

Now I’m off to soak up more family time before we take my little bro to the airport tomorrow for his new job in NYC! So proud of him! (And I’m going to miss him a TON.)

Hope you are soaking up every beautiful moment of this lovely day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing! ❤

year of kindness challenge: week 22

year of kindness button

Happy Wednesday, friends! I made my first smoothie of the summer for breakfast this morning and it was fabulous! I just threw a random assortment of fruit that I had in my fridge into the blender: a handful of strawberries, some honeydew, some cantaloupe, a small container of blueberry greek yogurt, ice, spinach, and some coconut water to get things movin’. It tasted delicious! Definitely going to be making a lot of smoothies this summer! I’d love to hear some of your favorite smoothie recipes — please share in the comments below! 🙂

There has been SO much kindness happening in my world this week! The thing about kindness is, once you start to notice and pay attention to it, you see kind acts everywhere! That might be my favorite thing about this #yearofkindness challenge: becoming more aware and attuned to kindness in the world around me.

Here’s just a sampling of kindness I noticed this week:

  • I saw many doors held open for people — at the bank, at the grocery store, at a restaurant. Proof that chivalry {and kindness} are alive & well!
  • I spoke and taught writing workshops at my alma mater middle school, and two students wrote me very sweet, handwritten notes of gratitude. Made my week!
  • Many, many friends and acquaintances, in daily life and in the blogosphere, have preordered copies of my dad’s new book WOODEN & ME … I can’t even tell you how much your support means to me and my family!!
  • My friend and mentor Tania took the time to talk about a painful recurring dream I was having … with her compassion and guidance, I was able to work through some things and come to a place of healing. I am so so grateful for her friendship!
  • On a recent walk on the beachfront path in my town, I noticed an older couple walking along with a trash-bag and one of those trash pick-up gripper sticks, picking up litter all along the beach.

I also loved this Huffington Post piece by Marlo Thomas recapping some random acts of kindness that popped up in the news!

The Week 22 Kindness Challenge is to do an act of patience. This could mean staying calm and not getting upset when someone cuts you off in traffic; or letting someone go ahead of you in line; or politely telling that telemarketer, “Thanks but no thanks” instead of saying something rude. Maybe it means patiently reading your child their favorite book three times in a row, or patiently listening to a friend’s long, drawn-out story on the phone without interrupting. Approach these acts of patience with an open heart and thoughts of kindness, and what once seemed like a chore might turn out to be surprisingly enjoyable — perhaps even full of grace.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!


year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect

year of kindness challenge: week 9

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Wonderful, I hope!

This past week’s kindness challenge was to donate toiletries to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter. I donated this big bag to a women’s shelter across town. {Yes, I am that person who hoards hotel soap and always has a “back-up” stash of shampoo and conditioner. I figured it was time to give it all away to people who could use it!}


more toiletries

I could tell the woman working was SO grateful, and it really moved me. Much like last week when I took canned goods to the food pantry, I know I want to go back and donate more toiletries and perhaps clothing as well to this women’s shelter in the future.

Speaking of the food pantry, they sent me a sweet thank-you note in the mail this week. How nice!

thank you card

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this week:

  • I got to talk to my brother via Skype from Sri Lanka. It was SO amazing to “see” him — I miss him beyond words! He inspires me every day with his huge heart and unending generosity. I love this photo of him donating shoes at the Foundation of Goodness this past week:

greg shoe donation

  • I received a thoughtful and supportive email from a colleague that really brightened my mood during a stressful day. 
  • I ran into a former student on campus who said she misses my class. Aww!
  • I had lunch with friends on Friday and dinner with another set of friends on Saturday. It was so nice to take some time to catch up and laugh with people I love!

The Week 9 Kindness Challenge was inspired by Operation Beautiful, which I discovered via this moving post by Anne at Fannetastic Food. This week’s challenge is simple: write a kind or inspiring note and hang it up in a public place. This might be a bathroom mirror at school or work, a public bulletin board in a coffeehouse, or even a flyer on a lampost in your neighborhood! Write a message to brighten a stranger’s day and make him or her feel beautiful, special and loved. I would love if you would take pictures of the kind messages you send out into the world! Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com. You can also share them at the Operation Beautiful website.

Have a marvelous week!


year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter

marvelous monday: year of kindness challenge

In a post a few weeks ago I shared that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to be a better person and give more to the world around me. Give more, do more, brighten more, serve more. I want to be grateful and I want to be joyful, and in my experiences the best way to do so is to give gratefully and joyfully to others. Case in point: one of my favorite experiences over this past holiday season was taking handmade cards and cookies to the local nursing home. In this next year–and beyond, for the years to come– I want to work on stepping outside myself {my petty grievances, my small problems, my unhelpful worries} and focus on the people and neighbors and global community around me.

Inspiration clicked into action when I came across this amazing post by blogger Becka about her birthday tradition of doing a random act of kindness for every year she has been alive. {I also found a similar and very neat Facebook community, The Birthday Project!} Reading through her deeds and looking at all the smiling photos, I felt energized and filled with hope. I immediately knew I wanted to do the same thing for my birthday this year — and then I thought, my birthday isn’t until May. I don’t want to wait that long! Why wait?

Hence, I present to you my Year of Kindness challenge.

year of kindness button

Here’s how it works:

Each Monday, I’ll present a small act of kindness “challenge” for that week, and the following Monday I’ll let you know how I did and then present a new challenge for that week. I would LOVE if you would join in on my year of kindness and blog about your experiences, then add a link to your post below. It would also be wonderful if you would share the photo button above with your followers — on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, wherever! If you don’t have a blog, you can of course email me at <dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com> with any stories or photos you have from doing acts of kindness, and I will gladly share them with blog readers!

Let’s make this a powerful “pay it forward” year of kindness!

Here’s the challenge for this week:

Go through your closets and cupboards and pull out things you no longer use but are still in good shape. Then, donate them to others who will be thrilled to have these items. The goal is to give at least one thing away for each day of the week, for a total of seven items.

Have a marvelous day! Can’t wait to hear how the week goes! 🙂

Blog about completing the Year of Kindness, Week 1 Challenge and add your link below!