I just spent the last several days awash in Spanish Tempranillo.

Two days after saying goodbye to Chance, I boarded an airplane for Madrid to join a small group of  wine industry professionals on a four day excursion to the fairly remote, hot, dry and historic wine region of Toro, two and half hours away from Spain’s refined capital. It was like going from Chicago to the Midwest wheat fields but with better food and wine and a seemingly endless nightlife at the final destination.

I cried on my overnight flight, listened to music and drank more glasses of Spanish Tempranillo than I should to ease the waves of grief that came over me like nausea. I had just left someone I loved deeply and would never see again, but We the Living keep moving onward.

Travel and cultural immersion plus all that wine is a great way to wash away dark clouds. It rarely rains where we were in Spain, and the sun was brilliant; our hosts from Bodegas Fariña attentive; and the itinerary well paced. I slowly started to feel like my old self and realized how important travel is to my psyche.

The wine certainly helped. The Tinta de Toro grape is a clone of Tempranillo, and this Toro region’s variety is heartier with thicker skin to withstand the extremes of dry heat and cold in Toro.  It is a survivor grape and produces, when treated with dignity and nurtured with the proper amount of attention, a beautiful deep purple black liquid that can sooth the soul and enhance many of Spain’s hearty dishes, jamon and cheeses. Reports say wine consumed in moderation can be healthy, and drinking Bodegas Fariña Tempranillo among Toro’s 100 year vineyards I could feel myself healing in the sunshine.

As we moved through the days, exploring, learning, drinking and eating, there was little time to look back and linger on what had just occurred.  I said to myself,  “You have to be in the present and enjoy this ride; it may not come your way again. Toss the sad thoughts. Focus only on the happy memories. You do not have enough megabytes  in your brain these days to store that which makes you unhappy. Go for the adventure and that which makes you  happy.”

As I focused on the countryside, the people with me, the wine and the food, everything became brighter. We should all take time to clear out the debris lurking in our hearts and minds to open up space to enjoy the present and allow new impressions and feelings to come in.

When we landed back in New York and entered our apartment that still has a lingering scent of a small white dog and scattered toys still lurking in corners and under furniture, I waivered; my stomach clenched and I bit my lip.

I said to my husband, David, the first night home- “Let’s go out and explore. And we did, this time to a small French wine bar where we drank chilled Muscadet with gazpacho and salads. And the cool crisp wine in the warm summer night again washed away any lingering dark clouds.

What I learned from the week to share with you is this: There are days that can be unbearable but they cannot hold you back. You have no choice but to move forward and you choose how to focus your mind and energies. While we may not be in control of our fate, we can manage our days and our expectations.

Like the 100 year old grapevines I studied this week, we humans are filled with potential with thick skins to protect us, and with the right nurturing and attention we bloom and produce wonderul things. We may bruise but we heal.  We cannot be neglected or neglectful to our surroundings or we shrivel.  And as time passes and we bloom again. 

And, when you have any cause for doubts, have another glass of wine.