Wine Tasting in Dry Creek Valley

Because as a woman in her thirties life is too short to drink bad wine, this past weekend the newly formed, “Society of the Traveling Boots,” headed off to wine country.

Driving on Westside Road towards Dry Creek Valley was like travelling back in time. Familiar wines, centerpieces to special moments already lived, greeted me along the road to the left, while to the right, the colors of fall, yellow, orange and sometimes red splashed the ocean of vines that could be seen growing, row after row, until they reached the horizon of Pines at the opposite end of the last long curve. October, after the harvest and right before the frost leaves the vines bare and exposed, is a beautiful time to go wine tasting.

Our agenda was simple: visit some old favorites and discover something new. The goal: come home with some new bottles. Both were accomplished.

Old Favorites- Quivira Vineyards

We discovered Quivira about 4 years ago and were instantly impressed by the fact that all the wines on their tasting list, (even the whites, which we are usually not such a fan of), were excellent.

So how was it 4 years later? Crowded. Loud. Which is unfortunate because these outside factors really do affect the tasting experience. The tasting rooms are there to showcase the wines, but also to sell the patron on a fantasy, a feeling, the story of the land, and their winemaking philosophy or ideal. All of these factors are intangible. All of these are impossible to acquire when the bar is crowded, the tastings come sporadically or feel rushed, or when the only info we get on the wine is what is on the tasting menu, and a map that the pourer points to when he fills our glasses.

Ok, ranting aside, the wine is still really good. I am not going to pretend like I am a sophisticated wine connoisseur and explain each wine’s flavor profile. What I can say about the wine is that I like it so much, I am considering being part of their wine club so that I can get this yummy wine delivered to my house, like Christmas presents that come in the mail year round.

Something New- Thomas George Estates

I was sold at wine cave. I know, how shallow of me, but hey, it is my belief that wine tasting is like Disneyland for adults. Each new tasting room is like a new ride. We don’t know what to expect with every pour and if the adventure occurs in an interesting space, like a cave or barrel room, even better. Downside, the cave was really, really cold.

Wine cave aside, Thomas George was pouring from two distinct tasting lists. The first list poured an array of whites and reds, starting with a Sauvignon Blanc and finishing with a Zinfandel. The second list was pouring all Pinots. Like everyone else who became obsessed with the movie “Sideways,” I too went through a Pinot only phase, so this tasting was especially of interest. The tastings were expensive. Like Napa Valley tasting room expensive. So while we were not thrilled to be paying $15 and $30 to taste from each list, it was well worth it.

We tasted Pinots from their various Thomas George estates. The list went from a lighter Pinot to a more aggressive and full-bodied Pinot. It was interesting to compare how the same grape, but grown in varying climate zones with varying terroir, could taste so different. We came home with a couple of bottles of the Cresta Ridge Vineyard Pinot and paired it that same evening with some Spanish style Gambas al Ajillo, or Garlic Shrimp. And in case you are wondering, bold and peppery, the Cresta held up just fine.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf 


Social Media Profiles- The Official First Impression of the 21st Century

We were just a bunch of 30-somethings sitting around the dinner table drinking beer. The conversation, as it often does, turned to career. But this was no ordinary venting session about how “my boss did this,” or “my co-worker said that.” The topic of social media came up and we all came to the consensus that our profiles were no longer a diversion, or a distraction, but an actual tool, to be honed and used towards career advancement.

Crazy, considering that not too long ago the use of social media was most often banned or frowned upon in the work place. I remember working at TV Azteca, a Spanish Language television station in 2005, in the Marketing Department, and no one used social media at the office. Most of the platforms we use today had not yet been invented, but MySpace was definitely around. My boss would have laughed in my face if I had suggested that the shows we were producing and the campaigns we were running should have their own MySpace page. This idea did not occur to me back then, but if it had, I probably would have been let go sooner than I actually was.

As a woman in her thirties, I have hesitantly come to the conclusion that social media is a valuable career tool. I never wanted to live my life online, or feel like my personality was split amongst all of my profiles. I did not jump on the social media bandwagon, rather I lingered outside of it for a while, observing and taking in the view. Two years ago I began writing a blog, and that is when I truly learned how important and powerful a tool social media could be for my career, all of my careers.

By joining the public conversation, I have become better informed, but I also have access to so many more people, and people bring opportunities whether that be for my writing, my dancing, or for my career in Education. This access to people, the exact number of people you have access to rather, is also what many prospective employers want to know when they ask for personal social media links on a job application. Employers are interested in the amount of influence you carry. By participating in social media, I am also actively practicing skills that are now required in a professional resume. Back in 2005 I was a Marketing Coordinator, today the same job would be something more like Social Media Coordinator 

The world has changed in such a short time. It used to be that a well written cover letter or a resume demonstrating plenty of relevant experience would suffice, but today, employers, (just like prospective dates,) can Google any name and screen candidates, (potential mates,) on a much more personal level. If anything, it is for this reason alone that I have come to join and now promote the use of social media for career purposes. My profiles have become the first impression I give before an email, phone call or in person meeting takes place.

Scary, I know. Guess it’s time to go delete a bunch of angry drunk posts huh?

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

The Faja or Weight Loss Girdle is Back, but Why?

waist trainingSo the use of the faja has infiltrated popular American culture huh? Last night I read an article on Women’s Health called The Dangers of Waist Training. The article features a selfie of Kim Kardashian at the gym and states:

“This newly trendy practice involves wearing a corset-like device for hours at a time to compress your core, which will supposedly decrease the size of your waist permanently over time.”

The article goes on to explain that Doctors have deduced that this “corset-like device” does not work and that it can cause harm to the wearer’s health, including rib damage.

While I agree that this device does not work, I do not agree that it is a new or trendy practice. Corsets worn as women’s undergarments were popular from the 16th to the 20th century, and this “corset-like device,” used during exercise is really just the faja reductora, or reductive girdle, popular in Latin American culture since my mom was a young woman in the 1960’s.

Anybody who grew up in a Latin household has always known about the supposed power of the faja. Some mothers make their daughters wear it during puberty to ensure an hourglass figure will form, women who have recently given birth wear it to get their figures back, and many use it in order to lose weight, equating passive sweating with burning fat. I remember a time there was even a faja for men that promised six pack abs with regular use.

camiseta-faja-reductora-para-hombreThis is just another example of cultural appropriation, but I’m not upset, I’m laughing. I don’t think diluting oneself into believing that the faja actually achieves weight loss is a laughing matter. I am laughing because Kim Kardashian has taken the faja from the obscurity of Spanish Language infomercials to the pages of reputable American magazines like Women’s Health. Ridiculous.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Throwback Thursday

Me thinkin' that I'm all cool in the mean streets of Glendale. Circa 1994, (20 years ago!)

Me thinkin’ that I’m all cool on the mean streets of Glendale. Circa 1994, (20 years ago!)

Today is Thursday and many of my contemporaries will participate in a social media phenomenon aptly called Throwback Thursday. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the urban dictionary defines it as:

When you put a picture from a “while” ago on your social media sites.

Example: “omq Throwback Thursday, I needa find a photo of myself from like hella lonq ago and post it on facebook.”

 Up until recently I worked with teenagers and they informed me that Facebook was passé. Facebook was for old people like their parents, (and come to think of it my parents), and that all the teenagers were now on a much better social media platform, one that does not encourage writing because come on, if the cliché is true, a picture is worth a thousand words. Yup, you’ve guessed it, Instagram. I informed them that Facebook had purchased Instagram, so technically, they were still on Facebook, but just then something shiny started beeping at them and their very short attention spans were drawn elsewhere.

As a woman in her thirties I always laugh when a teenager thinks that 30 is old, but that week I started to notice something on Facebook. The teenagers were gone, no big deal, but my contemporaries were out in full force, posting pictures of themselves on #TBT as teenagers. I scrolled down my news feed and saw photo after photo of who my friends had been and what they had looked like 15 years ago and that’s when it hit me. That was 15 years ago! Like sands through the hourglass, holy crap, the years have gone by fast.

Ok so Science tells us that time does not speed up with age despite how it may feel. According to a study done by Dr. Marc Wittmann of the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, in Germany, “Most adults do not explore and learn about the world the way they did when they were young; adult life lacks the constant discovery and endless novelty of childhood.” In other words, they have discovered that in youth, when everything is new, time will feel eternal, while in old age, when nothing is new, time feels like it passes by much too quickly.

So I guess the fact that 15 years have passed by in a blur is only an illusion caused by the fact that my mind is not overly stimulated as it was in childhood. And maybe soon Science will discover that aging is only an illusion too. A girl can dream…

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

A Career Out of Not Having A Career

work life balance

A couple of weeks ago while we were getting dressed for an upcoming performance at a swanky hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, a friend and fellow dancer said to me, “You have made a career out of not having a career. You have so many responsibilities yet you still manage to have the summers off. How do you do it?” We all laughed because the question was rhetorical and the delivery comedic. But after our performance, as I drove home alone through the late night empty freeways that traverse the landscape of Downtown high-rises, I thought about what my friend had said, “a career out of not having a career.” At 70mph, it dawned on me that that statement was almost as bad as Paris Hilton “being famous for being famous.” In other words, the one thing Paris Hilton and I have in common is that people think we have accomplished some ideal by doing absolutely nothing, and of course, this is totally false.

In the past I have been a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe when it comes to choosing and pursuing a career. I have worked in various fields and held various positions, but the one constant has been that, I work hard when I have to, allow myself time off when it is possible and available, and that I am good with money. The combination of these three factors has earned me the reputation of “having a career out of not having a career.”

I have always valued a flexible work schedule over a lucrative salary, the reason being that while I like having a predictable paycheck, I need to have free time to do what I love, like my writing and dance projects. Being noncommittal then has been a choice that I have at times loved and other times hated.

Without intending too, and by prescribing to a work life integration ethos, I created the illusion that I don’t really work. What people from an outsider’s perspective do not understand is that achieving this type of work life integration takes a lot of planning, discipline and sacrifice. What work life integration really means is that I work all day long, at my job, in my home, on my personal projects, and on everything else that needs to get accomplished. I cannot imagine what my friends think I really do, now that I work from home…

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Beginnings Are a Bitch the adrenaline wears off and the sparkly sheen of what was once novel has faded, what is one left with? Work. Endings may be bitter sweet but beginnings are not for the weak willed. It takes work, determination and courage to start something new or in some cases, to admit defeat and start over again. (Which is more difficult? I’ve yet to determine.) Whether starting a new relationship, a new career, going back to school, or taking on life-changing roles like motherhood or newly single, beginnings are a bitch.

So how does a woman in her thirties cope with starting over? Everyone is different, but in my experience I would say: despacio y con cuidado, which is what my Dad would always say to me every time I left the house when I was a teenager. Slowly and cautiously, story of my life, literally. I have been a habitual over thinker, over planner, over analyzer, pro and con list maker, cost benefit analyzer, excel chart drafter and journal writer, for every major decision I have ever taken. I don’t do anything on a whim. I’ve been called the goddess of organization and a control freak and both labels I wear proudly.

faith in your dreamsSo where am I going with this? Well, as a woman in her thirties I find myself at the beginning, teaching myself an entirely new career, reaching out to strangers in order to make new connections and become part of a new community, and while I am filled with energy, I am also having to invoke a part of me that has gone unused for quite a long time. I have had to practice faith; the act of believing without concrete evidence or sound reasoning. I have to have faith that my writing endeavors will be fruitful. I have so many responsibilities and no guarantees, but my faith muscles are all pumped up and my planning and decision-making devices are out the window. I realize statistics say that I will change careers 5 to 7 times in my lifetime, but I don’t know if I will ever get used to the act of letting go and not knowing what is next.

I was recently confronted, (and I use this word because I had a physical reaction,) with the question, “what is the plan if it doesn’t work out?” This question rocked my world like no other question could because I have not let myself think of this as a possibility. It has to work out… doesn’t it? If I work really hard, if I believe, if I wish hard enough and keep my fingers crossed until they turn white?

Okay so since that question sucker punched me in the face, I’ve had to make peace with the fact that it may not work out within the time that I have allotted. It may not work out ever, which leads me back to my original point- beginnings are a bitch.

So daily, as I put on my poker face, feel my way through the dark and fake the funk if you will, I advise myself as I would any friend who found herself starting over: Yes, you are scared of failing, but aren’t you more terrified of giving up on yourself without ever trying? You have to take this chance. If not now, when?

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf 

Some Date Ideas are Better in Your 30’s

For date night last Friday, S and I went for Tacos and followed that up with a Rock concert. I get it; I would scoff at this date too. I mean tacos on date night, really? And aren’t we too old to be going to Rock concerts? If I was reading this, I would conclude that the 30-something couple who went on a taco and rock show date, must have been feeling extremely nostalgic for their twenties. Oh the desperation that sets in when youth is slipping through ones fingers…

On our way to Petty Cash, (our new favorite Taco place), S and I walked by Buzzfeed on Beverly Blvd. and he said, “Hey isn’t that the place that makes all of those funny lists people share on Facebook?” To which I said, “Yeah, they create listicles.” So inspired by my date on Friday night and by the fact that we walked by Buzzfeed, I present:

3 Reasons Why Tacos & a Rock Concert is a Better Date in Your 30’s Than in Your 20’s

  1. Tacos in your 20’s come from a street vendor or a fast food chain and consist of greasy chunks of unrecognizable meat product, useful for soaking up excess alcohol after the club. Tacos in your 30’s are a foodie experience boasting local fresh products to be eaten at dinner, and washed down with exotic cocktails.Tacos in Los AngelesCocktails, Happy Hour
  1. Rock Concert in your 20’s is loud and sweaty and there are a lot of inebriated people sipping overpriced booze out of plastic cups. Rock Concert in your 30’s is loud and sweaty and… okay, pretty much the same, but now you take more precautions. You care about possible hearing loss and do not stand at the front of the stage. You also spend a little more for their “premium” liquor because you know you can avoid a nasty hangover that venue los angeles
  1. The Taco and Rock concert date in your 20’s may get you laid.  The Taco and Rock concert date in your 30’s, especially if you are on date night with your significant other, will get you laid.

Ok, so writing is a listicle is way harder than it seems. Here are some of my favorite 30-something listicles from Buzzfeed. Enjoy!

30 Words that Have a Different Meaning After You Turn 30

30 Hashtag Every Thirty Something Actually Needs

 By: W. Castellanos-Wolf



Dressing Age Appropriate: A Little Help Please

This is actually on my vision board. I want to be all of these things.

This is actually on my vision board. I want to be all of these things.

As a woman in her thirties, sometimes I feel like I must be the only woman in the world who hates shopping. I blame my mother for my shopping aversion. I spent many a weekend following her around the mall as she caressed fabrics, tried on the few chosen garments and then leave them behind because “there had to be a better version of that somewhere else.” She would repeat the aforementioned steps over and over again, until hours, that to me felt like weeks later, she would return to the original store and purchase the very first item she had found. It was unnerving, but the worst part of shopping was then seeing that garment hang in her closet with the tag still on it for weeks, months and sometimes years. She was a hoarder of new clothes. To this day, I think there are items in her closet that she is saving for a special occasion. It’s absolutely maddening.

I would always ask, “what are you waiting for, just wear the new clothes.” And while she never had an answer for me, (she would just look away and smile,) I have come to believe that she did not derived pleasure from wearing her new clothes like most other women do. Having grown up as part of what would now be considered the working poor, my mom derived pleasure from the act of shopping. She could go into a store and she could buy something. She had disposable cash to purchase unnecessary items, and that was fun for her.

I on the other hand, do not currently have disposable income for unnecessary items. I live well and feel wealthy in many ways, but clothing is definitely on the As Needed list and even then, I feel ridiculous saying that I need an item of clothing because I live in the first world, and I don’t really need anything.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my appearance lately though. I am sure that is not a very foreign concept for most 30-somethings. But if we are constantly judged by what we look like, and teenagers at school are being taught to “Dress for Success,” what do people think of me as I stroll around in my jeans and tank tops? I’m definitely not dressing for success, (whatever that really means). If anything, unless I am actually going somewhere, I dress like I am going to the gym or packing boxes for a great big move. I am starting to feel a little self-conscious about it, especially now that I have embarked on the pursuit of a new career.

 Shouldn’t I start dressing my age? Again, I don’t really know what that may entail. All I know is that this year, I don’t really want to purchase anything from Forever 21. But if Forever 21 is out of the question, where does a woman in her thirties on a budget shop for “age appropriate” clothing and what am I supposed to buy?

 ***Later, as I google “Dressing in my 30’s,” I came across this article published on Elle Magazine. Always good to read another perspective. 

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

5 Tips for Becoming A More Focused & Motivated 30-Something

Being a woman in her thirties can sometimes be daunting and exhausting and just plain hard! We are in high demand and because of this, it is often too easy to live life by just going through the motions, neither here nor there, but checking things off of our multiple To Do Lists. But really what kind of living is that?

Here are 5 tips I try to adhere to daily, in order to be more present, focused and motivated. 


  1. Love yourself, but most importantly be nice to yourself-

 I practice being my number one fan and biggest supporter. It’s actually embarrassing to write in public but if I’m not keeping myself confident and motivated, who will? It’s great to have people in life to build you up, but all of it is just superficial unless you really believe and accept compliments that others give you. This doesn’t mean that I think I am the cat’s meow. I am quite honest with myself, but I am also nice to myself, and I think this makes a huge difference. Being self-critical is natural and healthy. It becomes destructive though when it isn’t followed up with the internal knowledge that it is okay to “mess up” every once in a while.


  1. Practice discipline-

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

I want to accomplish so many things! None of it will get done though if I don’t make myself do something towards accomplishing a specific goal EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. With that said, I definitely have my lazy days, the days where I am pulled in so many directions that nothing gets done, and the days where I have to devote time to the mundane like laundry and grocery shopping. The true test of discipline though, is doing all of those mundane tasks and then getting back on course. It takes time and so much practice, but once a habit is formed, it is hard to break and success will follow.


  1. Do one thing at a time and practice being in the moment-

This is really hard for me to do. I am good at multi-tasking, though my husband constantly reminds me that multi-tasking actually lowers my IQ. I am working on it, but it is really difficult because like I said earlier, I want to accomplish so many things! Doing one thing at a time does reduce stress and improves my focus so yeah, we will call it a work in progress…


  1. Review your priorities-

What and Who is important in your life and Why? I review and revise this list constantly. Helps to keep me focused.


  1. Celebrate every tiny victory-

This one is in direct correlation to being nice to yourself. Tiny victories happen all of the time but mostly go unnoticed. I decided that I would start celebrating all of the small victories to keep me motivated. For example, today I will celebrate that I actually wrote a blog post despite the fact that I have been extremely busy all day and I’m still recovering from a week of really bad sleep. Yay me!

 What do you do to stay focused and motivated?

 By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

30-Something Friendship- An Email Call to Arms

Guest Post/Email by: Jamie Padilla

I am on a plane returning home from an invigorating conference I was very privileged to attend in Montreal. Given that it’s a long flight and that I’ve been trying to stave off what I suspect was an oncoming hangover by applying a little “hair of the dog…”, I’m in a super reflectionary mode. My spell check just done told me that reflectionary ain’t a word. Nor is ain’t. But I won’t let the red squiggly underlines popping up on this doc (yes, I’m typing this into Word doc and will paste it in an email later for you bitches) distract me from spewing my thoughts out.

It dawned on me that we are all experiencing moments of profound change around the same time–big moves, career changes, marriages, divorces, serious thoughts about family planning…Fuck. While these changes might look different for each one of us, I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb by saying we’ve all gotten to a place where we’re realizing it’s time to take our lives more seriously than we did before. And we all react differently to that. Some find it exciting and promising, others are finding it to be a bit scary or destabilizing. But this is prime time for us to find both support and inspiration in one another—to both seek that and offer that depending on where you are at in any given moment.

Some of us are on the threshold of taking—or have just taken—pretty big leaps of faith. At the same time, some of us are carefully contemplating and calculating where to go next (and in Wendy’s case, for example, all the contemplation and calculation led to a big leap of faith. Funny how that works).

 I don’t know if I have a point or not—the truth is that you are just on my mind. ALL OF YOU. I guess that if I did have a point, it would be to say that while it might feel like we’ve drifted apart a bit or that geography is dividing us, we are actually all way more united than we might realize. Friendship is a living, breathing thing and how we relate to one another and the ways we can and need to connect to one another will always evolve. And that’s ok. I’m now three Tito’s in… haha.

While in Montreal, I took a walk with a man I’ve come to admire tremendously through my work. He had come to Montreal directly from a 5 day long golfing and drinking vacation that he and his ten best buddies make sure they take together every year (I’m sure they’d describe it differently but it’s not that important WHAT they do—it’s that they’ve been doing it for like 20 years). They are all in their late fifties. One man who is part of this group lost his wife to cancer less than two weeks before the trip. It was unexpected. She had died within 8 weeks of her diagnosis. And her death occurred on the coattails of another family tragedy of his from just a few weeks prior. Nobody expected that he’d come. Why did he? He said he needed his friends. 

I know we are settling into new roles and taking on new challenges. But let’s not wait too long before we do something together. And hey…. we have EMAIL! And Whatsapp. And Viber. And…..



jamie padilla Jamie Padilla is a Global Impact Advocate for the United Farm Workers of America, a Flamenco Dancer, Book Nerd, Foodie and amazing friend.