Wining Wife®

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Month: September 2017

Book Review: Dryland by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Alcoholism is a killer. I know it’s ironic to write that statement on a blog I started to talk about wine tasting and wine pairing recipes. (And I do want to get back to the original purpose of this blog – and I will.) But I’ve watched too many people throw away lives on alcohol, and there can be a very fine line between drinking irresponsibly from time-to-time and outright alcohol addiction. 

I hate to admit that I can relate to Nancy Stearns Bercaw’s story in Dryland. But I can, a little bit. When I was a philosophy major, when I was a philosophy grad student working on my Ph.D.,  I knew who I was. It was easy. I was a single mom and a philosopher. Those two things kept coming to a head, though, and eventually, I made made a decision to leave graduate school and pursue another path.

At first, it was “easy.” I threw myself into an unhealthy relationship head first, I started writing professionally, I mommed so hard. That relationship came to a head, and I got safe. Writing took off for me in a big way around the same time. Life hasn’t slowed down since. I met the love of my life, got married, had three more kids, sent the big guy off to college, and I feel like it’s been a total whirlwind! In fact, it can feel like I’m flailing about trying to regain balance and figure out who I am as mom of four. I can see where someone might turn to alcohol to escape the deep existential questions that come up when you’re trying to find a new “box” for yourself. Especially when everything has happened so quickly – even when that “everything” is all good stuff.

Of course, because I’m breastfeeding, and because with three people under the age of four you always have to be on, I drink very, very rarely.

For Bercaw, though, once she left the swimming lanes, she wasn’t quite sure who she was. She fell into the alcoholic spiral and became dependent on the drug to handle life. It isn’t until she realizes that things are out of control that she starts to reign it in and that’s where her memoir Dryland, comes into play.  It’s at times a tough book to read but at the same time, it’s worth making the journey through the book with Bercaw’s words. 

About Dryland

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Grand Harbor Press (April 18, 2017)

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But when she hung up her cap and goggles after college, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.

Praise

“A brave, honest, adventurous memoir that keeps you turning pages as Bercaw travels around the world and rediscovers what it really means to win…at life.” —Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

About Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea HeraldU.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and ScaryMommy.com. In addition to Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, she is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Find out more about Nancy at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Review: It’s Messy by Amanda de Cadenet

Life is rough sometimes. It’s messy. It’s hard. People fail. People struggle along until they succeed. 

Right now, my life is colored by the navy blue glasses of postpartum depression where everything seems so tough and one action can send me into a spiral of anxiety. It’s one of the weirdest things, PPD. Here you are with the sweetest, most wonderful little tiny person – but you’re feeling like crud. I mean… but it’s not about me. At least, not this post. This post is about Amanda de Cadenet’s It’s Messy and how she weaves together essays about her own messy life in a way to make her stories relevant to women reading her book.

De Cadenet weaves her stories together in a candid manner that makes for easy – and fun – reading about not so easy or fun topics. Chapters like “How to Parent in the Time of Trump” go deeper into some of the conflicting situations that women find themselves in. I am certain I’ve read her essays on Huffington Post and in other places, and I’ve always enjoyed her writing style. It’s Messy is an essya collection you don’t want to miss. 

About It’s Messy

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (September 19, 2017)

In this deeply personal collection of essays, creator of the The Conversation Amanda de Cadenet shares the hard-won advice and practical insights she’s gained through her experiences as businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother.

Amanda is on a mission to facilitate conversations that allow all women to be seen, heard, and understood. Through her multimedia platform The Conversation, she interviews some of today’s most bad ass women—from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga—in no-holds-barred conversations that get to the heart of what means to be female. Now, in It’s Messy, Amanda offers readers an extension of that conversation, inviting them into her life and sharing her own story.

From childhood fame to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to teen motherhood to the sexism that threatened to end her career before it started, Amanda shares the good, the bad, and the messy of her life, synthesizing lessons she’s learned along the way. Through it all, she offers an original perspective as a feminist on the front lines of celebrity culture. Edgy, irreverent, poignant and provocative, It’s Messy addresses the issues, concerns, and experiences relevant to women today.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet is a creative force with a lifelong career in the media. She began as a host on British television at the age of fifteen and became a sought-after photographer shortly after—as a result her impressive photography career already spans nearly twenty years. She is the youngest woman ever to shoot a Vogue cover and has photographed many of the most influential figures in popular and political culture. As a media entrepreneur, Amanda is the creator of The Conversation, a series that showcases her in-depth interviews on real topics with celebrated women. Whether it’s in conversations with Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Zoe Saldana, Chelsea Handler, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or in discussions with devoted followers of her social channels, Amanda delivers an honest and authentic voice. The series has aired in eighteen countries and is featured online, with over ten million viewers. In January 2016, Amanda conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Secretary Clinton. In February 2016, Amanda launched #Girlgaze, a digital media company utilizing user submitted content and highlighting the work of women Gen Z photographers and directors.

Find out more about Amanda at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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