How does deepening your understanding of wine help you maintain a healthy relationship with it? Why do memoirs help us to connect with characters even more deeply than fiction? Which moderation tools and techniques can you use when drinking wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m being interviewed by journalist Jaime Lewis for her podcast, CONSUMED.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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I’ll be jumping into the comments as we watch it together so that I can answer your questions in real-time.
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- What does “day in the life” writing look like?
- How does deepening your understanding of wine help you maintain a healthy relationship with it?
- How will my third book, Wine Witch on Fire, differ from my first two?
- Why is a well-written book able to change your life?
- What do I love about memoirs and the reader’s ability to transition the characters into the real world?
- Which moderation tools and techniques do I use when drinking wine?
- How did a combination of therapy and medication help me to manage my depression?
- What steps did I take to build my own platform with intention?
- Who can benefit from my Wine Smart online food and wine pairing course?
- What do I do to take care of myself daily?
- How do I define being an introvert?
- What would I eat and drink, and who would I invite if it was my last day on Earth?
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With memoirs, I feel like I can keep in touch with the character I’ve gotten to know. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
About Jaime Lewis
Jaime writes, speaks and podcasts about the good life.
After an arts management career that included employment with Architecture New York Magazine, the San Francisco Symphony and the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Jaime chose to follow her nose (and palate) into the wine industry. Earning a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Advanced certification in 2007, she set off to eat, drink and write her way across the major wine regions of Italy and New Zealand, including stints in Barolo, Alba, Bolgheri, Chianti, Marlborough and Martinborough.
Jaime has participated in nearly every moment of a wine’s life, from planting and bottling to selling. In addition to blogging about her personal year-long journey through the world, Jaime has written product, promotional and web copy for acclaimed wineries including Robert Mondavi, Firestone, Tantara, Herman Story, Laetitia, and Sans Liege. She has blogged for Parker Sanpei Lifestyle Public Relations, Villa San-Juliette Winery, Spinaca Farms and Challenge Dairy; and her editorial work has appeared in publications that include Wine Enthusiast, Fathom Magazine, Life & Thyme, Vegetarian Times, ITALY Magazine, Santa Barbara Independent, The Tasting Panel Magazine, SOMM Journal, The Clever Root, and Edible Santa Barbara, among others.
Jaime is the former managing editor of Edible SLO Magazine; a food columnist for 805 Living and SLO Life Magazines, and the former Central Coast reporter for Wines & Vines Magazine. A fellow at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers (2018) at Meadowood Napa Valley and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Jaime is a graduate of Vassar College, where she earned degrees in art history and music.
When not writing, Jaime podcasts at CONSUMED and teaches journalism at Cal Poly State University.
- Connect with Jaime Lewis
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 168: Wine’s Buzz, Italy’s Food Culture and Audrey Hepburn’s Influence with Jaime Lewis
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 169: Santa Maria BBQ & Wines + Can You Earn a Living as a Wine Writer?
- My Books:
- My Mobile Wine Apps
- Repour Wine Saver
- Wine Enthusiast Private Preserve Wine Preservation Spray
- Coravin Wine Preservation Systems and Accessories
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 213: Tasting Room Tips to Learn about Wine with Jaime Lewis, Host of the Consumed Podcast
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 105: Wine and Cheese Pairings to Celebrate the Holidays with Janet Fletcher
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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- @nataliemaclean on Twitter
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- Email Me at [email protected]
Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Natalie MacLean 0:00
If anything more than 20 years of writing has taught me, that what you know, understand, and love, you don’t abuse. I saw it in action with my father and his broken relationship with alcohol and with his family. It’s part of what motivates me to write about wine. I think learning about wine and deepening your appreciation of it is also a route toward moderation. It’s why I teach courses online. It’s why I write the books. But this is really personal.
Natalie MacLean 0:39
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started.
Natalie MacLean 1:21
Welcome to Episode 214. How does deepening your understanding of wine help you maintain a healthy relationship with it? How do memoirs help us connect with characters even more deeply than fiction? Which moderation tools and techniques can you use when drinking wine? You’ll hear those tips and stories in Part Two of our chat with Jaime Lewis, host of the podcast Consumed. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one.
Now a quick update on my upcoming memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much. So apparently the great American short story writer Raymond Carver gave readings while holding a red pen. He was still correcting and improving his work even after it was published and he was on tour. I resonate with the feeling of never really being done with a book until someone, usually your publisher, yanks it out of your hands. If everything weren’t done online these days, I know I’d be running after the van taking the book to the printer yelling away “just one more thing”. My memoir really ought to be called The Corrections. But Jonathan Franzen already snapped that one up.
Here’s a review from Nina Garrett, a beta reader from San Diego, California. “Natalie struggles to gain equal footing and her successes are captivating and engrossing to say the least. Also, her personal struggles and triumphs gave me added depth and perspectives to the wine industry. So much goes on behind the scenes, both personally and professionally. I was fascinated to learn about many new sides of wine and the wine industry, especially informative for me was her perspective. As a woman. I never really thought about the industry being male dominated, but it really is. My family, we’ll be going to Napa in the spring. We go over every year, and I’ll be tasting and learning about wineries with a whole new frame of reference. I’ve written down all the wines she mentioned in her book and hoping to find some of them to try. I plan to read her other two books. I’d love to share a bottle with her”. Well, thank you, Nina. I’ll get the bottle. You bring the glasses.
I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the shownotes at NatalieMacLean.com/214. This is also where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at this manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.
Jaime Lewis 4:07
You ended up writing two books out and one on the way.
Natalie MacLean 4:11
I do. Yeah, exactly. Sounds like a kid. But they are they’re my book babies.
Jaime Lewis 4:15
They are aren’t they. So your books. The first two, when did those come out? What years did those come out?
Natalie MacLean 4:23
It’s been a while. So Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass was 2006. The hardcover came out, then the paperback was a year later. It’s now also in audiobook. Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Wines came out in 2011. So I think the paperback was 2012. So it’s been a decade. The one I’m working on now is less of a wine book more of a memoir. I could talk about that too, if you like.
Jaime Lewis 4:54
Let’s talk about it. So the title is Wine Witch on Fire. These titles are. They are so provocative of course. Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression, and Drinking Too Much. If you are not hooked by the time you’ve read those whatever 15 words. I mean that’s just an insane title. Unpack that for me.
Natalie MacLean 5:20
Yeah, book in a title. That’s kind of what we’ve done with every. So those are titles and subtitles for those listening. So my first two books were wine books. They were first person but they weren’t really memoirs. So I love to do what I call day in the life and you’re very familiar with this, Jaime, but it’s instead of interviewing a sommelier, go be a sommelier in a fancy five star French restaurant and write about the experience. Instead of tips, I mean I do both, but instead of tips for how to buy wine, go work in a wine retail store, and try to derive a richer experience. It’s part of what the new journalists did. Truman Capote, Joan Didion, George Plimpton was perhaps less well known. But he played a year I think in the NFL League. I guess he was talented.
Oh my gosh.
Yeah. And he wrote a memoir based on what it’s like to be in the NFL League. So he’s pretty serious on his deep dive. So those books were very much like that day in the life. And I had some wonderful experiences. I went all around the world doing this sort of thing. I worked the harvest with Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon in California, Paso Robles. And he is a wit as you know. And so it made for a great story. He’s already a great story, but I thought if I could work the harvest with him, I think it might be even better. And it was wonderful.
But this book is wine is more of a prop than the focus. So it’s about my worst vintage 2012.
Oh, that’s a great way to say to it.
Oh, I can keep up with these puns. I decant my. I can’t resist a good pun or a bad pun either. So as you might gather from the title, Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression, and Drinking Too Much, it’s not quite as cheery as the first two books. But I still incorporate humour into what are darker subjects. And I think if anything more than 20 years of writing has taught me that what you know, understand, and love, you don’t abuse. I saw it in action with my father and his broken relationship with alcohol and with his family. It’s part of what motivates me to write about wine. You know although my relatives think it’s rather humorous, I think learning about wine and deepening your appreciation of it is also a route toward moderation. It’s why I teach courses online. It’s why I write the books and so on. But this is really personal. This memoir is really opening up about, it’s not an autobiography. It’s a memoir, meaning one slice of life one year, the worst year, which makes for the best stories, I guess, in the end, but not at the time.
So it’s interesting because memoir draws on all of these techniques that you find in fiction. So there’s a narrator. The people in the memoir are meant to be characters. They’re real.Tthe story is true. But you’re using the techniques of fiction, which is bizarre and fascinating because you’ve got to flesh them out you know. The characters, the people in your life, you know them but the reader doesn’t. So they have to be lifelike. They have to have flaws and good attributes and all the rest of it. No one can be the villain or the saint. And as I tell my partner, Miles now, I said to him about a month ago, you’re becoming a fully fleshed out character in my life. He just looked at me
It is just so weird, I know. And you have to start thinking of yourself as the narrator, which causes this sort of out of body experience sometimes. But it’s only through the lens of time and pulling back and seeing your self as a character that you can actually write with any sort of balance and reflection. And one of my favourite memoirs is Glennon Doyle, who wrote books like Untamed and so on. And she says don’t write from an open wound write from a scar, because the person coming to the book the reader wants to see how your story resonates with their story. Otherwise, unless you’re someone celebrity, your story is not that interesting. It’s what can the reader learn from your story. Where are the parts where they go Oh my God it felt that way too. I may not have gone through exactly a divorce or depression, although a lot of people have, but they’ll say oh my god I felt like the world fell out on me, too. And then so you know again putting those feelings into words and then taking a step further. How did I deal with it. Maybe there’s some clues. It’s not meant to be a self help book. But I think connection and finding the words can be a means of self help. So I’m getting really long winded here. You jump in.
Jaime Lewis 10:11
It’s wonderful. Well so many thoughts. I mean, one is just that I agree with you memoir – often for me as the reader reading other people’s memoir – is totally therapeutic. And I have read Glennon Doyle. She actually. Personally I haven’t enjoyed her most recent stuff as much as Carry on Warrior, her first book, which is. She started as a blogger, which you know I think we forget that now. So many of the people we read now and enjoy and have become personalities, who are you know have podcasts and shows and all that they started as bloggers, which is pretty cool.
She wrote one essay on her old blog about being in the line at Target with a small child, maybe it was a couple of her kids. And one of them was I think freaking out a little bit, having a moment. And this older woman said something like it goes so fast treasure it now. And so many people would write about how you know “it’s true I really do need to treasure it now”. Glennon said “absolutely not. I am not treasuring it right now. This is super hard”. And she like you said she wrote from a scar point of view, I think, rather than from inside the trauma. Let the time pass. Because the reason memoir works when it does work – if I could be so bold to define this – I think is when you’re outside the trauma, you can derive meaning from like what does this mean for me? how did this change me? Otherwise, it’s just maybe whining or complaining. You have to get to a point where the reader feels like they are benefiting from the writing and when they do, and when it all lines up, when the audience and the author really interface, that’s such magic. And I speak that from being a reader. Not everybody is this way, but for me books are the things that have more than anything changed my life. They have turned me around at times. And I mean that’s not the case for a lot of people, maybe it’s therapy or maybe it’s like a 12 step programme or maybe it’s having a deep, deep friendship or relationship with a parent. For me, it’s totally been reading books. I mean I have many favourites that are like friends that I come back to.
Natalie MacLean 12:39
Exactly, I love that you said friends. And you know for me what memoir does – like I still love literature, but I don’t read as much of it as I did when I was little, whether it was my Mom reading to me or when I started reading on my own – but like Narnia and Lord of the Rings and Wizard of Oz. But when we get to the end of the book, I was kind of sad because I felt like I’ve lost a friend. Whereas with memoir, I feel like I can keep in touch with the character or friend I’ve gotten to know because I can follow them on social media or I can take a course or you know stalk them, but not in a creepy way. But.
Jaime Lewis 13:17
Well they invite it much of the time you know.
Natalie MacLean 13:19
Its true. Exactly. And I get to see how they’re living the lessons they learned in the memoir, so I still can see is there something that I can still apply to my life or you know just it’s interesting to see them living out in the world, that character that you got to know so well. And then continuing on with them through their next book or whatever. And I find just a rope it back to there’s some similarities with wine. So you know that first Brunello I had. I’ll probably never have that exact same experience. But I can buy either that wine or another vintage and try to spark those memory neurons, dendrites and see if I can get back there as closely as I can. So I can kind of stay in touch with wine that way, too. And those experiences.
Jaime Lewis 14:08
Yes, so part of the title for this new book is. By the way, when are you planning to have it release?
Natalie MacLean 14:14
Sure. So I’m going to be traditionally published, which means like it’s not self published or hybrid. It’s with a traditional publisher. And the lead times in book publishing are always so long, but May 9, 2023. And I’m very excited. I just was told my pub date today. They emailed me, and I’m so excited, but you know yeah it’ll be a long journey. But I mean it’s already starting.
Jaime Lewis 14:41
It is starting, totally. Well so in that title can you tell me, if you’re comfortable telling me, a little bit about the depression part of it?
Natalie MacLean 14:49
Absolutely. So depression runs in my family and it’s probably why alcoholism does, too. Because my family and I have tried to medicate our way, self medicate our way out of depression. But as you know, Jaime, it’s a short term fix. Alcohol is actually a depressant. So I think there’s a genetic component that’s very strong. There’s a personality predisposition. You know the thing that I joke about, whether it’s perfectionism or competitiveness, there’s a desire there that says I’m not good enough. And there’s a resulting sadness or depression that comes with that. I mean I’ve been in therapy for years and I’ll continue to be. I think therapy is excellent. It’s a really good. To end, there are a number of therapy sessions in the book that I find that I hope readers will find of interest. I’m also a believer in taking drugs if your brain chemistry is not right. And I’m on Zoloft. So it’s an antidepressant or a serotonin uptake inhibitor. And then you know moderation, I’ve had to learn a lot of techniques for moderation, because I love wine so much I don’t want to give up on it. And yeah, I considered Alcoholics Anonymous and that works for some people. But that wasn’t my thing. And I don’t think I in all truthfulness with myself I ever got to the point that I felt I was an alcoholic, but I have done lots of techniques. So from you know I’ll open a bottle and I’ll pour right away half of it into a clean, empty open half bottle so that I don’t feel like I have to finish it or it’s gonna go bad. Or you know I’ve discovered all kinds of preservation techniques for wine from Repour, which scavenges oxygen – I can send you links to these; I’m not on commission for any of it – to the preserve spray that puts, what is it, nitrous oxide or whatever. It gets out the oxygen in the bottle. All kinds of thing. To special tops for bubbly and so on.
Jaime Lewis 16:52
This is great. Those tips. I mean, that’s like money in the bank for me.
It’s really valuable not just for those of us who maybe have to watch, I mean I’m also on Zoloft. We should have a group of wine writers on Zoloft. I mean, we can really get this thing going.
Natalie MacLean 17:13
Yes, there’s so many people and I’m glad you said it because there shouldn’t be a stigma. Yet I think there still is.
Jaime Lewis 17:20
And I will say, I mean it has changed my life. I even get choked up thinking about how I felt like the water was up at my forehead and I could not get my nose above water.
Good way to put it.
A friend of mine who’s a therapist, I actually really love this, she said the best thing for somebody who’s really in deep, who’s down in a deep dark hole, the best thing for them is the combination of therapy and medication. And here’s why. I can give you therapy all day long, but if you’re in that deep, dark hole, you’re banging up against the wall of this hole. If you do some kind of medication that lifts you up to ground level and then therapy you can walk forward.
It’s really instructive, I think. And I found it to be really true. For the right person, if you really cannot get your nose above water, it really is helpful. And I’ve come to a point now where at first I thought maybe this is a temporary thing and I can get over it. But the person who prescribed it to me said, and this is a little bit daunting, but she said if you have major depressive disorder, which means it’s chronic, you have a 100% chance of relapse if you go off your medication.
Wow. That’s good to know.
It’s like a wake up call for me. That if I had diabetes or if I had high blood pressure, I would take my Lipitor. I would take my insulin and I would say to myself this is forever. Yeah, it’s kind of sad, I’d maybe grieve it a bit. And then I move on. With this, I really did have to tell myself you know this is forever as far as I’m concerned. And that’s okay.
It is okay.
And move on.
Natalie MacLean 19:11
Exactly. And you know I even say to friends or whatever, if you broke your arm you’d have a cast. And no one would say oh can’t you just let that mend on its own? Like you’re so weak or whatever. It’s like no, but we associate these physical things. Even heart disease doesn’t have the stigma as mental illness or depression in trying to fix it. There’s a chemical imbalance. And you know I’ve come to the resolution that I’ll be on it forever, too. Because while I was travelling and I forgot to take one and the next day I thought why do I feel like I’m coming undone. It like there’s not undone but just this general something’s not right. Something’s not right. And then I remembered, oh my god, I forgot to take it. And you know there’s so many misconceptions. But for me, Zoloft doesn’t make me happy. It just unties the knot.
It’s not like some sort of Prozac, Valium, Valium. Not that there’s anything wrong with those. But it’s not to make you like fake happy all the time. It’s like they’re a knot here. And can we just release it so they can live.
Jaime Lewis 20:19
And it’s also not to like numb you out where you have no personality. I’ve been told that when you find the right medication, you just feel like you. You just feel like you. And that was definitely the case. It almost made me more myself than I had been before I went on it. So I think if someone is listening and they are kind of medication curious on this or feeling like that resonates. I mean, I would just seriously consider going to your primary care doctor or find a good psychiatrist and get referrals and just start having a conversation about it.
Natalie MacLean 20:56
Absolutely. Because you know neither you nor I are doctors nor are we prescribing anything here, but there’s so many choices, too. I mean we’re definitely not on commission for Zoloft. But there’s so many different brands that I’ve heard of Effexor and all kinds of them like Zoloft isn’t the only one either. And as you said, it’s that fit with your brain chemistry that’s the magic.
Jaime Lewis 21:16
Yeah and thank you to all of the scientists and researchers who came up with that you know who did the work to find that for us. Okay, so off of depression now.
Natalie MacLean 21:26
Yes, a bit of a downer.
Because the listener is like…
What is this podcast? Oh yeah, wine a little bit, food a little bit.
Jaime Lewis 21:37
You know what, Natalie, actually that does wind up being the case. And I love listening to things like that. I love when it spins out into life. You know, it’s not just about food and wine. That’s where we begin. But it threads out. And I love that.
Natalie MacLean 21:53
And that’s the job of food and wine to get to other subjects. And one last thing. Zoloft and other things are also a good guard against leaning on wine too much or any other drug that is not good for you. Anyway.
Jaime Lewis 22:05
That is such a good point. Yes. Okay. So I want to hear a little bit about you talked about the fact that you have made your own platform, which I just you know I’ve only done that tiny, tiny bit. And it’s so empowering. And it’s so freeing not to be under the banner, like nobody’s the boss of me basically. And I can come up with whatever I want. I got a guest lecture at our local university about podcasting just a couple days ago. And one of the things that I shared was I don’t do a weekly podcast and I know that you do, and I actually would do it if I could, but I got some great advice at the beginning that was you don’t have to do anything. This isn’t Saturday Night Live or like Stephen Colbert. You decide how often you’re going to put it out there and commit to it and do it. And so I said I would do 10 episodes per quarter, which allows me to really batch up my interviews.
And it’s been so good. It’s been so good for my lifestyle. So I just really respect people who build their own platform. I think that it’s the coolest and it’s really empowering. But for yours, it looks like you started with writing for publication. But then you also wrote a couple of books. And what came after that because you have so much now.
Natalie MacLean 23:22
So yeah, you’re right. I started with like a local food magazine, few other newspaper articles and so on. Then created the website because I mean that started organically because people were saying oh I can’t read your article because it’s in your city. And I’m over here. So I started you know emailing them all the articles every time and then I needed a central repository. And that led to the website and the email newsletter. That was a natural evolution. And then the books came because I an editor at Penguin, now Penguin Random House, who emailed me after I had won a James Beard Award. And she said, have you ever thought of writing a book? And I hadn’t. So I thought is this the way you do it? And then I asked my magazine editor at the time, she said no you need to get an agent backup. And so I did get an agent. And then we went to different publishers and I did go with Penguin Random House for the first two books.
So the books came next, then mobile apps. So I have apps for iPhone and Android that scan either the front label reader or the back barcode and instantly access tasting notes and scores. And within Canada, the local liquor store stock. Like if you’re looking for a Cabernet, which stores have it, and how far are they from you. But I have a lot of international users and certainly many many in the States because I review a tonne of California, Washington, New York, Oregon wines.
Let’s see. what else was there? And then there was the wine courses than the podcast. So I teach an online course that I love, The Wine Smart Course: A Full Bodied Framework to Pair, Buy, and Taste wine like a Pro. So that’s online. And that’s been a wonderful way to connect with wine lovers around the world because we all geek out together. It’s mainly based on food pairing. So it attracts both the sommeliers and the foodies, but also those who are pretty new to wine. Like you don’t have to be an expert at all. We just really take the deep dive into all kinds of food wine pairings.
Jaime Lewis 25:24
That’s a lot, Natalie. That is a lot. And I forgot you had won a James Beard Award. What was that for specifically? Was it through your column?
Natalie MacLean 25:33
So the first one was for…
The first one! The first one! You are so badass. I love it.
Natalie MacLean 25:41
Thank you. I just happen to slip that in. Thanks for setting that up. It’s like volleyball. Set. My first one was for an online article. So I got started that way, too, in terms of some of the writing. So I’ve won four James Beard Awards.
Oh my gosh.
And one was for magazine writing. One was for online. One was for the newsletter. And the fourth one was for what they call the MFK Fisher award. That they give out at the end of the night. Sort of like Best Picture, I guess.
But it it was for that was for a magazine article as well.
Jaime Lewis 26:16
Oh, gosh. Speaking of MFK Fisher, I mean…
Natalie MacLean 26:20
Love. Love. Love. Oh my gosh. A hero of mine. Best writer ever.
I have to qualify it with food. I can’t even quote her accurately. But she said when we talk of love we talk of hunger and connection and everything else. She got that, the whole thing we’ve been talking about it.
Jaime Lewis 26:38
Yes. Yeah, she totally did. And yeah best writer in general and a memoirist. I mean that’s a great way to study memoir.
That is true. Yeah.
Yeah. Oh gosh, so great. Because you have so much going on – you really do – how do you take care of yourself? I mean, we talked about the biggies like medication and therapy. But I mean in terms of like a normal day, if you feel overwhelmed, what would you do to take care of yourself?
Natalie MacLean 27:07
I am a big walker. I love to go for walks. And if I can get into a bit of nature. Like we’re not near a forest but we’re near a lake. And there’s some trees. There’s that term that people use these days
“forest bathing” but I think it’s good for your soul to get near nature.
I’ve never heard that that. It is so great.
Oh, yeah, there’s something about it. Like I’ve heard, I don’t know the whole science, but bodies of water have negative ions which are actually positive for us. So there’s something there in the air even with water but also forests or trees or just nature that is restorative to our biology. But also walking. Evolutionarily, we are walkers. And the limbic system calms down when it’s in motion. So the whole you know you rock a baby but you’re kind of rocking yourself when you’re walking. And it’s often when my best ideas come to me. But it’s also the way I calm down is just to that rocking motion of walking, and going somewhere and just changing the energy. We sit at our desks so long, whether we’re writers or a lot of other professions, that we need to get mobile again. We were made to walk. So I love doing that. Every day.
Jaime Lewis 28:24
I do, too. I got hooked on walking when I was in. I studied architecture history in Italy by myself for a summer at one time. And by study, it just meant like I went to different buildings and experienced them for myself. Because all I had been doing at that point was so abstract writing about them, and reading about them. It was a wonderful grant that I received. But I went on my own. And because I had a very limited budget, I couldn’t always sit at a cafe and journal. So I had to kind of be mobile all the time. I couldn’t afford to sit down. And in Europe, a lot of the time when you sit down it costs money. So even on beaches and things like that you know you’re paying for your space. And that was always a big splurge. You know you’d sip it you get out of there. I was walking all summer long. And I completely I mean just I guess empirically experienced what you’re talking about where the limbic system calms. It’s also just a great way to use your body in a low impact way. It’s not gonna damage you generally speaking and you get to see things. And in my town I see people I know all over the place. You sign up for conversation. You pick up a coffee. You, you know. It’s just. It’s awesome. So I’m a big walker, too. I love it.
Natalie MacLean 29:47
That’s true. The interactions are good, too. And as an introvert, I like micro interactions. So I’m not committing to sitting down for dinner with somebody although I do like doing that. But you know just the people you see. It gets you out of your head. And either just saying hi or a short conversation with someone who’s at the end of their driveway. Oh looks like you’re raking leaves or whatever and you just keep going. But there’s something there, too, that’s good. Even if you do tend to be more introverted.
Jaime Lewis 30:17
Well, I wasn’t going to ask you any more questions. But since you mentioned introversion, how do you define that for yourself?
Natalie MacLean 30:25
For me, there’s a difference between introversion and shyness, although I think I’m both. Introversion is I like to process information, experiences, and everything else internally. Whereas Miles, my partner, I believe is an extrovert. He likes to talk it out. So that works most of the time. So like, if I go to a gathering or book reading or an event, afterwards I kind of have to retreat to the hotel room or my bedroom or something and recharge the battery. Whereas an extrovert, to me, that they’d be riding on a high like that would have charged their battery just being at the event. Shyness, to me is a skill that can be or it could be a predisposition, I’m no expert, but I think it can be overcome in that you can develop skills whether it’s speaking skills or interview skills or whatever it is. But your natural inclination is not to speak up. Whereas introversion, to me is how you process an experience or information. That seems to be the difference. But what do you think?
Jaime Lewis 31:24
I mean, you see me. I’m like nodding like crazy. We have so much in common. At a party, I will be the life of the party. I will be obnoxiously the life of the party. I will scoot around. I’ll talk to everybody. I crack jokes. Be loud. The moment I leave, I am so depleted. It’s like I don’t know why it’s the only way I can turn that off. And I do value so much my deep conversations with people like this one. I mean I really do get so much from connecting with someone through conversation. But I won’t really digest it until we turn this off. And I go and like you know peel apples for applesauce. And that’s where in a little task, that’s where I will I think it’s also where I will derive meaning from what we talk about. I will be able to apply it to my, I guess, apply it to my memory almost to you know to be able to really cement it is something that I remember. But introversion, I mean it’s interesting because I can be so gregarious and know everybody in tow and then my husband is really quiet and has been accused of being aloof in party situations. The interesting thing is, he is having the time of his life when he’s with people. And when we have a good positive social interaction, when we leave that party, he is on a high. He really gets but you don’t know it by looking at him. Same as you can’t tell by looking at me that I’m like skittering off the edge. So but you know for people like us also don’t you find that there’s a threat of isolation, too. Where you can feel it, when it’s getting, you are too isolated. It’s tough to deal with people.
Natalie MacLean 33:19
It is and you know during the pandemic there were a couple of days when I didn’t go outside because it was so cold or, you know, I just did not want to go to the grocery store. But it really can have an impact. And that is part of taking care of yourself. If you tend toward introversion is I used to tell myself for the longest time, I just don’t like people. They just drain me. But I need some of it. You know, apart from my closest relationships, I do need to get out there because I do notice my energy changes. Doesn’t mean I need to go to a party out there. But I need to have what I call some micro transactions or conversations with people just to get me out of my head and change the energy.
Jaime Lewis 34:00
Yes, yes. That’s good medicine in its way, too. Yeah. Well so I ask everybody on this podcast, is if were your last day on earth. Let’s say you knew you would die tomorrow. And you’re like, you know what it’s been a good run. I’ve done. I mean you’re so accomplished. And it sounds like you’ve really found your way through a lot of interpersonal things. If you were like you know it’s been really good. I want to celebrate, what would you eat and what would you drink and who would be there and it can be anybody living dead. And it can be any food, not just the stuff that’s available at your local grocery store.
Natalie MacLean 34:39
Sure. I definitely have a banquet, a dinner party with my closest people. My mom, my partner, my son, some family members, some friends, and if I could invite dead people too then MFK Fisher is welcome. Jaime, I’d like to have you there because I think we could pick up this conversation.
Jaime Lewis 35:00
If you’re saying MFK Fisher is going to be there, I think I’d like to be invited. Yes.
Natalie MacLean 35:05
Do you want to sit beside or across? Which is the best conversation dialogue anyway? So definitely it’d be a dinner. And since cost would be no object because this is the last day, I’d be springing for the good stuff for everybody. No decoy wines that I can put out when I’m being snobby. So I put out Domain Romanée- Conti, the pinnacle of Burgundian Pinot Noir. And we drink it from a good year. And because of a wine first kind of gal you know the food is harder for me to come up with. So I would probably do something unconventional, like my grandmother’s homemade biscuits. And they’d either be, well this wouldn’t go with the wine at all, but Strawberry Shortcake or they’d be out of the oven warm and just slathered with melting butter. I think that would go with the Burgundy, the Pinot Noir. I don’t know. I don’t care.
It doesn’t matter at that point.
So I would eat a lot of biscuits and drink a lot of Burgundy. Burgundy and biscuits to finish it off.
Jaime Lewis 36:07
That is a fine pairing right there. Biscuits, I had biscuits a couple of days ago from a restaurant and they have apple butter on them. I was dying. It was so good. Biscuits, I forget how good they are. Natalie MacLean, you are so good at this. I mean for being an introvert you’re so good at defining what life is for. and wine is a great lens for that.
Natalie MacLean 36:33
It is. And I love the questions you asked, Jaime. There’s just a lot of resonance. We have to get together person, please.
Please. I’ve always wanted to see Ottawa. I’ll come up.
Natalie MacLean 36:45
Come up in the summer for sure. Or you’re in a beautiful part of California.
So you can come here?
Yeah, definitely something or some conference or something. But anyway, let’s not wait till the last day on Earth though.
Jaime Lewis 36:58
No, please. Thank you so much for joining me on this special episode.
Natalie MacLean 37:03
Thank you, Jamie.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Jamie. In the shownotes, you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with her, links to Jamie’s website and podcast, and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to Food and Wine Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.con/214. Email me if you have a sip, tip mquestion, or would like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] If you missed episode 105 go back and take a listen. I chat about festive wine and cheese pairings with Janet Fletcher. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Janet Fletcher 37:59
There are a lot of similarities. You know for me, one of the biggest ones is that cheese makers like winemakers start with the simplest palette of ingredients. They have milk and they have cultures and they rennet. Just like winemakers have grapes and yeast.
Grape juice. Fresh liquids. that are going to be fermented.
What gives us such a range of taste experiences in the cheese world, in the wine world, are the decisions that the producer makes along the way to take it in one direction or another. And, of course, with wine there’s a little more that place element that comes into play a little bit less so for most cheeses. But with cheese, it’s more that the cheese maker makes a million little decisions all along the way in that recipe that takes milk and cultures and a little bit of rennet and makes so many different kinds of cheese.
Natalie MacLean 38:52
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the wines, tips and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat about California wines with Chuck Cramer, host of the podcast On The Road with Mr CA Wine.
Natalie MacLean 39:10
Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a wine that deepened your appreciation for all wine. You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMaclean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers