My Story, So Far
When you’re thirty, your bio's all about stretching—how to fluff and pad and make ten years of work sound very big and important. But by the time you reach sixty, it’s about condensing. What stays in, what gets edited out.
Do I go back as far as the carnival, the best seven summers of my life? Do I include the month as an innkeeper on a Caribbean island no one’s ever heard of? Or do I stick to the serious stuff, the LinkedIn-ready bits that show off my upward progression, my diversity? Two years putting on a telethon for charity. Six years opening hair salons up and down the East Coast. Another six years building an online education program for teachers before most people knew how to use a mouse.
Then there were all the in-betweens, like the DC dining club I launched, the newsletters I wrote for dairy farmers, the Myers-Briggs workshops I led.
Writing is the thread that runs through it all. My first paid freelance gig was in 2004, a back-of-the-book piece for a bus association trade magazine on the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Delaware. I’ve sold many articles since then, about fireplace inns, coastal cities, promising restaurants, quirky winemakers.
I love to write about people trying to make a go of something; the energy of a maker or an entrepreneur. For the last decade, I’ve been telling the story of Virginia wine. From the moment I realized wine was being made forty miles from my home, I’ve been enthralled, which has led to a Virginia Wine Country travel app, two websites (including my new one), and two editions of a travel guide, plus a pile of profiles and features and round-ups. (Try this: Google Nancy Bauer + VA wine.)
I met a woman named Olivia on the road to Florida. She was maybe 70, a part-time hostess at a restaurant I stopped at a lot. She asked if I was traveling alone. She could never do that, she said. And that inspired me to launch Hurry Up, Girl, a little site where I write about older women and personal quests. The older I get, the more interesting ladies of a certain age become.
Like many in the long lull of Covid, I completed a quest of my own that had been tailing me for years, the manuscript for my first novel. The Wildflower Garden is about four past-midlife women forced to reinvent themselves following a tragedy. It's set in Virginia Wine Country, of course.
And now I guess we're all caught up. I'd love to hear your story, too—drop me a line.
*I emailed Olivia to tell her about Hurry Up, Girl. Six months later, I ran into her again. She told me she’d driven four hours from her home in South Carolina to visit an old friend in Georgia. And that next time she might even go a little farther.