Alive and Well, and Living Well

In October of 2013 I discovered the concept of a “Life Well-Lived” List, and I really embraced the concept of the anti-bucket list. Instead of listing all the things I have yet to achieve or experience, I’m far more interested in exploring the things that I have done as I experiment, adventure and experience my life. About every two years, I seem to feel compelled to create an update entry.

I figure since I have barely blogged in the last 2 years, this is a great way to cover the missed time. Perhaps it’s also a way to kickstart future posts? I’m not sure yet. We’ll see.

Anyway, the previous lists are:

Let’s begin, shall we? Of course March 2017 is nearly three years ago – that’s a good deal of living that I’m rounding up. Buckle up!

89 – I visited the Georgia Archives and became an official “archivist” – it was like a free pass into the “Restricted Section” of the Hogwarts library, but that was nothing compared to the

90 – scholarly paper I wrote about puppets and got entrance into the archives under the Center for Puppetry Arts. I will never forget watching a surreal Czech Faust film while sitting in a silent archive.

91 – I visited the lovely city of Austin, including the Museum of the Weird and a drive through zoo where Brett lost his wedding ring while petting a reindeer.

92 – Realizing that I was going to be working from home with LowKey, I had the backyard redone. The dog felt like we had purchased the dog park and brought it home.

93 – I’ve ridden a number of career waves. After 6 years at WebMD, I moved to Hipcamp for a while. Hipcamp experiences were really lovely. It included camping on a sheep farm and visiting a wool mill, picking apples on a working farm in Bolenas, and a farm in North Carolina… off the top of my head.

94 – After Hipcamp, I was a successful freelance consultant for a few years. I enjoyed working for a variety of clients all over the country. I made my own business website and everything. It was good to work for myself – I learned that I like to set my own hours, that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to full-time work. Physically, I have to take more breaks than I used to. And I honestly am not sure people are meant to work that much.

95 – A week or two ago, I took a salary job at a B2B marketing agency. This role is not 40 hours a week – because I still won’t go back to full-time. I’ve been working with this team for about two years, and the people are top-notch. It’s been lovely to feel like I’m part of a larger team, and to have coworkers who support and back each other up. This is kind of a sweet spot between the freedom of freelancing and the security of having a real job with benefits.

96 – If you remember all of the upheaval of the Saving Sweet Briar times in 2015, you might also remember that I helped my friend Camille finish her Bachelor’s at Agnes Scott College. I got to attend her graduation (Oprah was the commencement speaker!!) as a member of her family.

97 – I also attended my 20th year college reunion on a newly-saved Sweet Briar in 2017. It was a very big deal to get to go back again.

98 – I got banned on Instagram for 24 hours for posting disturbing photos from the Wisconsin attraction “House on the Rock.” (If you’ve read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you know that’s where Shadow and Wednesday ride the carousel like a prayer wheel to enter an alternate dimension for a god-meeting).

99 – To finish the American Gods bookends, I did not get banned from Instagram from the visit to Rock City. But I did see it as per barnside instructions.

100 – I went to grad school. I like that as number 100, because it feels very milestoney. I got my Master’s degree in Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology in the Summer of 2019. I’m officially ABD in terms of my study, and considered a Ph.D. Candidate. This winter, I start my dissertation.

101 – I’ve had a short story published in a real-life print book. I’ve held a book in my hands that has my name in the table of contents. And because I have a goal to submit more work every month, that’s not my only clip. I’ve also had stories published in Mayday Magazine, Bell Coffin Journal, and I’ve got a few more currently working through the acceptance process.

102 – I’ve been a guest star on three separate podcasts. One about SEO, one about Chronic Illness, and one about Mythology.

103 – I started my own mythology-themed ASMR Youtube channel. It’s not much – I fell off on it with the pandemic. But I intend to keep trying to produce videos!

104 – I’ve visited architecturally interesting places, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and Alcatraz. The abandoned Central State Mental Hospital in Milledgeville and burned down mansions on Cumberland Island. The Parthenon in Nashville and Paradise Gardens.

105 – I (only kind of) started taking my photography hobby a little more seriously. I started a “store” at Picfair to see if anyone else wanted some of my weird shots. I also printed a number of them and framed them around my house.

106 – I attended a magic show at a church-turned-funeral-parlor. It wasn’t until the Lyft dropped me off just outside the empty building that I remembered that Santa Barbara was basically where the Hellmouth was supposed to be.

107 – I’ve had three surgeries in my life, if you don’t count LASIK. Once was jaw surgery when I was fifteen, once was a cardiac cath in 2018, and most recently, I had bariatric surgery.

108 – I’ve experienced the bizarre euphoria of a butterfly house. The mind thinks its attacked by the quick and unpredictable movements, then it’s just lovely and non-lethal butterflies. It’s a strange giddiness that suffuses you when you feel that.

109 – Another bizarre euphoria is whale watching. I’ve seen blue whales, right whales, and the cutest thing in the world: BABY DOLPHINS.

110 – I’ve been formally diagnosed with autism. This more validated a lot of my experience of the world and how I feel about some social situations.

111 – Like the bookish nerd I am, I’ve seen a lot of authors at readings in my life. From Rick Riordan to Bill Bryson to Scott Russell Sanders. From Brandon Sanderson to Neil Gaiman. Our professors at Grad School have included some swoony fangirl moments for me, like Christine Downing and Maureen Murdock.

112 – And to return to where I started at the top of this list, the archives at school are no slouch. I have gotten chills wandering the Marija Gimbutas collection and the Marian Woodman library at the Opus Archives, let alone getting into the Joseph Campbell Archives.

There are more big changes afoot, and I’m certain to have hundreds more things to add to this list. For now, this will do. It really is a life well-lived.

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