We Mavens are accomplished women, IMHO. Strivers, doers, succeeders. We look at a mountain, however steep, and think, “Let’s go.” It’s thrilling, to watch each other climb. It’s even more thrilling to climb that mountain together. I’d like to think that Indy Maven provides that kind of supportive community. Collaborative champions of each’s accomplishments.
So, yes, we are capable people who offer a lot to society at large. But we are also humans, living out very human experiences. We try and fail, we love and lose, and we grow and change. To that end, we polled some of Indy Maven’s top contributors to share their Anti-Resumes, as we’re calling them. Once again inspired by the writing prompts of poet Amy Kay, we took pen to page to write our own versions of “Congratulations to My Life.”
What are the accomplishments that can’t be quantified in our capitalistic society? What are the moments of growth? The actions we took made us more us. The lessons learned. The things we did that actually mattered most, that we will look back on in old age and think, “That. That was what life was all about.”
Enjoy. And if you care to write one yourself, will you share it with us? Send it to email@example.com.
I committed to a life of minimalism to balance out my maximalist tendencies. I held my mom’s hand as her soul began to leave this earth. I took a picture.
I gave birth to a boy during a 12 hour labor without an epidural under a super blue blood moon. I gave birth to a second in 3 hours with an epidural during a pandemic then watched Hobbs & Shaw.
I memorized lyrics to Master P, Eminem, and TLC songs but had to take algebra twice in high school – and three times in college.
I almost became a lawyer but became a journalist turned entrepreneur instead. I won an award in 8th grade for catching a child predator. I later survived sexual assault and domestic violence. I dated a man who told me how to live my life but married one that would never. I made stir fry from the 1974 “Joy of Cooking” for people I love. I started drinking alcohol at 14 and coffee at 35. I’ve had many pets but deeply loved three cats, two dogs, and a fat hamster. I wonder what’s next – I’m an Enneagram 7 after all.
–Leslie Bailey, CEO
I learned the difference between a maple and an oak tree leaf. I lived in a house under construction for seven years (and counting). I walked away from a relationship, a community, a belief system, a way of life. I kept walking. I grew zinnias. I grew Sungold tomatoes. I grew a shit ton of weeds. I let go of clothes that didn’t fit, expectations, plans, people, and both good and bad ideas. I stayed calm sometimes. I lost punch cards for free drinks at coffee shops and coupons for 50 cents off yogurt smoothies. I went back to dance class after a ten-year break. I pulled small toys out of in-use toilets without swearing or punching walls. I said I’d schedule a playdate and never did. I asked for help. I watched my children watch a rainbow, the snowfall, the ocean, a ladybug for the first time. I remembered to check on my people and forgot the kids’ medicine at home. I marked the days I wanted to mark, a huge red circle on the calendar. Just for me.
-Marlin Bruns, Contributor
I relapsed, realized I still had just as much value as I did before, and recognized my shame came from impossible perfectionism imposed upon me through organized religion – then I let it go. I’ve never spoken an unkind word about my body in front of my daughters, and to date, they have never said an unkind word about their own. I love talking about tender things until I cry, showing me where my work is. When a man violated my consent, I didn’t freeze, I fucking fought. I realized my most tremendous heartaches are born from loneliness. I have saved lives with my words. I meet people when I’m supposed to meet them and connect them to others when the time is right. I take pictures for strangers so they can be in them together. I bake well. I protect my energy. I honor my boundaries. I hug like I mean it. I get stuck in my head a lot, but have gotten myself out every time (so far). If someone doesn’t want kids, I confirm their choice. I compliment strangers. Most of the time I have a hard time believing all of this *waves arms* is worth it, but then the universe cracks open and shows me every beautiful thing to ever exist all at once, and I keep going until the universe cracks again.
–Casey Coombs, Contributor
Dearest 나 (me),
I have made it.
I’m a HOME-OWNER!!!
Not the shoulda, woulda, coulda “made it”. The kind where I am sitting at my dining room table eating Korean foods that I made, watching my Black Lives Matter & Intersex Pride flags billow in the wind in a quaint, predominantly white town, and with every cell of my being knowing that I AM HOME. My partner and I bought this house to be our home. What makes this home THE home of all homes? Our cat capturing stray socks while we sleep and displaying them up our stairs, hallway, and bedroom entryway as offerings to her human gods? The upstairs and downstairs blood pressure cuffs? My bigs (3 adult kids) are independent amazeballs while my littles (2 boys) dump what is left of cereal and milk in the kitchen sink without rinsing, and with annoyance I smile because they too will be off on their own way too soon. I could cry? My no-degree-ass-self co-chairing, LEADING, building, and advocating at the intersection of AAPI & LGBTQ+ community for two grassroots organizations because I am a smart, wise, passionate, experienced, witty, and a thoughtful connector and change maker? Mucking (trauma muck, still shit), climbing, scaling the vicarious cliffs of a Korean adoptee diaspora with alexithymia, yet we can understand each other in a most innate way? Massaging the Broca’s area with Korean Courses that never developed the Korean tongue past the first and only 6 months of my life in Korea? Completing the EMDR Therapy, that has been life-changing, and more importantly life-saving, where all of these things can be held and co-exist in me? Being loved unconditionally in a most safe & beautiful space?
All of this!
This is home!
This is my home!
This home is me!
–Michelle Dahl, Board Member
I refused to stay the same. I walked backwards down the side of building just to say goodbye to an old version of me. I gave up running and took up weightlifting because it brought me more joy to be strong than to be thin. I loved every cat I ever met, even the one who bit me (*sigh* his name was Boots). I went to therapy; I quit therapy: I went back to therapy. One time, I looked at myself in the mirror for an entire 10 seconds without criticism. I stopped trying to keep orchids alive. I quit buying uncomfortable shoes. My hair has been long, short, straight, curly, and I’ve had bangs, but never because of a breakup. In the chaos of life, I spent 30 minutes in stillness, lying naked on a blanket in the sand with someone I loved, watching a meteor shower. I tried new recipes for big occasions. I took a nap. I woke up.
–Hannah Giere, Copy Editor
I am the successful mom of five fake plants because I can’t keep one alive. I laughed more than I sang a Disney song in a karaoke bar. I watched my sister find the love of her life, but lose our last name. Made irreplaceable friends and watched them all move to different states. Made best friends with the airport and facetime. Found comfort in my Brooks running shoes and mountains with high elevation. I got Covid and ran a marathon 10 days later. I learned that candy can be breakfast every once in a while. I broke glass, broke hearts, and broke my bank account on Lululemon that is too small for me now. I found joy in doing things I hated. Debated. And finally dated boys who took no for an answer. I learned to eat dinner by myself. I finally started a skincare routine that I keep, and yes – it includes sunscreen. I feel happy on days when the sun doesn’t shine. Understand that crying and laughing at the same time doesn’t make me crazy. Realized I am crazy. Loved that I am crazy. I learned that I get to make the real crazy world, my dream world.
–Abigail Kom, contributor and former Indy Maven Fellow
I took a pottery class after seeing my childhood heroes do it in movies. I learned how to cook and got over my irrational fear of cooking meat. Perusing the grocery store is one of my Top 5 hobbies. The first car I bought was my dream car. After countless visits to big cities, I still can’t successfully navigate a metro. Throughout college, I worked as a waitress and learned life lessons that classrooms will never teach me. I learned to appreciate my flaws. I also realized my mom is one of the best people I know. After slaving away in the corporate world, I learned that my happiness and well-being matter more. Having freshly painted nails is one of life’s greatest luxuries. On my bad days, I can be found finding happiness in the Starbucks drive-thru.
–Samantha Kupiainen, Gift Guider
Duty has always been a thread of my life, as has achievement. Duty to my family. Duty to my career and professional accomplishments. Duty to my friends. Duty to everything that was expected of me and not to myself. I’ve decided that, as a recovering people pleaser, I’m going to live my villain era full of boundaries, decisions made for me, and creative projects. I’m not going to feel bad if I didn’t win an award or go after a big contract. I’m going to have weekday evenings to spend with my husband, going to my favorite weight training class, or moments with friends. I will do things that I know I’ll remember in 20 years instead of giving up opportunities. I will spend time with people and projects that matter most to me. Cheers to embracing the moments I’ll remember, instead of the pressure of achievement.
–Jenn Lisak Golding, Enneagram Columnist
I once started reading a book and then, I stopped when it didn’t grab my attention. I swore off hot yoga only to pick it back up 20 years later with a fervent dependence that appeared out of thin air. I learned to never say never. I ate scones with my mom in London town. I was an artist who didn’t go into debt. I discovered that I liked my own company. I accepted that I am perpetually late. I got lost ~54,367 times, but I always, somehow, found my way. I cross-stitched a sampler for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. I believed survivors. I worked as a hostess at Olive Garden and enjoyed those breadsticks PRIOR to embracing a gluten-free lyfe. I learned to ask for help. Then forgot. Then relearned again, when desperate enough. I learned how to bake my mom’s butterscotch brownies and her Christmas butter cookies. Then I shared them. I studied The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with every fiber of my being. I learned that No is a full sentence. I watched the sun set with my dad across the New Mexico sky. I witnessed my daughter learning to read. I deadheaded flowers as a form of meditation. I sought comfort in mugs of hot water. When in doubt, I tidied.
–Maura Malloy, Managing Editor
I am grateful to have discovered that I no longer have to work a job I do not love. I can follow my passions and turn them into my livelihood. I learned I do not have to be well known to be a positive influence on many people. I understand now that my goals aren’t achieved immediately. They take time, often more time than I would prefer to wait. I am thankful I met people from the jobs I didn’t love who have been my friends for 25 years. I am glad I have friends who were born and grew up on different continents. I never would have expected that as a child living in the Midwest. I still can’t believe I get paid to work as a dance fitness/group exercise instructor. My younger self would be pleased that all of that dancing in the backyard to songs by Janet, Madonna and Mariah was worth it. I have voted Democrat, Republican and Libertarian, and that’s ok. Life has taught me that no one political party or person has all of the answers. Finally, I can have different beliefs than someone and not only respect them, but be their friend.
–Diane Moore, Contributor
I decided I will never be too old for bedroom dance parties, party of one. At 24, it finally clicked how the cardinal directions work in day-to-day life. I figured out that long drives are what help me reconnect with myself. I found that the first step to feeling better on a bad day is eating brownie batter straight from the bowl while sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the kitchen floor, the cold tiles against the back of my thighs keeping me grounded. I went to therapy and got equipped with the tools I needed to articulate the feelings I had carried around inside for so long. I realized the people who loved me most were those who saw past the show I put on for the world. I learned how to ask for help. Then forgot. Then re-learned. Then forgot and re-learned a dozen more times. I asked the questions I wanted to ask. I made myself a promise that after taking any big risk—win or lose—I’ll still get the ice cream, simply celebrating that I can do hard things. I made it a habit to say hi to people I passed on the street, and I stopped getting embarrassed if they didn’t say hi back. I rejected the notion that my values have to be the exact same as my family’s or my friends’. I discovered the way sriracha elevates almost every breakfast experience. I forgave. I started assigning weight to my problems so not everything felt so heavy all at once. I let myself have the capacity to be sad and feel what I needed to feel. I began acting on that rut I was in, rather than just accepting that feeling stuck was how it had to be. I opted to believe that no matter what happens, I’ll be okay (and so far, my track record proves it).
–Kylie Stine, Contributor