Past Pursuits

Renaissance Souls are those that have a ton of interests–and manage to pursue a whole lot of them. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things I’ve done/seen/experienced–most of which I enjoyed for a time, and then moved on.

(And if you think it takes some sort of magic or luck to have had this many fun experiences before 40, read this.)


Took 15 classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School in exchange for being a Student Host.

Volunteered on an island off the coast of France with Workaway.

Walked the Camino de Santiago (six times!). Volunteered as a hospitalera on the Camino twice. Given talks at REI Asheville about my experiences and counseled numerous others looking to go.

Spent three months living in France.

Lived in Barbados for six weeks. During a pandemic.

Spent a week learning Spanish in Nicaragua.

Spent ten days in Italy with my 100% Italian grandmother.

After much searching, got married at age 41.

Researched my Italian ancestry (and am looking into getting my Italian citizenship).

Earned my Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).

Hiked the Cinque Terre (five cities on the northwest Italian coast connected by hiking trails–and a train for the non-hiking types).

Lived on a sailboat for two weeks (without plumbing) with Outward Bound

Spent six weeks on a farm with 10,000 chickens in French-speaking Switzerland

Rode a bike across Iowa (or attempted to) with 8500 other people (RAGBRAI)

Got in touch with nature (and tourists) working as a Park Ranger at Vanderbilt Mansion NHS

Attempted a Silent Retreat.

Every six months for the past few years I’ve gone on a one-week writing retreat (sometimes two!).


Hosted couchsurfers and couchsurfed myself

Taught Anatomy and Physiology to nursing students at Mount Saint Mary College

Taught Anatomy and Physiology  and Biology to students at Dutchess Community College.

Taught Adult Education classes on decluttering in Rhinebeck, New Paltz, and Marlboro, NY.

Taught Adult Education classes in crochet in Brookline  and Arlington, MA.

Taught 8th grade math, science and world cultures in Asheville, NC.

Self-funded a second Masters degree (this one in Education).

Tutored high school math students in Algebra, Geometry, and Trig.

Chose to save up some money and leave work behind for a year of adventures.

Flew on a Trapeze at a Jordan’s Furniture store

Volunteered on an organic farm for a week

Worked from home (in Bethesda, MD for a physician’s office in Boston, MA among other things)

Traveled the country consulting – helping physicians offices go electronic.

Lived/living without cable.  Or a TV.

Learned/learning to write about my childhood.

Attended the John C. Campbell Folk School

Did a year of Americorps with Massachusetts Campus Compact

Volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

Attempted Rock Climbing

Traveled around Europe by myself

Lived in: Hudson Valley, NY; Boston, MA; Portland, OR; Hendersonville, NC; Bethesda, MD; Asheville, NC, Schroon Lake, NY

Cooked for sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame at their retreat house on the Rhode Island shore

Big Sister to a fifteen-year-old girl

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