If you’re anything like me these days, you hunger for stories of people who have triumphed over adversity.
That’s why I’m so proud of Tales from a Bucket List Champ, the five-season series I’ve been producing with Kiki Kelley, sharing her unbelievable life stories. We’ve just passed the midpoint of season three.
Ever since Kiki and I first envisioned this podcast, these were the stories that felt the most tender and challenging to tell. Yes, the first season detailed her life-altering, near-death experience at twenty-two. Producing the second season was a technical nightmare due to our sudden COVID lockdown.
But we were always moving toward this third season, as the pivot point.
People who’ve listened so far have noted how upbeat this season has been.
Good things happen—amazing, really. But when your life falls apart, it colors the surrounding stories. We’ve made no secret that Kiki’s marriage will fail. We never gave her future ex-husband a name when he came on the scene, even though from outward appearances, they lived the American dream.
Thus this season’s title: It’s Complicated.
It’s about Kiki coming to recognize all three faces of womanhood in herself: maiden, mother, and crone.
Kiki will tell you that she is far more comfortable with physical pain than emotional pain. For her, listening to all this season’s episodes—and she has—was visceral, evoking heartrending somatic memories long tucked away.
That’s the thing about self-revelation: the more interesting a story is for audiences, the more vulnerable it often is for the storyteller.
But such stories help people see that they aren’t alone.
So Kiki asked me to release them quickly before election day. The hardest one goes out on her 50th birthday this Wednesday.
We’ll wrap the season next Sunday, November 1 with a joyful note.
Kiki will tell you she’s ready to lay her soul bare. She’s no longer afraid of judgment from anyone else. It’s her own self judgment she’s coming to grips with here. To quote Kiki: “I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but I care what I think. I had to make peace with myself.”
So Happy 50th Birthday, beloved Kiki.
And on to more beautiful things.