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Following your Bliss: Taking time to reflect on your life journey

In Greek mythology, the most powerful characters are the Fates, the three Moirae sisters. These women controlled a man’s destiny by weaving the fabric of his life. Clotho, the spinner, wound the thread of life; Lachesis, the measurer, determined how long an individual’s life would be; and Atropos, also known as “she who cannot be turned,” cut the thread of life when the time came.

The social science lecturer Joseph Campbell pointed out that while fate may determine when a person dies, what is important is the quality of the journey. Instead of a predetermined, linear life, he preferred to use the Buddhist metaphor of Indra’s Net of interconnected gems reflecting off one another. The best way for an individual to play his or her role in this web of life is to “follow your bliss,” he often said.

I begin with this description from my book, Woven Leadership, as I reflect on the passing of a very special woman, my stepmom, Ruthie Box. She was a wonderful mixture of grace, kindness, and intelligence. She could stop a room with her stunning beauty yet it was her inner beauty that shone the loudest. When I think about Ruthie’s journey it was indeed filled with what was important to her and what she found joyful and fulfilling. She was a Navy wife as my father was an Admiral. They were married for 40 years and she was steadfast in her role as an officer’s wife. She was a support and mentor to many Navy wives along with raising her children and being a good Mom.

It’s important to reflect every now and then on our lives to determine if we are on a journey that will be remembered as a good journey only to be defined by the traveler. Campbell’s example of Indra’s Net of interconnected gems is an apt metaphor to contemplate. We are all connected in so many different ways throughout our lives. Sometimes we may not even realize how we have affected someone else, either positive or negative. And while it’s complex it can be broken down into moments of time. How am I spending my moments? Are they fulfilling? Am I “following my bliss” as Campbell puts it? I know this isn’t a simple question to ponder since life is full of ups and downs. There have been times when following my moments was an effort let alone following my bliss!

When I think of following my bliss it means doing what I find to be purposeful. When my day to day activities can be aligned to what has purpose then it is like being in the flow versus fighting a current. I know when I am not in alignment then it is an effort to get things done. I was pondering why I procrastinate and realized that when I am engaged and aligned with an activity then I don’t procrastinate at all. But when it is something that doesn’t hold meaning to me or seems unimportant, then it is a chore and I do everything imaginable to put it off! This was a hopeful realization and disconcerting all at once. I didn’t feel like such a failure with my procrastination when I realized the underlying cause, but it did make me realize that I needed to take a closer look and see what I can do to work on it.

The bottom line is that when you are aligned with what you find purposeful and important in your life and what you do with your daily activities, life is good. When you are not then it is a struggle with constant second guessing and searching for what is missing. Taking time to reflect on what is important and how you want to manage the moments of your life can lead to ‘following your bliss’. I am taking the time each year to reflect and understand how I want to flow in my life. Certainly the passing of a loved one gives a cause for pause and reflection. I am grateful for those people in my life who have lived life to the fullest and followed their bliss. What a wonderful gift.

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