Photo Credit Lesly Juarez
“Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls before.” Joseph Campbell
When I was teaching 12th grade in an inner city school in Charlotte, NC, I taught a journalism class where I did a documentary unit to promote new ways of thinking. Having always been a fan of Joseph Campbell’s work, I shared the movie Finding Joe with my students. As is the case with most adolescents (and I speak from twelve years of experience of working with adolescents), I was met with blank stares, sucking teeth, and huffs and puffs. I loved the film and the concepts that were boiled down. That is something that I love about documentaries–generally speaking, they make more advanced concepts easily digestible for the general public. My students, however, seemed less than impressed. Still, I do what I do every day with the hope that somewhere, somehow, the work that I share resonate with at least one of them and make an unforeseen impact.
This particular time I got lucky. The impact was seen just a few days later as one of my students, Elijah, went to his advisory class and wrote on a whiteboard What is Your Bliss? Inspired by Campbell’s ideas, he encouraged classmates and teachers alike who entered the room to write down what their bliss was. And it started a little bit of a movement at the school. Kids would go into the advisory classroom and write down what lit them up. Teachers got word of it and added their passions too.
I can honestly say this is one of my defining moments as an educator, and it is moments like those that despite the laundry list of issues with the education system, I keep going back for more. I do believe, as Nelson Madela once said, that “education is the most powerful weapon to change the world”. But, I digress.
I tell the Elijah story not only because it illustrates my own bliss for empowering others, but also to highlight how important having a purpose (or what Campbell calls bliss) is to all of us. Another side project that I have started through my coaching container is called The Mindfull Mama Project and this is a space that aims to help mamas identify their bliss and purpose. Motherhood can be such a transitional and transformational time, and one in which our identity starts to come into question. With that identity shift results a question of purpose. Too often friends, clients, and fellow mamas will put their own dreams and purposes on hold and put others first. My aim in coaching these women is to help them to realize that the more holistic they can show up for themselves and step into their purpose, the better they can be for their families.
Speaking from experience, I can honestly say that compartmentalizing does not work. Thus, we need to figure out what our bliss is in the wake of motherhood and find ways to fit the things that light us up in the pockets of our new container as mom.
I know that may be easier said than done, so I have a few simple tips to help my fellow mindfull mamas (because I know our minds are full and mama brain and the mental lode are real deal issues) rediscover and uncover their bliss.
Tips to uncover your bliss
Carve out some quiet time. Even if it is five minutes alone in your car. Your brain needs time to process, reflect, and just be.
Get out into nature. Sometimes even taking your kids to a quieter park, or the backyard engages them in the wonders of nature and keeps them busy, and it gives you that green space to connect to your roots (literally and figuratively).
Try stream of consciousness writing. I have always been a big fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and her “morning pages” which is a mandatory three page brain dump. Put everything on the page. Your fears. Your worries. Your thoughts. Only when you get it out in that uninhibited way can you make sense of it all.
Pay attention. Be mindful of those times when your soul does sing. Think back to times when you truly have felt alive. Those incidences are not random. They are connected to your purpose in a really big way.
Don’t discount your own time, purpose, or passion. Being a mom, we are all inclined to put others first. At times it f
eels like a major requirement for the job. And while at times this is necessary, it is also important that you carve out the time for yourself too. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so find a way to fill yours up today.
There is so much more that I could say on this topic and it is one that is ever evolving for me as well, but here is a good place to start. I think it is time to put yourself and your intentions at the top of your to-do list in 2018.
To bring everything full circle I will go back to Joseph Campbell and his famous quote:
"I don’t think people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive"
What does being truly alive look like for you? If you were to answer Elijah’s whiteboard question, what would you say your bliss is?