On Bliss.

Posted on July 9, 2009 by


As a young woman in my early 30’s I had the pleasure of being under the competent wings of Fran and Sue; both women in their late 50’s.  Fran was my boss, and Sue an experienced co-worker in the non-profit addictions facility where we worked.

These two women turned my world upside down as they introduced me to concepts and ways of thinking that were entirely foreign to me.  I am to this day deeply grateful for the mentorship.  One concept I found particularly boggling was the new (at that time) thinking that the path to success was by ‘following your bliss’.

Follow my bliss?  I was an over-tired single mother of 3 youngsters working full time, attending college and struggling to keep up with bills.  Bliss?  What was ‘bliss’?  I could not imagine bliss.  I was so confused by this concept that it pissed me off.  Sure, these educated successful women in their 50’s with no kids at home and big smiles on their faces with all the time in the world to do all this self-introspection, sitting around doing yoga, laughing at themselves together, guzzling coffee and chatting all the time – whatever.  Of course they had time for ‘bliss’.

Sheri Lynn

Sheri Lynn

Eventually I hit a ceiling in my counseling career, and decided to attend college full time in Fairbanks, AK.  I worked on applying the ‘bliss’ concept – but I really didn’t know what to do with myself.  So I looked at challenging my fears.  My biggest fear was math.  I hated math with a vengeance – so much so that it was suspect.  I decided to go into Engineering to both address my unreasonable fear of math and be in a career that I knew would be lucrative enough to support my family.  Long story short; I took 5 years of math – from beginning algebra to differential equations – and rocked it.  My entire focus for 5 years – despite all the coursework I excelled at – was getting through the math.  When I ‘got it’ – when I understood the language that is math – I was exhilarated as it opened new levels of communication along with channels of thinking that had never occurred to me.  My entire education in Minerals Engineering was all about conquering and excelling at the math.  (If you are math phobic, you will not comprehend this.  I get that!)

Where was the bliss?  I still struggled with that.   Somewhere in there, I had figured out that when I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing to get better at it; in a smoky bar open until 5am and populated with a rough crowd, I poured perfect cocktails…an on spot 2-ounce pour without measuring.  I applied this to all of my subsequent endeavors.  It wasn’t bliss but it got me satisfaction.

Life works in crazily mysterious ways. Here is what happened.  I was a bartender, and then a counselor (not all that different, trust me – sans the perfect pour) – and then a mining engineer, followed by a civil engineer, when someone close to me pointed out that what appeared to make me happiest was the time I spent as a gym rat coaching other people.

Yes, that is what made me happiest.  I’d been doing it for years – all the way back to when I was hanging out with Sue and Fran lamenting on my lack of bliss – the steady joy in my life was my fitness and bringing that to other people.  I was already even certified as a personal trainer and a weight management consultant.  My hobby.

I was so happy in fitness-land that I could not imagine that ever being ‘a career’ because that is what I did ‘for fun’.  Stay with me here.  I could not identify this as my bliss because I was so deeply protective of my ‘fun time’ that I didn’t want it to feel like a ‘job’. In other words, all the years I spent looking elsewhere and it was right there, in the thing that inspired me to get up at 3am for the prior 10 years.  Whoa.  My bliss was in the thing contained in the piles of books and magazines by my bed.  It was in how I ate and what pre-occupied my conversations.

Being a quick study, I quit my civil engineering job and spent a couple months gathering more knowledge when I got scared financially.  I went back into engineering again in a slightly different role for a brief amount of time before I took a deep breath and dove fulltime into my fitness career, renting my own studio.  Within just a few months I was busier than I ever imagined and I have never looked back.

Today, I am in my bliss. I love my work so much that all the countless hours I spend ‘working’ do not feel like work.  My life’s work provides others the ways and means to support themselves in fitness.  I happily take on new projects, I trust the trajectory of my business, and meetings feel like play time.  I’ve worn out the keyboard on my computer (literally), I travel constantly; I mentor, coach, punch my engineering calculator (kept that) and play in new gyms all the time.

My night-table reading now consists of business books as I segue into a new position of running a much larger enterprise than I had imagined.  I am swimming in new waters now.  As I look back, the bartending, counseling and public speaking provided me with people skills that are the cornerstone of what I do.  That engineering degree freed me from a fear of math that could have stifled my ability to do business at this level, and taught my logical brain how to think analytically in a productive manner.  I can see, now, that everything I have done in the past brought me here.  To following my bliss, full time. I got what I asked for.

You know where it all started?   With the early desire to go from a frumpy over-tired woman plagued with a ‘bad knee’, weekly migraines and a butt-load of excuses to a vibrant healthy person.  This entire world I live in began with that burning desire to be able to live in the world without pain.  I met Fran and Sue just a couple months into that quest.

The wonder of it all astounds me.

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