Friday, August 3, 2007

My Dad's Best Advice

The best advice my dad gave me was very simple: "Follow your bliss." Though these three words were popularized by Joseph Campbell, my dad lived them and I have lived by them.

My dad was a successful engineer at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was successful, but he wasn't happy. The 8:00 to 5:00 stiff-shirt-and-tie lifestyle didn't suit him, and though it brought in a great income, he was miserable.

My father's bliss took shape one Christmas when my brother and sister received a puppet stage as a gift. I'm not exactly sure how the events transpired, but my dad decided that he wanted to be a puppeteer, and my siblings lost their Christmas present. I wish I could've been there to hear my parents' conversation when he dropped the idea on my mom.

But this was my dad's bliss, and pursue it he did. My mom and dad saved up enough money so they could live for a year without his income, and Ron and Mary Kay Puppets was born.

My childhood was spent in the shadow of my famous (at least in Albuquerque) parents, who evolved from doing marionettes to large hand puppets. My brother created the puppets (he's the artist in the family), and my parents did a Christmas show and a spring show every year at all the local schools. The income wasn't good, but my dad was happy. By doing puppets, he got to do all the things he loved: write and play music, create drama, work with kids, and be an all-around total ham. My mom didn't go into this kicking and screaming either, she was just as talented as my dad (and just as much a ham). They made a great puppeteering team. (If you would like to know more about my parents' endeavors, see my brother's wonderful website devoted to them at

So, when dad told me to follow my bliss wherever it led, I listened. That advice took me to Hardin-Simmons for college and caused me to change my major to Bible even though there were only two other female students in the entire School of Theology. My bliss led me to Southwestern Seminary to major in Church History, and convinced me to change to Old Testament though job possibilities for Baptist women in Bible were virtually nil. My bliss has inspired me to be creative and unconventional in my teaching. It has drawn me into vegetarianism and animal theology. Following my bliss has meant never doing things the way they've always been done, never doing what's logical simply because it's logical, and always, always following my heart wherever it takes me.

Thanks, Dad, for some great advice. It has served me well.

1 comment:

Bezner said...

That's an incredible story. Something I've been learning first-hand, lately. But it's always good to be reminded.

Thanks for sharing!