Follow Your Bliss

“Follow your bliss.”

My parents would repeat this phrase to me, like a mantra, throughout my childhood and adolescence. They always emphasized how crucial it was for me to to pursue what I love, what awakened my soul.

I heeded their advice and have focused on language, identity and the pursuit of equity and justice my entire professional life. I have done this as a Spanish teacher, as a writer, as an equity practitioner, and as a supervisor to student teachers.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, this life lesson that my parents imparted to me took on a different meaning. Had I not followed my bliss, I would not have been able to be present for my then 9-year-old son’s remote learning, nor would I be as informed about his curricula.

Throughout the last year, I have questioned or doubted my productivity, especially now that my entire nuclear family is working from home, and my husband’s and my work life look very different. I often compare myself to him, and wonder if I am working as hard.

But the truth is we are both working tremendously hard, and it is precisely because of how vastly different our work lives are, that our son has thrived with remote learning. My son has an educator at home and though I am his mother, and not his teacher, it is because I am an experienced educator that I can lend all of my knowledge and expertise in supporting him.

In January 2017, I left a full time position to focus on writing. In the years since, I have been published in two anthologies, published my first book, and have been interviewed on multiple podcasts. I have also witnessed my son thrive, academically and personally, and have been able to sweep in at this most critical time of his learning remotely during a global pandemic.

Following my bliss is what allows me to focus on what matters most to me: family, identity, language, and justice. In many ways my professional and personal lives intersect, which can be a challenge, but I think is more of a gift. My heart is in all that I do, and I have no regrets.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affirmed for me how essential my parents’s life lesson has been. Life is messy, unpredictable, and finite, and my parents wished for me to learn to live in the moment and to find as much joy in life as I can. It brings me joy to write. It brings me joy to teach. It brings me joy to challenge the status quo. And it brings me the greatest joy to be a mother. My son transformed my life and it is his existence that led to my book.

I have felt tremendous fear and anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic, but I have also felt tremendous satisfaction in seeing how, by pursuing what I love, I have been able to be present in a way I never could have otherwise.

In a way I never could have had I not followed my bliss.

“Follow Your Bliss” (Photo by Yoshimasa Kimata)



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Naomi Raquel

Naomi Raquel


Bilingual. New Yorker. Multiethnic. Change Agent. Author of “Strength of Soul” (2Leaf Press; University of Chicago Press, April 2019)