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"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."

Rumi, 13th century poet and mystic

Centuries later, Joseph Campbell said something similar. 


I say, "Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.

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Patty's Story

Patty Bear

A Practical Mystic's Story

As a child, and especially as a child growing up in an Old Order Mennonite community. I’d never heard of either Rumi or Joseph Campbell. Even if I had, these voices would have been heretical. 

We did not follow our bliss or the strange pull of what we loved. No. We followed orders and tradition and gender roles. Religiously. We followed the word of the authorities of our community: bishops, ministers, fathers, mothers, older siblings. We did not follow what was within us—not ever. That was forbidden. Even to speak of. 


But I did. 


Sort of by accident. 


An accident that concerned excommunication and shunning in my family, one that made national and international news—The New York Times, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, People magazine, and Canadian newspapers, to name a few—as well as television. 


And that’s how I came to understand what it meant to be a practical mystic — how to make a practice of following the strange pull of what you really love.

I came to know that this path was not reserved for one-named spiritual masters, nor was it the territory of well-intentioned but often ungrounded woo-woo seekers. 


My early years taught me that this path was not always about bliss or what you love; rather, that sometimes this path was extremely arduous. Yet even in the midst of that, there was some strange pull that felt in integrity with a deep calling within. It is why I came to think of it as “following the call of your wild soul.”

The purpose of a particular calling often seemed odd. In fact, it remained a mystery for a maddeningly long time. Later, however, I found that it did not lead me astray. It was preparation for something I could not yet imagine and would not have believed. Eventually, a door would open where once there had been only walls, and the mystery of those callings would be revealed.


I bring this path to life in my memoir, From Plain to Plane: My Mennonite Childhood, a National Scandal, and an Unconventional Soar to Freedom.  These early experiences are how I discovered this path of a collaboration between the ordinary and the extraordinary that mystics have talked about for thousands of years. 

In the words of Oprah, “what I know for sure” is that if a child can walk this path, we can all do it. But it takes the best qualities of a child to do so: curiosity, a sense of adventure, a playful mindset, love of mystery, boredom with keeping score after the game is finished, and the perseverance of a strong interest. 


I am an Author, an Aviator, and a Trail Guide


Author. The author part is both obvious and not so obvious. I grew up in a culture where members, especially women, were not the authors of or authorities in their own lives. I take immense satisfaction in having authored not only two books but also my life. My life. 

Aviator. The aviator part is also somewhat obvious. I got my private pilot’s license in high school, earned my Air Force wings, served as an aircraft commander in theatre in the first Gulf War, and retired as a Boeing 777 captain, having flown to the capitals of the world—so far from where I began as a little Mennonite girl on a potato farm. 

Perhaps less obvious, though, is that I experience flying as a metaphor for freedom, the way others have for thousands of years. I escaped the surly bonds of gravity I was born into and deconditioned from so many cultural beliefs and cages. I flew to freedom—and I continue to do so. 


Trail Guide. My first love has always been the mysterious path of following the call of your wild soul—the hero’s journey down into the underworld to look at the gravity of our personal conditioning that keeps us caged, the exhilaration and fear as we approach the Phoenix Point, which is the death of our old self and the birth of a new self. The rising out of the underworld to explore virgin territory and adventure, experiment with new ideas, learn new skills, and develop mastery, in the process of which we become someone new and bring the wealth of our new self back to our community. 

Humanity is gradually moving out of the authoritarian parental model of looking outward for our answers, or to gurus with the "one path for everyone model" and expectation of obedience.


We are learning to look inward, and with that comes new navigation skills, namely discernment and awareness: self-awareness, awareness of those around us, situational awareness. But this is new territory for most of humanity. 


The strange pull of what I really love is teaching people how to walk the path of following the call of their wild soul. I relish reaching into the depths of recognizing the patterns of our environments, the conditioning we inherited, and the personal patterns we created from those influences. And then I love guiding people toward becoming liberated from those patterns, dissolving like the caterpillar and emerging into a new, more colorful self, with new capabilities and opportunities that did not exist before. To Fly

This wild soul always calls us to the harrowing journey of metamorphosis, but unlike the caterpillar, humans can transform again and again throughout life.


This is new territory for much of humanity. We need maps of the journey, as well as tools for navigation and cultivating new skills. But this time we don’t need one size fits all; we need maps and tools that are responsive for each individual on their path. 


I teach the skills of flying in life and how to cultivate self-awareness and situational awareness on the journey.

The 4 Forces of Flight is a tool I created based on the principles of flying that anyone can use as a compass for living. It uses your body and spirit to help you navigate your wild soul’s path. 


I use a version of the Hero’s Journey to map the process of transformation: of de-conditioning and recreating a new life so you know what matters and what doesn't, right now on your particular journey. 

You see, to be a practical mystic is simply to connect with the wonder within you and around you and to ground that. One part art, one part science. A collaboration between the mystical and the practical via an organic path of transformation. And once you embrace that, you will author your own unique and precious life, knowing that the gifts it produces bless everyone around you. 

Life’s an adventure—live it!

Patty Bear

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