Sailing Alone Across the Bay of Bengal, I Discovered My Mission in Life

How did you find your “mission in life?” Was it during a challenging time that forced you to consider why you were here and what you were supposed to be doing in this lifetime? The first time I remember thinking that I should have a mission was in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, sailing alone on my small 31-ft boat from Malaysia to Sri Lanka in February, 1994. I was almost half-way around the world on an eight-year solo circumnavigation and 53 years old. My departure on this journey came at the end of a messy, painful demise of the import company that I had built and run for seven years. When I left the anchorage in Acapulco in May of 1989, I only wanted to heal from that pain and to find a sense of peace. Time alone and the total focus required by my voyage were my chosen path.
Crossing the Bay of Bengal

Crossing the Bay of Bengal

With nearly five years behind me, at this point in the journey, it was time to look deeply at where I was heading, how I was going to live my life differently. A friend had recently written to tell me about Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and how helpful it had been to him. I was surprised to find a copy in a bookstore in Pinang, Malaysia! Now, in this slow, not too eventful, crossing I began reading and writing, following Covey’s program. The first and central step was determining your mission in life. That question drew me back to What Color is Your Parachute? by John Bolles and the section in the back about finding your mission in life. When I first met this book, at the end of my business, the idea of a mission in life had a Mother Teresa-like overtone, and I had decided I wasn’t the type to sacrifice everything to selfless service. I pulled Bolles out again, and this time understood that he wasn’t asking us to wear a hair shirt, but instead to find the thing that would bring us the most joy. On my boat, Southern Cross, I was already doing the thing that brought me the most joy at this time in my life—sailing around the world, stopping in beautiful places to paint, and meeting people from many cultures. I wondered whether this could be my mission in life. It seemed too selfish. As my voyage ended, in 1997, and news broke out that I had become the first American woman to sail alone around the world, I realized what my true mission was. I was here to inspire others to reach for their dreams, to not accept the words “impossible,” “you can’t do that,” “I can’t do that!” “am I crazy?” I wrote By the Grace of the Sea: A Woman’s Solo Odyssey Around the World (McGraw-Hill/2002) and gave presentations in the Midwest and up and down the West Coast, with many interviews. There were two invitations to appear on Oprah, but the timing did not work out. Letters and emails poured in saying “thank you for giving me courage to follow my dream” and similar messages. I still hear from readers, who found inspiration in my book, sharing how my story changed their lives. My job today is Chief Inspirer at Organic Stretching® where I inspire people to bring out out the best in their bodies as they learn how to move again. There is no greater thrill than being part of my students’ exciting breakthroughs and the discovery that they can create the changes in their own bodies and in their lives. I love and find great joy in my mission! Have you found yours yet? If you feel like it, share it below… Organic StretchingTM Pat Henry, Founder and Chief Inspirer at Organic Stretching®… My last year of high school, I was a teen aged mom, a wife, a National Honor Society member graduating 17th out of a class of 257…It isn’t over until it’s over!
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