We only have one life to live.
This concept is such a fascinating one to me.
We only have one life to live….
It is the beginning of 2017 and, thus, time for my annual vision boarding– collaging. I love me some collaging but this year was different for me. 2016 was an interesting year. Not exactly how my 2016 vision board was intended… hardships that were surreal and successes that were unimaginable.
We only have one life to live.
So after 2016, I felt reticent to tackle 2017 with as much hope and excitement as last year. How the hell does that look on a vision board? How do you put your hopes and dreams, your ONE life, and your future wishes on a vision board? It can be a daunting task.
The notion of only having one life is complex, exciting, scary, freeing and confusing to me.
I first started diving into the meaning of the phrase years ago with a man I was close to who proclaimed to be an atheist. We were talking about him losing both parents at an early age which led to discussing what we thought happened after death. He said nothing. You die. End of story. I found that so depressing and overwhelming. And he said “No! That’s the good news! We only have one life to live. So live it-however you want.” We got into quite a debate about the positive and negatives about that. The ‘however/whatever you want’ part.
What are the rules and boundaries for that?
We only have one life. Is that the best news or the worst? Or somewhere in between?
In the past few years, the meaning of that phrase has deepened and, simultaneously, something that I can’t ignore. If your life circumstances are such that you aren’t living how or what you want this realization nags at you. One life. It draws you to restlessness, discontent, resignation…. You name it.
But what do you DO with those feelings? That knowing? It is rarely simple.
My faith/belief system plays a role in this struggle. It has grown and morphed through the decades but is always a constant. My life has experienced a series of heartaches. Years ago I faced the understanding that bad things happen to good people and that doing good doesn’t necessarily mean ‘getting good’. Everyone has to face that reality at some point. I also had to think about what I thought of karma and an eye for an eye and the consequences of some of my mistakes and shortcomings. This self reflection isn’t for the faint of heart.
My belief system and faith has seen me through several crises along my journey. It is currently is getting me through another. My belief system, though, is both a source of peace and confusion—I believe in fate and divine intervention but I also believe in intention and manifestation. I believe in God but my concept of God has changed from a man who passes judgment on my behaviors and thoughts to a beautiful energy connection that is within me and around me and connected at levels and in ways that can’t be explained. I believe in an afterlife but I also believe I can’t grasp what that means. In short, I know there is something bigger at work. I don’t guess it, I KNOW it. I just know I can’t comprehend exactly how that looks so I don’t try. I believe. I have faith. I’m at peace with most of this dissonance and acknowledge I can’t sum up the whole of my faith in this blog. But how does my faith inform my decisions?
If we have only one life to live.
Does knowing we only have one life to live mean balls (or clit) to the wall? Does it mean do what you want, others be damned? Does it mean one chance to leave a legacy? To experience all you want to experience? Does it mean you have only one chance to ‘get it right’ whatever that means? Does it mean you better ‘do good’ and ‘do right’ or you’ll go to hell or mess up your loved ones’ lives? What has more weight if YOUR one life doesn’t jive with your loved one’s life?
What does it mean to only have one life to live?
Back to my collage avoidance…I’ve done the whole 2016 post analysis thing. I usually LOVE doing this yearly assessment. I take out my collages and lovingly accept what came to be and marvel at what didn’t. This was one, however, I wanted to avoid because it was a particularly polarizing year for me. My 2016 was a roller coaster. Epically. Not a whole lot of gray. It was either a kaleidoscope of rainbow color combinations in the most beautiful of ways or the deepest of darkness. My career took off exponentially and I absolutely love the directions it is taking me and the lives I am able to positively impact. I’ve traveled a lot and grown and learned so much about the world, myself and the world of sexuality because of it. My children had a great year and I’m seeing them grow and change in miraculous ways. Old friendships have been an amazing support and grounding for me and new, global friendships have broadened my heart and head. My purpose was made acutely clear to me and that put a laser focused my career intentions. This is all such amazing, beautiful stuff! But I also experienced some really low lows. My heart was broken into a million pieces and I’ve had to do the hard work to accept the end of a marriage and family I held tightly. The devastation to my heart seem irreparable at times. Also, a close family member was diagnosed with a disease that ripped through our family. Both have changed the future I thought I had ahead of me. I received harsh judgment and condemnation for the work I do and the travel I’ve experienced. There’s more. Lots more but you get the point. Not lots of gray. Highs and lows.
I’ve had years like that before. Relationships that end. Loved ones dying. My ‘life’s white board’ future being erased without my consent. Making my own mistakes and bumping straight into my own short comings. But I noticed this year parts of shame and fear creeping up to levels I hadn’t experienced previously this year. My career turn has made me more visible. I share more of my private thoughts and experiences than I ever had before. It has brought me to a level of vulnerability I’ve never experienced. Most of it, of me, is very well received and I am grateful for that. But when you decide to open your head and heart out in the world, there is a change of safety, a chance of rejection on a whole new level even within the opportunities of positive growth and impact. I’m exposed. And my life is up for scrutiny. And of all years….this is a year I wouldn’t necessarily want under a microscope.
Then…. I got over myself. In a big way. OVER MYSELF, my fears, my draw towards perfection, my worry of judgment and fear of my mistakes tarnishing me. I GOT OVER caring what people will think of the behaviors of others in my life that impacted me. I realized I was still putting too much stock into what people think of me, of my choices, of my life. I STOPPED equating vulnerability with lack of safety because I remembered it is all perception. I was getting so caught up in the head games of it all, I forgot to stay in the present and focus on my life. Day to day. Minute to minute.
Because don’t we all have those good and bad points in our life? Every year. Sometimes every day? I’m not that special. Especially as we get older. Life is super complicated. If you are LIVING and not hiding in your life, you are going to experience those ups and downs. And I’m living folks. LIVING FUCKING BIG.
When I began writing this article two weeks ago, I hadn’t done my 2017 intention board/collage. I felt a bit lost. Off kilter. It took me longer than usual to write this article and I’m okay with that. Now. Wasn’t for awhile but now get it. See why. I’ve accepted a break from getting it ALL right, at the ‘right time’.
And I love my vision board now. I love my perfectly imperfect process.
I’ll post a picture of it with this article. Vulnerable. Exposed. Joyful. Fucking joyful.
One life. One epically, wonderful, wild, unexpected, joyful life.
So what to do with that whole ‘take life by the horns’ ‘manifest the shit out of your life’, ‘trust in the Lord’, ‘everything you received, you asked for’ confusion? I don’t know what your belief system is or if you have one. I’m a deeply faithful person. My spiritual beliefs and practices are sacred to me. Sustaining for me. As I wrote, I still experience confusion. The difference is now I know that is okay and this confusion leads to growth for me. My belief system led me to this….Living, no THRIVING, in ambiguity is epic living. Not for the faint of heart. Giving up the need TO control releasing yourself from the need FOR control is an incredible mantra to embrace.
ONE LIFE TO LIVE FOLKS.
When I tackle my vision board(s), I typically do a mixture of feelings for the year, impressions and specific details. I’m a dreamer but I am also a planner. And man….it can hurt when you plan and those plans get blown up. But it can also be amazing when new things surface you had no idea could happen. To me, that is the beauty of vision boards. Putting thought into your life, your direction, staying in touch with them throughout the year (I keep mine by my bed and taped up on my bathroom mirror) and then sitting down with them at the end of the year.
Listen—shit happens. Shit you don’t want to be dealing with. Things you had no intention of bringing into your life, have no idea why God or the universe or whatever put in your path for whatever reason. It just fucking happens.
But so does joy.
Joy happens when you have no intention. Joy happens when you have no idea why God or the universe put it in your path for reasons that don’t make sense.
Which makes more sense to focus on?
I’m a positive person and I believe in the good in life and most days I live life fully but I’ve also experienced those mother fucking moments too. I’ve wallowed and played victim. And hell, sometimes I was the victim. And sometimes I was the culprit. I’ve been in those times when you don’t know how to make sense of the yuck in your life-I know you have too.
I’ve learned joys in life are not a given, you must fight for it. Sometimes you have to look for it. And sometimes you pray for them, manifest them, sit there and search on your hands and knees for SOMETHING to be grateful for. Other days my gratefulness is abundant. Sometimes that is because the details have changed and other times it is just ME that has changed.
My attitude. My outlook. My mood.
I know this for sure….joy is worth fighting for. Joy is worth making hard choices for. Joy is worth digging deep to truly face yourself and see where joy shows up in your life and where it doesn’t.
ONE life to live. Why not focus on joy in this one life?
Experiencing joy. Seeking joy. Making joy. Choosing joy. Manifesting joy. Having faith in joy.
I see it as a good thing. We have one life. We get to have one life. If you are reading this, you are amongst the privileged ones who gets a place in this world. Right now. RIGHT NOW. You have choices. You have options. You can have joy. The path to this isn’t easy but it is simple. And I’m a testament to this. The personal details of my last year are incredibly sad and shocking but because I’ve done the personal work, because I’ve CHOSEN joy, I’m living it. I’m incredibly happy right now. I have SO much joy.
And I fought like hell for it. You can too.
Claim your life. Don’t be a victim of your circumstances. Celebrate the amazing things. Expect amazing things to happen. Find gratefulness in the challenges too. Finding the gifts in the muck has singlehandedly changed my life. It is a cornerstone of resiliency.
Last thing I will leave you with as we begin 2017….The lotus is such a beauty and one of my favorite lessons learned from nature. The lotus takes root in the worst of places-muddy, mess yuck. It pushes through and works so hard to find the surface. And little by little in an environment that at first glance doesn’t offer much of anything, a lotus begins opening. The bloom is this beautiful, precious gift. It is joy. It is a choice of joy. A statement of resiliency. Of purpose. Of audacity.
My 2017 year will be filled with audacity. I don’t know how this will look nor what details will color it. I don’t even know exactly how that will feel. But I have chosen to have the audacity to choose my life. To choose to live my life. Fully. The good, the challenges. I choose to embrace all the things I didn’t see coming. I choose to dream big. I choose to envision my year ahead full of blessings and fun and wonderment. And love. Lots and lots of love.
My one life. My one, beautiful, wild, joyful, fulfilling, audacious life. That’s what I’m choosing to do with my one life.
What are you going to do with yours?
8 thoughts on “We Only Have One Life to Live: Thriving in Ambiguity”
I love this so much, Julianna! Thank you for sharing. I have NO DOUBT that God had opened a door for you, for something great even though at times it doesn’t feel that way. 2017 is your year, friend, and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold for you!
Thank you so much Kari! Yes, open doors and God knowing more than I do…. thank you for your support and love. Right back at ya! love you, Dr. J
Wow, juicy , lots of gems in this! Yes, being at peace with ambiguity and releasing the need to control is quite the edge! AND… Joy is worth fighting for, waking up and choosing it everyday. That’s the work….. the blessings and challenge of “Free Will” that we human get to create with. AHH and …..It is isn’t easy but it is simple, right on!!! The bumps are part of the LIVING and ….LIVING FUCKING BIG, right on, girl!!!!! Inspiring… time to get over myself ; )
Thank you for sharing your journey and your commitment to this work. Just found you through Carrie Contey.
Thank you so much Sujata! I’m so glad you reached out and the article touched you. Yes–joy is worth fighting for! We know it but sometimes we need the reminder to choose this, every day! Me too… So excited to hear you found me through Carrie. Really looking forward to talking with her in your group later this year. love and gratitude, Dr. Juliana xo
Audacity! I love this thought and I love being challenged as to how I’m living MY life. I’m turning 50 next month and it isn’t easy, but THANK YOU for being such an inspiration and for sharing your struggles and joys. Life is good!
Dr. Bacardi ;)—So good to hear from your audacious, beautiful self! 50-impossible! Love you and so glad this article touched you. Let’s catch up soon. xoxo Dr. J
YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE….What a beautiful, real, and vulnerable post. I got goosebumps. You are a gift….keep sharing it with your words, gestures, and connections with others.
Thank you so much Laurie! Your words mean so much and I’m thrilled the article touched you. love you, Dr. Juliana