What Is It You Will Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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A few years ago, I made a list for myself with answers to the question: “What would I do if I were not afraid?”

Have you ever made a list like this? It’s a fun exercise to try…. challenging ourselves to push our boundaries, to explore what is waiting on the other side of any  fears that may be holding us back.

Life is too short to let our fears stop us from living our dreams. I believe that and do my best to live that, daily…

How Am I Doing With That List?

Looking back three years later, I’ve checked a number of those items off my list. Here are some of the items I listed back then:

  • I would sing in a rockin’ gospel choir (I did, while a member of Glide Church in San Francisco.)
  • I would do more public speaking and tell my story (I did finally reveal the trauma from my past, and my recovery from it, two years ago at a Take Back the Night rally, and have shared my story at a number of colleges, here in this blog, and elsewhere since)
  • I would perform belly dancing and other kinds of dance (check, I have a few times in the past few years.)
  • I would travel to more exotic places (India, Hawaii, Spain, Argentina, check.)
  • I would write the books I have always wanted to write (in process still now – check.)
  • I would date only amazing men, let them court me, and know that I AM WORTH IT. (check. there have been a number of incredible romances along the way, all with extraordinary men.)
Wild and Precious Life

I also listed some items that were more about simply being more authentic-“real”:

  • I would TELL THE TRUTH more often.
  • I would stop worrying about my image and do what I want – follow my bliss.
  • I would forgive myself right away.
  • I would start over every day.
  • I would face everything head on.
  • I would acknowledge mistakes as just that–mistakes. Move on.
  • I wouldn’t care if I missed a shot.
  • I would bravely tell people I CREATED this life that I love.

I feel like I’m doing reasonably well with that part of the list as well. I’ve definitely spent the past several years “following my bliss,” writing, traveling, creating a coaching career and teaching workshops, doing work that I love.

And I feel more willing to allow myself to make mistakes, knowing that all of life is just a big experiment and adventure, and if I’m going to play a big game, sometimes I’m going to screw up (and that’s OK).

It’s just part of the learning.

I do still have to practice forgiving myself sometimes however for making mistakes, even though I’m committed to playing a game which means making them. And I have to remind myself to not care what others think and to follow my soul’s true call, no matter what — not always easy in a world where there is often pressure to conform.

What Haven’t I Done Yet?

There are a few items on my list that I haven’t checked off that are still very important to me. For example:

  • I would embark on a lifelong romance/adventure with a man who THRILLS me.
  • I would have a baby – and love being a Mommy!
  • I would run for public office at least once, for FUN!

I’ve been asked to run for public office, several times, and turned it down, every time, so far. I have always felt there were other things I wanted to do “first” — traveling, writing my books, having a family. I figure this is something I can do “someday.” And maybe it will still be part of my future, when it’s the right time.

I’ve dated amazing men and yet am still waiting for a lasting romance that works in my life to align. I trust that it will; and just am looking to be the woman who lives my passions and still will fearlessly let that into my life, and to allow it to happen.

The truth is, when I look back at this list, I have created much of the life I intended to create.

AND there is still so much that I still dream of doing.

Making It Happen

I started my book two years ago and still need to finish it and get it out there into the world. What am I waiting for?

I want to be dancing more often than I am right now, and will take up belly dancing lessons again later this spring. I don’t feel completely like me, as joyous as I can be, if I am not dancing regularly.

I’m setting a strong intention that I feel completely ready to be in a long-term committed relationship again, and am opening myself up to the possibility of that. I feel like that will align when it’s meant to happen, as long as I am staying open and in action on doing what I love as well, and remaining open to opportunities.

And I feel the call again sometimes to run for office, although I sense that that isn’t meant to happen now. The pull to be in a leadership position, helping people clarify and articulate a vision for themselves or a community and to make it happen, is very strong.

No More Sleep-Walking

If I am really honest with myself, as much as I have done and created so many things I wanted to over these past several years, living my dreams in many ways, I still feel as though I am not living 100% at my full potential. I suppose that’s the point of this human journey – to actualize our potential more and more over time – and maybe it’s not realistic to expect that I would be at 100% now.

Still, the task I am charging myself with now – daily – is to WAKE UP and keep waking up, to make my dreams a reality rather than sleep-walking through my life.

This was reinforced last night, when I was working on an earlier version of this blog, and had fallen asleep on the couch partway through working on it. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and moved into my bedroom.

I hopped onto my email to shoot a quick note to our fearless leader here at 8womendream, Catherine Hughes, to let her know that I’d be posting my blog in the morning vs. at 2 a.m. CA time when it is normally due.

The Wake-up Call

And I spotted an email from a fellow life coach/spiritual teacher Christina McDowell that arrived at just the right moment, urging us to WAKE UP…

Here is part of her note, called Life and Death Lessons:

Lets just say that the last 3 weeks have been very full of “OMG” moments. Moments of shock.

I am the kind of person who asks God/Spirit/Goddess/The Universe – What are the lessons in this?

It started with my car accident. I hit someone head on. I saw it all coming. (Stop. Wake up my love)

My closest guide and dear mentor in transpersonal psychology and mind/body medicine, Jeanne Achterberg, PhD died last Wednesday. (Darling, wake up. Don’t wait. Take risks.)

I have 2 friends that have metastatic cancer. (Wake up dear. Live!)

One bravely announced to us that she was given a year to live. (Live your life NOW!)

When a lot of things like this come so closely together, it makes us take pause and ask :

  • What the hell am I doing with my life?
  • Am I doing what I want?
  • Have I lived my dreams?
  • What do I have left to say and do?
  • What is important?
  • What fears am I willing to let go of?

If you have not asked these questions lately, then I am here to nudge you – ask them ANYWAY. Now.

Don’t wait.

I love these questions.

Questions Worth Asking

I think they are worth repeating:

  • What the hell am I doing with my life?
  • Am I doing what I want?
  • Have I lived my dreams?
  • What do I have left to say and do?
  • What is important?
  • What fears am I willing to let go of?

I love the line from the Mary Oliver poem “Summer Day,” shared often by one of my favorite yoga teachers at our retreats over the years:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I am asking myself all of these questions again right now, as I recommit to finishing my book, dancing more often, having a family, and to leading in this world however I am called to lead.

I want to live my fullest possible life, without regrets, and that means saying yes when life calls me to action.

I will heed the call when life calls me to lead. I will complete my book, because that is so important to me, and something I feel called to do. I will dance, because it makes me happy.

And I will love, because it’s why we are here.

I hope you’ll spend some time asking yourself these questions this week.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?