Tag Archive | gratitude

Demolition

What is it about demolition? This is what’s going on next to my home. I was almost late for work this morning as I watched the house next door being torn down, staring in fascination as the excavator made the walls seem as flimsy as paper. This house has been an eyesore as long as I’ve been here, not even worth fixing. I don’t know what happened to the old lady who lived here. I used to hear her TV on at all hours of the night, hear her calling to the stray cats she fed. Perhaps she moved to someplace where she is now being taken care of, or perhaps she died.

We received the notification that they are building something new. I’ve watched each day the trucks drive by, a tree cut down, port-o-potty put in place. Today, this is what I saw. Tonight, I can see the light in the window of the next house over. The space where the house was lovelier than the house that used to live there.

I love to watch buildings come down, when it’s done on purpose and safely. There’s some pleasure in the destruction, especially when it’s run-down and ugly, no longer useful. I  see the space and wonder what will be built in it’s place. I dream a little bit about what I’d build there, if I had unlimited resources.

Not so much the destruction of my own patterns, habits, ways of being that are no longer serving me. No. Not when it’s personal. That demolition is rarely done on purpose or safely. Despite the ugliness, the un-usefulness, despite the old ways of being actually blocking me from progress, rarely do I dismantle them peacefully or the first time I’m told. I resist that shit until the walls are falling down around me, until the painful, shitty thing has happened AGAIN. Until it seems I’ve failed. In the same way. Again.

I hold my own patterns, the stories I’ve been telling myself my whole life, close to me, as if they are a security blanket. They are all I know. I don’t know who I am without them. So, I keep repeating them.

I have dreams. I can see something more beautiful for my life. I can see my purpose, I can see joy, I can see love.  But when it comes time to demolish the security of my old ways of being, I don’t believe that I have the resources to build what I dream. I can’t see how much lovelier the space than the worn-out building.

Until the Universe comes in with the excavator. Little by little, decisions not made by me force me to change my plans. Little by little, my comfortable life feels not so comfortable. Decisions I’ve made turn out more challenging than I thought they’d be. Plans I had for the way everything would play out don’t play out that way. Time and time again, it feels like my world is crumbling, falling down around me. It’s not as satisfying as watching the building come down.

Until I’ve had enough. Until I’m finally sick of my own shit. That’s what it takes when you’re stubborn.

This time, I’ll make the decision myself to change. It’s going to happen anyway; this time I’ll be the architect. I’ll drive the excavator, with faith in the passenger seat. I surrender.

I see the beauty in the space I’ve created for myself. Without my stories, I have a clean slate. I can see a light in the window in the house on the other side. And everywhere I turn, grace.

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Surrender

Until your knees hit the floor you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

One warm, sunny weekend in early September, 2013, I found myself in my car, alone, headed for Asheville, North Carolina. I had a stack of CDs, my phone, a few changes of clothes, and a full tank of gas. I also had with me a full complement of amino acid and magnesium supplements that were going to replace the antidepressant and Xanax I’d been taking for the past five years. I left the prescriptions at home. At about hour six of the 14 hour drive, I started to cry. What the FUCK was I doing? I was driving 14 hours, alone, for a weekend, alone, in a place I knew little about that I had chosen randomly (or intuitively). And I would have another 14 hour drive back home. It was one of those really deep cries that turned into a prayer, simple and raw: I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I’m going to need your help.

Knees hit the floor.

I’d been through a lot the couple of years previous and was considering moving to another state, running away, really. I had been on an unfamiliar path. I had dreams for the future but had no idea how to get there. So I took off for a weekend with excitement which turned quickly into fear. Tears. Surrender. I ended up having a great weekend. Spending time with myself, getting to know myself. There would be, and will be, more tears, more surrender, and more joy as my path unfolds.

Surrender is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned on my path and something I’ve learned to do even when life isn’t so bad.

Surrender presupposes a belief in a higher power, who I’ll refer to as God. The creator, the divine energy that connects everyone and everything, with whom we are are all one. A higher power that can make things happen. An energy that is pure love.

Surrender is completely giving up control over the circumstances and trusting in a force more powerful that we are to make things happen, to fix the problem, to help us realize our dreams.

Surrender is complete faith that somehow, we don’t know how, but somehow things are going to work out for the better.

Surrender is the acknowledgement, without judgment, that this problem is bigger than we are, knowing that if we could fix it by ourselves we surely would have already, so please help me, God.

Surrender is not sitting on the couch doing nothing and waiting for life to happen, surrender is taking one step and trusting that we are going to be shown the next step. And the next.

This is more than prayer. If we’re honest with ourselves, we pray a lot more than we actually surrender. We go through the motions with good intention, but we like to control things most of the time and are not good at surrendering the details to someone else. It can take a real shit storm to get us actually down on our knees in surrender. Crying in the shower. Bawling in the parking lot of the rest area. Surrender isn’t poetic and it isn’t polite. The prayer of surrender usually goes something like: “I’ve really fucked this up, please help me.”

There’s real beauty in surrendering. Finding that peaceful place withing ourselves, finding our true strength. We connect with our higher selves, we find our connection with our Creator and with all of creation. This is Love.

What actually happens when we truly surrender is God really does take over. I’m talking magic, miracles, and synchronicity. You’re at peace. You don’t have to worry about this anymore, someone way smarter is taking over. Phew. You have a chance conversation with the neighbor you never talk to and the next thing you know, you’re in a job interview with his ex-wife’s brother’s best friend’s therapist’s daughter. You go to the mailbox and there’s a refund check you weren’t expecting. You win an all expense paid vacation. Really good ideas pop into your head. Somebody sees your artwork hanging on your mother’s wall and wants to buy it. A song inspires you to call somebody who leads you in a new direction. A conversation leads you to start your own business. You’re meeting the exact people you need to meet. You’re in the right place at the right time. Magic, miracles, and synchronicity.

This is not the first nor the last time you will surrender. You will go about your life and hit another rough patch and end up on your knees again. It’s called living. Eventually you’ll start to figure out that all the good stuff starts to happen when your knees hit the floor. You’re getting help and this is starting to feel good. Even fun.

When you’re living your life to the fullest, your knees need never leave the floor. You’re not only surrendering, you’re also in deep gratitude for the many blessings in your life.

You don’t have to wait for the shit to hit the fan to get down on your knees. You have dreams and desires, plans and goals. But when you don’t know how to get there, you let go of the dream. Or you get so attached to your plans of how you’re going to get there that you have no flexibility when life (or God) steps in and throws a wrench in the plans. We leave no room for magic. Sometimes God has a better plan, so when she throws a wrench in yours, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Or get down on your knees.

We limit ourselves when we attach rigidly to our plans. Sometimes you have to move forward without a plan. Stop, breathe, focus on your heart. What is your dream, your purpose, your passion? Feel it? Does it still feel good? Good. Now, how does this next step feel? If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Listen. Is a different idea trying to get your attention? Take a break, go for a walk, get away for the weekend. Does something light up for you? Trust it. Start moving, but be flexible. Allow changes to your plan. Make room for magic.

Many of us learn about surrendering in our every day lives after our knees hit the floor in some dramatic way. Perhaps that’s the purpose of that moment, to get our attention. Once you’re down there, stay on your knees. Surrender. Gratitude. How is life working for you now?

Day 30: Endings and New Beginnings


We made it!!! Thank you for hanging out with me the 30 day challenge, it’s been an amazing experience. I hope something I’ve said in the last 30 days has helped you, inspired you to take the first or next step in realizing your dreams. My deepest gratitude to the friends who have been with me every day of this journey, have kept me accountable, and supported me in this challenge.

I invite you to share with me in the comments or email to julie@julieannsorenson.com any subject that I’ve touched on that you’d like to hear more about on video, blog, in-person talk or workshop.

Blessings of 2015

I’ll be honest, 2015 didn’t live up to its promise. I had hopes, dreams, goals, and they didn’t all happen. I didn’t achieve all that I wanted to achieve. Still, it was a great year in so many ways and I know what I need to do to become the person who will achieve my goals. And today is another day to move forward and continue moving toward my dreams and goals. 2015 is ending, but 2016 is beginning.

2015 was full of amazing self-discovery and personal growth. I’m definitely not the same person I was this time last year. 2015 in numerology is an 8, infinite possibilities, but you have to wade through all your own shit to get get there. So I put on my boots and I started walking. The energy was often harsh and challenging this year. I’ve spent a lot of time deep in the darkness of my own shadow, the places inside myself I don’t like to look, parts of myself I don’t love, healing the wounds that need healing. Loving myself and others a bit more. I’ve felt shattered, surrendered, cried in the shower, laughed, loved, and found joy on the dance floor – sometimes all in the same day.

Through it all, I can honestly say that I am happier than I have ever been in my life. At 47 years old, there is no younger self that I wish to go back to. I have no regrets. I’ve done the work and learned the lessons, experienced life. I know that I’ve done the best I could with who I was at the time and in the circumstance. And I know, in some cases, I’ll do better or differently next time. Yes, I am happier in my life and with myself than I have been in this lifetime.

Today, this final day of 2015, I have my list of what I choose to leave in 2015. I have my list of what I’m bringing with me into 2016. I have my dreams and plans for 2016. I know what I need to do to become the person, the always improving version of me, who will manifest my dreams. I have a plan and I know who will be there to support me.

I leave 2015 grateful for the gifts is brought me. I welcome 2016 in the company of friends, feeling blessed and loved and excited for the adventures to come.

The Rainbow in the Clouds

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. ~Lord Byron

Life got a bit stormy this past week, starting last weekend. Following news of my aunt’s passing, there was grief and chaos as the family gathered from various states on Long Island to say goodbye and to be together to support one another. Today, it’s not the grief that I focus on, it’s the gathering together and the rainbow in the clouds.

I have dealt, poorly, with the death of loved ones before, and I certainly wasn’t ready this time. Life and death rarely wait until we are ready. At a point in my journey where I felt like I couldn’t afford distractions, I was forced to step off the path. In so doing, I found peace and love and the energy and inspiration to keep going with my life.

Once again, inspired by a particular meditation from Oprah & Deepak, I listened to Oprah’s story about a difficult time in her life and advice from Maya Angelou to look for the rainbows in the clouds. To focus on gratitude to manifest grace.

Chaos, phone calls, texts, travel, work on Sunday, make up the guest bed, clean the house. My parents arrived from Kentucky on Sunday and I picked my nephew up from the airport on Monday. Relatives from all sides of the family traveled from here and there. Rooms were found at neighbors’ and friends’ houses. Meals were planned, arrangements made.

The family gathered.

And that’s where I found my rainbows.

The family gathered and we shared our stories. So many of us have the same memories of Audrey: her laugh, she smiled a lot, family was important, she accepted us and loved us the way we are, she kept us connected. I realized that the values of family, love and acceptance, keeping connected are values that are passed down, one generation to the next. As I’ve grown older, I also have learned that not all families get along. So, I am grateful that I actually enjoy spending time with my family. Family is where I know I’ll always find love and acceptance. That’s the big one, the big reminder, the rainbow in the clouds.

There were many other rainbows, and as I write this, I realize they are also mostly about family.

  • I spent time with my 18-year-old nephew, Drew, time I didn’t expect to have with him. Driving in traffic on the Van Wyck from LaGuardia airport to Wantagh was more pleasant because he was with me.
  • Staying overnight with Audrey’s best friend, Barbara, so I didn’t have to drive back to Connecticut on Monday night.
  • Arts and crafts and sweet conversation with 4-year-old Ava:
    Girls in the City

    Artisanal Bistro, NYC. Left to right: Joan (aka Mom), Aunt Audrey, Maddy, Julie, Kim

    • Ava: Do you have children
    • Me: no
    • Ava: Well, you do now… we’re here
  • Girls in the City: remembering those times when my mother, my aunt, my cousins and I met in New York for lunch, dessert and some walking. Chinatown, Little Italy, Central Park. The time at Serendipity when a lady at a nearby table, looking at all of the desserts we were sharing, said: “Oh, are you guys here just for dessert?” Uh, no we had lunch.
  • Friends
  • That I actually like my family and want to spend time with them.

I came home and life goes on. Tears shed, grief spent (for now) and rainbows spotted. It was a cloudy week, but it is the rainbows that stay with me.