A Promise To My Children

I promise I will listen. I will listen while you talk about toys, video games, ball tag, and anything that is important to you now, so that as you get older, you’ll know that I care about what you have to say, no matter what. I will cultivate strength in listening to you by listening to myself—my body, my heart and my intuition, despite any distracting dialogue that may be running through my head.

I promise to never intentionally make you feel ashamed of yourself. I will never talk down to you, embarrass you, or make you feel ashamed for anything you’ve done. In order to hold this promise, I will work on releasing shame from my own body. I will recognize shame in myself as it rises, and I will release it with tenderness and forgiveness toward myself. I will not be ashamed to share with you, my own stories and lessons learned, when the time is right.

I promise to respect you. I respect your opinions, your feelings, your desires and your needs. Even when they differ from my own, I will respect you and give you space to grow into your own understanding. I will respect you by actively learning how to respect myself—my opinions, my feelings, my desires and my needs.

I promise to be honest; not just with my words; but also with my feelings. I will honor this promise by connecting with myself—being honest with my own feelings and inner dialogue. I will recognize when I have not been present; I will be honest about my absence and honest about my return to awareness.

I promise to forgive you—for anything. I will learn to forgive you by actively forgiving myself—for each moment that I lose awareness—for each inevitable mistake that I make as I learn how to be your mother. I will forgive myself over and over again.

I promise you love. All that I have is yours—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I will recognize and honor the reality that in order to love you, I must also love myself—wholly and unconditionally. I recognize that whatever I hold back from myself, will be held back from you. I will work to release any and all barriers that inhibit unconditional love.

I promise to let you go. I know that you don’t belong to me. I know that you have been generously placed in my care, and I accept the gift of you with more gratitude than I can hold in my heart. I promise that I will let you live your life. I will allow you to make your own mistakes and move through difficulty so that you can learn who you are in your own way. I honor this promise by learning to surrender. I’ll practice surrender in every moment, every breath, every thought and every feeling. I will accept that life is in motion, and I will not cling to it as it passes. I will let it go—again and again and again.

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The Wonderful Things

A few weeks ago, I posted a follow up piece to ‘The Wonderful Things’ titled ‘The Single Most Important Thing I Do For My Kids Each Day’ (you can read it here.) This post is the original, which some of my readers have requested I re-post. This post was actually written a couple of years ago, but it is still something we do in my home every night. My kids are almost teenagers now, and they love it just as much.

I have recently started a new addition to our bedtime ritual. As I tuck each of my boys in at night, I share something wonderful that I had observed about them during the day. My boys call it ‘The Wonderful Things’. It has quickly become a much anticipated part of bedtime, and it is regularly talked about during the day as they wonder what behaviors will make it into the prestigious category of ‘The Wonderful Things’. I started it as a way for me to let them know that I appreciate their efforts. I believe that growing up is hard work and that the daily rituals that have become habitual and natural to me as an adult are still being learned and practiced at their stage in life.

What I did not expect is the enormous shift in their behavior. The moment they knew that I was paying attention, they started to pay attention. I started receiving more random hugs and offers to help. There is less resistance toward picking up dishes, brushing teeth, cleaning rooms, etc. I find it interesting to observe how the simple act of conscious awareness helps us to make the choices that reflect how we want to carry ourselves in the world.

I must admit, this new ritual takes real effort in observation, and as I am learning to be more aware of their behavior, I’m beginning to become more aware of mine. I quickly realized that I never take time to look at ‘The Wonderful Things’ about me. I’m very quick to notice the things that I do that are not wonderful, and in fact, those ‘not wonderful things’ stick with me for a very long time and shape the way I view myself.

My practice of observing the beauty and grace in my children has now evolved into seeing the beauty and grace in my husband, family, friends, nature, music, and even myself. And just like the shift that is happening in my children, I’m feeling a shift, too. The more aware I am of my own wonderful things, the more I want to express it. One of my favorite quotes is by Genpo Roshi, which states, “God, Goddess, Koan, mantra, anger, fear, hope, faith…I become that on which I’m concentrating.” I’m beginning to see how much truth there is in that quote.

I challenge my readers to take a day or a week, or a lifetime to shift your awareness. Make an effort to see only the wonderful things about yourself, your family, your friends, your children and your life. I promise you that what you will find is a different world entirely.

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The Single Most Important Thing I Do For My Kids Each Day

If you’ve got kids, I know you’re busy, and I don’t want to add one.more.thing to the long list of things you already do for them each day. However, this one simple thing that I do seemed to take on a life of its own and turned into something that not only improves my kids’ lives, but mine as well.

Every night when I tuck my kids in bed, I tell them ‘the wonderful things’ that I noticed them doing that day. It’s usually nothing big—it’s helping me take in the groceries or doing homework without being asked—what’s big is the message behind it; the message that I see them. I recognize what they’re doing, and I appreciate it.

When I started this a couple of years ago, I wasn’t expecting anything; I just wanted to make sure that I focused on the good things they were doing, because, ahem, I admit, that sometimes I was way too quick to notice the not-so-good things, and I didn’t want that to be the main source of attention they were receiving from me.

‘The wonderful things’ quickly became the highlight of our bedtime routine, but it wasn’t forgotten the next morning—they thought about it all day, and worked on ways to add to the list.

If you decide to do this, don’t be discouraged if you can’t find three wonderful things (I tried to go for just one wonderful thing, but they insist on three), and I’ll be honest; sometimes I can’t think of anything. Sometimes the day is so busy that I just haven’t had the time to notice specific behaviors.

If I can’t think of anything, I make it light and fun; I laugh about it or make up something silly. Or, I apologize for not noticing and ask them to tell me something wonderful that they did that day. The important thing is that there is dialogue around their achievements and that the focus is on the good stuff, not the bad.

If they’ve had a particularly hard day and the behavior has been, well…less than angelic…then we talk about how they handled it; we talk about how they let it go or if they learned anything from it. Sometimes the wonderful thing is that they are talking about it with me in that moment.

The most important thing is that you shift your focus away from the negative and place it on the positive, because whatever you focus on becomes bigger. And when you make it a point to talk about it, you’re holding yourself accountable for your awareness. The very best part is that your kids will take ownership of their behavior because they know that they’ll be recognized for it, and that is worth every second of one.more.thing to do for your kids.

xo,

Emily

PS: I wrote about ‘The Wonderful Things’ when I first came up with the idea a couple of years ago…if you’d like to read about it, you can check it out here.

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Indescribable Moments of Perfection

I breathe in, and before I breathe out completely, the moment has ended.

It is another end to another long day.

I have fed, cleaned, changed, cared for, failed, endured, triumphed, loved, enjoyed, denied, resisted, began and ended, again and again and again…

Together we sink into the wide, deep chair that sits next to his crib. His scent intoxicates and hits me like a memory—he smells like heaven.

The moment we settle, I pull him close. Both arms engulf his tiny frame as I pull him against my heart and we fit like two hands holding.

He nuzzles his downy hair beneath my chin and I breathe the longest breath I can contain, because I know, that by the time that breath expels from my body, the moment will be over.

He loves holding his own space already.

He pushes away and sprawls out wide like a puppy waiting for a tummy rub. We enjoy the last few moments of another day together this way.

These are the moments worth living for—the indescribable moments of perfection;

A lover’s kiss.
Morning light.
The scent of rain.
Waves crashing.

These are the moments that remind you that you are loved.

Words can’t quite grasp it; and really, they don’t have to—because you already know. You may not be able to explain it or define it, or even remember the details of whatever it is, or was, or will be. But you know it when you’re in it. You know it when you smell it, see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, and breathe it in like a melody you’ve been in love with all your life. And it’s because of these moments that you keep trying, failing, loving, regretting, fighting, forgiving, winning, laughing, crying and everything above, below, and in between.

It is a glimpse of Grace.
…a slice of light.
…a sliver of recognition.
It is the grandest of all things caught in the quiet; the small; and the tender.

It is the remembering.

The indescribable moments of perfection in your life are the reminders of where you’ve been, where you’re going, and the opportunity to experience it here. Right here. Right now.

Don’t wait for it to come to you.

Call it up in every moment.

Fight for it. Live for it. Breathe for it. Love for it.

This is your life, and within it, is everything. Everything you can imagine, and so much more.

Look inside and draw it close.

Search for the indescribable moments of perfection in the tiniest moments and smallest spaces; in open vistas and grand adventures. Call it up and let the magic of the moment sparkle and shine from your eyes as a reminder to others to search for what belongs to them also.

And when you find it, take it all in, like a long, lost lover;

One inhale.
One exhale.
One more reason to love.

And be grateful.

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A Note to Parents: Because You’re Worth It

I totally get it. I know that you are busy. I know that it’s pushing it to get a luxurious ten minute shower, let alone pursue your passion, but let me put a little spin on the matter:

When it comes to your children, what you do is way more important than what you say.

You can tell your kids all day long how important it is to love themselves, follow their passion, and pursue their dreams, but if they don’t see you doing it, then all that talk is well….just talk. And I know that it’s hard to justify pursuing your passion when you’re trying to help your kids pursue theirs, but what if you looked at it in a new way? Instead of seeing it as time you take away, what if you see it as something  you give?

What if you do it for them?

Take time for yourself for them.
Follow your dream for them.
Accomplish your goals for them.

And what if that’s not the way you were taught? What if your own parents put everything aside and dropped off their passions for the sake of yours?

Do it for them, too.
And for their parents, and theirs.

Being a parent isn’t about cutting out the essence of you. You’re still creative, smart, passionate and beautiful, and you have unique ways of expressing those gifts. You don’t have to choose being a parent over self-expression; you can have both.

Start small if you have to.

Daydream everyday; like it’s your job.
Instead of doing dishes, do yoga.
Work on your novel while the kiddo’s take swim class.
Pull out the paints for them and for you.
Drop ‘em off at dance, and then go dancing.

Whatever feeds you, will feed them also.

You know why?

Because the commitment you make to yourself will show them how important it is to commit to themselves. And because your drive, your desire, and your passion for what you love, will show them how to love and nurture their own unique gifts and talents.

Fill your cup, so they know what it looks like to fill their own.

Do it for them.
And do it for you.

Because they’re worth it, and so are you.

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Your Whole Life is a Masterpiece: Four Ways to Keep On Creating

No matter how you look at it, you’re an artist; a creator; a life and love maker. Whether you’re sculpting a solid relationship, a moment of beautiful self-expression, a crazy-happy lifestyle, or a body that feels like home—you are working on a masterpiece—your whole life is that masterpiece.

The beauty of creating a life you love is that it’s not a one-time event—it’s a whole-life event. It is crafted, refined, molded and transformed over and over again. And as you refine and re-define whatever it is you want to create, you’ll find yourself deeply in love with the process of it all.

However, there are a few steps that might help in those moments that make you feel like an outsider in your own life. You can think of them as the foundation for whatever you’re trying to create, no matter what your creation might look like or how many times it transforms. Whether you’re working on a relationship, your lifestyle, a healthy body, or creative self-expression, align yourself with these four key elements to help keep you in the creative flow as you create your masterpiece called life.

First: Know what you want.

This isn’t meant to be a concrete idea fixed in stone. Knowing what you want is about knowing how you want to feel. Once you’re clear about the feeling you want to embody, then you can create whatever you want around it. Some days, feeling loved is about being surrounded by friends and family, and other days, feeling loved will be about a quiet moment in nature. Either way, the feeling remains at the center of it all.

Second: Show up.

Nothing happens without you. That means you need to be consciously present for your life. Be alert, present, and aware of your head space and your heart space. Pull your awareness into the present moment as often as possible, and simply show up in that space. Furthermore, showing up means that you physically step up to the work: lace up your shoes; make the call; initiate the conversation; sit for meditation even if you can’t.stop.thinking. Just show up.

Third: Do the work.

Start. Something; anything; just start. And don’t be discouraged if the work isn’t your greatest. Usually, your very best work doesn’t appear right away. There’s a period of ‘flushing out’. This means that initially whatever you’re doing won’t be your greatest work—whether that means initiating a difficult conversation, or writing the first draft of your resume—just start working on it. The words will start to flow; the art will begin to take shape; your body will ease into the movement. Whatever it is you’re working on, allow space for the ‘awkward phase.’ It’s only temporary. Soon enough, you’ll find your stride and the action will begin to move through you with ease and grace. And when it starts to feel too easy, step into something new, and expand again.

Fourth: Let go of the outcome.

This part is important. Very important. You’ve got to let go of any attachments you have to the outcome. Trust that whatever happens is the very best scenario for the path that you’re walking. It might not look like the best scenario, and it may not feel so great when it doesn’t work out as you had hoped, but trust that you’re right where you need to be. I know this is hard, but it’s important for two reasons: One, because if you get hung up on wishing things were different, then you’ll end up wasting a lot of energy and losing momentum. And two, if you’re so laser-focused on how you think things should play out; you might overlook the real gift or opportunity. Your vision might be closed off to what’s waiting for you if you just expand your view.

Creating a life you love is always a work in progress, but having a foundation will keep you grounded and connected to what’s important. Know what you want, show up, do the work, and let go of the outcome. And if things don’t seem to be working out, trust in the process and stay true to yourself and what’s important to you. At one point, you’ll look back at this moment and realize that everything is as it should be and you’re right where you belong.

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Photo: Anna Ristuccia

20 Mantras to Help Make Miracles Happen

Maybe you’ve been plugging along for a while—same thing, same day; same thought process. Or, maybe you’ve entered something completely new, and you’re not quite sure what to think of it all.

In order to create a life you love, you’ve got to be aware of where your mind is taking you all the time. External reality begins internally—and your thoughts are a big part of that. That’s good news, because you have the power to control what you’re thinking. The mind loves to wander. It is curious, quizzical, and has a tendency to run the show; but give it something to play with, and it can become your very best ally.

Enter the work of the mantra: A mantra is sort of like an anchor; something the mind can hang onto to keep it focused on what’s most important. It might be one word, or it might be a whole sentence. I tend to favor a statement that places whatever I desire in the present tense, so that as I repeat it in my mind, I begin to feel like it is actually happening. And if you can evoke the feeling that goes along with whatever it is you want, then you are paving the way for big things to start manifesting.

Another powerful aspect of the mantra is that it will burn up old thought patterns so that you can start to create something fresh. You’ll begin to recognize which thoughts are serving you and which ones aren’t, and as you discipline your mind, you’ll be able to flush out, burn up and transform anything that isn’t helping you to create the life you know you’re meant to live.

To help you get started, I’ve put together a few of my favorites. Borrow one of these, or make up one of your own. And one more important note: since many of these mantras are written as if they are already happening, they might not feel real to you yet. That’s okay. You’re in a process of growing into the feeling and the reality of what you’re creating, so it might feel a bit awkward or uncomfortable while you adapt.

Approach it like this: read through the list and pay close attention to the mantras that really resonate with you. Make changes to it if you need to, or simply use the list as inspiration to create something brand new. The key is that it sounds fluid and easy to repeat. Then, write it down, stick it in your head on repeat, and then anytime you catch a thought that pulls you away from who or where you want to be, return to your mantra and watch the magic happen.

-I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.

-I am enough.

-My life is full of love, and I am open to receive it.

-I am abundant.

-My whole life has prepared me for this moment.

-I delight in that which is before me.

-Today I receive the gifts of what has already been planted.

-The best thing I can do for others, is give love freely to myself.

-I am in perfect health.

-I am in love with my life.

-I am grateful for this moment.

-I am blessed beyond measure.

-I am supported.

-I am now living in my full creative power.

-My life unfolds as an expression of love.

-I have perfect work in a perfect way; I give perfect service, for perfect pay.

-As I heal myself, I heal others.

-All that I desire lives through me now.

-This moment is exactly what I need for the evolution of my consciousness.

-I am love.

Do you have a good one you’d like to share? If so, drop it in the comments and inspire others with your wisdom and wit.

Now, go make miracles happen.

Much love,
e.

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A Message For You

I have to be honest; sometimes pursuing your dream can be, well…really, really hard. Even if you know with every cell in your body that you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, there are still those moments—those moments when you don’t feel capable of handling all that is required to follow your dream.

I’m not sure there’s any way around it; it’s more a process of moving through it—breathing, observing, releasing tension as it rises—and remembering that it will pass. The creative block will pass; the trial will end; the fear will dissolve. And what you’ll be left with is strength. You’ll be left with more strength than you had before, because you made it through one more wave that tried to knock you over.

I recently moved through one of those waves of fear, and just when I was feeling depleted, discouraged and filled with doubt, I got a message…a simple ‘thank you’ that changed everything I had been battling for a few days prior. It’s all I needed to redirect my focus and clarify my intention.

My challenge for you this week: offer a simple thank you to someone who inspires, or offers you support in some way. Perhaps you could recognize someone close to you—someone that you don’t thank often enough. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture—a simple thank you, a kind note; simple recognition.

If you’re on Instagram, I’ve made it super easy to send a little thank you note. I’ve put one up as a photo. If it resonates with you and you’d like to pass it on to someone else, just tag them in the comments. It’s easy, effective and it might just change the course of their day.

And I want you to know:

You’re amazing, and even if it’s not always recognized, you’re doing amazing things every day. The work you’re putting out into the world makes a difference and means something to people you may never meet. It means something to me.

Thank you for doing what you do.

Thank you for being you.

Thankyou

Make An Observation

I’ll be honest: I want Make it Manifest to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I want the blog to be inspiring and authentic; I want the Instagram photos to be beautiful, and the Facebook page to be something that makes you feel good as you scan through updates.

But the thing I want more than anything is to help you take action. I don’t want you to just read about creating a life that you love, I want you to actually do it.

So, this post and the few that follow will include a little exercise. It doesn’t take any time at all. You can even do the exercise as you go about your day. In fact, I encourage you to do the exercise as you go about your day, because that’s when the magic happens.

Today, we’re going to make an observation. This is all about looking at your situation without judgment. Seriously, NO judgment. Learning to observe without judgment takes practice. If it helps, you can think of yourself in two parts; there’s the ‘you’ that consists of your mind, your body, and your emotions moving through the events of your life, and there’s the ‘you’ that can observe it all. For today’s exercise, be the observer.

Ideally, observation is something that happens in every present moment, and I encourage you to work toward that. For now, let’s just focus on one area of your life where you can fine tune and sharpen your practice of awareness.

Life is very full and complex and there are many different parts and pieces of parts. So for now, I’ve narrowed things down into four categories that you could more or less cram all of those pieces into. They are:

Health: This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Relationships: This is about the relationship with yourself and also the relationships you have with others.

Wealth: Everybody has their own definition of wealth, but it more or less includes your home, money, lifestyle, and the feeling of support and stability.

Self-Expression: This is what you put out into the world—your work, service, talents, hobbies and creative expression—any way you choose to express yourself—which may be something you share with others, or choose to keep to yourself.

(You’re welcome to move these around to your liking; add, rearrange or takeaway…I won’t mind).

These four parts of your life are all important, but some will be more significant than the others on any given day, so let’s just focus on which one of these areas speak to you today, right now. Pay close attention to the area that pops out, and also pay close attention to the area that you really want to ignore. (Your tendency to avoid one aspect could be a sign that it really needs some attention). If you want to get more specific, select one part within one of the four categories that you know needs some extra TLC. Narrow it down as much as you like. That will be your focus for the next few days.

Got one?

Okay. Now, don’t think about it; just tune in to how you feel about it. Heavy? Open? Agitated? Excited? Nervous? Quiet? Where can you feel it in your body? Your heart; your gut; your hands; Are they tense? Tight? Sick? Anxious?

Now, this is important: Is your mind spinning stories about it? Stories might sound like excuses, scenarios, limitations, blame…anything that labels your experience or takes you out of the present moment. If you’re spinning stories, you’ve slipped into the ‘you’ that lives in your body. Slip back into the ‘you’ that observes; catch those thoughts and kindly ask them to fade out for a while and make your awareness bigger so that you can observe the ‘you’ that is judging. Bring more of your attention to the part of you that is observing, until you are holding the entire experience in a space without judgment.

Return to feeling.

Take one full breath all the way to the top of an inhale; feel the pause just before the breath turns around to release. Exhale it all out; all the way to the bottom of the exhale and notice the pause again. Repeat if you like; slowly, consciously.

That’s all there is to making an observation; it’s just a process of seeing what’s there. It gives you a broader perspective and it helps to flush out the stories so that you can actually facilitate some positive change. Those stories that your mind is constantly spinning keep you stuck and small and barely breathing, and when your mind keeps you stuck, it’s pretty hard to find your way out. Observation gives you a grander view so you can see that you’re actually not stuck. In fact, you have so much space, your mind can’t possibly fill it up; the space is unlimited.

Keep in mind; awareness and observation doesn’t always make you feel better or change things. It’s just a different vantage point. So if you still feel anxious or irritated, that’s okay; just observe the irritation; observe the annoyance; observe whatever is there and have some compassion for yourself. Be extra kind and gentle with your inner dialogue. Take a moment to rest or breathe consciously. The simple act of observing offers so much, but it may take time before it starts to usher in a sense of peace and clarity.

It’s that easy. The hard part is remembering to do it. The beautiful thing is that your body acts as a constant reminder; sending you the message to stop, listen and observe. Every time you feel tired, anxious, achy, irritated, frustrated, angry, sad, or any other physical or emotional sensation that doesn’t feel so great, that’s your body telling you to check in, get clear, get focused and make space.

When it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the feeling of clarity and peace, you start to think that it’s normal to feel less than great, and when you think it’s normal to feel shitty…well, you stop recognizing the messages from your body as signs to stop and observe. When you practice observation, you’ll start to feel and recognize tiny glimpses of peace that will expand each time you practice. Those glimpses of peace are the real you—your true nature and the essence of who you are.

Eventually, with practice, you’ll flip things around; instead of living in unease with brief glimpses of peace, you’ll live in peace, with brief glimpses of unease—which, of course, will be the simple reminders to return to peace.

So for the next few days, practice observation. You can focus on one of the four areas mentioned earlier, or just observe the present moment. Notice when you don’t feel great and use it as a reminder to tune in. Get bigger than the feeling until it loses some of its power. See if you can return to peace.

And please, please, let me know if you’re confused or if you have any questions that come up. Furthermore, let me know if you have any suggestions, or share your experience. I want to learn from you, too.

You’re well on your way to creating a life that you love. It’s happening now. Can you feel it?

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