Sitting with Gratitude

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I spoke with a dear friend on the phone about dreams come true. She had just received my book and was living in her new home. We had shared our dreams and struggles over the years and she mentioned how awesome it was that we both had manifested our desires.

I agreed, “It’s amazing, now we have to figure out what we want to manifest next.”

She replied, “I think I’m gonna sit in gratitude for a while with this one.”

I was blown away and humbled by her wisdom. She was so right. The work is done, and instead of continuing to strive, I need to take a breath and sit with the feeling of immense gratitude. My deepest desire of becoming an author has finally come to fruition. It’s time to give thanks and really feel the power of gratitude.

Gratitude is a daily practice for me, but stopping and sitting with it, is not. I am constantly striving, reaching and pushing. I am always looking forward and tend to forget to be present and really dwell. Mindfulness is an ongoing practice and as a recovering perfectionist, I try my best to stay present.

As far as I can remember, I have pushed myself against myself. I was always competing with myself in my mind and striving to achieve. Learning to sit in stillness began 10 years ago after my first bout with anxiety. The effects of the anxious spiral I allowed myself to enter were wearing heavy on my mind, body and soul. I was achieving, but very unhappy. Mindfulness and gratitude have changed my life and brain chemistry.

When the results of hard work occur, it is important to sit in gratitude for yourself, the process and the result.

Everything is an opportunity to be grateful. Taking the time to be still and really feel gratitude is a gift you can give to your heart.

As I take my dear friend’s advice, I am in awe of the opportunity and process that just took place. Now that I stand on the other side of this beautiful opportunity, my heart wells with gratitude. This is an awesome feeling and I definitely want to sit here for a while.

Introducing My First Book: Moonlight Gratitude

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“Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.” -Cheryl Strayed

I’ve had this quote above my desk for over 2 years. I would see it every day as I sat at my desk writing my heart out. I would visualize my book in my hands and seeing my name in print. I would go into bookstores and stand with my eyes closed imagining seeing my book on their tables and shelves.

My creative gestation clock was ticking loud and clear…I wanted to give birth to a book!

I spent most of 2015 sending book proposals out to literary agents and publishers with no luck. There were some responses. One even asked me to send the first 50 pages. That year was spent in a whirlwind of hoping, anxiety and creativity. By the end of the year I had felt rejected more that I cared to feel and put my manuscript away. I realized that I had lost the joy and passion and needed to take a break.

So, on January 1, 2016. I took a break from trying to get published and just focused on coaching and writing blog posts. I was happy to find my passion reignited and excited to spend time creating once again.

Then one day, January 27th to be exact, I received an email from the contact form on my website:

Hello I am an editorial director…I am looking for someone to work with to create a moonlight meditations book. If you would be interested in a project like this please email me at the above address. From reading through your website it seems like you would be a perfect fit.

I read it over and over. Was this real?! I googled the publisher and sure enough they were real. I couldn’t believe it!

My book’s birthday is March 15, 2017. It is beautiful and filled with words that came alive right below that quote that kept my hope alive. Snow Seychelle illustrated the cover and parts of the book with her beautiful underwater art. I am obsessed with whales and the moon and when I saw that the art included whales and the moon, I could not believe how perfect the pairing was. Everything came together so beautifully.

I wrote parts of the book in the desert, in mexico, at home, by the ocean and among the trees in Washington. I carried a notebook with me everywhere to capture inspiration as it came. And then one day, I had a finished manuscript and sent it off to be created.

My hope with this book is that at the end of the day, it can bring some calm and mindfulness. I suffered from insomnia throughout college and remember the anxiety of sleepless nights. I am grateful for that time because it gave me the empathy to write each passage.

Our trials can blossom into beautiful things.

I remember the day I saw my book on Amazon. I gasped. It was actually a real book. Then, last week I received an advanced copy. Finally holding the book was exciting and seeing my name on the cover was surreal. After so many years of dreaming, my dream came true and was in my hands.

You can find it on pre-sale at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. If you or anyone you know deals with daily stress, anxiety or lack of sleep, this book is meant to bring calm and mindfulness into your day. Please pre-order a copy today and share with friends.

Love and peace,

Emily

New Years Intentions

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It’s that time of year to reflect on the past year and plan for the year to come.

For many, 2016 was a year of great transition and change. There was an energy of control vs. surrender swirling about. Some plans failed and others never took off. This left many of us with the feeling of defeat. What started as the best laid plans, began to unravel as the plans were not meant to be.

2016 was a call of resilience and perseverance mixed in with immense joy. In some parts of life it was the best year ever and in others it was a struggle that seemed never-ending. There were beautiful happenings and courageous changes. Many emotions were had and lessons learned. There is beauty in such transitions and we all got through it and celebration is in order.

Winter has set in and new beginnings are on the horizon. It is a time to reflect and plan for a lovely and dynamic 2017.

Before the new year begins, spend some time thinking about what you would like 2017 to look and feel like. Create an intentional awareness by asking the following questions…

  1. What am I grateful for in 2016?
  2. What do I want to accomplish in the next 12 months?
  3. How do I want to feel next year?
  4. What can I let go of that no longer worked for me?
  5. What changes do I need to make in order to accomplish my goals?

After you’ve spent some time answering these questions, you can begin to create intentional goals for the coming year. Instead of creating resolutions that can fall apart as the year continues, setting intentions will take into account what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel. Intentions ask “why” as well as “what” when it comes to goals.

Finally, visualize each goal. See yourself accomplishing and feeling the way you desire. Spend some time each day visualizing each outcome. This is a powerful exercise and sends this desired energy out into the universe.

Remember, what we focus on expands. With a little focus through visualization, our intentions will expand and begin to take shape.

To help create momentum, I have attached a free download below. The intention is to think about different areas in your life where you may want to create a goal. Then, there is room for 1-3 actions steps needed to take to complete each goal.

2017 Goal Planning

May your New Year be filled with hope, happiness, health and love!

Harvest Moon: Return to Your True Self

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As we harvest the seeds that were planted in the spring, we can identify the intentions that thrived and the ones that needed to be let go of. Harvest is a time of hard work as well as reflection. Before the cold of winter sets in, we must complete processes and plans. There is also an element of rest and reflection to assess what is truly important.

Since the past two seasons focused on cultivation and growth, we are now drawn to focus on maturity and reward. What has grown and matured during the Spring and Summer? Revel in the fruits of your hard work and persistence. Harvest is a time of celebration. You created results and can now take in the bounty.

After we tend to what has matured, we can also notice what has remained. In essence, our true self. The parts of us that stay the same no matter what season is taking place. In the fall, trees reveal their true colors providing color and warmth to a cooler landscape. Spring and summer invited hope for new things which arrived and transpired, but there is an unwavering part of our soul that must also be celebrated. It is the place where authenticity and inner truth reside.

As the harvest moon lights up the sky, allow for illumination in your soul. Notice if there is anything that is keeping you from expressing your true nature. Release anything that is holding you back or keeping you stagnant. Embrace your true self and the road ahead with bravery.

With each full moon, there is an opportunity to set intentions for the month to come as well as release anything that no longer serves us. Here is a 5 step process that I cultivated a few years ago for setting full moon intentions…

How to Set Full Moon Intentions

  1. Meditate: sit quietly and meditate on what you want to achieve
  2. Write it Down: write down what you want to achieve, create, change or focus on
  3. Visualize: create a picture of what this looks like
  4. Let Go: release what no longer serves you and let go of anything that may be holding you back (physical, mental and spiritual)
  5. Offer Gratitude: the universe is constantly listening to our deepest desires. Offer gratitude for each gift and blessing and for the outcome of your new intentions as if they have already happened

Everything that happens in the universe starts with intention.

– Deepak Chopra

For a free intention setting worksheet  or more information on intentional living or spiritual life coaching, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

Finding Your Tribe

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For years I wanted to create a network of friendships where we encouraged, inspired and held each other accountable. Finding a group of likeminded individuals took some time as my ideals and beliefs were taking shape and solidifying. I spent a good portion of the past decade moving around and travelling the world where I made friendships but my soul longed for the deep connection of sisterhood and community.

Over the past couple years, I have watched a creation of a tribe of some very lovely souls. Some I have known for quite some time and others entered my life more recently.  A tribe does not necessarily need to live near each other;  there are common threads of love, compassion and respect.

I met each one through different circumstances and watching them form their own bonds over the years has been quite heartwarming for me. We are each different and unique, however, we mesh together in a loving and encouraging way.

I attribute finding my tribe to opening my heart and putting down roots.

I recently visited my sister in the Pacific Northwest. One day, I was sitting out on her deck amongst the treetops watching the wind blow through the pine needles. She explained how evergreens have shallow roots but continue to grow tall. Part of their survival depends on their growth in a community of other trees. This communal aspects helps protect the trees’ vitality and against the elements.

Their roots grow outward and the mingling of roots help the trees create strength…just like the mingling of differing backgrounds can create strength. Throughout storms, the intermingled root systems reveal and produce the strength of the community.

Another attribute of evergreens is the ability to stay green during the darker times of winter. Even when light is dimmed and other trees shed their leaves and become dormant, evergreens showcase their color. A tribe supports each other to shine amidst life’s hardships and darkness. When one is going through a particular hard time, the rest of the tribe can hold them up and provide strength and light.

Think about your own friendships and ask the following questions…

  • Does this person encourage me to be the best version of myself?
  • Is there a spirit of love?
  • Do we align on ideals and respect each other’s differences?
  • Are we honest with each other, even when it’s difficult?
  • Do they inspire and provide light during my dark times and vice versa?

Take some time today to offer gratitude for your tribe. Send them a card, text or call them to express your love and gratitude.

Find your tribe, love them hard. – Danielle Laporte

Are you going through a transition? Looking for some clarity? Let’s work together!

Embracing Ambiguity: The Beauty of the Unknown

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Ambiguity is like a fog where you can see the outlines of things, but nothing is really clear. When life is vague and answers are desired more than anything, it can lead to anxiety, restlessness and at times depression. Not knowing the outcome or direction is such a common theme; everyone has felt the anxious grip of ambiguity at least once.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. Writing has been in my life since I was a child. I would write stories, journal and read as many books as I could get my hands on, hoping one day to have one of my own.

When I quit my job in 2014, my goal was to travel the world and write. I wanted to write a book and try to figure out how to get it published in my free time. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I even had a coach put me on a writing schedule. When I felt like the book was complete, I started the process of finding a literary agent.

I created a book proposal with my writing ready to be submitted. I sent letters out to several prospective agents and waited and waited. It was painful to be so vulnerable with something that I had been dreaming about for 25 years. I knew that in order to make it happen, I had to put myself out there.

Then, the rejections started pouring in. The first one made me cry and I was used to them once the fourth one came in. One agent asked for my first 50 pages. “YES! That’s hopeful!” I thought and called my close friends to share and calm my nerves. I sent out the work and waited some more.

Eight weeks later, I received my final rejection. It hurt. I needed to take a break and revisit the book in a few months. I decided to solely focus on my business and let the book wait for its birthday.

In January, I set an intention to let go of my expectation of getting published. I was tired of receiving rejections and noticed that it started affecting my passion for writing. I thought that taking time off would bring clarity. Three weeks later, I received an email that rocked my world — an offer to write a book.

I let go and the universe delivered my dream in a way I would have never expected.

The email was from a publisher who had stumbled upon my website. It was unbelievable the way it all happened but the universe is mysterious, magical and amazing. It all made sense and the day I accepted the offer, I sobbed giant tears with gulps for breath. It was emotional, messy and very joyful.

There was a release that set in when everything came together. Grace kicked in and offered relief to the waiting and wondering. In that moment, gratitude overflowed and a feeling of astonishment enveloped me.

If I would have known this back when I started this process, the gratitude would not have been as great and the relief would not have felt as powerful. The anticipation was part of the joy. The ambiguity set the stage for amazement and wonder. In that moment, I realized the beauty of the unknown.

*stay tuned for more information on this book project later this year

Mindfulness at Work

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Its the beginning of the day and you open your calendar to see the tasks and appointments for the day. There is a sense of restriction within your throat as you think about the day unfolding. You think about all the possible distractions and interruptions that may occur, stress begins to well within your gut, your heart beat starts to race, the phone rings and it sets you off. You’ve only been at work for 10 minutes and you’re ready to go home.

This is common for many people, especially on Monday mornings. This was my story for years — I would stress myself out just anticipating stress. Then, I decided to change that part of me. I knew the trigger well. I allowed it to send me into a deep spiral. I was done spinning. Focus was what I craved. Results desired to be attained. The first step was to stop myself and just be where I was and not off in the “what ifs”.

“Do you know about living in the present?” is a question that I am frequently asked by clients. The answer is more than a simple “yes” or “no”. Living in the present takes practice because it requires mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in the moment. I started learning to be mindful after a particularly rough breakdown. I was suffering from intense anxiety which gave way to an occasional panic attack. I talked to doctors and therapists and didn’t find the relief I knew was possible until I learned to be still and present.

I was a bulldozer/whirlwind/lightning bolt who did not like to be still. When I found myself sitting in silence at first, I was uncomfortable and tried to control the outcome.

Slowly, I let go. Slowly, I learned to be present. Slowly, my reactions faded from thunderous panic into deep cleansing breaths.

Here are a few things to do the next time you are at work and feel that stewing/panic/rage/annoyance bubble up. Try these steps for a month. Notice the changes you experience. Many of these can be done right at your desk or even before you enter work. With the intention of practicing mindfulness, you will find a new way to cope when work sends you reeling:

  • Breathe: Take 3-5 cleansing breaths in and out your nose. We can forget to breathe during stressful situations which can constrict breathing, thus creating a secondary stress.
  • Reframe your thought: When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, recognize your thought and reframe it into something positive. Create a mantra or intention for the rest of the day.
  • Write it out: Taking a moment to write out the stress can give your brain the time to process the situation and thus take it off your mind.
  • Practice gratitude: Take a moment and offer gratitude for something.

By actively taking the steps to create a change in negative thought patterns a change is occurring inside the brain. Mindfulness practices can change the way we react to negative situations. As the practice becomes stronger, the reactions become weaker.

For more information on mindfulness and dealing with stress at work, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com

Reflection and Celebration

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The end of the year is a time for reflection and celebration. The end is also the beginning. Looking back can help create momentum for the year to come. This is one of my favorite times of the year because I can see where I was, where I wanted to be and the path I chose to forge.

When I look back on 2015, I see a lot of learning, letting go and growth. The year began with trying to figure out how to create a website and training for a race. I worked out my brain and my body as I was determined to complete both tasks. What I learned was that with focus and dedication, I can stretch my mind and body to do things I once thought was impossible.

The key to accomplishing these goals was through setting intentions. Every year, I look at where I would like to grow in several areas including: health, education, fitness, spiritually, relationships, career and creativity. I write down my intentions for the year and some action steps that I will need to take to achieve my goals.

After I have a clear picture of what I want to achieve, I meet with an accountability partner. I have had a friend, colleague and a coach as my accountability partners in the past. I let them know my goals and what I plan on doing to achieve them. They check in monthly to encourage and hold me accountable. During my monthly meetings, I revisit my intentional goals and make adjustments as needed. Accountability has proven to be important to successfully achieving desired results.

As I reflect on 2015, I want to celebrate these things:

  • Running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler with my super amazing running goddess friends
  • Learning to build a website and ditching the phrase “I don’t do tech”
  • Climbing Camel Back Mountain in the early morning before the heat took over
  • Taking time to explore more of America (road trips to Spring Training, Washington and Cape May, visiting friends in Chicago and Florida, boating adventure to Catalina Island and weekends in the woods)
  • Creating and facilitating Intuitive Painting Workshops
  • Signing on with The Muse as a career mentor
  • Learning to let go of relationships that no longer serve me and healing with love and grace
  • Failing forward with business and creative pursuits and learning valuable lessons each time
  • Seeing 2 of my favorite influencers (Elizabeth Gilbert and Lewis Howes) speak and getting books signed
  • Successful birthday fundraising campaign with Charity:Water
  • Meeting amazing people who have enriched my life and brought many smiles to my face and heart

This was a year of living intentionally with love, peace, freedom and compassion. I planted the seeds of vulnerability and reaped the fruits of bravery and resilience.

When you reflect on 2015, what are you going to celebrate?

Be Here Now: A Lesson in Contentment

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I was laying in bed in a state of utter discontent, asking “What am I missing?” wondering when whatever I felt was missing was going to happen. I wondered if there was some place that I needed to be. My wanderlust was raging, feeling the sense of needing to be elsewhere; always.

The endless loop that plays in my head is like a pop song, once you hear it a couple times it gets stuck there. The world beckoned, but I was being planted. I felt myself tugging at my roots causing things to die and fall away. I couldn’t bloom in this state of agitation and fear of missing out or ‘FOMO’. I had to learn to sit still and listen.

Anxiety is fueled by discontent. I learned this lesson a while back when I found myself craving something other than what I had. I dwelt on the missed opportunities and did not see the greatness that was right in front of me. The whirlwind of restlessness prohibited me from appreciating what I had.

It is easy to fall into the trap of restless discontent. Patience is hard to come by and while waiting, our minds can create several scenarios of better alternatives. However, when I learned to ease into the discomfort and practice gratitude, it helped to lead me into a state of contentment.

Being hyper connected and seeing everything that is going on, opinions and comments take away from the present moment. Comparisons start to be made and discontent creeps in. In fact, we are training our brains to look at our phones instead of faces. Although technology is an amazing thing and we need it, taking the time to step away from hyper connectivity and sitting still can bring our minds back into balance.

In stillness I can reflect and see the things that I once wanted were actually happening. Contentment is a practice that when put aside results in impatience and anxiety. By practicing gratitude daily, contentment reminds me that being where I am is exactly where I need to be. That lesson is powerful and beautiful to me. I can watch the beauty of life unfold when I take the time to be present and understand that everything is happening when it supposed to.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

– Epicurus

Practicing Gratitude: Calibrating for Thanksgiving

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I enjoy the month of November because of Thanksgiving; my favorite holiday. I love the act of getting together with loved ones to share delicious food and offer gratitude. The act of practicing gratitude creates room for more gratitude to occur.

I began an active practice a few years ago where I wrote down 3 things that I was grateful for at the end of each day. Even on the worst days, I made it a practice to find things to be grateful for; the most important time for the practice. Whether you begin or end your day with gratitude, you will notice a change in perception over time.

The practice of gratitude creates awareness in everyday occurrences. Things that usually go unnoticed suddenly become highlighted with intentional thanksgiving. All of a sudden, I started recognizing even greater things happening and becoming overwhelmed with gratitude.

One of the first things I noticed was how bright orange California poppies are. I have lived in California my entire life and never stopped to appreciate the vibrancy the flowers provided. This memory is very distinct for me. I was waiting to get onto a highway and looked over and was amazed by the shock of orange bursting from the ground surrounding the sign post. I did a double take and realized that something so ordinary had become extraordinary for me. l felt grateful for the observation and my new found attention to every day things.

As my outlook changed, I realized that I had calibrated my mind for gratitude.

Practicing gratitude creates more gratitude. Neuroplasticity allows for changes within the brain. We can intentionally create a change by consistent practice. Our brains can create new pathways with the practice of a new skill such as exercise, meditation and diet. Over time, practicing gratitude created more thoughts and occurrences for gratefulness. Like with any change, this takes time.

Most change starts with the simple process of something outside of us altering something inside of us. If you begin the inward journey and start to change your inner world of thoughts and feelings, it should create an improved state of well-being. If you keep repeating the process in meditation, then in time, epigenetic changes should begin to alter your outer presentation.

– Dr. Joe Dispenza

I encourage you to begin practicing gratitude. Try it for 4 weeks and see what transpires. Here is a downloadable sheet: Gratitude Sheet to begin your practice. Just write down 3 things you are grateful for each day and notice the gradual change in your perception. I would love to hear about your grateful journey. Send me an email at emily@soulsadventures.com to share your experience.