Book by Brendon Burchard

The Motivation Manifesto

a review from the perspective of a mother and creative

Finding My Way to the Book

For nearly a decade I was half of a successful wedding photography business. My first mentor when I moved to Orlando in 2006 had become an even better friend and she agreed to become my business partner in 2010. Since she had all of her experience within a specific niche, we decided to form the new business within the same market. While it helped propel our business forward with very little lag time, my professional identity as a photographer was now intertwined with hers. Together we were ‘Sona’ and the imagery we created had a harmonic, almost singular voice- hers being the lead vocal.

The idea of The Inspired Storytellers started in the summer of 2018. I was experiencing health issues that were forcing me to slow down and re-examine my role in the wedding partnership. At home, my maternal responsibilities were shifting slightly as my youngest son was preparing for his first taste of the classroom environment. I would soon have a few guaranteed hours to myself a couple days a week to devote my attention to my creative work. But, wedding photography wasn’t it for me anymore. My creative voice was starting to sound a bit off key with my partner’s. What I wanted to “say” and the images that were most poignant to me, weren’t necessarily what our wedding clientele were after. I was connecting more with the parents of the bride and groom than the bride that wanted picturesque bridal portraits and prompted “moments” that felt “real, but perfect.” I lived for the family moments that were filled with emotion that I knew I would cherish 30 years from now as the mother of the groom. 

So, I started having honest conversations with my partner and spent more time reflecting on what a new business of my own making would look like. Initially, I was scared to go out on my own. I chose the name with the plural option in case my friends wanted to eventually join me on this venture. That didn’t happen, and now I’m sort of relieved it didn’t. At the end of 2019 I officially left Sona Photography. January 1, 2020 I became “The Inspired Storytellers” and my quest to define my voice as an artist officially began. 

Last year being what it was, I didn’t get as much personal time as I would have wanted to nurture my business. The role as my children’s primary caregiver was ever more important from March until October (when my boys eventually returned to the classroom). I did, however, take more time for myself to read over 2020. One of those books,The Motivation Manifesto, had some brilliant points that resonated with me not only as an artist but as a mother. I wanted to share those with you here.

The Integrity of Identity

“We gave away pieces of our integrity in order to get along with others”

While this chapter focuses mainly on not giving into social pressures encouraging you to be someone you’re not, this idea hit on something I had been wrestling with since becoming a wife and mother. 

As long as I can remember, I knew the greatest challenge I wanted to undertake was having a family. I had high expectations for the type of wife and parent I wanted to be. Some of this was probably societal pressures, but most of it stemmed from my own experiences as a child of divorced, entrepreneurial parents. 

Personalities form for a number of reasons, of which I won’t get into here, but let’s just say that while I can be stubborn and firm in certain beliefs, I will also be the first to give up my time and conform in service to another- especially someone I love. 

I feel like a lot of moms can relate to this. 

On a lesser scale, it could be why we both appreciate and feel slightly disconnected to the mom memes that are out there. As much as I want to be the “perfect” mom, I bond with the other women out there that have given up perfect and settled into functional. But, while I love the Amy Schumer large glass of wine gif, if I’m being honest, I probably drink a glass of wine or two only a couple of times a month. So, I’m not really the “cool” mom either.

In its more harmful forms, it’s why we don’t put time on the calendar for something we want to do (like family pictures). Why we eventually come to tolerate a messy and cluttered home. Why we find ourselves adjusting our parenting styles to match what someone else is doing. 

At some point we eventually stand back and look at our lives wondering who we now are and how we got here. Or, all those brushed aside feelings and needs erupt with contempt- usually at those we love.

“The most highly adaptive are the least aware…They do not recognize themselves any longer in the mirror; they have forfeited their individuality; they are caricatures of collective preference.”

Before the boys, I had a career in aviation and a successful wedding photography business going at the same time. I knew who I was and I was confident in my decision making. What I produced was earning me recognition and pay raises. I made time for myself: working out and perfecting my hair and make-up before heading out for the day. Neither job was to be my legacy, but were steps in the right direction to the person I wanted to be.

Because our lives allowed for the transition, I gave up the aviation job when our second son was born and took more of a backseat role in the wedding business until my oldest son entered school. 

I finally had the challenge I needed in my life. Most days I opted to skip my hair and makeup regimen and I went almost that entire span of time without ever scheduling in a workout. My first four priorities belonged to someone else. I wanted our boys to know they were always at the top and they could have my attention when they needed it.

phone selfies provide random glimpses of my days

selfie with my boys on the carousel

To be honest, that is a really hard expectation to live up to as a stay at home parent, let alone a work from home parent. I let myself down a lot. My business emails and calls came in at all times in the day. Social media became a beast and attention suck. My phone was in my face more than my kids were. I would love to say this is something I learned how to manage, but there are still days that get away from me.

I also struggled (and still do) with how I discipline. My husband has his way. It comes naturally and he doesn’t seem to doubt it. The boys also respond to it, but it isn’t a parenting style I would choose for myself. 

My way is very inefficient and not my natural way of responding to situations that are out of control. Eventually it works, but it’s a process- sometimes taking upwards of 45 minutes for one of the boys to work through his feelings and come to an understanding. On my best days I’m patient and it’s an opportunity for us both to grow. Other times, one or both of us forces the situation to a quicker resolve with a more “shut it down” way of dealing with it (my husband’s approach). Rarely do I feel like I did a good job. I usually find myself replaying the moment over and over again trying to figure out where I could have done better. 

I didn’t have these doubts in my aviation career or while shooting a once-in-a-lifetime wedding. There weren’t a million other ways I could have done my job. The tasks were clear and I was confident in my tool kit and skills to make or exceed the expectations set for me. 

2020 has been a wake-up call for me. It has forced me to look in that mirror and challenge myself to either accept the person staring back at me or do the work to regain my reflection. 

Here I am. Almost 40. I’m not living up to the parenting expectations I set for myself. My husband and I have not used our time this year to nurture our relationship as husband and wife. And now I have a business of my own that is in that awkward stage of trying to find its crowd and hone its identity- which is really just me trying to establish myself for the second time as an adult woman.

son holds mom's hand in his hand as she holds him
Back to the book.

I’m working on answering the following questions for myself. And, if you find that you have connected to any part of this, you may want to consider these too:

  • What am I really after in life?
  • What do I truly want to create and contribute?
  • What kind of person do I want to show the world each day?
  • What shall be my ultimate legacy?

Personally: I want to be the parent with the polite, happy kids that do the right thing even when no one is watching. I want to be the wife that cooks a meal everyone enjoys over boisterous conversation. I want to live in a tidy, welcoming home that friends come to visit for game nights.

Professionally: I want to give the gift of the outside, artful perspective to those that are going through the thick of life. It’s a lot easier to slow time and capture the beauty of life when you’ve been asked to take notice. 

If you’re like me you may actually find answering those questions pretty easy. The harder part is doing the work of setting (and keeping) the boundaries that are needed to make sure you truly attain them.


“We should not focus on the shadow in the corner and be so foolish as to miss the fact that the shadow exists only because the room is illuminated.”

I don’t want to be so bold to assume that we all have been there, but I know many moms in my circle of friends that have found themselves focused too long on the shadows- myself included.

This year has been especially hard. I have found myself whining aloud, “this was supposed to be my year to catapult my business.” Even worse, “it’s not fair that I’ve had to take a step back once again.” Yes, I have wallowed quite a bit in my lower moments this year. 

What has pulled me out every time has been adjusting my perspective to focus on the highlights. We were lucky enough to get through my husband having COVID-19 with very minor symptoms and without infecting the rest of the house. My husband’s hospitality job offered him pay protections and support through the shutdown. Although my business barely broke even, I was recognized for my work by winning a few international awards. And the boys grew their love of golf alongside my husband while also improving their relationships with one another.

If you’re currently in that space where you can only see the shadows, this list from the book might give you a starting point:

  • Let me be thankful for the heart that drums life through me
  • Let me be thankful for last night’s rest, no matter its length
  • Let me be thankful to my lover that overlooks my shortcomings
  • Let me be thankful for the luck that has advanced me and the disasters and tribulations that have educated me
  • Let me be thankful for the blank slate that comes with each morning

The book does a great job of putting the responsibility of how we feel back on us. We don’t have happiness- we create it. Our emotional state is a choice- a selection from a broad palate of reactions.

mom walks a quiet beach in the morning


“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware- joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller

This chapter of the book spoke to my soul as an artist and my mission in life. 

Technology has allowed for a lot of wonderful things. I can’t imagine how differently the world would have handled this pandemic if it were 1990 and a majority of us didn’t have access to the internet and video conferencing at our fingertips. More people would have been laid-off work. Home schooling would have been far more difficult for most households. Staying in touch would have been limited to a telephone call (probably from a landline with long distance fees). And our entertainment options restricted to what was on TV or already available to us via VHS (maybe you were lucky and owned a Nintendo).

Talk about finding gratitude in an otherwise bleak moment in history.

Anyway, while technology has made a lot of things better, it has hindered our ability to appreciate the smaller, simpler things in life. Instead of using a quiet moment to observe and participate in the real life happening around us, we have trained ourselves to check-in to our virtual lives. We are opting to connect digitally with a possible larger (equally distracted) audience than fully engaging face-to-face with the people we are with in the moment.

“We are not supposed to miss this moment. To go barreling through life half-numb, unaware of our senses and surroundings, deaf and blind to the magical qualities of the moment.”

I wrote a blog post awhile back on the power of our brains to hold onto a moment. You can read more about it here; but to summarize, we can’t have our attention split between a real moment and the screen if we want our brains to truthfully create a strong memory.

We all have the ability to slow time and truly take in a moment. Most times it happens automatically when we are fully tuned into what is going on. I know you have done it and now those memories play back in your mind as if you filmed in them in slo-mo. Give it a try. Choose one of your favorite memories, close your eyes, and press play. 

girl plays with bubbles between portraits

Were you able to put yourself back in that environment? 

Could you hear the little voice again or that song that is forever entwined with the memory?

Did you recall a smell in the air or how your food tasted? 

Could you almost feel what you were touching as if it was right in front of you?

That’s the power of awareness and connecting with the moment. 

The book talks about the practice of “two beats longer” where you mindfully amplify your senses for two beats longer than you normally would to hold onto a moment. 

  • Do not breathe so quickly. Take in air for two beats longer.
  • Do not scan the room. Sense the room by gazing into each shadow and corner for two beats longer.
  • Do not merely glance at him. Look into his eyes and hold them for two beats longer.
  • Do not gulp down the next meal but savor each bite for two beats longer, let the tastes melt and linger.

For parents, this often means we put down the phone and be a part of the moment with our children to really notice what they are doing or listen to the story they are telling. And I know, this is hard to do all the time- especially if it is something you want to photograph for the sake of keeping it as a “memory,” or (on the opposite side of the spectrum) the story feels long or the thing they are doing is being done for the 100th time.  

That’s why I am so passionate about what I do for families in particular. For one, if you’ve hired me to be there for the day, you’re more likely to practice being aware of the things your family is doing and avoid picking up the phone as much. But more importantly, you do get the best of both worlds- getting to be in and apart of the moments that matter to your family while also having the memories documented (in case your brain fails to capture it). 

family cuddles in bed for a story

In Closing

If you have gotten this far, thank you for being one of the internet anomalies that loves a lot of text on the page. I hope what I’ve shared helps you not so alone with your feelings and possibly inspires you to take action for a better tomorrow.

When you’re ready to capture and preserve some honest memories for yourself or your family, I hope you also consider me a resource. You can request more information here, if that day is today.

To pick up this book for yourself, you can click on the book image below to order from Amazon. By using this link a small portion of your payment will help support what I do as well.

You can also do what I did and use your local library card to access the Libby or Hoopla app to borrow an ebook copy of the book.