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  • Emilene Leone

This is a story about manifestation




Although it should be the big news of this blog post, I'm just going to start by casually mentioning that I have opened a portrait studio, called Casa Leone Photography, in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. For years, people have asked if I provide portraits, in addition to my real estate/architectural photography, and I've always been sort of lukewarm on the topic. I tried offering portraits from my home, and just felt it was too chaotic to be an amenable space. Too many kids, too many pets, too much cat hair. On one of the last shoots I tried to do at home, one of my children literally sprained his ankle while I was with a client, and I had to cut the session short to take him to the ER.


So ruling out home photography, I have met up with people to do outside, natural light photography sessions, mostly professional and political headshots. I enjoy it when I have the chance to do it, but at the same time, never felt the draw to hustle and drum up business.


But in the back of my head, for years, I've thought "I'd like to have a little space to use as a portrait studio." And after years of the little voice getting louder, and then too loud to ignore, I finally have my space.


Welcome to Casa Leone Photography Studio, in downtown Rock Island, Illinois, located within the historic McKesson Lofts building.



I'm sure I'll write a post soon to talk about the services I plan to offer in this space, but for this post, I want to talk about the magical way I manifested myself into this beautiful, perfect space.


Let's take it back about 6 months ago, to last summer...


I found myself in a bit of existential despair, which isn't incredibly unusual for me, I've been in and out of periods of existential despair since I was about 3 years old. I've always been an old soul.


But in this particular time, last summer, I became absolutely obsessed with the idea of shedding the identity of "homeowner". Getting rid of the big suburban house, and yard, and physical, mental, and emotional load that comes from being the caretaker/handyman/gardener/property manager of a piece of real estate.


At first, I convinced myself the solution was moving to Europe and renting some tiny apartment in a big city, giving up everything I had to start over again. I started shedding possessions, and digesting information about minimalism, dreaming of having a bit estate sale and selling everything in my house, then my house. A bit dramatic, but made for some good daydreams.


The realistic part of me realized that as a mother, especially the mother of an adult with disabilities, was that I would not be in a place to run away to a foreign country any time in the near future, but I could run away, at least, to downtown Rock Island, Illinois.


I lived in an area we call the "Quad Cities", which actually encompasses, at least 5 cities, but up to about 15. It's very confusing, much too much to go into in this blog. The short version is that it is an area of the Midwest that stretches between two states, on the border between Iowa and Illinois, with the Mississippi River running in between. I was raised in Davenport, on the Iowa side, went to college in Rock Island, on the Illinois side, then moved to Rock Island upon graduation. Another move took us to Moline, on the Illinois side, then a bigger move out of the area, to the Des Moines, Iowa region, then back to the Quad Cities, where we are currently living, back on the Iowa side, in Davenport.


The goal has been to move back to Rock Island, the best of the Quad Cities, at least in my opinion, once the kids graduate from school.


That day is coming near! My oldest son is a senior and my twins are juniors. Illinois beckons!


I decided that a happy middle ground between being stuck in suburban Midwest cul-de-sac-land, and running away to Europe would be to at least try living in a downtown area here in the area we are already residing in. A little microdose of big-city living, so to speak.


I found a building I love, a converted warehouse building in downtown Rock Island called McKesson Lofts. It's really an incredible building in so many ways. Built in 1914, it was renovated about a decade or so ago, and combines the old with the new so beautifully. The view of the Mississippi River from the green roof space is one of the best views in the Quad Cities, in my opinion.


With commercial space on the first floor, and condos on the second and third floor, my husband and I developed a goal to purchase a space for us, as well as a space for my son, who has disabilities. To us, it's an ideal situation. We can be close to him to assist him with his daily living needs, but he can have his own space he can take pride in.


We've been waiting for the right units to open up and come on the market. We are in a position where we could buy now, and take the time to make it our own while still owning our family home in Davenport until the kids are out of school. My dream was to use the space as a photography studio while we still resided in Davenport.


I became very obsessed with the idea of having space in this building, and not being a very patient person, playing the waiting game is always hard for me.


One day, last fall, I was taking a walk by the river and walked by McKesson Lofts. I remember tracing my hands along the exterior brick as I walked around the building. A little piece of mortar came loose and fell off as I moved my hands along the walls. I decided to pick it up and take it home with me, as my own little piece of McKesson Lofts.




Just a tiny thing, I put it on a shelf in my bedroom and decided I would use it as a tool to manifest my intentions about having a space in that building, in downtown Rock Island.


I didn't perform any sort of magical spells, or anything like that, but from time to time, I would just hold it and set an intention of being within the walls that it originated from, and soon.


At the same time, I was actively looking for a space to rent in the meantime as a photography studio. I toured one and came close, but something told me to wait. I had an appointment to look at another, and someone literally signed the lease 5 minutes before my scheduled appointment to view it. I looked at listing after listing and nothing really appealed to me.


I knew there was a commercial space available for lease within McKesson Lofts, but it was far too big and far too expensive for my modest requirements. I went back and forth about the idea of looking at it, and made appointments, only to cancel them. Finally, that little voice in my head told me to go see it anyway, and I did.


It was a lovely space, but just not something I could justify leasing for a fledgling business. I let the property manager know it was beautiful but I didn't need anything quite as grand.


She said that she had another space available around the block, a space that was smaller and less expensive and asked if I would like to see it. Not feeling too optimistic, I said yes, and we started to leave McKesson Lofts to look at the other space, just down the road a bit.


As we were walking by, my attention was drawn to a sign for unit 105 in McKesson Lofts, and I asked what sort of business was behind the door. She said with a gasp "Wait! That unit is actually vacant! It's available! Someone was interested but they haven't followed up yet, do you want to see it!"


I said yes, and as soon as she opened the door, I was sold. I said I'd take it, without any hesitation.


Just 350 square feet, a small but stunning space with a large south facing window, gorgeous high ceilings and stunning strategically exposed brick, I fell in love, immediately. I took possession and spent some time moving in and making it my own and it's perfect. I love it so much.




The fact that it wasn't publicly available and yet, it's mine, feels like the result of my manifestation. I listened to my instincts, and my inner voice.


My inner voice told me to go look at the expensive unit, even though realistically it didn't make sense. My inner voice told me to ask what was behind the door to unit 105, even though I didn't have any real reason to ask the questions.


The part of this story that honestly gives me chills when I think about it is the fact that the small piece of loose brick and mortar that I took home with me on the day when I traced my fingers around the exterior walls of McKesson Lofts actually came from the small bit of external wall directly outside the unit I ended up leasing. My little bit of McKesson Lofts had been connected physically to the building since 1914, and I feel like it wanted to go back home in some way.


I don't believe we can use manifestation to control circumstances, or especially other people. But it is a powerful tool to focus in on what you, yourself, really desire to bring into your life.


I've done a couple of photoshoots in my new space, and it makes my heart so happy to do the work I love, in a space I love, in a building I plan to make my permanent home.




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