Posted in Joy

The Joy of Living in the Moment

My husband had no idea until afterwards. He likes to tell me I can go up in a hot air balloon once I’ve held my first three grandchildren.
While living in Lima, Peru, not so very long ago, I was given an exciting birthday gift. After taking me out to lunch downtown (and instructing me to eat light), three lovely women, each old enough to be my mother, walked me across the street to an outfit that specialized in paragliding. My friends promptly paid for me before sitting down on a bench to cheer me on. It was a total surprise and naturally I was a bit nervous as I had never done anything like this before, but in front of these friends (there was something about their wiser ages that spurred me on) I did something I rarely do. Instead of analyzing the situation, I took a deep breath and simply went for it. Mere minutes later, as my instructor and I were soaring high above cliffs, ocean and skyscrapers, I found myself truly living in the moment. Every sense was awakened. I felt the rush of the wind on my face, saw my reflection in the highest shiny window of a tower, heard seagulls and crashing waves, smelled the salty sea air, and tasted twenty minutes of pure exhilaration. Yes, thrill has a distinct taste.

♥♥♥ ♥♥♥

There is a favorite local restaurant here in Cache Valley called, Juniper. Like many other restaurants today, they have big screens set up to captivate diners while they eat. At Juniper you don’t watch sports such as basketball, football, soccer and golf. No, at Juniper you watch video clips of extreme sports. The last time my husband and I ate there, we watched footage of men and women shooting off a massive ocean cliff from a slip-and-slide! And you know what? Not a single one of those insane thrill seekers had a frown on their face as they plummeted to the water below. They were screaming to be sure, but there wasn’t time to do anything but live in their action-filled moment, and it always ended in big smiles, laughter and high-fives (because they all survived).

Learning to use my macro lens. When I’m out in nature taking photographs, I live in the moment.

Today I realized that I want to live more in the moment. The best part of living in the moment is that I don’t need to leave the ground to do it. I just want to remember how amazing it felt to be paragliding because in that space of time I wasn’t over-thinking my trials or stressing over all that is wrong in this world which I have no control over. I was replacing the negative I often zoom in on, with a whole lot of positive, and I think the key for me is getting out of my own head and really appreciating all the beautiful things around me. Because life really is beautiful. Sometimes I need to ignore my messy kitchen and piled up laundry, put my cell phone down, go outside and take a meandering walk as I breathe deeply (unless the cows are out). Sometimes I even need to put down my camera and enjoy the world through my natural lens. (Okay I wear contacts, but without them the world would be a messy blur and I’d wave at street lamps.)

♥♥♥ ♥♥♥

What helps you to live in the moment? Have you ever gone paragliding or skydiving or something that pumped up your adrenaline?

Posted in Joy

Replacing Stress With Joy

From the October General Conference talk, Joy and Spiritual Survival.

Confession: I have this way of stewing over, stressing over and obsessing over some of the negative things in my life, most of which I cannot change or control. Why do I torture myself in this way? Yesterday in church, as I was partaking of the sacrament and reflecting on my Savior’s atoning sacrifices for me, this clarifying thought came to my mind:

What an amazing relief to hand over my worries to a loving Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, who can do so much more with them than I can. This frees me to use my precious time and energy on worthwhile things that bring me joy, such as spending time with those who love me- time when I am truly living in the moment.

This past week I found out that someone I once trusted had done something to deliberately hurt me. I let this particular issue eat at me for a couple of days, adding bitterness to my initial sorrow and pulling me into a state of depression around my poor husband and son who were trying desperately to cheer me up.

One morning I came to my senses and knelt down in prayer to my Heavenly Father. I tearfully poured my heart out to Him. I didn’t hold anything back. I also asked Him to help me forgive this person and see them as He sees them (as one of His children, just as I am one of His children). Once I had let all my anguish out, I started thanking my Heavenly Father for my many blessings. I named blessing after blessing off the top of my head. I felt so much lighter afterwards! I was reminded that the good in my life far outweighs the bad.

Looking back on last week, as soon as I let go of the issue I had been obsessing over, I finally felt peace and recognized joy in my every day life. One of the highlights of my week was spending three hours at an elderly neighbor’s home, easing some of her loneliness by having a long conversation with her about anything she wanted to talk about. I also felt joy every night when my son and I took a walk together (it’s the only time here when the temps cool down!). I felt joy preparing a delicious meatloaf dinner for my husband after a long day at work. I felt joy making a homemade birthday gift for my niece. I’m so glad I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer that day and let go of the burden I had been carrying. Joy is so much nicer than stress!

♥ Have you ever had a similar experience? What are some of the joyful moments in your life that replace your stress? ♥