Days 80-93: 100 Moments of Joy

I am 14 days behind on my “Moments of Joy” project. Getting up to date seems like quite a bit of work. But I’m only one week away from completing this project, and I don’t want to give up this close to the end.

To be truthful, I can’t remember everything that’s happened in the last two weeks. But I have thought about joy each day. These last 93 days have been impactful in helping me create joy in my life and see life through a more joyful lens. That’s not to say that there aren’t still times I stress out and feel negative. That definitely still happens. But I think these last 93 days have helped make my perspective more optimistic than it was 94 days ago.

Below are 14 “Moments of Joy” from the last two weeks:

  1. Going to the Temple. John and I each took a day off from work, and this presented an opportunity to go to the Temple together. I love the Temple because I feel like I leave the Temple feeling more confident about myself. I think this is perhaps because being in the Temple elevates my perspective to a more holy level.
  2. Watching the snow fall. We had quite the blizzard this weekend. The view from our apartment is somewhat limited, but we could still watch the heavy snow fall. This was the first real snowfall of the year for us. To me this first snowfall of the year is magical.
  3. Completing a major project at home. When John and I moved into our apartment, the closet in the second bedroom became the “closet of death.” We stuffed that bad boy full of everything that didn’t have a home. I’ve known for a while the day would come when we needed to go through that closet, and I dreaded that day. When it came time to put away the fake Christmas tree we ordered this year, I knew that meant we needed to go through “that” closet. So I woke up early one Saturday and got to work. We ended up sorting and organizing from about 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It was quite the day, but knowing that project was done brought joy and gratitude.
  4. Being reminded that God can use us to accomplish His grand purposes. Listening to this BYU devotional a couple times over the past week brought joy and peace.
  5. Spending time with family. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my mom, sister, and I went out to lunch. We went to Cava, my favorite restaurant (currently).
  6. Writing thank you cards. I’ve started sending our wedding thank you cards. Taking the time to write these notes reminds me how blessed we are to have friends and family who love us and support us.
  7. Getting a headboard. A few years ago, I found a headboard that I really wanted. I knew that I’d be moving from the house I was in in just a few months. So I decided to put off buying the headboard until after I moved. But then the house I moved into had dollhouse (angled) ceilings on the top floor. Where I wanted to place my bed wasn’t conducive to a headboard. I lived in that house for two and half years. Now that I’m in an apartment, I was finally able to get that headboard I’d been eying all those years.
  8. Having a meal turn out unexpectedly well. Last Sunday, I was a bit nervous about dinner. I made dinner on the fly. I made a pesto pasta, and I loved it! I was so nervous the meal would be bland, but it wasn’t at all. This made me really, really happy because I don’t consider myself an experienced cook.
  9. Participating in a panel discussion about faith. The youth (ages 12-18) in our church congregation asked John and I to sit on a panel. The youth asked the panel questions about pushing forward with a steadfast faith in Christ. I wrote a little bit about my experience on The Faith Friends Blog. I loved the opportunity to get to know the youth in our congregation.
  10. Exercising. John and I are trying to make more healthy decisions. We started what we call “The 30 Day Challenge.” We have to exercise for 30 days before being allowed to purchase a specific item of our choice. I’ve felt more motivated to exercise lately, and it’s improved the quality of how I feel on a day-to-day basis. When I exercise, I am more energized and more positive.
  11. Framing and hanging pictures. For the last three months, the wall above our TV has been empty. I’ve known I wanted to put a wedding picture there. I’ve also known I wanted to find pictures or objects to put on each side of the wedding photo. Well, last weekend we hung our wedding picture. On each side, we placed a framed magazine cover that has  special historical significance. Having these pictures on the wall make our home feel more complete. For me there is a real joy that comes along with home decorating. I love it. And I love how the house feels once its walls are decorated.
  12. Spending less time on Facebook. I’ve found myself going to Facebook on my phone when I’m bored. A little over a week ago, I logged myself out of Facebook on my phone. Once I did so, I spent way less time on Facebook. Doing so made me feel more connected with the present world around me. It is a good feeling.
  13. Baking. I enjoy baking when I have the time to do so. Winter Storm Jonas provided me with that time. The only thing I baked was brownies, but I plan to bake some cookies today.
  14. Reading the Book of Mormon. Winter Storm Jonas also brought with it time to read. One evening I turned of all the lights in my bedroom. I opened the blinds to allow the freshly fallen white snow to light up the room. I laid in my bed and read. It was the perfect atmosphere for reading in the scriptures. The world was quiet, and my heart felt joy.

 

Snowzilla: Winter Storm Jonas 2016

All in all we got at least 30 inches of snow this weekend. The crazy thing about this storm wasn’t just the amount of snow fall, but was also the wind that accompanied the storm. To put this in perspective, our apartment comlpex has a covered garage, yet many cars inside are covered in inches of snow that was blown in during the storm.

We spent our weekend safely indoors. We watched many episodes of Leverage (my favorite show on Netflix), played multiple rounds of card games, cooked/baked, and even put up our new headboard that’s been sitting in a box. Below are some pictures from Snowzilla 2016.

 

Our “roasting fire.” It made us feel cozy, and it even made fire crackle sounds 🙂
We parked John’s uncle’s van in our visitor parking while he is overseas. As the snow fell, we watched it get more and more covered.

The van once all the snow had fallen.

 

This is inside our parking garage on Saturday afternoon. I wish we would have taken a picture this afternoon. It was way worse today.

 

#SnowzillaSelfie

 

We put up our headboard, and I love it.
John taught me how to play Skip-Bo.

John took this video Saturday afternoon to send to his family.

Honeymoon in Southern Virginia

The day after John and I got married, we headed down to a secluded cabin in Natural Bridge, VA. I realized looking through pictures last week that I didn’t post a thing about this.

I would highly recommended where we stayed. It was a two story cabin with a fireplace, a porch swing, a supply-stocked kitchen, and a peaceful cabin feel. There were even horses on a nearby property that we could see while sitting on the porch swing. The drive down was truly beautiful. It was the last week in October, and the leaves were magnificent.

This past year John traveled a great deal for work (like every other week). Consequently, he preferred to go somewhere driving distance for our honeymoon. I was happy to go along with that because what I wanted most was a relaxing week with him. After planning a wedding, a week at a cabin was the perfect way to relax and enjoy being married.

The Natural Bridge is one of the “Seven Wonders of the New World.” It’s a rock bridge that formed naturally. There is a walking path that goes under the bridge and leads to a waterfall. There are also nearby caverns and other natural beauties to explore. Each night there is a 30-minute light show projected onto the bridge. I would definitely go back to this cabin and to this area.

Outside our cabin.
Outside our cabin.
Inside by the fireplace.
Inside by the fireplace.
The Natural Bridge.
The Natural Bridge.
Nature lookout by some falls.
Nature lookout by some falls.
Inside the caverns.
Inside the caverns.
A sample of the light show on the Natural Bridge.
A sample of the light show on the Natural Bridge.

Before heading down to Southern Virginia, we spent our first night in DC at the Mayflower Hotel. It’s a historic and very cool hotel. My friends and family wanted to make sure we left Maggiano’s in style, so they made sure to decorate our car. We definitely got some looks on our way into the city.

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Inside our car was a basket of goodies from my parents. It was fun to be able to take these treats down to the cabin to enjoy. It was a perfect.

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Days 73-79: 100 Moments of Joy

This entire last week I was in Tucson, Arizona for work. I was looking forward to the warmth and sun, but it was pretty cold and rainy nearly the entire time.

Day 73: On Monday, I had an inspiring conversation with a faculty member at my work program. He is so positive and happy on a consistent basis. I know his family faces some real struggles, but I am always so impressed by his joy. His joy is contagious and helps me feel joyful.

Day 74: On Tuesday night, we headed to a Mexican restaurant (it’s tradition!) for some delicious food. I believe that joy always surrounds large gathering of friends enjoying a delicious meal together. It was a fun night.

Mexican Dinner

Day 75: This day was a long day. It’s the graduation night for the fourth-year participants in the Institute program. Hearing the graduation speeches always brings joy because their speeches remind me that what I do does make a difference in the lives of others.

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It’s tradition for our work team to take a “selfie” after the Graduation ceremony.

Day 76: It rained and rained and rained on this day. When I arrived back at the hotel, the staff had warm apple cider ready for our group. In fact, each day we returned to the hotel, the staff had some sort of delicious treat for us. Their kindness brought joy at the end of long days and inspired me to think of ways I could go above and beyond in my job to make others feel special.

Day 77: I returned home! I was excited to get home and see John. John knew it had been a long day and week for me, so he planned a special night for us. His thoughtfulness brought joy.

Day 78: Saturday was awesome. It was nice to be home. We relaxed in the morning and spent the afternoon running errands. I made Beef Stroganoff for dinner. I was a little nervous about it, but it turned out great. I’ve never been much of a cook. But getting married has prompted me to expand my cooking abilities. When I make meals for the first time, and they turn out, I feel so proud and happy. This was one of those happy times. I can’t say the same for dinner the next night 😉 And to be honest, I am a bit nervous about tonight’s meal too…

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While we were out running errands, we ran into this 13 foot nutcracker on sale for $800.

Day 79: I always love Sundays. We have church at 1 p.m. this year (the congregations in our church building rotate times annually). This allowed John and I to have a relaxing morning. I made German Pancakes for John. I don’t think he loves them as much as I do 🙂 In the evening, we listened to the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults. Listening to the speakers brought joy as I was reminded to exercise faith and believe that God has a divine plan for my life and all of His children here on earth. As we exercise faith, God will help us achieve what otherwise may seem impossible. This reminder brought joy and peace. You can watch the devotional here.

Days 71 and 72: 100 Moments of Joy

Day 71: At church on Sunday, members of the congregation had the opportunity to get up and share their thoughts, beliefs, and meaningful experiences they’ve had recently. This happens every first Sunday of the month in the LDS faith. I attended a different LDS congregation than normal because I am Tucson. I was very touched by three things individuals shared.

  1. The first person to share said he’s not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but this year he is making a goal to focus on what he loves – focus more on the people he loves and doing what he loves. I was especially touched by this comment. I spend so much time focusing on the practicalities and logistics of life that I feel like I miss out on actually living life and creating daily, happy memories. I appreciated his decision to focus on what he loves this year. I want to do the same.
  2. Another individual invited the congregation to tell their spouses every day that they love them. This individual lost her husband four years ago. She reminded all of us that we never know how long we have with those we love.
  3. A woman who was probably about 100 years old shared how grateful she is to be alive. I was inspired by her and her love of life.

Sitting in this church meeting brought so much joy as I reflected on the people in my life who mean so much to me and the blessing that life truly is.

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A very happy picture of some of the people I love.

Day 72: Yesterday I had joy walking in the sun. It’s soooo nice to be in a place where the sun is shining and it’s not raining. I love it!

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Lastly, I learned one of the attendees of the program I work for has had quite a year and could use some help. She was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of 2015, and then the day after Christmas, she lost her house because of a tornado. You can learn more about her story and support her here.

Day 64-70: 100 Moments of Joy

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Happy New Year! My goal this year is to make 2016 a year of “cheerfulness.” I like that word because cheerfulness to me is faith and optimism combined. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, an apostle of Jesus Christ, described cheerfulness as “trust in God’s unfolding purposes, not only for all humankind but for us individually.” (You can read the full talk Elder Maxwell gave on cheerfulness here.)

Now to catch up on my “Moments of Joy…”

December 27: We headed back to Virginia early because of impending bad weather in Iowa. We drove about five hours on the 27th and stayed the night in Indianapolis. I had joy in the car ride as John and I talked about a range of topics. I love talking with him.

December 28: We made it back home. That night we went to the outlets to exchange John’s new coat. We stopped in a store to look at pants for me. I’ve been needing some new pants and this store never seems to have them in my size. But on this night they did. That made me really happy because this is like the only store where I buy my pants due to my struggle finding the right fit in other stores.

December 29: After work we headed to my parents’ house for dinner and to exchange Christmas gifts, since we had been in Iowa for Christmas. I love my family and being with them, chatting with them, laughing with them, and joking with them brings joy.

December 30: This was our first evening at home since we got back. I had some things I needed to get done, so John offered to do all the dinner dishes. There are only two of us, so it’s not like there are a ton of dishes, but it still meant a lot because he recognized that I had things I needed to get done. And even though he too had things to accomplish, he still chose to do all the dishes.

December 31: Again, we headed over to my parents’ house. We had dinner, watched football, and just chatted. My brother Trevor is home from college and it was especially fun to see him. As I said before, being with my family fills me with joy and gratitude. John and I had to head home early because I had a 7:05 a.m. flight the next morning. So, no I did not stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year 😦

January 1: I flew to Tucson for work. The first week in January is always our annual Winter Institute. Each year I come here, I reflect on all that has happened in the last year. There is quite a lot that happened in 2015. The biggest event being marrying John. I am filled with joy when I look back on what has transpired in my life this past year. Have there been hard moments since I was here last? Uh, absolutely! But that’s life. And the good outweighs the bad.

January 2: This morning I had joy while working out (which, is truthfully shocking). In 2016 I want to take better care of my body. I found a 20 minute youtube exercise video that I did this morning. I have joy when I think about all that the human body can do. And I definitely need to take better care of mine. I’ve felt so run down lately, and I my guess is it’s from a lack of exercise and eating lots and lots of goodies.