Sunset behind a bridge over the water

We often go through life, rushing from one thing to the next, without taking the time to step back and see the world around us. The power of taking even a moment within each day to notice the little things can do wonders for our bodies, our minds, and our overall well-being.

When we here at The Novel Turtle ask you to take a step back from your day and notice the things around you, write about what you see, play with your food, etc. we want to help you to get the most out of life that you possibly can. We want to help you find your creativity, and use all of these creative little ideas and seemingly crazy things to find your best life. All too often we can miss a beautiful moment because we are worrying about where we’re going next or what is on our to-do list. We miss the opportunities that whisper quietly to us because we’re stuck in the loudness of life.

I love to take pictures. I’m not a photographer by any means, but I enjoy taking pictures. When we’re on vacation I’ve been known to take four or five hundred pictures in one week, depending on where we are and what we’re doing. Whoever is with me often has to make sure that they don’t walk off and leave me. I tend to take a few steps and then take a picture, take a few steps and take a picture. It drives my family crazy. Haha.

A few years ago, we were planning to go on a whale watching tour in California. I was talking to a friend of mine about all of the pictures that I would undoubtedly be taking. She said, “Just don’t forget to put the camera down and enjoy the moment while your there too.”

I had never really thought of it this way. I thought that by taking all of these pictures I was preserving the moment for the future. I thought I was enjoying things to the fullest. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t really experiencing the things that I was photographing. I was spending so much time searching for the perfect shot, fiddling with my camera settings, or digging in my camera bag, that I wasn’t actually experiencing all that was going on around me. So on that tour, I took some photos, but then I put my camera back in the bag and I watched the dolphins swimming and jumping. I listened to the sounds of the ocean and the people around me. I listened to our guides and saw the things that they pointed out. I felt the wind as we were riding along on the boat.

Without that advice I would have missed out on the experience of seeing 100’s of dolphins stampeding. (Yep, that’s what it’s called, a dolphin stampede – Click here to see a video by Captain Dave’s in Dana Point, CA) I would still have the pictures from the trip, but I would have missed the actual experience of it all.

I was reminded of this same advice again when I went on the sunset cruise pictured above. At first I spent my time trying to get my camera to focus on what I wanted it to. I tried to find the perfect shot. Then my friends advice popped into my head again. I snapped this picture, then put the camera down and just enjoyed my experience.

Sometimes we hide behind our busyness so that we don’t have to take in the emotion of the moment. Especially if it’s an unpleasant emotion such as sadness, anger, hurt feelings, etc. If we make it a point to stay busy then we don’t ever actually have to feel these feelings. The trouble with this is that, if we never deal with and resolve these emotions, then they keep popping up and bugging us. They keep robbing us of more and more special moments and time.

Maybe whatever we’re doing reminds us of a departed loved one. Maybe it reminds us of an argument that we had with someone that we just can’t let go of. Maybe it reminds us of a time when we didn’t feel our best. Being around family, especially around the holidays when we are participating in traditions, is one of the quickest ways to put us back in those hard places. We’re doing the same things, with the same people, and we tend to get stuck in the same feelings. Even if we’ve changed since that time, we tend to slip back into our old ways of thinking and feeling.

Maybe you don’t even realize that you have these emotions until you’re in family situations, like Christmas dinner. Once you know these emotions are present, take the time to work through them, deal with them, and release them. That way, next time you are in a situation that triggers that emotion, it won’t. You can sit back and enjoy your time, knowing that you’ve done the inner work to move yourself forward.

When we learn to enjoy the moment, we give ourselves more of an opportunity to hear that small voice inside that is guiding us to our best life.

Something that I have suggested in my posts before, that would work perfectly for helping to remind you to enjoy the moment: Find a physical item that will serve as a reminder. For instance, every time you see a snowman, a Christmas tree, a Christmas card, a dog or a horse. Every time you walk through a doorway. Every time you see a smiley face.

Smiley face made out of sea sponges

We often get so wrapped up in our routine that we sail through life without looking up. Use whatever thing you choose as a reminder to take a deep, long breath, and enjoy the moment. (Because of my whale watching experience and my friend’s advice, I am reminded to enjoy the moment every time I see a whale or a dolphin. I’m also reminded of the wonderful fun that we had on that trip.)

Dolphin

If you’re going into a stressful family situation, or a stressful situation in general, find a reminder that will be present in the room(s) that you’ll be in. If it’s a Christmas get together choose something like the Christmas tree or Santa. That way you’ll be sure to see it plenty of times while you’re in the middle of that situation.

Use your creativity to make it fun. Maybe you have an Uncle who always says, “when I was a kid….”, use that as your reminder. Or maybe you have a cousin who always find a way to bring the conversation back to themselves. Instead of letting this stress you out, use it as your reminder to enjoy the moment in your own way.

Star christmas tree ornament

(Also, refer back to our Silent Observer post, where we talked about other ways of dealing with get togethers and the emotions that may arise.)

In whatever way you choose to do it, enjoy the moments that you are given. Snap a few pictures to share with all of your friends and family, but remember to also lay that camera down and be present. I know a lot of you have to do the cooking, cleaning, and hosting. Do those things that you need to do, ask for help to lighten your load (check out our post on how to ask for help and accept it in the way it is given), and then give yourself permission to sit and just enjoy your time.