Finding Joy

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything do to with the focus of our lives.”—Elder Russell M. Nelson

We all experience struggles and difficulties in life; allowing these struggles to control our lives only rob us of the joy we can experience. Stepping back to analyze what brings us joy and what brings us unhappiness can help us redirect how we react to lives circumstances.

Growing up my household included my parents and grandparents; I grew up believing I had two sets of parents to watch over me. Living under the same roof and spending so much time together really allowed me to have a strong bond with them. My grandpa would drive me to and from school everyday and would spoil me rotten regardless of what my parents said. I was only blessed with eight short years with him when he passed, but the memories will last a lifetime. After that I grew even closer to my grandma. She shared stories over tazas de café and supported my creative side. For so many years I would sneak to her room at night when I had a nightmare and she would scratch my back until I fell asleep. As the years went on unfortunately she got sick.

It truly broke me emotionally seeing her going through chemo. Instead of allowing each other to see the pain, we made her treatments as positive as could be. We’d grab venti passion teas from Starbucks on our way in and stop at Juice It Up for fresh juice afterwards. The family would gather for dinners and game nights to spend every minute we could with her. On her last days, we all camped out together in the living room and took turns sayings our last words. Even at that moment we all leaned on focusing on what a beautiful life she lived and the wonderful memories we each had.

Losing her was extremely painful. I would walk past her bedroom, see her empty bed and smell her perfume. Our dog would lay in her seat on the couch and not move for hours. So many nights I lay thinking about how she would not attend my college graduation or my wedding. At first that’s all I could think of; it was one of the most difficult times in my life. I felt I had to always be strong and put up a front for my mom who was struggling with the passing of her own mother and her own health concerns. I stayed home so many Friday nights and lost so many friends and realized I was losing myself in the negativity. At that moment I made a choice, why remember her passing if I could remember her life.

In given time, I made some huge life changes. I started a new purposeful job, went to therapy, and committed my faith. Nothing brought my family and I more peace than being able to continue her great legacy in a positive way. Allowing myself to take that negative experience and turning it around surprisingly brought me joy. I will always miss her but now only focus on the wonderful memories I have with her and all she taught me. If you have experienced joy, you should continue to fight for that feeling regardless of what circumstances you are in.

-xo Michelle ♥️

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