A Lesson on Living in the Moment

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Whew! What a whirlwind week this has been, for both¬†my personal life and my professional. I need to first thank you all for being awesome people, reading everyday and just being here for me. My virtual community has really become such a strong part of who I am and I just want to thank you all for being you ūüôā

Now guys, I honestly can’t believe it’s almost November. October has been a wonderful month, jam packed full of winery tours, haunted houses, Halloween decorating, pumpkin picking and endless scary movies. October is my favorite month of the year, not only for the scary stuff, but because of how beautiful it is. [All photos below taken at Unicorn Winery in the Shenandoah Valley].

I love that crisp air, the eerie glow of creepily carved pumpkins, the crunch of the fallen leaves under your boots as you walk to get your mail. But especially, I love the colors.

I love the bright reds, oranges and yellows of the trees. Each leaf changing a slightly different color than the next. Fall, to me, is nature as it’s most beautiful. This time of year symbolizes not only a new season, but also forgiveness and starting over. The trees shed their leaves and return back to their most primal state, only to blossom with entirely new, gorgeous leaves in the spring. A signal of starting fresh, to me, it’s a season of new beginnings. This¬†October has also been such a miraculous one.¬†¬†I’ve noticed that I’ve allowed myself to slow down and take everything in. I’m allowing myself to live in each day. I think it’s because I now love my job so every day is new, interesting and fun. I¬†don’t want to miss a single moment. Plus, as the leaves start to fall, one by one, I find myself not wanting to miss watching a single one hit the ground.

Now, living in the moment is something I struggle with. It’s not a state of mind that comes naturally. I’m always looking for what’s next, what big event I can plan for, my future plans, the future “me.” This whole look to the future mentality really set in when I got my first job out of college. I know it’s not like this for everyone, but when you hate your job like I did, the only thing keeping you going is Friday. The miraculous weekend. Everyday for those hard 2 years, all I had to my sanity was the fact Friday was just a few days away. I hated where I spent my 9 – 5, so of course the dream of the weekend and the dream of my future, in grad school or a stellar new job, become a big a part of me as my¬†name. Almost every word out of my mouth was future oriented. Even last October, with all of my fun fall festivites and cozy weekend nights at home with my fiance (now hubby), I was so filled with dread for Monday, I couldn’t let myself enjoy it. I missed everything, every beautifully colored leaf was bypassed by my clouded eyes. My life was passing me by and I didn’t even realize it.

It took my wedding day and finding a new job to realize how much I let pass me by because I was too transfixed on the future, on moving forward. However, I didn’t just click a light switch and change how I perceived my life. It’s taken a lot of internal struggling to just be. One thing (besides my colleagues encouraging words) that really helps me, though,¬†just live in the moment is photography.

In photography, you can’t fast forward. And you don’t want to. Every second of everyday holds something beautiful, why wish that away and miss one of the most incredible shots of your life? You have to shut off your mind and let each second take you as it wants to, let each day happen as it should and allow every beautiful moment unfold¬†without pushing or wishing it away. When I was at the winery last weekend, snapping away these pictures, I wasn’t concentrated on the fact Monday was just hours away or what we were doing next weekend. I was concentrating on those bright red leaves, those gorgeous little figments of nature, and how I could capture them. I was admiring and breathing in every little thing as if it was the most important in the world. Because when you are taking pictures,¬†everything is. At that moment, all that matters is whats in front of you and how you can take a little piece of that beauty, of that moment, home. If that’s not living in the moment, I don’t know what is.

Another thing that helps me stay present? My dog. I know, sounds crazy right? But dogs don’t have the ability to look forward to the future. They don’t have the ability to “wish for 5pm” or count down until Christmas. Every second of every day for them is important. (Especially that second you walk in the door after being gone all day!) They take in every scent, every movement and every sight as if it’s the most important thing that will ever happen to them. Watching Oscar at the winery, especially, was proof of this. Every moment we were there he was looking around, smelling and taking it all in. Dogs know how to live in the moment and seriously, there is so much we can learn from them.

This whole “seizing the day thing” is something¬†I will always have to work on.¬†¬†However, now I truly realize how¬†important it is.¬†I don’t want to wish away another day, regardless of how bad it is. You truly aren’t guarenteed any more days than the one you are in, so make it count. For something at least ūüôā

So now, I ask you all, are you a past, present or future kind of person? Are you happy that way?

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  1. Posted by Anni on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    In my day to day life, I definitely gravitate towards fixating on the future. I think there definitely needs to be a balance, but I've found that if I'm focusing too much on where I am now I get depressed. I start thinking that I'm doing things wrong, or not enough. Planning helps me move forward, you know?

    On the other hand, when Ross and I take a trip somewhere, I become completely present. It's probably why I like traveling so much - I drop everything just to experience those few days. 

    I love what you're saying about animals, too. I feel the same way, and I think they're a great reminder of how to stay grounded. 
    • Posted by claire on
      Friday, October 28th, 2011
      I definitely agree, I think you need a balance. I was just spending so much time on fast forward I didn't get to pause to see what was going on around me. I felt like I missed a lot of the beautiful moments in life becauase I was too focused on getting out of the present, ya know?
  2. Posted by Carolyn on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    I am terrible at living in the moment sometimes.  This is a great post!
    • Posted by claire on
      Friday, October 28th, 2011
      Thanks Carolyn!!
  3. Posted by Avina on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    So beautifully written, Claire! Everything you said is true... Carpe diem :)
  4. Posted by kjpugs on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    This post is so "happy autumn" to me. It's perfect. I love you, I love your attitude, I love your pup, I love your sunglasses, I love your FACE!!!! Basically I just love you. Did I say that yet?
    • Posted by claire on
      Friday, October 28th, 2011
      and I love you! MUAH!
  5. Posted by Lisa Fine on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    Such a good post. I have been a future type of person for so many years, and I usually hate it. But I notice I'm the most focused on the future when I'm in the same position you were in - when I'm unhappy with what I'm doing.

    In the last few months I've been thinking more and more about how short life is, and that we all can learn from spending more time in the present moment. I'm hoping to get more into yoga this winter for that reason.
    • Posted by claire on
      Friday, October 28th, 2011
      Oh I definitely need more yoga, that will help so much too because you are relaxing at the same time!
  6. Posted by Kate on
    Friday, October 28th, 2011
    My husband and I just adopted two puppies last weekend (I know, 2, are we insane?!) and although we've only had them for about a week, I totally see what you're saying about them living in the moment - and needing to let that rub off on us!  

    I think I'm some weird combo of present/future.  For the "present" person part of it, it's not in the "live in this moment" type of way - I tend to get tunnel vision on whatever it is I'm working on at the moment and that I HAVE to get done . . . to get to where I want to be in the future.  Does that make sense?  Both hubby and I work full-time and go to school in the evenings (he for a PhD in biology, me in law school), so it's really easy to forget to take a moment and breathe and enjoy these beautiful fall days.  I'm hoping that you're right and that taking some time with the pups will help realign perspective! :)
    • Posted by claire on
      Friday, October 28th, 2011
      It definitely will! And I think there's a good side to all of them. You need to learn from the past, live in the present and look forward to the future, you know? I was just spending so much time only looking forward I forgot what was happening around me, ya  know?
  7. Saturday, October 29th, 2011
    What great pictures!  I am always looking forward and trying to plan and make things work out for tomorrow!  What a great post about thinking and living for today!  But for right now, I am looking forward for tomorrow (hubby comes home after being gone for over 2 weeks), but after that I will try to love more in the moment :)
  8. Posted by Jen on
    Saturday, October 29th, 2011
    Good for you!  I totally agree - sometimes living in the moment is easier said than done.  But the first step is realizing that you need to and focusing your energy on trying to.
  9. Posted by Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. on
    Saturday, October 29th, 2011
    I love when you write posts like this. You are so right on. I think we all forget to live in the moment. I'm always so distracted about thinking about what I have to do in the future, I often forget this. I'm glad you reminded us how important this is.
  10. Posted by Grubarazzi on
    Saturday, October 29th, 2011
    Gorgeous photos. I can tell that it helps you find your center. I'm the very same way. Planning too far ahead often leads us astray.
  11. Posted by Eliotseats on
    Sunday, October 30th, 2011
    What beautiful fall colors.   This is a lesson I know I need to take to heart.
  12. Posted by Gretchen on
    Monday, October 31st, 2011
    Great Oscar pics. And yes, just another reason why dogs are better than people.
  13. Posted by Parsley Sage on
    Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
    I'm very much a present individual.  I hardly ever give the future a proper 'think.'  So far, that's turned out to be a pretty good thing because I just do stuff.  Fearless is what my mom would call it.  In reality, its just short-sightedness but here I am, living in the Cayman Islands, married to a man i knew for 10 months before our big day 5 years ago.  Life has a way of sorting itself out for you if you let it :)

    Great post!