Happy New Year – 2021

“You can change! You can be anything you want to be in righteousness. If there is one lament I cannot abide, it is the poor, withered cry, ‘Well, that’s just the way that I am.’ I’ve heard it from too many people who want to sin and call it psychology. You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. Another satanic sucker punch is that it takes years and years and eons and eons to repent. That’s just not true. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, ‘Ill change’ and mean it. Of course, there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make, . . . but change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come to you as instantaneously as for Alma.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

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Good morning!!! Every year people make New Year’s resolutions, and it’s almost a given that they won’t follow through with them for more than just a few days. Making a major change in your life requires great discipline and lots of willpower. In her book The Five Second Rule, Mel Robbins talks about how our minds have two gears. The first is automatic pilot; it loves when you do the same things over and over again. It’s safe and comfortable. The second gear is HOLY CRAP! THIS IS SOMETHING NEW! MUST PUT ON THE BRAKES ASAP!!! Our minds are wired to think that anything out of the ordinary is dangerous, and they will trick us into avoiding doing those things at all costs. That’s why it’s so hard to break old habits and start new ones.

Here are some things that will help you. Create a vision board. Cut out photos of the things you want in your life and put them on your board. You have to make sure you look at this board on a regular basis. Another thing is to make sure you’re doing self-affirmation talks. You need to speak in the present tense of how you want your life to be. You can look at yourself in the mirror say things like, “I am grateful that I landed my dream job of being an architect!”

Surround yourself with people who support your dreams. Oftentimes we have loved ones who love us so much that they’re afraid to see us fail that they’d rather see us live mediocre lives. They are just thinking in the short term how it would hurt less now to not try than to fall flat on our faces and fail. However, it will most certainly hurt more in the long run. Regret is the ultimate poison. Also, sometimes we have people in our lives who just don’t believe in us or put us down. Do everything you can to spend as much time with those who are already doing what you want to do, and surround yourself with those who regularly support, uplift, and believe in you!

Tony Robbins tells us that we have to elevate our standards. You need to become tunnel-visioned on your goals. Always focus on your long-term successes. It will take a lot longer and require a lot more effort to achieve your goals than you originally imagined. Don’t give up. Don’t compare yourself to others that are on a similar path. This is YOUR path! Trust in the process. Trust in God’s timing. Everything will work out in the end! It always does!

I hope that this message helps in some way or another. I want to help you become the person that you want to be and the person God knows you can be. I love each of you, and I hope you have a very happy New Year!!!

Photo cred 📷: Liz Hastings

The Opinions of Others

Why do we value the opinion of others so much???

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When we were younger how many times did we think we did something just right only to have our parent, teacher, or friend cut us down for doing it wrong? Especially when it comes to authority figures like parents and teachers, we want to please them. We are young and don’t always know better. We see them as authority figures. We think they have our best interests in mind at all times. We don’t understand that they also can go through tough days and inadvertently take it out on us. When we get cut down we feel sad. We don’t want to disappoint those we love.

Then we grow up. We still want to grow, become better, all while not disappointing those we love. Unfortunately, we don’t just seek approval from those who previously judged or criticized us. We start to crave the approval of others in our lives, even those that we don’t even know, including the approval of total strangers.

We’re worried about going out without having our makeup or hair done. We second-guess our artwork and ask others if it looks good enough before posting it online. We dread turning in that project / assignment fearing judgement from our boss / teacher.

This also translates into the way we act or dress in public. We’re afraid to be who we want to be. We feel that we need to be a certain way. Mom and Dad wanted us to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers, although in reality we wanted to be a hair stylist, video game designer, actor, or mechanic.

We oftentimes compromise our own true desires to please others. In the end we become miserable. We are still paying back student loans that covered a degree for a career that we hate. We see others with fancy houses, cars, and other things, so we feel the need to be like them to fit in. This is not happiness!

Happiness is doing the things that you enjoy. You aren’t born knowing what you like. You figure this stuff out by trying a bunch of stuff and figuring it all out. You’re going to try a bunch of stuff that is not for you. Some things are just okay. However, sometimes you’re going to find an activity, food, hobby, or profession that you just LOVE!

When you do those things you feel ALIVE!!!

When you figure these things out stop right away! Make a huge mental note of the things you love. Immediately begin doing these things more and more. Eventually you will begin to wean out the things that make you unhappy. You are now realizing your voice inside. That voice is making itself heard. You no longer need the approval of others. People will still be criticizing you; that never ends. Ever. You need to make your love for yourself stronger than the voice of any critic!

This is your life! This is not your dad’s life, your teacher’s life, your boss’s life, your neighbor’s life, your spouse’s life, or even your child’s life. You need to do you.

Love yourself! Do the things you love!

I love you guys! ❤️

Growing in Faith

I fell asleep with the lights on. Around midnight I woke up, turned the lights off, and decided to go back to bed. I had received a message from a dear friend while I was sleeping, and it made me incredibly happy to hear from this person.

Something about the message reminded me that God is in my life. He is guiding my every step. Sometimes I want to speed up the learning process. I am so incredibly excited with this journey that I am on. I know that for a while I was making some huge progress within my secular life. However, it seems like ever since I went back to working things for me spiritually have just drastically taken off.

I just spent what seemed like an hour sending voice messages to a few friends. I don’t know why I chose these friends in particular. Maybe they needed to hear my testimony of God and how He leads and guides me. At times I was brought to tears as I was sharing some very personal examples with these friends as I have seen God guide me step by step throughout my life, in particular over the past month or so.

Sometimes life can be overwhelming for me. God is constantly keeping me busy. Sometimes I wish I had more downtime to focus on some other things. However, He has never steered me in the wrong direction. Every time I follow those promptings amazing things happen for me and those around me.

My ability to love others is overwhelming at times. It’s kind of funny because it all started with serving the missionaries not long after I was baptized. I didn’t know why. I just felt this need to give back and pay it forward to whoever I could find that was serving here in the area. I have spent hours sharing my testimony in person with missionaries that I meet with the hopes of inspiring them and giving them hope that the work they do is real. I’ve given away thousands of my Temple photos to missionaries and also other people that I meet. I don’t say this to brag in any way. I just can’t contain my happiness inside of me, and I want others to feel what I feel.

It’s crazy how by doing these acts of kindness for missionaries how I have learned to love them. This Christ-like love is now something that I’ve learned to have for others that I meet. I have learned to see people the way God sees them. Sadly, this is not always the case as I am human and imperfect. However, more often than not I have the blessing and gift of being able to see the potential in others. I’m able to see their spiritual gifts. Sometimes I am instantly able to recognize those gifts that they are currently using, but I can also recognize those gifts inside of them that they are not yet aware of and can teach them how to use these gifts. I can certainly see the Light of Christ shining inside of people, and I can even see when there is a small ember inside waiting to grow into a raging fire.

When I first heard about the Church I had so many doubts. I had heard so many weird stories from others. However, I decided to try it out on my own. Everything in my life changed for the better. Pains from my past have been healed. My greatest trials have turned into my greatest life lessons. Once I committed myself to being baptized and decided to take the action that would qualify me for baptism, my connection with God drastically increased.

There is absolutely no way to put this all into words. I just know that the more I dedicate myself to God the more that I am blessed.

What I experience is nothing that I can just give you and help you feel immediately. It all comes from you taking steps in faith. I’ve done some really crazy things over the past six years. The Jimmy from the past would have thought that who I have become today was crazy. I have taken so many actions purely upon the faith that I have built up and being led merely by promptings of the Holy Ghost. As I’ve learned to recognize those promptings and know that they are coming from God, I’ve learned to become extremely obedient to honor those promptings, regardless of what I have to do or sacrifice to follow them.

Because of my willingness to follow those promptings God has put me in so many countless positions where I have been able to be a blessing in the lives of others. They’re just no way that I could deny that there is a God and that He is real. I cannot deny that He is with me. Always. He gives me that the words that I need to say to those who need to hear from Him. He guides me to where I should go and what I should do.

As a person I have grown immensely over the past six years. I wish you could see exactly who I was back then and compare it in a real time who I am today. I know that I radiate with happiness. I know that I have an incredibly bright future in front of me.

Turn to God. He is waiting to hear from you. He loves you and wants you to feel immense joy and happiness. He wants you to feel His love. He wants you to know that every trial you go through is just His way of loving you, helping you grow, and putting you into a position to take action so you can move forward into becoming the person He wants you to be!

Turn to Him! Always! Walk in faith that He will lead you on a path to happiness!

I seal this testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost and how they have blessed my life in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Empathy

Every single thing that I do is part of my master plan of spreading positivity and happiness throughout the world. There might be times when it might sound like I am being self-centered or trying to toot my own horn. When I’m talking about the amazing things happening in my life I am simply publicity sharing my gratitude. I’m trying to show others that good things do come, even when we are facing struggles. I want to give others hope that we all can have amazing things happen in our lives. This quote from the Alma in The Book of Mormon really resonates how I feel:

“I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

I’m driven with an energy I’ve never felt before. This is not only relatively new, but the intensity of this energy keeps increasing as I grow in the Gospel. I give up sleep. I put off things for myself when others need me. I sometimes even skip meals because I’m so busy. Why do I do these things?

Empathy.

I’ve been there. I’ve struggled. I grew up being shy and quiet. I was picked on and even bullied when I was younger. My Mom passed. I failed out of my university program during my final semester after nine years of time and effort. My Dad passed. I began feeling like I was never going to amount to anything. I went through a mentally and verbally abusive relationship. I was let go from a job that I loved.

A few years ago I decided to commit the rest of my life towards helping others not have to go through the struggles that I have gone through. Through overcoming my trials I had to again find happiness. God has blessed me with an intelligence that I never thought I would possess that I can use to remember many things with precision. I remember the steps needed to overcome my trials and again find happiness, and I dedicate as much of my free time towards helping others do the same in their own lives.

Also, I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to go through those trials. I remember what it felt like. I remember the things I did. I remember the things I said.

When I’m helping others I am able to recognize when they start to slip into an unhealthy / self-defeating mindset, and I know how to snap them out of it. I know where they are going, and I know that I need to keep them from slipping into dangerous territory.

I know that God has put me here on this Earth to help others. Yeah, I could have gone to school and earned degrees showing that I know this stuff. However, I instead enrolled in the school of life. God has been my personal trainer. Every trial I have gone through was part of His design. He knew that I needed these experiences. He knew what I would gain from them, and He knew how they would prepare me to help others. My education has come from living out my life, facing struggles, making decisions that would cause me to not progress, and ultimately having an awakening.

I have found joy. I still have my struggles. I still have a ton to learn. I will NEVER claim that I know everything. However, there are certain things that I know with an unquestionable certainty. I feel it so strongly in my heart. I know that this wisdom is a gift from God.

God has blessed me with many gifts. It is my job to magnify these talents so that I may bless the lives of others. It’s not about self-glorification. I really do not care about public recognition. It’s all about self-fulfillment. “Have I done any good in the world today?” The hymn continues, “Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, A blessing of duty and love.”

Thank you for reading this. I love you all.

Gratitude – 2018

Today I am grateful that I will always win because I live a life full of gratitude. Unfortunately I know a lot of people who have a pessimistic outlook on life. They complain about how bad they have it. They are looking for sympathy from others. It’s like they think they are going to win some prize for complaining the most. In no way am I saying these things too cut these people down; to me living this way just seems like such a foreign concept.
 
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No matter what I’m always cognizant of the blessings in my life. No matter how bad things get I can’t forget about how good I’ve got it. My attitude of gratitude is what brings additional blessings my way. I remember my life years ago when I used to have a pessimistic outlook. I used to think that I was a failure. I used to think that I would never amount to anything. I thought that only other people would find happiness and success.
 
For the rest of my life I know that I’m on a one-way path to happiness and success. There’s absolutely nothing stopping me. No one can beat me because I don’t compete against others. I don’t give a crap how much better other people have it than me. Instead of wasting my time comparing myself to others I use that time to further myself. I’ve stopped giving a crap about immediate success and instant gratification and instead I focus on the long game. As long as I never deviate for my course I will win. It doesn’t matter if someone else gets there before me because I’m not competing against that person. All that matters is that I get there. I will win. That is all.

Why do I photograph Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

It is a calling. My Temple photography is a calling given to me by God. Why else do I spend a ton of time every mission transfer preparing photo prints and writing personalized letters on the backs of them for my missionary friends? Why else am I willing to be late to church over not getting my Temple photos posted on social media? Why else have I printed off thousands of photos and spent hundreds of dollars in printing costs only to never make a dime from any of my Temple photos (so far at least)?

Updating my social media after shooting the Phoenix Arizona Temple – July 28, 2017
Photo by Alan Fullmer

My Temple photography and me being at the Mesa Temple grounds are my true callings. When people ask me if I served a mission, I used to say no because I joined the Church after the age of serving a full-time mission. Now I say that I am on one. My mission is right here (the Mesa Temple grounds). I have touched the lives of way too many people to count. My friends Alan and Rory got a glimpse of what I can do and how I can touch the lives of even random strangers when we were at Temple Square in Salt Lake City a month ago.

Salt Lake Temple – June 21, 2017

There are no coincidences. This all began one day in March of 2014 when I felt the impression to take some photos of the Mesa Temple and have them printed out for one of the missionaries (Sister Hamstead). Then I did it for another missionary. Then I did it for three more. This month marks three years that every single missionary from the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center has gone home with at least one Mesa Temple photo from me.

Mesa Arizona Temple – March 22, 2014

The way their eyes light up when they see my photos. The way they tell me later on how much the photos mean to them. This evening I had just said goodbye to Sister Mecham. Over a year ago I gave her a 4×6 photo of the Mesa Temple. Since then she had that photo taped to the back of her iPad. The tape is a bit worn, but it’s still hanging in there. For over a year this representative of Jesus Christ carried my photo with her every single place she went.

Mesa Arizona Temple – March 11, 2016

That’s when you know the work is real.

Thank you for following my Temple photography journey!

Love,

Vulnerability

Today I am grateful that I am vulnerable. Even though many people would rather not be vulnerable and see it as a sign of weakness, I am. I see it as a sign of strength. I see it as a sign of power. I see it as a sign that I will not let my mistakes, weaknesses, and insecurities hold me back.

I do it for me. I do it for you. I do it for me because being vulnerable makes me strong. It allows me to move on from my past. It takes that power away from others so I become too powerful for them to use my past against me to hurt me. I can choose to forgive myself and move on. I do it for you because I want to be an example to you and others in my life. I want you to see that it can be done. I want you to see that by being vulnerable you can have deep, meaningful relationships. I want you to have that deep, emotional connection with others. We crave connection. We are social beings. We need to feel loved by others.

By being vulnerable I can tell my story. By telling my story I can process the things that have happened in my life. When traumatic things happen our mind “heals” itself by erasing the memories, but that just makes things worse and more hurtful. When I tell my story I can take those traumatic things, make them real, and allow my mind to process those thoughts and be okay with them. When I tell my story I can help you understand that you are not the only one going through this. By telling my story you realize you have someone in me to talk to about what you’re going through. By telling my story I help to strengthen our relationships. By telling my story I become a better person. For that I am grateful.

I encourage you to tell your story!

Love,

Being an Empath

My Spiritual Gifts

I have been blessed in more ways than I could ever count. I have been given many gifts. Although many of them can be used to help me, they are by far primary there to help others and bless their lives. So many times I have heard people tell me, “Jimmy, I needed to hear that!” It’s crazy how I can have the answers to the problems of so many people, including people I am just meeting for the first time. In the moment it can be such a rush. Honestly, I would not trade these gifts for anything. However, at times, they can be overwhelming.

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2007 – Me at the top of Squaw Peak at sunset

There are some downsides to my gifts. Oftentimes I give up a lot of things I want to do for myself because I know someone else needs me. Sometimes I don’t even know who needs me or for what reason. I just know I need to be there; it always works out in the end. However, sometimes my gifts can become overwhelming. Sometimes I even start worrying about people that mistreat me or stop replying to me. Most people would just say to forget them and move on, but that’s very hard for me to do.

Discovering That I’m an Empath

Although I have known about my special talents for at least two years, I just found out there’s a name for my gift. I am an empath. The site themindunleashed.org explains what an empath is:

Being an empath is when you are affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others. Your life is unconsciously influenced by others’ desires, wishes, thoughts, and moods. Being an empath is much more than being highly sensitive and it’s not just limited to emotions.

Mesa Temple 10/10/2015

October 10, 2015 – View from the steps of the Mesa Arizona Temple just after Sunset

Sometimes I can feel others. Really. Even while watching movies or when someone’s telling me a dramatic story about his / her life, I can feel the emotions of the characters or of the person telling me the story. Tonight I watched a movie called The Road Within. It’s about three young adults living in a residential psychological treatment facility. The majority of the movie centers around these people stealing the therapist’s car and going on a roadtrip. At the end of the movie, the main character Vincent leaves his girlfriend Marie behind because she needs a lot of medical care, and her neglecting her medical needs (anorexia) is killing her. Furthermore, I presume it’s weighing him down to the point that he has to let her go so her conditions don’t drag him down with her. At the end he did hand her a piece of paper with something written on it that would lead her back to him once she was better.

As Vincent walked away from Marie while she was lying in the hospital bed, my heart sank. Really. It ached. You see, I can’t turn off what I feel. I can feel the anguish she felt as she watched the guy she fell in love with walk away from when she needed him the most. I felt the pain he must have felt as he did something he didn’t want to do but had to.

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From soulvisionhealing.com

Feeling Others from Afar

This reminds me of my ability to feel others, even when I am not near them. Sometimes I just feel so connected to certain people that I just know that something is wrong with them. I can call or text them and ask them what’s going on, and of course they are surprised that I am able to know. However, the worst part of this gift is when those people sometimes distance themselves from me. Maybe they need to walk down this dark path alone to learn some sort of life lesson. Maybe our roles in each others’ lives has reached the end, and it’s time to go in separate directions. Still, just like how Vincent had to walk away from Marie in that movie, sadly I have had to walk away from others in my life.

I want to take every single person I meet and make them alright. I want to heal their wounds. I want to hug them and take away their pains. I want to make every one of them smile. Seriously. In rare moments I feel like a failure that I could not help some of these people in my life. It is very hard to just walk away and accept that I still did a ton for them and blessed them in so many ways.

Still a Blessing!

No matter what, I would not trade this or any gift for anything. Yes, I will admit it. I’ve actually screamed at Heavenly Father a few times. When the responsibilities associated with my spiritual gifts became too much for me to handle, I have asked Him to just take all of them away. I know, this sounds silly. During our roughest moments, we sometimes say things we really don’t mean. I can proudly say that 99.9% of the time I would not trade these gifts for anything. Not ever.

I have been able to bless the lives of so many people. I wish I was diligent with my journaling. I wish I had a record of every person I have helped, whether it was a good friend who called me out of desperation or  some stranger I met on the Temple grounds. My inherent ability to know what people need to hear is a gift given to me by Heavenly Father. I have to walk away from each situation knowing that I am blessed, loved, and entrusted to help His people in their greatest times of need. Even though my gifts sometimes weigh me down, I would never do anything to risk losing them!

Thank you for letting me be a blessing in your life!

Love,

I don’t give up.

Today I am grateful that I don’t give up. Seriously, I just don’t know how to give up. If not for the Gospel I would not have the strength to get through my days. Days like today I would love to just give up. I hate to sound like a Debbie Downer, but my perspective on my life is so screwed up. I don’t appreciate the good things I have in my life. I don’t appreciate my talents and gifts, even the spiritual gifts I have been given to bless the lives of others. I don’t appreciate all the times where I have touched the lives of others. I really don’t know why I keep going. All I can think about are the things and people I don’t have in my life.

In recent times I struggle to do basic things. Things that used to come so easy to me now seem almost impossible. I have been at my job for five years. You would think that after being there this long I would be an expert at what I do. Even though I thoroughly love my job and the type of work I do, every morning I dread coming to work. I am filled with anxiety. I am fearful of failing. My mind has become obsessed with the fear of failure. That obsession leaves little or no room for the confidence I once had or the intense focus that made me so successful in the past.

hinckley-quote

All too often I have felt like a failure in recent times. I’ve burnt myself out. I know that there’s no question that I thrive off of the positive energy of others. The best way I’ve found to be around positive energy is to create it yourself. I’m REALLY good at that. However, just like when going on a cross-country roadtrip and you need to fill up your gas tank, on this marathon of life, I’ve forgotten to take care of me. It became so easy to put the needs and desires of others before my own, because I loved the rush I felt when I made others smile. Making others smile made me smile. During that process I forgot how to make myself smile… just because. Just because I am awesome. Just because I am worthy of love. Just because I am wholehearted. Just because… I am Jimmy freakin’ Paderta.

Through all of this I refuse to give up. I don’t know why. My earthly heart is done with all the failures. However, my spirit inside of me is much stronger. Something won’t let me stop. Al Carraway once told me, “Jimmy, do not let giving up be an option!” One thing that fills me with gratitude is that I have the courage to share this moment of weakness with 596 of you. I know that all of you have moments like this. There’s no reason to feel like there’s something wrong with you or that you are the only one feeling this way. Last night I read in my book by Brené Brown, “Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it–it can’t survive being shared.” I guess I could end this post by telling shame to stick it where the sun don’t shine. I’m strong, even in my greatest moments of weakness, and I refuse to go down without a fight!!!

Thank you for being there for me.

Love,

I don’t drink alcohol. This is why.

I had been drinking since about the age of 17, and I had been a lover of craft beer for many years. I had stopped getting drunk in early 2007, but I still continued enjoying my beers here and there. I didn’t mind getting buzzed, but I didn’t like the feeling of losing control over myself, even a little bit. I began going to the LDS (Mormon) Church in summer of 2010. In church they’d talk about The Word of Wisdom, which is the counsel given to us to  but I would keep telling myself that I would still secretly drink my craft beer after I got baptized. I mean, seriously; no one had to know! I thought it was foolish that some church was going to tell me what I could drink.

drinking123108Mill Avenue Block Party – December 31, 2008

drinking020610Mill Avenue in Tempe – February 6, 2010

 In early 2012 I had discovered TED Talks, and I quickly found Brené Brown’s talk about vulnerability. I loved what she had to talk about, but it didn’t hit me at first. Then in May, 2012 I watched that same talk again. Then it hit me. About 15:00 into the talk she says this:

The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. . . . You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

It was there that I decided I was done. I didn’t want that crutch in my life. I wanted to experience all that life had to offer me. I had decided I could no longer have fun if I couldn’t remember the night before. I didn’t do this because I had some church leader telling me I needed to do this. This is 100% all me. I made this decision on my own, and I couldn’t imagine myself ever going back. Ever. Except for two times where I unknowingly consumed small amounts of alcohol, I haven’t touched it since. I didn’t have anything to worry about when it came time for me to be baptized. Being free from that drug, even though I never really had an addiction to it, is such a liberating feeling!

Thank you for reading!

Love,