Tuesday, December 8, 2015


My newest phone background is a reminder to me that a hard life is normal, but that so is deliverance and divine kindness. 

I hope to remember this week that God is both powerful and gentle!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I will boast of my God

My new phone background, to help with memorizing. 

I need the reminder that His grace can fix all the really weird, messed-up, and unfortunate situations in life. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The cutting of FaceBook and FaceBangs?

I would just like to report that I did not access social media on my phone today! I got on Facebook for exactly ten minutes in a browser on the home computer, which timed me and kicked me out at the right time. 

This is a big deal! There were several times I mindlessly went to the app and almost opened it, to scroll. There were many times I thought of things I wanted to post. It's an emotional challenge for me to not be on Facebook. Part of it is that when I don't have access to it, I feel isolated and like I've lost a friend. Or 800 friends. It's kind of weird. What has happened to my brain? I'm mostly surprised by the emotional response to not having it there for me. 

I have used my time more productively, though. Maybe too productively: I decided to cut my own bangs. Not sure I'll ever do that again. I am definitely a novice, and I'm just hoping I don't look ridiculous!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Affliction, and my phone fast

My scripture of the week is 2 Nephi 2:2.

I've been studying "Affliction" for the last couple weeks, which is how I came across this one. It's a good reminder to me that affliction has a purpose, and that all will be made right. 

On another topic, I decided today to see how much I can avoid using my phone. I have a list of approved apps, which are on my home page, and everything else is off limit for now. The last few weeks and months have been a unique emotional challenge, and I've found myself to be increasingly on my phone, just scrolling. I feel like it would do me good to stop hiding from life, and see how much I can live without my phone, and face things head on. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Imperfect, but quite awesome!

Do you ever days where you just feel really good and happy about who you are? This doesn't happen to me often. But today I feel loved, valuable, attractive, kind, sharp, and even somewhat fun! And no one told me I was - I just feel it.

I hope I can have days like this more often!

Maybe someone's been praying for me pretty hard. Or maybe it's time for my own prayers to be answered. Either way I'm grateful. =)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I've decided I need to write more, and I feel too fake on Facebook. It's a scary place sometimes. 

A blog is kind of like a front porch. Other people can hear the conversation, but only if they're walking by. I'll use this, instead of the Facebook megaphone. 

Today was a day in which I hung on by my fingernails to positivity. Some days are like that. A lot of days, recently. It was a constant battle, and I'm not sure who won. 

I've been told by a few trusted sources (BrenĂ© Brown, Dieter Uchtdorf, and my friend Steffen) that gratitude is the key to joy. 

My real gratitude today (because fake gratitude doesn't work) is for the U of U students who noticed I was having car troubles, talked to me, called the helpful university car people, and stayed until my car was working. They didn't have to do that, and that meant a lot. 

I'm also grateful to have friends at work. 

Even with my gratitude, I definitely hope for a better day tomorrow!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pondering - November Week 1

I've enjoyed creating wallpapers for my phone with a different scripture or quote each week. For me, it's far more effective than sticking it to the fridge. =)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

More Than an Angel

It's a good day to bear testimony of Jesus Christ.

Today at church, someone bore testimony of how the Savior fulfilled the Atonement perfectly and endured so much... so why would He turn His back now? He won't.

I then happened to read this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

"If we will lift our hearts to the Lord during those times [our own dark and bitter hours—times when our sorrow and grief may appear to be greater than we can bear], surely He will know and understand. He who suffered so selflessly for us in the garden and on the cross will not leave us comfortless now. He will strengthen, encourage, and bless us. He will encircle us in His gentle arms.
He will be more than an angel to us.
He will bring us blessed comfort, healing, hope, and forgiveness.
For He is our Redeemer.
Our Deliverer.
Our merciful Savior and our blessed God.
"Encircled in His Gentle Arms," Ensign, March 2015 - emphasis added

Trials and broken hearts change us. It's changing me. The times during the day that I remember to turn to the Savior, I find a measure of peace, and I can tell I'm becoming a more trusting person. I don't trust Him every minute - but I hope to become more consistent. For now, I'm happy that I don't stay miserable and doubtful all the time. My bouncing back and forth is progress, and I'm grateful for it.

I don't like pain... but I can't deny that I'm changing because of it. And through Jesus, our Savior, that change can be for the better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Exercise Faith

"Despite all of the negative challenges we have in life, we must take time to actively exercise our faith. Such exercise invites the positive, faith-filled power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives." - Elder Richard G Scott

Life provides the challenges on which we can practice exercising our faith. At least one reason to be grateful for the hard times. =)

I can't go into every detail of my scripture study this morning, but I wish that every day of scripture study was like today. I feel so much more alive.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Today I am grateful for waterproof mascara, among other things. 

Today I'm having a Barbosa moment. Meaning that "I feel..." Instead of being numb. I'm currently strangely optimistic about that. Despite dehydrating myself by losing it all through my eyes, I feel a strange satisfaction in knowing that at least I'm alive. Everything at church and with my family today felt more meaningful, thanks to my broken heart. I even like myself more than I did when I woke up today! Though it may sound crazy, at this moment I feel really grateful for my recent pain. 

My siblings watched a bunch of Mormon Messages today, and part of the Chris Wiliams one stuck out to me: "I'm grateful that God allows trials and tragedies to occur in our lives. Not because they're easy, or because they're desired. But because they help us love."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Honest Opinion: Being Silenced

One of my least favorite feelings is the frustration that comes from being silenced. There are a lot of ways it can happen: being cut short in a class or conversation setting, being ignored in the first place, being praised for being quiet and agreeing, or being told straight that "We're not talking anymore for now, goodbye."

I recognize that there are reasons in people's minds to justify these. Maybe even valid reasons in some circumstances. Maybe my comment was longer than they preferred, or doesn't match the conversation/lesson plan they had in their mind. Maybe they have attention problems. Maybe they are afraid of confrontation. Maybe they have a bad temper and have to end conversations early to keep themselves from losing it. 

Maybe my comments are not always the most informed or correct. 

But do any of those reasons justify silencing another person? Does being imperfect in my communications warrant taking away my voice?

I wish people had the will and strength and courage and desire to talk things out, whether it be a teacher, a church leader, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend. Whether the conversation is simply awkward, complexly emotional, long/boring, or thought-provoking and mind-shifting. 

Anyhow, in my effort to be more authentic, I must be heard. Or at least, I must say

That's kind of the point of these Honest Opinion posts, isn't it?

So there you have it. Honest opinion: being silenced is a terrible feeling. Not sure of all the applications from there, but that much I know. I do resolve to speak out more, and will figure out the means and methods of doing so as I go. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Masks - Shel Silverstein

She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by --
And never knew.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cultivating Authenticity - Thoughts As I Begin

So, I've decided the guidepost I'll be working on right now is Guidepost #1: Authenticity. The full title is "Cultivating Authenticity and Letting Go of What People Think." No big deal, right? Ha. This is going to be a challenge.

I am always looking for approval. This guidepost requires letting go of that. My initial response is, "If I let go of that, what do I hold onto??" And I don't know if I have an answer.

I know that I can feel God's love, and even His approval, as I've felt it many times. But is love from God really meant to be enough? He put us on this earth in families, and with friends. We are meant to connect. I can accept that God's love should be the most important. But is His love the ONLY love that matters?

Perhaps what I'm forgetting is that people are capable of loving me, even if I am myself, and even if I don't always agree with them. Even if I hurt them through carelessness or my other imperfections. My heart wonders, is that true?

Anyhow, these are some of my thoughts, and I want to document how I genuinely feel (here I go, cultivating authenticity!).

As I go forward working on this, I think I will concentrate on being true to my beliefs and values. It feels less self-focused than focusing on "being me." Instead I will focus on being true to my values and beliefs.

Part of my plan is to do a few more Honest Opinion posts. As I post on Facebook or elsewhere, I'll make an effort to be honest, not just clever. As I talk to people in person, I will make an effort to follow one of Brene's mantras: "Don't shrink. Don't puff up. Stand your sacred ground."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wholehearted Update

I took a break from my Wholehearted posts for a few months... This was because I was finishing up my internship in February, then I moved back to Utah. In March and most of April all my extra time and energy un-regrettably went towards my dating relationship. 

Due to a slight status change in that relationship, I will probably resume my accountability posts on my wholehearted journey. I have a little more time than before, as well as a renewed motivation to find healing and change, and live Wholeheartedly. 

Dating, more than most things, really brings my insecurities to the forefront of my consciousness. In other words, I can't deny that I have problems, because I see them so clearly when I date!

So here's to my current form of marriage preparation, and a happy life! Expect a Wholehearted update soon. =)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dating to Get Married

Most articles about dating and marriage are kinda annoying... but I really liked this one. 

Dating is really hard. That's no lie. But I could probably benefit from looking at it differently. This blog post resonates with me, probably because I look at relationships in the same way. He seems to have had my same issues. Its always refreshing to hear advice from someone who actually seems like they've been there, in that same perspective mentally and emotionally.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Believing and Forgiving

This still amazes me sometimes. But should it?

Jesus said:

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

The only additional qualifier (the first qualifier being believing) is that we forgive others. Sounds worth it.

(From Mark 11:24-26)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Not in Illinois anymore...

Well, as predicted, February was a little crazy. But I made it through! I finished my internship successfully... The last session I had was with an adult going through dialysis who was also a musician in his earlier years. We sang songs from the 70s together, and he harmonized with me wonderfully. In my mind, it was the perfect way to end my time there.

The few days after my internship were fun. I got to go to Nauvoo! And eat deep-dish pizza, and a few other things. And then before I knew it, it was time to fly home.

Moving home has been both happy and sad. Moving home is always a hard thing for me in at least a few ways. I have confidence that things will improve and I will find my way as time goes on.

Life is full of learning to love places and then moving on to new things, wherever God asks. I will trust that my present and future are where God wants me to be, and I'll look toward the future with faith.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cultivating A Resilient Spirit: Week 1

This resiliency guidepost is a tricky one. I think it is the one I have the hardest time with. Basically, resilience is the ability to overcome adversity and bounce back from trials or pain. This resilience is rooted in spirituality, which I plan to talk a little more about in a future blog post. When we are not resilient, we turn to numbing instead. Numbing can be done in all kinds of ways, including drugs, alcohol, ice cream, Facebook, shopping, sex, over-planning, watching tv, staying busy, or anything else we use to avoid feeling pain. These things don't have to be bad things, but if we are using them to numb, we are misusing them, and we stop ourselves from progressing in a lot areas in life.

I believe I was numbing so much I didn't know I was numbing. When I would ask myself what trials I have gone through in my life, I couldn't think of any. Yet, if you were one of my close friends for very long, you probably heard me crying about all kinds of things that really weren't going right.

But if I was crying, then I wasn't numbing, right? Why would I be crying if I was avoiding the pain? I think it's because I wasn't crying because of the hurt itself. I was crying because I felt powerless.

So for me, one of the main keys to resilience is to start believing that I have power to change things. There are a few things I can't change, but they are quite few compared to the things I can change. And working on using my power to change things is a far better alternative to numbing.

I'm throwing around a lot of terms here, but I want to share an example to make more sense of it. In January 2014, I had been living at home for about a month, after I had finished all my college classes. I had broken up with someone in November (after dating him for four months), and then broken up with a friend named Steffen that I had been close friends with for 2 years, and dated for about 2 weeks. We were still friends, and talked fairly often. I started to get really lonely and depressed and hopeless about my situation - living at home with no friends around, and without the support of a boyfriend, which I had gotten used to in the preceding months. My loneliness was very sharp, and I often called Steffen in these moments, just to have someone to talk to. One of the times I called/texted, he was at a party and said he couldn't talk for a few hours. I didn't know what to do. I had tried calling other people too, and no one was available. I felt I had exhausted every option, and now I was going to be alone. I was terrified of being alone, of no one coming to save me from my pain. I had prayed too, but I was still feeling terrified and lonely.

Eventually I thought to myself, "Okay fine! I guess this is it! I'm alone! No one is coming. No one will come save me from this pain. So I guess I have no choice but to feel it." I then proceeded to feel the pain of being alone - of calling for help and no one answering. I felt the pain pretty deeply and cried my heart out for about 20 minutes. And then............... I felt okay, and I realized I had survived! I thought to myself, "This is the pain I've been avoiding for years?" My fear of this pain had negatively influenced so many of decisions and my moods over the years, and yet the pain itself was really not that bad. I found that crying from genuine pain for 20 minutes is completely worth it, instead of numbing pain whenever it comes, running from it, and making decisions in order to avoid it. After going through this pain, the fog of fear was gone, and I could then finally make some choices to try to change things, with hope that things would change. And that even if things didn't change right away, the pain wouldn't defeat me.

Putting down my shield and allowing myself to feel the pain ended up enabling me to be more powerful. Interesting, huh? I believe that God did the best thing by not taking away my pain. I needed to survive those 20 minutes. After that, He helped me to move forward.

I acknowledge that some pain is so large that 20 minutes of crying won't take care of it. These 20 minutes didn't completely take care of my loneliness either. They just taught me I could survive through it. The experience taught me to not let my fear of pain make the decisions for me. Instead, I can make my choices based on other things, like my goals and deepest desires, trusting that my Savior will help me through any of the pain that is too much for me to handle.

Without God, I don't think I could be resilient. But with Him, I can do anything.

This week and month, I will do my best to not run away from pain. I will admit when I am uncomfortable or pained, and give myself permission to feel it. And then give myself permission to move on. Saying good-bye to my Chicago friends and my Chicago life this month will be hard. But I will survive it. And I will be able to move forward with power if I will let myself feel the pain of good-bye first. It's pain that I know I can survive.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February Guidepost: Cultivating a Resilient Spirit & Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

I'm proceeding with my plan to focus on a new guidepost each month. I intend to keep practicing self-compassion, but I will turn my attention toward cultivating a resilient spirit and letting go of numbing and powerlessness. Part of the reason I chose this one is because I'm going to be saying a lot of goodbyes this month, and making some big changes, and I don't want to be numb to those experiences. I want respond and interact  powerfully with the changes in my life this month. 

I'll try to explain more this week about Brene's research on this topic. I have bus time now, so I may be posting more, since this commute is a good opportunity for that. 

Here's to an exciting month!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Light in the Wilderness

Here's my adaptation of 1 Nephi 17:13 in the Book of Mormon:

13 And I will also be your light in [your single years]; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards [your] promised [family]; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.


I'm so grateful I can be guided in anything, even (or especially) dating. =) And I have confidence He'll guide me in parenting too, and whatever any of the next challenges may be. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Self-Compassion: Week 3 (On Letting Go Of Perfectionism, and Embracing a Bright Future)

Hello all! I'd like to account for my self-compassion this week. =)

I didn't do a perfect job, but I was much more self-compassionate this week. My music therapy supervisor, Soozie, also helped me to be self-compassionate by assigning me to write down what things I did well in the children's group, and then share that list with her the next day. I wrote down the things I did well, trying to think of as many honest things I could, then I put the list aside. The next day I looked at it, and realized that my list described the attributes that I would want in a music therapist if I was hiring one. So that was a pretty happy moment! I think that writing it right after the experience means that I was able to remember all the good things clearly, but being a day separated from it helped me to evaluate it more clearly, and see it for how good it actually was. I could recognize the good, instead of being wrapped up in my thoughts of "How could I have forgotten the colored scarves? And why didn't I put the songs in a better order? And why can't I think fast enough on my feet, about what to do next?" Instead, I could say "I was really engaged with the kids in the group. And I was able to play songs on the violin without any preparation or written music, when the need called for it. And I included every child, even the ones who were quiet, and gave everyone a chance to shine. And I was authentic."

As I was thinking about this guidepost more this week and last, I remembered that the guidepost has a second part. The whole name of the guidepost is "Cultivating Self-Compassion. Letting Go of Perfectionism." Which gave me a little more direction in how I apply this self-compassion thing. I believe that I don't need to be constantly complimenting myself. I think that self-compassion is most important in those perfectionistic moments, those times when we get stuck in a circle in our heads, saying "Why did I make that mistake? Why can't I get this right? I'm not ___ enough! And now people have seen that!" My goal is to get into a habit of self kindness, so that when those perfectionistic moments come, I will be more easily able to say to myself, "Ali, I love you no matter what. You've got this. I know you will figure it out, in time. Breathe. =)"

I would like to share a quote about perfectionism that was very mind-opening for me. I share it on Facebook a few months back, and several others expressed it helped them in the same way. This is from Brene's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," page 56:

Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight.

Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused -- How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused -- What will they think?

I've also heard her say in a video clip that perfectionism is a shield that prevents us from being truly seen.

The thing that started me on my journey to Chicago was actually a dream I had. The message conveyed to me in the dream was "Don't be afraid to truly be yourself. Those who care will accept you for who you are, and there will also be others who will not only accept you, but love you for it. And they will be loving the real you." And then the second message of the dream was "Do your internship in Chicago." I'm seeing that unfold in several possible ways, but I think the main one is that I am learning to love myself for who I am. And as I love myself for who I am, I imagine that all my relationships from here on out have the capacity to be infinitely more wonderful. I know I was supposed to come to Chicago, and I am so grateful for it. As I learn to do hard things and grow, while also loving myself through the uncomfortable growing experiences, I am coming to know myself more deeply, and recognizing a very bright and happy future more deeply than I have before. It will most certainly be hard, but my life is going to be more deeply joyful and exciting than I realized it could be.

Also, I wanted to share my morning reminder that I just posted on my wall (real wall in my room) yesterday.  Maybe you can say it to yourself as well. =)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Self-Compassion - Week 2

I'm here to check in and report about my efforts in self-compassion. I've had some good moments of self-compassion. However, I haven't even thought about it that much, because its just not my habit to be compassionate to myself. I hope to think of some ways to remind myself, or identify some things that may help trigger my memory of my commitment.

In thinking back, I got quite overwhelmed on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday mornings we have the pediatric music group, and that group is quite overwhelming for me. The music has to just keep continuing, in order to hold their attention, and needs to be high-energy most of the time as well. It involves thinking fast on your feet... and that's something that doesn't always come naturally to me. I'm a ponderer. And it's not very easy to ponder fast! Anyway, my stress was so apparent that Soozie put her hand on my shoulder and looked at me, saying "Ali! It's going to be okay!" Moments like that could use more self-compassion. Both groups that day ended up going really well, so my worrying was for nothing anyway. Which is just a good reminder to me for the future. Things go well the majority of the time, as long as I am putting in effort.

There is something I want to add in though. This morning I had a really good prayer experience, where I really was focused on wanting to hear what my Father has to say to me, so I wrote down the words that came to me. And the words that come from Him and through my mind were full of compassion. I want to include in the practice of self-compassion the receiving of compassion from God.

I like my idea of listening to "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" each morning. I didn't do that this week. I was running late many of the mornings this week. I will plan to go to bed earlier this week, so that I don't wake up as grouchy, and I can enjoy the morning and fill it with hope and compassion. I will also take time at lunch and in the evening to write down at least one self-compassionate statement. I will put an alarm in my phone to remind me to do that. My goal is ultimately to be self-compassionate spontaneously and whenever the need arises. But for now, I will start with a scheduled and structured approach, to get it on my mind more. It will become more natural and spontaneous as time goes on. I also plan to take a little more time for listening during my scripture study, instead of just saying a fast prayer and reading.

All in all, I do just want to say that I have had a really good week. I did a lot of things well, and I will continue to learn new things next week, in my internship. I also made some good healthy emotional choices about how to spend my time on Friday, allowing myself to have fun. I made lots of small good emotional choices in how I think about some of my relationships as well. I feel like I'm becoming a happier person as time goes on, and I'm really grateful for that. I'm grateful to be where I am in life, working on making both the world outside me and the world inside me more beautiful.

I think for next week's post, I'd like to explore the second half of this guidepost: "Letting Go Of Perfectionism." Look forward to it. =)

Sunday, January 4, 2015


This month I will be working on self-compassion.

The easiest way to explain it is: I will talk to myself the same way I talk to the people I love.

When I first tried to work on this last year, it was really hard. I tried to think of nice things to say to myself, and everything I would try to say would turn into advice or direction-giving. It was really hard! I've had a little bit of practice since then, but am excited to become more consistent and genuine with it this month.

At first I was hesitant to work on this, because it sounded so selfish, and I have issues about selfishness. As I've read the research and thought about it more, I've realized self-compassion is not a selfish thing. It just means we don't treat ourselves like an enemy. It doesn't mean we put ourselves and our needs far above everybody else's and tune out of their lives. It just means that we don't attack ourselves, especially in moments of weakness.

If we consider ourselves to be our own friend, we should talk to ourselves as a friend. If we consider ourselves an enemy, well didn't Jesus Christ say to love our enemies?

Self-compassion does not mean we take more and more time to ourselves. It just means that the time that we do spend with ourselves doesn't involve verbal abuse from within.

As awkward as it might be, this week when I am tempted to insult myself, I will either say "I've got your back, Ali", give myself a hug (seems silly, but has helped in the past!), or find something else encouraging to say. And I will start my commute every day with the song "I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me." =)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wholehearted Journey

I am intending 2015 to be a very healing year. I know things won't be perfect by the end of the year, but I know things will be better. No matter what the circumstances outside me, my life will be better internally.

I intend to do this through a focus on my Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe that through Him, my sins can be forgiven, my mistakes can be learned from and made beautiful or remedied, and I can be given the strength to grow and change. He sees me as "the glorious being [I am] capable of becoming."

I will be studying and applying His Atonement in my daily and weekly life. I also intend to study and apply the things I've learned from Brene Brown's research. Her research (without God) is not enough, because, as part of her research explains, spirituality is a necessary component. A belief in God and His love is essential in order for healing and resilience to occur.

For me, healing comes through Jesus Christ. And I believe that whether or not people acknowledge it, He is the source of all healing.

I'm going to be trying out each of the Guideposts to Wholehearted Living, one for each month, and living them, to see if these seeds are good. (See Alma 32.) I believe they are, but I will try and see. And I am very excited to see the fruits that I believe will come, as I plant these seeds. =)

Not only do I believe this will help me be happier, I feel that it will help me to bring light to others, and help me to serve people more powerfully, in my profession, my personal ministry, and in my everyday life.

--The guidepost I intend to embrace for the month of January is self-compassion. Which I will write about tomorrow!--