Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I have no idea how I ever got this song into my head because I am not a Ren & Stimy fan. BUT, whenever I'm really, really happy THIS is the song that comes to mind. I told you, despite my humungeous repertoire of beautiful music it's the banal and simple things that linger the longest and spring most readily to mind. I guess that proves it. I AM simple. Anyway, I always think of this little song "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" when I'm happy. And, well. I'm happy. Hence, the song.

I'm happy because I am now an official blogger for! My topic is happiness, which could not be more perfect for me. I'm all about the pursuit of happiness and can't think of a better way to spend my time but learning all about the different ways to be happy. Truly happy, that is. Joy. Not the fake stuff you can manufacture by watching a funny T.V. show, or taking recreational drugs (not that I do that, I'm just sayin'). But honest-to-goodness, life is sweet, kind of happiness.

I hope you'll come by every day to to check out my articles on happiness. I truly hope that I'll be able to offer something to uplift you, something to make you think, and real, practical ways to get you singing the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy song.

Happiness at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Good Balance

You Are 40% Extrovert, 60% Introvert

You're a bit outgoing, a bit reserved
Like most people, you enjoy being social
But you also value the time you have alone
You have struck a good balance!

I think this is very true to who I am. I am a little of both; I can put on a good front if I have to, enjoy being with the crowd and generally feel okay about it. But I love to have time to myself. I love, love, love it. I love to read, to write, just to think. I love to have the time - and the privacy - to dance around my house like a crazy person, something I do far too rarely which is a bad thing because it lets my crazy build up. *U*

I do sometimes regret that I'm not more confident and carefree out in public. But oh well, what can you do, eh? At least I do have balance, and while somewhat skewed to one side, it is a good balance nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Need for Suffering

Occasionally I feel lost, spiritually lost. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen regularly; regularly enough that I've come to recognize it when it begins. It starts out with lots of negative self talk, particularly directed toward the Church and my Faith. I am bad and haven't fully repented of past sins. I am selfish and only do good things for the recognition I will get. I am not humble, kind, virtuous. I am not worthy of my Heavenly Father's love and so He doesn't listen when I pray. I cannot feel the Spirit because I am not worthy. People don't like me. On and on it goes.

Normally when this happens I'll fall into a sort of depression where I push everyone away and am unreachable. I will even push God away. I would say it's not me pushing him away, but just accepting the truth of my situation which is that I am Unloved. Unlovable.

This time when it came upon me, however, it was impossible to retreat inside myself. The women in my Young Women's Presidency wouldn't let me get off quite so easily. They actually care about me. And because they see me regularly, they could tell something was wrong. I tried to downplay it, say it was nothing, but then I realized I needed help. So this time, when the feelings began I decided to do something about it, to not just be a passive observer of my life, but to be proactive.

I began to journal specifically about how I was feeling and what efforts I was making to help myself. I told my YW leader friends. I asked the Bishop for help. I got a blessing from David. I prayed, even though praying was the last thing I wanted to do.

The sweet part is, I did get the help I was seeking and that I so needed. I received sincere and heartfelt love and care from my friends. The Bishop responded with uplifting and encouraging words and a few Church talks he thought would guide me in the right direction. Heavenly Father responded by prompting me with ideas of what I could do to further help myself. I responded by keeping my heart and mind open to the outpouring of love and inspiration I was being given.

I was doing much better than normal in dealing with this trial, but was still not feeling the Spirit in the way I normally do. I was still fighting an internal feeling of sadness and loneliness. Until one day when my husband handed me a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa entitled "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa". He said with astonishment "I think she felt just like you feel now!" I read the article with rapt attention. Though I am no Mother Teresa, sure enough her words of "Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." rang very true with me.

Did you know that for most of her adult life Mother Teresa did not feel like God was hearing her prayers? She never thought He had abandoned her, but rather that she was not worthy of him. I read it with my mouth hanging open. How can such a woman, so faithful, so charitable, ever possibly feel she was not worthy of her Father's love? She said she wanted her letters burned, but I am so grateful they were not. Because of her suffering my eyes were opened. I was not alone in what I perceived to be my separation from God, though I could see while looking objectively at Mother Teresa that God would never abandon a child who was honestly seeking Him. That revelation began to change my heart.

I also read a scripture in Jacob right around the same time I read that article and between the two I feel like I have really learned something of value. The scripture is Jacob 3:1-2 and it says:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God
with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console
you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those
who seek your destruction.

O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God,
and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."

I learned that whatever else is going on, whatever I might feel, that God is constant and I need to be firm in my remembrance of that fact and know that if I am going forth doing good, seeking always to be faithful and obedient, never doubting that God is true and faithful, all will be well. I learned from Mother Teresa that I may not always be filled with the Spirit, but that does not mean I am being punished. Be firm in mind and pure of heart and I'm sure all will be well. After all, you and I know that a woman like Mother Teresa cannot fail to find her rest at Jesus' side. Now, I'm not Mother Teresa, but I can certainly learn from her suffering, from her example, and I intend to.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What I've been up to lately ...

I am finally resurfacing, a bit, and thought I'd share with you what I've been doing. I am a photographer, I even have my own little business; A Work of Heart Photography. However, I don't work too much, both by choice and by happenstance. I have a real love/hate relationship with my photography work. I tend to be a bit obsessive compulsive (har dee har a bit) and so when I'm working I'm W-O-R-K-I-N-G and all else goes to pot. I do detailed editing on each and every pic - well, at least all those that I think are worthy, lol, which is sometimes a lot, sometimes depressingly few. I try though, boy, do I try.

Anyway, this is a little sampling of what I've been up to this past week or so. I did all the photography, all the graphics work. I'm not sure if this is the final product yet, the bride hasn't said yay or nay yet ... but as of last night this was the direction they were going. Obviously, I had to blot out the personal info :)

The Invitation ...
The Ring Ceremony Card ...

The Sealing Card ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Personal Update

I don't normally post just outright updates about my life. You know, the day to day stuff. Don't know why ... I guess because I figure it's not that interesting to most people. But I haven't done a good job at responding to some great comments people have recently left me and I'm feeling numb and sad and need to share.

That said, this is a total personal thing and so you are warned if that's not your thing.

David (my husband, who had open heart surgery almost three years ago to replace a heart valve and repair his torn aorta) had his yearly echo cardiogram and he asked me to come with him because he feared he might not get a clean check up. He's not been feeling well and he's lost some weight which are worry-signs for heart patients. Looks like his mechanical aortic valve might be leaking. I say 'looks like' and 'might be' because an external echo is not a sure-fire diagnostic tool and if it's leaking there is cause for great concern so they don't go into this lightly. While we waited a Marfans specialist at the hospital was contacted and plans for a transophogial (not sure on the spelling) cardiogram were made. We'll get the details tomorrow. They are hurrying - testing needs to be done in the next day or two. David is to take it easy because if the valve is not functioning properly then he is at risk for a heart attack. No karate, low stress, no carrying the boys, that sort of thing. I am worried, but of course trying to be brave. Whatever this is, IF it is anything, is totally fixable. I guess I'm just finally coming to realize that I am married to a man who is not well and will always have health struggles - big ones to boot. Anyway, more on that later.

Then this evening we got the results of my MIL's CT scans: She does have bone cancer and it is rampant. It is everywhere, her skull, her shoulders, her ribs, her arms, her hips and one leg. They are not treating the cancer, only the pain. They have alluded to the strong likelihood that it has already spread to her organs, thus the decision to treat the pain and not the disease. Not sure how much time she has, bless her but she and my FIL seem to have asked precious few questions.

She is 79 years old and such a good hearted, precious woman. I am heartsick.

Just as an FYI, so you know where my heart is, I lost my own mom to cancer when I was 19. My Dad also died of cancer a few years later. My sister and I nursed my mom at home until her death in her own bedroom. I know a lot about death by cancer and I'm just so sad for my MIL. My prayer is that the disease is so far gone that it will take her quickly. That may seem harsh, but I swear to you it isn't. If you've been there, you know it isn't. It would be the best thing for her, to go quickly and before the pain becomes unbearable.

So if I'm not my normal cheery self, that's why. I need to process all this weighty stuff and hopefully get some answers. Thanks for being my sounding board.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A little funny for ya ...

A Japanese doctor says, "Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another, and have him out looking for work in six weeks."

A German doctor says, "That is nothing. We can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him out looking for work in four weeks."

A British doctor says, "In my country medicine is so advanced that we can take half a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have both of them out looking for work in two weeks."

The American doctor, not to be outdone, interjected, "You guys are way behind. We are about to take a woman with no brains, send her to Washington where she will become President, and then half the country will be out looking for work."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Life on the Beach

It is now Day Eighteen on the Beach. The South Beach Diet, that is. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I'm on the South Beach Diet, more because I have an innate fear and distrust of the word DIET. But my doctor put me on the Beach due to my insulin resistance and I must say, life on the beach is good.

I am no longer up for the part of Ali the Beached Whale because the bloat is gone from my bod.

I am no longer being considered for the title of Ali the Drive Thru Queen because my love affair with fat has come to an end.

I AM however, a LOSER of the most wonderful kind ... my poor old bod has finally begun to loosen it's death grip (and I mean that literally) on my fat and has begun to spend it, albeit thriftily. I have now lost four whole pounds. Don't laugh! Four pounds of fat lost is worth it's weight in gold, my friend. Especially after six weeks of Weight Watchers and not a single pound lost, these four pounds prove *gasp* that the doctor was right.

Insulin was the culprit of my baleful bloating. Insulin the cause of my inexplicable fast food cravings. Bad insulin, bad!

I am now a happy Good Carb kind o' gal. My body is breathing easier and so am I, knowing I have dodged a bullet and life, like I said, on the Beach ain't so bad. I'll be here for, well, forever, according to the doc, so it's a good thing I like it! Come on down and visit me some time ... the weather's fine.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Problem With Me ...

One day, when I was about 17, I was riding in my boyfriends' convertible with a girl I thought was my best friend at the time, Tracey. We stopped at the curb for a minute so I could run to the ATM. When I hopped back into the car, Tracey said from the back seat

“You know the problem with you is Sandi? (remember, I have many names, this was mine at the time)”

“Umm, no?”

“If you could just be like this while you're with your friends, everyone would like you a lot better.”

“What do you mean, like this?”

“When you're with Mark (boyfriend) you seem more like yourself, you seem comfortable. But when you're with us, you seem like ... well, like you're trying too hard.”

“Oh. Umm, well. Mark knows me really well so it's easy to be myself.” (we'd been dating for over a year at this point, I think).

“See, the problem with you is ...” Did I ask for her to tell me what my problem was?

“You're like a big smörgåsbord. Everything's just right there. But most people don't like smörgåsbords, they want their meal served to them in courses, one dish at a time.” She sat back, very pleased with herself and her fancy analogy.

I just sat there, stunned. I was a smörgåsbord?

I've thought a lot about that conversation over the years. I think I might have pushed Tracey away after that. I mean, I was a smörgåsbord, after all and she wanted her friendship served up one tidbit at a time. Well not me, mister. Nosiree.

I have since come to think that Tracey did me a favor that day. Her analogy is actually quite a good one for a person like me. Because, you see, she is absolutely right. I AM like a smörgåsbord. Who I am is right here for the whole world to see. All my love, all my virtues and my vices, are right here, prime for the picking. And you know? I prefer it that way. I want you to know who I am. But here's the thing: I want to know who YOU are too. I'm not one for playing games. Don't hide from me or serve me up one dish at a time. Just lay it all out on the line. I can promise you, I'll take the good and leave the bad; I'd expect you to do the same.

Lately, I've had this discussion with several friends. There are many smörgåsbord people out there, but we think we are alone. We see ourselves as decent, good people, capable of being great friends, but we count few people as true friends. The reason? More to do with our own perception of being unworthy or unliked in general, rather than anything specific. I think the reason we smörgåsbord types tend to feel that way is because when people only serve us one little dish at a time of themselves, we suspect that they are withholding something (which they are, by nature). But to us it feels suspicious. Why are they withholding from us? What is it that I lack that would make them feel they can't trust me with the whole meal?

So there are a bunch of smörgåsbord types out there feeling lonely, feeling unworthy of good friendships, wondering why they've only managed to get one or two great friends in their life. I would hazard a guess that those one or two total and complete friendships (because a smörgåsbord gal would accept nothing less than she gives) far outweigh in value and loyalty the handfuls of one-dish-at-a-time friendships out there.

As I've gotten older I've accepted the one-dishers as my friends. I love them. But, the friendships I cherish, that I hold close to my heart, always have always will, are fellow smorgasobrgs, like me.

So thanks Tracey. Thanks for helping me to see what my problem was. I think I like myself just the way I am.