From Little Things Come Big Things

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Adventures

Remember how last year was kind of a whiny pants year?  Yeah well, it's a new year!

This year, all of my little resolutions fall under one big resolution: strengthen my faith.
It's sort of been weakened lately, not because of any crazy things I've been through; ironically those are the things that seem to strengthen it most. (Uh, just a disclaimer to Heavenly Father that that was not an open invitation to put me through blegh stuff this year for the sake of fulfilling my 2014 resolution.  Haha I'm so moldable...)  Nah, it's because I've chosen to let the little things slip, and over time, it's really taken its toll on me.

So... while I know I'm not going to be perfect any time soon, not even this year, I am taking this chance to renew my effort to try a little harder to be a little better.  I want to be kinder and more patient.  I want to care more for others and show that care in ways that means something to them.  I want to be consistent in obeying the commandments of God, big and small.  And most of all, I want to seek to recognize God's hand in my life daily, in the big things and the little things.... I know He cares, but I've had a really hard time seeing and feeling that lately.  It's hard to be grateful when you're too busy feeling sorry for yourself.  So, no more of that!  I still want to be real and genuine, and sometimes that includes hurty things which I will inevitably express on this blog, but there will always be something to be grateful for.

Like last night... my future roommate and I went to a fabulous New Years party at a cabin in Midway.  Not everything went quite as planned - maybe there was some whining and tindering involved (I don't recommend tindering at 2 am, it's just not smart), and maybe my Mormon hangover was kicking my trash today (I should never stay up past 11... never), BUT... it came with much giggling over our first adventure of the year.

This girl is the biggest answer to prayer!

The night Whitney learned not to trust Katie with important decisions.
#iamnotabarbiegirl
"You seem like the kind of person I'd trust to give the news."

We met completely randomly during a year that was super confusing, and then we discovered we were basically the same person.  It started with bonding over Diet Coke and developed to things like being kitchen clean freaks and not being chatty in the mornings.  She has been the friend I so desperately needed at a time when unexpected changes seemed to take over my life.  We just get each other.  I am looking forward to many more adventures with her this year!

PS.   Check out the bookcase at this cabin... I LOVE IT.


In other news, I hope that when I'm 72 years old, I'll have children to take ugly pictures of me sleeping, because they're hilarious.  I also hope there will be a wiener dog on my lap in these pictures, because duh.


Mom is one of those every day blessings, especially today, when she took a couple of hours from her best laid plans to save my bacon!  I take her for granted a lot, but secretly I don't know what I'd do without her.

See?  Blessings.  Tender mercies.  Every day.  I've just got to have the eyes and heart to see and feel them. 

Happy 2014!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrity Crush

Most my friends had normal celebrity crushes as kids.

Uncle Jesse from Full House.
Johnny Depp.
Leonardo di Caprio.
Zach from Saved by the Bell.

Not this girl.  I'm the girl who came out of the womb a music nerd, and if we're being specific, a choir nerd.  At the age of 4, my mom realized I had a gift and love for music theory, and once I learned the whole concept of how to read music, my favorite pastime was sight reading.  For fun.  (For those that may not know, sight reading means to perform music without sight, so without ever having seen it before.)  I loved to open the hymn book to a hymn no one ever sings at church and try to sing the alto, tenor, or bass parts perfectly the first time I ever saw them.  See?  Nerd.

Naturally, my first celebrity crush was a singer.  I'll give you a prize if you know who this guy is before you keep reading...



Guys.  I know.  As a 6-year-old, I just had a thing for older men, apparently.  Older men who could sing, obviously.


I still remember the day I fell in love with Stephen - or as I liked to call him, Stevie.  I was sitting on the 6th row of the tabernacle, watching the King's Singers perform... Christmas music, was it?  I can't remember, because apparently I was too distracted by the undeniable chemistry that was being passed between me and Stevie as he sang.  IT WAS ELECTRIC.  We made eye contact during the first song.  And then again, and again, and again... and I just knew, he was the one.  He obviously felt the same way.  (Or probably I just happened to be in his "stare into space as I sing" line of sight.)  Either way, I felt SO special.

Well, I never saw Stevie again.  It was pretty heart wrenching, though my obsession with the King's Singers remained steady and constant through the years.  I am pretty sure I know every word of every one of their songs from the 90's - I can still sing the part of any instrument in Freddie Feel Good's five piece band.  I also got to sing the solo for "M.L.K." in 9th grade madrigals during my wannabe alto phase.  (Sidenote: this phase is still kind of occurring - altos have more fun, musically and otherwise.  They just do.)  As a missionary in Pennsylvania, I was never really homesick, until I heard the King's Singers would be the MoTab Christmas concert guests.  Imagine the TERROR!  I count staying on my mission that month one of my greatest lifetime accomplishments!


That's my Stevie on the right.

What I'm trying to say is, of all the King's Singer fans (er... stalkers) in the world, I'm probably the most obsessed.

On Sunday morning, 23 years after my first encounter with the King's Singers, I GET TO BE THEIR BACK UP SINGER.
(Okay, me and 360 of my MoTab friends.  BUT STILL.)



AHHHHHHH.  I might be freaking out a little.  Guys.  This is a DREAM COME TRUE!

No, Stevie will not be there, but there will be some other handsome singers, for sure.  So what if they're married or engaged or who knows what?  So what if I will approximately 2.3 miles away from them, in the tall first soprano section we fondly refer to as outer darkness?  The distance may be great, but I am certain they will feel my love from afar.

So, while I should probably be memorizing one of the 22 Christmas songs I need to know next week, I think I'll spend my Saturday jammin' out to "Good Vibrations."

And Stevie, if you are out there, just know, you made a little 6-year-old nerdy music girl's day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Defining Moments, Fear, & Little Things


I remember a regular old day when I was a regular old student at Utah State University.  I was taking an upper division class in my major.  It was hard, but good hard - the kind of hard that eventually led me to those aha moments, which is the hope of any good professor.  I worked hard and did well in the class.  One day, Dr. Allgood told us he was in need of a teaching assistant for the next year.  I thought about it for maybe two seconds before thinking to myself, "Nah.  I could never do that."  I was completely content with the status quo precedent I had set for myself and didn't have much confidence that I could do much more.  Helping edit my peers' papers?  Teaching them in front of the professor?!  No thank you; too scary.  A couple of weeks later, he pulled me aside and asked if I'd thought about applying for the position.  When I told him no, he replied, "Well, I think you should.  You would do a really great job at it."

There it was.  One little conversation, with one little positive comment.  It was a little thing that turned out to be a big defining moment in my life.  This man who was incredibly brilliant in his field had faith in me.  He believed I could do hard things.  So I did.  I spent the next year as his T.A., which was sometimes terrifying.  (Sometimes, awesome people intimidate me.  He was awesome.)  Not only did I not fail at that quest, I did it well.  Dr. Allgood even encouraged me to apply for an award as the Outstanding Teaching Assistant in our department, and I got it.  None of this ever would have happened had the little moment not happened in the first place.

I wish I could say that that moment set the path for me to never be afraid to take risks again.  Sometimes I just get scared.  I let the what if's creep in.  Or, if I don't have a 100% guarantee that the outcome of such risks will be perfect, why bother?

Just over four years ago, I decided I was going to audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I had just reached the minimum age requirement, and I was spending a lot of time in Salt Lake, so why not?  As is normal with pretty much anything important I do in life, I successfully procrastinated making my audition cd until the LAST POSSIBLE DAY.  Cue stress, panic, and an extremely irrational girly breakdown. "Just forget it!" I cried to my mom, who was helping me with the recording.  "My voice isn't sounding perfect.  I'm not doing it!  I'll just audition another year."  Well, Mom was wise.  Mom knew her daughter.  Actually, Mom had seen this exact tantrum (with slight variations) approximately 286 times in her life.  She calmly replied, "Katie, what's the worst that could happen if you just turn in your slightly imperfect cd?"  Still grumpily sobbing, "I'll tell you what's the worst that could happen, Mother!  Mack and Ryan might hate my voice and wonder why in the world I ever thought I was worthy of auditioning and then they will put my name on a MoTab audition BAN LIST.  THAT'S WHAT!"  I am ridiculous.  (And yet, I'm fairly confident I have not fulfilled my quota of such tantrums in my lifetime.  Future husband, take note.)  Funny how one little look from my mom said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard" and one little look back said, "I know.  FINE, MOM.  Fine."  There it was again, one little moment that led to one little risk that led to one of the biggest blessings I never imagined I could have: four wonderful years as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Isn't it interesting how those defining moments, the ones that change our direction or perspective or feelings or whatever, are so often just little tiny moments?  They are the little moments that pass by us so quickly, we don't even realize we are being defined by them until we look back at them in retrospect.  When you look back at your life, what are the defining moments?  Were they big or small?  What are the little things happening in your life right now that might actually be a bigger deal than you think?

Currently, some little things are happening in my life.  They are the kinds of little things that may never become any more than that - little things.  Or they might be the little things that lead to not only big things, but the biggest of all things.  (Elusive much?  Sorry, don't need the whole world weighing in on personal decisions that I haven't even begun to figure out how to make yet.)  They are little things that allow me a choice: Do I stay in my happy little zone of comfort where I always know what to do, that place where I always feel in control?  Or do I take risks, entering the world of complete vulnerability and then leaving the outcome in the hands of others? 

Why do we allow a thing as ridiculous as fear to hold us back?

Fear of rejection.
Fear of failure.
Fear of discomfort.
Fear that it will just be too darn hard.
Fear that outcomes won't meet our expectations.

As for me, it's time to evaluate my little moments of now and take some really giant leaps of faith into the dark. Maybe those leaps won't lead to an illuminated soft landing.  Maybe it will still be dark.  But the faith part means I believe I will somehow land somewhere good.

Here's to the little moments and the little risks.
Vulnerability, bring it on.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post.  It's also a repeat from the private blog.

I love to write music. I feel that I have been blessed with a gift to create music since I was a little girl.  I remember my dad saying to me, "You must have worked really hard before this life to have these gifts now!"  I guess that's why I'm okay realizing and admitting that I'm good at it... because it truly is a GIFT.  It has not come through years of studying chord progressions and the intricacies of music theory.  It just sort of comes to me.  Or through me.  Or something.  I sit at the piano, and things come out... not without difficulty, at times, but I've never ever felt that the music I compose is actually mine.  I sort of feel like I'm just an instrument in getting the music here.

  

This picture means so much to me.  It portrays things that are sacred and beautiful and personal to me.  Two nights ago, I finished an arrangement of "Lead, Kindly Light".  It was by far the most difficult arrangement I have ever done.  It all started about a year ago when I was just playing around on the piano, and then the eight measure theme that reappears throughout the song just sort of came out.  It was simple, yet unique. But once I had that much done, I was stuck.  No more music for a few months.  I didn't even know which hymn it was going to be... or if it would even be a hymn arrangement at all.  So, I kept playing those same eight measures every time I sat at the piano, hoping for more to come to me, but it didn't.  

Then a few months later, I randomly decided to sing the beginning of one of my favorite hymns with the music, and... it worked perfectly.  I was able to come up with a few more measures that day... and so it has been since then.  A few weeks/months of nothing, and then a little bit more.  Then nothing, then a little more.  It has been utterly frustrating at times, as I have wanted to finish it but been so stuck.  Friday night, I spent three hours trying to write three measures, and it just was not working!  Finally, I had to just walk away from it and leave it alone for a bit.  The next day, I came back to the piano with complete clarity and had a breakthrough.  When I finally finished, I sang it through and was grateful for the whole experience, as difficult as it was at times.

Isn't it fitting that the very message that song teaches of is the lesson I was taught in the process of writing it?
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene - one step enough for me.
One step is enough for me.  Not the whole story.  Not even most of the story.  Just one little step.
A few measures at a time.

It reminds me of an experience I may have shared before.
A couple of years ago, when I was portraying the role of Mary in Savior of the World, we were rehearsing a scene where Mary and Joseph are looking for lodging.  It's a short little scene, but an important one, and I was having a difficult feeling portraying the right feeling for the scene.  We did it over and over again, trying to implement our directors' suggestions, when our main director said, "Katie, you're doing this scene like you know the end of the story.  And you DO know the end of the story.  You know it all works out.  But Mary didn't.  She was in the middle of the story, and though she had a foundation of incredibly strong faith, she still had no idea through this entire process how it would work out.  She didn't know if Joseph would be done and leave her to be stoned.  She didn't know if she was going to have to deliver her baby in the public streets of Bethlehem.  She only knew how to take it one step at a time, with faith as her anchor."



How many times do we get stuck in the middle of the story, freaking out about the end?  And yet, when we look back at life, it all works out.  I think of all the "middles" in my life when everything seemed to be falling apart right before my eyes - all those times when my plan was ruined.  And it just didn't make any sense at all.  But now, some of it does.  Not all of it, but some of it.  And someday, all of it will.

In church on Sunday, a girl said this in her testimony:
"Eventually, we're going to look back at our lives and it will be this complicated, intricate puzzle that is finally put together."

I LOVE THAT.  I have been thinking about it ever since and want to continue the analogy a bit.



When I put together a puzzle, I start with the outside border.  It gives me a framework - the BIG picture.
To me, the plan of salvation is the big picture.  I know where I came from, I know who I am, and I know where I want to end up.  The "getting there" part is the middle part of the puzzle.

I get going on one section and all the pieces quickly fall into place and a portion of the puzzle is completed..
I love those times in life when things just WORK and life is simple.

But sometimes, I reach a dead end and spend a long time looking for just one piece.
There are times when I know something needs to change and life needs to take a different direction, but don't know quite how or what needs to change.  So... I search it out.

Other times I find a random piece and have no idea where it will go.  But I know it goes somewhere.
I get promptings to follow a certain path that has absolutely nothing to do with anything and seemingly leads to nowhere... BUT I know I need to do it.  Included in this are trials I really just don't want go through...but they always make sense later, whether I'm able to help someone going through the same thing, or learn a lesson that I needed to learn before having other awesome things happen.

Once in a while I find a piece that LOOKS like it should fit and even FEELS like it should fit, but just barely doesn't.  I'll wiggle it and try to force it, but eventually I have to give up and go work on a different part of the puzzle.
If I had a nickel for every time something/someone/somewhere made sense on paper, but just didn't fit... or for whatever reason, was not the right thing.  I wanted to go to BYU, but didn't.  Wanted to marry three different guys, but didn't.  Wanted to be an elementary school teacher, and but didn't.  I tried to force all these things at one time or another, but ultimately gave up my control and just let them go.

Eventually, that piece I thought would fit somewhere ends up fitting somewhere else better.
The most important things in life find their way of working out, in the right time, and in the right way.  I went to USU and loved it.  I found a job I love far more than I would enjoy teaching. 

My puzzle isn't finished yet, but someday it will be.  The two most important things I've learned from my life's experiences are 1) God's plan is better than mine, and 2) One step at a time.  One piece of my life revealed at a time, one small step of progression each day.  It all works out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Few Pics


A few pics, because life is good. :)

I sure love Sunday mornings. And dramatic Holly.


A couple more Utah temple trips and adventures:





Sunday, October 27, 2013

Favorite.

I LOVE this quote (and need to remember it every day):

We ought to have much more time, more leisure, than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives and ours, is essentially a series of time-saving devices.  In ancient societies, if you were rich you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be freed to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines. . . .  [But] now that everyone has slave-substitutes (machines), why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely, vacationy lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it? . . .
We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.
So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing attendance on our machines, our slaves, and making them our masters. We think we want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down we know that this would be unendurable to us, like a dark and empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves. . .
If you are typically modern, your life is like a mansion with a terrifying hole right in the middle of the living-room floor. So you paper over the hole with a very busy wallpaper pattern to distract yourself. You find a rhinoceros in the middle of your house. The rhinoceros is wretchedness and death. How in the world can you hide a rhinoceros? Easy: cover it with a million mice. Multiple diversions.

-Peter Kreeft

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Setting the Record Straight

Being a 29-year-old single LDS girl these days is interesting.  This stage of life is a whole different ball game from the younger single years, and I wanted to share some thoughts on what it's like.

Keep in mind that while I speak for all us (the older LDS YSA crowd) in this post, my opinions are mine alone, and not everyone will feel the same way.   This list is to clear up a lot of misconceptions about our group.  Yes, there will always be some who DO fit the stereotypes, but most of us don't.

So, without further ado,
11 things you should know about the the older YSA crowd:


1: We do not all have dark holes of emptiness and misery in our souls because we are not married.

I admit it... I was the girl whose plan was to go to college, find a husband, get a college degree, and then live happily ever after as a stay at home mom.  When I was a freshman at USU and first met my 21-year-old RA roommate, I remember thinking, "Wait.  But she's a senior in college... and NOT MARRIED.  How is that even possible?"  Yes, I eventually ate my words, and I quickly realized that 21 is basically still a baby in the world of adulthood.  (This coming from the obviously older and wiser 29-year-old who clearly knows everything...let's be honest, I'm still a baby.)

At some point, when our lives don't go as planned and we find ourselves all grown up with no spouse, it gets confusing.  There's a moment of, "Wait a second.  There's a big piece of my plan missing and now I don't know what to do with myself."  But guess what?  With a little time, we usually figure it out.  We learn that we can be happy by ourselves.  We begin to understand how fulfilling life can be when we work, serve, and play.  We develop our talents in ways that can benefit others.  And we are happy.  Despite popular belief, we are not sitting on the couch woefully awaiting the day when that special person will just magically appear and grant us the happiness we never knew.

Will marriage add to our happiness?  I sure hope so!
Will it create it?  Nope.  There are too many young adults in our culture who expect a fairy tale marriage to magically make everything wonderful in their world.  But you have to be whole as an individual before a relationship can be whole.
So, we work to progress and become better, all the while enjoying the moment.

2: We are not all bitter towards the opposite sex.

Yes, guys are confusing and frustrating sometimes.  But so are girls.  I am not ignorant to the frustration I've put many a guy through because of my own indecisiveness and lack of communication.  I feel that having that experience helps me be more patient with guys when they confuse me.  Sure, there a few legitimate scumbags out there, but I figure most guys are just trying their hardest, like I am, and if they end up hurting me, it is likely not intentional.

3: We are not all bitter when our friends get married and have families.

We've all seen it - the people who attend their best friends' wedding receptions with a fake smile, trying to hide the anger and bitterness deep inside, all because it's NOT THEM.  And let's be honest, we've all probably been there at one time or another.  Years ago, both of my roommates got engaged within a month after I called off my wedding.  It was hard and painful, and though I knew it would all make sense someday, at the time, it seemed so... unfair.  Why did they deserve it, but not me?

After some time and some healing, I realized that was a completely selfish attitude.  I was making  others' relationship success about ME.

When others succeed in their relationships, that doesn't mean we have failed more.  Most of us understand that.  If we really love our friends, we will love it when happy things happen in their lives, too.

4: We love support, but not pity parties.

"So are you dating anyone?"
"Not at the moment, no."
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry..."

Really?  Because I'm not.  You wanna know why?

5: Because our self-worth is not based on having significant others.

We are daughters (children) of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. :)
But really.  If a guy isn't interested in us, it's OKAY.  God is.  And in my eyes, knowing that and reflecting that knowledge in our daily living is what makes a person truly attractive.

6: The fact that we are not currently in committed, exclusive relationships does not automatically mean that we couldn't possibly have anyone TO date.

What I'm really trying to say is, just because you happen to know another single male somewhere in the world doesn't automatically make him a perfect match for me, OR my only living possibility for marriage.  If you know a girl well, and you know a guy well, and you genuinely think they could potentially be a good match, great!  Set them up.  But don't go setting up the whole world on blind dates just because you think we all need help finding other single people.

We are not desperate.

7: Most of us actually are trying.

Some of the conversations I have with people (even my family) lead me to believe that we just don't even try when it comes to this whole relationship thing.  We just sit around being bitter, or we don't want to commit so we just float from one person to the next, or we're just lazy.  While that may be true for some, it's not for all.  And let me be clear here: this point is really not to defend myself, it's to defend all the incredible guys I have met and dated in the past several years.
 Everywhere I go, there are lots of really great guys who date frequently.  They know how to call a girl, ask her on a date, and plan out a lovely evening.  This is me defending older YSA men: they are trying hard!  And yes, so are the girls.  We may be a little pickier as time goes by, yes, but only because we don't want to make the same mistakes twice.  We are all trying.

8: We know that it will all work out.

"Don't worry, I PROMISE your prince will come!"
"Don't lose hope, it will happen when you least expect it!"
"Just try not to get discouraged that you're not married yet, God has a plan for everyone!"

The annoying thing about these comments is that when we smile and say, "I know," the pitiful looks we receive in response make us feel like you think we are just saying that to shut you up.  But really.  WE KNOW.  It's okay.

At our age, chances are we've all been in at least one or two serious relationships, and come fairly close to getting married...but obviously, it didn't work out.  It is hard to make it through an experience like that without learning this lesson - that things work out how they should.  Eventually, we see why, we are so grateful that things didn't work out how we wanted them to back then.  These experiences strengthen our faith in God and His timing.  We trust and believe that if we are living the best we know how, everything will all work out wonderfully.
Living faithfully is so much better than living in fear, bitterness, and discouragement.

9: We'd rather be happily single than miserably married.

This may sound really selfish, and I will be the first to admit that being single has its perks.  We can have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep almost every single night.  Nobody depends on us and we can do whatever we want, whenever we want.  We can have alone time...every day.  When the time comes for me to have my own family, I'll miss that.  A lot.

But that's not what this is about.  We have seen so many miserable marriages.  Infidelity, pornography, selfishness, abuse, manipulation and controlling spouses... these are no longer things we just hear about, they are things that happen to our brothers and sisters, our parents, our very close friends...AND for many of us in our dating relationships.  Yes, we know any good marriage takes a lot of hard work, communication and compromise.  No, we are not waiting for the "perfect" marriage.  It's just that we would much rather wait for an opportunity for a good marriage, instead of settling for one with major problems.

10: It's not that there's something wrong with us.

"HOW are you not married yet?!"
If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked this...
I have to admit, I do it to.  I see someone fabulous and ask myself the same question about them, and then I wonder if there's some deep dark secret that's keeping them from marriage.  But the fact of the matter is most of us are pretty normal, and pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!

If we knew the answer to this question, we'd tell you.  But I have a feeling this is one of those "this will all make sense in retrospect" things.  God knows the answer, and that's all that matters.


11: Though we might not know exactly what we're looking for, we know it will be worth the wait.

I believe this.  I believe I will FEEL when it's right, and though it will take work, it will also be wonderful.

Until then, I'm content just being me.