From Little Things Come Big Things

From Little Things Come Big Things
From Little Things Come Big Things

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Honesty Vomit


This is gonna be one of those posts where I just type, and whatever comes out comes out.  It might be whiny or depressing.  It might not.  I'm really not sure.  Either way, I've got to at least try to document what's happened during the last year or so.

A couple of weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and it hit me: I'd lost my light. Maybe I was not radiating all that much to begin with, but I like to think that I am inherently a happy and positive person, but this really hasn't been the case for several months now.

Now, before I go any further, please understand this is not a "being too hard on myself" post.  It's just an "I've let myself slip" post.  I know who I want to be and I haven't been that person, and it's not because who I want to be is completely unrealistic and impossible to achieve right now.  I'm not looking for perfect anymore.  That kind of attitude and expectation creates an atmosphere for failure, discouragement, and even depression.  Ironically, I've sort of gone from one extreme to the other.  Now, I glory in imperfection.  Warm and fluffy makes me cringe.  Contrived emotion and fake sincerity do, too.  I want to be REAL.  I want to accept and appreciate what I can do and give daily.

The thing is, the part of the equation that's been missing for a while is the "what I can do and give" part, because I'm really not trying very hard at all. I'm not sure if the reasons why are all that important, or maybe they are, but I'm gonna elaborate on them anyway.  

First of all, I've been in survival mode for a year now.  The harder I've tried to simplify my life, the more complicated it's gotten, largely because of work (and also Grandma's 100th Birthday Party, which I'll post about later).  I enjoy my job and most of the people I work with, but I've basically been doing two people's jobs for over a year, which really wasn't a huge deal at first, because it was only supposed to be a few months.  Then we hired not one, but two people who did not work out.  I don't really need to elaborate on this.  Suffice it to say that work created an immense amount of anxiety for a variety of reasons, and I dreaded every day.  Each day added up and it was soooo draining.   Finally, we hired a new girl to be my work partner in July, and sh eis AMAZING.  I love her and we get along and work so well together... so that's a relief.

Anyway, the reason I write all this is because it shows the stress of the situation, and when you add trying to hold this entire program together by myself on top of said anxiety, it really just got to be too much for me to handle.  I was ALWAYS behind and working crazy hours just stay caught up with the absolutely necessary things. Feeling like I will never be on top of things is not something I deal with very well.  You know how sometimes you are close to a deadline and you go into crazy productive last minute mode where you're doing ten things at once, and the pressure really helps you to get a lot done?  And then when whatever you're doing is done and you can take a deep breath and feel all accomplished and say, "I did it.  I can relax now."  (This is how I wrote every single paper of my college career.) It's kind of like that, except I never got to that last part, because every time I finished one emergency, I was faced with 10 more.  I really felt like I was losing my mind all summer long.  Miraculously, we met all the necessary deadlines and haven't been faced with any huge disasters, except for the one where I never got the necessary calm moments in between the pressure-filled ones.  I like to think of myself as the kind of person who can hold it together no matter how crazy things get, but that's just not healthy or realistic.

Sadly, it took NOSE SURGERY for me to realize how bad things had gotten and how much my job stress had affected pretty much every other aspect of my life.  While I've been quite complacent in some areas, I really think the big reason I've slipped so far into this dark hole is simply because I was so drained.  I was depleted of all my energy - social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual.  I came home from work every day and all I could do was just stare into space because I literally did not have an ounce of energy for anything else.  I stopped taking time to care about my friends and family.  I haven't exercised in months.  I ate wayyyy too much Mcdonald's!  The only good thing happening this past summer is that I have been going to counseling and continuing to work through some family stuff.  It's a long and frustrating process, but I AM making some major progress, which is good.  (I could write a whole post on why I think everyone should go to counseling.  Maybe later.)

Once I had surgery and couldn't even sit up or breathe or do the basic functions of human life, it all started to hit me.  I knew I was out of control, but I didn't know HOW out of control.  I hadn't been taking care of myself at ALL for way too long, and that left me unable to care about anyone else.  For a week, I did pretty much nothing but watch netflix.  I didn't respond to texts or phone calls, for the most part.  It gave me some time to think about who I've become, and about how a little bit of daily slipping over a long period of time had led me to a sort of dark and discouraging place.  This was when I looked in the mirror and thought, "This is not me."  Okay, so maybe it's easy to think that when you've just had surgery and you can't poop on your own and you can't eat and you are 100% certain that death would be preferable to the patience of veerrrrrry gradual healing.  But really... it was more than just physical.  Like I said, I'd lost my light.  I wasn't happy.  I wasn't all that kind or genuine or caring.  I really wasn't contributing anything good to anyone or anything, and not because I didn't want to, I just simply wasn't capable of it.

Healing is a funny thing.  About 6 hours after my nose surgery, I was feeling fantastic.  I quickly began to believe that this was going to be a quick and painless recovery.  What a blessing!  How wrong I was.  Things went from great to okay to bad to worse and just when I thought I'd hit rock bottom, it got even more worse.  And then the next day, worse again.  It was really bad, guys.  I've never experienced something so horrible physically, but it was more than that.  My spirit was broken. Panic and anxiety.  Hopelessness.  Discouragement.  Faithlessness.  I really started to believe I was never going to get better.  Then, the next day, I was able to eat a cracker.  And that was progress.  And then I was able to walk outside.  And that was progress.  And then I was able to talk to another human for ten minutes.  Again, progress.  I kept having to remind myself, "I may feel 95% like I want to die today, but yesterday was 100%.  And if today is 5% better than yesterday, then that's progress."  It's been a painful, scary thing to realize that my physical healing is going to take a really, really long time.  Longer than I want.  Longer than other people.  But there's really nothing I can do to speed it up.  I can't say, "NOSE, I need to breathe, so I command you to unswell now!"  I can't say, "BODY, I have to go back to work so you must have energy and quit it with the migraines!"  I just have to be PATIENT.  Ah, I love that principle.  And when I say love, I mean hate.  Mostly because it's just something I've never really been great at, but Heavenly Father keeps giving me these situations where I really have no choice but to figure it out, somehow.

I'm a problem solver.  If something is not working, I like to identify the problem and then FIX IT.  Plain and simple.  When I hit rock bottom after surgery, I saw problems.  LOTS OF THEM.  I've mentioned a lot of them already.  Naturally, I just wanted to fix all of them right now.  I wanted my light back.  But, like physical healing, all the other kinds of healing cannot be rushed or forced, no matter how bad I want them to come immediately.  I am starting to learn to accept that.

I actually don't even know where I'm going with this post from here, because I don't have a plan like I always do.  I don't have a spreadsheet called "HOW TO GET MY LIGHT BACK" with all the subtasks prioritized and color coded by timeline. 

What I do know is:
1 - I HAVE to take care of myself if I want to be able to take care of others.

2 - It's going to take some serious time and patience for me to heal in all the different ways I want to heal.

3 - I'm getting good at saying no to others, for now, for the sake of giving myself the time and space needed to heal, not just physically, but in other ways too. (I've been avoiding dating like the plague because all I can think of right now is, "Who in the world would want to date THIS version of me?!" Okay, so maybe that's being a little too hard on myself in this regard.  But you know.) 

That's all I know right now, but it's a heck of a lot more than I knew 2 weeks ago when I was wheeled into that operating room.

And that's progress.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fall 2014 General Conference Reading Challenge

General Conference = Better than Christmas. 

Prophets of God, sharing the word of God to US, the people of THIS day and age.  Personal revelation.  Just that feeling that comes when the prophet walks in and 21,000 people isntantly hush out of respect.  Watching all the general authorities' wives greet each other with love and excitement.  And the music, of course.  Ahhhh, the music.

Of course, there are the talks with the soothing voices that inevitably make me fall asleep. There's the purse full of Sour Skittles and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that get me through Sunday afternoon.  There are the box lunches between sessions on Sunday (if you're lucky, sometimes you get an extra cookie or candy bar), and the aprons over the MoTab dresses.

 Errr... forgot my apron on that day.  Yes, I'm wearing a pink dress.  No need to comment.  Really though.

Maybe this sometimes happens during breaks. These Mormons like to LAUGH!

I love it all!

One of the things I've done to prepare for general conference the past couple years is take some time each day to study the talks from the last conference. As conference is approaching, I put together a reading schedule so I can focus on one talk per day, leading up to the day of the next conference.  

Some days I listen to the talk.  Other days I study it for a long time, or there are the crazy days where I just skim through.  And sometimes, I just get way behind and don't quite finish.  Mostly, I just try to do the best I can.  This has become one of my favorite traditions because it helps me refocus spiritually (something I need to do OFTEN) and simply invites the spirit so I can have guidance from the Lord, even though half the time it has nothing to do with any of the talks.  That's the best kind of guidance!

I invite anyone who feels like doing this Conference Prep Challenge to join me.  You can click on this link for the reading schedule.  And please, let me know about your experience along the way.  What are you learning?  What are you feeling?  I want to hear it all.  Comment on this post, send me a quick text message, whatever. 

If you're in, let me know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Life in MoTab: Favorite Songs

One of the questions we are often asked  as members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is, "What's your favorite song to sing?" While my top favorite has not changed since the day I first sang it (more on that later), this is sort of a moving target for me.   Picking a favorite is hard because here are so, so many that I just love.  (There are some songs I'd be okay never singing again - let's be honest, we all have them - but I'll refrain from sharing those!)  I know not everyone "gets" choir music, but to me, it is a heavenly gift. My favorite songs are the ones that have the ability to transport me to another place spiritually and emotionally, the ones that help me feel and express things that I cannot share any other way.  

So, while my list might be different tomorrow, here are my top five songs and the reasons why I love them:

5.  Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Favorite lines:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Why I love it: It starts as a quiet and simple prayer and grows to great pleading.  I once heard someone describe it like this, "Here's my heart, Lord.  Take it, break it, mold it into whatever You need it to be."  That's easier said than done, but it's something I want to work towards daily. This song reminds me that I can choose to surrender my will to God's, any time of any day.

4. Pilgrim Song

Favorite line:
My soul doth long to go where I may fully know the glory of my Savior.

Why I love it: Sigh... I still remember the day I came to my second week in the Temple Square Chorale rehearsal and saw this song sitting on my chair.  I don't know if I've ever been so happy!  I'd heard it sung many times and been transported to this heavenly place, but never had the chance to sing it, yet here I was singing it with the composer himself as the conductor.  It was one of those moments where I asked myself, "Is this real life?!"  This is the happiest dying song I've ever known!  Okay so, it doesn't have to be a dying song, but it reminds me that this life is temporary, it's not home.  That home is joyful beyond human comprehension.  I once had the chance to sing these precious words to a woman who was on the last leg of her journey to that eternal home, and it was an experience I will never forget.  If I can sing during my last breaths, this is the song that will be sung.  If not, I hope someone will sing it to me.

3.  Battle Hymn of the Republic

Favorite line:
I don't have a favorite for this one.  I love it all!

Why I love it: Because it's the Battle Hymn of the Republic!  Need I say more?  One of my favorite things is when we sing this on tour - during that last chorus, while the audience joins with us, it is impossible not to stand out of respect for our country and for God.  It's just... that FEELING. :)

Also... if you've never watched MoTab singing Battle Hymn for President Reagan's inauguration, you probably should. 

2.  I Stand All Amazed

Favorite line:
Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me.
Oh, it is wonderful to me.

Why I love it: This has actually never been one of my favorite hymns until Ryan Murphy arranged the most simple, yet profound version of it for April 2014 General Conference.  Because I had lost my voice, I was just listening when the choir first rehearsed it.  It was a sacred experience for me personally as I was simply reminded, Jesus loves me.

And last but not least...

1. My Song in the Night

Favorite line:
My comfort and joy, my soul's delight,
Oh Jesus, my Savior, my Song in the night.

Why I love it:
From the moment I first sang this song, I just knew it was my song. When I put up a wall spiritually, this is the one song that will break it down, every single time.  The minute the beautiful strings start, I feel hope, and an ability to surrender my stubbornness that I can't seem to find any other way.  The orchestral introduction has just a little bit of dissonance, enough to make me feel the sorrow of knowing that wall was built by me, but hope of knowing I can choose to break it down.  I feel like I'm saying, "Heavenly Father, I'm ridiculous sometimes.  But I'm here now."  In other words, this is my "coming home" song.

What about YOU?
What are your favorite MoTab songs to listen to or sing?

Friday, July 25, 2014


Hi, I'm Katie, and I'm 30 years old.

The older I get, the more I realize that I actually have no idea what I'm doing with myself or my life. I just skimmed some journal entries from years last and I was just so... Sure of myself. I really thought I had it all figured out. I defended my life path decisions because I just KNEW to the core it was right, yet I look back at those same decisions and ask myself, "WHAT WAS I DOING?!"

Yet, I know that Heavenly Father accounts for a lot of special things when designing this master plan He has. He accounts for my ability to choose, and for my lack of wisdom, understanding, and willingness to submit at various times in my life . He knows I'm just a baby spiritually, in the grand scheme of things, and He sure isn't gonna hold back blessings and opportunities from now because I just didn't get it yet five years ago. And in some weird way, that path I took years ago - the one that probably wasn't the smartest one but I was too stubborn to recognize it? It was still somehow the right path, because it led me to be here, now. And you know what? I like it here, and I like being me.

I just hope that 30-year-old Katie is wise enough to not think she's got it all figured out anymore. If I've learned anything, it's that I've simply got to take one day at a time and hand my life over to God, as cliche as that sounds. Sometimes that means letting go and trusting Him enough to guide me, and other times, it means allowing Him to trust me to figure it out and make my own decisions. 

There's a new kind of freedom that comes with admitting I don't have all the answers, or any of them, really. I like to think I have opened my mind and heart enough to let the Spirit squeeze in just enough to guide me on the best paths, one tiny path at a time.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Trip to the Temple with Nana Kelley

So here's the thing.  My grandma is one of my best friends.  She's definitely my favorite human on this earth.  Growing up, I never thought I'd be super close to her, but ever since my mission, we've sort of just... needed each other.  The poor woman just wants to be with her husband again, understandably, but I'm so very grateful I've had the past 6 years to become buddies with her.  She is amazing.

The thing about Nana Kelley is she thinks she is always inconveniencing people.  She NEVER is,  but she doesn't like to go places or do fun things, not because she doesn't want to, but she thinks she's gonna put people out.  We tell her every single day it's not like that, but... she's just Nana Kelley and that's how she is.

One example of this is that she's really wanted to go to the Brigham City temple, ever since it opened, but anytime we got close to doing it, she bailed because she was worried about being too slow and stuff.  Brigham City has a special place in her heart because that's where my grandpa grew up.  So, a few weeks ago, I called her and said, "Grandma, we're going.  July 5th.  No matter what."  Of course she put up a stubborn fit a couple times, insisting that she was just too old (even though she secretly really wanted to go), but luckily, I have inherited her stubborn genes times five.  So I won.

On the way there:
Me: Grandma, out of all the things I could be doing on a Saturday, this is what I want to be doing more than anything.
Grandma: Well, you're a good granddaughter and I love you for that.
Me: I'm gonna get a little sappy for a minute, Grandma.  I had a little revelation a few months ago that one of the main reasons it hasn't been the right time for me to be married and have a family yet is because we needed each other, and we never would have gotten this close if that had happened.
Grandma: I suppose that could be true, but it's awfully selfish for me.  I hope you can find someone to love soon.
Me: Me too. I hope I can find someone that I can love as much as you love Grandpa.
Grandma: I did love him a lot and I still do.  Sometimes I disgusted him, and sometimes he disgusted me, but we kept loving each other through it all.
Me: How did you do that?
Grandma: I don't know, love just keeps going no matter what, I guess.

Being at the temple with Nana Kelley and having the opportunity to help her through the experience was really special and sacred for me.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate the last week of the first century of her life!  She was treated like royalty by all the sweet temple workers, and the whole experience meant a lot to her, especially because she felt like Gramps was close by the whole time.

Of course, we had to stop and have a gourmet dinner at the Maddox on the way home, and then we were both all tuckered out.

1 week until she turns 100 years old!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wiener Dog Life Lessons: Fireworks Edition

Meet Zoe.

The best Christmas present I ever got.
My twin in wiener dog form.
My child.

Seriously though.  I love this little dog, especially because she has helped heal parts of me I didn't know were broken.  People who know me probably think of two things when they think of me: music and wiener dogs.  There's a reason for the borderline creepy obsession, people!  Who knew a tiny little sausage shaped dog with legs a few inches long could teach me so much?  Sometimes, when I really need to learn something important, I think Heavenly Father knows the only way He is going to get through to my stubborn heart is through a wiener dog, so He gave me Zoe.  I sound ridiculous right now, I know.  But hear me out.  I'm gonna tell you all about Wiener Dog Life Lessons.

Lately, I can't seem to turn off my brain.  At any given moment there are a million little tasks and goals and all sorts of random things sort of swirling around my head in a terrifyingly overwhelming tornado, largely thanks to the constant distractions that seem to be unavoidable in this day and age.


Tonight, I took my little dog outside, threw out a blanket, laid on my back and looked up at the stars while I started to have a little chat with God.  I needed to be still.

Normally, when we're outside chillin', Zoe meanders around the yard and sniffs everything, checking in with me about every minute or so.  But today is the 4th of July.  Today, there were fireworks - the quickest way to get a snuggly dog!  She quickly nuzzled between my waist and my arm and put her head down on my shoulder.  Every time a new group of fireworks would go off, she'd lift her head and look around, slightly distressed.  I'd hold her tightly and whisper, "It's okay.  I've got you.  You're safe with me."  She'd breathe a deep breath, and back to my shoulder her head would go.

I'm a lot more distractible than Zoe.  I'm not always as faithful in checking in with my Master.  That little dog cannot be in the same vicinity as me without being with me literally every single minute, yet sometimes I go days without really turning to God.  Sure, there are the routine prayers, which are better than nothing.  But lately, it takes a firework to make me REALLY run to Him - a firework like not having a clue where to go next in my life, or trying to decipher between the spirit and my emotions when making decisions about where a relationship is heading (or not heading), or feeling like worldly things are taking over my life.  And while I know that God is patient while I'm not desperately running from the fireworks, it's me that's missing out on the peace, joy, and calmness that comes from being close to Him.

The good news is, no matter when those fireworks come, or even if they don't, I can ALWAYS turn to God.

It's okay.
He's got me.
I'm safe with Him.

So tonight, when I go to bed, I'll take a deep breath, close my eyes, and let those reminders sink deep into my heart.

He's got me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

O, Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Music is the language of my soul.  I can't remember NOT feeling that way, even when I was a teeny tiny little girl.  Sometimes, I just feel like there's all these feelings inside wanting to explode out of my heart but not knowing how, and then the perfect song comes along and sets all the feelings free.  All the happiness and sadness and hope and fear and vulnerability - all of it - it just bursts out.  All at once.  And that's probably the best feeling ever felt by any human.  I'm sure of it.

This is the story about one of those songs.

George Matheson was a Scottish minister who gradually went blind during his early years.  By the time he was 17, he had lost his vision completely.  Years later, he fell in love and was engaged, but his fiancee ended the engagement because of his blindness.  Talk about heartbreak!  He continued as a very successful minister, thanks to the constant help of his sister.  Eventually, the time for her to leave and marry, leaving him alone and hopeless.  He wrote the following the night before his sister's wedding:

"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan on the evening of the 6th of June 1882, when I was forty years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.”


And here are lyrics:

O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

O Light that foll’west all my way
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be

O Joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head

I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

I sure can't wait to sing this one at Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday; Ryan Murphy arranged it so perfectly.  Every time I see it sitting in my choir music box, it's like Christmas!  I encourage you to follow the lyrics while you listen.  Check out your viewing options here.