Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Say Yes to the Dress!

Let's talk wedding dresses.

They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Sparkles or no sparkles. Lace or no lace. Long, short, flowy, clingy, ballgowns, a lines and so many other choices.

To a woman, a wedding dress is the gown of all gowns. It's the one day of your life when you get to dress like your own kind of princess and get away with it. On a deeper level, the wedding dress is a symbol of purity, of hope for your future, of love, of tradition, of family. 

To me, it was pretty much that.  My wedding dress was 'my dress'.  It was just the right amount of sparkle, of princess, of elegance, of simplicity all rolled into one poofy, sparkly dress. I can even recall very clearly the day that I picked it out.  It was a little over 14 years ago.  I went to a little store in Rexburg, Idaho with my mom and my grandma.  Just them and me. It was a special day spent with women that I admire most in the world. I tried on a few dresses...and then that one.  I had 'the moment'.  Tears and the whole shebang.  All of it.

I also remember very clearly the day that I wore my dress.  We arrived at the Mount Timpanogos temple in the morning and went directly to the bride's room with my mother. I made sure my makeup was okay, checked my hair, I put on my dress and my temple clothes and went to meet my Superman. I remember sitting with him waiting to go into the sealing room and feeling so content and so incredibly happy.

In that moment, that dress absolutely was about tradition, hope, love, purity and family.

The rest of the day is a blur, but throughout the whole day, that dress was about tradition, hope, love, purity and family.

Fast forward 14 years.

I had always dreamed of passing that dress on to my daughter.  I had always loved the idea of it.  My dress was a timeless, classic a line- which will always be in style. I've kept it in the bag in my cedar chest in hopes that a daughter would eventually come along.  And she hasn't.  For some reason, that dress has become less and less of what it was meant to be. It is a reminder of hopes and dreams that will never come true.  It's a reminder of my naivete. And to be frank, it makes me feel like I've let everyone associated with that dress down.

Even as I write this, I know that those words are so untrue. I haven't let anyone down.  I'm a good woman with an amazing husband. It's just...sad sometimes.

As I looked at my dress recently, I felt saddened and ashamed.  Saddened at the loss of the idea and dream of seeing my own daughter wear it one day and ashamed that I've let it sit there for 14 years, ashamed that I'm letting that dress go to waste, ashamed that my beautiful grandma spent so much money on it for one day.

It has recently come to my attention that old wedding dresses are being repurposed to make bereavement gowns for babies who die right after birth or who are stillborn. This is something that is incredibly close to my heart. I have many friends who have suffered this exact thing.  I myself had a miscarriage that I've never quite found peace with. I've struggled with this decision for a year or so.  I've been holding on to this dress that once meant everything to me for 14 years.  It doesn't fit.  It never will fit again I'm sure, and there's no one to give it to. It only seems logical.

But, then, it tugs at my heart strings.  It's my dress. I can never relive those days again and it's the only tangible thing I have left of that day with my mom and grandma. Once it's gone, I can never get it back.  Ever. 

But then my heart gives me another answer....which has really guided my decision. The loss of a child is something that no one should have to suffer.  All their dreams and hopes and love for that baby are suddenly turned into a daily nightmare that you can't walk away from. And in order to ease that burden for that grieving family, a beautifully made bereavement gown is given to them for their child. And it brings it right back to hope, purity, love, tradition and family. 

I believe that families are forever.  I believe that when we get to the hereafter, those of us that have lost babies will be able to raise them. I believe this with all my heart. And how better to show that belief and love and hope for an eternal family than to help another family through their time of need? I can't bring our children back.  I can't make that hurt go away.  I can't wipe every tear of every mother who suffers.  But what I can do is donate my dress, my dress full of love and hope and tradition and purity and FAMILY, to a family that desperately needs those things.

Which is why I've decided to donate my dress.  I've found a semi local organization (as opposed to a larger one that is currently not accepting dresses...) and have now dropped off my dress to a woman with a kind face. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried.  I cried all the way there and all the way back.  I cried for many reasons. I cried for the loss of a dream, mourning my baby, for the pain of a family that I will never meet. I cried for the absolute healing in my own life. I cried because I know that families are forever and that all of us will be able to hold those babies in our arms one day.

 I know it sounds incredibly silly, but it's almost like I am giving my dress to my child vicariously. I know that this isn't a solution for everyone, but for me, it's brought an incredible amount of healing and comfort and peace that I needed badly. It's the first step on the road to acceptance and healing and I, for one, am eager to get that journey started.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Open Letter to an Awful Man

Almost exactly one year ago, I brought my sweet baby Jack to you. I was terrified.  He was my first cat. He was so very special to me.  I was more frightened than I had ever been.  Ever.  I trusted you. I read reviews online.  I trusted you.
When I finally got in, you took your sweet time coming to see us. You sent your nurse in first.  I was already in tears and incredibly frightened.  She was rude.  BEYOND rude. She took my cat and tossed him on the table.  She wasn't kind, she wasn't gentle.
When you finally got there, you asked me all the questions that she'd already asked.  You told me to stop crying.  You poked him.  You flipped him back and forth.  You hurt told me you weren't...but you did.
And then, you uttered the phrase that has controlled my life.
"You should have brought him in sooner. We maybe could have fixed this."
Then, you told me that I'd have to leave him for tests.  Overnight.  I didn't like that.  You told me I didn't have a choice.  I agreed.  You grabbed him and started walking away.  I begged you to let him keep his blankie so he wasn't scared.  You rolled your eyes at me and took it and told me you'd call the next day.
But you didn't.  I called.  Your receptionist told me to wait, that you'd call me.  And you...didn't. So, I called again.  And again. AND AGAIN.
And finally...I sent my husband in to bring my baby home.  And he did.  You left the port in his paw and told my husband you wouldn't take it out, because we were going to have to bring him back anyways.  You also sent my sweet cat home covered in his own poo, with a dirty blankie.  How dare you?  He was important to me.  How dare you?
I made Tim go back and tell you to take the port out.  Right now.
I gave him the stupid prescriptions you told me he had to take...even though it wouldn't work.  You made me brush the ick out of his fur because you didn't bother to take care of him.  Every time I had to brush dried on poo out of his fur, he cringed.  That's on you.  Not me.
Eventually, we had him put to sleep. It was the hardest thing I have EVER done.  Not because I didn't do what was best for him.   Not because it helped him.  Not because it hurt me, but because YOU, sir, blamed me.  You told me it was MY FAULT.  You told me that I could have prevented it.  YOU did that. The new vet told met there was nothing we could have done.  That cancer in cats is aggressive.  That there was no way I could have known and yet the only voice I hear is yours telling me it was my fault.
And now, we have two cats again and every time they sleep too much or don't eat enough or don't meow the right way, I want to take them to the vet so that they don't die and it's not my fault.  I live in constant fear that I am slowly murdering my pets. I am completely paranoid.  I cry all the time because Jack is gone and even though I know it's untrue, you've made me feel like I killed him.
You did that.
I will continue to make sure that no one takes their pet to you.  That you don't get to do that to some other unsuspecting pet owner.  I am going to trust my gut and stop listening to your weasley little voice in my head.  You are not a nice man.  You are not a good vet and you do not get to win.
I did the best I knew how to care for my sweet pet.  I tried to remember the good things.  And you tried to ruin that.  That's not okay.
I'm going to let my pets live.  I'm going to stop being so crazy overprotective.  I want them to enjoy their lives.  And I want to enjoy them with them.
You lose.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Reflections

Its currently midnight on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning. I cant sleep.  Ive never been able to sleep on Christmas Eve.  When I was a little girl, it was because I was so darn excited.  The anticipation was killing me. I was that way up until a few years ago, the Christmas after we lost Grandma.  This year, we lost best Christmas present ever. I know he was just a cat,  but I'm still sad.

As I sit and think about Christmases past (kinda like Scrooge), I can see a change in the way that I approach the holiday. I used to think about what I was getting for Christmas, what Santa was bringing ME. Then, I moved into the gift buying, treat making, decorating to the nines Christmas psycho stage.  The year we lost Grandma, I hit full blown Grinch mode. Hated Christmas.  Hated happy people...and almost begrudged them their joy. The last few years have bewn survival mode.  I do what needs done. Nothing more, nothing less. I overload myself with things to do to force myself to want Christmas.  All it does is cause me to have a nervous breakdown. 

Howver, in the last week, I feel like I've changed my focus. As I've prepared gifts for others, I've realized that it isnt about the dollars spent. Its about the time and thought and love. Ive been thinking about my family and how incredibly important they are to me and wondering if I've shown them that. I've been so touched by the kindness, generosity and love of a good LDS ward.

And most importantly,  I've been thinking more and more about the first gift of Christmas for me - the love of a Heavenly Father and the gift of a Savior to the world. The Savior is the reason. He is the light of the world. He is the most important friend I will ever have. Does He know of my love and devotion to Him?  Have I spent my time wisely, are my sacrifices and service acceptable to Him? Have I tried with every breath that I take to repay my debt to Him? Have I let Him guide and direct me and my actions? Am I good enough?

Christmas wil never be the same. From this point on,  its going to be so much better.
I am grateful for my Savior.  For His friendship,  His mercy, His love. Those are the greatest gifts that any of us will ever receive.
I hope you can find a place for Him this year. I hope you can feel of His love. He loves each of us, no matter what.
Merry Christmas.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dear Nieces and Nephews...

Recently, I was blessed to become an auntie to another beautiful baby girl named Hollie.  I am beyond excited.  I got to thinking about her and about my other nieces and nephews and the things that I wanted them to know. So, this seemed to be the easiest way.

Dear Kiddos,
First and foremost, I love you.  I love each and every one of you for different reasons.  You each have qualities that make you stand out in my life.  Each of you is important to me.

Secondly, no matter what anyone tells you, remember who you are.  You are, first and foremost, a child of God.  You each have amazing families that are here to love and support you unconditionally. You each have a wonderful heritage of ancestors that sacrificed much so that you could live where and how you do.  Your parents love you more than you will ever know. Your siblings adore you.  Your grandparents love you...and Uncle Tim and I love you so so so so much and we always will.

Third, don't ever change who you are for someone else.  You are perfect the way that you are.  You are funny, smart, kind, thoughtful and adorable. If you happen to meet someone who wants you to be someone else, walk away.  They don't deserve you.  They need to rise to your level, you don't need to sink to theirs.

Fourth, take care of your family. In the end, there is nothing more important than them.  Look out for your brothers and/or sisters. You might not like them a whole lot now, but trust me when I say that when you're older, you'll wish they lived closer again.

Fifth, learn now to serve others.  There is no greater joy than serving your family- whether they're your actual family or the family you've chosen. Don't let the state of the world make you unkind.  See every person as your brother or sister and child of God, because that's truly who they are.

Sixth, Stand up for yourself and for what you know what they say-You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

Seventh, if you want something in this world to change, change it.  You have that power.  You may think that one person's actions will never ever make a difference, but they do.  Each of you is powerful beyond measure.

Eighth, (for my nieces) don't ever let anyone dull your sparkle.  You are amazing.  And no matter what, you musn't be afraid to shine a little brighter, darling. You are each beautiful, inside and out.  Don't let your outer beauty dictate your inner beauty, but rather, the other way around.  Grow up to be kind, gentle, good, virtuous women.  The world needs more women like you. Also, learn to make good cookies.  I'll help you.  Cookies can save the world.  Really.

Ninth, (for my nephews) it's okay to be a good man.  There is nothing better than a man who honors his priesthood and serves others.  You have some amazing examples of good men to look to.  Your uncle is one of them.  He honors his priesthood, he serves others every day, he is kind and gentle and thoughtful and he is also the best and strongest man that I know. He is also an amazing cook...don't ever underestimate the power of making dinner for a girl.  :) 

And tenth, please don't ever forget how important you are to me. You are one of the reasons that I wake up every day.  I know I might seem like that crazy old auntie who has way too many cats to pay attention to your lives, but I'm not ever too busy for you.  I never will be.  If you ever need me, all you have to do is say the word and I'll be right there.  Always. There are few people in this world who mean as much to me as you do.  

I promise that I will love you, tease you, spoil you, pray for you, cry for you, laugh with you, play with you and be there for you.

All my love,
Aunt Katie

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Letter to the Fashion Industry

Dear Fashion Industry,
Let's start with this.  I love clothes. I love shoes.  I love colors. I love jewelry.  I love makeup. I love Project Runway more than I can say.  But, in the same breath, let me tell you that I hate you.
I hate you for what you've done to me and to women all over the world.
You may be asking yourself right now, 'well, what have I done?'
You know very well what you did and what you're still doing.
Let me explain.
I am a plus sized vibrant, beautiful, colorful, fun loving, sparkly woman.  I love pink and yellow and orange.  I love pretty shoes.  I love vintage dresses.  I love anything that is sparkly. However, when I googled "plus size vintage" I found a few good websites, but more than that, I found a few really unkind ones.  Ones that told me that I should wear smaller prints and darker colors because of my size.  One that told me that 'full figured women' (silly fashion writers...we all know that means 'fat') should stick to flowing fabrics and long skirts.  We should wear neutral colors such as black, navy, gray, black, brown, white, black and maybe the right shade of taupe because they're "slimming". We shouldn't wear horizontally situated prints like the so popular right now chevron print.  Sad.
When I dug deeper and started looking for something adorable to wear to boost my self esteem a bit, I came across frumpy, tent like dresses in ugly, neutral, thrift store couch floral prints.  There seemed to be quite a few solid colored pieces as well. But nothing that I fell in love with.  The plus size dresses made me feel old, frumpy and sad...something that I am most definitely not.
And then, let's add my size 12 feet.  I see them as a gift.  If the world ever floods, I have flippers.  Take that tiny feet people. However, when it comes to size 12 shoes...let's just say that those shoes would be best used in a hospital on the feet of a cranky, old cartoon style nurse that jabs you with needles or perhaps on the sloppy joe loving lunch lady portrayed by the ever funny Chris Farley.
Do I look like a lunch lady?  I didn't think so. I really am more of a Carrie fashion...not life, mind you.
So, Fashion Industry, here it is.  I'm beginning to think that you don't know me.  That's fine, because I've decided that I don't like you.  Why? Because neutral colors aren't slimming, they're boring.  They don't hide the fat rolls, they hide my personality. Florals are for people who like to hang out in gardens and wear stinky perfume that smells like gardenias and baby powder. Not for me.  I don't like flowing fabrics and dolman sleeves.  I think they look like tents and I'm not camping. I refuse to dress like a couch or a pair of curtains. I am not a nurse or a lunch lady or an outdoor instructor.  My feet may not be delicate and lady like, but I like cute shoes too.  Sparkly ones. With high heels. And open toes.  Ha.
You have become my arch nemesis-the Joker to my Batman.  From this point on, I will hunt down every knee length, big patterned, bright colored, un-tent-like dress and I will wear them.  I will wear them with shoes that match, even if I have to buy ugly ones and spray paint them sparkly silver.  I will wear younger prints, colors and styles.  I will avoid neutral colors at all costs, unless of course, they are merely an accent piece to whatever obnoxious style I will be wearing. And, let's be honest, there's nothing you can do about it.  I don't care what you or anyone else thinks.  I am a type one and I will dress like one.  I will feel beautiful and vibrant.  I might even wear a tutu one of these days.  Ooh.  Or a pretty, pink, polka dotted vintage dress with a full skirt and crinoline underneath and sparkly shoes with bows like these stunning Kate Spades...
Yes, I could lose weight, but I shouldn't have to.  I'm pretty healthy, I'm just chubby.  And to be honest, that's none of your business.  Women should be able to wear clothes to help them feel beautiful and to reflect who they matter what size they are.
Also, stop photo shopping everything...we're on to your game. Maybe you should stop focusing on skinny and start focusing on healthy and happy.  Stop making skinny, fit girls feel fat and stop making fat girls feel super fat.  It's unkind.
In closing, I think we need to end our relationship.  I'll keep Project Runway and you can keep your stupid neutral colors and ugly floral prints.
It's really not me, it's you.
A Chubby Girl Who is Too Busy Loving Herself to Listen to You.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I Learned About Life from HGTV...

I've been watching A LOT of HGTV lately and I've discovered some things.  First, my kitchen is way too white.  It needs painted.  Second, bead board is a great way to reinforce or cover plaster walls and it looks incredibly fresh and streamlined.  Third, there seem to be two very important jobs on any remodel site- the people in charge of building and the ones in charge of demolition. Fourth, wood floors are really pretty.

So, I was picking out paint swatches tonight to decide what delicious color to paint my kitchen accent wall and  absentmindedly listening to the couple behind me argue about something.  The husband kept saying things like "I could do it myself, it would look really nice and increase the value in our home."  And then the wife would come in with "You would take your sweet time, it would never get done and it's too expensive. Stop being ridiculous." I glanced over for some reason and saw the dejected look on his face.

And it hit me.  Just like in a remodeling project, in life, there are people who build and people who demolish. 

Another example.  Just the other day, I mentioned to a cashier that I loved living near our city's baseball field.  It's such a fun thing to have close and such a great family activity for our community and aren't we lucky to have a team?  The cashier told me that it's just a farm team that's really not that good and there's too many cars parked and she'd hate to live downtown where people park all over your street.

Or...I told someone that I love love having cats.  They replied that they would hate to have cat hair everywhere and that litter boxes were really gross.

See where I'm going here?

I'll admit, as of late, it's been a real struggle for me to be positive and to be a builder.  I've spread my fair share of negativity.  But as I watched this man's face tonight, a scripture came to mind...It's in the Book of Mormon in 2nd Nephi, chapter 2, verse 25- "Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy."  


There will always be people that are going to demolish.  They want you to be miserable just like they are.  They have nothing good to say about anyone or anything.  Anytime you say something positive or spread good news, they find a way to shut you down.  We all have them in our lives.  You know who they are....or who you are.  The builders are the people who compliment you, who find the bright, funny side to anything, who try to make the world a better place through their actions on a daily basis.

The spread of negativity has increased as of late due to social media.  Suddenly, it's cool to be a mean girl.  I have read some scathing comments about a person or a group of people that are completely irrelevant.  Earlier, I saw someone berate someone online because of an honest mistake that was made.  I felt so so bad.  It didn't make me smile.  It didn't make me feel like I was there to have joy.  Why do we do that?  Why do we think that it's our place to destroy people, their actions, their beliefs and their dreams?  It's NOT our job or our place.  Our job should be to help one another become like example.  It's not our place to tell someone that their opinion is wrong or stupid or ridiculous just because we don't agree with them.  We have no right to hate someone or insult someone because they're different.  This trend needs to stop.  Now.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone is different.  We all have our own thoughts and our own opinions, and that's okay!  In fact, it's awesome!  If we were all exactly the same, life would be pretty boring, right?  And besides, what does one have to gain from being unkind?  Nothing.

So many times, at least in my case, we get so busy fighting our own battles, that we forget that everyone, and I mean everyone, is fighting one too.  Life is easy for no one.  It's not supposed to be.  Do we become so wrapped up in our own worlds that we forget to offer the kindness that we expect and demand for ourselves to others? Are we too busy building our own world that we, maybe unintentionally, demolish someone else's?

Now, which one are you?  Which one do you want to be?

I have a challenge for you.  Find something beautiful in every day this week.  Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever you choose to use.  Tell someone thank you once this week and mean it.  Pay someone a sincere compliment.  Do something kind for someone, even if it's just letting them in front of you in line at the grocery store.  We can make this world better.  We can make it a more positive place where we might have joy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Small Business Everyday

So, I haven't posted in quite a while, but something has me a little irritable today...and someone needs to say something. 
Recently, a local business announced that it was shutting it's doors-forever.  People are in an uproar.  I'm seeing all over social media sites that people are screaming to "save local businesses!" and "don't let the big box stores win!"  Normally, I join them in their cries.  I do.
But not this time.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love small businesses.  They are the reason that I have a job.  They are my customers and friends.  Some of them are even family to me...because I, too, work for a small, family owned business. I respect the work, sweat, love, money, tears and time they've put in to building that business.  I understand that every dollar means something.  I understand that every employee is special to them.  I understand that sometimes, they don't take a paycheck in order to cover expenses.  I understand how small businesses work.
Now, with that being said- a week before a business closes is NOT the time to try to save the business.  It's just not.
One woman commented on the article about the business saying that she had "gone there when (she) was a kid, how dare they close it!"
May I just point something out?
She WENT there.  When she was a KID.  So, like, what?  20 years ago?  Probably.
Someone else commented that our community needs to support more small business....and then promptly went and bought things from Amazon.  Yes.  You go, citizen.  You show the big box businesses how you support local business....oh wait.  You don't.
Now, here's some advice.
If you REALLY want to save small, local, family owned need to support them all the time.  Not just when they're having a sale or when they're trying desperately to keep their doors open or they're liquidating everything in the store to be able to leave with some semblance of a profit.  You need to support them on Mondays when you need milk or on Thursdays before your mom's birthday or on Saturday when you're going to lunch with your husband.  Support them the week before Thanksgiving so that they can actually make a profit on the things they sell you.  Support them.  All the time.  Give them your business, your recommendation and your money.  Stop getting your groceries at WalMart.  Stop buying crap online.  Get your sheet music from your LOCAL music store. Stop shopping at Guitar Center.  Use your local hardware store.  STOP using Amazon.  You may not know this, but places like Amazon and Guitar Center don't follow the rules that other businesses are expected to comply with.  That's why things are cheaper there.  Another reason to shop local?  Chances are, if you shop locally, you'll get an expert with your purchase.  They wouldn't be in that business if they didn't love it.  They know what they're selling you because they use it.  They believe in it.  That's what the extra money pays for.  It pays for expertise.  For example, the guys at Guitar Center can't restring your guitar.  They can't tell you why one type of wood is more resonant than another.  They can't fix the bridge.  For the most part, the local guy CAN do all of those things.
Support that guy.  The one who loves his job and his products.  The one who is fighting the big guys. Your screaming all over Facebook and Twitter about saving small business does NOTHING if you don't spend your money.  NOTHING.

Support them all the time. Not just when they're closing they're doors.

That, my friends, is how small businesses are saved.