BigKath: Just in case you were wondering, "bigkath" is made up of the first part of my last and first names and has nothing to do with my size. :o)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't judge. We all have "tumors."

If you have never had a pet that you loved and cared for, stop reading now...You won't understand this.

My sweet little Raya died on December 11th, 2013. 

I only had her for a short 8 months. She was 8 years old and should have lived until she was at least 12.

Loosing a pet really is like loosing a family member. It felt like loosing a sibling.

It happened so quickly. That morning I heard her usual whine as I was getting ready. Only this morning, it was more of whimper. I went to get her and she was sprawled out outside of her bed. She was cold.  Something was wrong. I was worried, upset, and crying. It was 6 a.m. and I had to get to work. I was still new to pet ownership and didn't know what I should do. I woke up my brother, Joseph. He said he would take care of her. I thought I would take her in to the vet when I got home.

I went to work, worried. Joseph decided that she needed to get to the vet that morning. He couldn't get her warm. They did x-rays. She had a large lump in her abdomen. Joseph called me at work. I knew as soon as I answered his call that Raya was dying. Joseph couldn't even speak, he was so emotional. In tears, I left everything at work and went straight to the vet to say goodbye to my little friend and soul mate.

When I got there Joseph had her in his arms. He was in tears (Joseph has always has a sweet heart when is comes to animals). I was in tears. He said "She's kind of already gone." Raya wasn't responding to voices or to her name and she was twitching.

She was cold... so cold. It broke my heart. Nothing I could do would make her warm again. I hate being cold and so did she. Raya loved snuggling in blankets. We were perfect snuggles buddies because I love blankets too. I remembered that we were going to get her a heated bed to keep her warm for Christmas just a few weeks away. She would have loved that.

As I held her little body, I kissed her cold head and told her that I was sorry I couldn't fix her and that I loved her.  It was so painful to see her suffering. She was twitching and in a lot of pain. It was time to let her go. The vet came in. She said, "It goes pretty quickly." The vet gave her the shot. She jolted a few times. But within 30 seconds, Raya was gone. She was still and at peace.

The vet was very kind and carefully put Raya into a box. In tears, Joseph and I took her home to my parents house to bury her. My dad and brother dug a hole under the snow and my dad said a sweet prayer and we buried Raya with her little bell so that she will jingle in heaven.

I learned a lot from Raya. I opened my heart and learned to love something I didn't think I could love.  Her unconditional love kept my heart soft. Her excited squeals every time I came home melted my heart each day. It was so nice to come home to someone who was excited to see me and loved me no matter what. She was a brave little thing. Despite her tiny size, she had no problem chasing a dog 3 times her size half way down the block, or running over and barking at the creepy man walking by the house. She wasn't afraid. She conquered her fears. She was also extremely entertaining. Watching her try to eat a spaghetti noodle hanging from above was one of the funniest things I've even seen. She was also learning to sit and lay down (you CAN teach an old dog new tricks) but she wouldn't sit unless she was on carpet. :)

We liked to collect tennis balls on our walks in the park
(She was a little camera shy)
I was never a pet person before. I could never understand why people would want a stinky fur ball who leaves messes around your house or yard. Now I understand... It's because of LOVE. These sweet animals are so full of love. They fill the emptiness in our hearts. They give us a chance to practice serving and loving them.  Just a year ago I never would have understood what it is like for someone to loose a pet.  I would have thought..."oh that's sad your dog car died once." I knew loosing a pet was sad and frustrating. But I had no idea how emotionally attached you become to these cute little fur balls. I can now empathize better when other people experience death of a loved one -- animal or human.

Hindsight, I had been having problems with Raya the last several months of her life. She started leaving messes around the house and was barking more at night. She never did that before. I was frustrated with her and trying to discipline her. But now I know that she wasn't trying to be defiant. She was just sick and didn't know how to tell me.

I wish I had known she was sick. It wouldn't have prevented her from dying, but I would have treated her so much differently. I would have been more patient with her and would have kept her warm and more comfortable. I would have let her sleep in my room. She just wanted to be with me at night and didn't want to be alone. But I didn't let her.

I have learned not to judge. We don't always know what a person (or animal) is going through. Maybe they have a big tumor inside. It could be a physical ailment, or maybe an emotional or spiritual "tumor." We might be frustrated about people's actions, but if we understood what they were experiencing and the "pain" they were in, we would have compassion for them. Shouldn't we treat all people with compassion and understanding? We all have "tumors." We all have weaknesses and things we are trying to change and improve about ourselves. Let us all be a little more loving and understanding and give people the benefit of the doubt.

I miss my little Raya every day. I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with her and the things she taught me. Raya better be there in heaven to greet me with her happy squeals!

Friday, September 13, 2013

What's your love language?

Words of Affirmation
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Receiving Gifts
Act of Service

Wanna find out? Take this short quiz to find out:

Understanding my love languages helps me understand why I do the things I do. It also helps me understand other people and the reasons behind their behaviors and actions.

My main love language has always been Words of Affirmation. It is explained as follows: Actions don't always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, "I love you," are important--hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.

My second love language, which I have more recently discovered is Physical TouchHugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to you.

Since I was a baby, I've had a blue blanket (some of you have seen it). I didn't realize that I was trying to fulfill my "Physical Touch" needs with my blue blanket. Wrapping up in it made be feel safe and secure. I also played with the fuzzies with my fingers. I still have my blue blanket to this day. For now my blue blanket and my dog, Raya are my only consistent sources of physical touch. :) 

Something we need to remember is that we all like and need ALL the love language types. But if we aren't receiving our primary love language, then the other languages won't matter and we won't feel "loved." 

Quality time also means a lot to me: undivided attention from someone I love. Heartfelt gifts mean a lot to me as well. I am touched by the thoughtfulness and effort behind gifts: that they were thinking of me apart from when we are together. Acts of Service is also a big one for me. 

I've noticed that the way I GIVE love is sometimes very different from the way I need to RECEIVE love. I give a lot of Acts of Service. I don't know why, but it is just what I do. I want more than anything to help people and make them happy and make their lives better. So I do whatever I can to serve them. I also give a lot of Words of Affirmation. I'm always trying to be supportive and loving with uplifting and encouraging words. I love writing notes (and receiving notes) that are uplifting and positive. I love giving meaningful gifts that have a lot of thought and effort behind them. I love spending quality time with the people I love. Not just time, but QUALITY time. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's not about the nail

Watch this...then read my thoughts...

I have a nail in my head. The nail represents the "problems" in my life: sins, imperfections, challenges, trials, etc. When I look in the mirror, it is hard for me to see anything but the nail. I know there is a nail in my head. I know the nail is causing me pain and suffering. I probably even know what the nail is and have considered several ways to remove the nail. 

What I need is for someone to listen and validate ME: the real me. The me without the nail. The me that I have a hard time seeing because I'm blinded by the nail (my flaws and imperfections). I am also open to hearing your suggestions on how to remove the nail, but only AFTER I have been validated. Because if I'm simply told "well, you need to do this and this and this to get that nail out of your head" then what you're really telling me is to get rid of the only part of myself that I can see at the moment. And that is pretty overwhelming.

I love this video. It is so humorous and yet so true. Understanding this concept helps me in my relationships with others. I want to do my best to be supportive and validating to the people I love. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stuck under a glass ceiling

It is interesting how my married friends and family forget that I'm just as old or older than they are. I often hear the words, "I didn't realize you were that old..." Just because they have a husband and maybe a few kids, they feel "older" and more experienced and forget that I have as many or more years of experience in life as they do. I feel them looking down on me, treating me as a "young, naive, and inexperienced" girl who is too clueless to have anything worthwhile to offer them. They talk down to me as if I don't understand. I hate that feeling.

Being single in Happy Valley, Utah at age 29 is like being stuck under a glass ceiling. I can see my married friends and loved ones continue their upward progression as they begin their eternal families and raise them in righteousness. I see their happiness and their hard times leading them up this eternal progression. Their lives are not perfect, but they are accomplishing God's plan, fulfilling His commandments, and learning and progressing as they overcome difficulties.

But I remain below the glass ceiling. As a single woman, it is as if I can only progress to a certain point emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is hard to look up and see everyone above me, looking down on me as if to say: "Why aren't you up here with us? Maybe you just need more faith. Maybe you're too picky. Maybe you'll come up here in the next life...but it will happen, don't worry. Be happy down there!" Yeah, right! Easy for you to say! You're not down here anymore! They forget so fast what is it like to be single. Sometimes they try to be comforting and say, "It is really hard up here. Marriage is harder than you think. You have no idea. Just enjoy it while you're down there." Oh thanks...I feel SO sorry for you and I feel SO much better down here in your shadows and eating your dust...

I know I shouldn't compare myself to others. But it is hard when we have drilled in our heads since we were 12 years old in Young Women that eternal marriage and family is the most important thing we accomplish in this life, that we should prepare for motherhood, develop homemaking skills, be a good wife, and if we keep the commandments, we will find a righteous husband, get married in the temple, and live happily ever after! Well, they taught me well because that's all I ever wanted. Nothing more. (I WILL change this false "happily ever after" way of thinking when I'm a Young Women leader. This is not a healthy way of teaching the young women).
Well, it hasn't happened the way they drilled me in Young Women classes. Now I feel like a failure. I feel stuck, restricted, lost, helpless, and hopeless.

I need to learn how to be happy now, underneath the glass ceiling, or I'll never be happy in marriage. I need to figure out how to be satisfied with what I'm doing with my life now. Maybe I'll find a best friend and receive the marriage ordinance in this life. Maybe I won't. But I need to be happy with my life now (and I've got a huge problem.  I hate my career...with a passion. I can't even comprehend doing it for the rest of my life. But that's for another conversation). I need to find the things that make me happy and do them. One of the things that makes me most happy is serving others. By serving others and finding other things that bring joy into my life, I will conquer the glass ceiling eventually!  Christ will help me if I trust Him and persevere.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ay! Chihuahua!

Meet Raya! She even smiled for the camera!
I've conquered another "first" (not exactly a fear, but it was definitely a big change for me)! I am the proud mama of a 7 year old Chihuahua! Can you believe it? Don't worry, I still can't believe it either. I have never been a pet person. I never understood why people would want a stinky fur ball on four legs walking around their house or yard making messes. Now I understand why!

My little Raya (which is Hebrew for "friend"), literally squeals and howls when I come home. It melts my heart to have someone excited to see me. She loves to snuggle with me (as long as she's under a blanket). She is very quiet (except when someone knocks at the door). She is a sensitive little soul with a tender heart. She is forgiving and loves unconditionally.

I give thanks to my loving friend Heather for talking me into getting a pet (and finding this dog who needed a new home) so that I would have something to take care of and love after she left. And thanks to Raya, for keeping my heart soft.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Always a bridesmaid . . .

I married off another best friend yesterday.  It get's harder each time.  I used to shed a few tears on the wedding day.  This time I bawled for weeks before the wedding, dreading being abandoned once again.  The tears just keep coming and will continue for a while.  My little heart can't handle making such a good friend and then loosing her to marriage.  I'm so happy for Heather, I really am.  But sad for me.  I'm alone again and I hate being alone.  It was so nice to have companionship.  I love Heather a lot and miss her terribly already.  She has been such a wonderful and loving friend.  I'm so grateful for the short few months we had to live together.  I learned a lot from her.  I only hope I was a loving friend to her and an influence for good. I'm happy for Heather and Adriaan as they begin their eternal family together.  I'm so glad they chose to be sealed in the temple and are righteous and worthy of eternal blessings.

I know it isn't the end.  But let's be honest, it is the beginning of the end.  At least, that is how it has always been. I still talk to my married friends periodically, get a Christmas card from them, and perhaps see them every once in a while.  But things are never the same. They are married now and I'm not.  Their priority is their husband and family. They are in a new dimension of life, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It is something I haven't experienced and don't understand.  Even though I am older than almost all of my married friends, I feel so much younger.  Being married makes them feel so much more mature than me.  I feel young, naive, clueless, and like we just don't relate anymore. I'm just the single "little sister" who doesn't understand and hasn't "grown up" yet.

I need a permanent friend and companion who won't abandon me.  I need an eternal companion. But I guess Heavenly Father has other plans for me right now and it's up to me to figure out what those plans are.

Looking back . . . 

Here are some of my best friends' weddings over the years. Good times! (There are a few missing that I still don't have pictures of.)  "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" . . .  Funny thing is, I've never really officially been a bridesmaid, except at my friend Linda's wedding in Colombia.

To my married best friends: 

I love you.  I will love you forever.  I haven't forgotten you and never will.  You are always in my heart.  You are a part of who I am. You are tender mercies in my life. Thank you for your love and friendship. Thank you for your examples of righteousness, obedience, eternal marriage, and raising a family with Jesus Christ at the center of your home. Hugs!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

More fears conquered

A little too much fun!
Why didn't anyone tell me how
awful my hair looked?
I completed another "first"!  I shot a gun! And according to my friend, I was pretty decent at it for a first timer, so watch out!  I had never touched a gun before in my life and I was nervous.  But my best friend, Heather, helped walk me through it and was right there to help. I think I hit the targets I was shooting at about half the time.  And most of my misses were because I started trying to double tap (shoot twice in a row).  Cool!  I secretly really enjoyed shooting!  :)

Thanks, Heather, for helping me conquer fears!
We went on a campout getaway in October and let's just say it was . . . memorable. Yes, it snowed.  I think the pictures tell the story quite nicely.  I really did have a great time though!

Doesn't this look like so much fun???
Not a waterproof tent . . . obviously

Cheese Wiz fun!
We stayed pretty warm in our snow covered tent
Heather and her Fiance, Adriaan. This photo is not photoshopped. The water really was that green!

I'm also working on another great fear of mine . . . SWIMMING! I haven't been able to swim. I'm skinny and I don't float. And various experiences throughout my life have led me dislike the water more and more.  So, Heather took me to the pool and patiently worked with me to get more comfortable in the water.  We realized my problem is that I don't know how to breathe! The concept of breathing out through the nose while under water and in through the mouth is completely backwards to me. No wonder! My underwater reflexes need some work. We "swam" for a good 2 hours. I only aspirated once and came up gasping and making terrible noises (it's kinda scary and really embarrassing).  I did a lot of practicing blowing bubbles. Back to the basics! It's going to take a while to conquer swimming.  But I'm working on it!

Graduated and on to "real life"

An update is long overdue!  The first big news is that I graduated from BYU with my Master's in Speech-Language Pathology. It was a long and hard two years and there were many barriers trying to keep me from graduating. But I did it!

A special thanks to "Trooper", my computer who was my constant companion and got me through grad school.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without him.  We even fell down the stairs together and he still has a big scar on his corner to this day.  He has gotten old and is retired now from his duties.  I only fire him up every once in a while.  He gets tired really fast and wants to turn back off (without warning me of course . . . hum... sounds like my patients).

Another thanks to "Backpack" who has been with me since my freshman year of college.  He endured 10 years of lugging heavy textbooks, laptops, and who knows what else.  And thanks to "Sebastian," my faithful car, who got me to classes, internships, the grocery store, and anywhere else I needed to go.

And most of all, thanks you to my wonderful family and friends (yes YOU!) who have given constant support and encouragement.  I would not be who I am today without you.

I am working as a speech therapist at a Rehabilitation and Nursing home.  It has been challenging and I am learning a lot. I am now a professional working woman, something I never wanted to be, but I'm interested to find out what Heavenly Father has in store for me and why He needed me to be a speech therapist. I know there is a reason for all things.