days you should just stay in bed. If you knew ahead of time what days
those were, you could
stay in bed. Unfortunately, you have no warning. Bad days just
The third Sunday last
October was one of those days for me. I had a lesson to teach in
Young Women, and a whole lot of stuff needed to be gathered up and
hauled to church. Then Fluffy and I slept in — not too much,
but just enough to put me on edge.
It was a downhill slide
As we were driving to
church, I realized I was wearing the same dress I had worn the week
before to church, but with a different scarf. Alas, although I
have never claimed to be a fashion diva, I do try to rotate the few
wearable outfits that I do own. I know from past experience
that most people in our congregation would never even pick up on such
things, although there are some who would notice, and who would
criticize me for it. The edge got sharper.
As I contemplated my
wardrobe, I went on to think that what was wearing to church was the
least of my problems. It is harder than anyone knows for me to walk
from our car into the chapel, and to walk from the chapel to the
Sunday School room, and from the Sunday School room to the Young
Women room, and then back to the car to go home. Taking a trip to the
restroom is out of the question, so at least the last hour I am in
moderate to severe discomfort.
Thinking of the walk from
the car to our pew, I went over the edge. I realized there was a knot
in my stomach the size of a bowling ball from the tension. I just
wanted to go home.
Once the self-pity train
had left the station, it was a nonstop express. Still thinking
of my wardrobe, I started brooding about the state of the clothes I
do have. I hadn’t been able to go to a dry cleaner for more
than three years. Dry cleaners are among the first things to go when
you lose a job. My clothes are clean but usually wrinkled, and
there’s nothing I can do about it. I don't have the
stamina to iron for myself, and if I got money, I’d use it to
pay bills instead of going to the dry cleaner.
That got me worrying
about how I was going to pay November’s bills, and that’s
when I started crying. I cried all through sacrament meeting, and I
only hoped people either didn’t notice my tears or thought I
was transported into some sort of religious ecstasy. It didn’t
help that the hymns and the talks focused on God answering prayers.
One talk focused on how
we had to get out of debt, and 1 Nephi 3:7 was quoted: “The
Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall
prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he
commandeth them.” That was rock bottom for me. At that
point, I had tried my hardest for more than three years to get a job,
without success. Meanwhile, the debt kept piling up.
Things picked up later.
My lesson went fairly well. I had Michelle Karren pass out exactly
one potato chip to each of the girls, and I made the connection that
it’s just as unsatisfying to be halfway committed to the Church
as it is to eat one potato chip. Michelle played it up as I knew she
would, and by and large the lesson was a success.
Once we got home I didn’t
have to worry about being late or what I was wearing or not being
able to go to the bathroom. Fluffy and I spent a lovely afternoon
together, and a nap restored my normally cheery mood.
got a real boost a few hours later by a note from Michelle. She
wrote, “Heading out to our car after church today Emma turned
to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, mom! Isn't Sister Kidd the best
teacher? She has good stories and potato chips and the Spirit all at
the same time!’ I had to laugh. That is you in a nutshell.”
That note made me feel
infinitely better. Life is good, if I just focus on the good things.
challenge, you know — focusing on the good things. One good
thought usually leads to another, and the result is a peaceful state
of mind. Happiness and gratitude are two of the results of thinking
We all have things in our
lives that aren’t good, though, and the moment we start
focusing on one of those things, the rest of them get in line and
demand attention. That particular Sunday, I set myself up for a
cascade of misery. That first negative thought started me on a
downhill tumble, and it didn’t take long until I was no good to
myself or to anyone around me.
challenge is to not dwell on that first negative thought. You notice
I didn’t say the challenge is to not
a negative thought. We all have them. We’re human. But if you
focus on that negative thought, you open a door. Just as I opened a
door that Sunday, all it takes is focusing on that first bad thought
to make yourself vulnerable to every other negative thought that is
lurking in the shadows.
None of my problems went
away. My clothes are still unstylish and wrinkled, I still have
trouble walking across a room, and bills are still due every month,
with bills for the month afterwards standing in line, waiting their
turn. But those aren’t the things I’m seeing. I choose
to focus on the good things in life, which far outweigh the bad ones.
By and large I have a terrific life, as do most of us. If I choose to
focus on the blessings rather than on the things that are not so
good, my life will be a lot happier in the long run.
Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than
most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the
possiblity that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at
A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham
Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight
because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she
wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She
was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.
Kathy married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five
years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A
Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.
A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy still moderates a weekly column
("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored
Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which
would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name
and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.
Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she writes a blog entry every
weekday. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically
allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.
Kathy teaches the Young Women in her ward. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.