Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I found Christmas in a busy restaurant |

I found Christmas in a busy restaurant

By Katie Lee | Posted - Dec 25th, 2013 @ 6:58pm

SALT LAKE CITY — It seems like this Christmas has come quicker than most and is about to end the same way. I have been feeling badly that I haven't done much to enjoy the holiday.
It really hasn't felt much like Christmas at all — until last Wednesday night.
I work as a waitress part time. Wednesday was very busy night and I was scrambling to keep up with the demands of a full restaurant. A couple in their early 30s came in and was shown to a back corner booth. As I approached the couple they told me a little story about themselves.
Years ago they struggled financially. However, they were celebrating a special occasion and they had decided to go out for dinner. At the conclusion of dinner, the waitress informed them that someone had paid for their dinner.
"It was Christmas at the time," the couple told me. "Because of that experience we do the very same thing every year at Christmas time for someone else, anonymously."
I was, of course, on board with the idea. I told them to let me know when they had chosen the table and I would make sure I got them that patron's bill.
When I came back a little while later, the couple pointed out a cute young family with twin boys. They informed me that was who they had chosen. I smiled. The interesting thing about this family was that the boys had been a little rambunctious and some people were complaining. My manager even debated asking them to leave. I asked him not to and to please give me a minute to get their food out to them. I knew once the children had their food they would probably be fine.
I was thrilled when the couple in the back chose this particular family. I thought it ironic and wonderful that instead of being kicked out and feeling angry and terrible, this couple would go home with a wonderful feeling of Christmas.
Later, I went up to the family with the twin boys and explained that someone had paid for their meal. I also told them the couple's story without divulging who they were. The wife got very emotional and both she and her husband were shocked and touched. So much so, that they decided they would pay it forward.
I left and when I came back they told me that they had picked a random couple in the restaurant — a restaurant that was full — to pay it forward and pay for their meal.
I smiled as they sneakily pointed the table out to me. It was my table in the corner. The family had no idea and I didn't tell them that they had chosen the very couple that had paid for their meal. The family thanked me and left with huge grins on their faces.
When I returned to my corner booth I told them what had happened. They were shocked and then emotional at what had occurred. I too was emotional, but not shocked.
That's just how Christmas goes. It has a way of finding its way in, sometimes at the last minute. I'm grateful it found me that night.
Merry Christmas everybody.

Kate Lee is a Utah native and mother of three. You can read more of her writing at Contact her at

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thank you

I have to say I am completely shocked at how many people have read my "I didn't Marry My Soulmate" on KSL. This is mostly due to the fact that while in my Journalism class at Utah State years ago, I was picked weekly as the "what not to do" example. The best part was that the teacher never even bothered covering my name when he passed around my papers. Finally on the last class of the semester I was picked for having written the best article. . . my Dad wrote it. 

 It was very different for me to write a serious article as most of what I write is the opposite of serious. So if you need a good laugh now, then I hope you will give my book "A Half Fast Memoir" a try.

To all of you who have left such kind comments, words of wisdom and shared your personal stories, Thank you.


The following is one of the stories from my book.

Is It Your Birthday Again?

With twelve of us in the family, birthdays came quite frequently. In fact, I think it was about once a year for each of us. For someone who enjoys shopping, buying birthday gifts may not seem like a daunting task, but for someone that loathes shopping it’s just that. Anytime we mention shopping to Mom we always get the same response, “Eww yuck! I hate shopping.”
Something that helped ease Mom’s dread of shopping was the dawning of the Internet. Years ago, our home phone and Internet shared the same line. When Mom discovered online shopping, the phone lost its share. So unless we were lucky enough to reach her during a potty break we were left to our own devices. This was especially awesome when one of us was stranded somewhere waiting for a ride. Mom spent hours on the Internet looking for bargains. She signed up for every “free” deal that came her way and she got what she paid for.
To put it nicely, we received some pretty unusual birthday presents, many of which were some of her Internet finds. These included Mary Kay samples, clothes that were three sizes too small, free trinkets or gadgets that we didn’t want and wouldn’t use and anything else that came as part of a free trial offer.
My nephew, Taylor, was given a “Captain Morgan” t-shirt from Mom for his sixteenth birthday. She got it on sale at a thrift store. Mom didn’t know Captain Morgan is an alcoholic drink. What she did know was that at one dollar, the price was right. That was bad for sure, but the most ridiculous part was that the shirt didn’t even match the fluorescent orange booty shorts that I gave him.
If Mom didn’t find gifts on the Internet, then she’d rummage through the cupboards or bookshelves trying to find something to re-gift. I’m sure my oldest brother, Bob, loved receiving prenatal vitamins for his 40th birthday.
And it still warms my heart to remember Angela’s face when she was re-gifted a book that she had given Mom years before. It had been signed to Mom by the author.
One birthday, Mom and Dad surprised me and visited my apartment while I was away at school. They brought dinner for my roommates and me. After we ate, it was time for me to open my present. This year’s gem and Internet freebie was a CD ROM cleaner. It was a cheap, little plastic box with a circular piece of foam the size of a CD inside, finished off with a little hand crank. It included a small spray bottle of cleaner. The idea was to spray the CD, place it in the box on top of the foam and crank the handle. I didn’t own a computer let alone any software CDs. At least I think that’s what a ROM is. After trying to wrap my brain around this enigma I had received, I heard Mom say that the only condition of my gift was that she and Dad be able to borrow it. It made sense to me that there would be a “condition” placed on such a valuable item and even more sense that she and Dad would want to borrow it. I think the greatest gift I really received that day was the gift of becoming a little more humble. I knew myself all too well. If I hadn’t agreed to let them borrow this high-end electronic mechanism, surely I would have become materialistic and worldly and they covetous.
The CD Rom cleaner was obviously priceless, but nothing beat the year I turned 15. Mom made my favorite lemon Jell-O cake for my birthday. Only she didn’t have a lemon Jell-O packet—a crucial ingredient in a “lemon” Jell-O cake. In true Mom fashion she went in search for a substitution and something she already had. Mom opened the cupboard and spotted a box of cherry Jell-O. She ignored the “cherry” part and was just glad that she had found some Jell-O to use.
Since I had learned my colors some years previously, Mom must have figured out that I might notice that something was amiss on account of the cake being red instead of yellow. A distraction became necessary.
Birthday candles would do the trick. Naturally, we didn’t have any. Unnaturally, Mom decided to use our emergency preparedness candles.
Going once again to the cupboard, Mom found the aged brown paper sack that housed our wide array of emergency preparedness candles. There were tea lights and aromatherapy candles, votive and two long-skinny candles suitable for a romantic dinner. Some were golden and ornate and one was simply a solitary Christmas countdown candle. It had previously been used and was melted down to day “12”. The colors of the candles varied and all of them had already been used many times in the different blackouts we had had over the years.
Laying the candles on the table, Mom set to work “decorating” my cake. The final result was a peaceful smelling, Christmas colored, romantically inclined cake that had huge craters in it where the candles had been crammed.
Surrounding the craters were seas of multi-colored wax. One candle stood out even more than the rest. The 18 inch spiral, puke green colored candle had long ago broken in half and now looked like a pair of nun-chucks, with the wick holding the two sides together. Mom had planted each end of the candle at opposite ends of the cake, the wick between them creating a magnificent arch. My eyes wandered from this Salvador Dali scene she had made to the lone Christmas candle in one corner. At first glance I had thought the Christmas candle to be completely out of place, but when I saw how the puke green arch dripped onto the blood red cake, I thought, “I get that.”
When the time for opening presents arrived, I could hardly contain my excitement. There inside the beautiful layers of grocery sack wrapping paper held together with a single piece of scotch tape lay a new outfit. Although, who these clothes were purchased for I did not know. It seemed difficult to believe that they were purchased for me. I tried on the shirt first. It exposed a good portion of my midriff. I then tried on the pants. The pants didn’t get past my knees. As I modeled this outfit for my family, everyone, including me thought it was hilarious. Well almost everyone. Mom began to cry, until Dad pointed at the cake and said, “Seriously Connie. Look at that monstrosity. You aren’t the one that should be crying right now.” This time we all laughed.
I recently commented on this story to Dad. I asked him why in the world we didn’t take a picture of that cake.
He laughed and replied, “Because it wasn’t unusual.”

 Click here if you're interested in purchasing A Half Fast Memoir.
And if you like it, please pass it along. I would so appreciate it! Thanks!!


I Didn't Marry my Soulmate and comments.

I didn't marry my soul mate

By Katie Lee | Posted - Dec 9th, 2013 @ 9:39pm


SALT LAKE CITY — The night I met him, we stayed up all night just talking. We laughed so hard I was afraid I would wet my pants in front of him. He was 23 and I was 21. It was beyond natural being with this person who was in so many ways just like me, but different enough that I loved learning from him.
It was instant that connection.
The next time we were together I knew it wouldn’t be the last. Never did something seem so obvious to me than this: he was my soul mate.
When I left to serve an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I knew he’d be there when I returned. How could he not be? I had had too many experiences where it didn’t just feel right, it was obvious we were meant to be.
Plus, I was doing something for God. Of course, he would be there when I got home.
He wasn’t.
Two months before I returned, he got married and my heart broke.
Who would I marry? Was it possible to feel that strongly about someone again? Would I be settling for second place? Was that fair to whoever I did marry? Why would God do that to me after I had served him for those 18 months?
The opposite of my soul mate
When I returned home at my mission's end, I wasn’t looking for my husband and he wasn’t looking for me — but as it happens, we found each other anyway.
Unbeknownst to either of us, we were in the same high school graduating class. I remember seeing him around the halls and thinking he was good looking. I even wrote in his year book, but I never got to know him.
The first time Travis and I went out, he showed up in an ‘88 Mustang — a muscle car of all things. It fit perfectly with the tight shirt he was wearing. The shirt was stretched over bulging muscles that I was sure were his primary focus. His hair was spiked and he wore a Pukka shell necklace. We were both 23.
He picked me up at my parents' house. On my way out the door I turned, made eye contact with brother and rolled my eyes. This would never work out.

From then on, we were together. We never stayed up laughing all night. I never got butterflies when he kissed me or held my hand. He didn't sweep me off my feet, and he wasn't one to compliment me very much. But he was stalwart where it counted. ... We just made sense together.
Travis didn’t talk much, which was fine since I wouldn’t have been able to hear him over the roar of his car. We went to dinner. He didn’t make very many comments, except to tell me that he’d never had a girl finish her food before he did.
Yes, this was definitely not going anywhere. I excused myself to go to the restroom while he paid for dinner. When I came out he was gone. I went outside thinking he may be waiting for me out there. I noticed a homeless man asking people for money so he could eat. That’s when I saw Travis come outside.
He didn’t notice me and must have thought I was still in the restroom. I saw Travis had a bag of food he must have just purchased from the restaurant. He promptly walked up to the homeless man and gave it to him along with $20: “I thought you might be hungry," he said.
He never knew I saw.
On the way home, I made more of an effort. By the time he took me home, I knew I had judged this boy wrongly. It was me that had been lucky to go out with him, not the other way around.
From then on, we were together. We never stayed up laughing all night. I never got butterflies when he kissed me or held my hand. He didn’t sweep me off my feet, and he wasn’t one to compliment me very much. But he was stalwart where it counted. He was pure and simple good. He did what was right because it was simply that — right. We just made sense together.
It came time for us to either get married or part ways. I didn’t want another heartbreak or to waste my time on something if it wasn’t going anywhere. The only problem was, neither of us knew how to tell if it was right. Weren’t you supposed to feel butterflies? Or stay up laughing all night? Or have a booming voice from heaven, or get some kind of guarantee that he was your soul mate?
Neither of us got any of those things. All I knew was that I was completely comfortable with Travis, that he was a good human being, that he loved God and tried to do what was right. Somehow I had fallen in love with this man who was the opposite of my soul mate.
The best advice: It doesn't matter
Sometime after that, I received what could possibly be the best piece of advice I have ever been given. I asked a wise older man at church, how to know if Travis and I were right for each other? He laughed.
“You’re both very good people, with a strong belief in God," he said. "It’s your choice who you end up with and what kind of marriage you have.”
It was so simple, but nothing had ever been so clear to me in that moment. Me and that other boy before my mission didn’t end up together not because God hadn’t wanted us to, not because there was someone better for me or him, or not because it wasn't right. I was gone and a great girl came along and he chose her. It was that simple and that was OK. My life wasn’t over; my chance for true love was not gone.
In that moment I realized something: It doesn't matter whether or not we think we've found our soul mate. A soul mate is whoever we choose it to be.
Yes, in marriage there will be times when we want to throw in the towel. For Travis and I, there have been entire years where we have drifted apart and didn’t know how to get back. Financial struggles, job loss, death of family members and depression are just a few of the things that have tugged at us throughout our marriage. They’ve probably tugged at you, too.
When I got married, I, like you, didn't get a guarantee that our marriage would work out. Such guarantees don’t exist. What we did get, however, was a choice.
I get to choose to be the wife I want to be. I get to choose whether to become closer or whether to drift apart when times are hard. I get to choose to have the marriage I want with the man I choose to marry.
Lucky for me, the man I chose to marry turned out to be an awesome choice, though I didn't fully realize it nine years ago. It took some hard times for us to become much closer.
There will surely be more hard times for us and there will probably be more times of wanting to throw in the towel, but there will be many more wonderful times like the ones we’ve already been privileged to enjoy together.
The more I choose us the more I realize something: I didn’t marry my soul mate, but that doesn't matter. He has become it.

Authors note for myself added to the blog before printing:
This article was viewed over half a million times and reposted by Dr. Laura Schlesinger as well as Matt Townsend.  It got so many positive and negative comments that KSL shut down the comment section after they passed 100 comments. It shocked me when it went viral.  I had had the thought to write this story down when I was out running one day and did, not thinking too much of it. Little did I know it would have this response.  I got letters from people all over the world asking my advice and thanking me for my honesty. Some of the people that wrote to me were religious leaders from other religions, people who were contemplating divorce, but after reading what I had said were thinking that maybe they ought to give it another chance. I had both middle-aged and young people write me. People stuck up for me when some of the comments were negative and attacked the kind of wife I was. It ended up being a scary/vulnerable experience that I am so glad I got to be a part of. It taught me that raw and real writing can be very powerful for us and others. It gave a voice to so many's fears that maybe they hadn't married the right person and helped us understand that feeling that likely comes to all of us at some point in each of our marriages.  Travis was my biggest supporter of the article and still is my greatest support. He is amazing.  Truly I did marry the greatest guy for me and yes, even my soul mate. 

Comment response:

I have been reading all the comments that people have left both here on my blog and on KSL for my article, "I didn't marry my soulmate".

I just have to tell you all how touched I am at your kind words. My only regret with that article is that I didn't say that my husband also didn't marry his soul mate. Neither of us thought we did (of course we were still in love), but both of us are very aware after 9 years of marriage how incredibly lucky we are to have each other and that's what matters.

I do believe that there are soul mates out there. I also believe that we create our own happiness. Certainly all chances for love and happiness are not lost if the person you thought was meant for you, ended up choosing someone else. Certainly there will be another with whom you can be just as happy. The whole reason I wrote this article was because I have noticed a growing trend in crumbling marriages among my age group. A lot of which was a result from a "grass is greener" mentality. Sadly, most later realize that it isn't. I had heard one too many times from people, "I just didn't marry the right person". Why that may be true in a few cases, I think the majority of marriages can work and can result in happiness.

My husband and I both decided to marry someone that perhaps wasn't who we initially thought was who we would end up with. That isn't depressing or sad, in fact it is the opposite. It has brought us both peace of mind knowing that our marriage is whatever we make it. Neither of us want it to fail so we work toward it working forever. Because of that we are happy. Soul mates or not, at some point everyone is going to go through tough times that make them question their choice. Remembering why we chose that person in the first place and how lucky we are to have them quickly helps us realize just how fortunate we are. That's how I feel . . .fortunate, very very fortunate.