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Blog Segullah has been fortunate to have some excellent posts by Guest Authors.

Guest Post: Using Time


Tiffany Winn Rueckert grew up in the central valley of California but fell in love with an East Coaster. She taught sixth grade for five years in Utah after graduating from Brigham Young University. Tiffany now peddles petals from the local flower farm during season while raising and homeschooling three boys in the woods of Maryland.

A few months ago my husband, David, left for Singapore on a business trip and five minutes later a snow storm hit. Perfect. The impending chaos of a week of wrangling three young boys while knee deep in two feet of domestic mess inside – and two feet of Mid-Atlantic mess  outside – had me cowering.  Like magic, the boys were invited to a neighbor’s house to play for a few hours and I found myself alone in a quiet house. I thought it was the perfect time to clean and catch up on chores, maybe shovel the walk. The perfect time, that is, until I sat on the couch mesmerized by the falling snow. And then noticed the starving winter birds. And those bully starlings who had monopolized the neighbors’ birdhouses.  I could see the songbirds hopping around the periphery, trying their luck at nabbing up what spillage they could through the snow.  Aware of their plight, I filled a bowl full of seed outside my front window and came in and sat down.  I watched as the songbirds accepted my offering and came, their happy melodies inviting one after another after another until my front porch was filled with a feathery feast.

After a good twenty minutes guilt was setting in — I was wasting time. But the cardinals! I had noticed them in the brush but they hadn’t found the seed and were too shy to wander over. I dismissed the guilt and nagging and told myself I would sit right there, watch the snow fall, and wait for a cardinal to be brave enough to wander out of the brush. Birds in and out of the dish for well over an hour until finally–a cardinal. I dare say I was as pleased with this quiet accomplishment as I would have been with a cleaner house. Continue reading Guest Post: Using Time

Surprise: Body Trials

118HI’ve spent many years struggling with depression and anxiety tied to the ups and downs of my cyclical hormone levels. (The doctors think I’m allergic to myself—how lucky is that?) Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I feel like I am so deep in the darkness I’ll never find my way out. It’s gotten more predictable in the last few years because I know what I’m looking for, both on the calendar and in my body, but maybe its denial; I’m still frequently surprised when I find myself yet again, in that hole.

I am not a person, who, if asked, would say I am opposed to surprises. I even like them most of the time. In general, I prefer a somewhat unpredictable life, filled with freedom and chances and unknown possibilities waiting to pop up and be embraced. I am relatively adept at curve balls. I wonder as I write this if I would say that before the last ten years of trial had taught me how little power I have over what happens in the universe. Continue reading Surprise: Body Trials

Riches That Unite Us

1clbp946kfzfr Kristin Goodwin is a mother of four on the East Coast. Among other things, she thrives on reading, cooking interesting meals, spending time in the outdoors, and playing her flute. She’s learning to accept her messy house and chaotic life with a sense of gratitude rather than resentment, as she realizes that it reflects what she treasures most after all. 

A long time ago, when I had just two little ones, a picnic-table conversation with friends veered to the question, What clues signal to you that someone has plenty of money? Everyone laughed at my response, which was curtains and zip-top baggies; but having been long-time poor students, my husband and I almost never used anything but fold-tops or even repurposed bread bags. Seeing a mom sit down with a whole bunch of food items in their own zippered pouches made me assume they must be dang well-off.

For some reason I’ve hung onto that mentality of scarcity a long while. Items that friends take for granted still feel like huge splurges for us, as we remain resistant to consumerism large and small. I must admit that deep down, I presume that a person who expends effort to be trendy in some way must not be thinking clearly about their values; they must be caught in a trap of fleeting, unimportant things that get in the way of the ‘real stuff’. I even initially discount someone if they seem too stylish or popular. Continue reading Riches That Unite Us

Guest Post: A Flash of the Celestial

Le Soleil, Van Gogh
Le Soleil, Van Gogh

Today’s piece is from Sherilyn Olsen. Presenter, adoption advocate, and author, Sherilyn, resides in South Ogden, Utah with her quiet husband and four wonderfully noisy children. She appreciates stories in all forms, and is especially interested in how art reflects culture. 

Bulging and securely tied garbage bag in hand, I hurried from the noisy gym into the boxy church kitchen. Feeling some relief from the near-ending party and focused on the dumpster destination, an unexpected, rushing sensation stopped me right in the middle of the tile floor. I stood fixed, gripping the trash, while my whole being brimmed with unrestrained joy. Almost stunned, I scanned my surroundings for a reason for this sudden burst.

From just several feet away, I observed the backs of my husband and his brother, who quietly chatted, while tackling the sauce-stained Crock Pots and dishes that filled the industrial-sized, stainless steel sinks. From behind me, echoed sounds of a basketball bouncing, shoes squeaking on the waxed floor, as children and grown ups played, laughing and shouting. Through the service area opening in the kitchen, I watched my brand new adult daughter smiling and talking with a group of her closest friends. We had gathered to celebrate her eighteenth birthday—all four of her families (two parents, and two step-parents, with extended families) and a few friends in the same cheerful room. She hadn’t wanted a party in years, and I aimed to make this meaningful for her. As I recognized her happiness in that motionless instant, pure love seemed to course through my veins. Continue reading Guest Post: A Flash of the Celestial

Guest Post: Marilyn, Katharine & Me

1uvc289cw6t6eStephanie Farr has lived in Utah, Michigan, California, Idaho, Nevada and Ecuador. She currently lives with her family in the shadow of a mountain side temple. Her childhood was defined by repeated readings of “Harriet the Spy” and dreams of becoming Sherlock Holmes. However these days, the only mystery she ever encounters is why dirty socks disappear in the laundry one week and reappear the next.

In the musical Wicked, good-hearted but overbearing Galinda decides it’s time to give hopelessly unpopular green skinned Elphaba a makeover. Convinced her hand will change Elphaba’s life, she tells her:

You’re gonna be popular!

I’ll teach you the proper poise,
When you talk to boys,
Little ways to flirt and flounce,

I’ll show you what shoes to wear!

How to fix your hair!
Everything that really counts to be… Popular!

Looking back at my dating years, I realize if anyone needed a Galinda in their life, it was probably me. Flirt and flounce? What does that even mean?

The topic of flirting has come up lately in various conversations. I’ll admit I bristled a little when it was suggested to my daughter’s Laurel class that they need to flirt more with the Priests. Then a friend mentioned that her brother had advised her teenage daughters to flirt more if they want dates. Finally, a dear friend, divorced and recently entering the dating world again, was told by a man she had dated for several weeks, “I can’t really tell if you like me, you don’t flirt enough.”

These three scenarios leave me feeling frustrated. I don’t consider myself a hard core feminist, but somehow I have had ingrained in me that flirting is demeaning to females. Clearly, flirting was never one of my strengths.

I suppose I associate flirting with a Marilyn Monroe type girl; a girl who flirts using Marilyn’s signature breathy voice and a wide-eyed look of bewilderment whenever a man is around. Marilyn is reported to have had an IQ in the 160’s, higher than Albert Einstein, but she was generally typecast as a dumb blond. I am fairly confident that when people think of Marilyn, “valedictorian” is not what comes to mind.

I much prefer Katharine Hepburn and her smart, witty persona. In real life, Katharine was known to speak her mind and was often considered stubborn and difficult to work with. Yet on the big screen, even while playing a wide variety of parts, she always managed to get the guy without portraying herself as a complete bimbo.

Confident in my flirting assessment, I brought the topic up while eating lunch with my husband. I felt sure he would agree with my opinion.

“What do you think about flirting?” I asked, completely out of the blue.

Caught slightly off guard with his sandwich halfway to his mouth he replied, “What do you mean?”

I briefed him on the Laurel class, the advice-giving uncle and my dating friend. Brought up to speed, he replied, “I think it’s important.”

Wait, what? Important?

Now it was my turn to ask for clarity, “Important? Don’t you think it’s demeaning?”

“No, I think it’s nice. A guy likes to know if a girl is interested.”

“But it’s so gross to act like Marilyn Monroe. It’s insulting.”

He then explained that you don’t always have to act like Marilyn Monroe to flirt. In his opinion, friendly smiles and genuine interest could be considered flirting. “Men appreciate the actions that show you’re interested,” he said. To be honest, I had trouble wrapping my mind around this concept. But if it is true, I guess I did know how to flirt back in my dating years, I just didn’t realize it.

I appreciate his male perspective. Despite having a husband and four sons, I don’t claim to have any understanding of the male side of life. I am often amused and bewildered by their actions. So the fact that my husband thinks flirting is good and I’ve thought you have to lose a few brain cells to do it properly, is not a big surprise.

It does seem however, that some men prefer the overt Marilyn approach to flirting. My dating friend was caught totally off-guard by her date’s conclusion. She felt she had been friendly, interested and encouraging. But she is a Katharine and he apparently needed a Marilyn.

My daughters are six and seventeen. One is clearly a Katharine and the other, probably a Marilyn. I hope I can help them understand that flirting is ok, even important. I want to teach them to use their natural strengths, but if necessary, the middle ground of a softened Katharine and a confident Marilyn can help forge relationships too.

By the end of Wicked, Elphaba (a Katharine) discovers she doesn’t need to flirt and flounce to get the guy. She finds love by being herself, green skin and all.

If you are a Katharine or a Marilyn, do you ever wish you were the other?

Continue reading Guest Post: Marilyn, Katharine & Me