Category Archives: Daily Special

Peculiar Treasures: Our New Weekly Review

Imagine you had a place, a room to collect all of your found treasures: interestingly shaped rocks, a exquisite bauble, a wee bug or leaf that demands closer examination of the exquisite life lodged in its compact structure; everything you’ve ever wanted to stuff in your pocket and take home to house. In the early modern era those who had space and ability to do so, did. A “room of wonder” was a space dedicated to holding things that you look at, and then can’t help but look again; a place for examination and fascination of things both ranging from bizarre to beautiful.

I visited a modern model of a room of wonder a few years ago at the Walters Museum in Baltimore. The room was jam packed, stuffed to the gills, and full to overflowing with enchanting and engrossing things: footlong butterflies from the other side of the world, cuneiform clay cone, and, I kid you not, I learned of similar rooms with botanical style sculpture made of preserved human organs. Wow. The room of wonders, a cabinet for curiosities was truly a place to put anything that incited the owners interest or at least gave them pause.

I wondered what a room of wonders of my own creation might look like, or what about a virtual one here at Segullah?  Continue reading

Confessions of a 42-Year-Old Freshman

91062-Andrea in Her RoomA few weeks ago, I stepped onto a college campus as a student for the first time since I finished my master’s degree 16 years ago.  I remembered the day my parents dropped me off at BYU as a freshman almost 25 years ago, and felt the same mixed feelings of excitement and terror.  This time, my first foray onto campus left me feeling simultaneously like a novice freshman and a seasoned adult.

Freshman me:  “Where are my classes?”  “How much am I going to have to pay for these books?”  “Do I REALLY need all these textbooks?”  “Oooh!  Cool pens!”

Adult me (seeing all the tables for campus clubs and organizations set up all over campus):  “Oh, I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about finding a social group or a boyfriend.”  “I wonder how my kids are doing at school today?”   “Did Z remember his homework?”

Freshman me:  “I am never going to learn this stuff.”  “Am I in the right class?  None of this makes sense to me.”  “Oh my…so much reading!”  “Wait, I minored in statistics…why does this all look like Greek?”

97004-Andrea's Graduation from BYU

Adult me:  “Why is everyone riding skateboards?”  “Is that what passes for hip clothing today?”  “My gosh, these kids look so young…”  “Do I look cool or just like a mom who is trying too hard?”

Freshman me:  “Am I going to make friends in any of my classes?”  “What if my teachers don’t like me?”  “Why hasn’t the TA graded that quiz yet?”

I walk into the class I’m teaching as part of my doctoral program, and all my anxiety and self-doubt melted away.  I was funny!  I was self-confident!  I was authoritative yet empathetic!  Yes!  This is why I’m here!  I love teaching!  Walking out of the classroom on a cloud, aglow in the moment, I look around and I realize that I don’t know where I am.  I’m lost once again on campus.  I’m a freshman.


Have you ever felt the collision of your former and current lives?  Are you managing going back to school as an adult?  How do you manage the shift?  Share with us!


Spock, a cement tunnel, and defining moments

Recently, I participated in a discussion on Facebook about our favorite defining moments for a character in the movies. I quote a friend, Patrick Gibbs, ”
“For me, a character defining moment is a moment that SHOWS you something about who the character is:… As for “Wrath of Khan,” it is defining for Spock, yes, because it shows us two things about him: he will indeed sacrifice himself because it is the logical choice, as the Vulcan half of him dictates, but he also does it out of love for his friends, which shows us his human and emotional side. It definitely Spock’s defining moment.”

In our own life, do we have defining moments? Do our actions “show” everyone around us and ourselves exactly who we are? Do the times when we are doing good (strong) things define who we are as much as the times that we are doing bad (weak) things? Are there times when we are Esther or are there moments when we are Delilah? Which are we?

I want to paint a picture for you right out of a teenage angst-filled movie of a girl you might have liked. She had a calm demeanor. When she smiled she had slightly crooked teeth. Her hair was a mousy brown and fell to her shoulders. She dressed in hand-me-downs and whatever items she could raid from her older sister’s closet. At seventeen, she stood all of 5’2″ and was the whopping weight of 103 lbs. There are dogs or vacuums bigger than she was. Most people did not notice her. She was one of the invisible ones.

It was the final champion game of the high school football season and it was being held at the local University stadium. To get there from the parking lot, one had to pass through a cement tunnel that ran under the main road. After the game, which her school had won, this girl was walking out with friends and mingling in the slow-moving crowd toward the tunnel. As she approached, she heard shouting and yelling coming from inside the tunnel. The crowd was swarming and surrounding a group of two football players from the opposite teams. They were beating on each other, bloody and bruising. Filling the air were shouts of “Give it to him! Fight! Fight! Fight!” and other stupid teenage phrases that are used to incite violence. As the small girl stood up on her toes to see the boys punching each other, she just kept moving forward, right through the police-line of teenagers. No one stopped her. She was invisible. As the fighters stepped away from one another to wipe the blood from their faces and to go in for another round, she stepped between them. Her arms rose above her head and then came down and stopped at shoulder-height, her palms squarely raised toward the two boys on either side of her. She felt suddenly filled with a power she had not experienced before. The crowd went immediately silent. She calmly, but forcefully said, “Stop fighting.” The boys stood with shocked looks on their faces. The moment froze. No one knew what to do. One of the fighter’s friends grabbed him and said, “C’mon! Let’s get out of here.” The crowd dispersed and moved around her.

“That was the bravest thing I have ever seen,” said a gangly, tall boy as he came to her. “How did you have the courage to do that?”

Was it a defining moment? Did it show everyone exactly who the girl was? Like Spock, did she sacrifice herself “because it is the logical choice,” and also “out of love for friends, which shows us his human and emotional side.” Three decades have passed and this same girl has had more defining moments and even pivotal, life-changing moments – marriage, giving birth to four children, losing loved ones, moves, and facing moral dilemmas. However, that one moment so long ago proved to her that she had an intercessory spirit. It was a tether to her better self and THAT was defining. She had no fear in stepping into moral debates, injustices, generosity, or even between her fighting teenage sons.

I won’t mention the weaker and bad defining moments because she did not recognize them as defining. To her, they were learning experiences and moments of commitment to move forward toward the person she longed to become. Perhaps that was the God moving within her, pushing her to becoming more like Him, the Great Intercessory.

In life, there are defining moments of tethering and moments of learning and letting go.

If your life was portrayed as a movie, what are some of your defining moments?

Luxury to Worry about the Less Significant

Last Saturday I volunteered at Salt Lake City’s Color Run. The happiest 5K run on the planet. Volunteers splashed powdered color on runners wearing tutus, rainbow headbands, and striped socks. It was pretty incredible to watch.

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The run benefited two charities.  Global Citizen - a movement, website, and app invested in ending extreme world poverty, and UN Women of Utah – an organization working to help women and children in a variety of ways including refugee services, eliminating prostitution, and advocating education for girls in Africa.

My friend, Nikki (pictured above) is the go-to girl for both. Years ago, through the International Refugee Committee,  she connected me to a Sudanese family that I spent time with during my college years, helping them acclimate to a new life in the United States.

Saturday was the first time in years I’ve volunteered somewhere beyond math facts and reading at the elementary school. And it got me thinking. When I do have a little more time, as kids go to school, and life cracks open a bit, how will I spend it?

My interest was piqued when a friend shared a FAIR talk with me, given by Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities. I thought it interesting that she was asked to talk on a subject unrelated (so I thought) to her work. A topic that has worn us out of late: Women in the Church. Continue reading

August Journal




The August edition of the Segullah Journal is up.

It’s been a roller coaster of days, weeks and hours of moving house and life across the country this summer and all the time leading up to it. Moving was/is/will continue to be disquieting , strenuous and leveling, all in a constant upheaval of sanity and satiety. Yet, when I sit and settle myself into good writing or soak in lush art, the world settles a little softer in my soul. It’s the reason I have to have the pictures on the wall and the books on their shelves before my mind and body can be at ease, at home in my new home.

While my house is still a wreck of plastic wrappings and cardboard packaging, I felt at home in my study room catastrophe this evening as I read this month’s offerings of poetry and prose. I was lifted and lighted and settled.

I remembered why I always feel at home here at Segullah.

We hope you do too- here on the blog and in always at the Segullah Journal.

If you are stopping by my new house sometime soon, accept fair warning for the lack of burnished beauty or organization, and mostly for the mess I’m working through as I strive to get my own books on the shelves and art on the walls.  But please, stop in to admire, sink in and soak up the fine things we are hanging up and setting out at the Segullah Journal this month. It’s really great stuff.

P.S. New things are around the corner for next week. Watch for good stuff to come on the blog too.