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Why Segullah?

By Catherine Arveseth

I just finished reading Segullah’s marriage issue – the fifth anniversary edition. Did you receive your copy yet? I could rave about the essays, draw out lines from each poem that made me go tingly, or open a discussion about the juicy, provocative, heart-rending nature of a subject like marriage.

But instead, I want to share something from Kathryn Soper’s editoral piece. Kathy kicked off the journal by rewinding five years to the day Segullah was born. Picture three ambitious women with a half dozen toddlers at a McDonald’s Playplace. Despite the “cacophony” Kathy says, they “managed to get a few things straight.”

We decided Segullah… would feature high-quality creative writing that celebrates and explores what it means to be a Mormon woman. It would maintain a stance of loyalty toward the LDS Church and its leadership. And at the same time, its scope would transcend the boundaries which keep sisters in the gospel hiding safely behind our Sunday faces.

Last weekend while watching General Conference (albeit in between potty breaks, diaper changes, crayon-chewing, and marshmallow-throwing), I felt something wonderful. It happened as Elder Holland took the pulpit. It trickled over my body then intensified into knowledge. Knowledge that the heavens are open. As I sat on the floor, little ones crawling across my lap, I cocked one ear to the screen and breathed easy. Here is where I can find truth, I thought. Here is where I want to belong.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to question or explore. Because therein lies the learning, right? Delving, discovering, asking, finding, and occasionally shelving the unanswered – these processes build our testimonies, fuel our progression, channel our becoming. But on that bright Autumn Saturday, while listening to apostles and prophets, I felt a yearning to simply be good. I wanted to bend my soul toward what really matters and align myself wholly with Christ and His Church.

A few days later, Kathy’s definition of Segullah lodged in my heart. It was that small but significant conference moment that made me realize why I come here – why I love this place. We explore, delve, share, and ask – transcending typical bounds while honoring others.

After graduating from High School, I sat in an intimate setting with a general authority for the church. It was a warm, humid evening and I could hear the ocean outside. We sat at the kitchen table and he asked me what I knew about the scriptures. We talked and then he gave me this counsel. “Question everything. But stay on the path.”

Staying on the path has made all the difference.

That is the safety and joy of Segullah. We write about the faces (yours and mine) we may not see in Relief Society. But we do so with respect for truth and a reverence for its source.

As a recent recruit to Segullah’s staff, I can say, Segullah fills the desire I’ve had to write and surround myself with literate women who love to ask questions but are loyal. It’s a choice place. A place where we can discuss the peculiar and treasured, with compassion for each other, and a fiery love for God.

What about you? Why are you here? What attracted you to the blog or journal? What kind of posts or articles do you like to read? What have you appreciated about Segullah?

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

25 thoughts on “Why Segullah?”

  1. I appreciate this post, and all that I read in the magazine, for showing me that I am not alone in thinking a lot (maybe too much) about my life. And that the dailyness of being a mother and a saint is just as worthy of writing and reflection as a court room drama.

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  2. Catherine, you captured perfectly why I love Segullah and why I commit my time and energy here: "We explore, delve, share, and ask – transcending typical bounds while honoring others"; "We write about the faces (yours and mine) we may not see in Relief Society. But we do so with respect for truth and a reverence for its source."

    When I discovered Segullah, a year and a half ago, I felt like I had found a peculiar treasure, indeed. I love, love, love my association with the talented women I've gotten to know through Segullah, and I also love the faithful exploring we do here. And I could go on and on about the quality of writing in the journal and the blog, and my appreciation for the opportunities I've had to hone my craft here. This is truly a unique and enriching place to be.

    As a sidenote, this sentence of yours also resonated with me: "While listening to apostles and prophets, I felt a yearning to simply be good. I wanted to bend my soul toward what really matters and align myself wholly with Christ and His Church." I felt exactly the same way this past weekend as those feelings of peace, joy, and security washed over me. Yes, I thought, this is where I belong.

    Thanks so much for this post!

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  3. This is exactly how I feel about Segullah. I have always been a faithful questioner, and I have loved having a community of sisters who support both my faith AND my questioning. I have been nourished in my journey in times of doubt and in times of faith. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard to bring something precious to the internet community of saints. Your efforts have made a difference to me.

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  4. Segullah allowed me to look outside my self and see light through the writing of others. The writing helped pull me out of PPD and see that it can be bad right now, but still there was the good ahead i could look to. I am so grateful for the reality and reflection presented in the writing and comments.

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  5. Catherine, this brought tears to my eyes because you articulate so well why Segullah means so much to me. When I found Segullah, I felt as though I had finally come home.

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  6. Eliana – Yes. This is definitely a place for thinkers. I loved your quip – that maybe you think about your life too much. But in the act of observing we sift out meaning, don't you think? And that makes our lives purposeful, gives us joy or helps us work through sorrow. I love that you think about your life.

    Melissa – I'm so glad to hear from an "old timer" (in contrast to me) that you find the same satisfaction @ Segullah. I agree. It is a worthy place to commit your time and energy. And I'm so glad it's allowing me an opportunity to get to know women like you!

    Kerri – you've been "nourished in your journey" – I love that. And I'm so glad! Your comment is kind encouragement. Thank you.

    Tay – Thank you for sharing. Good writing does both, doesn't it? Helps us look outside ourselves, while also doing a fair amount of introspection. Thanks for your honest sharing.

    Michelle – I hope it is validating! I definitely believe in what we are about.

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  7. I have read just 2 articles so far in the latest issue. Both were very pondering inducing…so I am taking my time. I'm trying to read just one a day. I love Segullah. I love coming here everyday where I am surrounded by great woman striving to be better. What a great influence you all are on me.

    Thanks for sharing the quote, Catherine, "Question everything but stay on the path."

    Beautiful post.

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  8. For me it's about questioning while staying on the path.

    The anonymity we have here plays a part also. If you were to raise your hand in RS and say that you'd like to hear others' opinions of plastic surgery there would be a riot (or maybe a quick escort out). Few, if any, souls are brave enough to admit what their marriages are really like, but in your current issue I found myself identifying a bit with every piece. (Although I felt mostly jealous of Michelle and her Bakalava.)

    Here where we don't visit teach each other, but we do respond respectfully, while staying on the path, the discussions are full of what I miss in real life – candid intelligent discussion about what it is to be a Mormon woman.

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  9. jendoop – you make a good point. Anonymity here helps. It's also nice that blog contributors can write what's on their mind – no lesson manual to work from. I think we're lucky to have a forum like this for "candid intelligent discussion" as you described it. And I'm right there with you – drooling over Michelle's Baklava.

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  10. What I love about Segullah is that there are talented writers out there who can put my exact thoughts and feelings, not only into words, but into beautiful imagery and allegories. I know that I can always come here to be uplifted and to either participate or just "listen in" on interesting, intelligent discussions.

    I also love that there are people with whom I *don't* share my view or opinions and they can give me a peek from what it looks like from where they stand.

    I, too, really appreciate some of the anonymity. There are things that I've been able to discuss here that I couldn't talk about in RS, because they have to do with my husband, and it would infringe on his privacy. I've also been able to hear from others who are in similar circumstances as mine. It has helped me feel not so alone in some of my challenges.

    I have referred lots of friends here for whenever they need a little pick-me-up to keep going. I love this blog and want you to know that it really helps me get through. I really do depend on the thought-provoking articles and responses.

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  11. cath, im here because of you 🙂 you linked me here.
    i luv it because in the short time (4 months i think) that i have been visiting, i immediately sensed this early on:

    "literate women who love to ask questions but are loyal."

    i luv to voice my opinion. i LUV to hear others opinions & insights. for me, it's not about who is right, who is wrong, who is better, who is weaker…it's about loving, understanding, respecting, forgiving, relating…and on lonely nights when Cam is working night shifts, i can come here and read something interesting, informative, important.

    i feel like it's real here.
    and i like to keep it real…marshmallows flying and all.

    like strollerblade, i have recommended this site to a few friends, depending on articles that are posted. i feel like i can do that because i trust in this site.

    loyalty is big for me though.
    and so far, ive really luved it here.

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  12. I love the variety of topics, the discussions that ensue, and the safe environment. There are many discussions on the internet where people are defensive, rude and hurtful. I like that we can share opinions. I also appreciate that those who come here do not judge, and if they do, I appreciate that those here respond with maturity. The articles make me think, remember, feel and ponder truly meaningful subjects. Thanks for caring enough to provide a forum for LDS women to come an explore. I'm so glad I found you.

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  13. I have been with Segullah 4 years…oh dear, is it more? It has become a part of me- like a limb, like an organ. Thank you for sharing your words, Catherine.
    PS I just realized that I'm wearing my Segullah t-shirt right now!

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  14. mormonhermitmom I like your description.

    Catherine, I love Segullah for the same reasons you do. I also love, “Question everything. But stay on the path.”

    Baklava is such a great piece!

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  15. I love Segullah too, for all the above reasons. I felt so fortunate to go to the Writing Retreat.

    I have told a couple friends about Segullah, but I admit that I haven't linked it on my blog because I treasure it as my own space to come and be completely open about my life–even posting anonymously when needed.

    I appreciate the faithful journeys that are shared here. I love the honesty and desire for growth. When we truly want to grow, these two things are necessary: honesty and righteousness–or as that wise GA said, question (or think deeply) while you walk this simple, but difficult path to Christ.

    Segullah truly is a treasure in my heart. Thank you!

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  16. I love the comments here. Strollerblader and Sage – you confirm the freedom of anonymity. I hadn't realized before this post how valuable it is for many of us when we need an outlet for honest discussion.

    Cami – I'm so glad you've been following the blog! I think you're right. You will find "real" but "trusted" voices here.

    MelissaPete – "respond with maturity" – what a good observation. In the blog world, maturity isn't always the norm, is it?

    MissMel – "like a limb or organ" – I believe that's how Segullah feels about you!

    And mormonhermitmom – I echo Marintha. LOVE your description.

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  17. I am going to have to respectfully disagree with the original post. Four years ago I discovered Segullah and was thrilled with the posts and purpose behind both the journal and blogs. I visited the site everyday, commented frequently and felt uplifted by my visits here.

    In the past year, I have watched discussions go from questioning within a faithful framework of seeking to understand to critical and very often using the trump card of personal revelation. I.E. My revelation trumps the counsel I've been given by General Authorities. A few months ago, I became so discouraged and unhappy with what was being offered at Segullah that I made a commitment to spend less time here. This is the first time in months that I've visited.

    I want to believe that Segullah can retain its commitment to questioning within a faithful framework. But in the past year, it has begun to take on the flavor of several other popular sites from the bloggernacle. Sites that really trouble me.

    Comments seem to be down and I've seen fewer comments from people like me who were commenting four years ago. I guess that's why I wanted to share my experience here. There was a lot of good in the past, and I would love to see a return to that. But the current path that Segullah seems to be on doesn't fit my needs or expectations.

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  18. Tiffany, thanks for sharing your experience. Honest feedback is always appreciated. We hate to lose readers, but we recognize that our forum is not for everyone.

    Your comment would be even more helpful if you supported your observation with examples.

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  19. Tiffany – I wanted to thank you for your comment. It was very honest and I appreciated what you had to say. It's important for us as contributors (I believe I can speak for all of the staff) to remember that we have agreed to work within that framework of faith and loyalty.

    Now and then there may be perspectives you (or I) won't necessarily agree with. Our views of the world are as varied as we are. But when it comes to the core principles of the restored gospel, I hope you will find this a safe place to come, and that you'll visit often.

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  20. Tiffany, chiming in to say that I have always enjoyed your reasonable, measured, respectful, faithful comments, and I hope you'll come back. We need readers and commenters like you!

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