mental health

Love is…Finding the “Fun” in Dysfunctional

Posted on February 17, 2010. Filed under: Acceptance, Family, mental health |

By Heather

Growing up I used to think that most of my friends’ families were so normal and healthy, and that mine was the only one with quirks and cracks.  Now I know the truth: every family is nuts. And if you think you know a perfectly healthy family, you don’t know them well enough.

Granted, some people’s brand of crazy is more socially acceptable than others.  For example, in my home we appeared on the outside to be well behaved high achievers, which was a mask for a control freak mom and an emotionally remote, success obsessed dad. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I realize that on the crazy scale my family was dented but functional. Not bad at all. (btw I am the needy thumsucker pictured above)

I have a family of my own now and see many of our idiosyncrasies. And at least today we have a better vocabulary for labeling our neurosis. Terms like OCD, ADD, MPD, BPD, SAD, etc. etc. allow us to name what ails us, and naming things is delightful because it gives us control, or at least the illusion of it.

A few years ago I came across an acronym for a condition that I knew intimately but had never quite put my finger on: ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  These are the people that cannot resist challenging authority and playing the devil’s advocate. Oh how I love to tease my contrarian friend about how she suffers acutely from this. And her response just confirms the diagnosis: “No I don’t!” I love these people. Just when everything is getting so boring in Relief Society, everyone sitting there nodding their heads “yes, we ALL agree” and along comes someone with ODD and makes a comment that turns everything upside down.  

She in turn diagnosed one of my less than desirable traits. I suffer from SVS, shock value syndrome. As the youngest member of a hyper proper family, it was my duty to make my mother blush at the dinner table. And even now at 42, whenever I get around people that seem a bit too uptight, I get the irresistible urge to say/do something borderline inappropriate. So I skinny dip at Girls Camp and give sacrament talks on the virtues of Harry Potter. Recently when my 12 year old son told me that he hated it when I called him “friend,” I replied, “Well then how about ‘douche bag,’ because that’s what you’re acting like.” Show me an envelope, and I’ll push it.

Here are a few other conditions the American Psychiatric Association might want to add to their books:

CBR-Chronic Buyer’s Remorse: Perpetually malcontent, these poor souls are convinced that whatever choice they make is the wrong one. Filled with self doubt and a touch of bitterness (related syndrome: GIGD–Grass is Greener Disorder).

RSS-Refusal to be Served Syndrome: You know who you are. You are forever volunteering to bring meals, babysit, work at the Bishop’s Storehouse as if every act of service added another brick to your mansion on high; but hell would have to freeze over before you would let someone bring you a casserole. In their heart of pious hearts, these folks believe that the strong give and the weak receive.

CV-Compulsive Volunteerism: A sister syndrome to RSS (with more guilt, less pride), CV manifest itself in an inability to pass a sign-up sheet without committing to doing whatever is requested. One friend had such a severe case of this that I created an organization just for her—Volunteers Anonymous. I became her sponsor and she was not allowed to agree to do anything without first consulting me. A typical conversation went like this, “Heather, I’ve been asked to be PTA President. Tell me again why I should say no?” “Because you just gave birth to twins, your husband is YM President and travels, and you Visit Teach a black hole of needs.” “Oh. Okay. So should I say maybe?”

Tanorexia: When sufferers of this disorder look in the mirror all they see is pasty whiteness, even if their true color is closer to a Slim Jim.

Appsberger’s: The compulsion to download apps for completely useless things. And then talk endlessly about them with other sufferers. “Look, I can use my phone as a harmonica!!!”  “Well mine can show me the time…in Braille!” “Mine makes a cowbell noise. Get it? ‘More cowbell?’!”

Topperism-No matter what you’ve been through, these one-uppers can top your experience and raise it a notch.  So while you’re delighted that you are training for a 5k, the Topper is quick to inform you that she ran the Boston Marathon. And won. While pregnant. With triplets.

So my question is not “are you crazy” but “what kind of crazy are you?”  And can you find a way to live with it and laugh about it?  If you can’t, your crazies will make you nuts.

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Technology in bed

Posted on January 30, 2010. Filed under: marriage, mental health | Tags: , , |

our feet

After another rather restless night of waking up several times to find my spouse in bed next to me with his iPhone on, I’m starting to think that I need (or we need) a moratorium on web-enabled devices in bed.  Am I being too much of a Luddite?  I suspect that if email or twitter is always within arm’s reach, it’s just too hard to get a good night’s sleep.  Is there some tipping point where we become so ‘connected’ to the outside world through web-based media that it then becomes hard for our brain to tune out and rest–and let the world keep spinning without us for awhile?


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Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear: A Look at Motivation

Posted on August 6, 2009. Filed under: Family, Jesus, mental health, Mormon Life, religion, suffering | Tags: , , |

 DSCN2399  by Alisa

In Relief Society last month, the teacher said we should encourage our kids “to only marry someone who comes from a family where both parents have stuck it out together, so that our children will be encouraged to stick through whatever trials their marriages bring.” Not having read the General Conference talk she was speaking of, I was unsure whether that was her counsel or the counsel in the talk. Either way, I cringed as I quickly counted that at least 20% of the women in that room had been divorced at some point, and wondered what they were thinking about the marital success of their kids. I realized that the lesson, while attempting to teach good principles, was coming from a place of fear, particularly a fear that adults are too shaped by their childhoods to choose their path for themselves. It wasn’t an atypical lesson for Relief Society, and I do not blame the teacher for the motivation of fear. As a lifelong Mormon, it’s a motivation that I resonate with all too well.
I had a recent late-night chat with my terminally-ill father and my siblings. My dad explained how his views of the nature of our motivation for living the gospel has changed over time. He said that while he believes that teaching and keeping the 10 Commandments, the Word of Wisdom, observing the sabbath and fasts, obediently paying tithing, etc. (essentially living the gospel out of duty, fear, or in search of reward), was all the “Gospel 101” class in our lifetime, that he felt that the upper-division course is all about being motivated by mercy and love, which are the motivations he ascribes to Jesus and God. He talked of how the way of explaining the Savior as the mediator and God as the harsh justice-seeking money lender didn’t make as much sense to him when it appears that God is actually very good at blessing both the wicked and the righteous. Because Jesus says that everything he did he saw his father do, my dad has come to the belief that God is very, very compassionate and loving. And I’ll tune my ears to that. Since my dad is dying from his second round of cancer in five years, he has plenty to fear, plenty to feel punished for. Yet he feels overwhelming love.
My dad is quite a different man in his 60’s than the 30-something man who raised me to wake up at 6:00 am to read scriptures, who never allowed caffeine or playing cards into our home (nor allowed us to come into contact with these things), and who banned Sleepless in Seattle for promoting cohabitation. We lived in a very strict system where all commandments were to be obeyed to the jot and tittle, and where nothing was excused. We did these things because they were the commandments, because they were a test to see if we’d follow everything the prophet asked of us. And because we didn’t want God to be disappointed or to forfeit our right to be an eternal family.
Whether it was intended or not, the message that I received was one of rewards and punishments. I believed it was entirely up to me to earn my salvation, my exaltation. I had a great start. My parents showed that it was somewhat possible to do every single little tiny outward thing. They certainly tried, and I have to give them credit. But for me, I was lacking in the spirit of why we did these things. As a teenager, I began to experience deep depression that I interpreted to be God’s rejection and disapproval of me. I did some desparate things to try to make up for the infinite number of imperfections I had. I became a perfectionist, wishing to cleanse myself of sin, to suffer as Jesus suffered, to shed my metaphorical 1,000 drops of blood, so that the Savior would not have to suffer for me. I convinced myself that I did this out of love for the Savior. But now as I look back on it, I think I was actually trying to cover my bases in case the Savior rejected me. I’d never really had a spiritual manifestation of his forgiveness, so all I had were my works to speak for me.
In the New Testament, Jesus uses the motivations of punishment, reward, and love. He occasionally talks of hellfire, holds out reward of heaven an earth in the beatitudes, and lets us know that when we really are in tune with love, we’ll have peace, friendship/neighborliness, and spiritual feasting. I recognize that Jesus is able to live in a meld of seemingly conflicting ideas much better than I am, as I tend to experience one at a time.
In graduate school, one of my colleagues introduced me to the idea that we don’t keep the commandments to earn a reward such as salvation, but that we keep the commandments because we love the Savior and have faith that he will take care of our salvation—afterall, that is his job. This was a radical shift from the way I had structured the whole system in my mind. Taking the idea of earning rewards or punishments out of my hands and filling myself with love and faith at first seemed to completely remove my control over my spirituality. Could love really be enough of a motivation to live a good life? Over time, I let this thought of love slip into my heart more and more. Eventually, it’s became my primary motivation for doing what I do. It’s even why it has taken me this long to feel good about conceiving this child I’m expecting in January—I waited until I felt so full of love and so devoid of fear that this monumental change seemed to work in my life.
When I look at the world, there is plenty to fear. At the same time, there is plenty to bless. Those two flip sides are enough to keep me engaged for a long time as I go back and forth. But focusing on love is like a peaceful respite through that process, a rest which takes me right to the core of where I need to be, centered and grounded. As John said in his first epistle: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear… We love him, because he first loved us.”

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The Feminist Domestic

Posted on July 18, 2009. Filed under: Acceptance, Changes, Family, fatherhood, feminism, Gender roles, marriage, mental health, motherhood, parenting, personal notes, women, work | Tags: , , , , , , |


by mraynes

A few months ago mr. mraynes was teaching an Elder’s Quorum lesson on unity, specifically unity within the family.  A brother in our ward called him out and dismissed what mr. mraynes was teaching, saying in effect “your wife is a feminist and I know how your family works.”  mr. mraynes was understandably bemused at the situation mostly because this brother had entirely missed the point of the lesson but also because this man had presumed to know what our family was like based on his own stereotype.

One of the reasons that this brother in our ward felt comfortable judging our family was because we do fit the stereotype of what many people think a feminist family looks like.  I have been the career woman, mr. mraynes the stay-at-home daddy.  I financially provide for our family, mr. mraynes does the child care and housework.  But role reversal does not necessarily assume a feminist household.  In fact, most of the feminists I know lead a very traditional lifestyle and still manage to have perfectly progressive marriages.  Having a rigid stereotype of what other people are like does not allow for the natural fluidity of life.  Yes, mr. mraynes and I have been living a “non-traditional” life but it will not last forever.  In fact, we are only weeks away from doing a complete 180 and switching roles once more.  mr. mraynes has just landed his first job since finishing his doctoral program and so we are moving to Denver where I will be a full time stay-at-home mom.  (By the way, I am waving desperately at all you Denver feminist out there and hoping you’ll be friends with me.)  I admit to being nervous; our life for the past three years has worked really well for me and I’m not sure that I will cut it as the primary nurturer.  mr. mraynes and I have had many discussions specifically addressing our concerns with this transition.  We have had to be open and honest with one another and share things that have been quite uncomfortable to say out loud.  For example, I knew that I could not stand the isolation of living in the suburbs while mr. mraynes commuted to his exciting job in the city.  I did not want to live on my own Revolutionary Road and so we decided that we would sacrifice space and money by living downtown in a small condo. 

While we both feel a little guilty for not following in the prescribed pattern for upper-middle class families, in the end you have to be self-aware and do what is best for everybody in the family.  We both knew that isolation was dangerous for my mental health and so we made a decision together about what would work best for us.  There is nothing groundbreaking in this wisdom; having a feminist marriage does not mean I get to walk all over my husband and make all of the decisions.  Rather, it guarantees that both parties are respected and affirmed in the relationship.  It is perhaps this subtlety in a feminist marriage that is difficult to see from the outside.  (I am using feminist marriage in the broadest sense here–meaning gender-equitable. You don’t necessarily have to self-identify as a feminist in order to have a feminist marriage.)  The worldview of people like the brother in our ward assumes that women like me are “ball-busters” and that I “wear the pants” in the family but this has nothing to do with my marriage or any other feminist marriage I know.

The truth is none of us can really know what another’s family dynamic is really like.  But it serves us nothing to remain in the ignorance of our own (mis-)understanding and not at least try to explore our differences and similarities.  Ever since that Sunday I have though a lot about what it means to be a feminist and part of a family; I realize there are a lot of misconceptions out there about feminists and there is almost nothing positive written about their relationships with their own families.  Perhaps this is our fault, so I thought I would endeavor to fill that gap by writing a series of posts on my experience as a feminist and how it affects my relationship with my husband and children, how it affects my parenting style and domestic prowess.  These are, of course, my own experiences and I would expect that many of you have experienced something different.  I invite you to share them here.  We are all striving to do what is best for our families no matter what role we play; perhaps in sharing our individual experiences we can maximize the good effects of our feminism on our families.

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food, flesh and spirit

Posted on May 1, 2009. Filed under: body image, food, health, mental health | Tags: , |

by G

This is going to be a little sensitive to talk about, but it’s been on my mind lately so here goes.

I used to have some serious issues with my body and with food. For most of my teens and 20s I was pinging back and forth between thin and thick, either starving or stuffed, but never satisfied. And my mind was utterly and completely preoccupied with it all; what I was eating, what I wasn’t and how it translated on my hips and tummy. (It took a good chunk of brain space for all that obsession.  Aside from the bad health, I miss all the other things I could have been putting my mind to.)

What has been interesting for me is to trace back and try to mine my history of eating disorders. Inevitably, the worst spikes in the disorder corresponded to my times of heaviest activity in the church. In high school when I was deeply involved in the seminary counsel. During my mission. At BYU while holding a calling as RS pres (and working at the temple and teaching at the MTC).

These disorders were spiritually distressing to me, I viewed them as a sin that kept me from God and made overcoming them a spiritual quest of worthiness. To no avail. That just made it worse.

This isn’t a universal experience. Not all LDS women experience this. (And PLENTY of non-LDS women experience it.) However from many personal conversations and from the plethora of anecdotal evidence I get the sense that I was not an anomaly among Mormon women.  In fact, I was in good company.

Happily, I think that depression and eating disorders (etc) among Mormon women are being recognized and addressed by the leadership much more than they were before.

But I sat in Sunday School last week and had an epiphany.  The teacher was talking about service in the church and kept using the term “swallowed up“.  “Swallowed up in the work of the Lord“.  And how we should strive to achieve being “swallowed up” and what things keep us from being “swallowed up” and as everyone else around me gave faith promoting answers to the problem of why we aren’t “swallowed up” the answer in my head was “Because humans are hardwired for SELF PRESERVATION.”

My epiphany was this:  when I was starving myself perhaps I was trying to disappear, to erase myself, to be swallowed up (and cease to exist).

And when I was stuffing myself perhaps it was my sense of self preservation refusing to let myself disappear,  increasing my area of circumference as protection against being swallowed up.

Who knows?  Maybe Freud would.

Me, I’m just happy to have that behind me thank you very much.  It is nice to finally have a healthy navel, (and strong loins?) and to have my mind (relatively) free from a preoccupation with food and my flesh.

Just some of my thoughts on the subject at the moment.

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Beginner’s Meditation

Posted on February 12, 2009. Filed under: Belief, mental health, Mormon Life, prayer |


by Alisa

“If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just FEEL a prayer.”  – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

My brain was born to multi-task, born for stimulation. My college roommates would ask how I could cram for a test with the TV blaring. My writing students throw puzzled looks when I tell them I sometimes like to listen to the radio, public radio interviews or news programs, while I write (I tell them it’s more about finding one’s personal writing groove).

My prayers are those of the distracted. In an effort to get through them, I cling to the simple formula I was taught in primary: address, thank, ask, and close. But often I think of things I’m thankful for during the asking part, and even more often I want to ask for things before I feel satisfied with my thankfulness. In a child-like way, I am constantly worried that my efforts to connect to God will end up giving offense instead if I break from the prescription.

Not unrelatedly, I’ve been seeking out ways to quiet my mind so I can better connect to God. Recently I attended a Deeksha (Diksha) blessing. Over the course of an hour and a half, I sat with group of 30 people, breathing in and out to music (some Indi, some popular). During that time, five Deeksha blessers, two women and three men, individually laid their hands on my head in silence, each a conduit for the peaceful transfer of energy. I didn’t have an extreme spiritual epiphany during these moments, but I felt lighter with a focus on the better things in my life. Like the darker things were melting away.

Mostly, I sat quietly and listened to the music. I tried to sit up straight in my chair, but after an hour I began to get tired. I opened my eyes and tried to remain focused. At the end of the 90 minutes, I found my energy was spent for sitting still, and I was grateful to shift position when the music ended. I looked at the calm, peaceful meditative people around me and concluded that I must be a meditative lightweight. On the way out, I picked up a meditation help sheet with a mantra to think of when I meditate. The first syllable was, predictably, Om. That night I went to bed early and slept a deep sleep, only the second night in a year I’ve been able to fall asleep and stay that way for eight hours.

It occurs to me that meditation is perhaps the other side of prayer that I’ve been missing, through all my effort to make the correct prayer, in the correct form, with the correct pronouns and verb conjugations. In meditation is the formless, nebulous desire to be more, to connect, to do better, to feel better. To work my connection to God in a present sort of way, rather than in the linear one-way direction my prayers tend to go. I may not even use the mantra for this reason, to keep my meditation personal and to preserve myself from self-critique during the process.

I know many people who associate with Mormonism believe in meditation, but what is said about it is scarce, and instructions from the Church on how to do it are nearly non-existent. So, as a beginner, I want to ask you: How do you do it? How (and where) did you learn it? What has the impact in your life been?

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Growing up with disabled siblings

Posted on April 4, 2008. Filed under: Family, health, mental health, parenting | Tags: , , , |


By Maria 

Of the six children born into my family, two are disabled.  The oldest child in the family, my brother T, has ADD, motor skill impairment, and various other moderate to severe learning and physical disabilities.  T served a full-time mission, married in the temple, attends college (for the past 11 years), and holds down a regular 40-hour a week (albeit dead end, minimum wage) job.  My younger brother B has Asperberger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.  Although high functioning on the autism spectrum (B works at Blockbuster 12 hours per week, alphabetizing DVDs), B is also severely intellectually impaired and will always require a full-time, supervised living arrangement (I assume he’ll be with my parents until they die, and then with me or another sibling for the remainder of B’s life).  Without hesitation I can say that growing up with two brothers with disabilities has profoundly influenced my life and who I am.  (more…)

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S.A.D.ness 2008

Posted on January 23, 2008. Filed under: health, mental health |

Exactly one year ago today, I posted the following. I could have rewritten it nearly verbatim this winter — including Sunday night’s deboning of a chicken. Here’s the difference: this year I started my multivitamin and excercise routine well in advance. So the only piece I neglected (until this Sunday . . . silly silly silly me) was my light lamp. My happy box. My cube ‘o wonder. It took me years of prodding to finally purchase one — maybe this post will be somebody’s prod!


Sunday night, somewhere between a fit of crying, a fight with my husband, and the violent deboning of a roast chicken, it hit me – this wasn’t “sad”; this was S.A.D.

One would think regularity would ease self-diagnosis. Starting in middle school, winter blues have descended the week after daylight savings – like clockwork. Only this year they didn’t. The days grew shorter, but my mood stayed upbeat. It’s been a warm winter here on the East Coast. Warm enough to spend more time outside in the yard, riding my bike, monitoring recess. The extra exposure daylight seemed to have a moderating affect. And when I began, post-Christmas, to feel a bit raw inside, I had a thousand reasonable explanations – a bad cold, a serious family illness, an emotional situation with a student, grades due. But when happy songs, deep poetry, escape fiction, and hot chocolate weren’t helping, when introspection became a vicious cycle of self-doubt, when my moods had taxed my husband’s patience, I finally figured it out.

In past years, I have found a nearly perfect formula to keep the specter of winter at bay. It’s simple, it’s been recommended by my doctor and by reputable research studies, and it works quickly. I just wish I had implemented it a month ago . . .

1) Thirty minutes of exercise a day. Good for the body in general – vital in the winter. I spend 20 minutes on the Nordic Track when I wake up and try to take a quick brisk walk mid-day.

2) A daily muli-vitamin. Make sure it has those good B vitamins.

3) 30 – 60 minutes using a light lamp. My husband calls this my happy box. I place it on the Nordic track in the morning and use it while correcting papers at night. Sunday night, I retrieved it from the top of the closet and after three days, I can feel my body recalibrating. I love my happy box.

How do you keep the winter blues in check?

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Thoughts on Reverence — I Kid You Not

Posted on August 2, 2006. Filed under: humor, mental health, Mormon Life, parenting, Sacrament talks, suffering |

Our ward has been talking a lot about reverence lately. I am of a mixed mind about this. The working definition for reverence seems to be “be quiet and think of Jesus.” They want reverence, but they also want children in the meetings. Hello! Children and quiet? When did that work?

I think that having children in meetings and still expecting reverent quiet are mutually exclusive…like the commands not to eat the fruit but still to go forth and multiply.

Some of my friends who aren’t Mormon comment that they stopped going to this or that church because it was too noisy in their meetings. This was not in reference to amplified praise choirs with drum sets and electric guitars, but to the presence of children. Dare I ever invite these friends to a Sunday morning at our meetings which sometimes sound like the Amazon jungle?

Alas, I don’t think there’s any chance on the horizon that our church, like the one I grew up in, will have a simultaneous Junior Worship Service designed for the interest, capacities, and learning abilities of the lambkins of the fold. To me it is one of the mysteries of the church. But, given that contemporary LDS policy expects “family togetherness”, what strategies work? In my day of child-herding, a steady stream of cheerios and plenty of books, puzzles and silent widgets got us through their upbringing.

I believe that most parents try hard to keep their kids as quiet as humanly possible given the challenges. What really drives me nuts are the parents who are inured to the noise their kids make and sit there sweetly bobbing affirmation to the speakers while their kids are tearing each other’s hair out, crying and cursing.

But for those parents who try hard and mostly successfully to manage their kids, does that feel like reverence to them? Well, it’s a kind of white knuckled reverence I suppose. But not really the kind of “profound, adoring, awed respect” that the dictionary uses to define the word.

My best strategy is to continue to keep the posse around me as quiet as possible so as not to disturb people around us. Beyond that, I have let go of the expectation of Sacrament Meetings in a ward with young children as a place that will inspire or promote reverence. I love the relative stillness of the passing of the Sacrament. That can be the one sacred time in the 70 minute stretch. Beyond that, though, any moments of awe and hushed respect that DO come are all the more wonderful because I am not counting on them.

I have come to believe that reverence has got to be developed from the inside out if it is going to be satisfying at all. And it certainly can’t be limited to a chunk of time on Sundays. Learning to find an inner swell of respectful awe in a meeting teeming with tots is a lifetime’s challenge.

Meanwhile, I know that reverence of a rich and layered kind is not always quiet. Read Psalm 98 if you’re looking for a lively one – with brass instruments, no less. Psalm 46 is another one loaded with noise – of crashing waves and mass destruction of all kind – but pierced through with the phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.”

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Pilgrims’ Progress Report, etc.

Posted on May 3, 2006. Filed under: Acceptance, Exponent II, faith, history, mental health, Mormon Life, spirituality |

I just returned from the annual Midwest Pilgrims Retreat outside of Rockford, Illinois. It’s always refreshing to be in the company of good women. This band of sisters has been meeting for 24 years or so, and like the Exponent II retreats, we are beginning to see some second generation Pilgrims gathering with us. Even if I only get a few minutes of re-connection with the many kindred spirit gals there, I feel renewed, nourished and motivated.

For intellectual stimulation – and for stirring up stress levels – the topic of this retreat was polygamy. Kathryn Daynes, Professor of History at BYU, presented a detailed, articulate historical analysis of polygamy from 1840-1910, emphasizing the Utah period in Manti. Fascinating stuff! (Her book is “More Wives than One”, published by University of Illinois Press.). I feel much better informed and significantly more sympathetic for the families – men and women – trying to “live the principle” back in the day.

There were also discussions around HBO’s series “Big Love.” Since I’d reviewed “Big Love” for, I’ve been ruminating over the polygamy issue for a while now. At one open question/discussion session folks batted around the conclusions some have drawn about the life hereafter regarding polygamy. Jana Riess – scholar, overall cool person, and co-author of “Mormonism for Dummies” and selector and annotator for “The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained” – mused that she found it startling that women would set aside the scriptural promises of the next life that speak of peace, joy and rest but assume instead that God plans to consign them to a state of eternal life that they dread. I found that a very juicy observation.

I felt that throughout the weekend comments and conversations often traveled toward the notion of how little we really know. In a very moving testimony at Sacrament Meeting, Kathryn Daynes shared her convictions that what she does know about God is that God loves her – and each of us – beyond even our wildest abilities to comprehend. In our limited understanding we should hold on to the hope and promise that, above all, God loves us. Being a Mormon of minimalist theology, I felt “to sing the song of redeeming love” with her reminder.

This is a little report of the weekend. Some questions linger.
Many feelings still arise around the complex issue of polygamy. (I’ve maxed out on pondering that topic for a while, but have at it if you will!)

Relative to the rejuvenation I receive from attending retreats, here’s something I’d love to know your thoughts on:

When your current ward or branch is so drastically different from your comfort zone, how do you cope?
Where do you get your spiritual nourishment?
Or maybe your current ward is terrific (sounds like Pittsburgh is a little Utopia!), but concerns with the institutional church are confusing and confounding you, how do you make peace?
Especially, if this is the case for you, how do you make peace and stay committed to the Restored Gospel?
What supplemental sources do you have to feed your spirit?

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