2023 top ten

10: Starting Scouts BSA with four of my five kiddos has been a challenge. When we’re actually DOING SCOUTS – campouts, skills development – life is good and the kids are progressing well. But among the adult leadership, there’s a lot of angry jockeying for power and it’s … not what I expected. My self-appointed role is to be a buffer so the scouts can scout and be less affected by dumb ego trips.

I haven’t started writing about Scouts for the “do a extreme thing” memoir, because well, I haven’t started my own efforts yet to pass off all the requirements (see: adult leadership unnecessary drama). 2024 will give me a lot of material to work with – I’m registered for Wood Badge.

Two of my kids practicing the song medley they created at scout camp. Who knew that Wellerman and Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee could be in a mashup with the yodeling Swiss Boy and no bananas in the sky.

9: I branched out in my writing with some new publications:

8: Marci McPhee and I tackled Listen, Learn & Love: Building the Good Ship Zion with Richard Ostler – the third installment of the LLL series.

7: I’ve heard enough bits and pieces of Marci’s personal history that I wanted more details. So I interviewed her for the LDS Women Project: Go Far, Stay Long, Look Deep. My other favorite interview of the year was with childhood bestie Rebecca Cheney, and now we know why the Tabernacle Choir sounds amazing. Because it’s REALLY HARD to get in! Nearer to the Lord Through Music.

6: I took a flying leap into the unknown of self-publishing production with Russ Hinckley and his book, Beyond Belief. Learning Adobe InDesign for producing a book has been its own version of hell. I’ve learned a lot and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t know that I’ll be ready to try this again soon.

5: A couple of years ago, I interviewed Celeste Mergens for the LDSWP – she’s the founder of Days For Girls, an international nonprofit that provides reusable fabric menstrual supplies and education to women and girls around the world. She recently released her memoir and was in DC for a book tour presentation, and I made sure to be there. So great to meet her and get my book signed!

4: It was the year for meeting people in person … I went to lunch with Charlotte Condie when she was visiting her sister about an hour from me. I broke an internet rule and invited Jeff Andersen and his family to my HOUSE for dinner just based on Instagram conversations, but all is well, he’s not an axe murderer. He is a strong LGBT ally, podcaster, and writer, and his wife is just as awesome. Instagram friends are real friends!

3: The LDS Women Project had an in-person event in Washington DC, and for the first time in three years of working together, the editorial board was all in the same place at the same time. Liz gave a great presentation on her dissertation about cultural narratives among LDS women and how they affect our perceptions of ourselves and our place in the world.

LDSWP editorial board: Rosemary (essays), me (interviews), Liz (editor in chief), Allie (fundraising)

2: I spoke in church on Mother’s Day about Heavenly Mother – I’ve never heard a talk or lesson about Her in a church setting, ever. I was requested by the Relief Society president, and I’m still curious (although I’ll probably never know) what she said to get this idea past the bishopric. It was interesting to me that the most feedback I got was from men, who thanked me for bringing up this doctrine because they’d never thought about it before.

She by Mindy Sebastian, in the Cherish book.

1: By far, the top thing of 2023 was publishing Cherish, and being with Ashli and McArthur for a 4-day book tour in Utah. More meeting people in person! Lots of them! In Utah, I had breakfast with podcasters Susan Hinckley and Cynthia Winward (At Last She Said It), and dinner with Monica Packer (About Progress). I met lots of contributors to Cherish. But most importantly, I met – after working together for a year and a half – Ashli. We had both spent time with McArthur in 2022 when she did a speaking tour on the East Coast, but it was the first time Ashli and I were together. All the way around, creating the book and talking about it has been one of the pivotal experiences of my life.

Ashli, McArthur, me when we received our FIRST copies of Cherish.
Contributor brunch in Provo, Utah –
Back: Allie, Alynne, Rebecca, Becky, Alyssa, Channing, Laura, Megan. Front: Mandy, Jessica, Krystal, Ashli, me, McArthur.

I’m reviewing plans for 2024 this week, but it definitely includes more Cherish, more LDSWP, more Scouts, and more writing of my own.

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