Listen, Learn & Love book TWO!

Richard Ostler has produced a second Listen, Learn & Love book and it went to the publisher today!

The first one was Listen, Learn & Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints. I was the line editor and proofreader for that manuscript, and it was released in September 2020. The last thing I did on that project was proof the audiobook against the written manuscript.

About two weeks later, Richard emailed me about a second manuscript – Listen, Learn & Love: Improving Latter-day Saint Culture. There are similarities in the style of the two books – his scriptural commentary with submitted personal stories and comments from other contributors. But this one expanded out to cover more topics, such as not judging missionaries if they don’t serve the “traditional” two years away from home, not basing people’s value (including our own) on which leadership positions they do or don’t serve within, not judging people’s clothing or social media posts, and more.

Someone asked what the first book was about, and I said, “In one sentence: don’t be a jerk to gay people.” Now the second book is – “Don’t be a jerk. At all. To Anyone.”

My current church service (yes, in leadership) has focused on BUILDING ZION: developing love and unity within our congregations and communities. Both of these books are how-to manuals on building Zion, and it’s actually kind of sad that they are desperately needed. I personally think that we should be better than these books seem to indicate, but since we’re not, I’m grateful for kind people like Richard to teach us how to do better.

Write Your Story

Women have left fewer accessible records,
and they don’t fit into the frameworks that
male historians have established for understanding history.

– Dr. Julie Roy Jeffrey, Goucher College

To respond to the dirth of women in the historical record, let’s write our own stories. Don’t leave future generations wondering what WE did, and said, and thought; how we reacted to a global pandemic, what we tried to do to enact social justice, and more.

A lot of people don’t like journal writing or scrapbooking. Women especially don’t like even being in photos. But if you don’t do it, your record will be just as lost for your descendants as the records of your ancestors you wish now existed so you could know them better.

This past weekend, I started a new series of posts on Instagram that will appear regularly called WRITE YOUR STORY. There will be a question to answer for your personal history, and I will share some thoughts from my own experience. You can share your answer in the comments or not, but I hope you will think about it and WRITE it down somewhere for your family to learn about your life.

Our FIRST question is:

If you are a parent, how are school breaks different from the rest of the year?
What do you do as a family?

My answer: We are former homeschoolers, so I’ve raised my kids going to children’s museums, science museums, historic sites, zoos and aquariums, nature centers, and any kind of park we can find. Scouting used bookstores is a favorite – they either have absolutely nothing, or it’s a gold mine that we leave with armloads of reading treasure. We are also huge – YUGE! – and frequent users of libraries, even while traveling. So when we’re not in public school, that’s our fallback.

Our kids, sadly, have fully outgrown children’s museums – the ones aimed at preschoolers through about 3rd or 4th grade. This fall, our youngest starts 3rd grade. But even the too-cool-for-words high schooler still loves the aquarium and the zoo!

LDSWP: en espanol

I haven’t done any of these interviews – just guided them through the process as the team of writers has produced them – but we’ve had a run of interviews with women who are native Spanish speakers, involving multiple countries. HOORAY! I love to break the Utah bubble and bring in more women who are outside the United States!

Small But Important Things with Rhina Toledo, by Jenny Willmore. Rhina is from the Philippines, then moved to Spain and started learning Spanish online … from a man in Mexico. She eventually went to Mexico and married him, and they now have three children and she is a teacher.

We all know that we should be followers of Christ. But I think that my personal mission has been to put effort into the small but important things, maybe to overcome the weaknesses that I have, to improve better day by day, and to keep trying even when I make mistakes.”

Turn On Our Light with Alejandra Salas, by Jenny Willmore. Alejandra is in Argentina and started a podcast and website, Refugios Fuertes, to translate LDS faith-based materials (like the LDS Women Project) from English to Spanish. She and her partner have begun translating some of the LDSWP interviews into Spanish with cross-posting on both websites. So we interviewed her AND she’s part of the LDSWP team now!

I see that a lot of women, like me, feel insignificant when thinking of how to help in such a depraved world with our “tiny” talents. We think maybe we can’t change anything and that makes us delay our small but good initiatives. But what if we decide to think differently about our talents? Each one of us could use her talents to do something small and afterward pray, asking Heavenly Father to consecrate that small effort so that it might be magnified and be of benefit to someone. We have to motivate ourselves to turn on our light, because as small as it may be, it is still brighter than the darkness of the world.”

Celebrating Cultural Differences with Maya Yerman Sanchez, by Allie Brown. Maya is a Mexican-American who spent her teen years bouncing between the US and Mexico, attending the LDS boarding school in Mexico City for high school. (The high school was closed a few years ago, and the campus is now the Mexico City Missionary Training Center.) Her husband is also Latino and they now live in Texas.

I just want to be sure I share my appreciation for what our multicultural church has taught me. The Church is the same everywhere, and yet it’s also so different, and that is beautiful. The cultural differences are something that should be celebrated – they really bring different layers to spiritual understanding, and spiritual connection. It has influenced who I am and who I will become.”

The Pretend Investigator with Eileen Velasquez, by Darcey Williams. Eileen is a Latina who grew up in the US, and joined the LDS Church as a young adult when she helped her friend prepare for a mission by letting him practice the lessons with her. She served her own mission in the Dominican Republic, and eventually married another missionary who is Dominican, and they now live in Montreal. Covering a lot of territory!

I think everyone is friendly in the Church wherever you go. It’s really nice when you go to a different country and you can still expect to feel at home. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been able to speak the language everywhere I’ve been, so I’ve never felt out of place. … Here in Canada, it’s really fun because there are people from all over the world. We have members from Nigeria, from Ukraine, from all parts of Latin America, the Philippines, China. Everyone here is friendly and I think it’s exciting because you hear all of these languages spoken at church and it’s really fun.”

reading list: depression

Silent Souls Weeping by Jane Clayson Johnson is about dealing with depression in the context of the LDS faith.

Silent Souls Weeping

It’s a mix of memoir of her own experience with it, and interviews she did with other people, so there is a variety of perspective. Some people deal with the long-term effects of chemical imbalance in their brains. Some people had a short stint with just a year or two and then were fine. She had chapters on postpartum depression, and the depression of being LGBT in a religious environment that believes just being gay is a sin.

My family has a lot of experience with mental health issues and neuro-divergence, so there really wasn’t anything new for me in the book. But I gave it a high rating on Goodreads anyway, so that other people will read it. It has a lot of good information and stories that will help create empathy.

My personal take-away was a reminder to keep an eye on younger women in my circles of influence when they are pregnant, and to let them know clearly that “postpartum depression” can also happen DURING pregnancy. No one seems to know that – and doctors don’t tell you – until you actually go through it, which I did. I went progressively downhill through my pregnancies until the last one when I just wanted to sleep ALL the time, and ended up with an antidepressant medication just to get through the day. As soon as the baby was born, it was like a switch flipped, and I had my brain back.

LDSWP: military service

Jen Hardy contacted the Project to offer her story, and I’m glad she did because it was a very different perspective than any we’d shared before. She joined the National Guard as a senior in high school, and when all of her friends were serving missions for the LDS Church, she was on her way to Afghanistan with the U.S. military.

I appreciated that she called out this cultural problem Mormons have – we are so kind to people outside our church and faith who are different, but someone INSIDE the church who is unique? Not so much. Mormons do NOT like it when other Mormons do not fit neatly into our stereotype, to the point that the “foreigner” is treated quite poorly and openly told that they are wrong for how they live their life. It’s really pathetic.

Something I’ve noticed within the Church culture – when we meet somebody who breaks the mold or doesn’t fit in, a lot of times, we just don’t know how to find common ground. Working with someone from another country and another culture is almost easier than meeting someone who is different within our own culture or our own society. In our mind, we have a category to put them in. If they’re from a foreign country, we can dismiss anything that might not align with our personal thoughts and feelings because it’s different, it’s foreign. But when you have somebody who is different within your own ward or social group that may challenge your thoughts and feelings, we haven’t quite figured out how to compute that.

Finding common ground and creating understanding – I think that’s what has really helped me speak with people who are outside my own culture. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I even have a culture – I live in both the military culture and the LDS culture. My feet are in two different cultures and I bounce back and forth. Common ground and understanding are how you find a way to communicate your feelings effectively, because while different, I’m a sister just like you.

35 LDS temples I’ve been to

I once had a goal to attend every temple on the West Coast, but the Church keeps building more! I don’t even know where they all are – I have to look at the website map. Now I have a goal to get to just get to fifty.

The ones in bold have been, at some point in my life, my “home” temple.

West Coast

  • Seattle
  • Columbia River, Tri-cities, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Portland
  • Medford, Oregon
  • Oakland
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego

Mountain West

  • Salt Lake
  • Provo, Utah
  • Bountiful, Utah
  • Jordan River, Utah
  • Draper, Utah
  • Mt. Timpanogos, Utah
  • Logan, Utah
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Billings, Montana


  • Winter Quarters, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Nauvoo, Illinois
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

East Coast

  • Washington DC
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Boston
  • Palmyra, New York
  • Manhattan
  • Orlando, Florida

outside the US

  • Cardston, Alberta, Canada
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Sydney, Australia

Last but not least – the temple that I visited for the open house but have not yet been back to do ceremonial work: Philadelphia.

9 writing books

I’m homeschooling myself in writing and editing. My curriculum so far:

  • The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • Why We Write About Ourselves by Meredith Maran
  • The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
  • Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin
  • What Editors Do by Peter Ginna
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira (do it yourself Master of Fine Arts)
  • Big Magic: Creating Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

reading list: Italy

Yay! I finally finished another book!

Under the Tuscan Sun is a movie that I despise, so I was really hesitant to read the book. But the two are not similar at all.

Under the Tuscan Sun 1st (first) edition Text Only: Frances Mayes: Books

The movie is about a woman who had her heart broken so to rebuild her life, she goes on vacation to Italy and buys a run-down villa on impulse. That sounds cool enough, but she’s so whiny and sleeps around in an attempt to get personal validation. At the end of the movie, it seems that she has found happiness within herself and in celebrating the joy of others. If the movie had stopped there, it would have been great. But wait! Here comes a hot young man (seriously, like 20 years her junior) through the gate of her villa – he read something she wrote and published, and was so moved by it that he had to get on a plane and come to her side! The movie ends with them making eyes at each other, so we know this is her new true love. Gag. So much for the theme of “Women can be fulfilled in their own lives, whether or not they’re in a romantic relationship.”

I hate that movie.

The book, on the other hand, is about the villa itself. Frances Mayes and her partner Ed deliberately went to Italy to buy property, looked all over the place until they found an old villa to restore, and then she wrote the book about their adventures of that process. Totally interesting to me, both the process and the beautiful descriptions of the land and the house.

Two things I would have liked differently:

At the beginning of the book, she barely mentions in passing that on their first night in the house, she has a dream about finding 100 angels. I loved that – it made me want to watch the people in my life and find my own 100 angels. But it was never developed as a feature in the narrative, but just got a second passing glance later in the book. I would have liked to have seen that better developed.

The thing I would have liked to have seen less developed, on the other hand, was that the most overused adjective in the book was Etruscan. The Etruscans were apparently the people who developed and built Italy (or at least Tuscany) before the Romans took over. So she was forever finding Etruscan roads, Etruscan buildings, Etruscan shrines. And she never describes what Etruscan actually is – what it looks like, what makes it different from the Roman design … just that it’s really, really old. It got really boring by the end.

The book is better than the movie.

38 places for travel plans

My last post is some of my favorite places around the US, but really – my FAVORITE place is anywhere these people are, grumpy faces and all:

Caudle “family portrait,” Rexburg ID, July 2019

The places I want to go with them, but haven’t yet, are

  • the Freedom Trail in Boston
  • Rocky Ridge, the Laura Ingalls Wilder farm in Mansfield, Missouri
  • Alaska
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • Hawaii
  • more of the coast in Maine
  • Silver Creek Falls, Oregon
  • Amish country, Pennsylvania
  • Stowe, Vermont

Adam wants to go to:

  • Yellowstone and Tetons again
  • Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon
  • the redwoods on the California coast
  • Mt St. Helens
  • Olympic peninsula
  • back to Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii – the volcanoes
  • Mesa Verde – Native american cave dwellings
  • Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon – that whole area
  • Rocky Mtn national park in Colorado
  • Not Mt Rushmore
  • Smokies
  • the Adirondack mountains
  • more of the White Mountains
  • Acadia again
  • Florida Keys
  • Glacier National Park
  • more of the Shenandoah Valley
  • Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
  • Crater Lake

Outside the US:

  • back to Prince Edward Island
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Buchart Gardens, Victoria BC
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • the Alps
  • Mediterranean – Malta, Croatia, maybe Greece
  • Australia and New Zealand

11 places I love in the USA

I love this country. I love the variety of locations, both natural and manmade. I’ve visited over half of the states, and driven through most of the rest of them – I’ve touched down in 42 of the 50. I’ve lived in eight states – California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, and Connecticut, plus the District of Columbia.

the Kankamagus Highway, Conway NH

Rocky Gorge, 2021

the Library of Congress Jefferson building, Washington DC

touring around DC, 2009

Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole WY

family vacation, 2019

Pike’s Market, Seattle WA

work trip, 2005

the Sacred Grove, Palmyra NY

weekend spontaneous trip, 2005
We’ve also taken our kids there twice.

the Oregon capitol building, Salem OR

stock photo, I worked in the building 2001-2003

New England fall colors, Ellington CT

view from the apple orchard, 2013

Disney World, Orlando FL

family trip with four babies, 2012

San Francisco CA

stock photo of Lombard Street

Nauvoo IL

Nauvoo LDS Temple, 2014

Acadia National Park, ME

family vacation, 2018