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Monday, January 03, 2005 

A Perfect Life

I started blogging to keep up with the Joneses. Other people were blogging and so I thought I should too. And really that is all there is to it.

But why I continued to blog and why I eventually became a blogger with Various Stages of Mormonism is a bit more interesting.

Journal writing is a big thing in the Mormon Church. Much of what we know of our history is a result of Mormons that kept good journals. Just check out the Beehive House (Brigham Young’s home) as one of many examples of journal writings influence on our understanding of Mormon history. Much of what historians know about Brigham Young’s house, how he raised his children, why he had so many wives, how he moved the Latter Day Saints across the Great Planes and to the Great Basin comes from his youngest daughter, Abigail’s diary. So, you see, journal writing is encouraged.

My mother had all of us children keep a journal while we lived abroad and traveled. I was eleven when I started my first journal. When we returned to Utah I was a “Young Woman” (in the LDS concept of the word, I was no longer in Primary). One of the things I had to do to complete my Beehive certification was keep a journal, so I continued keeping a journal while a Beehive and continued as a Mia Made and then as a Laurel. All the steps of my Young Womanhood required I keep a journal in order to eventually receive my Young Woman in Recognition Award (equivalent to the Eagle Scout – if you were wondering), which I did receive, the YWiR, not the Eagle. I kept my journal all through Young Women’s and then all through BYU. And then one day I stopped. I stopped keeping a journal because I realized that all I was writing about were events in my life that I exaggerated to make myself sound great, you know, for when the day came that my record was of importance, like dear Abigail’s. My journals were more of a resume than any type of diary. Over the years I have tried to keep journals again, but I just can’t because the resume always comes out and very little of me flows forth.

I had a very difficult separation from my ex-husband. Some people suggested I see a psychiatrist to help me through, but I ignored this advice for some time. Then one day I finally called a psychiatrist and made an appointment. I realized that if I was ever going to make it out of the darkens and come out on top I needed the help of a stranger to pull me through, someone who wasn’t a friend, or family member, someone who didn’t love me and could look at things in a different way then anyone close to me could. I went to her office on my lunch hour, sat down on her not so cushy chair and explained that I needed to move from point A, extreme sadness, to point B, perfect life, as quickly as possible and that I needed her as a guide. I told her I didn’t want any of the sappy part of therapy, any of the soul searching, I wanted the “teach me how to move beyond this pain as quickly as possible” part of therapy and that is all. She required that I keep a journal (was she not listening… none of the sappy, none of the soul searching). Every week I would return to her office with all of my assignments complete with the exception of the “keep a journal” portion. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to look back later in life to see how pathetic I was. I tried, but I crossed it all out, ripped it up, destroyed it. I could never bring in what I had written and read it to her, or even re-read it myself. Finally she suggests that I write it as a book, not a journal. For some reason this simple switch in concept allowed me to write something I may one day edit and try to develop into my book, “What Not To Do While Going Through A Divorce.” Everything flowed right out of me. Nothing was glam’d up, sugar coated, it was all there… my anger, my hatred, my dissatisfaction in myself, my dissatisfaction with my ex-husband and my eventual development towards my point B.

It has been a few years and I’ve tried to continue writing in a journal, but I found I only do it when times are difficult… which can get pretty depressing if you start associating journal writing with difficult times. It is the slap in the face that says to you… Yup, you are down Rebecca, things aren’t going well for you right now. So I stopped, again.

Then one day, through my sister-in-law, Kacy, I discovered the world of blog and found that I loved it. It is my honest forum, it is my book, it is my soap box. I can sit and write whatever I want about whomever I want. I can be nice or I can be mean… it doesn’t matter because it is mine. I have been encouraged to censor myself a bit more, possibly not use real names, but I prefer not to change anything be it names, or places, events as I remember them whether they are completely accurate or not because it is my truth and any alteration makes it not what I want it to be, makes it no longer mine.

And my blog offers this thing my journal never has … feedback! Words of encouragement, words of scorn, words from people that are not me. It is there and it pushes me to write more, where with my journal I was my only judge, my only critic and a much more difficult one then any of you have proven to be (so far).

When I started blogging I had no idea I would find myself among such a large group of Mormons. But I did. They strolled over from Kacy’s or I strolled over to theirs and all of a sudden here I am among a group of people with one common bond, Mormonism, and we are all facelessly blogging together. I was very curious about all of them, all of you. Are they practicing Latter Day Saints? Or have some left the Church? Are they married? Single? Widowed? Divorced? Mothers and fathers? I kept reading trying to figure out their lives.

Then one day someone commented on Kaycee’s blog saying they enjoyed her "Top 10 Reasons I Am Glad I Am No Longer Mormon" post, only I couldn’t find it anywhere. I asked her to re-post it, and she did. This re-post of Kaycee’s resulted in an an on-blog argument between a few blogging sisters and friends and resulted in me trying to add my two cents in hopes of getting a religious discussion about Mormonism started. Of course, I was ignorned, but not deleted. The thing I realized though, is that I wanted a forum for these issues and the forum is not someone else’s blog, some blog I came upon while following an on-line explosion. I explained my desire to create this forum through a series of emails to Kaycee. We emailed, we ho-hummed, and then one day she just up and created this, Various Stages of Mormonism (named by Sarah), she invited people, picked topics, and made it happen. And here we are! In 2005!

To sum it up, the reason I continue to blog is because it teaches me to understand different people, including myself. I blog to get it out and let it in. It teaches me to organize my thoughts on politics and religion and love. Also, blogging has introduced me to some wonderful writers that I care for and admire regardless of the fact that I have not met many of them, or that many of them don't even know I read their blog. I blog to understand them.

And the reason I am excited to blog with Various Stages of Mormonism is to learn about other’s pros and cons to organized religion, towards all religion and non-religion. In some way, be you Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or no religion at all, it is still apart of our lives, it is the basis of our wars, politics, disagreements, it is everywhere. This common thread that weaves threw our lives is not an easy thing to understand, but it is an interesting thing to examine. So I look forward to this journey at Various Stages and I look forward to honest, difficult discussions that will lead all of us to a better understanding of one another and hopefully a more perfect life.

Peace and Love and Happy New Year!

Probably the most honest writing of yours that I have ever read! Bravo for your honesty and forth rightfulness!

Oh, and by the way, its not Monday yet!

I've been reading this blog since it's been started, and I must say that I love it. I'm at my own "Various stage of Mormondom." It's given me a lot to think about and caused me to evaluate some of my perceptions. Thanks everybody!

Wow Becca... what a way to start this thing off.

I love how just changing the idea of journal keeping a little made it easier for you to write. I think that's something we all do in one way or another. We can't bring ourselves to do something, but if we call it by another name, it makes all the differnce.

Personally, I am thrilled you blog. I wouldn't be the same around here without you.

Beautiful beginning. I just have to tell you that your words have touched me once again. I love that I am part of this...and love that I've gotten to know you...even little bits at a time...and even though we haven't met face to face.

I'm excited for our little forum...

When I was at 4H camp a girl said she saw a skunk on Mary Paskatt in the middle of the night. I confirmed this, because I thought I saw something and (moreover)I had no friends. Years later this girl told me she was lying, but that she wrote it in her journal as if it were true and included my account to corroborate her story. I offer this here for whatever it's worth.

That was lovely. I agree with Fromage... very open and honest and, let's face it, damn interesting for the voyeaur in me.

I'm loving your blog.

Oh . . . and you should install ebeneezer orthodoxy's comments hack. That is all.

Wonderful post!

I'm so glad that you (collectivley)have started this blog. This is exactly what is needed. A place to discuss various issues in a respectful and supportive manner.

I, myself, have had ups and downs in regards to my beliefs and welcome the chance for open dialogue.

Again, this was a beautiful post. Thank you.

Lisa... Thanks for the suggestion!  

Posted by Kaycee

I am so impressed. Thank you for setting the bar so high. I love the idea of a "novel" journal. My journals are full of the worst moments of my life. I have even burned a couple because they were not worth reading, especially my posterity who need to think I was perfect :)  

Posted by Carrie Ann

Very interesting Becca, good start to the blog. However, I have one question, did you ever finish the Beehive certification? I used to keep a journal, but I did it in Word Perfect, with a password, then I did not write in it for about 6 months, and I forgot the password. (I started it right after my mission, so I am pretty sure it's some Portuguese word, so now my college years are lost (All 10 of them)so this will be a nice chance to restart, in some form.  

Posted by Cameron

Cameron, I'm sure there's some word perfect guru around somewhere who could retrieve them for you.  

Posted by Mike

I love that you are so open about everything. I can't wait to read more. I love blogging, I have loved it since I started. I have found some many amazing writers and just amazing people, you are one of them Rebecca, you are just a beautiful, beautiful person. 

Posted by EJ

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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