Around the first weekend of August, there is what I call the other conference weekend for members of the Church. That is, it's the time when the Sunstone and FairMormon conferences occur each year, and it seems that other organizations and events take advantage of an increased number of Mormons swarming to Utah to host their events as well. This past weekend, I attended on Thursday the Aspiring Mormon Women meeting, on Friday the FairMormon conference, and on Saturday the Mormon Women History Initiative's conference in honor of Claudia Bushman. Each was meaningful and memorable in their own ways.
Aspiring Mormon Women is a new organization that I am particularly keen to support and foster. They focus on developing and providing networking opportunities for Mormon women who are pursuing higher education or careers. I love their blog; I've more than once been moved to tears at the honest approach they take to matters of prioritization, the pushes and pulls of being a working LDS mother, and the sincere desire to fulfill our potentials. Thursday evening offered a compelling presentation by BYU psychologist Anna Packard about how we build our sel-confidence and self-awareness, followed by speed networking. I was surprised by how at home I felt with these women who, like me, are joined not only in their Mormon womanhood but also in their aspirations for education and career. There was a sense of relief and release that I did not anticipate.
On Friday, I attended FairMormon's annual conference to hear Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, speak about being a woman in the Church. It was, not surprisingly, a fantastic talk but I was surprised by FairMormon's decision to give me one of their annual awards for "meritorious" service to the Church. I thought my award-receiving days were over when I left the piano competition circut, so I have to say it felt really wonderful to be recognized for work I feel truly passionate about. And I got rid of the piano trophies years ago so what fun to have something tangible!
It was also a treat on Friday to meet Caitlin Connolley, the artist who painted the work that features on my book cover. A special privilege in this book promotion is the opportunity to showcase her work and draw attention to female LDS artists. It was important to me to have a truly beautiful book cover, and she has made that possible.
Saturday brought the Mormon Women's History Initiative's conference to honor the work and life of Claudia Bushman. I presented a paper as part of a panel on Recording Their Stories: Oral Histories, which examined how when we interview women for the Mormon Women Project can have an effect on how the interview subjects present their personal histories. Many of the conference's founders and presenters, including Andrea Radke-Moss of BYU-I, are mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of my book, so I appreciated being asked to participate as part of this community. I was also touched that many of my colleagues were so supportive of my book's release. Between FairMormon and MWHI, we sold out of all of the book's advanced copies.
The official release of my book, Women at Church, will be August 28th. We will have launch events in Provo and Salt Lake City. In the meantime, preorders are available thorugh Greg Kofford Book's website and on Amazon. I'm also pleased to announce that our accompanying webiste, WomenAtChurch.com has launched, allowing all members to share their stories of gender cooperation at church and read others' stories. If you have a story to share, please use the #womenatchurch hashtag or submit your story through the site.
What I Am Watching:
The Forsythe Saga, the 2002 miniseries. I first watched this in 2003, but it's so fun to revisit it after 12 years of Downtown Abbey and other period dramas that have been so popular over the past decade. It features one of my favorite actors, Damien Lewis, and the production value holds its own against anything that has come since. Soames Forsyte is one of the great characters of television (and I'd say literature, although the book didn't capture me when I attempted to read it) and I also appreciate that his cousin Jolyon is played by Rupert Graves, who takes me back to my beloved A Room With A View days, which I pretty much obsessed over in high school.