“There is a terrible ailment of pessimism in the land. It’s almost endemic. We’re constantly fed a steady and sour diet of character assassination, faultfinding, evil speaking of one another. …

I come … with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.”    -Gordon B. Hinckley



The Teacher I Never Got to Thank

  Can I tell you something? I hated high school. Like really, really hated it. Some people thrive and blossom in high school and remember it as the best years of their life. But it was not that time or place for me. Let’s just say I was a work in progress. I was shy and self-conscious with a lot of learning about myself to do, and high school isn’t exactly a time of life I look back on fondly. So when a brief thought popped into my head recently that I should reach out to my former high school yearbook teacher, I kinda didn’t pay it much attention. It would have been so easy. “Look her up. Send a note,” the thought persisted.

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Teaching Kids Manners Before They Embarrass Themselves (And You)

In an era of modern conveniences and instant communication and gratification, it seems manners often go by the wayside. George Washington lived by rules of civility. Why can’t we? The rules he modeled his life after were created for a different era, but we can easily modernize them for our own seemingly uncivilized world. Modernizing George Washington’s Rules of Civility I used to make treats every week for my husband’s Sunday School class. He taught a group of a dozen or so pre-teens. When my husband reluctantly started relaying to me the things some of them would do or say if they didn’t like what I made, I immediately stopped baking them anything. The behavior ranged from spitting out what they didn’t like in the garbage can in front of the entire class to even complaining about something I didn’t make them. While this might leave you wondering about the quality of my baked goods… I can assure you they were all tried and true. So, I honestly wasn’t offended by the fact that they didn’t like what I made (you don’t like almond flavoring in your chocolate swig cookies… fine, more for me); What really upset me was the fact that they were so blatantly […]

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Raising Children Who Serve Others

Teach your Children to Serve and Spread Some Love this Valentine’s Day By Brittany It’s no secret that we live in a world where we are encouraged to think of ourselves as often as possible. There are entire books devoted to the subject, appropriately titled things like The Me Generation and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. My kids are particularly fond of The Minosaur, a children’s book that paints a fairly accurate picture of the “mine, mine, mine” attitude of today’s children. There’s article after article that claim putting your own happiness first is the only way to live and that being selfish isn’t rude, but that it’s necessary. I disagree. In fact, I am on a mission to curb that type of attitude in my own children. I want to teach them that doing kind things for other people without being asked first, leads to happiness. Ultimately, that life isn’t about just them and that people need our help. It’s this type of thinking that I believe will fill our world with more love and less of that snarky hate we’ve been seeing in abundance lately. So, what’s the best way we can implement a service-oriented attitude in our children? Here are four […]

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Senate Rule 19: Learning to Play Nice

By: Andrea There is a room in the U.S. Capitol building where only senators can enter. Senator Bob Bennett, a republican, used to tell me stories about that room as we’d walk down the long underground tunnels connecting his office building to the Capitol. He would often sit down for lunch in that room with then-Senator Joe Biden, a democrat. “He’d talk about Catholicism, and I’d talk about being a Mormon,” said Sen. Bennett. “Joe Biden knows all about the Mormon church.” Senators often head to that room to escape their staff, eat lunch, or relax in between votes. But, Sen. Bennett explained, over the years the more states elected senators on extreme sides of the aisle, the less cordial and friendly that room became.

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Tips for Contacting Your Congressional Office

  Making Your Voice Heard: Effective Ways to Contact Your Congressman By Brittany Let me guess…there are a few things going on in our country right now that are really concerning to you? You want to do something about it, but you’re not quite sure what to do? Well, it’s your lucky day, because I’ve got some tips that can help you with that. But before I reveal my secrets, I need you to do something for me.

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America’s Response to Refugees

Thoughts on Refugees Coming to America By: Andrea “All Mormons are welcome in Missouri! You’re welcome, too!” I giggled a little bit as I listened to Senator Kit Bond, a Republican senator from Missouri, warmly invite me to his home state. He reeked of tobacco and his thick midwest accent made his invitation sound more like, “All Marmons are welcome in Missour-a!” I was interviewing him for a legacy video I was creating for my boss, Sen. Bob Bennett, whose term was coming to an end that year. Sen. Bond was one of about forty senators and congressman I sat down and chatted with that fall day in 2010. It seemed like an odd thing to say, but there was a lot of history behind his invitation.

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Keeping Your Cool Online

Five Tips for Maintaining Civil Discourse on the Internet By: Andrea I glanced at the clock. It was 1:04 a.m. I was wide awake. My mind was racing a million miles a minute over a debate I had read on Facebook just a few hours earlier. I was both annoyed that I was awake over this petty issue, yet simultaneously feeling brilliant for the knock-em-down responses I was concocting in my head. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit, that instead of drifting back to sleep as I should have done, I was actually drafting responses in my head… over and over again. Please, just so I don’t feel crazy, tell me you do this, too? The aforementioned Facebook debate, of course, had everything to do with politics.

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The Peaceful Right to Protest

The Peaceful Right to Protest: The Women’s March on Washington By: Andrea and Brittany Protests have been happening since the birth of our country. Boston Tea Party, anyone? The First Amendment protects our right to free speech and peaceful assembly. So, whether we take the same stance as protesters, it simply doesn’t matter. It is a basic American right. I don’t always think protests make sense or are always effective, but they are one of the beauties of our democracy. 

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The Art of Saying ‘Thank You’

By: Andrea I don’t recall how many wedding presents my husband and I gave this past year. A half dozen,  maybe more? But I can easily count how many thank you cards we got in return: two. Just two. Look, I know. I’m not perfect. I’m not even always the nicest person. And I am quite certain I overlook other niceties my mother tried to teach me growing up. But thank you cards are one of those civilities that she must have drilled hard into us. Because if I don’t write them, my guilty conscience eats at me until I do. Eats at me good.                   

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Thank you, Mr. President

Reaction to President Obama’s Farewell Address By: Brittany “The most important office in our democracy is citizen. . . . Each of us must accept the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging. It needs you–not just when there’s an election. Not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over a full span of a lifetime” -President Barrack Obama, Farewell Address President Obama just took the words right out of my mouth. Despite what any conservative reporters may say, President Obama’s farewell address was absolutely inspiring. He brilliantly stayed away from recapping his Administration’s last eight years and instead gave Americans a much needed lecture on civics. He powerfully delivered a message on our duties and responsibilities as American citizens, and hope. Actual real, tangible hope and not a bunch of fluffed up political rhetoric. All of the above are something that both parties, in my opinion, have failed miserably at in recent years. This call to action couldn’t have come at a better time.

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