Summer 2015 Issue of Exponent II Going to Print–Subscribe Now!

what would you do

The following is the Letter From the Editor from the about-to-be-released Summer 2015 issue of Exponent II. If you’d like to receive a copy of this issue, subscribe now here.

While writing a fundraising appeal letter for Exponent II in 2012, I looked up some older essays by Exponent II founding mothers about the organization. I found this quote from Carrel Hilton Sheldon, describing the process of preparing manuscripts in the early years of the paper:

“One scene, firmly etched in my mind, is of me sitting at the end of the table typing up submissions to the paper with baby #3 balanced on my knees, in such a position that he could nurse while I typed. Children #1& #2 happily raced around our big old kitchen. At that moment I was awed by my commitment to get the job done and felt powerful in my ability to accomplish it. It was an amazing contrast to my usual feeling that taking care of three little children was so difficult that adding anything–like getting the laundry done–was almost beyond me. Somehow in the process of working on Exponent II, I became someone who could do an awful lot more than I had previously realized I could. ”

I immediately loved this quote, and used it in that letter, but I never dreamed in that moment that my life would soon mirror Carrel’s description. In February of this year, my husband and I welcomed our third baby into our family. In March, Pandora and I began work as the incoming editors of Exponent II. And in June, my family moved to a new state and my husband started a new job. Little baby Theo has spent much of his nursing hours “balanced on my knees” while I have read essays, edited, and corresponded with authors.

The cover of this issue features the art of Emily McPhie, one of my favorite artists I discovered while working as Art Editor for Exponent II. Her art weaves together whimsy and internal struggle and often features women mixing domestic work with heroism and elements of fantasy. In this piece, a woman in a blue dress and red sash stares confidently at the viewer. Interlaced through her ears and head is a slip of paper reading, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

I saw this painting for the first time in the spring of 2014, when I was considering accepting the position of Editor in Chief. The question the painting poses struck me, and as I pondered it over the next few days I knew that for me, the answer was that I would take the job, knowing that it would make my life more complicated during a time that would already feature big change. Luckily, Carrel Hilton Sheldon’s experiences have played out in my own life in the last six months. Getting the laundry done usually still feels beyond me, but I also feel surprised by how much I’ve been able to do. Although I’ve been more busy and exhausted than ever before in my life, in many ways, I feel more capable and directed than I did with my first two infants.

This issue explores multiple kinds of transitions. Big life markers such as marriage and death are addressed in essays such as Mariya Manzhos’ “My Big Fat Mormon Ukrainian Wedding,” and Cherie Pedersen’s “Endings and Beginnings.” “Letter to Beijing,” by Pauline Mortensen, looks at a parent’s response to a child turning into an adult and how the relationship changes and stays the same in sometimes painful ways. Karen Rosenbaum’s “Land of the Lily-Livered” and Cara Evanson’s “Book of Remembrance” deal with getting older and the gradual—and sometimes abrupt—adjustment that results. Three articles—“Lost in Transition,” “Choosing Love,” and “Embracing My New Reality”—address people transitioning out of the church and it how it affects their loved ones. Because Pandora and I felt that these three articles interacted in an interesting way, we have an introduction to them from beloved Exponent II maven Victoria Grover, inviting readers to engage thoughtfully.

These essays add to the ongoing conversations that are the mission of Exponent II. I am honored to play a role in the production of a magazine that for over forty years has been exploring the difficult and beautiful subjects in Mormon women’s lives. We invite you to take part in those conversations and share your art, poetry, or essays with us. I believe that in doing so, we will find ourselves doing more than we ever realized we could.


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