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July 07, 2009

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I loved so many aspects of this interview....using small increments of time to writing sometimes just a paragraph a day. Finding joy in the daily small things will lead to greater appreciation in whatever it is we are working at creating- a book, a family, a painting, etc.
This was a joy to read. Thank you, Janika & Laurel!

Janika--I'm glad you dared to reach out to Laurel. I did the same thing when I was thinking of going back to school for a history degree. She was so helpful and very encouraging. I'm now well into the coursework required for a master's degree, in part due to Laurel's encouragement. Thank you for sharing your interview with us!

I had a friend who went to medical school when her 6th child was three years old. I decided to buy back my college text books and see if I still had it in me(my 4th child was a baby at the time). After one night of studying chemistry I realized that I was not willing to put in the time. I'd rather be 'all there' for my kids. I am so glad that I actually bought the books and started because I was able to feel confident in my decision that med school wasn't what I really wanted right now. Maybe it will be later - but likely it will be a different dream.

Way to goo Janika!

I have heard Laurel discuss this before and I think Laurel hits the nail on the head: you have to enjoy the steps, the process, the writing of each sentance in order to be happy in the end. It wasn't until my son was born that I took a step back and said, OK, I need to be happy in the moment I am in now, not when I accomplish X,Y,Z in the future - this change has made a HUGE change in me, my marriage and my family.

What strikes me is that Laurel names her husband as her biggest support. I wonder what makes some men more able to offer this sort of encouragement while others respond defensively or skeptically. How can we raise our sons to become cheerleaders for the women - friends, wives, daughters - in their lives?

In my early 20s, I attended a Mormon women's retreat, which Laurel also attended on "What do you want in your Relief Society?" (Relief Society is the women's charity organization in the Mormon church to which all adult female members belong.) I vividly remember Laurel recount her experience speaking at Brigham Young University about A Midwife's Tale just after winning the McArthur Award. She said that as she walked onto the stage to the podium, she saw that the entire General (e.g., global) Relief Society Presidency was sitting in the front row cheering her on and beaming up at her. Through tears, Laurel shared how she marveled at their unexpected support. She felt so validated, so loved - and this is what she thought Relief Society was to offer.

I put forth that this is the support we need to offer all womankind, no matter the creed - showing up for each other, cheering, and smiling lovingly.

I enjoyed seeing Laurel discussing City of Women, a book out of my field, medieval history. I was familiar with her from Midwife’s Tale, which deals with American history.
I guess I am at the working up the courage for asking the girl to marry me stage of my PhD. I am in middle of writing my dissertation.

Thanks for sharing this interview, Janika, and way to go!

I am ABD in American Culture and Laurel Ulrich was my "invisible" mentor--meaning that I didn't ever reach out to her, but I kept her example in my back pocket. (It was very useful to have a Mormon woman historian with six kids win the MacArthur and Pulitzer.) Because of her example, I did not worry about being pregnant while I was preparing for my oral exams, and I did not worry about being the only Mormon, married woman with two kids in my program.

When I was pregnant with my second child and starting to write my dissertation, I had a series of dreams I called the "Laurel Ulrich dreams." In my dreams, she and I met each day at the park, and I would push my babies on the swings and whine and worry about my dissertation topic, as well as what I was "giving up" or not doing well. She was always very stern about the whining. Her advice centered on making conscious, whole-hearted decisions and then following those decisions with clarity of purpose and without excuses. Do it or don't do it, but please don't whine.

While I am still easily distracted from the "important" by the "urgent"--which is a disaster for accomplishing what I want--Laurel's influence still marks my life in powerful ways: live consciously; take the long view; iterate as required; if you do it, do it well.

I loved reading this. It's so important to remember that our heroines face the same challenges we do.

I am struggling to make my way as a writer, and I also have six children ranging in ages from 15 to 1. If Laurel Thatcher Ulrich can find success one paragraph at a time, then so can I.

Thanks for posting! Its very helpful article nice and impressive. I like it, I have also bookmark it and will recommend it to many other peoples.
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  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.

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