Do you feel tired? Alone? Discouraged? We all do at times. Even though we have determined to follow the example of the Savior, sometimes life can still feel heavy.
Sister Jonnson, of Oregon, was no different. Yet she decided to do something about it. She determined she would focus on supporting the sisterhood she felt in her local Relief Society and even beyond that. She began to focus her energies toward helping LDS women throughout the world to feel a crucial part of each other’s lives. So she created the LDS Women’s Alliance (LDSWA). (Talk about being proactive!)
As always, I am moved when I see someone using their talents to benefit and bless the lives of others here on this earth. It is why I highlight so many of these individuals here at the LDS site. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an active gospel, one in which we serve those around us. Sister Daryll Jonnson felt called to do just that. This is her statement as to the purpose of her new organization:
“The LDSWA is a place where LDS Sisters across the world can connect, unite, and support each other with our various talents and personalities to strengthen and guide us through our changing roles in life.”
Not only has Daryll created an exciting website portal where LDS women can go for friendship, empowerment, and other connections, but she also has busied herself with creating a series of conferences for women to be renewed and strengthened enough to return to face successfully their daily rigors of life.
Daryll was kind enough to share a little bit about her experience. I think you will enjoy getting to know this amazing woman!
C.S.: You have decided to form an LDS women's alliance (thus the name, LDSWA). Please share with us the evolution of this. It sounds fascinating!
DARYLL: I have been working for many years in the corporate world and although I enjoyed what I was doing, I did not feel a great deal of satisfaction. I felt that I wanted to really do something that would help others and that I was very passionate about and wished I could find something to allow me to interact with other LDS women.
I prayed about this for a long time as I wanted to make sure any choice or decision I made that would be an impact on my career path definitely had to be inspired or I would not do it. I also did a lot of research on the web and talking to people to find out what was out there that I maybe could be involved in and yet could not find anything.
Then in a quiet moment, while I was sweeping the floor of all things and feeling a desperation because I was getting no answer, I had this strong impression and idea go throughout my whole body that left me feeling WOW.... where did that come from? I again prayed about it and received confirmation that this was the path I was to follow – to form the LDSWA.
C.S.: What an exciting moment! One of your big launches this year with the LDSWA will be that of a conference. When did the idea for something like this first cross your mind?
DARYLL: I would rather call them retreats in lieu of conferences, for a few reasons - which I'm excited to share with you. To start, sponsoring retreats had always been on my mind as I had always wanted to offer this experience to women. I just had not ever pursued it. When I formed LDSWA, it was just a natural extension and a very integral part of what I wanted to offer alongside all the other resources.
C.S.: Did this feel mind-boggling to you or completely a natural extension of what your purpose was, living in the time and age you do?
DARYLL: I must admit that I could not sleep at night (still cannot) thinking about and planning all the ideas I want to do for the LDSWA. Yet I have never felt so at peace with what I am striving to do. Each and every day I have this tremendous passion and intention to make it happen. So, yes, I feel I am closer to living my purpose in helping sisters around the world feel more connected.
C.S.: How soon did you share this momentous idea/inspiration with your husband? And what was his response? After all, this is a fairly large undertaking!
DARYLL: I did not share my idea with Jerry for quite a few days. Even though the impression was so strong, I wanted to really think through the possibilities before I told him about it. When I finally did tell him, he thought it was a brilliant idea. He told me it felt right and that I was truly on to something. Jerry said he would totally support me doing this and in fact would love to be a part of it in any way he could.
C.S.: Wow. What a supportive husband. OK, planning time now hits! What were some of your first considerations? And especially, what was your overall hope for women who would come to these retreats? What sets yours apart?
DARYLL: My overall hope is that women who attend will feel rejuvenated and enriched. There are so many conferences around to attend where there are great speakers. However, most events are not interactive and they certainly do not give women a chance to relax with quiet time for themselves. The LDSWA Retreats are designed to give women this opportunity specifically for this - to have time for reflection and renewal and also to gain knowledge that will help them become women of strength. Our retreats will also give them the opportunity and sufficient time to connect with other women and to create new friendships and a feeling of unity and connectedness.
C.S.: I'm beginning to better understand your purpose. What is your guiding statement that helps you plan, incorporating all these ideas?
DARYLL: LDSWA was founded to meet the needs of LDS women by connecting, uniting and supporting them through the stages and changing roles in their lives.
C.S.: You definitely come to this with extensive experience, having conducted self-image workshops, both in the US and in the UK. How did this all begin? Did you major in public speaking?
DARYLL: This all began when I was a young girl with the dream of being a model. My life however took different turns and I entered the business world and later raised my family. I later became a single mother and after many years of struggle and depression, through others who cared enough to teach me important skills, I experienced a major change in my life - beginning with weight loss.
Because of my experiences facing challenges, I have had a great desire to help other women who have felt what I felt and need some direction. And trust me - there are so many!
During my professional work training and mentoring individuals with different women-based companies, I made sure that self-image workshops played an integral part. I even had the opportunity finally to do some modeling both in the USA and UK and it was not as much fun as I dreamt as a child!!!
I have always believed a big part of a person’s confidence is reflected in how they feel about themselves, both internally and externally; it certainly helps to be able to speak from experience! Amazingly, I did not major in public speaking and at times I still get nervous. Yet I know I have a responsibility to help as many others as possible see how they can live their life to the fullest and still keep a balance. There’s so much joy waiting them!
C.S.: What amazing experiences, Daryll. I hope you will be speaking at this event. Will you, or your husband? Who else will be there for the attendees to enjoy?
DARYLL: I will certainly be sharing the mission of LDSWA and the plans I have for the future. My husband is speaking on "Living In Balance", based on a concept from his book, Shapeology. We are also very excited about our special guest speaker, Peggy McFarland, who will be sharing how to become "Women of Strength" from her book Becoming Women of Strength.
One of the purposes for our program, 'A Woman of Strength', will be to allow the women to actually participate in getting to know more about themselves and to learn skills to help them in their growth.
And finally, there will be special music from singers and in between all of this, time to mediate, relax, socialize and share themselves in our Women of Strength Fireside Circle. It will be an event to remember.
C.S.: OK, now I’m wanting to attend. Too bad it is in Oregon, across the U.S. from my location! What if there are others like me, who can’t travel that distance for this retreat. Do you have any plans for more?
DARYLL: Due to requests from different areas, we are looking at Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, California, Minnesota, Florida.
C.S.: And if individuals do not live near these targeted locations, what do you recommend?
DARYLL: If there are other areas that are requested we certainly would be happy to see if we could fit them in next year also. I would recommend they let us know if they would like a Retreat in their area. I would also recommend that they sign up for a FREE LDSWA Personal Membership so that they can get up-to-date information on future events and also have access to all the new and exciting programs we have planned for the coming year.
C.S.: As I mentioned before, we’ve been counseled to be proactively involved in doing good. We also have been told by church leaders that we are living in the final moments before Christ returns. I’m curious what you feel the role is of Latter-day Saint women in today's world?
DARYLL: It sounds cliché but I truly feel we need to be an example - a role model for all women, young and old, in the church and out. We need to strengthen our testimonies. We need to know who we are and stand together to make a difference in our world. We need to find and emit our internal joy and happiness so that others will be drawn to the truth through our light.
C.S.: I’m assuming this is one of the driving reasons behind holding these kinds of events? After all, the amount it takes to put on one of these is tremendous.
DARYLL: In talking to many women around the country it has become evident that even though we connect at our church meetings, women for the most part feel a disconnect with other sisters. They also feel it is not easy to find somewhere to go to socialize in a safe setting with other LDS women who share their standards and values and to be able to have time for themselves away from other commitments.
For this reason I feel our Retreats will enable them to take some personal time to share ideas and skills that will help them in their everyday lives to keep a balance in all they do. It will also provide them some quiet time to reflect and ponder and the opportunity to share with others their experience.
C.S.: Point well taken! Please share with us about this premiere retreat, the location, the dates, etc. What do the sisters have to look forward to during this launch of LDSWA retreats?
DARYLL: Our Launch Retreat is in Oregon because this is my home. It is 27-29 October at a beautiful retreat center on 100 acres overlooking the gorgeous Columbia river and gorge. They can attend for the full 2-day event or can come just for the day’s events. They obviously will benefit more fully from being here for the whole time, however I understand that it is very hard for some to be able to commit to two days, especially with short notice. Thus, we’re providing as many options as possible.
What we’re excited about is the women can look forward to time with themselves, sharing with other sisters and having their meals prepared and served to them with no dishes to wash! They can enjoy the scenery, the events, the facilities, making friendships, feeling connection and peace. They also have the opportunity of booking a massage while they are here at a very low rate.
C.S.: Where can individuals go for more information or to reserve their spot?
DARYLL: They can register for the event by visiting the LDSWA.com website. If they would prefer to do this over the phone, they can call 503-631-8863. I also want them to know that this event is wheelchair accessible and that we can cater to ALL dietary needs.
C.S.: I think what you are providing for others is terrific. Yet it requires so much work and time on your part. Now that you’ve begun on this path, do you ever throw your hands up and say, "I quit!"? And if not, what has kept you going?
DARYLL: You just work to get it done. There is a lot behind the scenes that nobody will ever know that goes to putting all this together to make it run as smoothly as you can. I never say "I quit", but sometimes I have felt overwhelmed. However, I know that what I am doing is good and the inspiration was given through the spirit; and I never forget that feeling when I receive and recognize it - and more importantly act upon it. That is what keeps me going.
C.S.: Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
DARYLL: It is our intention at LDSWA to provide resources and support that will benefit all women. We would certainly recommend that you go and sign up for a free personal membership. That way you can have access to all the exciting programs we are planning at www.LDSWA.com. We also welcome any suggestions and ideas as to what you would like to see on the LDSWA site and at our retreats - for we truly want this to be "A place to call your own."
C.S.: Thank you, Daryll, for being willing to share so warmly and freely about your desires and efforts. May we all determine to be just as service-minded.
Daryll and Jerry Jonnson have extensive life experience in work, family and spiritual development. Both have served large women-based companies holding both corporate executive positions and serving as consultants.
Daryll, the founder of LDSWA, has conducted self-image workshops in the United States and the United Kingdom and has served as President of an international business college. She also has received the Dale Carnegie Highest Achiever Award and currently serves in her Relief Society Presidency.
Jerry holds a Ph.D. in Human Development, is a certified Tai Chi instructor, and has conducted seminars throughout the United States on life balance and effective communication. He currently has a book in publication entitled Living in Balance and serves in his High Priest Quorum.
Daryll and Jerry have two boys, three girls, and twin grandsons, all of whom are their teachers of unconditional love.