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    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Right? Wrong! Words can ruin a reputation, alter a relationship, change the course of a life. Here’s how to stay gossip free.


    by Casey Null

    Something to Talk About

    So when is it gossip, and when is it just conversation? Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Would you feel good repeating it to the face of the person involved?

    • Is there a sensational, larger-than-life, worse-than-bad aspect to it?

    • Does it make a person look good or bad?

    • Is it verifiable fact or speculation?

    • Is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing, showing false concern, like, “I’m worried about Becky—there must be something terribly wrong in her life—her hair looks so bad lately.”

    • Have you heard different versions of the same story? Chances are none of them are true.

    • What are the motives of the person giving the information?

    • Do you feel uplifted or degraded after hearing it?

    When It Rears Its Ugly Head

    Your friends will trust you more if you don’t gossip. They’ll feel confident that you won’t say anything bad about them. But just in case they start it up and you don’t want to be involved, you might try—

    • Changing the subject—the alert will catch on.

    • Staying with the subject, but making it nice. For example, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that side of her personality, but I do know she’s nice to everyone—even freshmen.”

    • Turning the spotlight on the gossiper by saying something like, “It sounds like you don’t like Sam much. Why do you think you’re uncomfortable around him?”

    • Keeping quiet. Sometimes silence screams louder than words, and it’s hard to gossip single-handedly.

    • Saying exactly how you feel. For example, “I like you a lot and we have fun together, but I always feel awful when we gossip. Let’s not do it.”

    Your Own Medicine

    Gossip can almost be addicting. If you have that habit, here are some ways to break it.

    • THINK about how you feel after you’ve passed along some juicy rumor. Do you feel good about yourself? Compare it to how you feel when you say something nice about someone.

    • READ the 13th article of faith, 2 Thessalonians 3:11, and 1 Peter 4:15. [A of F 1:13; 2 Thes. 3:11; 1 Pet. 4:15]

    • INCREASE your self-esteem. We often gossip because we feel inadequate about ourselves. Try prayer and scripture study to feel the love of Heavenly Father.

    • SUBSTITUTE another activity. When you find you and your friends are tempted to sit around gossiping, do or say something constructive instead.

    • LOOK for your motives before you speak. Do you mention someone because you care about them, or do you put them down to make yourself look better?

    • SEE others as beloved children of God. Would you want to offend him by saying something destructive about one of his children?

    • REALIZE that you are not perfect either. Think about the things that someone could dig up on you if they wanted to. Wouldn’t you rather leave them buried?

    The Business Woman

    Although Joanne Mayson of the Crewe Ward, Newcastle-Under-Lyme England Stake, England, is only 17, she’s already formed a business of her own.

    Together with 11 other sixth-form students at Sandback High School, Joanne and her Young Enterprise group manufacture and sell jewelry, scarves, and stationery.

    But her talents go beyond entrepreneurship. She plays the classical guitar and likes singing, racquetball, squash, and jogging, which she does with her brother for two miles a day, rain or shine. Joanne is a Laurel and president of her seminary class.

    [Drum Major]

    Congratulations to Kirsten Cummings, selected top senior drum major at the Oklahoma State Fair!

    Hidden Messages

    Not all subliminal messages are negative. Chad Hawkins, of the Fruit Heights Fourth Ward, Fruit Heights Stake, uses them in his temple drawings to give them an extra, spiritual dimension. He’ll add a nebulous drawing of Moroni to the clouds, or perhaps a heavenly hand among the trees surrounding the temple.

    Chad started drawing when he was six, and now his temple drawings have become popular enough to make into prints to sell and help him earn money for his mission.

    Chad doesn’t spend all his time drawing, however. He also likes running, skiing, and playing goalie on his high school soccer team.

    On the Move

    Moving can be tough—especially when you’re trying to become an Eagle Scout. John Martin of the West Frankfort Ward, Cape Girardeau Missouri Stake, had to change his Eagle project three times because his family relocated, but he finally earned the award.

    His family sees him as a “peace-maker, and as a source of spiritual strength.”

    They’ve Got the English Beat

    Melany Dunn and Beverly Wallace of Mansfield, England, can almost always be found together singing, dancing, or making crazy videos.

    Both are involved in school choirs, plus singing and dancing in every show their school produces. They’re into tap, ballet, and modern dance, and they plan to take on jazz next.

    Stake Spa?

    The Lubbock Texas Stake youth got a real workout recently at what leaders dubbed the “Stake Youth Health Spa.” They “toned up their muscles with an aerobic workout and used special weight-lifting equipment (hoes, rakes, and shovels) at the South Plains Bank Garden.”

    The garden helps provide fresh produce for many needy families in the area. Afterwards, the youth cooled down by “doing laps” in a neighborhood pool. Those involved said they got a spiritual workout as well as a physical one by helping the community.

    Hot Wheels

    Jesse Austin of Lyons, Colorado, made a great friend in Brandon Harris of Ogden, Utah, at the wheelchair sports camp they both attended in Denver.

    Brandon set five records at that meet in swimming and track and won many medals. Jesse won ten medals and set a record in the discus throw.

    Both boys are paraplegic, but that doesn’t slow them down. Jesse pushed himself 50 miles in five days on the Oregon Trail to earn his 50-mile patch and his Historic Trails Award. He also goes to the temple with the youth from his ward to do baptisms for the dead.

    Workshop Scholarships

    Do you love computers? Are you in the top 10 percent of your class? If so, you might be eligible for a scholarship for a two-week, hands-on computer course offered by the Advanced High School Studies Program at BYU.

    Candidates for the full-tuition scholarship must be high school juniors with top grades in English, math, and science. ACT or PSAT scores are also required. No previous computer experience is necessary. The program entitles students to two semester hours of credit when they enter BYU, and the best students at the workshop will be candidates for further scholarships.

    For more information, write to AHSSP ’92, Department of Computer Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602; or call (801) 378-3027.

    Made the Grade

    We don’t know when she found time to study, but Suzette Storrs, of the El Cajon Second Ward, El Cajon California Stake, managed to graduate from high school with a 4.3 grade point average (on a 5.0 scale), while lettering in track, basketball, and volleyball. Suzette is into music as well.

    Of course, Suzette has lots of support from her six sisters and one brother. She’s the fourth of eight children.

    Photography by John Luke and Jed Clark

    Chad Hawkins’s artistic talent is budding in Fruit Heights, Utah.

    This Texas workout was good for the body and spirit.

    Jesse Austin and Brandon Harris became record-breaking friends.