“Smorgasbord of Opportunity with Relief Society Optional Lessons,” Ensign, July 1975, 71
“The Relief Society provides sets of optional lessons for Young Adult and other special groups in the study areas of social relations, cultural refinement, and homemaking. These lessons are generally slanted toward the interests of single women and provide possibilities for enrichment as well as substitution for lessons in the manual, Relief Society Courses of Study.” (Janath Cannon, education counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. See also Notes to the Field, vol. 4., no. 3, August 1974.)
Young Adult and other groups may, of course, elect to follow the regular Relief Society lessons; but they have the assurance in choosing the optional lessons that they are studying correlation-approved materials.
There are four lessons in each optional set. For instance, a social relations set contains four lessons to be taught at the social relations meetings for four consecutive months. No spiritual living optional lessons were prepared, because all sisters will study the universal principles in the regular lessons in this area.
The lessons may be ordered for 50¢ each from the Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.
Some of these optional lessons—and more are planned—include “The Economics of Living More Abundantly,” “Vienna and Its Music,” “A Sensible Course in Physical Fitness,” “Decorating an Apartment on a Limited Budget,” “The Woman Alone,” “Practical Ideas for Beauty in the Home,” “Manage Your Money,” “Shakespeare in Our Lives,” “Improving Your Writing Skills,” and “Who Are You? The Quest for Self-Discovery and Understanding.”
These lessons are valuable for any sister in the Church, but they try to focus particularly on the needs of the single sister or those who attend second-session Relief Societies. For example, the four lessons on money management not only teach correct attitudes about money, but also include sample budgets and charts for establishing savings goals. “Vienna and Its Music” introduces the sisters to the musical life of Austria in general and its capital city in particular, then offers the works of three composers guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of musical tastes: Haydn, Beethoven, and Strauss.
“Practical Ideas for Beauty in the Home” suggests that fabric can be a decorating lifesaver to lighten or darken a room, emphasize or conceal windows, walls, or furniture, unify unrelated furnishings, set or change the mood of a room, and so on. It also treats that difficult question of how to develop good taste and gives several guidelines to help the novice gain experience. One of the first steps to a charming home, the lesson stresses, is keeping it well-groomed.
“The Woman Alone” tackles head-on the problems of loneliness, impersonality, and spiritual stagnation that can come to women not established in family situations. It teaches the principle of “interdependence,” or avoiding the extremes of either dependence or independence. The three principles of interdependence are: (1) Each party contributes something; no one relies on others for everything. (2) Each gives according to her abilities: each party does not necessarily contribute the same amount to the relationship. (3) The exchange of services is not always between the same people. “Someone else may need your help, and that is where you serve.”
Sister Moselle Budge, social relations teacher for the Salt Lake 13th North Ward in the Salt Lake Central Stake, finds that “The Woman Alone” lessons are “exactly what we needed” for her second-session Relief Society consisting of newly married girls without children, widows, the divorced, the never-married, and an age span reaching from the 20s into the 70s.
“Some of the lessons in the manual just couldn’t be adapted for our special circumstances, but these optional lessons are really good—applicable to our needs and very useful. Our stake Relief Society president attended the first lesson and was excited about how good it was. Believe me, I’m grateful for them.”