127 Transcript: All the Women in My Family Sing (with Deborah Santana)

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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 127. We're talking about the importance of deep compassionate listening. When we listen, other women feel valued and heard and we can collectively rise up in a spirit of love and connection. Stay tuned.

Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.

J: Hey, welcome back, everyone. What's up? What's happening? Jen Riday here, and thank you for tuning in to another special episode of the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. How's it going? I want to let you know, I love you guys. Thank you so much for listening, I hope you're having a fantastic week. And we have another great episode today. I'm bringing on Deborah Santana, we're going to be talking about the importance of listening to other women's voices, not just your intimate circle of friends, but expanding that. That awareness builds compassion and that builds compassion for yourself as well as for others; it's so important to listen. I'm so excited for this topic, it's one of my favorites. I love to listen, that's probably why I love being a podcast host; so that's coming up today. I want to give a shout out to Kimber who left our review of the week. She wrote, “I've been listening to this podcast for about a month now and have been struggling with writing a review because I think I have to find just the right words to explain how amazing it is. This has resulted in my procrastination of writing a review; ugh. But this podcast has literally transformed my thinking and inspired me so much. I can't say enough great things about what you're doing here so I'll just let the constant smile on my face when I finish an episode and the energy and vibration I'm bringing to those around me as a result say it all. I can't imagine life without the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. Thank you.” Wow, Kimber, thank you so much. I can imagine you with that smile and I'm smiling too. I'm excited because the Vibrant Happy Women movement is about just that; finding that happiness, constantly choosing that happiness, so thank you. Everyone else, I would love to hear from you. Leave us a review at jenriday.com/review. Well, let's go ahead and get into today's episode.

Deborah Santana is talking about listening; listening to other women's voices. And what would it look like for you to do that? How would it help you to build your compassion? Well, let me tell you a little bit about Deborah. Deborah Santana is the editor of the powerful new anthology called ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’. And this was named one of Vogue's life-changing books of 2018 and it's a collection of stories and poetry from 69 women of color. Deborah is on a mission to empower underrepresented female voices and broaden that sense of compassion by showing women like all of us how very alike we are, no matter our skin color, no matter our ethnic heritage or the place we live. And this is super important because our world is a global society and we need to know and understand and show compassion toward everyone. And what I found, the more I feel compassion toward other people, the easier it is to feel compassion toward myself. It's a beautiful gift that comes with giving something to another person. And giving that gift of listening, deeply listening and hearing and feeling a person struggle, feeling their joys as you listen, listening with your whole body, making it a kinesthetic experience, wow, it connects you like… like nothing else. And so you're going to love this episode. So Deborah's my guest today on the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, and without further ado, let's get into that interview now.

Deborah Santana is the editor of the powerful new anthology ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’. Named one of Vogue's life-changing books of 2018, this anthology is a collection of prose and poetry by 69 women of color. Santana is on a mission to empower underrepresented female voices and broaden cross-cultural understanding by showing people how very alike we are, no matter our skin color, ethnic heritage, or place we live. Welcome to the show, Deborah.

D: Thank you so much, Jen.

J: So this is amazing, and such important work you're doing and I can't wait to dive into that. But, first, let's have a quote that means something to you and we can start thinking about that.

D: Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.” and that's a Proverbs 4:23 scripture, and I love it because I have given a lot of attention to improving my mind and expanding my knowledge about world issues, literature, social justice, and more. I'm a writer, I love classical music and I love jazz, but what's most important to me is the resilience of my heart through all of life's joys and sorrows. I also think that love originates in the heart and so it's really important to me that no matter what goes on in the world or in my personal life, I can come back to love.

J: I love that. And obviously, most people would agree that sometimes it feels like there's not quite as much love in the world or that darkness is pressing on the edges of all of the love and, you know, tell us how that has affected you and led you to maybe the work you're doing today with your anthology.

D: Well, actually love is more related to my meditation. I have a meditation practice; I meditate every single day every morning very early and that's really the only way I can come back to love. Because in today's world, of course, if I want to stay informed, the stories are all very caustic and people are against people and there's not a lot of love that's being promoted. Even though I do believe that is the outer world, I don't believe that's the inner world. So… yes, so pushing against those edges of divisiveness and, oh, our political environment of course, we have to find a way to come back to what you said in the beginning, that we are definitely more alike than different; our DNA is 97.3% similar in everybody. So if we can find the truth that we are more alike than we are different, we can come back to love.

J: I love that; that's so great. Well, how did you come about creating the anthology, ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’? Tell us your story.

D: Yes. Well, I published my own memoir in 2005 and it was such a watershed moment for me in terms of standing in my own truths and my own existence. And since that time, I continued writing. I wrote a second memoir but I decided not to publish it, and I've had a few essays and a few different anthologies. And a very dear friend of mine, Chris Bronstein, who has a female publishing company, Nothing But the Truth, asked if I would head it with the anthology because she asked that we do an anthology with all women of color and she couldn't head it because she's not of color. And so this project began 3 years ago and I sent out a call for submissions and received over 300 essays and was able with an editorial consulting team to winnow it down to 69 of these essays. And the women tell their personal experiences of what it means to be a woman of color in the world today. Identity is one important topic which includes racism in the South and how women move from being in the midst of bigotry to finding their power and telling stories about the struggle. And we have 2 wonderful Native women who tell of being at Standing Rock for the second time the night before our current president pushed a pipeline across Treaty lands. You know, we have so many women telling so many stories and we were very grateful to receive America Ferrera’s 2017 speech at the Women's March.

J: Mm.

D: So it's a powerful book and it's also very personal. These are stories that you feel like you're sitting around the kitchen table listening to other women talk.

J: Mm. And it is so important because our culture definitely highlights the White experience and highlights, you know, everywhere you look in the media, in the books that are pushed forward. And… and, yeah, these voices of people of color are definitely marginalized, so I think it's so important that you're bringing these voices out. But tell us a little more about your story as a woman of color and, you know, your experience and then we can start hearing more about you.

D: Yes. Well, I grew up in San Francisco, my mother was Irish, English, and my father, African-American. When they married, it was still illegal in 17 States for interracial marriage. And they had stories of being spit upon, my father was even shot in the stomach by his landlord for dating a white woman before he and my mom married. And so I was raised with his sense that we were different and that's not true. But because society looked on us as different or looked on people of color as different because of the dominant society being in power and marginalizing people of color, I didn't really feel safe in the world for a long time. And I just felt that, growing up, I had so many opportunities. Growing up in San Francisco, we weren't well-off and weren't wealthy, we were middle-class, and yet, I had so many friends and I was… I was just vibrant in my schooling; I took the… I studied the viola and the violin, I was in choir, I was head cheerleader. I mean, I was… I just had this wonderful quote-unquote ‘normal childhood’, but there are a lot of people of color who are not able to have that experience and are marginalized or held back. And certainly in the history of this country, one of the things you asked was the struggle, which that was the struggle; finding who I was and believing in myself in the midst of a dominant racist society. But one of my big wins was this anthology, putting women's voices out into the world on this wonderful platform of publishing this book, ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’. And another really wonderful win was I was given the opportunity of being a founding donor at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American history and culture in Washington DC.

J: Nice.

D: And it's such a beautiful, beautiful repository of African-Americans’ contributions to building America, sustaining America, entertaining America, and fighting for American civil liberties.

J: Yeah. Well, so I obviously am not a person of color, but I think often about, even just being born a woman, all the little insidious quiet silent messages I received knowingly or unknowingly knowingly about my value, my abilities, my worth, what I could achieve, what I could accomplish. Can you speak more to that as a woman and as a person of color what that looked like for you in your life to find who you are and to build that confidence that pushed away those thoughts and voices that said maybe you were less than not good enough in some way?

D: It has been a lifelong journey. It's so interesting because you're right, it… it’s silent, it's insidious, it’s ubiquitous. And it takes a very strong family to tell you that you're wonderful, you're special, you're perfect just as you are, for women people of color, anyone who's marginalized; and I had that family, first and foremost.

J: Nice.

D: And then, secondly, I think if I continue to grow, I did a lot of soul-searching, I did a lot of reading spiritual texts. I was raised in the Christian Church, but I had a guru when I'm in my 20s, so I believe that's when I began meditating and looking at my spirit.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And I think that the most important part of growing into understanding that I am equal, I am abundant, I am filled with joy, and I can live a life of abundance and beauty, came from meditating. It came from touching the center of me and feeling the Spirit of God coming into me which has no color, has no class, has no ethnicity and no borders. And that's really what I believe has helped me grow into the woman I am today.

J: Mm, that's so beautiful, I couldn't agree more; I love meditation. And let's just pretend there are no differences for a moment. Let's just say anyone listening, gender, race aside, where they're feeling not worthwhile, what does that look like? What do you advise for someone wanting to use meditation as that tool to tap into the… the Spirit of God, as you described, and to understand, “You know what? My skin color doesn't matter, my gender doesn't matter, none of this matters, how I was raised doesn't matter, my socioeconomic status doesn't matter,” and to find that greatness from inside? What does that look like? I mean, it's hard to nail it down into words.

D: Yes. Well, I don't think we can really escape the things that matter because they really do matter once you open the doors and leave your meditation room.

J: Oh, for sure; for sure.


D: But I… I think what we have to find is who we are in that internal place which is infinite. And that can only be done by sitting in silence and breathing in light and breathing in the spirit and breathing in what is perfect in the world and what is perfect in the very thought that we were born here to learn something; we were put on this earth. There's some reason that we are all born, and I believe it's to grow into change and to walk closer into the truth of the Creator.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: But that also takes beyond meditation; it takes reading books are going to lift us up and not take us to a lower place of realization.

J: So let's say on a given morning, any of us, we meditate and we tap back into that infinite potential inside of us and we're feeling good, we're feeling, you know, aligned and authentic. And then we go into the world, of course, people of color and even maybe more so, women of color, so many things that can knock that back. And what is that that looks like for you to remember as you go about your life; how to tap back into that thought that, “Oh, yeah, I'm ok. I am amazing. I'm not going to let them silence that truth.”?

D: I also believe that carrying the peace out into the world is powerful, but I also think the second part of that is to be a service.

J: Mm.

D: And so, if I can be in the world and feel that my life is worthwhile because I am helping someone else or because I'm being a service for the greater good, then that is a way to definitely keep me focused and keep me in alignment with that interior spirit, but it's also very difficult because there's so much to do; I get burned out. I have a nonprofit called Do A Little, and I support women and girls in the areas of health, education, and happiness.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And one of my big supporters are one of the biggest supports that I made to the Daraja Academy, an all-girls high school in Kenya.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And there's just… the work is endless.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And yet, I… I have more hope because I can touch the life of someone else.

J: Yes. Well, if someone wanted to, first, they meditate, but then they want to be of service, what would you recommend? Where do we start to help, you know, bring that truth really to everyone; you know, all genders, all races, all circumstances? Like you said, you're helping that school in Kenya, that's so beautiful but, you know, it can be overwhelming, where do we even start? And I… I do believe it's what you said, we start with our own meditation, we start inside of ourselves, but then carrying that amazing feeling out there, goodness, how do you begin?

D: I think you have to begin with your own passion and you have to begin with your own daily access. So when my children were in school, I volunteered at their school.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: Right? If you love folks, you can volunteer at the library.

J: Uh-huh.

D: If you have… you know, if you love helping people who don't have something to eat, you can help at a food bank. I really think it's so individual, it's so important that it is an individual passion that drives the service. I'm very fortunate because I've been in this world for so long, I was able to serve on boards and do work in the world that I connected with. And then I learned so much and then, when it was time for me to move on, I moved on and found something else that inspired me. But everybody has something that they can do. There's so many people who just knit little caps for babies who need little hats.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: You know, it's just the resources are infinite.

J: Yes, it's so true. And I remember my old self, the old Jen. (Laughs)

D: Mm.

J: When I was beginning this journey of healing for myself, I believed I didn't have time to go serve that; I had too much happening. But there's something that has shifted and part of it is through my own suffering; we all suffer in some way or another. Part of it is through my desire to keep tapping into that divine potential. But something has shifted for me recently where I desire strongly to serve other people, like you mentioned, but for kind of a selfish reason because I found that it heals me in the process. You felt anything similar?

D: Absolutely. I often say, “No, no, my work is not really… it’s really for others, but its ability for me,” because… and Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, says, “Serving others is the rent we pay for being on this earth.”

J: Mm.

D: And I totally agree with you. I feel so happy when I see these girls who… in Kenya, the girls who weren't going to be able to go to high school, they graduate from Daraja Academy and then they go to university, or many of the other women that I work with who've been trafficked and then they begin to work with Harambee Arts and they make art and they make sculptures of themselves and they begin to heal then feel that pain in those wounds. So you're absolutely right, if I see someone else feel better by any small amount I contributed, then I'm just flying.

J: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it's like part of the formula for deep happiness I really feel that, with many of us focus so much on social media and to-do lists that we're missing such a deep level of happiness that comes if we just shift into that one area, like you said.

D: Mm-hmm.

J: So tell us more about some of the women you got to get to know or who submitted essays for your anthology. You know, maybe pick a favorite story or 2 and share some of that so we can dive in and get a taste for these amazing women.

D: Yes. Well, there are so many and I… someone asked me, “What are your favorites?” and of course, I say, “Well, you can't have a favorite child.”

J: Right.


D: Just, you know, you can't have a favorite essay. I don't know if you're aware of Natalie Baszile but she wrote a beautiful novel called ‘Queen Sugar’, and now…

J: Mm-hmm.

D: … there is a show on the OWN Channel which is called Queen Sugar, which is a dramatization of her original novel. But she has a wonderful essay that actually opens the anthology called ‘Home going.’

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And it's about her father who left Louisiana in the early 1950s because of the oppression and the racism. And she writes is going back and researching her novel and finding that things were definitely better in Louisiana, but she also saw that the painful truth of her father’s Louisiana did not make good bedtime .

J: Oh.

D: So she… isn't that beautiful?

J: Yeah.

D: But he writes a beautiful, beautiful essay about going back and then how discovering the Louisiana of today, and even though her father had such a broken relationship there, she actually bought a small home so that she could continue to go back and discover that her dad's Louisiana is different now.

J: Oh.

D: I love her essay, it's really, really beautiful, and there are so many that are beautiful. And then there's a beautiful essay by (unclear) [20:45] who is from Karachi, India and she talks about the difference in that culture. And she was married here in California, she was born in Pakistan, but she had spent most of her life in Canada and America, and then she went back to visit her aunt and uncle and she just… just saw how different it was and how she was not going to be the dutiful wife that the people from Karachi thought she should be, so she writes about that kind of struggle there, and yet, she found joy.

J: Mm-hmm, I love that, and it seems like a book that would help fill us with compassion; just compassion and maybe a greater… slightly greater understanding for all of these experiences people have. And it's just beautiful sometimes to think as you meet a new person, “Wow, they struggle, we've all struggled, but look, they're living this beautiful life despite their struggles,” and just knowing about different people's struggles builds that compassion so much.

D: Yeah. And it's not all struggle, some of it is funny. I mean, there's one essay called ‘Scolding other people's kids’ by Sonya Kamal. And we've all had that experience, right? We're out in public and we see children misbehaving or we try and we think, “Gosh, should I go help that mom?”

J: (Laughs)

D: Or, “What…” (Laughs) you know, “What should I do?”

J: Yeah.

D: And so there's just so much to identify with.

J: Oh, that's great; that's so fun. And really, it all begins with just talking. I mean, I grew up in a very small town southwest Iowa, where I still believe 95% of people are white and it's still just harder for people there, in my opinion, my parents included, because they don't interact with others of different races or of different circumstances. It's very farm based and everyone's very similar and so it's hard for them to think out of the box and recognize that others have these amazing and unique human experiences as well that are equally valid. So a book like this seems like it would be so beneficial for anyone who could read it.

D: You're absolutely right; you're absolutely right. And that's really the goal and that's why we… and we have a website so people can see all of the authors, it's allthewomeninmyfamilysing.com and we have a page with all of the author's Bios. And so people can see, “Wow this person is a lawyer. This one is the president of a university. This one's a vice president of a Fortune 500 company, and yet they have these really amazing stories that are different than mine, but they're so accomplished. And I want to know more about other people that I'm not usually in a circle with because of these stories.”

J: And I love that because I've noticed a trend or a shift in the media, but I feel like 10 years ago even still, the media would portray certain races only negatively or focus on the negatives of that race.

D: Oh, they still do. (Laughs)

J: Right, but I'm seeing a shift especially on Facebook where more and more people are realizing, “We've got to show the good sides of all of these people of all these races,” so I'm seeing growth and progress which makes me so happy. But you're right, just to show that, “Hey, not all lawyers are White people like the TV shows might portray,” you know what I'm saying? So…

D: Yeah, absolutely. And also just to stop judging.

J: Yeah.

D: I think that so much of our time is spent judging the outer of a person. And I remember years ago when I was writing my memoir and I was at a workshop of Natalie Goldberg who's one of my writing mentors and she gave us a job to describe… write and describe someone walking towards you without using any color or ethnicity or size, you know, we had to be creative. And I think of that every time I see someone walking towards me, “Don't look for the obvious, find out something that's inside them.”

J: Wow.

D: And that totally changed my perceptions and my way of looking at people.

J: Wow. So how would you describe someone walking towards you? Give us an example without the physical traits.

D: Well, I would first of all notice if they're smiling or if there's grimacing; I noticed that a lot in people which tells me a little bit about their inner state. And so then I might notice if they're wearing… if it's a woman and she's wearing earrings or someone's wearing glasses, if someone's carrying a purse or a bottle of water, if someone has a long stride or a short stride, if they're hopping, if they're gliding.

J: Uh-huh.

D: What does that person’s facial expression say to me?

J: Wow. And as you were talking I thought, “My goodness, by extension, I've been experimenting with the idea of recognizing light in people's eyes lately.”

D: Mm-hmm.

J: And I think sometimes in our lives we have struggles and make choices that lead us more into darkness, and you can look in some people's eyes and say to yourself, “Oh, they're struggling,” and at other times, you might see them a year or 2 later and see that light back there again and think, “Oh, they're filled with light.” But really, the eyes are the window to the soul and what would it be like if we just looked into people's eyes deeply? And then all those traits and physical qualities and weight and height and everything else just falls away and it becomes that soul to soul connection which I think, in the end, is what it's all about.

D: Absolutely. And I love what His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

J: (Laughs). That's great.

D: And that's what we're talking about. Let's have compassion for someone who's walking toward us. I mean, one of my biggest challenges since 2016 is not to think negatively when I see the news, not to cast dispersions on the political party I don't have an affinity with, I didn't vote that way. How am I going to change the way I live right here? I don't have to tell anybody about it, but how am I going to not create hate and take that first quality we were talking about (which is love) into the world? And I will tell you, it is challenging every day, but that is my hope that I can continue to live to walk what I talk.

J: Wow. Yeah, even political party. I think a lot of people would have struggle with that one, but you're right, “How can I love and feel compassion and connection for this human being with eyes to their soul standing right in front of me?” Wow.

D: And I don't have to agree with them. I do not have to agree at all with the way they're choosing to act or what they've done to hurt other people, but I still don't have to condemn them because I'm not God.

J: Right.

D: And that's part… that's really hard. (Laughs)

J: Ugh, so true.

D: I'm not saying I mastered it at all.

J: So true. Wow, I love that. Well, let's have a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk more about some of your favorite things.

Welcome back. Deborah, do you have any essays in ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’ that focus on the experience of a mom; being a mom of color? That would be so interesting.

D: Yes, we have a few of them. And one of them is really so tender and sweet which is by Jennifer de Leon and it's called ‘A Pink Dress’, and she's actually writing about her mom. When she was in college, they came from very, very modest means; her mother worked as a housekeeper basically.

J: Mm-hmm.

D: And when Jennifer was growing up, she made $6 an hour babysitting. And then when she was able to get into college, she earned a scholarship and attended Connecticut College. And her mother just participated with her; she came to her women enrolled studies class and talked about growing up in Guatemala and coming to the United States and the way globalization played a role in their economic, political, and cultural trial. Then, when Jennifer went to New York one summer to intern at News magazine, her mother went to visit her and met Gloria Steinem. And so she writes about what a champion her mother was of her education; there was never a question that she and her sister were not going to go to college.

J: Ah.

D: And the end of the essay, she talks about wanting this special dress for graduation, but they couldn't afford it and then her mother coming and bringing the dress to her. So it's just… it’s a sweet story. And then we have a wonderful, wonderful story by Vicki L Ward who talks about her growing up with her parents and her father was not the best example for her and did not treat her mom properly. He was a career Navy man and he had a lot of issues and anger, and so finally, her mom left him. And then when Vicki herself grew up in married, she married a man who she had to leave also, but she first had a son. And so she talks about this amazing son she has who was so strong and he assumed the role of father, husband, and head of household for 2 boys his wife brought to their marriage and then the 3 boys they had, and what an amazing Black father he was to 5 boys, going to every game, working hard…

J: Aww.

D: … and taking them to do sports activities and on ski trips. And this was an important story to have in the anthology because, of course as you're talking earlier about how especially black men are represented in the media or have been, this is such a testimony to a strong Black man.

J: Yes, ah. And it's so empowering rather than disempowering to say, “Hey, these are people of color and… and women, and look, all this amazingness is coming from their lives. It's not something all… you know, it's not all negative like the media portrays, but empowering.”

D: Right, yeah.

J: So it's a feel good book; I can tell it to feel good.

D: Yes, it is; it is.

J: Uh-huh, that's great. Well, Deborah, let's talk about some of your favorite things. You mentioned meditation so I want to dive in a tiny bit more there. What does your morning routine look like? What do you do when you wake up and where does meditation fit into that pattern there?

D: Well, I have a little table that faces east and I'm very fortunate to have a sweet view out of my window. And so I get up and I usually make a cup of tea, then I light my candle, and on my shrine, I have a picture of our family; so my husband, Carl Lumbly, my son, Salvador, my daughters, Stella and Angelica, my stepson, Brandon, and my daughter-in-law, Megan, are all sitting there. And so I begin my silence with first, of course, thanking God for a new day and asking for me to be open and filled with spirit and light. And then I say a prayer for each of the children and my husband, and then I have silence where I just try to breathe in peace.

J: Mm.

D: And I have a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I say these words, “Abundance, beauty, compassion, dignity, equality, faith, forgiveness, gratitude, humility, integrity, justice, kindness, love, and mercy.”

J: Wow!

D: And I say the same words every morning. Sometimes, I change them a little bit or add another word, but when I breathe those words in, they do something to me.

J: Ooh! I like that. Can you say the words again; if you can remember that? (Laughs)

D: Yeah. Well, I say them… they're kind of an alphabetical order.

J: Oh.

D: So it's, “Abundance, beauty, compassion, dignity, equality, faith (or forgiveness, depending on the morning), gratitude, humility, integrity, justice, kindness, love, and mercy.”

J: Ooh yeah, those are powerful words.

D: Yeah, so this is something I devolved a couple of years ago when I read a book by a brain surgeon (I can't remember his name now) when he talked about these mnemonics that he did in studying and then also in his spiritual life; so I began that a couple of years ago. And I say those words and then I give myself a little more time; I usually spend between 15 or 20 minutes sitting there and then I get up and begin my day. And another part, another extension that I'm so grateful to have now of my meditation because I have time because (I'm not working full time), I try to take a hike in nature because nature also speaks to me of peace and also the volatility of life because, depending on the day, there can be coyotes on the mountain or there can be something that maybe shifts my sense of stability or comfort. And so I try to get out in nature and understand a bigger part of what life is about.

J: I love that. You're looking to your hearts and saying those words which are power words that probably… you said they do something to you and I believe that; when we speak positive words.

D: (Laughs)

J: But then also, looking out to major in the world and just filling up your cup, it sounds like an amazing routine.

D: Mm-hmm, yes. I'm very… believe me, I understand how lucky I am because, for many years when my children were young, I was in… I have 3 children and so raising them, I was taking them to school and going to work in our family business at the time in my former marriage and running a corporation, running a non-profit. And then if my parents’ stage, I was caring for my parents and I had such a whirlwind life and I kept my meditation every morning, but I still did not have the sense of freedom that I have now. So I understand that people are not where I am. (Laughs)

J: Wow, that's great. What is your favorite book? I mean, aside from your amazing anthology, what else do you like to read?

D: Well, it's difficult to, again, have a favorite book, but I'm going to choose one that I've read twice because I love it so much, and it's called God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine’, it's by Victoria Sweet. And one of the reasons I love it so much is because she has a very deep spiritual life and yet, she's a physician who worked at hospital here in San Francisco called Laguna Honda. And I always thought that… I never knew what it was, I grew up in San Francisco and I always… I just didn't know what it was. And so she talks about how it was the last alms house in the country.

J: Ooh!

D: Yes, isn’t that interesting? And it cared for this… it was a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (Gods Hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. And so it's such a beautiful book and the writing is astounding. And in between all of this was… she's talking about working with these people who are indigent and they… a lot of them… it's an office that takes anyone in or at least, I think it has shifted now. And she talks about Hildegard who she studied who came out in her medicine and knew about the body and gave prescriptions for things, yet she also knew how to read her patients. So this woman, Victoria Sweet, is having this spiritual encounter with every patient she comes in contact with.

J: Whoa! Oh, that sounds amazing.

D: It is a beautiful book. And then in the midst of that, she takes the pilgrimage in Spain on the Camino, which is one of my dreams also and which one of our authors in our anthology, the (unclear) [36:03] also took.

J: Oh.

D: (unclear) [36:08] connections just inspire me and she just writes about people and her description of these people who had some had disastrous devastating diseases and others just were homeless and needed to get out of the rain for a while. So I think it's a beautiful book; ‘God's Hotel’ by Victoria Sweet.

J: Thank you, I've not heard of it; I can't wait to get my hands on it. So I'll remind our listeners that they can find links to ‘God's Hotel’ and your book, ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’, and everything else we've talked about on our show notes page at jenriday.com/127. And now, Deborah, tell us what it means for you to be a vibrant happy woman.

D: Mm-hmm. My definition would be to be enlivened with a spirit of love for people, to care for and protect the earth, to be fulfilled by simple pleasure and in connection with family and friends through conversation and enjoying art, music, and nature together. I think happiness comes and goes because it depends on our circumstances. So I'm always looking for the ability to be present in what this moment is bringing right now because it's not good or bad, it just is.

J: Yes. That is the secret of happiness, to not expect happiness, just to be with what is. I have to agree with you so much; thank you. Let's have a challenge from you to our listeners and we'll say goodbye.

D: Alright, so I would challenge everyone listening to do something kind for someone else because it will fill you with joy. So this week, choose to find something sweet to offer someone else, it can be anonymous or it can be absolutely something that you give from your heart to someone else or it can be to be of service to someone.

J: Perfect. Thank you so much for being on the show, I'm grateful for the work you're doing and for adding that spiritual element to the work you're doing. I guess maybe the work you're doing is because of that spiritual element; you're guided, it's your passion. But anyway, thank you so much, Deborah.

D: Thank you so much, Jen.

J: Take care.

D: You too. Bye-bye.

J: Thank you so much for listening today. And I want to remind you to go check out the high vibe quiz, ‘How high vibe are you?’. High vibe living means that, you know, how to shift your mood, shift your thinking, shift your emotions up into a higher vibration; and it's amazing because we attract more of what we want when we live in that energy. So how high vibe are you? You can take the ‘How high vibe are you?’ quiz by going to jenriday.com/quiz. And I would love to hear your answers; you can email me at support@jenriday.com and let me know your thoughts, you know, “Does it represent you? Do you feel it's accurate?” And I love that the quiz gives you your next steps, what you need to focus on. Maybe you're at a lower vibration and you need to exercise or maybe you need to balance your time better or maybe you need to work on self-love. I give you some practical tips that will help you to raise your vibration. I will be back next week talking to the amazing Natalie (unclear) [39:13], all about how having a positive body image will improve your health; they are absolutely related. How do you develop that positive body image? How do you change those thoughts and emotions and feelings about your body? Well, I'll give you a hint, when you do it, it's much easier to be that healthy person you want to be. So that's next week, and I hope you have a phenomenal week ahead. I'll be back later this week of the happy bit, and until then, make it a fantastic week. Take care.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.