"That night I went outside, I looked at the stars, and I just asked God to change me and make me who He wanted me to be."
Narrator: Welcome, friends, to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today, and discover the moments that shape us, our families, and communities.
Japhet De Oliveira: Welcome, friends, to another fantastic episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. I'm really excited about our guest today because I work with her all the time, and so this is going to be fun. For anybody who's brand new to the Story & Experience Podcast, the way it works is like this. We have 100 questions, the first 10 are really easy, some of the others as well. 11 to 100 progressively become more vulnerable, more open, and the guest gets to choose. And the guest is smiling right now, just gently, and so you'll see. You can't see, you just hear, but in a moment, we'll dive right in, and you'll get to hear her voice, her voice, so let's begin. What's your name?
Christine Pickering: Christine Pickering.
Japhet De Oliveira: And anybody ever mess that up, Christine?
Christine Pickering: Not usually.
Japhet De Oliveira: No?
Christine Pickering: It's C-H spelling.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's true.
Christine Pickering: Really simple.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's true. That's good, good. Well, fortunate for you that nobody messes up. That's fantastic. What do you do for work, Christine?
Christine Pickering: I'm a communication executive at Adventist Health.
Japhet De Oliveira: Good. And how long have you been in that role?
Christine Pickering: About nine months.
Japhet De Oliveira: Nine months. But you've been in communication a lot longer.
Christine Pickering: Yeah. Yeah. I started as a PR coordinator with Adventist Health in 2005. And before that, I was a journalist.
Japhet De Oliveira: Fantastic. Well, glad to hear. Excited for this conversation today as well. So tell me, this morning, I know before we got online, you had a drink there. And so I'm going to ask now. What is the drink that you have first, the beginning of the day? Is it coffee? Is it water? It is a green liquid smoothie? I didn't know what was inside that drink.
Christine Pickering: Right. So what you saw me drinking was water. My first drink of the day, this is the question that I didn't really want to answer, Japhet, but you told me I had to be honest. So I've been ruminating on this, but I had prune juice. That's the first thing.
Japhet De Oliveira: That is impressive, Christine. I've done that, I've done that. It's really good.
Christine Pickering: You have?
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Christine Pickering: That makes me feel better.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, no. I've had-
Christine Pickering: This is not something you want to admit on a national podcast.
Japhet De Oliveira: No. Prune juice is great, or prunes inside oatmeal. Oh, I'm with you.
Christine Pickering: OK.
Japhet De Oliveira: No, absolutely. It is all about the ebbs and flows of life. Christine, I love you. Thank you. All right. So tell me. Tell our listeners, actually. Where were you born?
Christine Pickering: I was born in Tulare, California, which is in the Central Valley. It's about 50 miles south of Fresno.
Japhet De Oliveira: OK. All right. And have you ever been back there? Or were you just born there and left?
Christine Pickering: I lived most of my life there in the Central Valley, in Tulare, after I got married, I moved nearby to Visalia, then to Hanford. And then recently, now I live in Camas, Washington.
Japhet De Oliveira: Fantastic, fantastic. All right, good stuff. Now when you were a child back there, what did you imagine you were going to be when you grew up?
Christine Pickering: So I remember from the earliest memory is I wanted to be St. Theresa. And I can't tell you which St. Theresa because there's a few of them, but when back in those days, they would give parents a book, some kind of religious book, when they had a baby. And the one that my parents received was a book of saints, so I would read that book, and that's what I wanted to be.
Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.
Christine Pickering: But then later, I wanted to be in news. I wanted to be a reporter and editor. I would sit down at the kitchen table and read the newspaper, circle mistakes. I was obsessed with news.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's right. You circled mistakes. That's fantastic. Well, you have a gift for finding it and for writing and for sharing it.
Christine Pickering: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: So that's great to hear. No, that's good. That's good. All right. Personality. Would people describe you, Christine, as an introvert or an extrovert? And would you agree?
Christine Pickering: People who know me would describe me as an introvert I think. But in my role, I have to be an extrovert. And so when I'm in the moment, when I'm at an event, I'll go up and talk to people. I'm more outgoing. But most of the time, I prefer a book.
Japhet De Oliveira: Maybe a lot of us do. That's good. That's good. And are you an early riser or a late night owl?
Christine Pickering: Early riser.
Japhet De Oliveira: Early riser. And what's early for you? Is early like noon? What's early?
Christine Pickering: I would say 5:00 AM, that's pretty safe.
Japhet De Oliveira: I know because we have meetings really early as well, and so ... But hey, before everybody starts to get going, let's connect.
Christine Pickering: Exactly.
Japhet De Oliveira: I'm with you. I'm with you. Yeah, early morning for sure. What's the first thing that you thought about this morning?
Christine Pickering: I thought about this podcast and thought, "OK, I better get my voice going. I better start thinking about what Japhet's going to ask me." That's what I was thinking about.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, the truth is that other than these 10 questions, you get to pick the numbers, and so I don't know what I'm going to ask you until-
Christine Pickering: That's true. That's true.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's true. All right. And then just our last one here for just the opening section. As a leader, as a leadership person, are you a backseat driver?
Christine Pickering: I don't think so because I work with these brilliant communicators from throughout the system and in the markets, and they know their audiences. They know their presidents better than I do. They know their situation. So I really like them to lead and think about what they want to say before. So I would say I might have a tendency toward that, but I'm not. I'll see what they would say.
Japhet De Oliveira: We'll see when they hear it. They're like, "Yes. No way. Totally." It may not be that direct.
Christine Pickering: I know. We'll find out.
Japhet De Oliveira: We'll be in the middle. All right. That's fantastic. All right, so we've begun now. Here we are, the questions 11 through to 100. Christine, name that starts with a C, where would you like to begin?
Christine Pickering: OK. I thought I would start with the year I was born, 1963.
Japhet De Oliveira: OK, 63 it is. Here we go. Tell us about a time when you felt lost.
Christine Pickering: OK. So there were actually two times, once when I was a little girl, I got lost at the beach. But some nice person took me to a police station and my parents came and got me, so that was one time I was lost. And then I would say when I was 19, which in listening to your podcast, I think it's pretty common for people at that age. Right? Because you're wondering, "OK. What am I doing with my life?"
Japhet De Oliveira: Yes.
Christine Pickering: And at that time, I was working full-time and going to night school. And I'd always been a really good student in high school. But I was ditching classes, I was out with my friends during the week. And I remember one particular night when we were out in the foothills near, probably about 45 minutes from my house. And everybody was passed out. It was 2:00 in the morning. And I had to be at work at 7:00, and no one could drive me home. And I just thought, "What am I doing here? How did I get here?" This isn't ... I wanted to be a saint. Remember?
Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, yes.
Christine Pickering: So that night, I just went outside, I looked at the stars, and I just asked God to change me and make me who he wanted me to be because I knew that I wasn't who he wanted me to be. And I knew that I couldn't get there on my own. So someone woke up and they took me home. And I didn't think too much about it. But shortly after that, through a series of events, I started going to church, and found my way back.
Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Hey, that's beautiful. It's like you had an Abraham moment, for those who've read the testament in the Bible. Yeah.
Christine Pickering: Yeah. It was seminal moment that I didn't at the time, it was very emotional, but I didn't think anything would really happen. And looking back, you can see God's hand.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, and it's good you did it so young and so early, so it's fantastic. Well done. Good. Good, all right. So after 63, which was of course, straight away, right off there, fantastic, where'd you want to go next?
Christine Pickering: How about 87? That was the year I graduated from college and got married.
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right. One and the same. All right, here we go. When you are under incredible stress, what helps to ground you?
Christine Pickering: I pray. I think about scriptures. I think about the times that God has been there for me in the past. And so I lean on him. I also recognize that from Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good. There's an opportunity here. There's something to learn. There's some way to grow. There's something I'm not seeing yet that I will see. That helps me.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Faith, this is actually question number 87A.
Christine Pickering: You're going off script.
Japhet De Oliveira: I know. I know. I couldn't help it. I mean, faith seems to be a pretty pivotal part of your life. Would you say?
Christine Pickering: Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah. Is that something that you felt that you picked up from ... I mean, obviously when you were 19. But is that something that you picked up from your parents, from community? What brought that to you, made it center?
Christine Pickering: Well, that's a great question. That's the question, it's a gift, obviously. But my parents raised me Catholic, and we went to church every Sunday. And I remember one time finding my dad on his knees praying, when I was real little. I walked into his room and caught him by surprise. And so I would say it's always been a part of our life, but yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's a beautiful picture.
Christine Pickering: It was. It's something I'll always treasure.
Japhet De Oliveira: It's a beautiful picture. Oh, yeah. That's a beautiful picture. I'm with you on that. Love that. Good. All right, so thanks for 87A. Where'd you want to go next?
Christine Pickering: OK. How about 34? Because I've been married 34 years.
Japhet De Oliveira: OK. I like the way you think of these numbers. I'm going to ask you. What's your pin number? That's where we're going next.
Christine Pickering: I'm not going to give you that number.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, just because it is a national, international podcast, could be helpful for some people. All right. Tell us about a moment that a person's kindness made a difference in your life.
Christine Pickering: OK. This was kind of a random thing. But when I was a young mother and a homemaker ... I mean, I worked, always worked, but I worked nights. And I was never good at gardening. And I remember thinking ... I remember particularly one time thinking, "I would really love some flowers, but I'm not any good at this." And that very day, somebody left flowers on my doorstep.
Japhet De Oliveira: Really?
Christine Pickering: I think it happened to be May Day, May Day's a day that sometimes people leave flowers. And it was anonymous. They never told me who they were. But it was just sort of like somebody heard that, so anyway, that was really special.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. That's great. That's great, a good moment. Probably makes you want to do the same for others. Right?
Christine Pickering: Right.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I know that about you.
Christine Pickering: If only I could grow flowers.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, other than growing the flowers. [crosstalk 00:13:22]. Give them a gift. Yeah. Listening to others, and I see that you do that so well when you listen to others and you're attentive to who they are, I see that in work and life, so it's beautiful. That's good. Good. Where'd you want to go after 34?
Christine Pickering: How about I'll do 88? That's the year my daughter was born.
Japhet De Oliveira: OK. That's good, 88. Tell us about how your life has been different than what you'd imagined.
Christine Pickering: So imagined when?
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I know. I was going to say, circling the news on the kitchen counter, or ...
Christine Pickering: So I can tell ... Yeah, there's that. I mean, that's one way for sure that I thought I was going to be a journalist for the rest of my life. I thought that was my dream career, and that's what I was going to do. But then the deadline started interfering with my kids' activities, after sports. And so I realized that, OK, I can't do this anymore. And I saw this job in the newspaper, the Adventist Health job. And I thought, "Healthcare, oh, that sounds so boring. It's an industry." But I thought, "Well, the time of day works. It's right down the street from my house. This'll work." So anyway, so I quickly realized that I mean, within two weeks, that it was a calling, that what happened was I'd written a press release for a physical therapist who helped women with personal issues, incontinence, things like that.
And when I wrote the release, I didn't really think anything would happen. I thought, "This is my job. I write a news release, gets in the paper." So it was just sort of going through the motions. And a week, probably about a week after it published, I called the director. And I said, "Well, what happened? The release got in the paper. Did anybody call? Did anything?" And he said, "Yes, a lot of people have been calling." And I tried not to act surprised. But I said, "Oh, well, it must've been that testimonial. I got this wonderful patient's story. I'm sure that resonated with people." And he said, "No." He said, "I can tell you because they've been quoting. They've been quoting something from the story." And it was the physical therapist. She said, "I've never had anyone I haven't been able to help."
And so that's when I realized that this wasn't just a job. It was ... And so now I get to do that. I get to help people find hope. And so I never would've imagined that an industry, that healthcare could be a calling. So I've really enjoyed it since that time.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. I like the quick turnaround. And I also believe that's actually seen in the way that stories are told and communication is delivered in the entire company, and for everybody else, so good.
Christine Pickering: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: Good.
Christine Pickering: Thanks.
Japhet De Oliveira: Brilliant. Where next?
Christine Pickering: 90.
Japhet De Oliveira: 90.
Christine Pickering: I have twin sons, and they were born in '90.
Japhet De Oliveira: OK. All right. I'm hoping some year of '99, some year, I don't know what we're going to do with 100, but OK.
Christine Pickering: You're wanting me the hardest one?
Japhet De Oliveira: No, no, no. I'm just saying. 90 it is. Tell us about how you overcame a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
Christine Pickering: Well, this is very personal. But my daughter, who I love, we were raised, obviously, I have a faith tradition. I lived in that world. And she came out, and I think the insurmountable obstacle was: How do we get through this? And love rules.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, it does.
Christine Pickering: Anyway, so I would say going through that. So how I got through it was love. It was this isn't what we expected, but we found a way through just love, and knowing how Jesus loves. He didn't ever say, "No, you're not welcome here." He never did that. And so that's how we knew. That's how we found our way through. And I would say our life is so rich as result. And we just love Brianna and all of her friends and her wife. And so anyway, I would say that's how we overcame that unexpected event.
Japhet De Oliveira: Love is very powerful. Isn't it? When it's understood, the depth of it.
Christine Pickering: Yeah. And I would say that what seemed unimaginable, like we couldn't even imagine that life, it's just been so rich. And we love more.
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's beautiful. That's beautiful because it seemed like it was a problem, but it's not because love actually brings you into the place where you realize, actually, it's beautiful.
Christine Pickering: It's not a problem after all. It's actually something glorious.
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good. Good for you. Good for you guys. All right. Where'd you want to go after 90? Are you looking at your calendar, what year?
Christine Pickering: OK. 24. That's the year I got married.
Japhet De Oliveira: 24, all right. 24. Tell us about a time you were over ... Sorry. Let me rephrase that because I was about to say it all wrong there. Tell us about a time you were ever over or underdressed for an occasion.
Christine Pickering: OK. So when, and again, when I was a young mother, I would get invited to these garden parties. And one of my friends was just a wonderful gardener, and she would invite ladies to this garden event. And you would get dressed up, and it was always so much pressure for me. You know what I mean? I just felt like, "OK. I don't think I'm like these other ladies." I just never felt like I fit in. So even though maybe what I wore was fine, I always felt like it wasn't the right thing. So they were fun, and it was a fun time, but it was a lot of pressure.
Japhet De Oliveira: Are you convincing yourself that they were fun? That was 24A as well.
Christine Pickering: Remember, I'm an introvert. Yeah, I am an introvert, so it was like [inaudible 00:20:35].
Japhet De Oliveira: They were fun. They were really fun.
Christine Pickering: That's a good point.
Japhet De Oliveira: I love dressing up for them. They were fun. All right, brilliant. All right, after 24, where'd you want to go next?
Christine Pickering: Why don't we go with 31, the age of my sons?
Japhet De Oliveira: 31, all right. Tell us about someone you'd love to eat dinner with. The sky is the limit, so some good conversation and a great meal.
Christine Pickering: I have to say Jesus, for sure, which we already eat with ... Right? We already enjoy meals.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.
Christine Pickering: Just because I just love to read his interactions that he had with people. So the other person I would say, my grandfather, my dad's father. He passed away probably when I was a young adult. And I don't think I knew what to ask. I don't think I knew him that well. And now I know that he loved to read theology, and he was always ... He had grown up in the depression, so I know he had a lot of different jobs. I think at one time, he was a pilot. And so I think what I would like is to have some time to get to know him better than I did.
Japhet De Oliveira: To unpack his life and see how much of it shaped yours.
Christine Pickering: Right, and maybe understand my own father better, just to understand our heritage.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I bet. That's beautiful. One day, one day.
Christine Pickering: One day, yep.
Japhet De Oliveira: For sure. Good. All right. Where'd you want to go next?
Christine Pickering: I'm running out of-
Japhet De Oliveira: Years.
Christine Pickering: OK. Why don't we go with 19?
Japhet De Oliveira: 19. All right, 19 it is. What is your exercise routine, Christine?
Christine Pickering: So I just when I get up in the morning, I get on the treadmill just for 30 minutes, but I really enjoy it.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's great.
Christine Pickering: I'll read, or I'll watch a movie, so it's not much of an exercise regimen, but it gets me moving.
Japhet De Oliveira: It's fantastic. I've been told, because I don't go on the treadmill, I've been told that the treadmill's amazing. I usually stand beside my wife, who's on the treadmill, and I talk to her.
Christine Pickering: Oh, there I go.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's the closest I get to the treadmill.
Christine Pickering: Yeah. I wasn't doing it for a while, but I got back into it and I'm really enjoying it.
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, well done, well done. Good. All right. After 24, where would you like to go next? Sorry, 19, that was 19.
Christine Pickering: OK.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.
Christine Pickering: Why don't I do 50?
Japhet De Oliveira: 50, all right, five zero. Share about who has influenced your professionally.
Christine Pickering: OK. I would say there's a few people. So Rick, he was my first hospital president. And I learned, there I learned the importance of mission and speaking from the heart. We had a lot of adventures with him, a lot of fun, big, big events with him. We opened a hospital. So it was a lot of fun learning from Rick and the why.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. He's very mission driven.
Christine Pickering: Yeah. And then my second president was Wayne Ferch, and what I loved about Wayne was measures. He was very big into Baldridge, which is a quality award, and it's very focused on processes, measures, and so I love that. I learned that as well. And then the third person would be Andrea Kofl, who is the president of CVN now, so she was my third president, and I learned a lot from Andrea about being your best self and working hard. So she's been a great person to follow.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. That's really, really good. Good, good. Well, you have time for two more numbers, so where'd you want to go with your last two numbers?
Christine Pickering: OK. I'm just going to pick one. I don't have any more.
Japhet De Oliveira: Epic years.
Christine Pickering: OK, I know.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, you do.
Christine Pickering: Three one, 31.
Japhet De Oliveira: We have done 31.
Christine Pickering: Oh, we have?
Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, we have. Yes, we have.
Christine Pickering: OK. How about 23?
Japhet De Oliveira: 23, all right, that'll be the first. And then your second one, your last one would be?
Christine Pickering: Oh, I have to choose it now?
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah, we can wait. We can wait. All right, let's go. Let's go. I'll let you go. We'll wait, we'll wait. 23, 23. This is a fun one because I'd like to answer this for you. Tell us about the most outdated piece of technology you use on a regular basis, and just can't let go. It's outdated technology and you just can't let go of it. Christine, I'm going to let you answer this.
Christine Pickering: You're going to reveal ... You're revealing your bias.
Japhet De Oliveira: No.
Christine Pickering: So I don't know if you want to do that.
Japhet De Oliveira: And I can't edit this podcast either.
Christine Pickering: So I'm not going to say my Android because I love my Android phone.
Japhet De Oliveira: I'm weeping.
Christine Pickering: And it's not outdated.
Japhet De Oliveira: Fair enough.
Christine Pickering: Although it is a few years old now, it is a few years old.
Japhet De Oliveira: Which is a sign, a sign.
Christine Pickering: OK, you know what, I'm going to have to say my car. My car, it's a 2012. And it doesn't have a backup camera, so I would say I don't have that technology. And then I don't know how to work the ... I know I'm supposed to be able to put my phone in it, but it's so outdated that when they made it, the current phones don't seem like they work with it. So I always say, "It's broken," but then my son's somehow able to make it work. So I don't know if that's true or not, but linking my phone to my car, I'm not any good at that.
Japhet De Oliveira: Is your son ... I hate to ask this question. Is he on the same device as you?
Christine Pickering: Yes, he is.
Japhet De Oliveira: Tragedy, tragedy
Christine Pickering: But he knows how to. So one son's Android and one son is an iPhone.
Japhet De Oliveira: We know which one we prefer. All right. Well, we love them both because we follow that.
Christine Pickering: That's right.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. All right. So your final question then, what number would you like to go with?
Christine Pickering: OK. I'm going to say 86.
Japhet De Oliveira: 86, all right, let's have a look here. Who was influential in shaping you to be who you are right now, and why?
Christine Pickering: I would say my mom. So her name is Hazel and she ... So I'm a full blooded Portuguese, and so when she grew up, she wasn't allowed to work outside the home. She was very brilliant, but when she graduated from high school, she wasn't allowed to work. And so she became a seamstress, a wonderful seamstress. And she became ... She would babysit. She would do things from home that she could do. And so it was important to her that her daughters lived up to their potential.
Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.
Christine Pickering: And so I still remember when I was 19, I was dating my husband at the time, and he asked me to marry him. And of course, he's wonderful. Of course, I want to marry him. And so when I went to my parents, I could tell they weren't excited. And I was like, "What? He's so nice. He loves me, and we love each other." And my mom said, "Well, we really hoped you would go to college first." And so I said, "OK." And I was like, "Oh, OK. I guess I will." So anyway, so I would say that she influenced me to, I don't know, just to live to my potential, and she's always been a great encourager to me.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. It's that she went through her own journey and understood how to make your journey a better one.
Christine Pickering: Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, what a beautiful tribute to her and to your life as well that you're living it. That's great.
Christine Pickering: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Well, Christine, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing. And I just want to say to everybody's who's listening, I want to encourage you to share your own stories, your own experiences because we get to shape the world by doing so. Listen well, ask good questions, and look after each other.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story & Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at AdventistHealth.org/Story. The Story & Experience Podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.