Podcast Special Guest, Lisa Clark Diller

Lisa Clark Diller
Episode 53

In this episode, join guest Lisa Clark Diller and host Japhet De Oliveira as they discuss the joys of weeding, book recommendations, leaning into grief, and where to look for hope
Libsyn Podcast
"I spend my life with 18- to 25-year-olds, and I'm incredibly optimistic ... Whatever generation I'm teaching is always better than the one that went before."

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: Well, welcome friends, to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. If you're brand new, the way it works is that I have a guest. She's smiling right now, so this is a good sign. I have a guest, and we have 100 questions that we're going to ask. Obviously, we're not going to cover all of them. And they become more vulnerable, more open, about stories and experiences that shaped this guest into the incredible leader that she is today. So without any further little introductions, I'm going to dive straight in with question number one. I'll ask the first 10, and then she will pick numbers after that. Could you tell us your name? And does anybody ever mess it up a little bit? Or is it real easy?

Lisa Clark Diller: That's fun. Yeah, so Lisa Clark Diller, and in the South, people don't tend to mess up the pronunciation of it. But people do like to spell dinner with an A-R-D at the end instead of E-R, rhyming with Miller, yeah. That's it. Most people don't mess up the pronunciation.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. All right, Lisa, what do you do for work?

Lisa Clark Diller: I'm a historian, and the people that pay me are a university that pay me for, and own a lot of my intellectual output in the classroom.

Japhet De Oliveira: And how long have you been a historian?

Lisa Clark Diller: Well, I have been a professor here at Southern Adventist University for 20 years now.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, my goodness. You're practically historical.

Lisa Clark Diller: For sure. I am, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's really good. All right, so over 20 years, historian here. This morning, drink of choice. Do you start your day off with water? Do you start it with coffee, tea?

Lisa Clark Diller: Good question. So this morning I started it off with some juice that my husband had made, beetroot, as they say in some parts of the world, and carrot. And I have a tonic that is garlic, turmeric, ginger, honey, cayenne.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Lisa Clark Diller: And then I have coffee, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: You don't mix them together.

Lisa Clark Diller: No. I do not mix them together. I have them in a particular order.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Lisa, where were you born?

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, I was born in Berrien Center, Michigan, while my parents, while my mom was a college professor and my dad was in graduate school. But I was four months old when we moved to West Virginia, so West Virginia is where I grew up.

Japhet De Oliveira: And when you were a little kid back in the day in West Virginia, what did you imagine you were going to be when you grew up?

Lisa Clark Diller: I mostly, after I got to school, I liked school so much, I always imagined being a teacher.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Lisa Clark Diller: Potentially a librarian, anything that involved me getting to learn stuff and talk about it. In fact, when I was a kid, my parents had only one ... They had a room that had a big shelf of books in it, about six shelves of books. And it was the closest thing to what looked like a library in our house, so I taped little numbers on the back of all the books and tried to make people check them out.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, no.

Lisa Clark Diller: But no one was reading the books except for me, so I didn't get very many takers.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really fantastic. That's great. I don't know any other kid that would've done that, but that's fantastic.

Lisa Clark Diller: Now you do.

Japhet De Oliveira: I know. Personality, if people were to describe you, would they describe you as an introvert, an extrovert? And would you agree?

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. I think I'm an extrovert, and I think people would describe me that way. I was introverted, profoundly introverted until puberty. And one of my friends, who's an optometrist, has observed that I didn't have my myopia corrected until I was about 12, which was also about the same time as puberty, and so possibly it can also be when you can't see people's faces because I'm pretty profoundly myopic and cannot see very far in front of me without correction. And so that could probably have contributed to me being really introverted. But anyone who knew me as a child would say ... I know no one who knows me now would say that, but I can ...

I mean, I did not like speaking to people or having them speak to me outside of my immediate family. And I was always with my nose in a book in people's houses. I would go to people's houses. We had to go. My dad was a pastor. My parents are both regenerate extroverts. And so they expected that we were all with tons of people all the time. And I had very strong boundaries as a child. And so when I went to people's houses, I went and read as many of their books as I could, tried to get through as many as I could while we were there. I can tap into my introvert.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's actually really good. So are you an ... I mean, we're here right now, just for our listeners, we're sitting inside Lisa's office at Southern Adventist University, and there is literally, we are surrounded by books from the floor to the ceiling, all the way around, and then pictures. It's fantastic. So I wanted you to kind of feel where we actually are. And we just missed the train. It is very early. So are you an early riser or late night-

Lisa Clark Diller: I am an early riser.

Japhet De Oliveira: You are? OK, all right, all right. And what is early for you?

Lisa Clark Diller: Well, my best, all through high school, I slept 9:00 to 5:00. So I got up at 5:00 in the morning. And 5:00 AM is about right for me. I've done 4:00 AM, and it's just hard. I'm also a person who needs my sleep, so it's hard to get to bed at 8:00. It's easier to get to bed by 9:00.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fair.

Lisa Clark Diller: So there's a lot of meetings, people schedule meetings at 8:00 PM. I'm done thinking at 5:00 PM, so I don't understand that. But anyway, so I'm more 5:00 AM is about right for me.

Japhet De Oliveira: You'll have to reverse that meeting for them and see how they feel about that. All right, so this morning when you woke up, what was the first thought that went through your mind?

Lisa Clark Diller: It wasn't so much a thought as a feeling of affection for my kitten because she had jumped up on me and was purring. And so I felt love.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's beautiful. All right. Last question, and then I'm going to hand it over to you. Are you a backseat driver?

Lisa Clark Diller: No. I'm a backseat reader. If I'm sitting in the backseat, it's mostly because I want to be reading something and not necessarily engaged in conversation. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: OK. And when it comes to leadership, if you took that backseat driver metaphor into leadership, would you see yourself as a backseat driver?

Lisa Clark Diller: Occasionally for sure, about things that I really care about. But things I don't necessarily, there's a lot of things I don't care about.

Japhet De Oliveira: Fair enough.

Lisa Clark Diller: I'm a person who speaks up if I have opinions, let's put it that way.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, I would agree. I would concur. I would concur. All right, so here we are, 11 to 100. Where would you like to go?

Lisa Clark Diller: So I immediately think in terms of years, so all the numbers I pick are going to be years that have significance in the 1900s and the 20th century, just so you know. That's immediately, that's how my brain works.

Japhet De Oliveira: I liked it.

Lisa Clark Diller: I have a bit of synesthesia when it comes to numbers, so they all have personality, meaning, gender, for me.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.

Lisa Clark Diller: And then as a historian, I'm going to think, so I'll start with 17.

Japhet De Oliveira: 17, all right, here it is. Share what day is most special to you on the calendar and why.

Lisa Clark Diller: Ooh, I love that question. This day on a calendar that's most special, I love Christmas. Yeah, so I'll put that one.

Japhet De Oliveira: Me too, me too, me too. You've done something special for every single Christmas?

Lisa Clark Diller: No. Well, I've always done something on Christmas. I have traveled on Christmas a lot. So I've missed Christmas occasionally when I've crossed the International Date Line. I spent about six hours of Christmas in the early morning in Tahiti once, kind of missed and went straight to Boxing Day. But anyway, yes. So I don't always do something, but it's one that I care about a lot emotionally.

Japhet De Oliveira: Christmas too, it's fantastic. All right, so that was 17. Where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: 29.

Japhet De Oliveira: 29. Share three things that make you happily, happy instantly.

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, a phone call from a friend, working in my garden, weeding makes me happy instantly.

Japhet De Oliveira: We have a lot of gardens we can invite you to.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yes, and playing with my kitten, Dickens.

Japhet De Oliveira: Beautiful, good. All right. After that, where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: 36.

Japhet De Oliveira: 36. Tell us about one thing you hope never changes.

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, my. I'm a historian, Japhet, we study change over time. I am totally fine with change. So thinking about something never changing, the smell of hyacinth. I hope hyacinth doesn't ... It always smells like it does.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's really good, good. All right. Where next? Up or down?

Lisa Clark Diller: Up, oh, yeah. I'm going in numerical order. That's important. Again, historians, we move forward in time.

Japhet De Oliveira: You move forward in time. We go back in time to move forward in time.

Lisa Clark Diller: Sometimes. Sometimes, so we just did. We went back to 1917, which was very important. I'll go back to 19 because I missed the women getting the right to vote in the US, so I'll go back to 19.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, so talk just about your exercise routine.

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, gee whiz. So I dislike training for anything, so I have run a marathon and half marathons and triathlons, and I've cycled incredible long distances, over 100 miles at a time. But I won't train for anything. So in terms of a routine, currently I go to the gym with friends. I'm a social exerciser. So I have a couple girlfriends that I go to a new gym that just this past summer, I'd not heard of this, but it's called SPENGA, and SPENGA stands for spin, strength, yoga, so you do 20 minutes of cycling, and 20 minutes of weights, and 20 minutes of yoga at the end. So that's working for me right now really well.

I have hip issues. I probably have to have both hips replaced eventually. And so I need something like yoga every day, at least 10 minutes of something that's significant like that. And so that's very helpful to me.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. My goodness, that's a lot. I've got to say, the main-

Lisa Clark Diller: It's only a couple times a week.

Japhet De Oliveira: The SPENGA name is kind of weird.

Lisa Clark Diller: It is very weird. I'm not quite great with that brand because I think not everyone gets that, what it's supposed to stand for, but anyway.

Japhet De Oliveira: I didn't either, but there you go. All right, so where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, 46.

Japhet De Oliveira: 46, all right. Tell us about the best book you've ever read.

Lisa Clark Diller: That's not possible, expect here's what I'll say. I almost always like whatever book I'm reading right now. So I'm a person, I mean, I think there's different books, so I review all of my books and have for the last eight or nine years on Good Reads.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yes, I know. I subscribe.

Lisa Clark Diller: And so it's really hard to put stars on them because I feel like: Who am I recommending this for? What category is this for? It's not for everybody, which when I'm giving it these stars: Who is reading this? What stars would it be for this person or this audience? So I mean, really good books that I like, a book by Lisa Graham McMinn, The Contented Soul, that's a book that has influenced me for a long time, in terms of one of her lines is: If the expected good doesn't happen, what's the unexpected good? And the subtitle of her book is The Art of Sipping and Savoring Life. So I've appreciated that.

There's fantastic history books. I think about books that shaped me, but also then books that, ooh, I wish I'd written that book. That's a book I wish I could've written. And so there's a lot of those. I'm very tempted to turn around and look at my shelf right now.

Japhet De Oliveira: You could.

Lisa Clark Diller: Amartya Sen's book on Identity and Violence is super important in terms of thinking about nationalism and ethnic violence. And then James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State has been really important because I study state formation. So those are really important books to me in sort of that kind of thing. I mean, it totally depends on the category that we're talking about here.

Japhet De Oliveira: So for everybody's who's listening, you can tell that Lisa has a little bit of gift of talking at a pace that's maybe a little bit faster than most. However, I'll say this, I'll say this, Lisa's an international speaker. She's taught abroad. I mean, she's toured the world. Looking again at her library and seeing her passion, some people would say writing a book report is an assignment that you do at school. The fact that you do it as a hobby, for every book, which is a gift to the whole world, just goes to show that what's going into your mind comes out. I mean, you're such a bright spot.

Lisa Clark Diller: Well, sometimes I do it because I'm in a book club that reads novels, and I don't necessarily read them right before book club. And I won't remember what I thought of it because if I'm reading six books at a time, I won't remember. I'm very much in the present, and I don't have an eidetic memory or anything like that for data. So I have to jot things down or else I won't remember. And I'll think, "Oh, I want to assign this book," but I won't remember which chapters I wanted to assign or anything like that. So I have to write stuff down.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's really good. I do not envy your students. All right, brilliant. All right, where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: 68.

Japhet De Oliveira: 68, ooh, OK. If you could learn one new professional skill, what would it be?

Lisa Clark Diller: A language.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah?

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Any language in particular or just-

Lisa Clark Diller: Right now it would be Latin.

Japhet De Oliveira: I was just going to say.

Lisa Clark Diller: Because I study Catholic history, and so it would make me better able to read the documents that I need to read. But I mean, having the gift for magically being able to learn languages, that would be super useful in my discipline.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Good, all right. After 68.

Lisa Clark Diller: 69.

Japhet De Oliveira: 69. Tell us about one experience that you'd like to relive over and over and over again.

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, my word.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Lisa Clark Diller: That's quite a confronting question. An experience I'd like to live over and over again, hiking on Mount Rainier last summer. Yeah. We were there accidentally in peak wildflower season. I've never seen anything like that. Tommy's family, my husband's family, lived right next to Glacier National Park for 12 years, and so we hiked at Glacier multiple times every year. But I've just never had a wildflower experience like I had that particular time. And we could probably go back to Rainier many times and not have that experience, so yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good. That's good. Beautiful. All right, after 69.

Lisa Clark Diller: 73.

Japhet De Oliveira: 73. Share something that you've had to unlearn in your life.

Lisa Clark Diller: I've had to unlearn deep emotional and mental investment in my family's choices. So I held my family hostage, probably, my siblings and my parents, with my emotional outbursts and thoughts about how they should live their lives as a child, as an adolescent, as a young adult. And then I can't control what they do, it turns out. And I dislike being unhappy. I have learned to lean into things like grief as I've gotten older. I haven't had a lot of grief in my life until the last 10 years or so. And so I didn't necessarily, that wasn't a feeling I'd had. But being upset, or worried about other people and what they were doing, and thinking they might ruin their life in some way, that's not something you can do anything about or control. And so I had to ...

I don't know if it was un-learning so much as learning a different skill, but just I was able ... I can now shut myself off emotionally in terms of, that's not something I'm going to care about. I want to continue loving this person. Do I want to love them? Yes. Do I want to continue to spend time with them and be in their life? Yes. So in order to do that in a way that is not controlling or painful for them and for me, I'm going to have to not care about this particular line of choices they are making. And so I can do that now.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good, Lisa. I mean, in all honesty, that would be something that would bring a lot of people together if they adopted that, how you can still love people that you don't agree with.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: About choices they've got.

Lisa Clark Diller: I mean, I think I'm pretty still opinionated and things like that, but I don't ... I hope that I'm less, and it certainly leads to slightly more peaceful family gatherings, let's put it that way.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. We need more of those anyway. All right.

Lisa Clark Diller: 74.

Japhet De Oliveira: 74. What gives you hope?

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, the students I teach, for sure. I spend my life with 18 to 25 year olds, and I'm incredibly optimistic. Yeah. They're amazing. I've thought this whatever generation that I'm teaching is always better than the one that went before, starting from when I started teaching six years after I graduated from college, and I was immediately struck by how the improvement in the students from compared to my generation, who I felt like were much more materialistic and professionally ambitious, and less open to the fact that there was going to be change in the world. And we might not be richer than our parents. We wanted to be richer than our parents, but these generation, that's not what they're concerned about. And so I'm very optimistic, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really great to hear, I mean, great to hear, but I also know that your students absolutely adore you as well and are challenged.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. That's right. I can love them and give them hope and still say, "There's some things you need to know, sweetie. Here's some things you should know in the world."

Japhet De Oliveira: For anyone listening, Lisa is a bit of a legend here. All right, so after ... And that's an English way of understating the reality. So 74, where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. What's after 74? 77.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Share one of your most cup filling experiences with us.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. I mean, travel in general is a cup filling experience for me, going somewhere, where I haven't been, planning a trip, getting books, buying books, checking them out at the library, about where we're going, deciding what we're going to see, and learning something new about a new place is the best thing for me. Yeah, I love that.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. I like that. All right.

Lisa Clark Diller: How much more time do we have? I need to figure out how I pace myself in terms of the numbers I'm choosing.

Japhet De Oliveira: We're doing well. We're doing well. We're about two thirds of the way.

Lisa Clark Diller: All right.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Lisa Clark Diller: So because I'm a child-

Japhet De Oliveira: I have random questions that I can ask as well.

Lisa Clark Diller: If I run out of the years that I think are significant. Yeah. OK. Let's see, 1981, so let's do 81.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. What is something you've given your absolute best efforts towards, and why was it so important?

Lisa Clark Diller: Ooh. Planting a church was probably one of the big efforts that I've made in my life. And it was important because being part of a community is very important for me and for my husband, Tommy. And we were part of a community in our neighborhood, and we wanted a church, faith based community to be important part, a group of people we could be part of the body of Christ with and grow spiritually with. And you can only be part of so many communities, and so we needed those to overlap more. And so it was very important to us that we be part of a church, which also allowed us to be deeply part of our community, so we didn't feel like our time was, there was competition between our time we were giving to our church and time that we were giving to our neighborhood and to our community.

So I also wanted to be part of a community of faith which was helping me think intentionally about who I'm taking next steps with in terms of the walk of faith, that I am having conversations about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and that usually is only one or two people at a time, maybe. But is there someone in my life and that my spiritual community may be able to help me sometimes with that? That's a community I can bring such a person into. Or if not, if that's not the nature of the relationship, they are at least praying for me and holding me accountable, and think about: What are your conversations you're having? And how is that going?

Japhet De Oliveira: That is beautiful. Yeah, I'm with you as well. I actually think we all need to belong, especially if we have faith, with a faith community that actually is aligned, that has implications to it.

Lisa Clark Diller: And it's also, it's a bit cheating, planting a church, because you can lay down DNA that's healthy in terms of conflict resolution and relationships and what kinds of behaviors are or aren't normed. And trying to do that in a community that already has all of that cultural DNA, that's much harder.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's true. That's true. All right. Good. Where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: 87.

Japhet De Oliveira: 87. When you're under incredible stress, what helps to ground you?

Lisa Clark Diller: Going to my garden, and going to sleep, taking a bath, venting to my sisters or my friends. Yeah, those kinds of things.

Japhet De Oliveira: Those are all fantastic except for the garden one.

Lisa Clark Diller: I can always tell actually when I'm depressed, as opposed to just tired and stressed because I don't want to garden.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good.

Lisa Clark Diller: So it's only happened a couple of times in my life, but it's an indicator that this is different than normal just busy, stressed, worry.

Japhet De Oliveira: Not a lot of people know the flares, the signs. So to be able to recognize that is actually a really good thing. And I think if anybody's listening, you ever do find that you have a signal, a flare, to let somebody else know what that is, is really good as well.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. I'm an external processor, so everyone knows when I'm having a trauma. I'm unapologetic about saying, "Things are not going well right now." Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. That's great. All right. Where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: 88.

Japhet De Oliveira: 88. Tell us about how your life has been different than what you actually imagined?

Lisa Clark Diller: So I did very little imagining. I'm not an imagine-er. I'm not creative in the way that I think is a normal definition of creative, which is I think of creativity and the creative as being able to imagine what is not, be able to see something that isn't there, or think up something that doesn't yet exist. And I don't do that. I'm incredibly literal. And my skills are in synthesizing information that is out there, and I think it's a useful skill to synthesize, evaluate information, and articulate it in both oral and written form. That's a useful skill. And imagination isn't much required for that. I like to tell people I'm so not creative, I'm not even procreative. My little niece asked me this past week, "Do you not have children because you don't want them or because you can't have them?" And I said, "Oh, because I didn't want them." And she was like, "Don't you love me?" And I said, "Yes, I do. But you already belong to somebody."

I don't imagine children that are not yet born, and the people that are already born, it turns out mostly they have parents that don't want me to take them. But anyway, so I didn't spend a lot of time imagining the future. And very rarely ... I mean, I have my next trips planned, and that's about it. I think I know what I'm going to teach in the fall, but I spend very little time ... The arc of time in front of me is only where I have a trip planned, that this is when that needs to happen, so I can go there at this time. So I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the future. If I did, I definitely thought I would teach high school for maybe 15 years of my life, probably when I knew about such things. And I'm not, so maybe that's the primary way. I think I also thought I might go back to West Virginia. For a minute, I thought that, and I haven't. But those are all things that I thought when I was a teenager. And you have to be able to let things you thought as an adolescent go. That's not really ... You can't be wedded to what you thought when you were 15.

Japhet De Oliveira: Some try.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. That's not a good moment. That's not the big moment for you.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's true. Hey, all right. Hey, that's brilliant. Where next?

Lisa Clark Diller: Well, let's keep going. 89.

Japhet De Oliveira: 89. What is the most impactful no that you've said recently?

Lisa Clark Diller: The most impactful no.

Japhet De Oliveira: No that you said recently.

Lisa Clark Diller: Well, this week, I said not to teaching this summer, so that's going to really shape my summer. I mean, I say no to things all the time that I don't know whether it would be impactful or not. I said no to a job offer yesterday that would've involved moving, so that was probably an impactful no.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's pretty impactful, yeah.

Lisa Clark Diller: And yeah, I mean, I think I say no a decent amount. I've said no to ... Well, I mean, things I've said no to maybe before recently, but they're going to impact my life recently. We have, in our department, we rotate being chair of the department, and in a way, that's a constant no. That isn't the culture on our campus. The culture is people stay, that you hire for a chair or dean position, and that's what they stay in. But in our department, we're like, "We all like teaching. We don't want to do administration, so we're just going to rotate that." And so I will rotate out of being chair of the department this summer, and that is going to be great in shaping my life. Yeah, probably those are some of the no’s that I say.

I'm thinking about relationally, maybe a no. I kind of say no in some ways to pursuing friendships that I might otherwise want to pursue, and I can find myself wishing that I could do that. I'd really like to see this person. I'm a person who makes contact with people. I'm the one that kind of keeps relationships going. That's part of my role in life. And so if I choose not to lean into that, I know that it won't happen. And so I probably have done that a couple of times, been like, "That would be really fun. That person is really interesting. I'd love to spend time with them." But I am already doing that. Which relationship am I going to cancel in order to have time for that one? And so I choose not to do that sometimes.

Japhet De Oliveira: That is good.

Lisa Clark Diller: All right.

Japhet De Oliveira: We have time for two more.

Lisa Clark Diller: OK, two more. Let's do 96.

Japhet De Oliveira: 96. All right. If you wouldn't mind, tell us about the last time that you cried.

Lisa Clark Diller: Oh, I can tell you that very easily. The last time I cried was at my friend, Mark Peach's memorial service a week and a half ago, two weeks ago now, almost two weeks ago. Yeah, and that was good because I found him dead in his home. He didn't come to work. He's been my colleague here for 20 years and he was my professor before that. He's taught at Southern for 35 years. And this was going to be his last semester teaching. He was going to retire. And he didn't show up for his classes, which was unlike him. And he and I live near each other, and so I just stopped by his house on the way home from work and found him.

And because of my husband and I being the closest thing to kind of family that any that he had around here and that anyone knew of, he had a young adult son who was also of course, was the biggest family that he had. But because of the nature of his relationship here at Southern, we basically became kind of the public face of grief for him and played that role of who people were reaching out to. And of course, as a department, I was the public face of the department. And because I've been in the department longer than anyone else, except him, alumni were also reaching out to me. So it was a very, very, very hard time, closing down his life. And I'm now teaching his classes for him, so it's a very busy season right now because it was partway through the semester and you couldn't really traumatize the students more by bringing in someone completely different. And so I knew I was in shock, and I didn't do much crying.

And so at the memorial service, being able to cry was really important. So I felt like that was ... I'm not a big crier. I might cry once or twice a year. And I usually know that I need to about things. I have lost, five years ago, I lost another long-term colleague and mentor to cancer, so I knew he was dying. And I really leaned into the grief of losing him. We did legacy conversations together. And I recorded him. And we said goodbye to each other because I was going to do a teaching swap in Australia, and he died while I was gone. But we knew we weren't going to see each other again. And so I had some practice with that kind of grief. And I felt like I wasn't really getting that with my colleague, Mark, because it was unexpected. And so it's been a little different. I'm trying to make more space for that grief that I had because I felt like it was healthy. I chose to really lean into losing my colleague, Ben, and being mad and sad about it, and going ahead and experiencing those emotions. You know?

Japhet De Oliveira: You do need to make time.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yeah. And I had time because I had gone to a different country. I didn't have all of the space. And I don't have any space for that right now because people have to be taken care of. And the situation has to be taken care of. And we have to find a replacement for him. And there's all the things that have to be done. And so I did get a therapist, re-upped my relationship with my counselor, and do those kinds of things.

Japhet De Oliveira: So wise.

Lisa Clark Diller: But crying was really important, I felt. And so that's the last time I cried, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. You're absolutely right, Lisa. I mean, it is out of duty and out of kindness that we carry so much on, but actually taking the time to process is really important. And everybody does it differently.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yes, that's right. No right or wrong way.

Japhet De Oliveira: There is no right or wrong. It is different for everyone.

Lisa Clark Diller: Yep.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, it's true. All right. Your last one, where would you like to go for your last question?

Lisa Clark Diller: 97.

Japhet De Oliveira: 97. Tell us about a time when you did the right thing.

Lisa Clark Diller: I'd like to think there's many times. What kind of right thing? I mean, I think the hard right things are, for me, and maybe not as hard for me as for some people, but are confrontations that have to happen, and that may be a dramatic word, but where I have a barrier with somebody, or I feel that what happened was problematic in such a way that the conversation needs to happen. And so doing that conversation, initiating that conversation, and again, that can go a variety of ways. So sometimes if I'm in a position of responsibility, and somebody needs a confrontation for that, that's slightly different than a friendship, or relationship, where I feel like I need to kind of say something. And it's not really ... Even if it is at work, it isn't really to do with it's my job to make sure that this goes well. It's more like this needs to clear the air.

And so yeah, I've definitely done that several times. And sometimes I feel better after I've vented. Sometimes nothing really changes, but I feel like, OK, that was the right thing to do. And sometimes it all blows up and it is ugly. And you're like, "Was that the right thing to do? I don't know." Because I think we sometimes judge whether or not something's the right thing by whether the outcome is what we consider optimal or not. And I don't necessarily think those are related. I think we don't have control over consequences or the law of unintended consequences. And other people have free will and choice to respond how they want to respond, and it doesn't mean I did the wrong thing just because it all went to hell. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fair. No, that's very fair. Actually, it's very true as well. And so yeah, thank you. Lisa, thank you for this early morning. Thank you for taking the time and for sharing. And I think I really do believe that your honesty and your candor that you do in your classes, that you do speaking, actually, when you say you weren't as creative, I was like, "The Lisa I know pretty much can take the impossible and make something amazing," so I'm like, "I think you're pretty creative about stuff."

Lisa Clark Diller: Appreciate it.

Japhet De Oliveira: But thank you so much for your time. For everybody who's listening, I want to encourage you to do the same thing, just to not only hear people's stories, but actually to share your own stories. And I really do believe that you will change the world, you will be a better person for it. We all grow by hearing from each other. So thanks again, Lisa. God bless everybody. And we will be back on another episode soon.

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.