“Community is people who give of themselves with a whole heart, sacrificially if needed, and with love. Not begrudgingly, not because it's the rule, but because love drives them to do for each other. And that's really what the body of Christ is supposed 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: Hey, welcome friends to another episode of The Story & Experience Podcast. I am delighted, and I am delighted every single time, but I am delighted today. This person, I'm looking at this person right now, they look happy, which is great, is a good sign. And so I think it's going to go well. I think it's going to go great actually. So the way it works, if you're brand new to this podcast is that I have a hundred questions. They progressively become more open as time goes on, and so the person gets to choose between numbers 11 and 100 where they want to go. And I will ask the first 10.
Sandra Meyers: Okay.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Oh, we heard their voice. This is great. I like it. I like it. This is great. So tell us your name, question number one, tell us your name and does anybody ever mispronounce it?
Sandra Meyers: My name is Sandra Meyers. People don't mispronounce my name unless they just want to take liberties with my name. So Sandy is something that I went by as a child, but as I matured and air quotes, matured.
Japhet De Oliveira: Air quotes, yeah, yeah, appreciate that.
Sandra Meyers: I went to my given name, so Sandra, but they misspell it because it can be M-Y-E-R-S or any number of other Meyers kinds of spellings.
Japhet De Oliveira: There are lots out there.
Sandra Meyers: But pronunciation, they usually get that right.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's fantastic.
Sandra Meyers: Yes.
Japhet De Oliveira: Sandra, what do you do for work?
Sandra Meyers: So I work here in the system office for Adventist Health. I am part of the Story & Communications team, and I work with the most brilliant people you're ever going to want to meet.
Japhet De Oliveira: They are amazing people, absolutely. How long have you been doing this?
Sandra Meyers: I have been here now six and a half years.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh wow. Great.
Sandra Meyers: And it's surprising actually that it's been that long. It's my third job in healthcare communications and I'm just really enjoying it.
Japhet De Oliveira: What did you do before? You third job, have you been in communications all the time?
Sandra Meyers: Yes. Yes. So my very first job was as a news person at a television station, at like three lifetimes ago. Very young, right out of college, but after a short period of time, I figured that that is not where I wanted to live my whole life. And so I actually interviewed a woman who does marketing communications at a hospital where I was working in TV, and said, "How do I get from what I'm doing now to what you do?" And then a few years later, we ended up being colleagues working at the same hospital system. So-
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.
Sandra Meyers: ... been doing that for a long time now.
Japhet De Oliveira: Now, just to help people understand this, they don't know this about you, but I want to kind of bring this out. You are working and something else at the same time?
Sandra Meyers: Yes.
Japhet De Oliveira: What's that other thing at the same time?
Sandra Meyers: Well, there's a spouse and kids out there too.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, in the family life, yeah, yeah.
Sandra Meyers: I have been in school for the last almost two years, started during the pandemic, getting my masters in Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-fiction.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Now unpack that a little bit for us.
Sandra Meyers: Okay.
Japhet De Oliveira: Tell us a little bit about that magic.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah, it could be confusing for people because my track within that is narrative medicine, and so they're like, "I don't know what any of that means." So this program is online with the school on the east coast, and it's very directed to finishing a manuscript. So when I am done this summer, I will have a hundred page manuscript that I have written in my thesis class. And narrative medicine relates to medicine. It actually came from physicians who were trying to tell their stories, trying to, and process their stories, their experiences as a caregiver and everything that comes with that. And so you'll see, if you go online and search narrative medicine, you'll find stories written by doctors that are funny or you just tear your heart out. So that is my focus of my education, but I expect to, and I hope to be able to be a published author once I'm done as well.
Japhet De Oliveira: I am very excited about this because in addition to this, which is a lot, you do help out at Adventist Health quite a lot with the chief clinical officer and the chief nursing officer, right?
Sandra Meyers: Yes.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Yeah. And so working with patients, stories, all that kind of stuff, you love that world.
Sandra Meyers: Yes, I really do. And I look forward to some projects we have in mind for this next year too, with nurses and telling their stories.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.
Sandra Meyers: That's good stuff.
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's pretty good. All right. So in the morning when you get up and your first drink of the day. I see you drinking some water now, which is great, but the first drink of the day, is it water? Is it a liquid green smoothie? Is it tea or coffee?
Sandra Meyers: It is two cups of coffee with a teaspoon of sugar in each one of them. And yeah, that's the very first place that I go.
Japhet De Oliveira: Sounds like Mary Poppins.
Sandra Meyers: Oh my goodness. My husband is usually up away before I am, so he makes the coffee, it's there waiting for me when I come downstairs. And I sit and I drink those first two cups and then I can function like a human being after that.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's hilarious. That's really good. Ah, that's fantastic. All right, so where were you born?
Sandra Meyers: I was born in Texas. I like to say that I was conceived in South Dakota and born in Texas because everybody in my family, my parents and my siblings, they were all born in South Dakota. My parents started me there, but didn't finish me until Texas. And then we moved to California when I was three, so I've never been back.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, okay. So when you were a little child, it was more in California I would imagine. What did you imagine you want to grow up to be?
Sandra Meyers: My first thought was that I wanted to be a secretary. And I think that comes down to, I love to make lists and notes and write. I love to write from childhood on. And my mother used to have these little three by five notepads. And super cheap, she would have them all over the house and she would write everything that she could, grocery lists and to-do lists and everything else in these little notebooks. And so I would get some of them as well in my Christmas stocking. And so I would just start writing memos and things like that. And I just thought, "Oh, this would be great. I could be a secretary."
Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. That's great. Well, it's quite a transformation, quite a different journey entirely. That was great for imagination. Personality wise, would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
Sandra Meyers: I am an introvert and it took me a long time to really understand what that meant. It doesn't necessarily mean someone is shy, it just means when we need to recharge. We don't do that in a big group of people. We go home, we have a quiet space, and we recharge that way. I've taken a Myers-Briggs a few different times in my life. Once I took it after I had been in my first job for a number of years and it came out extrovert, and I went and I took it to my boss and I said, "Look at that. I've changed." And she shook her head and said, "No, you haven't. You're a very well trained introvert is what you are." And I'm like, "Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense."
Japhet De Oliveira: You can. You can. I see it. I see it for true. All right. In the morning when you wake up, are you an early riser or are you late night owl?
Sandra Meyers: Definitely not an early riser.
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right.
Sandra Meyers: I would love, love to be, but definitely a late night owl.
Japhet De Oliveira: Late night owl?
Sandra Meyers: Yeah, absolutely.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, even this morning, what was the very first thought that went through your mind?
Sandra Meyers: Oh, I have to go into the office today. The work from home flexibility of being a little bit in the office and a little bit at home has been really nice. And my desk is not very far from my bed, so I divert my direction to the coffee, I get that, and then I shift back over to the desk and I'm ready to go.
Japhet De Oliveira: You are. And I do appreciate the incredible flexibility you have as well when working and the availability as well. It's fantastic. So I appreciate all the effort as we have had to do some extra hours at different times.
Sandra Meyers: It's good to be flexible.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, no, it is. It is really fantastic. All right, leadership question, because you've led people, you mentor people. Are you a backseat driver?
Sandra Meyers: I really try not to be. The first thing that comes into my mind is teaching my sons how to drive. And they would say I was a backseat driver then, and maybe a little bit now. But otherwise, I think people have the knowledge and the will to do a great job. And if they have questions, I'm so happy to answer those and provide any additional suggestions or direction, but I prefer to trust that people are going to do what I think that they are skilled to do.
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, that's good. I like it. All right, so first 10 done, floor is yours. Between 11 and 100, where would you like to go first?
Sandra Meyers: All right, so I thought about this and my method is going to be, my favorite number is two. So we're going to kind of jump two things with twos.
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay.
Sandra Meyers: So we'll start with 12.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right, 12 it is. Oh, this is great for you. What is your favorite movie or book of all time and why?
Sandra Meyers: It would have to be, It's a Wonderful Life. And it's perfect now because it's Christmas time. Something about that movie, Jimmy Stewart just love him. The message of just sacrificially giving that he does in that movie. It's long though. I've realized as I've... I took my kids to the theater to see at one Christmas and I realized, "Oh, two and a half hours. This thing is long." But I love the message, I love everything about it. And at the end, I can miss everything else and watch the last five minutes and I will still cry-
Japhet De Oliveira: I know.
Sandra Meyers: ... every single time.
Japhet De Oliveira: I know. We watch it every Christmas as well.
Sandra Meyers: I love that.
Japhet De Oliveira: It's beautiful. Ah, that's fantastic. Right. After 12?
Sandra Meyers: 22.
Japhet De Oliveira: 22. All right. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
Sandra Meyers: Oh my.
Japhet De Oliveira: And you can say right here.
Sandra Meyers: Right here with you, Japhet. Absolutely.
Japhet De Oliveira: Anyway.
Sandra Meyers: Probably with my family, somewhere beautiful like Hawaii on the beach, just having absolutely no schedule or appointments or anything like that. We're just there, we're together, we're enjoying nature, God's beautiful world that he's created. A little bit of water, a little bit of sand. That would des definitely be one of my happy places.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's a beautiful picture. Like that. Good. After 22?
Sandra Meyers: 32.
Japhet De Oliveira: 32? All right. If you were featured on the local news, what would the news story likely be?
Sandra Meyers: Oh my goodness. That is a silly question to try to think about. I don't know what it would be, but what I would love it to be, I'm going to tweak that question-
Japhet De Oliveira: I like it.
Sandra Meyers: ... is, "Local resident publishes bestselling book-
Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.
Sandra Meyers: ... and she's going to do a book signing at Barnes and Noble,” and thousands of people come out because they want to see that. That would be... Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: That would be beautiful.
Sandra Meyers: That would be fun.
Japhet De Oliveira: I look forward to that. All right. All right. That was 32. Where next?
Sandra Meyers: All right. 42.
Japhet De Oliveira: 42. All right. On your phone, and I don't know if you have your phone with you, but on your phone, there's a photo on your phone. What's this story behind the photo on your phone?
Sandra Meyers: Would that be the last photo I took maybe?
Japhet De Oliveira: Or your background photo. Depends.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah, I don't have a background photo.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right, so.
Sandra Meyers: Oh well, last picture I took-
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, great.
Sandra Meyers: ... was last night at our...
Japhet De Oliveira: You've got to describe the picture, that'd be great.
Sandra Meyers: Okay. So there's a giant red ball in this picture, a penguin, a child, and a tree.
Japhet De Oliveira: Which of course goes all well together.
Sandra Meyers: Yes. Yes. You can just put that together in your mind and know exactly what this is. We had our Christmas party last night and Pip was there next to the Christmas tree.
Japhet De Oliveira: And what is Pip?
Sandra Meyers: Pip is our fabulous mascot, the Adventist Health mascot. And he is a big blue penguin. And last night he was dancing and prancing and having a grand time. And there's a sweet, sweet little boy who wanted his picture taken with Pip. And I just thought they were all so cute that I took one. Maybe I shouldn't have done that, because I don't know whose child this is.
Japhet De Oliveira: I think the issue would be if you were sharing the photo everywhere.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah. Yeah. But he's very cute and he was very excited. The kids were so excited to see Pip. They just love him.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's great. Good memories. Good memories. All right, that was 42. Where next?
Sandra Meyers: All right. 52?
Japhet De Oliveira: 52.
Sandra Meyers: Once we get into the sixties, I'm going to start rethinking my plan.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Hey, share with us what motivates you.
Sandra Meyers: Oh, great question. One thing I would say for sure is just wanting to be the best person God has made me to be. I want to be someone that people can look at, and I don't want there to be any disconnect between what I believe and how I act. And that motivates me to behave in a certain way. And good golly, I'm so not perfect at it, but that is my intention and desire in my relationships. So that motivates me to be honest. And my kids will say I'm pretty darn honest with them. It motivates me to not be lazy and to try to give back or to just give. It motivates me in a lot of different ways because the verse that says, "Well done, good and faithful servant." What's better than that?
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's beautiful.
Sandra Meyers: Oh, there's a tissue.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I know. Hey, but that's beautiful. I think that actually, it speaks volumes into the complexity of people trying to live a life of integrity. And I appreciate that about you. I appreciate that. I've seen that in your work. I've seen that in the way that you take care of people as well and the relationship. So it's very true. It's great.
Sandra Meyers: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's beautiful. All right. That was 52.
Sandra Meyers: All right. We'll do 62.
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right. This is great for you. What does a sense of community mean to you?
Sandra Meyers: I'm going to draw on my church community as kind of the example of that. To me, community is people who give of themselves with a whole heart and sacrificially if needed, and with love. Not begrudgingly, not because it's the rule, but because love drives them to do for each other. And that's really what the body of Christ is supposed to be. And I've been in the Natomas area of Sacramento for a long time, and that's kind of like a little sub-community of Sacramento. And I've gone to a couple of churches, but I've intertwined my life with a lot of other people who I've known for a good chunk of time now. And I think we do that fairly well, is just love on each other, support each other, be there, live life together. So yeah, I would definitely think that to me is community. And again, it's the action fueled by love.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, I will say that that's true, absolutely, and beautiful to hear. But I also have seen you do that at work as well, which is wonderful. The way that you help without anyone asking, the way you go out of your way to actually help new people join and be part of the company and been taken care of and help their sense of belonging. So it's great stuff.
Sandra Meyers: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well done. Thank you. All right. That was 62. So where next?
Sandra Meyers: All right. Well, we're getting close to the nineties. I don't really want to go there.
Japhet De Oliveira: Close to the nineties, is it?
Sandra Meyers: It's a hop, skip, and a jump. All right. 72.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right. 72 it is. Tell us about what you want to do when you retire, and then why are you waiting?
Sandra Meyers: We think about this quite a bit, my husband and I. He's a big "what if" guy. Sometimes his what ifs are just so out of left field. You're like, "Sweetheart, that's never going to happen. What are you worrying about that for?"
Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good.
Sandra Meyers: But we've talked a lot about what do we want to do in retirement. I don't want to learn golf or anything like that. I think we're really focused on doing some missions, and we've each done some separately. We haven't actually done any together so far, but we've definitely, that is going to be a big piece of what we do. So we've actually tried to take some steps. So we've done small term missions with our church. There is an online way to sign up, and I can't remember the agency now, but the subgroup is mission builders.
And you go and you help, just doing cleaning or feeding or just interject while the regular people who do that mission work are resting and you come in and their stead and help out. So we are looking at those opportunities now before... We have another 10 years before we retire, so there's plenty of time to do those things. But we also have a missionary who runs an orphanage in Uganda that we support. So we're having lots of Zoom calls with them and the kids already and just kind of trying to live a little bit of life miles and miles apart. So we're definitely, our toes are in that water, but that's what we'd like to do when we retire, when there's no place we have to be.
Japhet De Oliveira: I'm glad you're not waiting though. I'm glad you're involved in it now. And I know you recently tried to go again and COVID had its own plans as well. But I appreciate that, that's great. All right. That was 72. So where next?
Sandra Meyers: All right, let's do 82.
Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. If you could keep only three possessions, what would they be and why? That's kind of fun.
Sandra Meyers: That is fun. So first thing that came to my mind is my Bible. Second thing that came to my mind is my coffee maker.
Japhet De Oliveira: Is a coffee maker your husband or your...
Sandra Meyers: No, the machine.
Japhet De Oliveira: I'm kidding. I'm kidding..
Sandra Meyers: Yes. Because you said possessions, and he's not my possession, so he gets to come. Goodness, three. Probably a photograph of family, something maybe probably from many years ago where my mom and my dad would be in it and all my siblings or something like that.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's good.
Sandra Meyers: Maybe a wedding photo that had everybody in it.
Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's pretty nice.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: Great. All right. So that was 82.
Sandra Meyers: All right, 92, and then I'm going to have to start figuring out where to go from there.
Japhet De Oliveira: Well, this is a great question. How would you like to be remembered?
Sandra Meyers: The first word that comes to mind is consistent. And I think that goes back to being authentic to having my actions match up with what I say I believe. And that's important to me because I've struggled at times seeing when that doesn't match up. And we're all human, we all screw up, we're selfish, we do all these kinds of things, so I understand that. But I definitely want those two things to be consistent. I don't want there to be any disconnect with what I do and what I believe. And that was a long time in coming. I was kind of in and out of church for many years until my father passed away. And when he was sick and in the hospital, we talked to the hospital chaplain and asked him to come and pray over him.
And it hit me that this man that we were having pray over him had never met him before. And my father was sedated at the time, so there was no interaction. And that's because they had fallen away from their church, and from kind of that being a daily part of what they do, and that had been my life at that point as well. And I came home after the funeral and all of those things, and told my husband, I said, "I'm going back to church. I'm taking the kids. I'm going back, and I can't live this disparate life anymore." So moving forward, that's super important to me.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's wonderful. I think that we all should live life in community. And I think you and I both know this, that in our faith walks, church is actually really essential, really important part. And so it's beautiful. It's to belong to and to be understood. I agree.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. That's great. All right. So that was 92. Where would you like to go?
Sandra Meyers: There is no 102.
Japhet De Oliveira: No, there is no... But where would you like to go next?
Sandra Meyers: Let's double it. So 44.
Japhet De Oliveira: 44, all right. Here we go. What is something that you are proud to have created?
Sandra Meyers: Oh. Aside from my children, I didn't create that them all by myself, but I had an opportunity when I was working for another health system a number of years ago to step in and help at the last minute with a ground break. No, it wasn't a groundbreaking, it was an opening event of an emergency room. And the communications person at that hospital was not there. They had a temp who tried to get things together and two weeks before the event. And it had all kinds of implications, politically, internally, all of these kinds of things. So it was really, really important that it went well. And so my boss came to me and said, "I need you to go down and be at this facility and get this event pulled together and finalized, and we'll see how everything goes."
So it was two weeks of nothing but focus on this one event and trying to figure out what had been done and what hadn't been done and what we still needed to do to make it everything they wanted. And it was exhausting, but the day of, it all came together, and all the pieces, the video that we had wanted. We really wanted to pull up people's heartstrings and things like that. And I'm standing in the tent a few hours before the event and the videographer comes and he plays it for us on the big screen. And I'm almost crying. I'm like, "That's exactly what we need." And so everything that we wanted it to be, it was. And so it was extraordinarily challenging, but it went well. And then the hospital president sent me some flowers in this beautiful vase that is just, it's big, beautiful, gorgeous thing. And I have it sitting in my living room on top of my curio cabinet. And that, it reminds me of that all the time, that hard work pays off.
Japhet De Oliveira: Yes it does.
Sandra Meyers: Yeah.
Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. Hey, that's fantastic. All right. So we have time. Believe it or not, only two more.
Sandra Meyers: All right.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, so what last two would you want to go?
Sandra Meyers: Well, let's see. We did 44, we double it again and do 88?
Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right. 88 it is. This is good. Tell us about how your life has been different than what you imagined.
Sandra Meyers: That is really funny to me, actually.
Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, yeah?
Sandra Meyers: I used to have a list of things. "I will never do this. I will never do this. I will never do this." And every single one of them-
Japhet De Oliveira: You've done?
Sandra Meyers: ... has either happened or is happening or will happen. I said I would never go to school in Chico, and I did. I went to Chico State, graduated a number of years ago. I said I would never be in a sorority, and I pledged a sorority. I said I would never live in Sacramento. Here I am.
Oh, when I moved to... The first town that I lived in, it's a very small town. My perception was all the guys here are going to be of a certain nature. And I'm like, "I'm going to go there and I'm going to leave. I'm not going to date." I met my husband two weeks after I got there. And then the very last thing I said I would never do is be a missionary. And that's what we want to do. So I think-
Japhet De Oliveira: This is good.
Sandra Meyers: ... the beauty of God is, I think he's got a gigantic sense of humor, right? And every time I have a plan or an idea, he's snickering, and like, "Really? I don't think so. I've got other plans for you."
Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's really good. I like that. All right then. So your last number, what would you like to be your last number?
Sandra Meyers: We'll cut it in half and do 50.
Japhet De Oliveira: 50. All right. 50 it is. Share about who has influenced you professionally.
Sandra Meyers: Oh my. In a lot of... Every boss I've ever had, I think has influenced me in one way or another. I had one boss in healthcare. She really understood that whole introvert, extrovert, how people want to work well, and she would adjust her style to fit that person. She would adjust how she did things as she was very much an extrovert, and how she dealt with me. And one day she came by my desk and she said, "We need to talk about this thing. And here's a little bit of information, here's a little bit of information. You think about it, and when you're ready, come talk to me about it." And that was perfect because then I could kind of formulate in my head and spin it around a little bit, and then I could go. But if she had just come up to me and said, "What do you think we should do about X?"
Yeah. I would stare at her blankly and be like, "I don't know. Let me think about it." So that taught me to be really purposeful in how you work with people and not expect everybody to respond in the same ways and need the same things. I had another boss who was just there in those moments when life was really difficult and would just sit and pray with me when I needed it. I had other bosses who were really not that nice. And that was also taught me a lot about how to work with people or how not to. So yeah, I think every place I've been-
Japhet De Oliveira: That's great.
Sandra Meyers: ... and somebody has taught me something. And that's something that I look for. Even sitting in a church and listening to a sermon, if I'm struggling with how it's being delivered or whatever, I'm like, "There's a nugget there."
Japhet De Oliveira: There is. There is.
Sandra Meyers: There's something I can learn, and I'm going to find it. So with every job and boss, I think I've come away with something that I can use.
Japhet De Oliveira: That is great. Good encouraging words actually, for anybody who's starting out on a job for the first time or beginning a new career or in the midst of change, that's good advice.
Sandra Meyers: Thanks.
Japhet De Oliveira: Thank you Sandra, that was fantastic. I appreciate the time and take the time to be able to be part of this podcast.
Sandra Meyers: Thank you.
Japhet De Oliveira: I want to encourage everybody who's listening, do the same thing, sit down with a friend, get some water, get a coffee, something to drink, and just literally ask good questions, listen. And it does change, it changes us, it changes them, and I think it just makes us better people. So God bless everybody and we'll connect soon.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us. For this Story & Experience podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at AdventistHealth.org/Story. The Story & Experience podcast was bought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.