Amena Brown: [00:00:25] Hey, everybody. Welcome back to HER With Amena Brown and I'm Amena Brown. I'm so excited we are here in Season 3.
Amena Brown: [00:00:35] Some of you this may be your first episode you're listening to. And there are two seasons before this that I would love for you to check out. With season three is really exciting for me because the theme is create. Which means I'm getting to talk to all of these amazing women who are creating things and founding things and doing the things.
Amena Brown: [00:00:55] Today I have author and speaker Alia Joy with me and I want to read this line from her bio because I just love it so much. I think it articulates so well what she does. It says she is an author-speaker who poignantly shares about her life with bipolar disorder, as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope. Whew. Show your love for Alia Joy. Whoo! I always clap, Alia. And I know it's like an episode but I always have it.
Alia Joy: [00:01:29] I love it.
Amena Brown: [00:01:29] You know there's not a crowd here so I just feel like I need to say.
Alia Joy: [00:01:33] I'm feeling it.
Amena Brown: [00:01:35] Thank you so so much for joining me, Alia. I'm so happy to have you.
Alia Joy: [00:01:39] Thank you for having me.
Amena Brown: [00:01:41] So, Alia and I were actually trying to figure out how we know each other and we're thankful for the Internet because sometimes that's a part of how you connect with the person. But so far Alia and I have surmised that we met at a writers conference at Allume and met there. And I did I did what I would like to call a little lonely writing workshop.
[00:02:08] I was asked at Allume to do like a breakout session and I do it as a writing workshop and at a conference full of writers. There were only five of us I think in the room and you know.
Alia Joy: [00:02:22] There's more than that.
Amena Brown: [00:02:24] Seven.
Alia Joy: [00:02:24] Isn't there? OK I remember more.
Amena Brown: [00:02:28] And Alia was there and I think we were writing along the theme of shoes if I remember.
Alia Joy: [00:02:35] Yes yes.
Amena Brown: [00:02:36] And Alia was there writing and sharing with us what she was writing and we were all like. "Tell us more. Read us more." So that's when I started following you online and then a a while went by. We didn't see each other. I just saw you online and the next time I saw you, I was like "Alia! Our long lost moment.".
Alia Joy: [00:03:00] It's all so spread out. I love those conferences.
Amena Brown: [00:03:03] Yes. So I'm really thankful for the Internet in these ways because it helps me to stay connected with people who are so amazing and so brilliant like you. And I got an email from Alia about her book and we're gonna be talking a lot more about this but I want to make sure I mentioned it here. Alia's book is coming out April 2nd Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack. And I had the honor of endorsing this book. I'm not able to endorse a lot of books so a lot of requests come in that I have to say no to but I'm really glad I said yes to Alia's request because this book, hoo y'all.
Amena Brown: [00:03:39] Mm hmm. So we can talk about this book. Before we get to that, I want to talk about the moment when you called yourself a writer. I always start off asking each guest an origin story. And I think it's interesting you know when we, those of us, I mean obviously I feel a kinship with you because I'm also a writer. And of course I remember growing up and reading books and a part of my reading books becoming the thing that really made me want to become a writer. But it's even more interesting to me to think about what's the moment where I finally would have said in a conversation to someone, "Oh that's what I do. I am a writer." Do you remember that moment for you or what the season of life was like when you were finally able to say those words and say them with confidence? Or not.
Alia Joy: [00:04:24] Yeah it's funny. I had just tweeted the other day. I said something like somebody had asked a question about, is your Twitter persona the same as your in real life persona? And I tweeted something about like I pretty much never tell people I'm a writer in real life, like small talk stuff. I mean, obviously my close people know that I'm a writer but I don't I don't ever really lead with that. It's usually my husband who outs me. He's like, "oh she's a writer. She has a book coming out." And then you know they obviously ask me all about being an author and my book and I usually like have awkward pauses and or I ramble incessantly with word salad. So I don't. I mean I do call myself a writer.
Alia Joy: [00:05:05] I am a writer but I still think, yeah, it's something that's it's kind of a strange identity to have. And so for me I think I have always written. From the time that I was really little I would journal I still have boxes and boxes of journals that I have made my husband promised to burn if I ever die. He. Yeah I just I think that you know I never intended to start blogging. I never intended really to start writing the way that I do write. It was kind of upside down and backwards and accidental. And so when I started blogging I was like a blogger. But I never. That identity never really fit me because I'm not a marketer. I'm not. I just like the words. So as things have transitioned kind of away from some of the—I don't want to say gimmicky because I think there are people that do it really well. But just some of the stuff that went with blogging back in the day and has kind of streamlined down to places where the words really matter.
Alia Joy: [00:06:12] I think that was when I started to come into my own and own the fact that I was a writer so I want to say it's probably a year or two after I was started blogging where I really felt like this is something that I was made to do. I like the Chariots of Fire. Eric Liddell said you know God made me fast and when I write or when I run I feel this pleasure. And I feel that about writing. You know this is my one thing where when I write, I really feel God's pleasure.
Alia Joy: [00:06:41] And so I think that identity as a writer has been continuing to form. I can't pinpoint one spot where I was like, Now I'm a writer. It's kind of an awkward thing that I try on. And you know I've walked around in for a while now but it's still it's still a little strange. I think because in normal in the normal world, it's like a weird profession, you know, to be a writer. It's a weird world.
Alia Joy: [00:07:06] So online I'm like yeah I'm a writer and I talk about writing all the time. But because it's not a part of my I mean in my everyday life I'm just Alia and I'm a mom and you know I'm just a normal. And so yeah I don't I don't think that's. I don't know. I would definitely call myself a writer but don't think about it too much.
Amena Brown: [00:07:28] Yeah. Which is kind of. It's kind of interesting. It's kind of a Clark Kent Superman dynamic there. I dated a guy once who was also an artist and he would all he. That was one of the first questions I remember he asked me like on a first date. It was like, "You know, what's what's your Clark Kent? You know, it's like I know you're you go and do things on stage." But he was like what's your what's your Clark Kent you do. And I think writing is kind of interesting that way because if you don't write in a way that means it would be something you'd talk about at a cocktail party or that someone would be like catch you doing. You know like it happens to me sometimes. Sometimes someone can be at a show and be like, "No I saw you there" and you were there performing you know. But nobody's like seeing you at your desk crying or whatever we're doing.
Alia Joy: [00:08:18] Right.
Amena Brown: [00:08:19] When we're writing you know so it is this interesting Clark Kent Superman connection that nobody nobody has to know if we don't sort of out ourselves or you know have our loved ones out us. Your husband did.
Alia Joy: [00:08:33] Yes. Totally. Every single time I should have words prepared by now. But I'm like I wrote fifty two thousand words in a book. And still when they're like, oh what do you write about? I'm like blah. You know. Like with me, well, I have bipolar disorder and I write about grief and suicidal ideation. Like it's just, it's one of those like big conversation leaks. So you know I usually say, "Well, I write you know spiritual memoir." And then you know as it gets further I'll talk about you know I write about mental illness and stuff like that but it's always that weird pause where I'm like oh.
Amena Brown: [00:09:07] How do I explain to you I sit at my desk with some tissue and just hoping for the best. That's that's what I should say from now on. People are like, "so what is it you do?" I sit at my desk with a box of tissue.
Alia Joy: [00:09:24] That's definitely true.
Amena Brown: [00:09:25] And a notebook and I hope for the best. That's what I do. I want to ask you about what was it like transitioning from blog writing to book writing. Because I know for me was it was a very interesting transition to go from like writing poems into writing you know nonfiction in book form. What was that transition like for you? Or did you find that the blogging sort of helped you and your book writing process?
Alia Joy: [00:09:55] The blogging helped in some ways because a lot of the material that I've been talking about forever may only have one story in this specific book. You know when you're doing kind of like a memoir you're picking certain. Pretty much cherry picking certain stories to be in this arc or in this narrative. And you know somebody could read this book and think Oh I know everything about Alia Joy. But there are giant chapters years of my life that are not didn't make it into the book. And so I tend to be pretty verb— verbose and I tend to write long. I don't typically write for places that are like you need to write a 500 word, you know, that's our max. Because I just I wish I could get it done like you and have you know the words be super fierce. When it's but I'm just I'm not I'm not as good at that. That's a lot harder. So I tend to write long form anyway. So I think the transition for the writing part to the book writing was actually easy for me. I feel like I've been talking about this stuff. For so long. I knew which stories I wanted to put in I knew where I was going in terms of that stuff. So the that part wasn't hard.
Alia Joy: [00:10:59] I think the biggest issue for me from blog writing to book writing was dealing with Imposter Syndrome. Dealing with, "they gave me a book deal and why the heck would they give me a book deal?" Like I'm not anybody, you know? And who am I to talk about like anything and who's gonna buy this book. And coming from you know some of the places that I was coming from and some of the things I was writing about.
Alia Joy: [00:11:24] It took me a little bit to shake that off and to kind of figure out like who is this book really for. I feel like when I went into it I knew exactly who my reader was and I was like, "This is who I'm writing it for." And and you know very much this vision for it and the vision for the message and a vision for the person that I felt really really needed this book. And then there's the periphery people that will pick it up but whatever but when I was writing and I'm like This is the woman that I am writing for. This is the person this is what she's feeling this is what she does what her life's been like. But then when I went through the whole publishing process and you do the book proposal and you send it out and you know everybody's critiquing everything and they're looking for marketing angles and platform and influence and who do you know and how do you you know how we're gonna package this how we're going to market this.
Alia Joy: [00:12:09] By the time I got to past all of that I had a lot of voices in my head that were that I was like just dealing with. And I had to eventually just I mean I was pretty frozen for the first couple months of book writing. Like I just would sit there and be like writing words and then you know it's like I completely forgot how to write. This is all terrible. And I remember reading at one time to my mom I had maybe a couple thousand words. And she said, "this doesn't sound like you it sounds like your you know trying to—." I think what I was trying to do is write for every audience, was trying like in my mind I had all the critics that are gonna say yeah but what about this or oh but she's too emotional here Oh she's too flowery here Oh this is too I don't know you know all of that stuff. And so all of that was in my head when I was trying to write and I think I was just I was writing solely to the critics and I was not writing to my reader. And once I was able to just be like, ya'll sit down. I'm you know me and her talking. Then the book came out and I think yeah I think that really was the process for me and has been with a lot of my writing. I feel like people talk about you know getting over your fear. I write scared pretty much all the time and I haven't gotten over it. I do it anyway.
Amena Brown: [00:13:29] Ooh. I love that. I write scared. I'm like I try to clean my baseboards scared instead of writing scared. I get scared of writing and then I'm like What are the other things I might—
Alia Joy: [00:13:43] Right.
Amena Brown: [00:13:43] To do instead. But I I really love the way you describe that process though because I think it's interesting whenever we are creating the voices that enter that room with us. And sometimes you know it's a muse that we have you know like I remember when we were studying Alice Walker in school and she would always talk about how like her characters were talking to her. I thought that was so strange until I experienced it myself in writing that sometimes it's a muse or The Voice. Because coming in to tell you what to say and sometimes it is the critic that has entered the room now and is like bup bup bup bup. Maybe let's not write that the people are—you know.
Amena Brown: [00:14:24] And these things you get ready to say and how a part of it is sort of you as the writer standing up on their own and be like you you you get out. You: sit closer. You: be quiet. You know?
Alia Joy: [00:14:39] Totally.
Amena Brown: [00:14:41] I want to talk more about your book and I I. I just I love your book. I love your writing. I love your voice as a writer. I love how it is vulnerable and beautiful and artful. I just I love it. And then I was reading this book and just felt so impacted so I want to talk about Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack. And I want to read one of my favorite excerpts from it. I will not be able to read it with Alia Joy voice but I will do the best I can with my Amena voice here Mm hmm. This is one of my favorite passages here.
Amena Brown: [00:15:29] You said: "I am thirty nine years old. Most every picture taken of me I'm smiling at the camera with my lips closed like I'm holding in a secret. When I go to restaurants I'm careful to only order things I'm able to chew with my front teeth and my one set of connecting molars. Nothing indicates your station in life more than poor teeth. The poor don't go to the dentist until their brittle teeth shatter like porcelain, leaving them with a jaw full of rubble. Even then, most dentists don't take random people who can afford little more than a fragment of what's due and when I've sat in the dentist chair I've often been met with disdain and judgment when the modeled x-ray is slapped onto the lightbox displaying all the ways I failed in basic hygiene and discipline. To fix each tooth would be hundreds if not thousands of dollars and so they are plucked one by one like roots from the earth. There's a reason we use the expression, 'it's like pulling teeth' to describe something that is difficult and no one wants to do. So I sit mouth agape waiting for the void, the empty spot where my phantom tooth can still be felt, and where my tongue can't stop probing its grave. This empty and cavernous vacancy spreads in the whole of me when they look at my chart. I know what they see."
Amena Brown: [00:16:55] Alia. First of all just I have so many things I want to say about your book. I have all the things. I think first of all which is going to lead into my next question though you know I've read quite a few books on faith over the years and I know listeners not all of you are necessarily people who ascribe to a faith or who would consider yourselves to be Christian. Alia and I both have the shared experience of having published books in Christian publishing as well as just coming from a context of Christian faith. But in my time of having read a lot of Christian books Christian living spiritual memoir type books I have almost been given the vibe that Jesus is middle class. And that to be Christian, an American is to be middle class or above.
Alia Joy: [00:17:57] Right.
Amena Brown: [00:17:58] And the only time I read words in books like this are, words like poor and words like poverty, are typically words reserved for an experience some American Christian had in a village somewhere or in an inner city somewhere. But it was a very distant experience. An experience you observed others having and felt really bad for them that they were having that experience. And to hear you articulating what it's like to be poor in this book really is important to me. Because I think you are you are bringing up a narrative that so many people know and know really well and know in a painful way. And even when I think about the person of Jesus right like I was just talking to my friend about this when she asked me about your book I was like Alia is really telling the truth right here that Jesus is not a middle class person.
Amena Brown: [00:19:11] You know. Jesus and the disciples are not walking around in a subdivision you know. Like Jesus also knows what it's like to be poor. I want to ask you. I want to ask you why, why do you think we avoid up close narrative of poverty personal experience of poverty why why are we avoiding that? And I would love for you to speak to what is the shame that we have there. For those of us that have experienced poverty are currently experiencing poverty. Talk more about that.
Alia Joy: [00:19:53] Yeah I think I think the shame you know you're talking about this middle class Jesus. For me growing up Jesus was middle to upper class and he was white and he drove a nice car and that was the picture that I got from the church. We had come back from, my parents were missionaries in Nepal. I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was five. We returned to the States and we were poor. You know, for all intents and purposes. And and so when I looked around I just saw all of these areas that in the church that had no place for me and had no place for my parents. And as I've grown up and wrestled with this idea of poverty throughout my life we've gone through different phases. I would wouldn't consider myself in poverty now but I definitely have struggled. We still you know my husband is a painter he works construction. So we're both high school dropouts. We have you know that's that's part of the story. My mom's the first one of us to ever have gone to college. And I think that what what we see a lot of times is this merit based theology where you do the things and then you get the blessing and because you know we can say, "oh we don't you know we don't have that. We're not really prosperity gospel." But there's a very subtle prosperity gospel that is so present in Christian culture. And when we look at somebody that is getting their electricity cut off or can't afford to go to the dentist or can't pay the rent we think, "what did they do? They must have done something." Right. There's this sort of, they're irresponsible, they made bad choices.
Alia Joy: [00:21:34] We don't look at things communally in America. We don't look at things as systemic so we wouldn't say, OK well what if we trace this all back? What are the systemic injustices and oppressive things that have kept people in cycles of poverty for generations? What are the things that the church can do to alleviate this burden? How can we enter in with people instead of as a service project but as a community as a church as a body? And I think we don't because we don't live communally in that way with our hearts where we're connected and we're actually grieving when people grieve, actually celebrating. Like there isn't that, that aspect. So I think it's very easiest for us to identify poverty as something that is over there instead of something that is in us. You know. The Bible, I talk about how the Bible talks about blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Like how do we inherit this kingdom of heaven when nobody wants to be poor? Nobody wants to be poor in spirit nobody wants to have that story. You know. We fight against, against it and there's this shame to it because you know I think in a lot of churches if you're poor you're sort of disciplined for it. It's it's a bad thing. You know you you've made choices that are bad along the way. But Jesus you know he was always esteeming the poor. He was always lifting them up. He was always aiding the poor himself. And in fact said you know that he's present in the poor. And so if you're not seeing that you're not seeing a full picture of Jesus for sure. So I definitely think that we are starting to have these conversations.
Alia Joy: [00:23:17] I see them on Twitter as people talking about poverty and people talking about you know how we do this differently. But for a long time I think you know we also have the stories that you know people that that were struggling with these things their stories were told secondhand from the people that would go to the village. The White blogger goes to the village brings back these stories of you know how grateful the people were in the village and how wonderful and how we should all be super grateful for all the stuff we have and we should give up our latte and sponsor a child. And I'm not I'm not I sponsor three kids with Compassion. I'm not against that but there's a difference between what charity looks like and what community looks like. And then I don't know that we absorb those things into our body into you know I don't think we identify with poverty in ourselves. I think it's still something that we don't esteem. But I think that's unfortunate. I think we miss out.
Amena Brown: [00:24:14] Yeah. And I really I really enjoyed in your book the layers of how you talked about the experience of being poor that we can we can know poverty in an economic sense and we can know poverty in a systemic sense and we can know poverty in a social and spiritual sense as well. And I really appreciated the layers that you were excavating there. It made me think about you know when I had a chance with a nonprofit to visit the Dominican Republic and you know it's one of those kind of you know the bloggers and whoever influencers get invited to kind of see this work the nonprofit does and you get to be with different leaders there from that country. And I will never forget our our closing time with our Dominican brothers and sisters that had been there with us kind of showing us you know what the country was like and you know showing us some of the hardships of some of the people there at the end. One of the Dominican leaders prayed for all of us as Americans and he looked at us and he said I want to pray for you because I know when you go back it's hard for you. And there was something about him saying that that really broke me down deep within because I realized he looked at us and also saw our poverty.
Alia Joy: [00:25:38] Yeah.
Amena Brown: [00:25:39] In our souls and in our mentalities about certain things. And I I really appreciated that you spoke to that and I think one of the other things I really think is important about just the narrative of what you're writing here in this book is I it just made me it made me really want to interrogate my own thinking about some things you know and just to really think about sort of what are what are the narratives I'm laying on top of other stories. So for example I feel like you know I have obviously a lot of American narrative. Love a hero.
Alia Joy: [00:26:16] Right.
Amena Brown: [00:26:17] Love a story that's going to wrap up like a sitcom at the end you know. Love a story where like the problem gets presented in the first five minutes and somehow by the time you get to minute twenty three before that last set of commercial breaks you know.
Alia Joy: [00:26:32] Yeah.
Amena Brown: [00:26:32] Everything's fixed.
Alia Joy: [00:26:34] It's all good.
Amena Brown: [00:26:34] Yeah. And I appreciated that your your narrative here in this book is to say that that is not a realistic narrative. That that's not how our real life goes. You know that certain things we may walk through in life our whole life you know and never experience that. I think I think in my, you'll have to tell me if this is if this is similar to how you grew up or how you experience some of these narratives in a church context or Christian context but for me a lot of that church or Christian context came from this idea of the testimony, right. And in some ways the testimony is super great. It's like super great thing because you want to be able to hear the stories of other people hear the ways that they have experienced faithfulness of God. But in other ways the other side of that coin that could sort of turn bad, is it was kind of like you know I used to fill in the blank with whatever this thing is. Yeah. And now God did this and I no longer fill in the blank or get over this thing is. You know if someone were to come up to you know testimony service and go, "I used to deal with this thing also still today deal with it, also will probably be dealing with that for the rest of my life and God is still faithful." Like that's a narrative we don't hear a lot of like is that. Does that resonate with the ways that you may have been raised to think and how did you experience that kind of thought process turning to be able to accept sort of the faithfulness of God as a as a long term process or healing. Right. As a longtime process.
Alia Joy: [00:28:16] Yeah I think for sure a lot of us, the big problem with testimony and like I agree with everything that you said is that our testimonies typically are you know highlight us right the same like you said. Before I did this. Now I did this. And I think what we get wrong and what is detrimental to the church is that our testimonies are only ever how God is faithful to us. They're never about how we're faithful. Like we are faithless people that screw up and and will continue to forever. And so you know if I were to give a three word testimony it would be God is good. Like that my entire life. All of this narrative is leading up to one thing and it is that God is good and he's faithful to me. And and so I think when we don't enter into testimony like that what happens is it becomes performance right. I did this. I accomplished this. I overcame this, right. And I think there's a place for talking about you know the revelations as they overcame by the blood of the lamb and in talking about sharing their testimonies right. The word there's been so I think that's an important aspect to it. But I also think it can prohibit people from coming broken and vulnerable and hurting and depressed and addicted and saying how can God be faithful to me in this space. Still. I'm still here. How can God be faithful to me? And because there isn't that space for those conversations. Because we're waiting for the after. You know my book doesn't have a lot of afters.
Alia Joy: [00:29:51] I'm still literally I've been out of bed for two weeks and two months prior to that I barely could get out of bed going through one of the worst depressions. You know I just keep going through them. I was sick for like the last year and I literally told my husband the other maybe last week I said I'm launching a book and I can barely I'm so depressed I can barely function right now. How am I going to do this? And it really was the reminder that like God's strength is made. I've got people holding me up. I've got people offering to help. I've got you know it's not because I'm amazing it's because God is faithful it's because God is tender and he what he births, he completes. And I don't have to stress about it and so I'm doing this in the heart space you know I thought when I first signed my book contract I mean I really did. I'm writing a book about weakness and lack and I had all my material going in. But somewhere in my mind this is how tenacious this prosperity gospel is. Somewhere in my mind I still pictured like this giant hedge of protection, right. Like hedge of protection that we pray descends from the heavens and surround me and keep me like stable and safe and well so that I could do this work for God right.
Alia Joy: [00:31:09] And what happened instead was my meds weren't working. I got sick. I had horrible asthma. I had. I got bit by a black widow. Got super sick. I sprained my ankle. I had a cyst burst. I had a kidney stone. I it's ridiculous right. I mean absurd. I was waiting for the rivers to turn to blood and the locusts to come and I'm writing this book and I'm thinking, God. Are you kidding me? Like this is absurd. Like you want me to finish this but I am I'm. I can barely breathe. And you know writing through this book like I realized I would not have been able to write this book in any other place. I just wouldn't have. It wouldn't have come out the same and so God's faithful you know. It's not. And that doesn't mean that God's torturing me for a good book. But like there was this presence of God that was with me because I knew I can't do this on my own and that presence was so strong.
Alia Joy: [00:32:05] That I think you know you realize that it really is true. That in our weakness God is present like overwhelmingly present. And that was really where I had to kind of stake my claim and go OK. Like if this is this is how it's going to be like you're still faithful you're still good. And you know I tell people all the time right. The reminders because it's gonna get hard and you're going to forget. This book is the reminder I literally read it when they're super depressing and oh yeah OK yeah you know God. God is good. He's gonna come back. He's gonna come for me because when I'm in the middle of it I feel like he's gone. I feel like it's all a hoax and he's gone and I don't feel anything. And so the reminders are there to tell me that that I might be in the darkness right now but the light never leaves me even if I can't see it you know. And so that's what we that's what we can claim. That's our testimony.
Amena Brown: [00:33:02] I love that. I love that. It's such a it's such a great reminder to to to stay the course. Like even when I mean I love the way that you worded that when you're going through that place of darkness. And I also it just made me think how my experience in writing books I've only written two and who knows how many more I'll write after how hard those first two were. But my experience with writing books is that you will try and write the book but in so many ways the book will also write you.
Alia Joy: [00:33:39] Oh my gosh completely.
Amena Brown: [00:33:40] You know that's not what you said it sounded like to me it sounded like yeah. You know like I had my first book was called Breaking Old Rhythms and I thought it was going to be a guide for me to give other people how they can you know get out of their routines and comfort zone and all the rhythms that could break right when they would start to write that book did. Like what's the deal here. You know.
Alia Joy: [00:34:08] I know I don't know why anybody wants to write a book. If it's not burning a hole in your gut. Why would you want to do it. It's terrible.
Amena Brown: [00:34:14] It's hard. It's so hard and still we will go back and write more books.
Alia Joy: [00:34:20] I totally will. I have another one yet. But it's terrible.
Amena Brown: [00:34:23] Oh my gosh. So you are a writer and blogger who had already been prior to this book writing a lot about mental health. And you are writing even more about that and very poignantly here in Glorious Weakness. Why do you think we fear talking about mental health and about mental illness.
Alia Joy: [00:34:48] Some of it is just it's you know societal. There's certain stigmas. When I was first diagnosed with bipolar, I was actually in my thirties. I was already blogging. I probably had bipolar disorder in my early teens but it was never diagnosed. And when I first was diagnosed I wrote on my blog about depression. So I had this this diagnosis of bipolar disorder but I didn't ever say bipolar disorder because it was this big scary word and I had watched this episode of Law and Order and there was some crazy person on it and I was like they're going to all think that I'm like just this person and it's going to you know it was just I didn't want to be that.
Alia Joy: [00:35:27] And I remember for a while I thought maybe I'm not that just you know this bad thing and I thought I'd have grace for another person but not for myself and it wasn't until I was having a conversation with a friend who her son her teenage son has bipolar disorder and she was saying you know they don't want to tell anybody in the community because they don't want their kids to not play with him and it just that kind of stuff is a very private thing. And I thought this needs to change. Like we we can't have that. We need to talk about it because there are tons of people that have it and at the time I actually didn't know that there were tons of people that have it. I literally only knew one person that had bipolar disorder in real life. And what I've found since I've started writing is that there are there are they're everywhere. Lots lots of people struggle with mental illness in different capacities. One of the things that I have a lot of friends that that struggle with it and that will private message me or email is that their work they know their jobs are in a capacity where mental illness could really hurt their chances for advancement because of the way it's seen. And so they don't they are not at liberty to discuss their diagnosis or their problems or their things and so it's all kind of bottled up and hidden because although it's not supposed to, it would totally hurt their chances at their job for promotions and responsibility. We look at somebody that has bipolar disorder and there are hard times. You know I knew going into writing a book that my capacity was really small. And so I say no to stuff all the time and so that can be difficult. There are people that handle it better and that are stable. I'm a rapid cycler. It's been it's been a tough thing for me.
Alia Joy: [00:37:09] So I think some of that is that is that there is a reality and a stigma out there that is limiting. But I also think that there's a lot in the faith community. There's just with mental illness there's so much confusion about what is spiritual and what is physical. And we are holistic. There's no doubt about that. But I just I know that when I was in bed for two months, if I had cancer, nobody would be like, "Yeah that makes sense. You know she's really struggling and she's hurting." But when you have bipolar disorder it's like, she should pray more and have more faith and choose joy and take you know spread some oils on her body and I mean who knows. You know there's just a million things that people offer up that that they think are gonna be helpful when when you have a mental disorder.
Alia Joy: [00:37:57] And so you're kind of getting it from all at all areas all arenas. And I think that can be really hard because you already feel terrible. You already feel guilty being in bed and not being able to do stuff. You already are struggling to get out of bed and go through your day and go through the motions. You're already you know dealing with panic attacks or anxiety or you know all of those things are already built up and piling on you.
Alia Joy: [00:38:19] And then on top of that you have to prove that you really have something wrong with you because you can't point to a broken bone or a cast or a blood tests and say well this is obviously you know what I have. And so I think that can be very very difficult if the church does not understand how serious a condition clinical depression is and you know a lot of people I think equate it's like, oh they're in a bad mood or they're just feeling kind of down. Like feeling kind of down and clinical depression or not the same thing. Or people will be like oh well you know they a lot of people with anxiety. People like to throw the verses about like, don't be anxious for nothing you know and all thing and not realize that being worried is not the same thing as having an anxiety disorder. And so I think because those lines are are so blurry. A lot of times people offer advice that can be really hurtful. It's just easier to be quiet sometimes and not have it all piled on you. So yeah I think there are a lot of people that don't understand what somebody who is struggling with these things. The very real physical aspects of it the very real emotional aspects of it and there is a very real spiritual component to it too. Like I said when I'm really depressed, I don't I almost don't believe in God like I believe because I know because I've written the reminders but I can't feel him at all. And it feels like maybe it was all made up. And so that is a component to it. And so during those times I go through the motions and I and I hold on and I wait for God to come back. And that's really what it what it feels like sometimes. So we have to do better.
Amena Brown: [00:39:59] I put out a request on social media for questions that people might want to ask you and Vivian from Twitter wanted to ask a question that I think would be great to answer. Just thinking about some of the things you just said there. She asked. What's your advice for how to come alongside someone you love who lives with mental illness. I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I think I think there are a lot of ways people can get it wrong and think that your you know if you're watching a loved one go through depression that your whatever your instinctual thoughts are might be like well I need to be like, well get up. You know opens up curtains and turns on the lights and you know and doing.
Alia Joy: [00:40:44] Like get out of bed.
Amena Brown: [00:40:45] Yeah. That you're like you're thinking that I'm helping I'm doing the right thing and you're actually really not helping the person that you love. What's what some advice you would give for people who may be walking alongside someone.
Alia Joy: [00:40:58] Yeah. I mean I think that you know definitely people that struggle with mental illness are not a monolith. So you have to take personal. You know this is not going to be blanket advice for everybody. Some people like, no, that doesn't work for me. I think if you really know the person that that's important. You know I'm an introvert. So a lot of people will offer to do things that I know are just they're they're going to exhaust me. It's just too much. And so I don't have a lot of energy to expend when I'm really depressed. So I remember thinking once like I need a checklist like when somebody offers to help with something like what is your Enneagram type? What do you expect from me? What do you like. What am I.
Alia Joy: [00:41:39] How much involvement am I going to have to have in this. Because you know you do get people that show up and they want to talk and they want to like but it's you can tell it's kind of center focused. Like they're there to cheer you up. And I just you know I can't do that. I can't do that when I'm seriously depressed because it costs so much energy and I'm using my energy to try to stay alive. Like that's where my energy is going to try to stay alive. So. So I think that that it can be hard to have you know one set of things but I think you know we don't need a pep talk. What I want to know is that you'll sit with me in the dark while we wait for the light. I want you to know that you are walking through this with me that you're not trying to drag me that you're not trying to flip on the light you know scald my eyeballs. I want you to know that you're somebody that is present and sometimes that presence is you know could be practical things. Take something off their plate say you know hey I'm ordering takeout. You know it's going to be delivered. You know I'm ordering delivery food for you or I'm dropping a gift card in the mail so that you can order food. Or you know for singles especially that are struggling with depression and don't have somebody there to say hey have you eaten have you eaten today? Have you eaten this week? Check on those people you know. Make sure that they're getting those essential basic things. And then I think they're soul nurturing things. I had a friend send me flowers and I put them by my bedside while I laid in bed. And you know I remember telling. Somebody sent me a nice smelling candle. I remember saying you know I wouldn't have been able to enjoy this like a week ago because I just didn't feel anything. But as I was coming out you know I would smell this candle and I would think about what this person who took the time to think of me and send me that and that meant something. You know those things anchor you to the world. They say you matter in this world and we want you here.
Alia Joy: [00:43:23] And I think for me you know sometimes I can't respond when I'm not doing well but I will have people message. If I disappear from Twitter is basically when people notice. Like I'm gone from Twitter for a while. People are like, Oh! She's in a bad spell. And I will get people messaging or saying you know hey we're praying for you or we're thinking of you or you know in those kind of things just they just remind you that your presence in this world is something that is important. I think we need to all do whether you struggle with depression or mental illness or not we need to all be people that are telling other people hey you matter in this world. I'm glad you're here.
Alia Joy: [00:44:01] I think one of the things I remember for me that was just kind of life changing was I was years ago when I was first diagnosed. I had a really bad depression and was struggling and I remember somebody set up a meal train for me. And it was so astounding to me because you know people do it when you're sick or you have the surgery or when you know something that's like more tangible.
Alia Joy: [00:44:24] And I just had never had anything like that people signed up to bring me meals because I was depressed and was struggling and I had little kids and and what was so amazing is that because the people that were doing it knew me and knew how exhausting it was going to be for me to have to get out of bed and put on a bra and answer the door and let people in and have them explain how to heat my oven to 350 and do all the things. And they put a big Igloo cooler on the front porch and people would just come and put meals in there and then when my husband would get home from work he would take them out and put him in our freezer. And it costs nothing for me but it still showed me that that they cared and that they were thinking of me. I mean it was just it was it was kind of life changing because they loved me in the way that I specifically needed to be loved. At that moment there been other times that I've needed to talk with somebody. I had a friend who used to come pick me up and she would take me. We would literally sit in the McDonald's parking lot because everything was closed. We would sit in her car. We'd get an ice tea and sit in her car at like 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and she would just let me cry.
Alia Joy: [00:45:28] And you know she would ask hard questions about me you know about what I was going through but she wouldn't expect easy answers. And she was just a lifeline during that time. I've had people offer to pay for my meds. It seems like a stupid thing. But you know meds are really expensive and there are times when I can't afford to go to my psychiatrist when I need to because I don't have the money. I had a woman who said hey let me pay for the first few appointments. Let me tell me how much your meds are. Let me pay for your meds. That was that was huge for me. So I mean there's so many practical ways I think that people can step in.
Alia Joy: [00:46:10] And then prayer. I mean I am one of those people that believes that prayer is incredibly powerful. I know a lot of people you know it can be one of those like brush off things like Oh I'll pray for you and it doesn't mean anything. The people that really commit to pray for me like I. I find that astounding because I know that there are people that have committed to pray for me and I know that that makes a difference. It just does. And so that has also been a big thing is having a team of people that when I'm not doing well they step in and they pray for me until I come out. Yeah. So you know I think there's a lot of things. I think if you have somebody that struggles with depression, maybe ask them when they're not in a season of depression. Because you know most people go through seasons and if they struggling with it life-long, they probably will struggle with it again. Ask them in a season of health, hey you know if you struggle with this like I hope you never struggle with this again, but hey if you do what are some things I could do that I could have on the red light to just be there to support for you. Because I can talk about it a lot more now that I that I'm in a better place and coming out of this depression. A week ago I would say on a scale of one to ten I was like a five point four. Now I'm like at a six point nine. So I'm on the upward swing. I'm hoping to get it like an eight or a nine. But now I can talk about that. I mean now that I'm feeling better and I'm up and I'm starting to do better. I can say OK these are the things that would have been helpful. But in the middle of it no. I couldn't I couldn't even answer the phone. I mean I could barely form sentences.
Alia Joy: [00:47:39] And so if you if you have people that are in your life that struggle with those things make contact when they're healthy and you know ask them. Hey let's have something in place for for this to have something you know a plan that I can support and walk with you you know over the long haul.
Amena Brown: [00:47:58] That's such good advice and I really loved that you open that up by saying and not not everybody that has mental illness is a monolith and that you know it's really important to really talk to that person in your life when they're when they're in a place where they can talk to you about it. That's just. Thank you for sharing that because I obviously cycle through like you know times in my own life where I've gone through bouts of depression and know thought about what were the things that people did that I was like thank you so much. You know what were the other things people did that I was like please rescue me from yourself. That's what I want to do. Rescue me from you. You know and of course I just like cycled through times that I've been close with people that were going through bouts of depression and the times I did not respond in the way that would have been best for them. You know maybe I was thinking about myself. I wasn't thinking about what would be good for them. So that's just thank you for sharing that. I think that's gonna be really helpful to a lot of people listening.
Amena Brown [00:49:00] I want to ask you one more question and then I want to ask you the three questions I ask every guest. But I was telling you earlier, Alia, that I'm I'm at the very beginnings of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Rolls eyes and is thankful at the same time. That's the type of person I am and whenever I encounter some truth my first response is to like be mad or annoyed. I don't know why. That's how I have to respond. And I'm like you speak the truth to me it angers me. And then three days later.
Alia Joy: [00:49:31] How dare you.
Amena Brown: [00:49:32] But you're right. OK. So like friends have been telling me about this book for years and years and just swearing by it and how much it helps them and I was like and rolls eyes. Who's getting up in the morning to write these pages. Now I am. But one of the phrases that she said in the first portion of the book I wanted to ask you about not only in your process of now that your book is about to launch and be released but because you are a writer who writes vulnerable things in general not just in this book but even in your blogging and other writing that you do. When she talked about the phrase creative recovery. And when she said that phrase it made me think about my experience having written my last book How To Fix A Broken Record, which was probably the most vulnerable thing I've written.
Amena Brown: [00:50:18] You know there was some personal stories I told in that book that are still unresolved you know as much as I was like Yeah I'm gonna write this story and really hope by the time the book launches things are resolved. And then it was like really hope by New Year's that things are resolved. It was like at the year anniversary when this book release really hope that things are resolved. You know.
Alia Joy: [00:50:46] Oh my goodness.
Amena Brown: [00:50:47] And when she said that phrase creative recovery and she was kind of talking about when we create when we when we make things when we write you know when we build or whatever our creative activity is that sometimes we can experience that fatigue after we've done that work you know. And I experienced that having written things that were more vulnerable. You know it's kind of different when you write something that you have a lot of distance from and it's like oh if people critique that like oh I'll live I'll survive. You know if people don't respond to that in the way I thought it's it's fine. But when it's something that's real close to the chest you know then it's like oh no you don't get to write about that in your blog. You don't get to tell me what you thought chapter whatever was supposed to say. What are what are you what are some things that you do or practices you have as a writer who does write about vulnerable things in your life? What are some things you do to help yourself in that creative recovery. And also to help your mental health in the process too. Because I think you know when I think about the things I've written and had to write them from this very vulnerable place sometimes in a way that would send my mental health into a different place or into more of like a for me more of like a weakened place that I sort of lost some strength having put this thing out there. Like talk to me about any just tips or practices that you would have for that.
Alia Joy: [00:52:16] Yeah. And I think it's funny that you mentioned The Artist's Way. I just tweeted yesterday about why I don't do morning pages but that's really funny.
Amena Brown: [00:52:24] I want to find out more about it because I'm not super convinced and not all the way.
Alia Joy: [00:52:29] But I know a lot of people swear by it. I'm not I'm not knocking it. Don't at me. Just saying.
Amena Brown: [00:52:35] Please.
Alia Joy: [00:52:38] Yeah. Creative recovery. OK. So I have a strange I don't feel vulnerable about that much stuff. I'm fairly open about my story and I don't know where that came from or how. I think sometimes I'll get e-mails like oh my gosh you wrote this and it's like ah you know it's so personal and I'm like I don't know. It doesn't feel that way. I don't feel like exposed in certain in certain areas. I'm still very like people are always like you're so open, you're so vulnerable, you're so authentic. I'm still very private. I don't think. Some of that is my Asian mom. She used to say if you uncover all the roots the tree dies. You know so it's like we have a sense of privacy in our life too you know I don't. If you really look there are a lot of things that I don't write about. I don't write about certain relationships. I don't write about my church ministry. I don't like. There are just places that are off limits that are just my life. And I just want to live it. And I don't want to Instagram that. I don't want to be and you know I don't think that's being separate. I think that's protecting and protecting some of those relationships and protecting a part of me that I don't I don't think we have to share everything. I think you can still be authentic and you choose what you're going to be.
Alia Joy: [00:53:52] We have to be transparent but we don't have to be translucent where you can just see everything you're like in the glass house and just walk around buck naked like that's not nobody wants that. Or if they do you should get away from those people. So I think now we have we have I choose what I share. I choose how I share it. I choose when I share it. I do not write that often. And for seasons that has been really hard and turning people are like, you have to write. All this you know be fairly prolific to be able to succeed. And there has to be consistency. And I have tried and I just I I can't do it. And and so there is a part of me that just realizes this is sort of my lot in life. I write infrequently and part of the reason that I that there are sometimes long spaces between pieces that I put up is because of that recovery. And I think part of the recovery is not so much vulnerability but the interaction that comes back. I feel like my readers are very interactive because they're sharing their stories and so I can expect to write a piece and get, I mean, a really poignant piece I can expect to get one hundred e-mails and fifty DMs and you know. Like people are just you know some of them are small they're just saying hey thanks for writing this and I know. But then other people are like sharing their stories and so sometimes, you know, I read them all but the process of going and being like, "here's a number that you can call" because some of them are like hey are you going to hurt yourself. I mean there are literally e-mails that I'm like Are you are you safe are you considering hurting yourself. Do you call somebody you know. And then there are people that are just sharing like this is what I'm going through and it's I have never been. I remember when I first met somebody a long time ago at a writing thing and I was starting to grow and he was like this young pastor I swear it like it was one of those things where you sit down at a writing conference and you get like a mentor appointment but I wasn't able to pick who it was and so it's just like young pastor author guy he must've been in his 20s. I was already like you know I'm 40. So at the time I was really in my mid 30s and he's like you know you got to make it scalable and you gotta, telling me all this stuff and I was like, What is he talking about?
Alia Joy: [00:56:03] Like I just want to like feed you a snack and invite you over to play video games with my son. Like I don't know what you're telling me. But live in your world. You're just a baby. And I don't know. And so then finally I was like I just am not this person. I I am not going to be scalable. Not going you know. And so it bogs me down a lot because I do read and I try to respond and sometimes I have to just say hey give me grace. Like it's gonna take me a while and you know. But. But that is part of the recovery is the connection after and I know that I can't connect with everybody all the time and do all of that and I don't feel like I'm like the savior of all the lost people or anything like that. But there is a toll that it takes to read and connect and I'm an Enneagram Four so I feel all the things. There's just all the feelings all the time. And so I have a lot of margin. I mean I feel like a normal writer maybe would have opportunities come up and say yes to all the things and I'm with somebody who is constantly saying no, you know. And no to good things, no to endorsing friends' books that I would like to endorse. No to speaking at things sometimes. No to writing for places you know that's just those are like protections that I have to do and so with those no's to opportunities, there's this aspect that I will never be big and famous and do all the things. But I'll do this one thing really well you know and I'm OK with that. And so that's how I recover is I just do the one, you know, the one thing and then I do the next thing and if I can't do it then I have decided that it's not you know it's not the end of the world. I do what I can. I'm faithful in the places that I can be faithful and I let the rest go.
Alia Joy: [00:57:49] And I'm not going to say that there isn't some disappointment. There are times that I really struggle I think I went through a manic phase in the beginning of writing this book. I wrote a blog post about it. I was going through it. My meds were off and I was going through a manic phase. And during it like a hypomanic phase I only have to sleep like one or two hours at night and I have all this creative energy and I could just go and go and go and it's like all of the sudden somebody that has no capacity has this amazing amount of capacity. You know I could go run marathons and write books and clean a kitchen and learn Latin.
Alia Joy: [00:58:22] And like all the things and I knew that I was taking the medicine to bring me back down and at the same time like everything in me wanted to throw away the pill and ride it out because I loved how capable I felt. I loved how I love my own strength. I mean it really was that I was wrestling with God and it was like I love my own strength and I'm sick of my weakness and I want it. I want it for my own glory. I want it so that I can speak and I can talk and I can write and I can do all the things and I really had to wrestle with do I want God's presence in my life in the way that it comes or do I want to you know be the bomb that can do all the stuff? And but it was just this powerful thing because I was I knew that if going into a mixed phase of bipolar is dangerous for me I knew that it would cost my family. I knew that I had to take care of myself and come down. But there was part of me that was like I can be my own god if I just stay here and there's that kind of feeling in my head and I can I can I can create myself to be my own idol and it's going to be awesome. I could be my hero. I can save myself. I can do all the things. And to come down means to relent to dependence on God again and that you know I didn't want it. Honestly I mean I'm just being 100% honest I was like I pretty much like this power kick that I'm on. And so for me I think that wrestling and that being in that place of dependence and that saying there are some things that God does not intend for me and I am not going to waste time like worrying about it. Everything that God has for me, I will get. And you know nothing that God has for me is going to pass me by and I can rest in that. And so that's what I have to tell myself.
Alia Joy: [01:00:12] You know when I'm saying no to things or when I'm, I can't do these things or have these opportunities or keep up because I do feel like there's a lot of times when I'm like I just can't keep up. Right now I'm in the process of launching my book. I just opened a book launch team a couple days ago and you know all of the marketing things are coming and all. And there's all these ideas of how to market your book and I'm just like I am not going to be able to do all the things. I will do what I can and it will be what it is you know. But there's that just that understanding like this isn't going to look like everybody else's path you know. But that's OK because God is with me who's walking with me on this and I don't need to jog somebody else's marathon. I don't need to jog any marathon. OK. No marathons for me. I was like well. You not have that.
Amena Brown: [01:00:59] I need to put that up on a print. I don't need to jog somebody else's marathon. Dot dot dot. Or at all. Or any marathon.
Alia Joy: [01:01:06] Or any marathon.
Amena Brown: [01:01:08] Please.
Alia Joy: [01:01:09] That was not on my bucket list.
Amena Brown: [01:01:20] I want to ask you the three questions I ask every guest. Question 1 What inspires you to create.
Alia Joy: [01:01:30] Well I'm an Enneagram Four so I would say everything. Everything. I think yeah I mean I think everything I think you know I have asthma so I pay a lot of attention to breathing and inspiration and I I've thought about that a lot like what inspires to [garbled] what makes it so that we're able to live. And I really do believe it's Dostoyevsky has a quote that's of Beauty will save the world. And I really I put a lot of stock into that. I feel like as Christians you know we talked before about how our native tongue is this language of hope. We spend a lot of time in this world. Code switching. Right. We have to practice to remain fluent in hope. Because we look around and there's so many hopeless things but I really believe that that love makes up the syllables of that language and the things that we love and where we focus our adoration and our attention, our attention and our devotion the things we give our whole heart to you know whether they're big things like you know huge ministry things or like our spouse or small things like you know street tacos. Whatever it is like those things matter and they point to the goodness of God.
Alia Joy: [01:02:40] And I think the reason that I create is you know I really believe that the goodness of God is what brings men to repentance. The Bible talks about that. You know that it's the goodness of God that brings us to that place where we get to know grace and we get to know what it means to repent and to walk with him and I think you know by creating we bear witness to glory by noticing and paying attention and that translates to creation. I remember I think I saw Twitter Marlena Graves this morning tweeted something about walking around the world marveling. Flannery O'Connor has a thing she coined it like, Christ-haunted. And I just love that like I feel like that is what my life feels like. It's like Christ-haunted. Like hounded by glory and there are times when I wish that that it was less that I was less hounded because I think it's easy to kind of go numb in the world and not have to practice you know paying attention. But when you pay attention I think we all create right. Like I don't think that that's something specific to artists writers or painters or poets. We are all creating. I think it just depends on. Are we creating something that's beautiful you know. Are we creating something that will save the world.
Alia Joy: [01:04:04] And you know I 100 percent believe that like good street tacos save the world. So it doesn't have to be this like you know huge like monumental thing. You don't have to write you know this huge book or have some gallery painting or you know I think we think of creation like this big thing that those people do but it's something that we all do. And we just have to choose you know how much beauty are we going to make with what we're given.
Amena Brown: [01:04:34] What is one thing you've made that you are really proud of.
Alia Joy: [01:04:39] One thing I see my kids. Does that count.
Amena Brown: [01:04:43] Yeah totally.
Alia Joy: [01:04:45] I would say my kids they are because they're hilarious and they they laugh. I feel like if I would say one thing about our family I would say laughing is what we're good at. And yeah I think if if you have the kind of laugh that I have of you like you have to get good at laughing and I love it. There they are. They all grew up super witty and they have great comedic timing and they're my favorite people so yeah my kids.
Amena Brown: [01:05:13] If you could give another woman a She Did That award. Who would it be and why.
Alia Joy: [01:05:19] Hands down my mom. She's by far the most faithful woman that I've ever known. She's just as she should have her own book about her life and her you know. Just all of the things that she's been through she's taught me about how absurd and wonderful the Kingdom of God is. And I can never be more grateful for that. So yeah my mom.
Amena Brown: [01:05:46] Shout out to mom. She did that. Tell my people,, Alia who want to get these last preorder copies of Gloreous Weakness: Discovering God in all We Lack. If you're listening to this prior to April 2nd get in on these preorders and if you're listening after April 2nd just get in on the orders and just order order them like 10 at a time. If people want to do this, they want to know more about you. They want to follow you. Where should they go. What should they be doing.
Alia Joy: [01:06:19] I am at Alia Joy so A-L-I-A J-O-Y dot com. I'm pretty much always on Twitter. A-L-I-A-J-O-Y-H is my handle and then I had a column at Patheos, The Fluency Of Hope. And that's really new so I'm gonna try to work on linking them all together so you can go to just Alia Joy and find me everywhere. You know that's on the list. So by April 2nd maybe it'll be done.
Amena Brown: [01:06:47] I love it. Alia, thank you not only for just joining me on the podcast and sharing your story with all of my listeners who I feel like we're all in a crowd together. We were all here together listening to Alia even though I don't get to see all of you but thank you Alia for sharing this with us and for putting this book out into the world and sharing with us what can happen when we really lean into our glorious weakness. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Alia Joy: [01:07:16] Thank you so much for having me.
Amena Brown: [01:07:29] HER with Amena Brown is produced by D.J. Opdiggy for Soul Graffiti Productions. Don't forget to subscribe, rate, write a review, and share the podcast. Thanks for listening.