Friday, 27 November 2020

I Interviews

Interview: Teresa Tomeo

“Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?”
Who could forget the memorable quote from the blockbuster hit, The Bucket List. While movie-goers relished in wisdom wrapped up in a generous coating of comedy, author Teresa Tomeo has a much different list she presents in her new book titled, God’s Bucket List. While Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson provided an entertaining list of  do-before-you-die activities, Tomeo’s list will promote a fuller life by being, as opposed to doing.
Part autobiographical, part inspirational, part motivational, God’s Bucket List is a call to action of sorts; to live simply by God’s list. God's bucket list is His specific plan for our lives which starts out with the items or activities I outlined in the chapters; living in stillness, instruction, living in the mess, etc. Once we tap into God's calling for our life, it should feel like home."

MN- Before discussing your book, I wanted to ask about your faith journey. You have shared in the past-and briefly in God's Bucket List-the point when you felt your career crumble and how that was instrumental in bringing you back to your Catholic roots. What were some of things you struggled with while in your personal crisis?

TT- For starters I had neglected my marriage and family for my career.  And then when I was fired from a major TV news position my relationships were in a shambles and I had little to show for all of my hard work and sacrifice. I focused on me, myself, and I not not Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I lost track of my faith and almost lost everything in the process.  It took a major professional crisis to finally attract my attention and help me get back to basics.

MN-Looking back on how your career and ministry has transitioned, I would consider the collapse of your secular broadcast career and faith crisis a blessing in disguise. Do you see these events in the same way?

TT- Bingo.  I couldn't say it better.  That is exactly what happened.  While I wouldn't want to go through all of that again, God really used that job loss and career crisis to see that there were more important things to focus on; my relationship with His Son and my marriage.

MN-Up until the release of God's Bucket List, your writing targeted women and gender specific topics, or was related to the media and its influence on self perception. Was it difficult to change topics and write on a deeper spiritual level?

I always try to include some aspects about the culture and women in all of my work because it is really a big part of who I am and what I do.  The Church's teachings on women, the life issues, and healthy media usage, were key to my reversion.  That said, I am sought after as a motivational speaker as well.  The Lord is using my journey and my discernment process to help others so I thought it was time to show others how to really find their calling in life.  If I can do it any one can.

MN-Speaking of spiritual elements, explain how God's bucket list would differ from what we perceive to be a bucket list.

TT-God has a specific plan for each of us.  Sometimes we get in the way and say "here are my plans God, now just bless them for me."  That's where the trouble comes in.  We may think we have the best plan but God knows us better than we know ourselves so we have to be willing to see if what we want is in line with God's will.  Otherwise we may think we're happy for a while and things on the surface may be going along swimmingly but sooner or later we will hit a dead end because we are not doing what we were designed to do.  So God's bucket list is His specific plan for our lives which starts out with the items or activities I outlined in the chapters; living in stillness, instruction, living in the mess, etc.

MN-One of the list items is to "live your passion", and you write, "Each of us has a special vocation or purpose in life". That topic is a book in itself. In talking to people, I have found that many do not know what their vocation is. How can you identify your passion in order to begin to live it?

TT-Deep down I think people already know their passion. Too many of us don't have enough confidence in ourselves and God to think that we could actually pursue that passion.  It is however,  a journey.  It starts with prayer and it also means we have to really think about what we are good at and what brings us true joy.  And start from there. 

MN-Another list item is to "live in the mess", in which you write on suffering. Do you believe it is possible to be happy while suffering?

TT-There is a big difference between feeling happiness and true joy.  Happiness or feeling happy is very temporal in terms of reacting to the moment or having a feeling. Joy is something much deeper.  For example, I am joyful in my life because I am head over heels in love with Jesus.  He has given me a new purpose in life and a brand new ministry much broader than I ever imagined.  But life still happens for all of us. We live in a fallen world.  I have my challenges and frustrations, some have to do with people, some with circumstances.  But nothing steals my joy because it is always bigger than the moment.  It is long term.  I know from experience that if God brings me to it He is going to see me through it.  And I absolutely love what I do so much so that it doesn't ever feel like work.

MN-When someone says they are "living the good life", we think in terms of health and wealth, but you state the good life isn't always an economic state. "While economic woes can't be ignored, there are several other key reasons why there are an awful lot of unhappy professionals and unfinished masterpieces." What are some of those reasons that you refer to?

TT-Studies show, including a shocking report that came out last summer from Gallup, that a majority of Americans are a part of what Gallup referred to as a "zombie workforce"; folks just going through the motions and biding their time on the job.  So a lack of purpose, lack of meaning in one's work.  When people don't feel like they are making a difference they can deny it all they want but in the end it takes its toll.  In our tough economy many people can't just up and leave their position even if they are extremely unhappy.  But too many people I know personally stay in a job out of fear of the unknown or fear of failure.  Fear is another emotion that can lead to unhappiness. But Jesus tells us over and over again to "be not afraid." 

MN-You make a very good point in that our commitment to God is not just in saying the right words, it is relational. What does your relationship with Him look like?

TT-I would like to think it looks like  a lot of fun.  I tend to see God in everything; nature, people, dogs, art, music.  I think God has a great sense of humor.  And He speaks to me this way.  Something odd or funny will happen in response to a thought or a prayer and I know it is God's way of speaking to me.  He also speaks to me greatly in Scripture and through our Popes and Saints.  I love the writings of Benedict and Pope Francis.  St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Augustine are among my favorites.  So I guess my relationship in once sense looks kind of like a faith party.  Lots of smiling, laughing, and lots of talking to God and the saints.  Of course we can never minimize the power and beauty of the Sacraments especially being able to go to Mass.  If you are at my parish you just might see me swaying to the music.  I love to dance and that is one of the ways I express my love for God and for life.

Author Bio

Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with more than 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper and spent 19 of those years working in front of a camera as a reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC. Her daily morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and now heard on over 200 Catholic stations nationwide through the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and is also carried on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.

Teresa is a columnist and special correspondent for the national Catholic newspaper, Our Sunday Visitor, the dynamic "New Feminism" blog and appears frequently on the EWTN Global Catholic Television Network. Teresa and co-hosts the new EWTN television series, The Catholic View for Women, and is the field reporter for their annual March for Life coverage in D.C. Teresa has also been featured on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, and the Dr. Laura Show, discussing issues of faith, media awareness, and Catholic Church teaching, especially as it relates to the culture.

As a speaker Teresa travels around the country addressing media awareness and activism, as well as sharing her reversion to the Catholic Church. She also leads several pilgrimages and retreats each year to various holy places around the world.

For more information, visit God’s Bucket can order a copy of God’s Bucket List through Image Catholic Books’ website or through Random House. You can also connect with author Teresa Tomeo on Facebook and Twitter.

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