Dr. Jill Biden - Bliss Life Exclusive Interview with Former Second Lady of the United StatesNov 18, 2019 12:26PM ● By Kristy Mc Lean
Photo Courtesy of Biden for President
"Put the phone down, look what's going on around you, talk to people, listen..."
These were a few of Dr. Jill Biden's recommendations in an exclusive, intimate meeting with Bliss Life Magazine. Dr. Biden, former Second Lady of the United States (2009-2017), has been married to Democrat frontrunner in the 2020 presidential primaries, Joe Biden, for 42 years. She is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, a career she is so passionate about that she continued working while her husband was Vice President of the United States, and she continues to work while on the campaign trail as well. She is thought to be the first second lady to hold a paying job while her husband was vice president. She even mentioned that, as we spoke, she brought student papers with her to grade while she traveled!
She had flown out to Nevada from the East Coast for a busy weekend hitting both Las Vegas and Reno where she and her team opened the new Biden for President field office off Kietzke Lane in Reno. It was her first visit to Reno and, as many newcomers often claim, she was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful weather and high desert landscapes. She wished she had more time for recreation but today was all business.
Women's Roundtable with Dr. Jill Biden
The morning began with a women's roundtable discussion in which Dr. Biden was extremely engaged, hanging on every word as local advocates for various causes shared their concerns and discussed the needs of Northern Nevada communities. When addressed as "Dr. Biden" by one of the women in the group, she smiled and graciously replied, "Call me Jill," before responding with empathy and asking for more information about the topic at hand.
Biden Welcomes Supporters at the Opening of the Biden for President Reno Field Office
From there, it was onto the grand opening of Biden for President field office where she spoke to Biden supporters about the importance of coming together for the common good of America. She offered comfort and support with statements like,"In a time when we can barely sit through one second of the news, there are people just like you that keep showing up...I don't see 'us' versus 'them,' I see people coming together to open community centers and to keep kids off the streets...our hope is not lost."
Her team was swift and well-prepared, attentive and personable. And, Jill Biden herself, was so well-spoken, extremely relatable, and despite the fact that she would soon be whisked off to another event to network with local educators, Dr. Biden received our team with a warm welcome and thoughtful responses to our interview questions. And, as fashion and beauty lovers, we couldn't help but notice Jill's stylish, radiant presence.
Bliss Life Chat with Dr. Biden
In a private, intimate gathering with Team Bliss (Kristy McLean, Leslie McCarrol, Bliss Media UNR Journalism intern, Rick Jenkins, and Photographer Eric Marks), we learned more about Jill Biden as a person and her views on topics that don't often get asked on the campaign trail. We hope you enjoy learning more about this accomplished woman and her views on work-life balance, family relationships, technology, and more...
Multi-tasking and Wearing Multiple Hats
Dr. Jill Biden with her daughter Ashley
Bliss Life (BL): What is one of your keys to living a blissful life? You’re on the road so much, you’ve worn so many different hats in your life, how do you stay grounded and find joy every day?
Dr. Jill Biden (DJB): I’ve been asked that a lot because, like you’re saying, I’m traveling a great deal, I’m teaching, and I’m a mother and a grandmother. I think really having it all means giving it all, and I try to create balance in my life. My family is very important to me. I’m in constant touch with my children, my grandchildren, and my husband.
BL: What was it like to balance being a grandmother, a mother, a professor, and the Second Lady all at once?
DJB: It was really joyful because the kids loved that we were in the Vice President’s residence. They’ve been involved. Our own children were on the campaign trail. They never knew anything else but campaigning, being in office. We always took them with us. Every weekend we were somewhere else. The state fair, or going into different communities. That way my own children got to see such diversity because they would be into all different communities, and meet with farmers, and then meet with people who ran Amtrak. Their lives were full. And then we continued that with our grandchildren. They’ve never known anything but their grandfather being in political office. So they have been on the campaign trail, and they love it. Look at the opportunities they’ve had. It’s once in a lifetime.
Technology, Cell Phones, and Resilience
BL: How are we going to teach children and teens these days about being resilient and strong? It seems like that’s something that’s breaking down over time.
DJB: I think we have to start talking to one another. We have to put our phones down once in a while. With my grandkids, when they come over, I tell them, “Let’s put your phones away, we’re having a meal.” We just sit and talk to one another and I listen to them. And my students too. I say, “Put the phones down. Look what’s going on around you. Talk to people, tell them your ideas, hear what they’re saying to you.” I think that’s an important part of it. Technology is great, I use it all the time in my teaching. But there’s a time and a place for everything. I think you have to keep that dialogue going.
BL: Speaking of...in your book you shared how sometimes "fexting," or fighting over text, is required to keep serious personal discussions private while sharing a car with your husband [laughter]...we totally get that...however, do you have any concerns about the long-term effects of cellphone use and how to combat potential addiction risks?
DJB: [laughing, with a humble smile] Yes! I coined that term! Well...it just has its time and place. You just have to set boundaries, that’s all. Whether it’s with your children, your grandchildren, your students, or your friends. When I go out to lunch with a friend who is using their phone, I'll say, "Hey put your phone down. Let's have a conversation."
BL: Most successful people use their mornings wisely. How do you use your first thirty minutes?
DJB: I like to go outside, take my dogs out, and just sit there and have coffee. And while they’re wandering around, I just have quiet. I’m an early morning person. I love the morning. I love to see the sun come up. I often text with my daughter. She sends me a picture of the sunrise where she is, or I’ll send it where I am. I think you need to have those moments of quiet and peace before you start all of it.
BL: How do you and Joe maintain a solid relationship? What are some things you do? What advice do you have for couples?
DJB: Right now we don’t see very much of each other because he’s going one way and I’m going the other on the campaign trail. But we talk a couple of times a day on the phone, or we’re texting, or I’ll be home before he is, so I leave notes on his mirror because I know he has to shave. So I’ll leave a poem or a quotation that I love, or just something that tells him I’m thinking about him. Sometimes, when we’re in a hotel, I’ll write in lipstick on the mirror, and he does the same sort of things.
BL: He also writes notes in lipstick on the mirror?
DJB: [laughing] well, no, but he'll leave me notes and thoughtful messages...it's the little things that count.
BL: You're gorgeous! Many of our readers are busy, working women like yourself. What advice do you have for staying fit and keeping your skin healthy?
DJB: Thank you...I love exercise. It’s a big part of my life. As a runner, there’s nothing better to me than taking a long run outside. I’ve recently started indoor cycling with my sisters - I love it, and Joe and I will occasionally ride bikes outdoors. That’s a big part of my routine, I feel like exercise just calms you down.
Biden Platform Focus: Families, Teachers, Kids
BL: There’s a lack of mental health professionals nationwide, and especially in education. What do you feel we need to do and what would you like to see changed?
DJB: I totally agree with you. Children are going to school and they’re facing so much. There’s cyber-bullying on social media, in many kids’ homes there’s poverty, food insecurity, and domestic violence, and a lot of kids are bringing all of this to school. We need to help our families, and we need to help our teachers, and most importantly we need to help our kids. That would be a major part of Joe’s platform in the White House.
BL: You've been Second Lady and you could be the next First Lady of the United States...20 years ago, did you ever think that you would be in this position?
DJB: I never thought that we would be on this path. I’ll tell you, it was such an honor to be Second Lady of the United States. When we were elected I said,
“I will never waste my platform.”
And I stuck true to that. I worked for education. I worked for community colleges...I worked. I never imagined what an opportunity I’d have to help so many families. I really look forward to that.
Sincere thanks to the Biden for President team for the opportunity to meet Dr. Biden during her October 13, 2019 visit to Reno, NV. Interviewers: Kristy McLean, Leslie McCarroll, Rick Jenkins, Photographer: Eric Marks
Dr. Jill Biden shares more of her personal journey in her new biography, "Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself" - Get it on Amazon:
"Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself" by Dr. Jill Biden