110: Why You Should Care about Homeland Security: A Conversation with Mom and Former Assistant of National Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll on down to the bottom of this post and click the triangular “play” button.

About today’s show:

If you are nervous about the sense of unrest in the air, about the upcoming contentious election, about the threats of violence from all quarters; if you’re feeling a little powerless as to how to protect your home and family in the midst of the toxic vibes, you are going to LOVE this show.

Beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers famously said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

For more than fifteen years, my guest today has been one of those helpers –

In her role as assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem figured out how every day people could help during the 2010 BP oil spill; she advised then-Governor Deval Patrick in her position as Massachusetts’ first Homeland Security advisor.

She’s an expert in disaster preparation, she’s been keeping people informed since before 9/11 as on-air security analyst for CNN. More recently she’s started connecting home and family with homeland security through her podcast and best-selling book, Security Mom.

We commiserate over breast versus bottle, drop a few S-bombs (because as in parenthood, when you are in homeland security, shit happens), and Juliette reminds us “we’ve had bad presidents before, and we’ve lived through it.”

Click weturnedoutokay.com/110 for links and notes about this wonderful conversation with a true voice of reason, and to enjoy the show!

It sounds like breast-feeding doesn’t come up very often in Juliette’s world, because when I ask her to share about the experience she discusses in Security Mom – about just how truly hungry her third baby was – Juliette laughs out loud.

Our conversation then moves on to more serious topics:

– 5 weeks into a much-needed maternity leave, Juliette finds herself and her new baby on a train speeding toward New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. As they get closer and closer, the news gets scarier and scarier, and nobody seems to really know what to do, she starts getting cell phone calls from Fox and CNN and other places, asking for her commentary about the very place she’s taking her tiny baby… As the train pulls into New Haven, Connecticut, everybody’s terrified; a passenger comes up to Juliette and says “I just want to go home” – and Juliette realizes, going to New York today would be a very bad idea. So, she stands up and takes the lead in evacuating the train.

– How to feel better about this election: Juliette reminds us that, as a nation, we have stayed safe (generally) by taking “the other”… and making them “us.” Her decades of study and experience in the world of national security have reinforced this truth, and her words make me feel both safer and connected. When the bonds of friendship are strong, when these bonds can transcend differences in religion or skin color, that is when we are safest as a nation.

– What families like us can do to sleep better at night, to feel safer:
“There’s a lot you can do. Think about… What are the provisions that you would want in your house if something bad happens?” Juliette shares.
She highlights the importance of having a family plan for where/how family members can meet up in the event of a major issue, and I get to share about the “secret fort” that my family has had as our in-case-of-fire meeting place since the boys were very small.

Listening to Juliette Kayyem speak so knowledgeably and passionately made me feel safer, that’s for sure!
I hope the same for you – enjoy the show!

Key Links:

Click here to check out Security Mom, the book, in Amazon.

To ask a question or leave a comment with Juliette, visit her website, kayyemsolutions.com/contact.

Listen to the Security Mom podcast by clicking here.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact.