Q&A with Dr. Sujay
We asked Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook (“Dr. Sujay”) about her new book Becoming a Woman of Destiny.
How do you define a Woman of Destiny?
A Woman of Destiny enjoys a stimulating intellectual and spiritual life. Women of Destiny are serious about nourishing their souls. When I think of the archetypical Woman of Destiny, I think of the Bible’s Deborah, an authoritative leader and prophet who was a “woman of torches,” someone burning with both intellectual and spiritual energy. She desires Wholeness and “Soul-ness.”
Who was Deborah and why did you choose her as your role model?
I was intrigued by how multi-faceted she was and by her exceptional leadership abilities. Deborah was a judge, political leader, teacher, spiritual guide, and prophetess. She was a leader of ancient Israel at a time of crisis, when the people needed someone to deliver them from an oppressive enemy. She was also the only woman in the Bible to ever hold the post of judge—the leadership role in place before Israel had kings. As such, she had enormous responsibility as the political and spiritual guide of her people.
Deborah’s dramatic story in Judges 4 and 5 has long served as an inspiration, and when I thought of the qualities that made her who she was—the keen intelligence, spiritual dedication, proactive personality, and sense of community—I could think of no better role model for myself and other modern women striving to be just as accomplished.
Your book contains wisdom that will help all women undergoing a major transition, but you focus particularly on women who are in their second stage of life. Is there a reason for that?
I wanted to focus on this transitional time for two reasons. The first is that I myself am in this stage of life and have faced some of its major questions, so I can speak from experience. Second, it was very clear to me that women over 50 with a wealth of experience behind them need a rulebook for the next chapter of their lives. The second half of life deserves and demands the same careful goal-setting as did the first half. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” However, many women get to this stage and feel unmoored and uncertain about how to move forward. My book will give them the tools they need to thrive in this new chapter.
An important element of your book is the Destiny Circle. What is a Destiny Circle and how did you first come up with the idea to form one?
Unlike a group you may form in church, a Destiny Circle is devoted entirely to your personal journey, your soul’s journey. It becomes almost like a second family, where you and your fellow members are united by your femaleness, your roles in society, and your commitment to exploring your spirituality and purpose.
My own Destiny Circle helped me tremendously when I went through the loss of my parents and my brother. It has become such a powerful, dependable source of support and guidance for me that I knew it would be one of the strongest tools in the Destiny Woman’s toolbox. This is why I devote so much space in the book to showing women how they can form their own circles and offer numerous discussion questions throughout to help initiate the most productive conversations.
Your book offers both food for thought and very practical exercises. What is the one exercise and/or practice that you feel is most important and transformative?
It’s hard to choose because all are useful. However, the most illuminating in my experience is an exercise that I call “Season II.” I’ve honed this exercise over the years, and it is very helpful in getting you to hone in on where you are now, establish what your priorities are and clarify what you want and need to do next.
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