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Katie Pavlich: And The Good News Is: Dana Perino finds her voice

Katie Pavlich: And The Good News Is: Dana Perino finds her voice
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I was in Santa Barbara, Calif., after an event at the Reagan Ranch Center the first time I had a conversation with Dana Perino. I knew she would be calling to give me advice about filling in for the first time on Fox News’s “The Five,” but couldn’t believe the moment when my phone actually rang and she was on the other end of the line. I was just a young woman from Arizona making my way on the East Coast, how could this actually be happening? Dreams really do come true. 

As a teenager and during my transition into college, I remember watching Dana work, as then-President George W. Bush’s press secretary, and I wanted to be just like her. She was poised, gracious and smart, and served as inspiration to me and to millions of other young women. She showed me it’s possible to take on big roles, challenges and high-pressure situations, no matter who you are, what your age is or where you come from. And years later, I was blown away when she was willing to voluntarily and generously mentor me and other young people who crossed her path. 

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Since Dana left the White House at the end of Bush’s tenure in early 2009, many have been eagerly waiting for a book about her experience there. That book is finally here, and it’s even better than anyone could have ever imagined. 

“It took me a while to find my own voice after I left the White House. For many years my career path had taken me to jobs where I spoke for other people,” Dana said in a recent interview about her book. “I moved up here [New York City] to do ‘The Five’ and it took me a while to really come out of my shell and decide that I really had something to say.”

And the Good News Is...: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side, which is out this week and available for order now, isn’t a typical book about insider Washington politics. While Dana certainly talks about her time at the White House and in the Briefing Room, her focus is on the life lessons she learned in the process. 

“I wanted to share advice through anecdotes and stories shared based on all of these amazing experiences I’ve been able to have so far, including serving in the White House and being able to travel the world and work for a president that I had long admired, that I didn’t know before the 9/11 attacks but that I continue to think of as a great president, a friend and in many ways, as you’ll read in the book, a second father to me,” Dana says. “I talk about growing up in the West and how those Western values contributed to my upbringing. 

“This is also a book about character,” she continued. “What is seen through the book is the character traits of strength and gentleness that go hand in hand, starting with my grandfather on the ranch, my husband that I met on an airplane and then the president that I worked for. Those are things and characteristics that I have sought out, and I’ve learned to attract those types of people into my life.”

Dana also exposes a deeply personal side of her life in the book. Coincidently I read my advanced copy on a recent flight to England, where Dana lived with her husband, Peter, in the late ’90s after going through a quarter-life crisis, falling in love and quitting a high-profile job. 

“It was a bit like walking on a high-wire without a net to talk about my own vulnerabilities and setbacks, difficulties, but all of those things have led me to a place where I am extremely blessed. Perhaps because I’m older it’s easier to talk about those things, but I really do think it’s wonderful to hear from younger people, like a young woman who told me, ‘I didn’t even know that I was having a quarter-life crisis until I read your book and I realize all of those feelings that you described are things I’ve been churning on for the past two years,’ ” Dana said. “I write about how to have a more balanced and happy life and still participate in politics, because it is possible.”

In places like Washington, D.C., and New York City, it’s really easy to put your personal life on hold in return for a career, but one of the most important lessons I found in Dana’s book comes in the fifth chapter, where she shows through her own experience that “love is not a career-limiting decision.” 

“Choosing to be loved was the best decision of my life, but I almost talked myself out of it. And it turned out to be the only argument I didn’t mind losing,” she writes. 

I encourage you to read And the Good News Is… . You’ll get to the last page feeling happy, hopeful and confident to pursue joy in the decisions you make in work and life. Thanks, Dana!  

Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.