Folks We Love with Dana Salim, author
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
My childhood was split between Amman, Jordan and Vancouver, Canada. It was while in Vancouver that my dream of becoming an author started. Fast forward years of writing as a hobby while finishing school and university, I got married and moved to the US. It was when I got pregnant that I had the motivation to finally go after my dream. From there my journey as an author started and my childhood dream became true. I’m now a self-published author and co-founder of the publishing company DS Publishing with my husband. It hasn’t been an easy journey going after my dream but it’s certainly been a fulfilling and rewarding one.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
We are a family of three. There’s my husband Hamzah who is 27 years old. Me, Dana, 26 years old. And our little handsome boy Yousuf, who will be 3 in July.
How did you choose your kids names?
I was the one who chose our son’s name. I’ve always loved the name Yousuf and the story of prophet Yousuf’s life (Yousuf is Arabic for Joseph). My husband liked the name so we knew it was the one.
We currently reside in McAllen, TX.
Though I graduated University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, I decided to focus my energy on my writing. I am an Author as well as a stay-at-home mom and it hasn’t been easy. Motherhood is seriously more than a full-time job, not the easy-breezy life I thought I’d have when I imagined it. (I’m sure many mothers can relate). But I’m trying to do my best in both so wish me luck!
What’s on your manifest board?
I had to google this one to make sure I understood it correctly. So you can tell I don’t have one made but if I were to make one then having a physical office for our publishing company would be on there. As well as traveling to adventurous places with hubby, my son sleeping through the night without waking me and having my books sold in more stores and in a bigger variety of countries.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
We love going outside. Whether it’s for activities like a walk in the park, sports, kayaking, bowling or for some quiet time at a library or bookstore. But a definite favorite is eating out (it’s more like a favorite of mine because I don’t have to cook then). We love Indian food the most, but we love trying out different types of food from different cultures.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
Ever since Yousuf understood stuffed animals, he developed a bond with a green frog whom he named “Bobo”. And so I would change my voice every time I acted like Bobo was talking to him. Now that Yousuf is talking he does the voice changing too and it’s so cute. He would ask a toy something and then answer back with a different voice as if that toy is speaking. It’s pretty hilarious.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I dreamt of publishing my writing and becoming an author. I also dreamt of someday having my own family and a husband who is outgoing and loves to go on adventures. And both came true, all thanks to God. However, the way I look at these things are different from when I was a teen. Now I know that with a husband and family comes responsibility, and with my writing career comes hard work and obstacles to overcome. So the dreams are the same but the perspective has definitely changed.
What are some things you really believe in?
I truly believe that anyone can make their dream come true if they have strong faith, patience, work hard and surround themselves with supportive people.
Where do your passions lie?
Writing is my passion, as is doing Storytime Events and Youth Talks at schools and centers. It provides me with a way to connect with kids like nothing else.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
Every relationship has its ups and downs, that’s normal. So I don’t feel the relationship itself changed, but the responsibility and priorities definitely did. It’s not an easy thing having a young child looking to you for all his needs and the stress can affect the relationship. But with understanding, respect and affection these things can be overcome together.
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
One is to never look at a problem as a dead end. But rather as a new path, one that I need to find a different way to navigate. (Thanks Dad for this one!)
Another lesson is to believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you. From experience I’ve seen how much this can affect the way your life is and the choices you make.
And last one is to always take care of the Family Bond. And not just with my spouse and child. But also with my parents and siblings. For at the end of the day they are the people who love you the most and want what’s best for you.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Enjoy each milestone while in it instead of just waiting for the next one to come. I feel sometimes we live life waiting for the next thing. Like when we’re in school and can’t wait for college, always thinking how we are going to enjoy that more. So just enjoy each moment and build memories because the next phase will come eventually.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
The responsibility of providing a good and motivational environment at an early age to help shape his character into one that is confident and loves to give back.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
That it can never have enough kindness and good people. It’s not a perfect world and will always be filled with sad and unfair stories which is why we need to always do our best to give back to it and to be the change we want to see in it.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
1- IPAD. I know some may shake their heads at this but I honestly feel it’s a lifesaver. (Obviously within what’s reasonable.)
2- Quality Time such as going out alone (to get a manicure, go to the movies or get some work done at a coffee shop), date night with hubby or girls night with friends. I definitely need some no-kids time so I can come back fresh and ready to give him more than a %100.
3- Playgrounds. If there’s nowhere else to go, finding a playground (whether indoor or outdoor) is a blessing and provides a way for my little munchkin to get his energy out.
4- Coffee. I love me some coffee. I take it in the morning and it always feels like I’m charging myself for the day with that one huge mug.
Can you tell us more about your book, Beautifully Different?
It teaches children that every person is different but that’s what makes usbeautiful. It is the second book in the Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures series. Yousuf wonders if being different is a good or a bad thing. Kids who are different get teased, bullied and picked on. It would be a lot simpler if everyone were the same. Yousuf’s dad suggests that he play the Time Travel game to see if he can find some answers. Yousuf loves that game. He settles back in a comfortable position, closes his eyes, clears his mind of distracting thoughts, and before he knows it, he is on a boat heading towards a far-away island. Why are people different? Why can’t we be the same? Find out with Yusuf, in the Imagination Game. Get yourself ready to sing, swing and shout! The Weeds are coming, and there’s only one way out.
Dana Salim loves singing silly songs, standing in the breeze and eating chocolate cake. But most of all she loves spending time with her son, Yousuf, and her husband. From row-boating, walking on frozen lakes, hiking to caves and waterfalls, to reading new books and learning new things; everyday holds an exciting adventure for the family! Her first children’s book Dreamland with Mommy, the first book in the series Yousuf’s Everyday Adventures, was published in August 2015. Dana’s childhood adventures were split between Amman, Jordan and Vancouver, Canada. She finished Industrial Engineering at the University of Jordan before moving to Ohio, which was home for four awesome years. And now she resides in McAllen, Texas where she is always on the lookout for new adventures with her family. Dana founded DS Publishing, LLC with her husband in August, 2016. Their mission is to provide products that instill and encourage diversity, acceptance and confidence in one’s self and dreams. And if there’s one thing she would want to tell you right now it would be “Believe in yourself and go after your dreams, it’s never too early or too late. Right now is the best time to do it!”