First of all, isn’t it amazing that we live in an age where I can be in bed on a Sunday morning and actually have a title like “What Michelle Obama taught me this morning?” It’s amazing the democratisation of knowledge and information that we have in this age of the internet and I am thankful for it. The platforms are available and they are neutral. It’s what we do with it and take from it that determines if it adds value to your life or detracts from it.
Anyhow, one of my most whispered prayers is “Lord, give me the wisdom to handle life correctly.” I am always asking for wisdom because I feel like without it, I won’t know what to do… like I don’t want to blow things out of proportion that shouldn’t be blown out, I don’t want to miss out on something that is important because I focused on what was urgent… I don’t want to get to the end of my life and see that it didn’t count for anything or that I didn’t become EVERYTHING that God wanted me to be, I also don’t want to get to the end of my life and see that God had much more in store for me and because of fear or indecision, I didn’t scratch the surface. So for me, I am always asking questions, always seeking wisdom, always wanting to hear about the journeys of people who have gone before me so that I can glean from them… perhaps by standing on the shoulders of giants I can learn not through my mistakes and experiences but also from theirs. I also can “accelerate” my journey, I no longer start at the beginning, I start where their learnings propel me from! It is with that as a background that I listen to and take notes when I see such powerful, impactful people such as Michelle and Oprah sit together at “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” your. Enjoy my lessons learned.
When asked by Oprah how she’s lived out her famous quote, “when they go low, we go high,” Michelle says:
“Going low is easy. It’s easy to lead by fear, it’s easy to make people feel afraid. It’s the easy thing and it’s short term thing… This life, our responsibility in it is so much bigger than us. If it’s not going to fix a problem, if it’s not going to move the needle, it’s not high”...”
Referring to her impact on the people she comes across especially young people she says “I want them to hear me “see” them” (Isn’t that just noble?! It’s easy to feel invisible in today’s world. It’s easy to feel like you are just one in a number… so when someone stops and listens and cares… that’s amazing!)
“Every body just wants to know that you see them and hear them”- Oprah
Oprah asks her how do you not spoil the kids when you have so much? She responds:
“Stuff isn’t parenting… it was easy for us because we didn’t think they deserve it…
The House didn’t define it’s our values that define us.”
“He has been who he promised he will be to me.” This statement she made in respect of Barack Obama, made me cry. I wonder if I have been who I “promised” to be in my significant relationships; as a wife, a mother, a sister, a business owner, a child of God! Not focusing on the others in the relationship, because the only one I can control is myself… I ask myself “have I been true to me or have I let someone outside of me determine how I show up in the world?” It touched me. It also makes me want to be better…
Michelle was talking about what counselling did for her in her marriage: “Therapy taught me that I am responsible for my own happiness that I didn’t marry Barack for him to make me happy. No one can make me happy… so my disappointments were about what I thought he should be doing for me, giving to me, when I hadn’t done the work to figure out what did I want and how do I go after what I want on my own… so I had to stop focusing on what he wasn’t doing and start thinking about how to carve out the life that I want for myself.
The more I succeeded in defining myself for myself, the better I was in my partnership…” #notetaken #itistwowholepeoplethatmakeone #notteohalves #maturity #thisisactuallyanotetoself #ifuthelpsyou,youarewelcome
“Walk your own walk… why are you here? How fast do you need to go? What is my journey? What does health look like for me?” (This resonates! I always say that “you are proof that your own way works.” Also that if your life was meant to be a marathon and you spend it imitating someone whose life is a 100 meter dash, you will die without fulfilling purpose). So as Aunty Michelle says “walk your own walk!”
About self doubt and insecurities, she said “The release doesn’t come from the adoration or the book sales. It still has to come from within.” (Happiness and confidence are inside jobs).
She advocates putting yourself in the others shoes:
“The more you know their stories, the less you judge and become more empathetic.”
When asked if she still cooked at all, she said “No” and went on to explain, “It’s not one of the things that I need in defining myself.” About not watching the news she says “That would sap me of all that is good inside.”
I loved those two responses, the first one because it’s really important to know what brings you joy! A lot of us can easily reel off what we don’t want. It’s harder to say what we DO want! I have found that from time to time, I have to do an audit. I have to say to myself “Hajara, what makes you happy?” I write out a list, then find ways to add more of what makes me happy to my everyday life. Same as what or who drains me. I identify, remove and where I can’t remove, I make a choice to ensure I get back to equilibrium by filling up my tank with what re-energises me. Sometimes we spread ourselves too thin, Mum, wife and general woman guilt! It’s okay to identify what you can outsource so that you have more time to “Be” with the people that matter including yourself.
When asked if she had a super power what it would be, she said
“I have a hard time thinking of it as a super power, but I hope that it’s making people feel seen… that they have a sense of importance and relevance in the world. My super power is empathy… I try to stand in their shoes and understand their pain, their loss, their fear...” 👊🏾👊🏾👊🏾
Michelle says she “Will continue to work to be a person of service to make sure that my life means something to somebody else…”
At the end of the interview there was a beautiful moment of sisterhood where Oprah says to Michelle,
“You make me proud to spell my name W.O.M.A.N.”
I feel exactly the same way. I am honoured to have spent my morning like this and I hope my lessons learned have enriched you! If you have watched it or read Becoming and want to share other lessons learned, please leave a comment.
Link to full interview here; https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XvFaaO5b4hE
I’ll make out time to watch the interview she had with The Rock! He either lost or buried his Dad that week of the interview and so that amount of strength and commitment already inspires me. The interview with Lady Gaga was also phenomenal in terms of mental health and the clip I saw of her and Tracee Elis Ross made me cry happy tears today. Oprah is doing great things with her life. We are not Oprah but our lives count and your life and mine could make someone’s life more worthwhile… show up as your very best this week and let people who don’t even know you, have cause to thank God you were born!