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September 23, 2011
Connecting with our First Lady
Back in July, Elaine—a good friend of mine—invited me to a private fundraising lunch at her Boston-area home, where First Lady Michele Obama would be the special guest speaker. And since it was mainly a women’s event, my friend encouraged me to bring my daughter along, too—an opportunity I knew Charlotte would be excited about!
Upon arriving, we had to to be checked by security, which was understandable, and a common experience for travelers like Charlotte and me—but felt a bit odd, since I’d been to Elaine’s home in the past. But once we passed through security and entered the event, it became much more fun: The 100 or so women on hand were abuzz with chatter, greeting old friends, and anticipating the day’s special guest. I even ran into a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while, which was a real pleasure.
Politics aside, I’ve always admired smart, powerful women like Mrs. Obama—so, I really looked forward to hearing from someone who is such a great role model for girls and women in our country. And I wasn’t disappointed …
Much like the receiving line at a wedding, we stood in line to meet Mrs. Obama, who chatted briefly and shook hands with each guest. And when it was our turn, Charlotte stepped forward to greet the First Lady, who said to her: “Wow, you are beautiful!” As Charlotte’s mother, I couldn’t agree more, and hearing such a compliment from the First Lady was an unexpected surprise. After this unanticipated icebreaker, we spoke with Mrs. Obama for just a few short moments—about Africa, where she’d just gone on safari with her daughters—but I was immediately struck by her great eye contact, her warmth, and by how very present and engaged she seemed. And while I knew she was tall and lovely, I didn’t realize how much so until we stood “face-to-face.”
Soon after, we all sat down to lunch while Mrs. Obama spoke. As a wife and mother, she talked about how important her family is to her and about the challenges they faced when her husband first ran for President—and about those they still face. She told us about how they had regular “family meetings,” something Charlotte and I could really relate to, since Alan and I have always done the same thing with our family. And speaking as a politician’s wife, she made the political personal—adding that, in spite of the challenges, they “had to do this.” Overall, Mrs. Obama delivered her husband’s message well, and because she was so genuine, I could tell it was truly her message, too.
Since the event, I feel even more strongly that the First Lady really is a wonderful role model—especially for women and mothers who strive to create strong, healthy families. And looking back, I realize how much more I enjoyed the day because I shared it with Charlotte.
Continuing on a reflective note … In recognition of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, which recently passed, I want to leave you with some inspirational words from another woman—one whose supreme humanity has made her a role model for generations of people throughout the world …
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is costly, care for it.
Life is wealth, keep it.
Life is love, enjoy it.
Life is mystery, know it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
Have you ever met a female leader—well-known or otherwise—who exceeded your expectations in some way? If so, I’d love to hear more about the occasion. You can share your thoughts, experiences—and photos, if you have them—with others, by posting your comments below this Journal entry. In the coming weeks, we’ll be spotlighting Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. If you’ve explored these destinations with Grand Circle, I hope you’ll send your stories and photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.