On Her Personal Philosophy

“I am still surprised that there are people who make decisions because they’re afraid of what might not work.”

“We are only as strong as the weakest among us.”

On African Americans

“The Black community has to shake off our fear because change doesn’t happen without risk. Rosa Parks wasn’t supposed to stay on that bus, and Martin Luther King wasn’t supposed to speak out. We have a whole history of people who have taken risks far greater than anything that we’re doing; this is nothing compared to the history we come from.”

 “What minority communities go through still represents the challenges, the legacies of oppression and racism. You know, when you have cultures who feel like second-class citizens at some level, there is this natural feeling within the community that we’re not good enough, that we can’t be as smart or as prepared and it’s that internal struggle that is always the battle.”

“As we’ve all said in the Black community, we don’t see all of who we are in the media. We see snippets and distortions of our community. So the world has this perspective that somehow Barack and Michelle are different, that we are unique. And we’re not. You just haven’t see us before.”

On America

“Divided…cynical…a nation that is just too mean. Mean has become a sport, a source for entertainment. We are a nation guided by fear. The problem with fear is that it clouds our judgement, it shuts us off.”

On Barack Obama

“Barack is not our savior. There are many of us who want to lay all of our wishes, fears and hopes at his feet, but life doesn’t work that way and certainly politics doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be with him no matter what.”

“Barack is one of the few men I’ve met who is not intimidated by strong women. He relishes the fact that I am not impressed by him.”

“He’s a gifted man, but in the end, he’s just a man.”

On Dating Barack

“His first car had so much rust that there was a rusted hole in the passenger door. You could see the ground when you were driving by. he loved that car. It would shake ferociously when it would start up. I thought, ‘This brother is not interest in ever making a dime.’ I would just have love him for his values.”

“I told him if this isn’t leading to marriage, then, you know, don’t waste my time.”

“We went to a reception and Spike Lee was there and Barack told him, ‘I owe you a lot.’ Spike Lee got a big kick that Do the Right Thing, as Barack said, ‘got him a little play’ because in the movie I allowed him to touch my knee.”

On Their Economic Struggles

“I remember those days clearly, that collection agency the loan debt people calling you telling you that you’ve got a few more days before you’re in trouble.”

“The only reason we’re not in debt today is because Barack wrote two best-selling books. That’s like hitting the Lotto, because that was not a solid financial plan.”

On the Decision to run for President

“I’m one of these people who walks down every dark road before I take on a pretty ambitious process. and that’s one of the things that I did. I thought through all the things that could go wrong. So I kind of prepared myself. And what I found is that there hasn’t been anything that I didn’t expect to happen.”

“You want to know how Barack prepares for a debate? He hangs out with me and he’s ready.”

“We are two well-versed lawyers who know each other really well. We each think we’re right about everything and can argue each other into a corner.”

“There was a meeting of the minds that [Barack and I] had to reach. I wasn’t content with saying, ‘You’re doing important things in the world, so go off and be important and I’ll handle everything else here [at home].’ Because the truth is, if I did that I’d probably still be angry.”

On Her Marriage

“We know we are blessed.”

On Being a Mother

“My support for my husband come straight from my motherhood bones.”

“My girls are the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed. When people ask me how I’m doing, I say, “I’m only as good as my most sad child.”

On Her Career Path

“Barack and I had both struggled with the question: When you know you’ve been blessed and know you have a set of gifts, how do you maximize those gifts so you’re impacting the greatest number of people? And what do you ? Is it community organizing? is it politics? Is it as a parent? Our answer at some level is ti can be all of that.”

“I started thinking about the fact that I went to some of the best schools in the country and I have no idea what I want to do. That kind of stuff got me worked up because I thought, This isn’t education. You can make money and have a nice degree. But what are you learning about giving back to the work, and finding your passion and letting that guide you, as opposed to the school you got into.”

On Balancing Career and Family

“The only difference between me and every other women that I know is that my challenges are publicized, and I’m doing this juggling in front of cameras.”

“When you are growing up, you’re taught, I am a woman, hear me roar. I can do whatever I want to do. I guess you can, but there are serious tradeoffs in balancing and juggling. We have to be more honest with ourselves as women, particularly young women, to prepare them for the reality that there are difficult choices they have to make. It will be hard, it will be emotionally challenging and draining. It’s not all pretty.”

“ People told me, ‘You can do it all. Just stay the course, get your education and you can raise a child, stay thin, be in shape, love your man, look good and raise healthy children.’ That was a lie.”

On Her Childhood

“I say this not to be modest, but there are so many young people who could be me. There’s nothing magical about my background. I am not a super-genius. I had good parents and some good teachers and some decent breaks and I worked hard. Every other child I knew could have been me, but they got a bad break and didn’t recover. It’s like I tell the young people I talk to: the difference between success and failure in our society is a very slim margin. You almost have to have that perfect storm of good parents, self-esteem and good teachers.”

“What I learn about growing up is that if I’m not going to get my butt kicked every day after school, I can’t flaunt my intelligence in front of my peers who are struggling with a whole range of things. So you’ve got to be smart without acting smart. Its like speaking in two languages.”

“I was raised to believe I could do it all, and that was very empowering.”

“The truth is, I’m not supposed to be standing here. I’m a statistical oddity. Black girl, brought up on the South Side of Chicago. Was I supposed to go to Princeton? No. They said maybe Harvard Law was too much for me to reach for. But I went, I did fine.”

On Her Parents

“My father and mother poured everything they had into me and Craig (her brother). It was the greatest gift a child could receiver: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved and cherished and have a place in this world.”

“My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”

“My parents taught me about confidence from within. Everything flows from that.”

On Making Decisions

“Life changes and I never see one set of decisions as permanent. I look at it as this is what I’m doing for this time and make sense at this time in my life and I don’t try to predict what the future will hold in terms of those types of decisions.”

On Exercise

“Exercise is really important to me. So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.”

“For me exercise is more than just physical, it’s therapeutic.”

“Being fit has become even more important as I’ve had children because I’m also thinking about how I’m modeling health to my daughters. I’m trying to teach my daughters moderation and constancy, that exercise is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”

On The Elitist Tag

“I am a product of a working-class background. I am one of those folks who grew up in that struggle. So when people talk about this elitist stuff, I say, you couldn’t possibly know anything about me.”

On Who She Is

“I know how to bounce back from my mistakes.”

On Her Critics

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

“Somehow I’ve been caricatured as this emasculating wife. Barack and I laugh about that. It’s just that do you think anyone could emasculate Barack Obama? Really now.”

“If I wilted every time somebody in my life mischaracterized me or called me a bad name, I would have never finished Princeton, would have never gone to Harvard and wouldn’t be sitting here with Barack. So these are the lessons we want to teach our children. You know who you are, so what anybody else says is just interesting fodder.”

On Diversity

“I hate diversity workshops. Real change comes from having enough comfort to be really honest and say something very uncomfortable.”

 

On Men

“What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family, God is in there somewhere, but me is first. And for women, me is fourth and that’s not healthy.”

On Women Today

“Give Yourself the space to think about who you are, who you want to be. We’re always in ‘do’ mode. We need to be in ‘reflection’ mode a bit more.”

On Healthy versus Unhealthy Relationships

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”

On Friendships

 “We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

On Racism

“This stuff is deep and we haven’t yet touched it as a nation. We don’t deal with pain that has been caused by racism and division. We don’t deal with it. An when we’re surprised when it rears its head among white and blacks. We haven’t deal with it and it’s hurting all of us. It’s hurting all of us. We can’t afford to have generations of children of any race believing they can’t be exactly who they think they should be.”

On Courage

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

On Success

“Success isn’t about how much money you make it’s about the difference in make in people’s lives.

 

Source:
Michelle Obama: In Her Own Words by Lisa Rogak

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