The hottest ticket in town this week was Michelle Obama!
She graced the Altria Theater stage as a guest of The Richmond Forum, and I was grateful to be in the building.
Mrs. Obama set the tone from the start that this would be a nonpartisan, apolitical conversation, borne from her forever title: Mom-in-Chief.
Through that lens, I resonated with her greatly, having children the same age as hers (her youngest child turns 21 on Friday; mine turns 21 on Sunday), and having penned a daily newspaper parenting column for 11 years.
There were so many great takeaways from her conversation with Forum Executive Director Heather Crislip, many of them directed to parents and to the young people who were in the theater or watching via simulcast.
But there also were some collective words of wisdom for all.
In the spirit of the “Wednesday Wisdom” I occasionally share, here are some of the gems Michelle Obama dropped:
* You don’t have to change the world to change something.
* There is power in the small – in the little, everyday things that we take for granted, like spending time with family, voting, etc. Doing these things with excellence and intention make a difference.
* Don’t lose sight of your own destiny. It holds power.
* We owe hope to the next generation. Democracy requires us to be hopeful.
* Find your passion and do something meaningful with your life.
* You are smart enough to be there, wherever your desired or longed-for “there” is.
* When someone kindly touches you, that gives you the liberty to respond in kind, even if it’s the Queen of England. (That’s how and why that went down, she says! Lol)
And my favorite: Stories matter.
Mrs. Obama delivered that declaration as she discussed some of the projects she is working on with Netflix and due to her interactions with people from all walks of life, all over the world, whose stories have inspired her.
I share that view, from my local and lived vantage point, and through the work I do as a journalist, writer mentor and author.
It’s in this spirit that I invite you to “Save the Date” for an October 22 storytelling event I’m hosting in RVA. More details are coming soon!
In the meantime, lean into some other wisdom that Mrs. Obama shared, which is to consider tackling big issues and hard conversations by starting with connection first.
Get to know your neighbors and colleagues and find some commonalities rather than letting social media or other sources shape your views. Once you understand what you have in common, you’re better able to appreciate others’ similarities and differences, maybe better understand their perspectives, and maybe even become friends – and then, through those lenses, talk about the tough, and important, stuff.