Our forever FLOTUS recently published her memoir Becoming, following her from her childhood through the eight years she and our forever POTUS graced the White House.
Since its release, Becoming has managed to sell over a million copies in its first week and has broken the record for the longest #1 best-seller on Amazon since Fifty Shades of Grey. I just finished it and, baby, let me tell you, it was a game-changer for me. With my one-hour commute, I listened to it on Audible – she reads it herself and that only adds to the magic.
At 34, I have lived an entire life already, and not the life that I wanted to live. As it turns out, Michelle Obama could not only relate, but has been there herself.
Her courage in sharing her deepest fears and experiences makes the already down-to-earth woman even more personable and relatable. You feel more like you're listening to the story of a friend instead of one of the most powerful women in the United States. While she is aware of the gravity of her responsibility, she insists on remaining the Michelle Robinson she was growing up on the southside of Chicago, even as she slowly became the Michelle Obama that we all know and love.
I don't intend on doing a full report on the book, but wanted to share my takeaways, in the hopes that, if you haven't read the book, you now go get it in whatever version works for you, and you can perhaps feel motivated and inspired for the same reasons I do.
It is Beautifully Written.
I don't remember reading a memoir at any point in my life that has been written in the style of Becoming. In fact, I have avoided many biographies for that very reason. But at times, this book is almost poetic in its delivery with descriptions so vivid, I sometimes felt that I was there at that time in history with her. This adds to the beauty of the work itself – as Michelle describes striving for excellence, her work is written in such a way that you have no choice but to elevate to her level and not the other way around. You will feel like a better person for reading this book.
She Understands the Power of the Tribe.
While we know it takes a village to raise a child, we also know that it takes a tribe to raise and support a woman. Over the course of the book, several times she invokes the names of her soul sisters, identifying women from her lifetime who have been a part of her tribe. From women who were working mothers like her who needed support during her time with Barack before he even went into politics, to women she became close to on the campaign trail and while in the White House. She truly celebrates and honors those women and drops life lessons about how vital a tribe is to the psyche and soul of a woman, supporting and loving each other and cheering each other on. To have that validated by Michelle truly makes this point hit home.
She Upholds Family First.
Michelle Obama at Princeton in 1984
Michelle Obama started as Michelle Robinson in a family of four that had little in terms of possessions but a lot in terms of love and life lessons. She and her brother Craig both grew up to be very successful and accomplished individuals – something she attributes almost solely to her mother and father's influence. She painfully details her father's lifelong battle with Multiple Sclerosis but with a pride that only a daughter could have for her father. He never gave up or used his circumstances as an excuse, and this was the running theme of her childhood.
As extraordinary as her children were, Michelle's mother was quick to say that her children were no better than the other children in their southside Chicago neighborhood (which she represents all throughout the book), all capable of the same type of success. It's a truth that Michelle has carried with her throughout her life in her work with the youth and the community.
She Doesn’t Like the Cheeto in Chief, Either.Michelle Obama "Becoming" book tour stop in San Jose
She keeps it all the way 100 with us in her book, and doesn't mince words when it comes to Trump. She doesn't like him, period. He's a disgrace for how he treated President Obama during his Presidency with the whole birth certificate issue and she hated everything that came out regarding his character. She spoke from the heart in the final days of his campaign, displaying her disgust with him and everything he stood for. She could hardly believe that he was voted into office and blames it solely on the Electoral College but she is quick to bounce back and remind us to have hope no matter the circumstance, or who is in office. She firmly stands by her belief that our country is greater than its worst moments and that we will get through this and come out stronger than before – just like any other tragic situation.
For me, the biggest lesson in the book was that we can become who we want to be at any time – it's never too late to do so. Michelle recounts how much she hated being an attorney, even though she was good at it and made a great salary. She ended up taking a pay cut for an opportunity that was more suited to her purpose in life – working with, and helping, other people in the community. She knew she wouldn't be able to do that in her position as an attorney. I can totally empathize, having to work in Corporate America to collect a check but wanting to eventually live my life doing what I love – writing full-time, among other things. Y'all pray for me.
Ultimately, Becoming isn't just her story.
Yes, it recounts the moments in her life, but she is quick to relate her story to any of our stories. She wants us to know that her story is no more remarkable than any of our stories, and that as we all become who we were meant to be, we do so through the lessons we learn from our experiences, education and every moment. Instead of wondering why something is happening to you, you have to ask what lesson can it teach you.
Michelle recounts all the lessons for our benefit, and makes the reader or, in my case, the listener, better for it...
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is a mother, writer, yogi, Scorpio and has good hair but is NOT Becky by any means. By day, she pushes paper, but by night, she unleashes her superpower: using her words.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports