If you haven’t heard, Michelle Obama wrote a book touted as “an intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.” And then she did a book tour talking about the book. She went from city to city, country to country, talking about the book, her childhood, her days at Princeton, Harvard and her law firm, her marriage and her time at the White House. Pretty standard stuff here.
But THEN, in her book, on page 387 to be exact, she had the audacity to write, “I will never pretend that words or hugs from a First lady alone can turn somebody’s life around…” AND I BEG TO DIFFER.
Michelle Obama – YOU . . . WERE . . . WRONG.
That special hug and words of encouragement that YOU gave ME on April 16th has turned my life around. (See below for the conversation as much as I can recreate the words and giddiness).
You spoke to a spectacular audience of thousands at the Bercy arena in Paris that day, including several of my friends. We are now profoundly perturbed, disturbed and even excited as we quietly examine our lives to answer the question, or dare I say, the challenge that you made that night: “Who are you becoming?”
The event may have been framed as a book tour, but I know better. This was no ordinary book tour. In fact, in my humble opinion, it wasn’t a book tour at all.
It was a wake-up call.
It was a soul-to-soul conversation that resonated and made all attendees ask this question: Who am I becoming?
It was also a serious mic-drop. As in “You thought, you knew me, you thought I was a lawyer, mom-in-chief, First lady – well I’m a global inspiration. I dare all of you to step up, not lean-in, but step up and become your better self.” Mic. Drop.
“Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.”
I heard the call, I heard the challenge and I’m stepping up my game.
For seven years now, I’ve been politely trying to drag parents in the digital age, with a website, social media feeds, workshops, and occasional blogpost and newsletter. A few weeks ago, someone called me a digital family influencer and while I tend to be sceptical of influencers of any sort (kid influencer, fashion influencer, etc.), I can agree that helping families, indeed, influencing families to maintain balance in the digital age is definitely within my skillset.
So, no more Ms. Friendly Neighborhood Digital Parenting Coach.
I’m going hard. I am going to keep working, keep that forward motion to continuously be a better advocate for parents and children, a better expert on child online protection, a better friend, a better wife, a better mom – all towards a better self.
Me: Hello, I am so happy that you are here.
M.O.: Thank you.
Me: I told people in line that I was you.
M.O.: (laughter) Well you could. You are as tall as I am.
M.O.: (gives me the famous M.O. hug that makes you feel that you really are special, that you really have something to share, that you can go from ordinary to extraordinary by sheer will power and perseverance)
Me: (clasping her out-stretched hand and looking right into her eyes) Listen, I’m a lawyer from California, I have lived in Europe for over 20 years, I have 6 degrees, I speak 3 languages – AND I STILL WANT TO BE YOU WHEN I GROW UP.
M.O.: (laughter) Well, give me one of those languages.
Me: (laughter and trying not do to cartwheels because she was so down-to-earth and kind)
M.O.: (looks at me, smiles and without missing a beat says): YOU . . . BE . . . YOU.
And I will.
“What kind of person do I want to be? How do I want to contribute to the world?”
I am a lawyer, law professor and digital parenting expert. I want to become a digital family influencer who inspires all parents and caregivers to do TWO things:
-- to critically think about the devices and technology introduced into the family and
-- to communicate with their children and young people about their digital lives and activities.
I want to be the kind of person who calls out the cray-cray that we see in the digital world, who lays out the risks of technology, internet and social media in a calm, reasoned and evidence-based manner.
I want to be the person who demonstrates the benefits of technology, internet and social media with a critical eye.
I want to contribute easy-to-employ solutions and sound strategies to families.
I want to share my knowledge, my energy, my passion for teaching my own children how to be responsible and safe online to your children, your families, your communities.
It’s on. Challenge accepted. I am BECOMING.
If you don’t “get” something, . . . if you want information in a different format, . . . if you hear of a new trend, challenge or viral something or other, . . . if you see some great new app, game or website for kids/families, let me know at [email protected].
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