Becoming… An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama

My hometown of Dallas. Michelle Obama. Becoming. Family. Friends. What more could I ask for? Monday night I cashed in on a once in lifetime opportunity, to sit in the same room with America’s and Black America’s Forever First Lady, Michelle Obama. I arrived in Dallas on Monday evening. After checking into our hotel, my mother, assistant, and I quickly dressed and met my aunt who resides in Dallas downstairs to go to the event. We were just four women together ready to hear the former first lady speak in person about her book, Becoming, which has taken the world by storm.
As the music and clips and pre-show narrations set the stage, my excitement increased. Then, as she began to speak and expound upon question after question, it happened. I became mute, paralyzed, and in complete awe. This was more than a typical book discussion; it really was an intimate conversation with Michelle Obama.

I listened in quiet as the other guests clapped and whistled and hailed praises. I did not want to miss one word in mid-clap.
Michelle spoke frankly about her marriage to Barack Obama and their relationship. She initiated marriage counseling to correct his flaws. Counseling was very helpful in correcting the flaws, hers. While she thought he was the concern, it was actually her. And that resonated with me because my husband and I were on that same avenue about 6 years ago and like Michelle; I was the concern. I entered the session wanting the therapist to fix him. I left furious because I needed the fixing. 

There were so many other parallels between our lives which led me to know she is authentic and true to herself and core values. Recently, I was asked what sets me apart and one attribute was my ability to create and maintain positive relationships. Michelle’s value of friendship and relationship is much like my own. Connections with people are innate for me, but I never take them for granted and apply a great deal of effort to cultivate those worth my time and energy.

My maternal grandmother often spoke of my boldness and said I had a slick tongue. Even at a young age, I was focused and clear on what I wanted. Michelle Robinson was too. She even shared the same sassiness I did and I recognized myself in her story about her conflict and strong-willed personality in a confrontation with her aunt.

Often in her brother’s shadows, she was told by her senior high school counselor she was not Princeton material, the same school her brother attended. My daughter, Jada, was subject to this same type of discouragement in her senior year as she began to apply to
colleges and set her sights on Clark Atlanta University. Jada is dyslexic and the counselor was wrong about it inhibiting her acceptance. She was accepted before graduation! 

I continued to feel more and more body parts grow numb while my adoration for Michelle grew more and more. It was like being in the scene of The Color Purple when Celie saw Shug Avery for the first time. She could not move or speak. She just needed to lay eyes upon her and I needed to keep my eyes and ears on Michelle.

Amidst ridicule, fame, stress, publicity, adoration, and hatred in areas of her life including roles, status, and profession, she was and is always the constant and true to herself. I love the fact that she is clear on who she is, her principles, values, beliefs, and desires. The thing that I love the most about her is she is so REAL. I felt like she was a friend or family member talking. I’m sure everyone in the arena could relate to her in one way or another. 

As the event began to end, I slowly regained the feeling in my body. Michelle Obama thanked the crowd and said farewell. My senses came back together. Blood flowed through my veins again and my heartbeat returned. But, I was not the same NaKeitha I arrived as.For the first time in my life, I became a super fan.

Empire State Of Mind

There are 13 songs titled New York State of Mind and of course we all have heard of Jay-Z’s version of Empire State of Mind and there are 6 other songs with the same title. It just may be one of the most referred to cities in music. New York City is one of the cities I have visited most. It has a spirit of movement and hustle to it. NYC is a place where you cannot resist being inspired just by walking down the avenues and blocks and riding by sights unseen and seen. So, what led me to The Big Apple this time? It was my last city to host Dinner & Dialogue this year.

An early Sunday morning flight landed 5 ladies on an interesting Uber ride from Newark to NYC learning about local eateries and places to visit. Although I have visited so many times, the Uber driver spent the entire 25 minute ride with all sorts of secrets about shopping and entertainment and anything we could think of. He talked and I eagerly jotted notes in my phone. With an early Sunday arrival, we had lots of time to play. We started at brunch at a local diner suggested by the concierge. It was so good. The portions were Texas sized and it was well worth the wait. 

That evening, we went to my favorite steakhouse for dinner and cocktails. I actually fell in love with Del Frisco’s in New York during Spring Break 2012. Every time I visit the Big Apple, I have to dine there. It is a ritual now. After dinner, we went to Babylon, a hookah bar to hear music and really let our hair down. Sunday came and went. Monday meant business. I had a few business meetings scheduled, while the rest of the ladies explored and shopped. I met a group of six for lunch. Our group had grown to 7 as two other ladies arrived later Sunday. Brandy was celebrating her upcoming 40th birthday, so a celebration was definitely in order. We dined and explored the local night life with libations and uninhibited fun! 

Tuesday had finally arrived. Dinner was supposed to be the highlight of the day. But, visiting the Wendy Williams Show was the highlight of my day. Wel to be honest, I am not a fan and it was not on my must do list. As a matter of fact, everything on my must do list was not done. That is what I love about plans. They can be made, but life is not a plan. It is an adventure worth living and experiencing. Anyway, back to Wendy. As I said, it was not on my list, but we all were in! And we all were so glad we went. It was worth the experience. The best part was the “party” during the commercial breaks. It was like a pep rally and day party rolled into one. The dj and hype man were a perfect pair. They kept the audience engaged and pumped up. The celebrity guests for the day were Toni Braxton and Eva Marcille. We were lucky to be present for both since Eva could not come on her original date, so we were the audience for her segment. 

I was full of energy and my momentum was flowing from the Wendy Williams experience. It was the perfect boost to my day. I have to be in great spirits the day of my dinner. It really sets the tone for me and the dinners.  I never know what space the guests will be in, so I am very intentional about creating a great headspace for myself. And I needed it. This NYC dinner was set with the intention of forming new business networks for my brand. I was in contact with several prominent women in varying industries and received great feedback from them even if they were not able to attend. The weeks and even days leading up to the dinner, the guests that were scheduled to attend contacted me with regrets of commitments. 

21 Again

29 ladies. 4 days. 1,543 miles. We traveled from Houston to Cabo to celebrate the 21st birthday of my oldest child and only daughter, Jada. The theme song of the getaway was “I Like It” by Cardi B. Very appropriate for this Mexican excursion.

With every great celebration comes a theme! Jada, like me, loves a play on words. Jada Rose’ All Day was adorned everywhere and incorporated in everything we could. Custom swimwear, beach hats, shirts, and even her cake and dessert bar reminded everyone why we came to celebrate!

But in all the celebrating, I could not help but think, “What did I do for my 21st birthday?” After several moments, nothing stood out and nothing registered. I set my mind to enjoying my daughter and the mixture of family, friends, and loved ones who were connected to us both in some way. I watched and smiled every time she popped a bottle of Rose’, danced randomly, and basked in the sun in the cool water of the infinity pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean from her villa.

I am turning 40 this year in September, but oh to be 21 again! Talk about living your best life. A seemingly carefree life without the real responsibilities of life and work and family. The carefree life of moving and shaking and social outings. 21 is a great age because in all things you have complete and full access in America. Even though I do not recall my own 21st birthday, I am so glad I could relive it with my own daughter for hers. I felt young, free, and vibrant.

Hawaiian Hiatus

People see you traveling and smiling. They assume you are on vacation. But, I’m actually working. I have been traveling every week for work for the last three weeks. But, I took a hiatus to Hawaii for Spring Break with my loves. It was much needed rest and relaxation. And like I said, it was with my loves- my family. I work an extremely busy schedule, but in that, I include my family because after all, the work I do is for them just as much as it is for me. Legacy… But, that is a different blog entry all together.

Anyway, this Hawaiian hiatus was what I needed to rest, recharge, and revive myself. It was Spring Break for my son and my sister, who is an educator, and I was thousands of miles away from the direct moving and shaking of entrepreneurial life. My goal was to disconnect from my everyday fast life and plug into myself and my family, my core.

I cannot resist beautiful scenery and Hawaii did not disappoint! Being from Houston, a progressive city just minutes away from chemical plants, our skies are not always the prettiest. The Hawaiian sky was majestic and spoke to me each day and welcomed me to bask in the beauty of its sun. When I was not with my family laughing and creating lasting memories, I was reading and gaining more clarity about my next moves. Not working, but working. Being able to sit poolside with the aroma of fresh hibiscus surrounding me and enjoying Mai Tai beverages enabled me to clear my mind and check items off my list while preparing for upcoming tasks.

A clear mind allows you to see various aspects of situations and make better decisions. I returned home with a happy son and happy family to a happy husband who understands my need to regroup. I am a better wife to him and person to myself because of these times.

Where and when is your next hiatus?

Girl Boss Getaway

My father sits high and looks down low. I’m extremely grateful for all of the blessings that are falling down on me. 2017 has just started and God is doing amazing things in my life. I had a list of things that I wanted to pursue and achieve in 2017 and I’m ahead of schedule with a few bonuses in the mix. 

I had the opportunity to go on an impromptu trip to Italy with a few girlfriends also known as girl bosses. Italy wasn’t in my plans for this year. But when you have favor and friends that are being blessed, their blessings sprinkle on you. That’s why I never understood friends hating on each other. Because when real friends are winning….. WE ARE ALL WINNING. 

As I flew back home from Italy, I was excited about the memories that were created and reflected on the wonderful discussions that we had over dinner. I saw beautiful architecture, learned some history, drunk wine and cappuccino daily, and did some great shopping. But the best part was bonding with like-minded souls and strategizing for the remainder of the year. 

After being away for 5 days, I was uber excited about seeing my family, clients, and to do list. I encourage everyone to do something different. Get away for 48 hours to regroup and refuel. You will be amazed by how time away actually makes you more productive and enthusiastic about life and everything that it embodies. Life is a journey. It was designed to be experienced not spectated like a sport.