Here’s How One Military Spouse Saw Michelle Obama in NYC

Photo: Keisha Yokers

Before I married my husband, I was very established in my career–as they say, “living my best life”–and growing as a professional and a young woman. Like many military spouses, I fell in love fast and hard. Eight months later, this big city girl was living in some town I’d never heard of, applying for jobs at coffee shops, and feeling completely lost.  I loved my husband but I felt like all the roots of my life that spread deep and wide had been unearthed, and I couldn’t find my footing for a long time… longer than I care to admit.

Fast forward 10 years: I have learned so much about the gift of change. Military life offers you so many opportunities to reinvent yourself, to glean from your changing environment and its people. My dreams are still grand, but they have changed–they would not be my dreams if they didn’t include my best friend and our children.

Your story may be different, but I would venture to guess that the feelings of loss, loneliness, balance, and the love of new opportunities and places mixed in with the frustration of feeling rootless resonates with you. There is no other life I would pick than the life I have and the service we have given to our great country, but believe me, I had to become this woman. This has been a long process for me.

Enter Becoming. When I heard that former First Lady Michelle Obama was writing a memoir, I knew I wanted to read it. I love First Ladies. I find them to be so interesting with stories, accolades, and accomplishments that don’t always get told. It was the title that captured me. Becoming…I wondered what she meant.

Once I had that beautifully written work in my hands, I immediately got it. Becoming is all of our stories.

In December, I received an email in my inbox from Blue Star Families asking if I was Becoming. I immediately knew who this email was about: there was a chance to see Mrs. Obama discuss her story. I jumped at the chance to participate. I made a video telling BSF why I am Becoming and what this book meant to me. A few days later they were at my doorstep with a camera, informing me that I had won tickets!

 

We drove up to the city and spent a couple of days exploring as a family. There is nothing like adventuring the globe with your kids and seeing the sights through their eyes for the first time.

The night of the show, we got a babysitter for our kids and headed to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. We were greeted by the ever-gracious and gregarious Blue Star Families team and given the opportunity to share our Becoming story to a media crew from Good Morning America’s online division. We mingled with other BSF members and listened and laughed as we talked about all of the beautiful opportunities we have been given as military families. We all know that there are a lot of hard times that come with this job, but there is a lot of beauty and so many awesome opportunities that come when you seize them. It’s important that we talk about the good stuff too!

When we found our seats, you could feel the electricity in the room. The crowd was pumped, the lights went down, and we were introduced to familiar faces like Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), Rachel Ray, and Alicia Keys. Moderator Sarah Jessica Parker introduced Michelle Obama and the fun kept rolling until the last minute as they blared Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Mrs. Obama told her story, which was relatable and honest, validating not only her story but all of our stories. Many women have dealt with infertility and loss and hearing this powerful woman humbly share the hardships in her life with such boldness and honesty was so inspiring. She demonstrated that no matter how well-known a person is, we are all human and share the same struggles and triumphs.

When we have the courage to tell our stories, we build a community of people who, like us, have walked hard and beautiful roads and we realize that we no longer have to do that alone.

By Kiesha Yokers, Blue Star Families member

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Joanna Guldin