Friday, February 3, 2012
The Dream of a Simple Lady Validated by a First Lady:
A Tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama
A world apart but with so much in common, the First Lady's world and mine converge. She was born on the south side of Chicago in the United States of America. She was nurtured by a loving family to be a beacon of true values and success. An inspiration to so many, from military families to young school children, she is superbly balanced at being smart, proud, stunning, modest, refined, and nurturing, pivoted on a bedrock of keen perception, strong empathy, and staid determination. Michelle Obama is a superior example of a balanced mother, wife, scholar, and stateswoman. She has graced the covers of magazines, has been the desired guest on many television shows, the subject of newspaper articles and conversation of many dinner tables, kitchen counters, and fire places.
I was born in a small rural town on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica. I am also a caring mother and wife. I have studied and become successful in nursing and the printing industry. Though I have accomplished all these things, I never set a fashion trend, never graced the cover of a magazine, was never sought out by journalists or television shows, and would have been recognized by few if I appeared in the media. I have nothing of the notoriety that would make me the topic of many conversations. So how did our worlds converge, the First Lady's and mine?
Our worlds converged in a much more fundamental way, in the garden. When I was only five years old, I was passionate about digging in the dirt. My mother nicknamed gardening my "happy hobby”. Though my father’s family traditionally were farmers, my mother had never experimented with gardening. My mother saw my passion as a way to introduce me to a healthy lifestyle. She and I learned side by side the benefits of planting, reaping and eating healthy foods from healthy soil. This became a model of my daily habit. I decided that sharing this ideal through word and example would become the goal to which I would dedicate the rest of my life. In my small way, I tried to introduce this concept to my friends, neighbors, and community with results which ranged from temporary enthusiasm to quiet indifference.
When First Lady Obama introduced her "Let's Move" program, which promoted gardening as a tool to engage children in a healthier lifestyle, she espoused the very lesson my mother taught me and which I tried to spread in my community. She endorsed the establishment of home and community gardens and influenced the nation to reconsider its nutrition. She also encouraged changes in college curriculum, and as a result some colleges have now added gardening to their programs. Many school lunch programs have also adopted a more health conscious menu. Being the First Lady, Michelle Obama was in the right place to spread this message. America’s communities took notice and became not only receptive but anxious to embrace the concept of kitchen and community gardens and the true value of good nutrition. My message, which had moderate success before, was now greeted with enthusiasm as it was now validated by our First Lady.
The First Lady's effort, has opened doors for me, and has made my own message clearer and more acceptable. She has made it easier for me to share my passion for my garden, the message of the physical, emotional, mental, and nutritional benefits it adds to my life, to my family and to my neighborhood. Her message was an advertisement that went beyond anything I could have hoped.
Very few women will ever be a first lady. Many first ladies may never impact the lives of ordinary people. First Lady Obama has been a rare exception in this respect. She has reached into communities, to ordinary people, to show them how they can improve their health, wealth, and well being with just a little toil in the soil. I thank Mrs. Obama for being such a shining example of a wise perceptive woman and mother, among her many attributes, but especially for getting to the root of the matter: proper nutrition. By spreading this message, Mrs. Obama has validated my own message, effort, and goal. She has validated me. Thank you First Lady Michelle Obama.