Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Michelle Learns on the Job during Hectic Year

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Michelle Learns on the Job during Hectic Year

Article excerpt

EVERY once in a while Michelle Obama checks in with old friends.

"Do you still recognise me?" she'll ask.

In the past year, the first lady's name has popped up on Forbes' most powerful women list, People's most beautiful list, Time's most influential list, Vanity Fair's international best-dressed list, Barbara Walters' most fascinating list. And so on.

Her every word, move, bite, gesture, dress and shoe has been analysed and second-guessed.

"It wasn't something that I was prepared for," she said recently as she looked back on her first year as first lady.

The challenge, then, has been to remain Michelle through it all, and not become "somebody else that is in a magazine".

This is a first lady, after all, who wants to make a difference, who dares to speak even now about her legacy.

"Now that we've gone through a year, we can really think about really what works for this administration, what works for me as a first lady, what resonates with where America is today," she said.

Looking back, here are a few moments that help to sketch the portrait of a first lady who calls herself a "110-percenter", always looking to do more.

* THE GARDENER

There she is, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former executive, digging up sweet potatoes on the back lawn of the White House.

The first lady took her "pipe dream" of a modest kitchen garden and transformed it into a platform she hopes will improve the lives of millions of young people.

The garden gave her a gentle way to start up a conversation about healthy eating that will get more pointed this year as she makes a head-on campaign against childhood obesity.

* THE NURTURER

They could have been two girlfriends headed out to lunch - Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth, arm in arm, strolling in to a reception at Buckingham Palace in April.

Obama, whose husband is seen as a rather cool character, emerged as the nation's nurturer-in-chief.

She hugs with reckless abandon, closing her eyes and enveloping school children, young women, ordinary Americans.

It fits with her larger mission of mentoring young people, giving them the confidence to rise, as she says, "from mediocrity to fabulousness". …

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