Michelle Obama’s Memoir: BECOMING

July 20th, 2019

I did not run out to buy Becoming because I was not sure I would find it interesting. Borrowing from my neighbor, I found it a fascinating book. Thank goodness I was wrong! The former First Lady is not only a bright, caring individual,  she is also a wonderful writer.  When I mentioned that to someone, she said, “Well, she’s a lawyer,” but that does not automatically make someone a good writer. It may make her a careful, organized writing, but Obama goes beyond that and really kept my interest.

I learned a great deal about her life from her memoir, most of it surprising. For example, I did not realize she grew up in a small, second floor apartment in her aunt’s house with a working class father, very similar to my background (5 kids in 3 sleeping areas in our first house). Also, she and her older brother both attended Princeton as undergrads, and Michelle went to law school. And I am sure her parents struggled financially as my parents did with five children, four of which went to college and two of the four going to grad school: MIT and Harvard.)

I did not realize that she really wasn’t keen on having her husband become a politician. She did not feel cut out for the Washington scene.But as I read her memoir, I realized she made her peace with Barack’s decision and stuck by him, bringing ideas to the White House, especially her White House garden and also her exercise program for children called Let’s Move!, which focuses on ending the “childhood obesity epidemic” within a generation. I actually think she would actually succeed as head of Health & Human Services and realize her vision.

Finally, I realized that the former FLOTUS is a down-to-earth caring mother, wife, and citizen and I admire her fortitude as the first black first lady. At the end of the book, she sums up her experience quite eloquently. Here is the next-to-the-last paragraph from her book that I believe demonstrates her honesty, humility, and humanness:

I grew up with a disabled dad in  a too-small house with not much money in a starting-to-fail neighborhood, and I also grew up surrounded by love and music in a diverse city in a country where an education can take you far. I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it.”

And Michelle Obama tells it well. Looking at the title, I also realized, after reading the book, that instead of reading the title as Becoming (by) Michelle Obama, I could also read it as Becoming Michelle Obama, because I think she is still becoming a person of knowledge, experience, and humbleness that will help her make what she calls …”A glimmer of the world as it could be” into a bright light of hope.

P.S. There are wonderful photos in the becoming, which is available everywhere!


Petition for Elephants

July 15th, 2019
It’s crazy — while tens of thousands of elephants are being slaughtered to death, Japan is fighting to keep its booming ivory market open. But Japan is hosting the Olympics next year and wants to attract millions more tourists — let’s show them people everywhere want an ivory-free Olympics and an end to this bloody trade. Sign now!

sign now


Dear friends,

The best type of ivory comes from the middle of the elephant’s tusk, where it’s firm and flawless. Poachers try to slaughter the largest elephant — often the matriarch, leaving her baby elephants to fend for themselves.

And the craziest thing? While tens of thousands of elephants are being hacked to death that way, Japan is fighting to keep its booming ivory market open — saying it has nothing to do with it.

But Japan is hosting the Olympics in 2020, and is hoping to welcome millions more tourists! That’s where we come in: many of us live in countries that Japan wants to attract for tourism. If millions of us sign and we launch a global media campaign for an ivory-free Olympics, we can win them over!

Sign now — and let’s together shut down one of the biggest domestic ivory markets in the world for good:

Tell Japan: ban ivory now!

Experts estimate that over 250,000 elephants have been slaughtered to fuel Japan’s ivory trade. And conservationists are warning that elephants could go extinct in our lifetime! Imagine a world where our grandchildren will never know elephants to exist other than in books.

It’s not too late — we can help save them, but it will take massive pressure on governments like Japan to ban the trade. And Japan has set itself a goal to attract 10 million more tourists next year — if we show them that keeping their ivory market open puts that goal at risk, we can get them to change their mind!

Japan argues that their domestic market only uses legal ivory. But the truth is, they can’t know for sure. And, it’s easy to smuggle into other countries like China — which keeps the demand alive, and puts more of Africa’s elephants at risk.

We’ve helped win bans before — let’s do it again! Add your name and share this widely — and let’s get to one million.

Tell Japan: ban ivory now!

This isn’t just about elephants. These majestic creatures are a “keystone species” that help sustain the whole ecosystem in which they live. That’s part of why we’ve been protecting elephants for years — from proving that illegal ivory is sold on the streets of Europe, to funding anti-poaching efforts across Africa, and championing a vision to protect half our planet for nature, so these deeply intelligent, emotional animals can roam free. Now, let’s take the fight to Japan!

With hope and determination,

Sarah, Rosa, Rewan, Laura, Bert, Christoph, Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

Japan’s new rule for curbing ivory trade won’t work, experts say (National Geographic)
Japan to make carbon dating of ivory mandatory for trade, tightening controls on oft-criticized market(Japan Times)
Japan is still hungry for ivory. The reason is a personal stamp called a hanko.(Washington Post)
Online Ivory Trade Perpetuated by Yahoo Japan, Weak Legislation (EcoWatch)
TRAFFIC Study: Japan’s ivory market must close (Traffic)
Elephants on the path to extinction – the facts (The Guardian)
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