If you were a celebrity, who would you be? Why?
Oprah Winfrey. She gives with an open heart, makes a difference to millions of people, allows her flaws to show for all the world to see and allows her own challenges and shortcomings to be an inspiration to others versus an impediment to herself. Since I am too hard on myself sometimes it reminds me not to take myself too seriously and to remember that although I am not Oprah, with an ability to reach millions of people, I am me…and I can make a difference to one person…and that is good enough.
What is your favorite line from movies? When do you usually say it?
"Do you not understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" loudly, as though talking to a person that does not speak the local language, from Rush Hour. That line cracked me up. Every time I'm with my husband, son or a friend and they give me a blank look when I say something that apparently makes no sense at all, I will throw out this line…and then I just crack up and start over and try, basically, to say something that makes more sense.
What’s the one thing you plan to do to change the world, even a little?
I want to make sure that children that don't get the things that some of us take for granted, a new backpack on the first day of school, a birthday cake, the school supplies that let you do your homework just like everyone else without having to ask for a pencil, or paper or a gosh darn notebook, a warm winter jacket, a pair of shoes that is new and not hand me down…get those things. I can't do it for everyone, but I can make a difference in my community and give some children who feel bad or different or embarrassed that they just don't get the "normal" stuff, feel at ease in the moment. Children should get to be children. I think they should be able to take some things for granted. Still coming up with the plan…but it will happen.
What are your pet peeves?
People who aren't kind to service people, people who can clearly see that the waitress or the sales clerk is new on the job and will just not give them a break or some grace to make a mistake while they're learning. People who flip people off in traffic. How did that ever help anyone? And, for heavens sake, be nice to older drivers, I bet it's hard to realize it's time to give up your license. And what's with the guy in the left lane who wants to be in the right lane, so he stops the entire line of cars behind him until he can get over…and now your light is red and you're stuck. Come on, man!
Who has inspired you the most?
My grandma Bentz. She just died last year at 97. My grandpa, her husband, passed when she was 50 and she was on her own. She lived her life with joy in every moment. She never complained. She never asked for more than she had. As a woman without formal education and having not worked for a living she figured out exactly how to take care of herself. When she was 2 years old her whole family was hit by a train in their buggy. The rest of the family didn't make it. Grandma somehow landed on the middle of the tracks. The train rolled over her and she made it. She lived in foster care her whole life as a child. She never heard the words I love you except from grandpa…and I never heard her say them…but that woman made me feel move loved than you can imagine. She was awesome. I miss her every day. I try to emulate her values and joy for the little things and hope that if she can see me that she is proud of me.
What are your favorite things?
Hearing toddlers laughing is my favorite thing in the whole world. It's totally infectious. My husband's arms around me. Costco, Nordstrom and LuluLemon (a little shallow, I know). Being the first to track through new snow. Watching football on cold, rainy days with a fire and hot chocolate. Hearing my son say he learned something cool from me. John Wayne movies. Anything that increases my heart rate and is outdoors. And making chocolote chip cookies!
What will you think about during your final days?
On may last day before my last breath I want to make sure that I made a difference to those that I love, that I left them better in some small way, that I had an impact that will allow them to think of my fondly or with love and that I remembered, at least once every day, to make someone else smile, or stop a tear or ease the weight on their heart or deflect an embarrassing moment from them to me…any one little thing that leaves their heart lighter. And I'll be wondering and hoping that when I get to the other side that there will be grace and someone will smile and say "well done, Michelle, and welcome home!"
What was your favorite pet?
My dog Bailey, he's a mutt yellow lab, jack russell mix rescue dog (no idea how that happened). When my son left for college and I moved 2000 miles to TX from CA and was in a new place without friends…he was my buddy, still is. He doesn't know any good tricksand he's slowing down, but that dog loves me every day…when I'm happy, when I walk him, when I forget to walk him, when I'm having a bad hair day (and that is a sight to behold). He's just there, right next to me, looking at me…without expectations! Great dog.