Michelle Obama opens up about her and her family’s quarantine lifestyle on the latest episode of her podcast.
Today, Spotify and Higher Ground Productions debuted the newest episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, featuring award-winning journalist and former anchor of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Michele Norris.
In this episode, the two longtime friends sit down for an intimate conversation to discuss their quarantine routines and learning to become their own beauticians, the importance of self-care and inward reflection in these uncertain times, maintaining their mental health, how they are coping with the coronavirus crisis and racial inequality, and what we can all do in the face of injustice.
Available now, you can listen to the latest episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast HERE.
Check out highlights from the episode below:
On Trying to Keep a Routine in Quarantine
Michelle Obama: For Barack and I, we, we’ve lived outside of the norm of regular life for quite some time, and what we learned early on in the White House is that in order to stay sane, and to feel like the human that you once were, is that you have to have a schedule, and a routine, that’s pretty, that’s pretty lock step. So we were in the habit of, you know, I get up, you know, I don’t have to set my alarm, but I
Michele Norris: Do you get up at the same time?
Michelle Obama: Uh, roughly, around the same time. I mean, but my sleep is off, too, and I’ve heard this from a lot of people, it’s, you know, because we’re not moving around as much. So I’m not as tired, I’m not, I’m not knocked out tired, like I usually am at nine o’clock, I’m going to bed a little bit later, so, and I’m waking up in the middle of the night, cause I’m worrying about something, or there’s a heaviness. But, if I sort of set aside, an uneven night, I do tend to wake up at the same time. Not the crack of dawn, but, pretty much like six, seven o’clock, then I try to make sure I get a workout in, although, there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where i just,have felt too low. You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself, and sometimes I’ve, there’ve been, uh, a week or so where I had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself. And say, you know what, you’re just not feeling that treadmill right now, um, but.
Michele Norris: That’s unusual for you.
Michelle Obama: It is unusual, and it is, you know, it’s a direct result of just being out of, out of body, out of mind. And spiritually, these are not, they are not fulfilling times, spiritually. You know, um, so I, I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.
Michelle Obama: So I have had to kind of give myself that, those days, those moments, but for the most part, staying in a routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside. Um, but schedule has been key, and having a regular dinner time. And, I’m finding that in quarantine, we look forward to that. Because we, in our house, what we all do is go off into our little workspaces, right. Barack’s in his office, making calls, working on his book. I’m in my room, duh duh duh, the girls are on their computers, and sometimes we’re outside if the weather permits, but we’ve developed this routine, of you know, we don’t really worry about seeing one another in the day. But right around five o’clock, everybody comes out of their nooks, and, we like do an activity, like, puzzles have become big, just just sitting and doing these thousand piece puzzles. The girls are just like into ’em, and we’re all sitting on the floor, around a table where the puzzle is now permanently set up. And then we sit down for dinner. And we talk some more. And then afterwards, the girls and Barack, and, another friend there, they’ve got a spades tournament. So Barack has taught the girls spades, so now there’s this vicious competition. They wouldn’t have sat down but for this quarantine, to learn how to play a card came with their dad.
On How the First Lady is Getting Through Quarantine
Michelle Obama: Not to put anybody out of work, but this time has taught me how to do my own waxing, do my nails,
Michele Norris: You’re waxing? You’re waxing!
Michelle Obama: I did!
Michele Norris: I am impressed!
Michelle Obama: I did, but it’s like, there’s a lot of stuff, I’m figuring out, if I want it done, I gotta figure out how to do it, but that’s how we were raised, right.
On Racial Injustice and Identity
Michele Norris: In this moment of tumult and uncertainty, a lot of people are feeling the highs and the lows.
Michelle Obama: Mm hmm. They’ve been real for me, and, you know I don’t think I’m unusual, in that, but, I’d be remiss to say that part of this depression, is also a result of, what we’re seeing in terms of, the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country, since its’ birth. I have to say, that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to, yet another, um, story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed, or, falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And, and it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.
Michele Norris: You know I spend a lot of my time thinking about race and identity and studying race and identity and that aspect of my work has been roiling. You know. And it started really with the pandemic and the racial disparities that were apparent almost immediately. In who was getting sick and who had access to testing, and then who was dying, but there is, there’s been this period, where it’s been a ratatatat of death that just doesn’t even make sense. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery, immediately followed by Breonna Taylor, and then, the killing of George Floyd in a manner that just didn’t, just doesn’t… I mean, I’m trying to find the right words to describe how much it hurt to watch that video, and I made myself watch that video. You know literally squeezing the life out of someone. I feel like it’s almost, it creates a certain sense of vertigo, I think for us because we were told it was supposed to be better.
On Managing Your Mental Health
Michele Norris: When you feel the lows, how do you get through that? How do you keep moving forward?
Michelle Obama: Well, this is, the part of, of knowing yourself, knowing how to replenish yourself with the things that do bring you joy. So for me, my spirit is lifted, when I am feeling healthy, when I am surrounded by good people, you know, so I reach out. I reach out to my family, and to my friends, uh, even in this time, of, quarantine, you know, I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy, and my girlfriends, my husband, my kids, it’s, it’s the small things. It’s small, the small rituals. Right. For me, there’s no magic to it, but it is effort, right. Because you have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it. Um, so you kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta, I gotta feed myself with something better. And sometimes for me that means turning it off. Right, it it means turning off the phone, not taking in the news, because it is negative energy, I learned that in the days of the White House, and, sometimes we feel like that’s irresponsible, to just cut off, and I think it is, if you do it over long term, but for me, for my mental health, there’s some times I cannot look. I need to just take a moment, and to just not look. For a second. [laughs]
Michele Norris: I try to be honest about it, with both my kids but especially my daughter, because the strong Black woman trope is a cement necklace.
Michelle Obama: Oh god, yes.
Michele Norris: You know, that’s supposed to feel like pearls. It’s supposed to be a compliment, but what it is, is, it perpetuates the notion that we can throw anything at you. We can just hurl anything at you and you will catch it, and look elegant doing it. And that’s just not true. And so, I try to be honest in my low moments, you know, this has been a tough day, this has been a tough day.
Michelle Obama: We will get through this, uh, you know cause the thing we have to remember is like we’ve been through tough times, in this nation. Um, and we are in a unique moment in history. We are living through something, that no one in our lifetimes has lived through it. Uh,
Michele Norris: 2020 is, just extra. [laughs] In all kinds of ways.
Michelle Obama: Who would’ve thought. It’s like phew! What more do you have for us, 2020!
Have you had a chance to listen to Michelle’s podcast yet? What do you like best about it so far?