Oprah: Well, I'm not just looking at the scenery all the time, but I started to realize you were never looking at it.

Maria: And I regret that. I thought being a workaholic was good; it isn't. I regret that I didn't take time to stop and enjoy my friends or to have intimate experiences with people in my life, to talk to them and be quiet with them. I was too busy running against my restlessness. Maybe it was a combination of being thrown back into a political life, losing my job, and my parents getting old that prompted my change.

Oprah: Otherwise, you might have just kept plowing through.

Maria: Yes. The transition gave me an incredible opportunity I never would've had if I'd stayed at NBC. There, I would still be running; instead, I've taken all my reporting skills and applied them to my own journey. I've tried to craft the job of First Lady into a role that reflects me. That's about connecting people, empowering and inspiring them. I focused on parenting my children—I was determined that they would stay front and center in my life, and I wanted the house I created to be all about them. And in the past two years, I've tried to spend time with my parents, my cousins, and my friends in a way that I never have. I'm mothering my mother. I'm trying to live my life from my heart, being authentic to who I am. I'm trying to feel my way to my truth. I do things now that feel real to me.

Oprah: That's amazing.

Maria: A friend once told me, "As long as you keep playing the game of trying to be 'the right Maria' for everyone, you're never going to deliver the real Maria. You don't even know who the real Maria is." She was right. So I took a long, hard look at myself and began to strip away a lot of the stuff that kept me running. The most terrifying thing of all for me was to just sit with myself; I didn't know how to be alone. When you grow up in a huge family, you're never alone.

Oprah: When I'm alone, I'm so happy I'm dancing the hula!

Maria: Being able to be by myself is part of knowing that I'm enough. When I talked about that in the speech, women were sobbing by the thousands; that's their story, too. I thought my journey was about keeping my family's legacy going—and that is still part of my job. I'm very proud of my family and what it stands for. But I'm also trying to create a legacy as a mother, a wife, and a woman, and as Maria, separate from all those things.


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