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Chris Linnares, Published September 25 2013

Women's Wisdom: Mikey Hoeven balances humility, confidence

I remember the day I met the former first lady of North Dakota.

I arrived early to the 2010 Women’s Health Summit in Fargo, breathing deeply to calm the nerves I always get before speaking in public. I imagined someone of her stature would arrive with an entourage, checking her schedule with her personal assistants as her new intern stood at her side, fanning her.

To my surprise, she didn’t have anyone serving her, but rather it was the other way around. She was walking around barefoot, enthusiastically organizing the last details of the event, carrying boxes and setting tables.

That woman was Mikey Hoeven, and she was there to serve.

“I firmly believe that God intended for all of us to give back to others. In doing so, we fulfill one of the greatest desires of the heart … to feel needed and appreciated,” Hoeven wisely said.

As a passionate advocate for women’s health, Hoeven, who is married to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and lives with him in Washington, D.C., has hosted 19 Women’s Health Summits in both Bismarck and Fargo. She continues serving at these summits, sitting on the committee as a consultant.

Going beyond the labels of “first lady,” “senator’s wife” or “Republican,” I was able to get to know an inspiring, humble woman with an undying faith – a faith she learned from her mother, and a faith she in turn wants to pass on to her grandchildren.

As you read this column or watch our conversation on InforumTV, I hope you will feel inspired, like I did, by Hoeven’s wisdom.

She emulates humility, but not a humility that puts oneself down. Like C.S. Lewis observed, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Q If your life was a best-selling book, what would be the most challenging chapter you needed to overcome?

A In my younger years, (mid-20s) I remember feeling insecure about myself. Specifically, I didn’t think I was as smart as certain individuals that were in my life at the time, and intelligence was (and still is) something I have always valued and admired about others. In a nutshell, I didn’t have much confidence in myself.

Q What empowered you to overcome those challenging moments?

A I remember calling my mother decades ago and complaining to her that I just didn’t feel that smart.

I know it sounds ridiculous and juvenile, but I was really questioning my abilities and intelligence on that particular day. She stopped me mid-sentence and firmly told me that I was just as smart as or smarter than anyone else and that I could achieve anything I could put my mind to in life.

Coming from my mother, who had always been my mentor, these words had a very powerful impact on me. I have never forgotten that conversation, and on the days I need to be encouraged, I think about her words.

To this day, I encourage young mothers to say the same encouraging words to their children starting at young ages so they grow up truly believing they can achieve anything in life.

Q If you gave the book of your life to your teenage self, what do you wish she’d know then that you know now?

A I would tell her that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to in life. I would also advise her to develop a strong faith foundation at an early age.

I had the good fortune of having a mother who firmly planted a solid faith in all of us kids at early ages. She walked the talk, and we all marveled at the comfort she derived from her deeply rooted faith.

I am currently working with both of my adult children now to make sure they have the relationship with the Lord that I feel he wants to have with them.

Q What advice can you give to empower a woman’s life story?

A I think it’s critically important for women to love themselves. This may sound simplistic or a little selfish, but to me, it is imperative.

If they truly love themselves, they can then open themselves up to loving others in their world wholeheartedly.

If they love themselves enough to take care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, they can in turn offer themselves to others with a balanced, holistic approach.

Q How women can best impact the world today?

A With many working women trying to juggle so many balls, I think some of us can feel isolated and the need to connect with others.

I believe we are at our best when we choose to get involved in a project we feel passionate about. For some of us that may translate into running or baking or writing. For others, it could mean getting involved in your church or volunteering at a shelter.

Whatever it is that “feeds” your soul, I firmly believe that God intended for all of us to give back to others. In doing so, we fulfill one of the greatest desires of the heart – to feel needed and appreciated.

Chris Linnares is an international author, psychotherapist and founder of Women’s Impact, formerly Diva Connection Foundation. Originally from Brazil, she lives in Fargo with her daughter and husband Bill Marcil Jr., publisher of The Forum. To suggest a woman for this column, email chris@womensimpact.org. For more information on Linnares’ work, www.chrislinnares.com.