Michelle Farnsworth
Mikey Hoeven (Megan Milbradt)

When I last sat down and spoke with Mikey Hoeven, her life in Washington, D.C., was just beginning -- getting adjusted to new surroundings, people, getting involved and staying strong for her husband, the newly seated Senator from North Dakota. Not only was North Dakota's former First Lady moving and trying to make another life in Washington, she was excited over the prospect of becoming a grandmother for the first time. Daughter Marcela was expecting her first child. Son Jack was a senior at NDSU, majoring in Geology. And perhaps most exciting, Mikey was also discussing possible grandma titles that her first grandchild could call her.

Life certainly hasn't let up for the soft-spoken but strong-as-steel woman, who means so much to so many people in her life. Settling into her new role doesn't mean settling down. Here's a little bit of our conversation:

Q: When I last interviewed you a few major life changes were occurring, just a few. Give me an update and tell me what life is like in Washington, D.C.

A: John and I are acclimating to Washington, D.C., just fine. There has been much to adjust to, but overall the transition has gone well. However, being away from North Dakota as much as we are has really underscored how kind, good and genuine the people of our state really are. In my opinion, our citizens are North Dakota's greatest natural resource.

Q: And your children? Your grandchild? How are they doing?

A: Jack graduated from NDSU and is working in North Dakota oil country and Montana. Marcela is actually expecting her second baby at the end of December. Her first child, Crew, is 15 months old, walking and just fun. What a joy. And he doesn't have a name for me -- yet.

Q: How has becoming grandparents changed you?

A: You know, it's the best thing in the world. I just cradle him and derive so much joy just holding him and loving on him. And he's a cuddle bug. And John, he absolutely adores little Crew.

I'm teaching him to love books. So when we go there, we always get books out. Last time I was there, I walked in and he brought a book over to me, which made my day.

Q: You have always led by example, something that the women of our state admired and appreciated while you were our First Lady. Now as a senator's wife, what new opportunities have come your way?

A: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I have been involved in International Clubs in Washington. It's for women, a social club that has women from all sectors of life: governmental, ambassadors, ambassadors' wives, media people and congressional wives. Last year I was the program chair and now this year I'm the president. So it's a good way for me to meet women from all sectors of life -- very interesting women.

But my job in D.C. primarily is to be someone John can vent to. I listen to him and offer my opinions and my advice. Whether or not he takes it ... sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. But my job is to do that. My role as a senator's wife is to be at his side -- physically, emotionally and intellectually. And to help him anyway I can.

Q: Do you think your pillow talk is a little different than most?

A: A little different, but the same. A wife bounces things off of a husband. And gets their advice on things -- it goes both ways; it really does.

Q: You are still involved with the Women's Health Conference; obviously this event is important to you. You are impacting thousands of North Dakota women. Is that ever lost on you? Do you take it for granted?

A: Yes. Sometimes you do forget. You lose sight of how this impacts women, because this is the 21st conference. You do so many of them. But I have to tell you the story of a woman in Fargo that approached me at a parade a couple of years ago. She said that because of the content and inspiring nature of the summit, she had started her own center for autism. That really made me feel very grateful. It's been said that each person will impact 250 people in our lifetime. That's a lot of people. We have to be careful with our words and our thoughts and our actions.

Q: What advice do you give to women that may be at a crossroads in their lives? Perhaps a move? A change in martial status? Health issues? How do you maintain being yourself and getting through some of life's obstacles?

A: I think you have to love yourself. I know that sounds simple and elementary, but you have to love yourself enough to provide time for yourself every single day, if possible. When I was experiencing a lot of change, the way I got through was staying close to God. That's how I get through everything. Because he is always with you. But also keep the mindset, "This too shall pass."

Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.