MSNBC TV
Wearing a black overcoat and carrying an umbrella, Martha Stewart arrived  at a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan Monday.
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updated 3/8/2004 5:10:10 PM ET 2004-03-08T22:10:10

It's been enough time for it to all sink in.  When Martha Stewart began building her empire some 20 years ago, preaching the virtues of a finely-waxed table, or perfectly pressed sheets, or how to whip up a faultless souffle, it was for thousands of women strangely liberating, even empowering. 

Martha allowed legions of women who loved to cook and sew to come out of the closet as it were, publicly proud of their domestic accomplishments.  And they thank Stewart by buying her books, watching her shows, and purchasing her products. 

The real question for Martha Stewart's long-term future is, how do those women who helped crown the doyenne of domesticity feel about her now?  Do they think she's being punished with a nuclear bomb when a fly swatter would have done?  Or do they feel betrayed that the woman they helped make a multimillionaire seemingly nickel-and-dimed over $50,000? 

The answer to those questions hold the key to Martha Stewart's professional future.  Of all the things she is, Martha Stewart's own definition of herself is that of a teacher.  Now a convicted felon, she has the chance to teach about penance, about acceptance, and quite possibly about new beginnings. 

And maybe somewhere in there, there is a lesson for Martha in humility.  Perhaps at this stage of the game, even Martha herself might say that‘s a good thing.

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