Martha Stewart: Prison time was 'terrible'

Martha Stewart

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By Eun Kyung Kim

Martha Stewart said that neither her prison time in 2004 nor her ongoing legal battles today have shaken her fundamental self-reliance.

In the second part of a two-part interview with TODAY's Matt Lauer, the business and publishing mogul said, “I'm a tough person from (the) start. I've always been a tough person. Tough, meaning I can survive. I'm a survivor.”

In the taped interview, the second part of which aired Tuesday, Stewart didn't pretend that the prison time she served in 2004 for obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about sale of her ImClone Systems stock left her unbloodied.

“It's hard to say, ‘Good comes out of a bad time,’" she told Lauer. "And that saying that, ‘It only makes you better'? Oh my gosh. Bull. It’s terrible,” she said with a laugh. “I lost a fortune.”

But she has moved on, she said. “I don’t want to be defined by a moment in time. That was a moment. It's passed. I don't think about it anymore.”

Besides, she added, she knew she would rebound quickly.

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“I was very confident, and some of my friends who didn't have that confidence, unfortunately, missed out on the comeback,” she said. “When you know inside that you're good, that you've done well, and that you are an honest, good person, then you know that you can live through disaster.”

Stewart expressed similar confidence about her current legal battle, which centers on her contract with Macy’s, which claims it has an exclusive deal to carry her products, one that forbids JC Penney to sell the line. She declined to discuss details of the ongoing case, but expressed optimism that additional information would emerge that “will put us in a more favorable light.”

She also questioned why some seem to see her unfavorably.

“I don’t understand it. I write books. I've beautiful magazines. I've done televisions shows that are devoted to ... good living. I don’t know,” she said.

Stewart thinks maybe the criticism stems from people’s reaction to the way she believes in herself.

"Maybe because I'm confident. I think sometimes, ‘Maybe I'm too confident. Maybe I should have failed. And maybe I should have, just, gone away and dug a hole and jumped in,’” she said. “You know — who knows?”

Stewart said what keeps her focused these days are her two new grandchildren. “I adore them,” she declared. She also creates projects with them in mind, including her latest one — how to make dresses out of vintage dishtowels.

“It’s the cutest thing,” she said, later adding: “And anybody can make these dresses.”

Her other big project these says is her memoir, which she promised will be “a good story” that won’t gloss over her prison time.

“It will be a big, fat, interesting chapter. Big, fat,” she said.

In the first part that aired Monday, Stewart disclosed her love of dating and how much she misses being in a relationship. She also agreed to sign up on to help find a potential partner.

“I’d like to have breakfast with somebody," Stewart admitted Monday. "I’d like to go to bed with somebody. Sleep with somebody.”