Oprah Winfrey's Words of Wisdom: Why we could all use a little Oprah in our world
If you could choose a handful of people – anyone in the world -- to sit at your dinner table tonight, who would you choose?
That was one of the questions a reporter from Boca Magazine asked me in 2005 while featuring South Florida Generation Xers.
Oprah Winfrey was at the top of my list.
Today is Oprah Winfrey’s 66th birthday. Happy Birthday and cheers to you, Oprah! I will always have a seat for you at my table.
I can’t imagine Oprah has much time to accept many dinner invitations these days. She’s not only running her amazingly successful OWN network and OPRAH.COM, creating delicious cookbooks and countless other publications, she’s also now on her own nationwide tour. It’s called Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus.
The Oprah 2020 Tour kicked off in Sunrise, Florida on January 4 as our New Year got underway.
I walked in to the BB&T Center that day with 15,000 other people.
I walked out feeling energized, focused and ready to take on this new year, my new website and this new me.
Following a highly energized pre-show dance party, Oprah came out on stage with excitement and joy and inspirational messages that could fill your cup for the entire year.
Just hearing her voice brought me back to the comfort of my childhood. Right back to the kitchen table where I would sit with my mom. I would do homework, Mom would write to-do notes and prep dinner, or we would both be folding laundry – all as The Oprah Winfrey Show aired on the small kitchen TV set.
Oprah began her career in radio and local news in Nashville. She was the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at her station. Oprah went on to work in Baltimore. Then Chicago. Then she landed The Oprah Winfrey Show. For 25 years, we tuned in to hear what Oprah had to say and to see who she would choose to interview.
On this day down in Sunrise though, it felt as if we all were able to interview her. I adore this woman for what she stands for and for what she not only now shares with the world but how she shares it.
“My goal is to use this platform to drop little pieces of light into pieces of your life,” said Oprah. “It’s more than what happens on stage. I want it to feel like a campaign for wellness and doing what really matters in your life.”
Here’s the ‘light’ I took away from this day with Oprah, quotes and many messages in her own words (or at least very close to them):
• “Focus on who you want to be as we enter this new decade.”
• “I always asked this question: tell me what makes you happy. So many (people) couldn’t answer. Many women talk about their children. What is the real answer? What do you really want? Answer from the spiritual being of yourself. We are spiritual beings having human experiences.”
• “Today you are here to give yourself that gift of focus.”
• “You have to name it to claim it. While you’re waiting on the answer, it’s waiting on you.”
• “Wellness: the definition is unique to you. Wellness to me, it’s ‘all things in balance.’”
• “Balance means you welcome the constant shifting flow in your life. So many of us get messed up because you think life happens in a straight line. I’ve learned you can have it all, just not all at once. We mirror nature like a wave. Constantly moving. Changing. In flow. We need to figure out your flow and leave everyone else’s flow alone (laughter from the audience)! You only have power in your own life and your flow and once your kids are raised, you are no longer the manager… you are the consultant.”
• “If you can realize all is well at any moment despite the swell, despite the phone call that something tragic happened or illness is swirling around you, just breathe. In this moment recognize that you are well. You are here and you are well. You are strong and you are in charge of your well-being.”
• “We have to be able to set boundaries around our present moments. (The take away I took here was....we don't need to answer most texts right away!).”
• “Check in with your spirit. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Move into the world of noise and chaos by spending some time in quiet.”
• “Sunrise faith. No matter what happens in your day, the sun will show up. Knowing it’s always there even when you can’t see it.”
• “Service. Being a mother: “Your presence for a child is the best gift you can give. Everybody you know is looking for your presence because everyone wants to know if they are being heard. Are you hearing me?? Your fully being present is mindfulness - being in the now.”
• Oprah shared with us one of the most challenging times in her wellness journey. It began with a Joan Rivers interview where Joan asked Oprah on live TV, ‘How did you gain the weight?’ “It was humiliating. All I heard was ‘fat fat fat.’ I felt like I was outed for not being the size I should’ve been. I realized then that I am being judged by my size. That night I had my last meal for two weeks. I was lured to a quick fix. Optifast, a liquid diet. I lost 67 pounds. I soon read ‘Returned to Love’ (our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but we are powerful beyond measure). Then I began to be spiritual full. I want that for you.”
• “What’s holding you back from your highest truest vision of yourself as a human being? You can. You will.”
• “What is the pattern of your life? Mine is full of signs. Get the whisper. Before it gets louder. (Oprah then told us her pneumonia story and how she was grounded at home for 30 days). I always showed up before that (saying yes to thousands and thousands of interviews). In the midst of my sickness I got happy. I took it to learn....not why me, but show me why this (challenge) is here, to teach me.”
• “Find that flow for me and embrace it. Stop resisting/going against the grain of your life.”
• “If you don’t get enough sleep you are automatically out of balance.”
• “You are the master of it. You are designing your life. Today starts the vision for your design.”
• “You deserve rest. We are giving giving, giving for other people. We don’t think we are worthy of rest for ourselves. We can’t really show up for other people if we don’t take time for ourselves.”
• “You can’t focus on your life by focusing on the Kim Kardashians.”
• “Don’t think small.”
• Oprah’s dream and vision was “6 trees.” Oprah remembered visiting a successful industry friend back in the day who had three fancy cars parked in the front of her home and in the backyard, six beautiful trees. Oprah thought that was amazing! After such hard work and a lifetime of success, Oprah now has over 3,000 trees in her backyard…atta girl!
• “Every time you’re putting energy out, bam... that energy is coming back to you.”
• “Life. It. Just. Keeps. Getting. Better. But you’ve gotta work on it. Every day become more of yourself.”
Oprah teamed up with WW, what many of us remember as Weight Watchers, to present this tour. Oprah is a major shareholder, board member and an adviser at the company. The tour has since stopped in St. Paul, Charlotte and Atlanta. Oprah will soon take the stage in Brooklyn, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver.
Each tour stop has a special guest and Lady Gaga sat down with Oprah for the South Florida event. The pop star and actress spoke very openly about her struggles with mental health, chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Lady Gaga explained her commitment to help educate the world about the mental health crisis.
“I want impact. I thought (it’d be) through singing. I thought ‘I want to be an actress.’ Once I became famous, I will and want to continue making music and make movies, but I want to help people. I don’t want to just sing for you or take your money. I want to help change your life,” said Gaga.
Oprah concluded the Sunrise stop explaining how she is at a stage where she, too, just wants to share what she has been given.
“I want to encourage people to open their heart to life. Be able to tell the truth about yourself and be that truth – it’s the best power,” said Oprah.