Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oprah Finale

The last three new Oprah shows were a lovefest.  The first two shows comprised a star studded spectacular celebrating her life and the difference she has made in this world.  Her final show was a thank you to her viewers and had so many great quotes and life lessons that I had to watch it twice. She talked about how she didn't have an audience on her show at first and had to bribe people off the street to come in. Times sure did change.  Oprah says something in her connected with her audience early on that allowed her to see herself in us and us in her.  She said, "more often you taught me."  I feel her ability to find a connection with people of all races, ages, and cultures and to really listen to them is a gift. She is human like everyone else despite all of the fame and fortune.  She knows that her show was her calling and she urges everyone to find their calling.  She defines a calling as "something that lights you up and lets you know that you are exactly where you're supposed to be and doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing."  It could be something as simple as rocking sick infants, digging ditches or giving people massages.  She encouraged viewers to embrace their life and use their life to serve the world.  "You have the power to change someones life." 

Oprah referenced a past guest who was a brain scientist and suffered from a stroke.  She couldn't speak, but she could feel the power of peoples energy when they walked into the room.  Oprah learned from the interview that, "You are responsible for your life. You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you're responsible for the energy that you bring to others."  I can be an overly sensitive person so I can relate to feeling other peoples energy both good and bad.  Unfortunately, I haven't learned how to block the bad.  On the same token, I need to be more aware of the energy that I am giving off and take responsibility for it.  Oprah also expressed the importance of the fact that everyone wants to be seen, heard and validated.  Oprah thanked her fourth grade teacher Mrs. Duncan, who was in the audience, for validating her and making her feel like she mattered.  Mrs. Duncan ought to feel pretty good about the difference she made in Oprah's life and how it has been paid forward to millions of people.

Oprah urged viewers to be still and know your inner voice.  She said the secret to the success of the show was her team and Jesus.  "Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me."  She waits and listens for answers to every decision from God.  She said your life is always speaking to you,  first in whispers and then it gets louder the more you ignore it.  It's when she has ignored those whispers that she said she has made mistakes.  Lastly, she encouraged us to do for others what her show has done for us - connect, embrace, liberate and love.  I can't think of better advice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tererai Trent

Oprah's first interview with Tererai was in 2009.  She said Tererai's story is her favorite of all time, " because it speaks to the power of what an individual can do and it doesn't matter where you come from."  This also happens to be one of my favorite stories because it is a story of survival, belief in oneself and the power to make your dreams come true.  Tererai is from Zimbabwe and wasn't allowed an education because she is a female.  Only her brothers were allowed to go to school.  She was married off at 11 years old to an abusive man and had three children by age 18.  In 1991, Jo Luck from Heifer International visited the village and asked the girls what their hopes and dreams were.  Tererai said she wanted to live in America and get an education.  Jo told her, "If you desire those things, it is achievable."  Tererai's mother encouraged her to write her dreams down, and she put them in a tin and buried them in the ground.  Today all of those dreams have come true.  She lives in the U.S., earned her Bachelors degree, a Masters degree and PhD.  Her dream is to now pay it forward and build schools for her village in Zimbabwe.  She had started raising funds to rebuild and Oprah surprised her by donating 1.5 million to help her build the school.   There are a lot of details which were left on how she accomplished all of this, but the odds were obviously stacked against her.  It took her two decades, but she accomplished what she set out to do.  Her story is one I don't ever want to forget.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mattie Stepanek

Oprah describes Mattie Stepanek as one of the brightest lights to ever grace her stage and the planet.  Poet, Mattie Stepanek, appeared on the Oprah show numerous times before his passing in 2004 from a rare form of muscular dystrophy.  It is impossible for me to watch a show about him without going through a box of Kleenex.  Oprah interviewed his mother Jeni on one of her favorite guests of all times shows.   Jeni has written a book about her life with Mattie called Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie Stepanek.  Jeni also suffers from muscular dystrophy and has buried all four of her children who died from the disease.  She said Mattie's spirit continues to inspire her every day.  She shared the story of how Mattie learned of Oprah.  The story brings me to tears just retelling it.  They were going into a thrift store and Jeni spied a nickle on the ground.  She told Mattie it must be his lucky day and Mattie said that means someone else is unlucky because they lost their money.  He was six years old at the time and insisted they give the nickle to the store manager because someone would be looking for it.  The manager sort of laughed and questioned what you could buy with a nickle.  Mattie's response was a gift.  The manager told him to keep it and find a gift.  He loved books and discovered one about a girl who went from rags to riches, Oprah Winfrey, and inside the cover it was marked 5 cents.  He didn't know who Oprah was, but the book caught his attention.  He read the book on the way home from the store. Later he told his mother that God put it into his heart that he and Oprah were to be together for a few years and are part of each others reason for being.  Oprah received an email from Mattie that she shares in June's O magazine.  He advised her to continue her show for 5 more years when she was thinking of quitting at her 20th season.  Thank you for sharing that advice Mattie.

Some people would have walked right past that nickle and not given it a second thought.  Mattie saw the gift in it.  I remember when I was little either my grandparents or parents would point out a penny on the ground.  Pennies were considered lucky.  I used to point them out to my kids as well, but most of the time my son would find them before me.  I need to spend more time pointing out the gifts in life.  Things in nature like a beautiful sunset, birds or funny shaped clouds.  Mattie endured a lot of hardships, but he was a positive and uplifting person. His life was short, but his messages are powerful and will live on forever.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ralph Lauren

The son of Russian immigrants, Ralph Lauren, is living the American dream.  When I hear the name Ralph Lauren I think of good quality American classics and the coveted polo shirt.  When I was in junior high Polo shirts were like the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing of today's tweens.  They were expensive and everyone wanted something with the little polo man on it including me.  Ralph Lauren says he's not about fashion, but about living.  He envisions a way of life and creates stories.  Oprah got a peek inside Ralph's ranch outside of Telluride, Colorado.  He and his wife of 46 years have created a peaceful haven for their family surrounded by gorgeous mountains.  Ralph says he puts a lot of love into everything he does just like the first tie he created which started his career in fashion design.  Ralph told Oprah he was the most proud of his family.  I thought it said a lot about his character and values considering the fact that he has built an empire. 

Ralph's interview inspires me to pay attention to details and evaluate how I live.  I like to cut out pictures of things I love.  I could live in the Pottery Barn catalog.  I may not have everything I desire at the current moment, but I think it's good to assess what my life looks like and how it compares to my vision.  We've had enough rain this spring that maybe an ocean will form in my backyard.  Living well isn't just about things though.  For me it's about balance, doing what I love, having loving and supportive relationships, being near nature and being grateful.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bob Greene

Oprah's good friend and weight loss coach, Bob Greene, made his last appearance on the Oprah show.  Oprah's audience was comprised of 100 ultimate viewers who've lost over 100 pounds each.  The show was full of inspirational stories and even included an 11 year old girl who lost 50 pounds. Bob said, "Weight isn't just about food. It's about managing your problems."  Bob shared his best weight loss tips which had nothing to do with food portions, the right amount of carbs and proteins or exercise.  They are three questions which get to the heart of the struggle with food.

1) Why are you overweight? What is it about your life you'd change? Do you use food to medicate because  you're not ready to address a problem or resolve an issue?

2) Why do you want to lose weight?  Is it for an event or for others?  It needs to be for you and because you want a better life for yourself.

3) Why have you been unable to maintain weight loss?

Okay, in a way there are more than three questions here.  They all require serious soul searching and may not be easy to answer, but if you can answer them you are on your way to a life long journey.