Sunday, January 30, 2011


Oprah interviewed one of my favorite actresses Goldie Hawn.  When I think of Goldie the word happy comes to mind, but there was a time when she went through a deep depression.  After being thrown into the spotlight, she experienced a lot of anxiety and would have panic attacks.  She had to learn how be happy again.  Goldie said she went to therapy for nine years and spent many years researching the topic of happiness.  Over 4,000 books have been written on the subject of happiness.  I recently purchased a book on my kindle called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  It describes the year she spent researching the topic of happiness and testing what she learned.

Research has show that 50% of happiness is genetic.  Evidently we are born with a happiness set point, but you can retrain your brain to think differently.  Studies show you can increase your happiness by 40%.  I have a feeling my genetic pool doesn't have one of the higher set points.  It's not that I'm unhappy, it just seems like I'm constantly trying to be more positive.  I think it just comes more naturally to some people like my husband for instance.  I also personally think hormones have a way of wreaking havoc on your happiness.

Studies have show having 10 minutes a day of quiet time can increase happiness.  Oprah and Goldies recommendation was to take just 1 or 2 minutes throughout the day to take deep breaths and be still.  I have tried to meditate and 10 minutes can seem like 60.  I like the idea of starting with just 1 or 2 and taking deep breaths.  I found the following findings on happiness interesting.

  • The happiest jobs in America are travel agent, clergy, special education teacher and fire fighter.
  • According to Dan Buettner, author of Thrive,  belonging to a club that requires you to show up once a month is equal to the happiness of doubling your income.
  • Dan also said studies show the impact of a material possession only lasts 9 months.  However, an experience will increase happiness over time.  So if you're debating between a new pair of shoes or taking a dance class, take the class.
  • Studies show that money can buy you happiness, but only to a certain point.  When it comes to finding a job do something you love not something that will just make you a lot of money.
I have a bad habit of over thinking things.  I have a piece of art by Rodney White that hangs in my kitchen.  I think it's simple message sums up happiness the best.

We tend to seek happiness when happiness is actually a choice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oprah Behind The Scenes

Oprah gave viewers a behind the scenes look at what it takes to put her show together.  It is one of her new shows airing on the OWN network.  Let's just say it takes a village or as he liked to call them "her tribe".  I had a discussion with a good friend about the show.  She said she'd love to be a producer and to be behind the scenes executing the plan.  I thought about how I am more of an idea person, but when it comes to making ideas a reality it could take me years.  A good example of that is this blog.  I constantly have many different ideas floating around in my head and can get easily overwhelmed.  As a result, I sometimes don't get anything done because I don't know where to start.  Or on the flip side, I work on several things at once and then half way complete projects.

Working for Oprah doesn't look like a piece of cake, but her employees expressed the fact that they feel they're making a difference.  They stated they make sacrifices in their personal life, but they are passionate about their work.  They have been a part of something big and life changing for many people over the past 25 years.  The intensity and stress level of their job is high.  When you work for a cause or someone you believe in though it can make it all worthwhile.  I'm sure the job perks are pretty nice as well.  I believe the last 25 years are just a prelude of what's to come and Oprah's going to need a bigger tribe.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Oprah aired her visit Down Under last week.  I watched with mixed feelings of remorse for not being picked as an ultimate viewer and awe.  I have always wanted to visit Australia, but after watching her show it has become a higher priority on my bucket list.  Her shows gave me a greater appreciation for Australia and its people.  I too want to fly over the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and have a Barbie on the pristine sands of Whitehaven Beach.  I wouldn't mind if Chef Curtis Stone decided to cater it with his muscular bare chested crew as well.  I'd also like to visit the sacred site Uluru and go to the Sydney Opera House.

I witnessed an impatient Oprah get stuck on the Sydney Harbor Bridge with her ultimate viewers. They were waiting for an airplane to refuel so they could take a picture.  It is in those moments that you see  she is human like everyone else.  I have followed Oprah's recommendations for adventures in the past.  Years ago I went to Miraval Spa in Arizona and participated in the equestrian experience after seeing it on her show.  It was enlightening, but not an easy thing to do when you're afraid of horses.  That is one of the things I love about Oprah though, somehow she gets people to conquer their fears.  There were several viewers who were afraid of heights that climbed the bridge.

When asked what the biggest difference is between Australians and Americans, several people said Australians feel Americans live to work and they work to live.  I think I could get used to Australia plus,  I've always been a sucker for an accent.  If you want to learn more about the places she visited go to  There is a wealth of information and pictures of the various sites she visited.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Twist of Fate

Chris and Lori Coble told Oprah their story of losing three kids in a car accident. I'm not sure when the show originally aired, but it was a tear jerker.  Lori was stuck in traffic on a highway with her mother and three children all under the age of six.  A semi-truck going 55 mph slammed into their minivan and the only survivors were Lori and her mother.  I pray I never have to experience the pain of losing a child.  I commend people like the Coble's who share their experiences with others and how they continue to live on day by day.  I have a friend who lost a child and later wrote a book about her experience.  There are a few similarities I've heard from people who've lost a child. The first is that they had to walk through the pain to get to the other side.  Chris also said that he learned he needed to keep the lines of communication open with his wife in order to keep their marriage together.  They learned that the famous line "time heals all wounds" is a myth. According to Oprah, Dr. Phil even says, "time doesn't heal anything.  It's what you do with the time." Oprah referenced an old Dr. Phil show where they talked about how people can get focused on the day of their loved ones death instead of remembering their life.  Lori said she did that at first and then made a conscious decision to celebrate her children's lives.

No matter how hard life may seem at times, it can get better.  I hate to be a Debbie Downer (my son's favorite saying) but, there was a silver lining to this show. Almost one year to the day of their children's death, Lori gave birth to triplets.  She now has two girls and a boy which were the exact same sexes of the children she lost.  Can you say miracle?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Suze Orman's Intervention with Octomom

I first wrote about Nadya Suleman's appearance on Oprah back in April 2010.  Nadya wrote to Oprah asking for help because she was on the verge of being evicted and on the streets with 14 kids.  Oprah consulted, financial guru,  Suze Orman who spent countless hours going over Nadya's finances.  Suze knew where Nadya spent every penny and corrected her repeatedly when caught in a few lies.  It was quite the smackdown.  Who needs a polygraph when you have Suze Orman? There were three things Suze told her she needed to do right away.
  1. get rid of the three nannies - she kept one
  2. have a garage sale and get rid of all of the excess stuff
  3. go to church and pray to God like she's never prayed before
She took her advice and within a week there were major changes in her life.  She made $1,500 from her garage sale, got a job bar tending, and found a literary agent.  I thought this was a great testament to the power of prayer. 

I thought there was a good lesson revealed in this interview other than the fact that this woman should have never conceived 14 kids, which she herself admitted.  Suze talked about judgement and how it is so easy to judge others rather than look at our own lives.  How many people have additional children thinking it will solve some problem in their marriage or aren't in a financial position to afford them?  How many people fill voids in their life with things rather than kids they can't afford?  This show was a good reminder to me to not pass judgement on others no matter how crazy I may think they are.  Sometimes it's easier to point out others flaws rather than get my own life in order.  Unfortunately, it's also much more fun.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Behaviors or qualities that we complain about in other people are often the very same things we don't like about in ourselves.  I remember first hearing that while watching an Oprah show years ago.  I wish I could remember who said it.  I think it was Dr. Phil (prior to the Dr. Phil show) or it may have been Oprah herself.  My husband reminded me of this fact the other day when I was complaining about my daughter's procrastination.  I too am a huge procrastinator, but somehow it's much easier to point out in her.  There are quite a few qualities she possesses like stubbornness and the need to have the last word that I often like to attribute to my husbands side of the family.  However, if I take a good look in the mirror the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

One of my new year's resolutions is less nagging and complaining.  I haven't found them to be very affective tools over the years.  You can't change people, but you can change the way you perceive them.  Just the other day I noticed my daughter had written Lauren is AWESOME on her school binder.  She is awesome, and I hope I never forget that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Like Oprah, I've been on a winter hiatus.  I haven't had a chance to tune into some of her new programs on the OWN network, but I plan to soon.  There are a few shows like Master Class and Miracle Detectives that I'm excited to watch. 

Oprah and her friend Gayle visited Yosemite National Park awhile back pulling a pop-up camper.  It was in response to a letter they received from Shelton, a Yosemite Park Ranger, who felt that very few African Americans visit national parks.  They decided to make their presence among the Yosemite campers and it brought back memories of when I used to camp with my family as a little kid.  We too had a pop-up camper that my dad pulled behind our green station wagon.  I have a lot of fond memories of camping as well as not so fond memories. We often camped with our cousins or family friends at KOA campgrounds.  It was fun hiking through the mountains and spending quality time together away from the television and enjoying the fresh air.  Sometimes the air was damp or muggy.  I remember one particularly hot day when we were packed like sardines in a campground pool in Virginia that felt like bath water.  My Dad still likes to talk about that particular camping experience and their less than stellar amenities.   The not so good memories are often the ones you laugh most about later in life. 

We've only camped a few times with our kids and those have been with scouting events.  My Dad is sure to remind me that I need to take my kids camping.  These days I am more of a log cabin with running water type of camper than a tent camper.  I recently watched Sarah Palin's Alaska show with my daughter. It was the episode where Kate Gosselin and her kids are camping with Sarah.  It rained the entire time, Kate whined a lot of being cold and left right after the smores.  It was apparent the two had a totally different take on nature.  I appreciate the beauty, solitude and sense of awe that nature provides.  However, cold and wet are not a good combination for me no matter how beautiful the scenery is.  I guess some people like their creature comforts more than others.

I hope to have a camping adventure in 2011 (of the log cabin sort).  Please comment on any parks or camping experiences you've had that you'd recommend.  Below is a picture of my sister and I in our pop-up camper circa 1970's.