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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Last Makeover Show

Lives have been transformed from having a makeover.  It can be more affective than any anti-aging cream on the market. I have witnessed people look 20 years younger just by getting their hair cut and colored.  People have gone from caveman to banker, frumpy to sophisticated and everything in between.  I thought Diane Von Furstenberg said it best, "a makeover is not just about the clothes, but about confidence.  It's knowing who you are and then making the best of who you are."   I have a friend who knows her body very well and what looks good on her.  She's not a size 4, but she wears styles and colors that flatter her and share something about her personality.  She knows what her style is and exudes confidence.  I am guilty of getting into a rut and wearing the same style or thing.  Once I find something I like I buy multiples of it. My friend went shopping with me this Spring to pick out a few things for my LA trip to see Oprah.  I initially wasn't comfortable with the skirt she picked out for me, but everyone else thought it was very flattering.  I continue to get compliments whenever I wear it.  While being comfortable and confident is important, sometimes it's also good to get out of your box and try a new look.  If it's not a good look for you there will always be someone to lend their constructive criticism.  Happy summer clothes shopping!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oprah's Last Hook Up's Show

Oprah's show has made dreams come true for countless people in this world.  There are many things we can do to help others in need. However, I'm always in awe of the magnitude of her capabilities and how the acts of kindness she has performed encourage others to pay it forward. She made the comment that while she would love to help everyone, that it's just not possible.  If there was a way I'm sure she would have figured it out.  Sometimes I think she has more power than the President.

The main message she wanted people to take away from the show is that good things can happen to you at any moment.  There are moments in life when it seems one bad thing happens after another.  I don't know who started the saying, things happen in 3's, but I've found it to be true at times.  First your garage door opener breaks, then the dishwasher a week later and then your just waiting for one more thing.  I try not to get stuck in that thought pattern anymore for fear of a self fulfilling prophecy.  It's easy to get stuck in a feeling of woe is me, but there is always the promise of a new day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oprah's Master Class

As Oprah's show is coming to a close, I have to remind myself that change is good. I've always thought of myself as someone who likes change, but I realize I only like it when I can control it. I can get stuck in patterns and routines and fail to see the possibilities in life.  I want to learn and grow and not be rigid in my thinking and routines.  Some routine in life is good, but not when it keeps me from experiencing new things.  I recently watched Oprah's story on her show Master Class.  She said, "Life is about growth and change.  When you are no longer doing that, that is your whisper you are supposed to be doing something else."  After producing her show for 25 years she felt it was time to move on.

I recently changed my surroundings by moving some of my furniture around. Looking at the same things in my home day after day can make me feel stuck. Call me crazy, but I like to switch things up every now and then to breathe new life into my home. I'm also working on changing my negative thought patterns.  In terms of growth I'm studying scripture with a Bible Study group which is something I thought I'd never do. I'm learning a lot and it has helped me grow spiritually. I'm also pursuing some hobbies that interest me and have taken a few classes on subjects which are new to me. This summer I plan to start drum lessons. I often wait for that perfect moment to try new things.  The thing is, there is no such thing as the perfect time.  The time is NOW.  What are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sarah Ferguson

I just recently went to the Princess Diana exhibit at Kansas City's Union Station with some friends.  It was interesting to get a peek into the personal life of a princess.  Our group collectively agreed that being a princess isn't the fairytale it's portrayed to be.   It is an image of glamour and worldliness, but there is also a great deal of loneliness and conformity.  I first wrote about Sarah Ferguson in June of 2010 on my blog.  She appeared on Oprah to talk about her video tape scandal.  I thought about her during Prince William's wedding.  She wasn't invited, but her two daughters attended the royal wedding.  I understand why the Queen didn't extend an invitation to her, but she had been friends with Diana since they were 14 years old.  Oprah asked her if she felt ostracized by the Royal Family and she said she didn't.  She was sad about not being there, but felt she had ostracized herself because of all her past mistakes and regrets.  Sarah said she still has a close relationship with Prince Andrew despite the scandal and that he carried a picture of her in his pocket at the wedding.

"Finding Sarah: From Royalty to the Real World" premiers June 12 on the OWN network.  Oprah showed clips of the show which chronicles her soul searching journey to get to the root of her problems.  I found it interesting that she said she had four ladies in waiting while she lived at the palace who were there for her every need.  If she dropped her handkerchief they'd pick it up.  Oprah got a big kick out of that.  I had no idea ladies in waiting still existed.  She also said she only saw Prince Andrew 40 days a year for the first five years of their marriage.  She was living in a castle, but without her prince.  Oprah said she saw that Sarah was a good person when she first interviewed her.  She made a mistake and felt she shouldn't be defined by her mistake.  Sarah consults with Dr. Phil on her show and they have an AHA moment.  She realizes she is addicted to acceptance and approval.  I see a little bit of myself in Sarah.  If someone doesn't respond to me right away I think it must be because of me.  My husband likes to remind me that contrary to my belief it's not about me.  Sarah says the best lesson she has learned so far is to take a moment.  Connect with your inner spirit.  She asks herself where are those thoughts in your head coming from?  Is it self hatred talking or the willingness to please others?  What do you feel for yourself?  I will be tuning in June 12 to learn more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just Do It

There are idea people and then there are doers.  I fall into the first category. I have a billion ideas floating through my head at any given moment.  My husband is a doer.  We compliment each other and it's a good thing he's a high energy person because I'm always coming up with new projects for him to do.  Then there are people who have a nice balance of both.  Phil Knight, one of the co founders of Nike, is one of those people.  Oprah interviewed Phil (who seldom does interviews) about how he got the idea for Nike.  He was on the track team at the University of Oregon and really admired his coach, Bill Bowerman.  He wanted to work with Bill in some capacity. They both felt existing track shoes were slowing runners down and in 1972 they began manufacturing their own shoes.  Bill came up with the idea to use the imprint of his wife's waffle iron to create greater traction on their shoes.  From that point on, they never stopped trying to create better performing athletic shoes.  Bill passed away in 1999, but Phil continues to run the company.  You never know how a household appliance can be used for other purposes.  It reminds me of a column in Real Simple magazine called New Uses For Old Things.  I also get flashbacks of the television show MacGyver where he would use a paper clip to keep a bomb from detonating.

It was interesting to learn about the origin of Nike, but the thing I found the most intriguing was the story behind the LIVESTRONG yellow wristband.  The idea for the wristband was from someone at Nike who thought it would be a good way to recognize Lance Armstrong's efforts during his 6th Tour de France.  Both Phil and Lance said they looked at each other and thought it was one of the dumbest ideas they'd ever heard.  If you think about it, why would people wear a yellow piece of rubber around their arm?  I have seen people dressed to the nines and wearing them.  They have sold 80 million wristbands and are still going strong.  The lesson I got from this is, not to discount your ideas just because other people might not think their good.  It's not the LIVESTRONG band itself that makes it so great, it's the intention behind it and what it represents.  Some of the simplest ideas can turn out to be fruitful.  I follow several blogs and learned about a blog site http://www.1000awesomethings.com/
Neil Pasricha writes about the simple pleasures of everyday living- things like the smell of a bakery and finding money you didn't ever know you lost.  He has published two books of awesome things and was on the International Bestsellers List.  I personally think that's awesome.

"When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt."  -  Honore de Balzac