Thursday, May 26, 2011

My "Oprah Effect"

Love her or not, I have never met anyone who didn't have an opinion on the Oprah Show.  Everyone in my life knows that I admire her and what she has done in her life so it should come as no surprise that I share this post today, the day after the final episode.  I have said over and again since the time drew closer to the end of the Oprah Winfrey Show that at the end I would not watch the final episode (and as we learned that the last three episodes would be a surprise from her staff, I included those) until I had time that I was able to just sit and listen and cry.  I knew it would happen because this show, this woman, has been a big part of my life for 25 years.  So what better time to watch the last three shows when I am in the midst of an isomnia fueled night? 

I was young, I was just 19 years old, 7 months married, living overseas and thought I was so grown up when the Oprah Show debuted in 1986.  Since then I have learned that no matter how "grown" I think I am at any give point, I really do still have so much to learn. Since then I have invested 25 years in my marriage, we have raised a now 24 year old son, I have worked crazy hours, changed careers and changed locations, been through health issues and loss.  All the while, whether I taped it (I started taping it on VHS and now it's all digital O_o )  or watched live, there was always an hour in the day that I could forget about everything going on in my life.  Some days I laughed at silliness (Oprah and Gayle's Big Adventures anyone?) , some days I cried with people who had overcome great tragedy and adversity, some days I marveled at the generosity that she discovered in real people doing extraordinary things to give back and some days I just sat and listened because it seemed as if she were talking only to me.

My parents taught me many great lessons and Oprah has accentuated them: 

Over the years Oprah has made me think a lot about myself and what I am doing with my life and in my relationships.  My parents taught me that we all have choices and that we must take responsibility for our choices.  Oprah took that a step further and  taught me that I should "live my truth" and "live my best life" and that the two are not mutually exclusive.  I have learned that when I am faced with a big decision I should look inside because only I really know what the answer should be.  I have also learned that I can live my life on my own terms and that I can make those choices with grace and peace in my heart.  I have learned to listen to and look for the "aha moments" because they are there to teach you about yourself along the journey of your life. 

  Over the years Oprah has taught me the power of gratitude and the power of positivity and that the only limits were those I place on myself.  She introduced me to "the Secret" and that the universe is always giving back what you put into it.  Whether you call that Karma or The Law of Attraction or by some other name, like feeds like and returns it to you.  The power of gratitude and the power of positivity have determined how I handled the diagnosis if an incurable, chronic and "invisible" illness.  They have deterimed how I would handle the rest of my life with these same illnesses.  Without these gifts, I could very well have given in to the pain and the exhaustion, the doctor's visits and tests and very expensive medications and all of the challenges that come with a life with RA and Fibro.  I could have curled into a ball on my bed and pushed people away and had a good long pity party, constantly complaining about how I feel and how unfair it all is- we see it often within our community.  I didn't allow myself to go down that path only because I really listened when Oprah didn't just say the words but showed us time and again examples of how it is possible to overcome adversity if you look at things from a place where you are grateful.  She has taught me to really see how blessed I am to have the family that I have and to identify all of the many blessings in my life.

My parents gave me the love of reading and Oprah made it "okay" to be a big book geek.  She introduced me to Randy Pausch's "Last Lesson"and Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" and dozens of other books that I have devoured and that to this day mean the world to me.  With those books, and her "Book Club Dinner" shows, I learned to read not just for my own enjoyment but also with an eye on being able to truely discuss the books and share the books that I have read and their effects on me.  I have learned how to take these books and go back through with a critical eye and see how I may apply their lessons to my life. 

I could write for days on all of the different lessons that I have learned from the Oprah Show and from the actions that she takes in her life but if I had one more takeaway from my years of watching the show it is this:
She taught me that the possibilities are endless and that when you touch someone's life you leave a legacy.  She has left a legacy behind that has touched so many and for that I want to say "I will miss your daily presence in my life.  In the ending of your 25 year run, I feel like I am losing a friend. Thank you, Oprah! Here's wishing you the best from the bottom of my heart" 

No comments: