Everyone has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is, and get about the business of doing it. ~Oprah on the final Oprah Winfrey Show, May 25, 2011.
I am proud to say that I rank among the millions of Oprah Winfrey fans. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge her here for the incredible influence she has had on my life. She has been, and continues to be, one of my greatest teachers.
Growing up, I lived in a family that talked about nothing. I find little irony in the fact that my biggest inspiration is a woman to talks for a living about everything. Topics of conversation in my family remained on the surface, never digging too deep into the uncomfortable territory of emotions or questions regarding the existential. Religious practices weren’t a regular familial activity nor was it discussed openly. There wasn’t a whole lot of tenderness among the members of my family either, and many times, (too many times), the conversations were wrought with aggression toward one another. Some still are.
Make no mistake, my parent’s are good people. They did their best to bring us up right and in many ways, they succeeded. I have my father’s eyes and curiosities, and my mother’s smile and artistic abilities all of which I appreciate. They kept me warm and fed and well-educated and instead of bitterness over what I didn’t have, I choose gratitude for what I did.
All that being said, I was an extra-sensitive child and teenager (I’m pretty sure that is an oxymoron, but anyway). Growing up, I filled the slot in the family of “black sheep.” I heard on an Oprah show once (and bear with me while I paraphrase) that the “black sheep” in any family is the one who is most sensitive and/or most negatively affected by the surroundings. That was me.
I hungered for connection. Back then, I ached in my belly for understanding of myself, my world, and to connect with the people who lived in it. I still do. Like any kid I had thousands of questions but nowhere to turn for one single answer. On the outside, I was well-kept and even plump; you wouldn’t have thought I wanted for anything. But on the inside I was starving and it was Oprah that filled me up.
Everyday I got home from school and turned on The Oprah Winfrey Show. There she’d be talking about the very things I hungered to know. I ate up every word and then regurgitated most of it onto anyone who would listen. I’m still doing that, although I have learned to control my gag reflexes better.
I am fluent in Oprah-ese; a vernacular I use often. I live for “a-ha moments” and aspire to, “live my best life,” and when “I’ve known better, I’ve done better.” (That one is Maya Angelou via Oprah.) I believe that “luck is when opportunity meets preparation,” and I hope that one day, my luck will lead me to a “full-circle moment.”
Now, Oprah has her own network called OWN which stands for The Oprah Winfrey Network. She is focusing more on spirituality, consciousness and inspiration and I couldn’t be more enamoured with this new phase of her/our journey. Naturally, I am a devotee. When I consider how much I have learned under her tutelage I find it only natural that her shows are now “classes.” Her Life Class series is an “A Ha Moment” a minute. Master’s Class, which profiles “Master’s” of their professions like Diane Sawyer and Sidney Poitier, is showing me that I, too, am capable of great things. But my favorite is Super Soul Sunday. I keep a journal next to me whenever I watch because I am inspired so often to write it all down.
It is not my intention to use Oprah’s name to gain interest in this blog or my writing. It is simply the truth behind my inspiration and she deserves every ounce of credit I’m able to give. I could continue to wax and wane poetically about everything I love about Oprah, but it wouldn’t be any better than what has already been written; certainly not better than Maya Angelou who has written poems and forwards for her books.
Instead, I will show my gratitude by living my best life. Oh yes, and saying thank you.
Thank You Miss Oprah Winfrey for being the sustenance for my soul.
You have said many times, and in many ways, that your greatest intention for The Oprah Winfrey Show was to bring a little light into people’s lives; to help them think differently, to grow, to be better and be everything they were meant to be. Well, Miss Winfrey, this is one viewer who received the message. I watched, and I heard what you said, and I felt your intentions. You have been the lighthouse beacon calling me home for half my life, and I feel closer to where I belong now, than ever.