Come with me, back to 1986. I’m in my one-bedroom apartment folding laundry while my son, Travis, lies on his blanket near me. The TV is on channel 7-ABC, and it was probably a soap opera. A commercial comes on showing a street reporter asking people if they know who Oprah is. Most responded with, “You mean OCRA? The vegetable?” The commercial promoted her new 3 pm talk show. That’s when I started watching Oprah, 1986.
It’s 28 years later, and this week I will finally be in the same room with Oprah. I’m grateful that my 16 year-old daughter Grace and her Godmother, Michelle, my lifelong friend of 40 years will be with me. We’re attending Oprah’s THE LIFE YOU WANT tour at her final stop in San Jose. She’ll be there with Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vanzant and Rob Bell.
Last month, when I was in Pismo Beach with my fellow Martha Beck Life Coaches, Martha told us a story about speaking at O-You, an Oprah event. Apparently, Oprah was not intended to be there but decided to make an appearance. Word spread as the attendees were led to a large area to greet her. Martha said that a frenzy (my word) erupted and a woman standing near Martha had some sort of attack and passed out. Later that day, when I told a fellow coach that I’d be seeing Oprah in November she asked me if I was going to scream and faint. “Oh of course not,” I replied, trying to hide the fact that passing out was completely possible.
But, I hope not. And I don’t do much screaming these days, except at my son’s football games. I imagine I’ll cheer and I will cry because of what this woman has done for me, how her words and actions have comforted me, challenged me, and loved me. I imagine I’ll cry being surrounded by thousands of people who have similar feelings for Oprah, as I witness their joy and love for her. I imagine I’ll cry as a release of gratitude for this beautiful woman and how she has chosen to serve mankind.
If you’ve read my quick story, I thank Oprah for introducing me to my favorite teachers including Brené Brown, Iyanla Vanzant, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Maya Angelou, T.D. Jakes, my Life Coach teacher Dr. Martha Beck and ALL of the people who shared their stories and taught me how to survive, forgive, love and thrive. My kids can’t recall a time in their lives when Oprah wasn’t present in our living room. Usually it was a particularly meaningful story that I’d have them watch after dinner. But for my youngest two, Adrian and Grace, Oprah was a nightly fixture in our home for at least two years as she and her teachers got us through tremendous sadness, confusion, anger and grief. In fact, when I told Adrian that Grace and I were going to see Oprah he was upset about not being included. “But Adrian, your last football game of the season is that weekend. How could you go to San Jose?” He replied, “Mom, this is Oprah. She’s been around for everything. She’s always been there for us. How could I not want to go?” I promised him that if she comes around again I’ll take him, and I also promised that he gets his pick of the Oprah gifts that come home with us.
Oprah and her teachers lifted me up. They helped me discover a place within myself where I found the courage to heal and begin again. It’s because of this that I want to help lift others and teach them how to heal. Really, Oprah is the reason I’m training with Martha Beck to become a Life Coach.
And yes, I will let you know what happens when I see Oprah.
“Grace, pack extra tissue.”