2013, A look back to an evening with Oprah and friends.

January once again.  2014!!

I remember back when I was a child thinking ahead to the future, I figured the skies would be filled with flying cars by now (which would be silly considering the number of planes in the air at any given moment) and I also imagined, thanks to Star Trek, that we would speak to someone over a phone while seeing their face on a big screen or have televisions that would take up entire walls and Eureka here it is!!  I had envisioned that we would be travelling back and forth to the moon or some other exotic planet for vacations but that’s not likely to happen in this lifetime.  Instead, technology has moved in other directions giving us 2 year olds that can operate a computer before they can speak.  I mean they have cars that can literally park themselves.  Where were they when I was sweating my drivers test back in the 70′s.

But before I get thinking too far ahead I would like to look back on some of the highlights of this past year.

Two evenings in particular stand out.

Both January 21 and January 22 were memorable thanks to Oprah.

Although I was not a regular viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show, its 25 year longevity, meant I was bound to watch it from time to time.  My friend, Dianne, however was a devoted fan of Oprah’s work, whether it was her syndicated television show, book clubs, interview specials or her ‘O’ magazine; Dianne’s favourite mantra was, “well according to Oprah…” followed by whatever new bits of wisdom Oprah had decided to impart to the world.  So…when I found out Oprah was coming to Calgary (only a 3 hour drive from here) I leaped at the chance to surprise her with tickets.  Dianne’s excitement was contagious, I mean as a fan of Oprah’s or not, her power was undeniable and I looked forward to hearing her speak.  Then tickets went on sale here in Edmonton!!  I grabbed two thinking that I would sell the ones in Calgary.  That was, until Jeanie, my sis-in-law, expressed her love of Oprah, and since it was her birthday (a number I best not disclose here) I figured why not see both shows.

Oprah was brave to come to Edmonton in the middle of winter.  On the evening of her show it was a frigid -37C. The host gave her a painting illustrating Edmonton’s lush green river valley (as it would appear in the summer) which was a stark contrast to her current view of the frozen tundra from her room at the Hotel MacDonald.  She laughed as she wondered aloud why she would think coming here in January was a good idea!  Laughter and applause were abundant throughout her 2 hours on stage.  The last half hour of which she was joined by George Stroumbolopoulos for a Question and Answer period.

Oprah is a talented speaker and she spoke with eloquence and humour.  She recounted her life’s journey from near poverty in Mississippi to her present day Network ownership (with a billionaire status) of OWN.  We all have a purpose she said and “Purpose was really Spirit seeking expression” and that it was not a goal or something that we created but that it was something we would discover.  She said it was “the defining thread that connected all the experiences of our life” and once we had discovered this thread we were to use it in service to others.  Oh, I loved that statement.

Oprah could have been a comedian as she cracked up the audience with her many anecdotes.  One example was when she told us about one of the last times she ever flew commercial.  When visiting the airport washroom she began to notice feet outside her stall, then a few more and finally a small horde of women, standing outside her bathroom stall, all waiting for her to tinkle. I wouldn’t fly commercial after that either.  She also described a telephone call she had received from Steven Spielberg, while at a fat farm (or health retreat, wink wink), desperately trying to lose 50 lbs in 2 weeks.  She had auditioned for a role in The Color Purple and was sure that her weight would keep the part from her.  She had been running around the track in the rain, listening to her thighs slap together, praying and crying that if she couldn’t have that part – that she be able to let the obsession with it go, so that she could find peace.  She surrendered it up and that is when the call came through.  Mr. Spielberg informed her that, if she so much as lost a pound, she could lose the role.  Off to Dairy Queen she ran.  The audience roared.  They clearly loved her.

She told us of the two defining moments in her career that helped shape its future direction.  One of them being the time she attempted to bring some KKK clan members on her television show, which was live at the time, in an effort to figure them out, when in fact she realized to her horror that she had instead, given them a platform.  The other moment occurred when she had a husband, wife and his mistress on the show.  The husband disclosed to his wife, on air, that his mistress was pregnant.  Oprah saw the devastation on the woman’s face and knew that she was done with such sensationalism.  She changed the direction of future shows to bring positive messages to her viewers and became a phenomenal force for inspirational change and personal growth.

Her topic was the same for both nights but she delivered her message in a way that was personal to each audience.  She is a charismatic speaker and I found myself listening intently.  She spoke of how “Life comes in a whisper first.” One must listen to their gut and trust that little voice in their head.  “Your beliefs are the lenses through which you see the world.” “You become what you believe.”  “What you put out is always coming back.”  “Do all that you can do and then let it go.”  She had many gems like that.  And she would use her personal experiences to explain them.  It was an interesting, inspirational and entertaining evening.  I will end this post with something that Oprah said, of course, and that is, “Gratitude is the single force that can change your energy from a negative to a positive”.  I have always believed this to be true in my own life.  Feeling sorry for oneself does not move you forward.  Spending those two evenings with Oprah was memorable and I am especially grateful to have been able to share the experience with my dear friend, Dianne and my lovely sis-in-law, Jeanie. Thank you!!

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