Thanks Oprah.

Photo taken by and belongs to Maggie Mason, Whew, I hope that gives proper, if a little spazzy credit where credit is due.

Last night, before my run, I watched the finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  I have been watching the Oprah show for all 25 years that it has been on TV, and that makes it since I was 15 years old.  Some seasons I watched more than others, but every season, I watched.  And every season, I learned.

I read much of the media critics’ reviews of the finale, and per usual, most of them took the lazy way out and disclaimed the actual intention of her show by pointing out her obvious business savvy and mostly describing her work as a means to a very successful, billionaire-y end.  Yeah, duh.  No shit she is a media and entertainment phenomenon that we are unlikely to see for at least another 50 years.  But they always miss the point: the reason she IS so successful is because of her ability to articulate what she has learned about living  a life with integrity and grace and humility and joy to the rest of us by making it safe for US to share our failures and triumphs right there on television!  We not only are validated by each other (the most important part), but she gave us a wealth of resources which only blossomed with the publication of her magazine and of course, the internet machine.  So yeah, did I ever get annoyed with the commercialism of “My Favorite Things” or having to listen to Julia Roberts yammer on about Danny Moder one more effing time?  Of course.  But that is not the Oprah that I was tuning in for.  My Oprah, and I’d venture to say everyone’s Oprah, is the one who was there day in and day out, showing me those aha moments that allowed me to make better decisions about my life going forward and to be grateful for the life I have.

I have been nervously toying with the idea of sharing more intimate stories here on this blog, but because I have not yet realized a vision for what that looks like in the big picture, I have been reluctant to open up about certain things.  I think this is more about prudence and maturity than fear and I know that because I feel incredibly confident every time I write a post and the hit that “publish” button.  Writing has been critical to my recovery from a near-total loss of self after being in an abusive marriage which then turned into a lingering and emotionally and financially devastating divorce.  Without the ability to work some of it out here, and then receive actual cheers of support and shares of their own similar struggles from family and friends who read it, I might still be in the shadows.  And that is how Oprah ran the show.  Brave guests shared, we related, we mulled it over, (sometimes for longer than we or others thought it would take), we made the necessary changes to our thinking and our actions, and miracle of miracles, we were all rewarded with blessings by living our best lives.

A writer and blogger I admire very much, Maggie Mason, is also an Oprah devotee.  Not only has she been to the show and attended the surprise send-off in Chicago last week, she embodies the values of living your best life.  On her blog, she asked for some participation in a little Oprah gratitude project.  The assignment was to take a photo of yourself with your favorite Oprah lessons written out and then post it to a flickr group she created, #thanksOprah.  I am still not a flickr user, and am pretty much over the self portrait photography explosion of the mostly Facebook variety, BUT, she offered a loophole for Luddites like me, and said we could post our favorite lessons in the comments of her blog post.  So many wonderful Oprah lessons poured in, as well as so many adorable photos, that when viewed as a group were sweet and powerful and inspiring.  I wrote a few of my faves in a comment, the theme for what I needed at a certain time in my life is obvious:

Never give up.

The Universe first talks to you in a whisper. Pay attention.


And then, I went back a few hours later with another one, one I think of often, and also from a lesson I learned the hard way:

Always sign your own checks.

And then, because the Universe pays attention to the work we are doing to make ourselves authentic and whole,  I experienced a small moment of the power of validation this morning.  Ms. Mason had picked one of  my favorite Oprah lessons (“Always sign your own checks.”) and listed it in the post with the gratitude photos!  I was sitting there on the ferry, just doing my normal reads of news and blogs and when I got to that post and saw mine and my name, my smile came up from my toes and out the top of my head and stayed there for another two hours.  Truly, there is no greater feeling to receive as a human being than validation.  It is a form of love, because it is honors what you know in your gut is right, and love is always right.

So just like Oprah said, no goodbyes, but only, til we meet again.  Because the people who are supposed to be in your life never really go away from you.  And if we learn to let go of and heal from the bad relationships, we will only have room for the love and validation of those who really just see us.


16 thoughts on “Thanks Oprah.

  1. Very nicely said. I read every one of your posts, and I’m one out of I’m sure many who look forward to the sharing of more intimate stories. Trust me…it’s even better than you think and not nearly as bad as you fear.


  2. congrats on the comment, J! just looking at that little group of lessons counters any criticism for me. a popular one that has truly helped me many times is: “listen to people when they tell you who they are”. thanks!

  3. another funny thing, and this embarrassing to admit: while Julia Roberts was annoying you with talk of her husband, something she said about him on Oprah has actually always stuck with me. she said, “he is a man among men”. one may not have guessed that about him, but I could tell she believed it. that quote made me feel that I wanted a man that I felt that way about, and who lived up to that standard. (and now i have one!)

    anyway- the point is, even the annoying Oprah shows have some nugget for someone! had to mention that since you happened to use that example. :)

    1. always filled with nuggets!!! thanks for sharing that one. and yes, even though I am more annoyed by JR than not (I guess like how so many are annoyed by Oprah!), I do think she and her man match up even if a bumpy road to get there. thrilled that you matched up with yours, and soon, I will with mine. :-)

  4. OMG! I’ve been in a succession of sh!tstorms and waaaay behind on my blog reads. THIS IS SO AWESOME (and what a great contribution)!! Congratulations and many, many cheers to/for you!! xo

    1. YOU were the first person I thought of when I saw it!!!!! effing sh!tstorms can eff off and die. hope you’re hanging in there. sending the good mojo your way xoxo

  5. i have to admit that i can count on one, maybe two hands how many times i’ve watched Oprah. But i did record her finale and watched it. i sort of marveled at how she could have a week’s worth of celebrations in her honor, and yet still come off humble and grateful. i was suprised at how much of a spiritual guide she came off as in the last show and how she actually sermonized, but mostly, how that didn’t turn me off. in fact, i found myself thinking, hmmm, maybe i can get some of her shows on DVD and experience what the whole Oprah hub bub was about. i got on the blog you referenced and found myself really connecting with 3 Oprah lessons:
    1) if the only prayer you ever said was “thank you,” that would be enough
    2) doubt means don’t
    3) you can be right or you can have peace

    and of course, i really loved the one i’ve been saying all along in so many words: “if a man wants you, nothing can keep him away; if he doesn’t, nothing can make him stay.”

    i think Oprah has a new follower.

    xoxo, Echeve E

    1. and this makes me smile from my toes to head too Echeve!!! yes, what you saw is totally her gift. she gets right in there even amidst all the trappings and hub bub. so glad that you did have a connection and am also very happy to know that you, my Number One TV Addict of All Time knows not to miss really good tv!

      am going to lean on you a lot about that last one as it’s both my weakest and hardest spot. I keep getting tripped up on the “if” part because I’ve only ever come out on the empty side of that query. to be continued on the phone.

      love you, thanks for reading! xoxo

  6. I just finally watched the finale and I cried and cried. I have watched Oprah always and forever too and if I had a penny for every time I start a sentence with “Well Oprah says…” The lesson that always sticks with me is “When you know better, you do better”

    And man, that “Girls ruling the world” part on the finale filled me with such energy and optimism! Amazing.

    1. Love when you know better you do better. Mostly because it allows for the space to learn to do better :-) Totally agreed on BEYONCE!!! I was dying over that, love the hell our of her!

  7. That was a great post. I am not an Oprah person. Not that I dislike her or anything, but I never watched. It was kinda neat how you saw the ending of one thing. “Oprah” show, and tied it into your life. Made you reflect. cool. :)

  8. So I have to admit that I enjoyed your blog more than I enjoyed Oprah’s final show. That being said, I have kept a torn out copy of What I Know For Sure from “O” magazine now for the last 10 years. From that I underlined a few things, one being a favorite mantra of Oprah’s since she was 16 from Jesse Jackson “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism. Excellence is the best deterrent to sexism. Be excellent.” and from Oprah herself…”Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision, I ask myself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid of making a mistake, feeling rejected, looking foolish, or being alone? Remove the fear, and the answer comes into focus.” Thanks Oprah and thanks Ms. Sugarleg ;)

    1. hey that is okay with me!! thank you! and I love that you have used the mag to be an inspiration/motivation for you. am in agreement, removing fear is the key to good decision making because it forces you into your gut, which is always, ALWAYS right. thanks for reading xoxoxo :-)

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