If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a little quiet lately. My husband has been traveling with work for two weeks, which has put the onus of responsibility 100% on me. At night, I can hardly stay awake past 10pm, a rarity for me, and a time where I get much of my writing done.
In the midst of it all, there was the “Oprah” finale. I have been a huge fan of the show my entire life. Twenty-five years ago, I was a teenager (am I revealing my age? Yes, I am over 40). My mom, who was a big fan of Phil Donahue, turned me onto Oprah. I was a soon-to-be journalism major in college and I was intrigued by her bravery and courage. Not only was she female, but she was black, and few women had ventured into the talk-show territory. My first few jobs out of college were with women-orientated companies, Lifetime and Oxygen Media (where she was one of the owners at the time). I truly feel that my interest in women’s affair stemmed from my love for her show and mission. I have always believed in using media for social good, and that is precisely what she set out to do with her show.
This week, no matter how busy my own life was, I took time out each day to wish Oprah farewell. It was just me and my TV set. I waited until my kids were tucked away in bed, sound asleep, so I could have my own homage to Oprah. Alone.
During her final tapings at the Chicago, I teared up along with Oprah, as she thanked thousands and was saluted by the best stars in show business. The show highlighted her charity efforts over the years. About 300 Morehouse College scholarship students walked along the United Center aisles as Kristen Chenoweth sang “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.” Grammy winner John Legend was beamed in from a New Orleans school and Winfrey’s book club was lauded for getting millions to read. ”She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular,” Madonna said. Oprah used her status and tremendous viewership to change lives.
She helped so many people with her show. Over the years, she admitted to nearly packing it in, as daytime TV was taking a turn with the likes of Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer, but she held on to her convictions and was determined to not only educate the public about important issues, some that were hard to discuss, and get people to get up and start changing lives.
In her hour long finale, Winfrey spoke directly to the camera. I, like many others, felt like Winfrey was talking directly to me. Seriously. She was staring into the camera, through the screen, and looked into my eyes. She said so many things that struck a chord with me including:
“Find your calling and stick to it.”
“Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for your life. What is your life? What is all life? What is every flower, every rock, every tree? Energy. And you’re responsible for the energy you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others.”
“What are the whispers that are in your life right now? And will you hear it? Your life is speaking to you right now. What is it saying?”
Wow. How did I really feel after the episode? Like I’d been dealt a blow. And it wasn’t because it was her last episode, it was because Oprah was talking to me. She got the wheels spinning in my mind about my own life, my own goals. Since I’ve had kids, my life has changed so much. I’m not just in charge of me, I’m in charge of my kids. My time isn’t my own now. I have a husband, I have two kids who are reliant on me. I have made many changes to live a better life. A life that I am more engaged in, a life with purpose. My husband and kids give me a lot of purpose, but there is more. I started this blog – I amped up my volunteer efforts – I have found a balance that suits me with work and family.
Yet reflecting on Oprah’s hour-long monologue made me feel conflicted. ”What are the whispers that are in your life right now? And will you hear it? Your life is speaking to you right now. What is it saying?” Why was I not as lucky as Oprah to have heard those whispers when I was younger? What will become of me in the next 20 years of my life? My happiness is tied to so much more than my kids. I want to live my life knowing I have I have found my calling. Have I found it? My time for myself is limited so how can I set out on a road to finding my true calling?
When I told my mother that Oprah sent my mind into a whirlwind, that it made me feel inefficient. She called me on it. ”How much can one person do,” she said? She is my biggest fan, as well as a big Oprah fan. What she heard come out of Oprah’s mouth was more positive, more inspiring.
So, I slept on it. I woke up empowered. And then luck came my way. I won’t talk about it right now, but an opportunity did present itself to me the very next day. The whispers in my life were talking to me. Oprah is right, you can make your dreams come true, but you have to know what they are.
Farewell, Oprah, I’ll look for you on OWN.