OPRAH SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS – AN EVENING WITH O IN OTTAWA
-by Marie-Piere Belisle Kennedy, writer and owner of 5 Star Communications.
LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE
“I just love saying I am in Ottawaaaaa! Oprah in Ottawa sounds good, no?” said the queen of all media, as she sparkled on the Scotia Bank Place stage in her stunning purple dress and heels in front of a packed house of 15,000 admirers all uplifted by her sheer energy. Currently on a cross-Canada tour including her stop in Montreal tonight and in Hamilton this Saturday, Oprah wows and inspires to “Live your best life” wherever she goes, stopping to connect one on one along the way with everyone, ready to receive the love.
I was one of those lucky ticket holders, wearing my blue Oprah Winfrey show shirt bought when Harpo studios still had an Oprah store in Chicago. I eagerly took notes as the evening progressed, aware that there would be more A-has than my Ipad would allow me to write in shorthand or videotape while remaining fully present. What everyone attending a live event with Oprah has to know, is that she just owns the stage, her voice soothing as if she was just sitting around the fire telling her story as girlfriends do. By far the best communicator on this planet, she opened up about her own life, success, lessons and tragedies, to inspire attendees to follow their own truth and find their life’s purpose. First she connected with everyone by telling a few stories about her experience in the region and some of the people she met. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson gave her a warm welcome with special “Oprah cookies” from the same bakery that greeted President Obama back in 2008, the Moulin de Provence in the Byward market, some tulips that happen to be her favorite flowers and emblem of the Ottawa tulip festival, as well as a personalized Sens jersey with a big O on the front…she likely won’t be wearing it in Montreal. Ha!
But before I can tell you about all the great words of wisdom of the evening, I must provide a bit of background on my personal connection to Oprah, how I became such a devoted fan to all things O. When the Oprah show went on the air, I was about 12 years old and remember rushing home from school and watching the show at 4 pm. I was drawn to her outlook on life, the possibilities, the inspiring success stories featured, her love of animals, her fight for human rights and all things right in the world. She would not partake in sensationalist journalism so popular to this day, where people would use her media platform unless it was for the greater good. I respect her so much for that alone in a sea of rating sharks; she swam masterfully to Paradise Island and ran it her way. Since then, I keep visualizing getting an article published in O magazine, the most coveted publication of all for us writers. I was one of the very first subscribers to the OWN network in Canada, and have been an OWN ambassador with fellow devotees on Twitter these past few years. Last year at this same period, my husband (also a loyal M’Oprah, or men who love Oprah) and I attended the taping of the Oprah Lifeclass in Toronto, with world class spiritual speakers Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Bishop TD Jake and Iyanla Vanzant. That was a pivotal life changing moment on its own! So needless to say when I heard about another chance to see her right here in Ottawa, my heart screamed out Yes in a flash. I went online and ordered the best seat in the house available. I sat so close to the side I could read her teleprompter! I have to say thank you to my neighbours for joining me and to MC and TV host George Strombolopoulos for stopping by to chat before going on stage, what a great memory.
Here are some the highlights and memorable quotes from her presentation last night. Pardon the quick delivery as I wish I had more time to edit and condense, but I hope you agree these are messages worth sharing right away!
What is your story? Who are you, really?
To illustrate the power of a life’s purpose, Oprah started off sharing her personal story, how she came to be with parents who only were together that ‘one time’ by the oak tree with a poodle skirt. Every life has a meaning! “To understand your story, you have to know who you are and where you come from” she says. When Deepak Chopra asks the fundamental question “Who are you?” she says it would be easy to respond with the various roles we master (I am a worker, wife, mother, TV host, daughter, friend, etc.) but that is NOT who we are. Our soul is who we are, not what we do.
Oprah defines herself this way today: “I am the whisper on the breath of God. I aspire to be something greater with divine intervention”
Never lose sight of where you come from; in the realm of the universe, the billions of stars, you are a cup of water within the ocean… You have access to that power, yet you are not the power.
“My feet were always on the ground. I am now just wearing better shoes!”
(“foot”note on the shoes – Oprah gave away her gorgeous but painful stiletto designer shoes to a lucky audience member wearing the same size 10.5 at the end of the night. Talk about big shoes to fill!)
What is purpose? A few answers:
It is Spirit – seeking expression.
It is not a goal you set for yourself.
Purpose is revealed through your existence.
It is the essential thread that defines all of our life’s experiences
For Oprah the idea of becoming a journalist or TV newsperson simply popped in her head when she was asked what she would like to be at a pageant in her teens, after other girls had already answered a teacher or a nurse… She had seen Barbara Walters on TV that day and she knew she liked speaking to large audiences, helping people. This is what it felt like to be ‘called’ for her. After hearing the words out loud she started to believe the possibility of it all. A calling can take on many forms. Oprah shared the various early childhood experiences that would later define what inspired her hairdresser André Walker who was styling his sisters’ doll hair, her facialist who started doing extractions on her family members and later sold her beauty business for millions, and her office producer who requested a filing cabinet at the age of 8. Each one had followed their heart, performed with excellence and passion, which lead to much greater successes in their lives. Oprah’s advice is simple and to the point. Take what you love, find that thing that lights you up! Your job is to share your purpose… and if possible get paid for it! The key to how you can fulfill your purpose is to share and be of service to others. Martin Luther King said: “Not everyone can be famous, but all can be great!”
Share in service to others. Greatness is determined by service. Oprah had to shift her paradigm for service with the early years of the Oprah Winfrey Show to avoid the traps of confrontational television and live TV. There were different pivotal moments that enlightened her path at that point: a) Your life must be used for a purpose of a greater good. B) Every human being’s contribution to the micro of this universe matters. You become what you believe, you attract your consciousness, and it can work for little things… as she shared the experience of Sheri the waitress at the Brookstreet hotel she met that morning. We attract what we believe is possible. Raised by her black servant grandma in the segregated south, Oprah knew her own life would not be about finding some “good white folks” as her nana advised, although Oprah joked she did end up finding a lot of good white folks just on a larger scale, as the entire audience laughed along with her, realizing her grandmother would not believe all this was possible for the little girl at the time.
What are your beliefs?
I believed in a Power greater than myself.
Your beliefs are the lenses from which you see the world.
You are co creating your life.
Do unto others as you would want it done unto you. “All you have done to me as already been done unto you” as quoted from the movie the Color Purple. The energy that you are putting out creates the dust over your life, based on Newton’s 3rd law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Open that light space with the proper intention in your heart, as explained in the Seed of the soul book by Gary Zukav.
And simply put: Intention = cause and effects
We do have power in our own energy field – we are in control of it.
Your truth is your love
Author and speaker Marianne Williamson has said there are only two emotions: Love and fear – everything else is a derivative of either of them. Each failure in your life is just telling your stubborn self to move in a new direction. As Oprah humbly shared her OWN network woes and how it felt to face the criticism, she admitted nothing was as harsh as her self–criticism at the time. She learned to practice what she preaches. The difference, she explained, is “I have a big life. Every one of you here in business can relate to making mistakes, yet be relieved that yours don’t make the evening news!” The truth is that your energetic state of being co-creates the forces around you. So, she changed the way she saw her struggle with the network to a climb and just with this attitudes around her shifted, now she uses words like I am building a network, emphasis on build and climb. The new mantra for the network and for every decision going forward is The next best thing. We will do the next best thing at every step. When you know better, do better.
Is it all about luck?
On the topic of luck, Oprah believes there is no such thing – even for lottery winners, as 80% of them end up unhappy because they were not ready or unable to cope with the windfall. “Luck is preparation meeting the opportunity”. When you prepare, you expect, getting ready to meet the moment. So make yourself ready for what you want.
Some hard earned lessons came in the eighties when a dream was not materializing, everything seemed to turn against her, plus some cruel jokes were made on late-night talk shows. “I surrender all” she sang in desperation running in the rain trying to shed the weight in more ways than one, asking God to help her release it all. From that moment on, everything changed. You learn to just do it, do the best you can, then let it go. What is for you will come to you. Trials force you to go deeper into what you need to be. Life will bring hard challenges, make you lose friends, and people you trusted will betray you. No matter what happens in life, a divorce, an illness, a trauma, remember that you are not the things that happen to you. Work on being whole. That is the real work of our lives – everything else is just passing time… Maya Angelou was a very important mentor for Oprah and still is at age 85. The key lesson from her was “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.”
Listening to whispers
Learning the importance of listening to your gut, to your instinct in life can make or break the outcome. Whispers (the feeling of a little voice saying “hum, that’s odd”) turn into pebbles (the lesson) or a brick upside the head (a problem) then if ignored a real crisis or tsunami in your life. That is why it is so crucial to be still and pay attention to all the whispers. The big question is: What is whispering to you right now?
What has been your proudest achievement?
Featuring onscreen some of her 25-year TV show highlights, for Oprah it was not all about the celebrities she met or the free cars, but seeing the 300 grown black men she helped put through college walking down to the stage holding a candle for her wrap up party which brought her to tears, or seeing the girls graduate in white dresses from her leadership academy in South Africa…those were the most meaningful moments, empowering signs that her life had meaning. When Oprah was asked why she and Stedman never married, she just said that for her every day was like a wedding, the loving gatherings, the hoopla, the dress-up, so she does not feel the need to make it official in that sense with a celebration.
Importance of gratitude
Gratitude is our biggest force – Life is so precious. It is the privilege of a lifetime.
Listen to all your life is telling you. Your dreams are possible if you are willing to align yourself with the power of Source, to follow your calling and let your deepest spiritual practice every day be GRATITUDE. “I artfully, thoughtfully, physically practice gratitude with a gratitude journal and when you think you have nothing to be grateful, be grateful you are still here! Think of everything you have been through, yet you are still here. There is a collective energy in this place; along with our strengths, victories and joys, our failures, which make us all the same. Only the space inside your heart knows what you have been through. The reason you are still here is because you have a purpose and still so much to offer.” Look at the thread that connected all the dots in your life, your purpose will come to you with time. Oprah’s dream is to be able to continue to use her life, to use the words that touch yours.
Whatever is going on in your life right now, it is possible to achieve what is meant for you. Allow that force to work through you. In the same way she writes the last page in O magazine every month, she left us with her ‘What I know for sure’: Having come the long road from Mississippi to here, I know for sure that it is possible for you to be lifted up to higher ground, it is not only possible, but probable and achievable. The life that you want awaits you when you start moving in the direction of LOVE. Then she went on to read a moving poem hanging in her home to wrap up this perfect night. I captured it on video to remember and hear it often.
How can one not be moved by Oprah’s presence and simply be grateful to hear these words? Thank you Ottawa for welcoming all that positivity and allowing it to flow freely! Blessings for great events to all attending the next few shows in Canada.