Good Afternoon! I have been so anxious to share my experience with you guys all weekend. As many of you know, I was able to see Oprah live this past Friday and Saturday because of the funds I raised from my GoFundMe fundraiser back in May (Thanks to everyone who donated and/or spread the word!) I have shared pictures and video clips on Instagram and Facebook all weekend but I wanted to wait until today to talk about my experience in further detail. I have to say that this experience was one of the best moments of my life. The lessons I learned were so simple but profound. On Friday night titled “An Evening With Oprah”, she spoke for about 2 hours about specific moments in her life and how her thought process affected the course of her life. She referred to her Mississippi upbringing many times and how her grandmother who raised her in her early years wanted her to “work for a good white family like the Leonards’ (the family her grandmother worked for” She then went on to say that she wishes her grandmother were alive because she has some “good white people working for me” and even though it was a funny moment, it made me think about going above and beyond the expectations that someone else may have in store for you. I thought that I couldn’t bring my camera (wrong) or a bag that would be big enough to fit my iPad, (wrong again!) I didn’t get to take many videos or pictures because my phone died within minutes after she stepped on stage! here is a pic of her that I was able to take before my battery’s inevitable demise.
I was already familiar with many of the milestones that occurred in her life but to hear the stories behind these milestones was what made this evening so special. She was so obsessed with the book “The Color Purple” that she bought 8 copies of it and gave the book to her coworkers so they could be just as excited as she was. When she heard that they were making a movie based on the book, she found a way to get in contact with the casting director and even with no previous acting experience, auditioned for the movie. She even went as far as going to a “fat camp” to lose the weight because she thought the casting director did not call her back because she was too big to be considered for any role. While at the fat camp, she received a call from Steven Spielberg telling her that she better not lose a pound or she would no longer have the part of Sophia and the rest is cinematic history! Even when she doubted her abilities, she still wanted it so bad that she didn’t give up and spoke this opportunity into existence. I know that no matter how crazy or difficult something may seem, if I want it bad enough, I can achieve it. In fact one of my favorite quotes from that night was when she said “”You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you believe.” Wishing is not enough, you have to believe in something with all of your heart and go out there and get it. I left feeling inspired and anxious for the next day’s events!
I woke up at 6am the next day (haven’t done that in forever!) to get out of the house by 7 and get to the arena by 8. At 9am, Oprah came out and spoke about how she was constantly worrying about being seen as nice in the eyes of others. She would do things that she necessarily didn’t want to do because she was afraid of the negative opinions of others. This kind of behavior would be what would hold her back and to be happy in life, she had to stop worrying about others opinions of her and listen to her inner voice.
She also spoke about the constant need for acceptance and validation from others to make important decisions in your life. She said that after interviewing notable people like President Obama (then Senator Obama) and Beyoncé, they would always ask her “Was that okay?” That simple phrase showed that they needed that reassurance that they did a good job in her eyes and hopefully in the eyes of others. Her message was that only you have the power to know what’s going on in your life and that you have to be still and listen to your inner voice to receive that information.
Oprah also had amazing speakers that she called “TrailBlazers” talk for about 15 minutes and share their own experiences on how to live the life you want. I am going to be perfectly honest with all of you. Out of the four speakers that were there (Mark Nepo, Elizabeth Gilbert Rob Bell and Iyanla Vanzant) the only ones that really spoke to me were Elizabeth and Iyanla. I don’t know if it was because they were women or because I actually knew who they were before the event but I focused on their messages more than the other two but I’m sure Oprah.com and YouTube have highlights from all the Trailblazers so be sure to check them out!
Elizabeth Gilbert is known for writing the book “Eat, Pray, Love” which talks about her journey to different parts of the world after leaving her husband and her job to find true happiness. She spoke about how throughout history, there were many tales written about men going on quests to find themselves and their passions. They would go through internal and external struggles before they reached their goals but these battles are what made them stronger in the long run. The only issue with these tales were that none focused on a woman’s journey. It was as if history was saying that women had it easy or were not complex enough to have layers to their emotional and spiritual beings. She felt that this was unacceptable and to find her happiness, she prayed any and everywhere (even in the middle of the street in NYC) and God gave her signs that showed her where she needed to be which inspired her to travel and discover beauty and joy in every thing around her. She spoke about how difficult it can be to drop everything to figure out what makes you happy but never lose yourself or your dreams completely even during the toughest times. She spoke about a single woman with 5 children who would save $1 everyday until her children were adults and moved out of the home. As a result, she saved enough money to go on the trip of her dreams.
I loved this story because this woman was able to see something bigger for her future and her life even through adversity and when it was all said and done, she found her happiness. I loved the way Elizabeth shared her experiences but I was waiting for Iyanla Vanzant and she definitely did not disappoint!
“Courage is doing what you know you have to do before you are forced to do it!” Iyanla Vanzant
Iyanla spoke about being able to get rid the “humping puppies”(those voices that get inside your head that have you stuck in a particular situation) and life the best possible life you can. She also spoke about how your vision can be blurred and you don’t even see it because you think you know exactly how everything should be and it takes someone else who can see things for what they are to tell you differently. There was a funny story about this dress she bought on sale even though it wasn’t her size because she really wanted it. I didn’t get to record that one but YouTube it and you will laugh and learn a lot! I loved her approach because it felt like she was having a conversation with one of her friends and she would drink her champagne and her spirit just vibrated throughout the room. Outside of Oprah’s appearances, she was my favorite person of the day!
In between the “Trailblazers” sessions, Oprah would do mini workshop lessons with the audience by having us do exercises from the programs we received earlier that morning. My favorite lesson was when she had us divide parts of our lives (spiritual, financial, family etc,) into pie pieces and size them in order of importance. After we did that, we would draw emoticons inside of the pie pieces based on how we felt about it at that particular moment but using a :) emoticon which meant good, a :| emoticon which mean so so and a :( emoticon which meant bad. I had way too many :| and :( faces on important pieces so I knew that I had to focus on those to be happy with the pie that is my life. She also gave us homework to do which was to write our new vision. After writing what I wanted out of my life, I felt refreshed and renewed and writing this post takes me back those moments that I feel were truly life changing. I tried to explain many of those moments in this post but it’s very difficult to fully capture how big this moment was for me. I have been at a standstill in my life for sometime now and this weekend was the encouragement I needed to push past my pain and struggles to get to that next level. I know it won’t be easy but Oprah and her trailblazers proved that it was possible!
My life is saying that I need to get up and get out there instead of waiting for someone to rescue me from the sidelines. What is your life saying to you?
If you have any questions or comments, make sure you leave them in the comments section below:) Have an amazing week and always remember to love and live luxuriously!