In Oprah’s LifeClass, the Real Woman Comes Out

In Oprah’s LifeClass, the Real Woman Comes Out

Oprah & Some of Chicago's Finest Bloggers

I was skeptical when I learned that the great “O” had scheduled a new show after a 3 month hiatus.  But this time she’d be on with a twist–she was going to harness the power of the internet and social media. And then I got the call, um, tweet: ?Would I be interested in coming down to the studio and tweet, blog, update my Facebook status (whatever) while she holds her live show?” Me?  Little me?  From Baltimore?

If you were to ask her, Oprah would tell you that her true calling is as a teacher.  She prefers smaller, more intimate groups instead of the larger, syndicated audiences.  So she decided to create an hour long life “class” to embellish upon her greatest “take-aways” from talk shows, interviews and her own personal experiences over the past 25 years in the business. Who better to share her insight into these shows, guests and unexpected outcomes than the hostess herself, Oprah Winfrey? And one feels as if she is talking to her friends and closest confidants during the show.   The viewer actually gets the “behind-the-scenes” scoop about what Oprah was really thinking during specific shows and how some of them actually impacted her life.

Oprah can actually interact with her audience via Skype, Facebook, twitter and the OWN site. The experience, this time, is actually personal.  And guess what?  Oprah’s real personality shines through.  There’s a feeling of “hey, let’s just kick off our shoes and discuss what’s important!” And, of course, while she is reflecting, she is funny, a bit irrelevant and not as politically correct as she was on syndicated television.  (Yes, she even swear a bit.) She comes across as a friend and mentor not the billionaire talk-show diva, producer, actress, etc. etc. with whom we are all familiar.

I had the privilege (yes, I said it) of attending one preview show and two “live” shows: one addressing the impact of anger and the power of letting it go and the other entitled “Joy Rising.”  While I tweeted and commented until my little fingers thought they would fall off with exhaustion, my mind became more and more invigorated and, dare I say it: Alive with excitement.  I caught what I can only assume is something akin to “Oprah Fever!”  And no, I was not jumping up and down, making a crazy “O” sign with my hands or singing her theme song (I had a computer on my lap, people!), but I did leave the classes a changed (for the better) woman. And I think that it had more to do with Iyanla Vanzant’s presence.

Iyanla was Oprah’s guest on both of the shows and she basically took them over.  When guests described their challenges, one could see that Iyanla was truly listening and received their comments with calm affect and grace. Her responses, while also graceful and her words profound, had a realistic component to them.  Rather than allowing the callers to dwell in self pity, she encouraged them to  address their issues straight on and use the following mantra”Ommmm, what the heck….Do it anyway….” to get through whatever was holding them back.  Great advice.  I could spend another blog post just writing about this insightful and forthright life coach. Needless to say, the majority of my tweets were direct quotes of some of the “kernels” or “nuggets” of guidance she shared with the audience.  If you are interested, email me and I will send you some of the things that I posted and learned.

It was clear that Iyanla and Oprah are good friends.  She disagreed with, argued and coached Oprah while they sat together in front of the smallish live audience.  Iyanla did not hold back on her comments to and about Oprah and the outcome was extraordinary.  At some point the celebrity stopped being OPRAH and reverted back to being just another person (one certainly adept at interviewing and inspiring) but also just another woman struggling with image issues, life’s disappointments and its joys.  And I think that’s what she really wants to show her audience.  Yes, she is OPRAH and is influential blah, blah, blah but she is also just another person who has to get up in the morning and face herself in the mirror.

There is a lot more to say about my time spent with Oprah and Iyanla and I promise to discuss more of the moment-to-moment activities in an upcoming blog post. But for now, I need to “bustle my hustle” and straighten up my house.  My sister is coming to Chicago with her boyfriend and I don’t want her to report back to my mother that I am completely incapable of keeping an organized home!  Oh! The horror!

Life’s Whispers: Oprah, Kol Nidre and Me

Life’s Whispers: Oprah, Kol Nidre and Me

Just Press Learn


“Your life speaks to you in whispers first, then thumps, bricks and brick walls. Learn to get it in the whisper.”  -Oprah Winfrey

As most of my friends and readers know, I became a stay-at-home mom in January.  At the time, I had great plans: lose weight, take art classes, organize my house, become a cookie-making, super organized mom with tons of time to make projects and cuddle with my daughter.  Those were great plans.

But I wasn’t listening to the whispers; the ones telling me that I needed to address a bigger issue: myself.  At an early age, I believed that I was not as “good” as others. I was not as good a runner as someone else in my class, or as smart as one of my sisters, as pretty as my mother…Oh!  The list could go on and on. The “whispers” were telling me that I was not important and I listened.

And, like most people, I grew up.  I grew up beating myself up that I was lucky to have the LUXURY of thinking that I was not important or good at anything.  If I was really good or important, I wouldn’t be bemoaning my lack of goodness, I would be busy being the best at something.

It’s easy to distract oneself with these thoughts and avoid listening to the new whispers.

By now, you may have heard that Oprah Winfrey has started a new series of television shows entitled: Oprah’s Lifeclass. It’s on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) everyday this week. These shows (5 weeks/5 shows) are the next step in Oprah’s on-going quest to share the lessons that she learned from the past 25 years of her show.  There are multiple interactive features that allow a viewer from any part of the world to tune into her show, interact with other viewers and connect with Oprah regardless of the time or day.

Why do I mention Oprah’s show?  Even in her much heralded and last season, I didn’t pay too much attention to the day-to-day goings on of Oprah Winfrey. I was too busy ignoring the whispers, you know?

But last week, seemingly out of the blue, I was invited to the Harpo studio to pre-screen an episode of Oprah’s new show.  There I sat with some of the biggest names in the Chicago blogging community watching her show last Thursday and a brick hit me upside the head (not literally): I need to listen to me  and stop hiding behind my husband and my daughter. It’s time to make space in my life for me.  It’s time to run, dance, leap towards transforming myself into the person who I was meant to be and not the one that I always thought others wanted me to be.

I started this change last year by taking on Hebrew lessons in preparation for being a Bat Mitzvah.  I didn’t need to do it; no one pushed me into doing it. Learning Hebrew is a lot of work and languages do not come easy to me.  But my “soul’s whispers” told me to do it and don’t take crap from anyone who doubted my conviction or my reasons.

The next day was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. I went to the Kol Nidre service. It is an ancient declaration that is recited to ask for God’s forgiveness of sins both in the past and in the future.  And for the first time in 30+ years, I actually enjoyed it.  Why?  Because, I could read the Hebrew! I I no longer needed to mouth or mumble the prayers because I could read them! I did not need to hide.

As if Thursday’s experience with Oprah was not enough for me to learn the lesson to listen.  In his sermon on Friday night (Kol Nidre Service), the Congregations’ rabbi, shared the following thoughts:

To know what is truly important, we need to be honest with ourselves. We need to acknowledge what we are avoiding. We need to look at our own hiding places. Doing so is not easy. We all know the extraordinary lengths we often go to avoid dealing with something that is difficult or painful. Yet, if we wish to grow and change, we have to stop hiding. As Martin Buber once put it, ‘We can be redeemed only to the extent that we see ourselves.’ –Rabbi Evan Moffic, 2011

Do I really need another sign that it is time for me to come out of hiding and face myself?