Oprah Wants My Life and I Do Too

Last week I met Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She was everything I expected and my expectations were high.

While in St. Louis six of us were allowed to interview Oprah except we didn’t have cameras or even paper and pen. The team from OWN ran video and I’m hopeful that it will air as part of their behind the scenes features online.

Everyone introduced themselves to Ms. Winfrey and it became abundantly clear why she owned the airwaves for the more than two decades. When Oprah sets her sights on you she pulls the most relevant details out of you as if there’s a string attached and one tug from her unleashes everything. She is a remarkable woman embarking on a remarkable journey.

When Ms. Winfrey made her way to me I told her I was a blogger. I’m thinking that I was the only one in the group who didn’t have a related career. She said to me, “So you just sit around and write all day?”

“No I can’t just sit around and write all day. I have to actually do something so I have something to write about. I never miss picking my kids up from school and I never miss tennis.” I explained.

Oprah’s head whipped around in search of Sherri Salata and she said, “Sherry do you hear this? She never misses a tennis lesson. I think we’re doing something wrong here.” And then she turned to look at me and said, “You don’t need LifeClass you’re living the dream.”

And I knew she was right, because I am living the dream. The adjusted dream. The dream where we live modestly and my husband loves me and I love him just a little bit more than that and the kids love us but we secretly know that we love them more than they could ever love us because that’s the secret all parents share.

That dream.

I had a question for her and she gave me an answer I think I’ll remember for for as long as I blog. I asked Oprah how she dealt with negative feedback. I started to explain that bloggers get a lot of grief in comments and on places like twitter and her answer stunned me.

Oprah Winfrey went to on talk in detail about a woman who was mean to hear on twitter. She mentioned her name, twice. She went on to talk a little bit about the solution and quoted her friend Maya Angelou:

No one can hold a candle to the light that God shines upon you.

I think I got that quote right. It was really quite beautiful when Oprah told it to me and what struck me was that with all of her success and millions of people saying, “Oprah you changed my life, you made me better, you made my life happier.” Ms. Winfrey would still remember the name of one detractor on twitter and this made me love her a little.

It reminded me how vulnerable we can all be. It reminded me as a parent that although I may congratulate Jane on her accomplishments the things that she may remember are the failures and the criticisms. When I talk to Alexander after baseball games I need to be more aware of the good plays because it’s clear that he remembers and replays the bad ones, he doesn’t need any help with that.

I spent the day Tuesday in New York City. I did the chazzerai tour of the Lower East Side picking up wasabi peanuts from Economy Candy, tees from Katz’ Deli (and a sandwich for myself), and bagels from Kossar’s. I stopped into Ross and Daughters but I couldn’t bring myself to schlep a smoked trout on the plane. In hindsight I could have, the flight was all Chasidim and I could smell deli food everywhere.

I went uptown and found a pair of shoes at Bergdorf’s and then headed across Fifth Avenue to grab Jane a little charm from Tiffany and Co. As I walked toward the third floor elevator a familiar voice said, “Jessica!” and we left Tiffany to have a snack and talk about our kids. It was my friend Jon who used to live in LA but now lives in one of the Carolinas (North I think?).

It’s totally normal to run into your friends 3,000 miles from home. Right?

I’m still digesting the messages of Oprah’s LifeClass. At the very moment it seemed totally irrelevant to my own life something would resonate deeply. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

Facebook Comments

  • http://twitter.com/xoj9 xoj9

    As someone who knows you just a little bit – it is nice for you to share your ‘softer’ side too. I have seen what a dedicated Mom you are and I too know what it is to make the choices for a more ‘modest’ life… maybe not the one we thought we would have years ago but one we can love and embrace. I am sure that having this opportunity has been so amazing – to meet Oprah, to be recognized for being a Blogger of substance and then to go home to a loving husband and your kids… you go girl! You are living life!

    • Jsnelson926

      I threw up in my mouth just a little… it’s ok.. i’m fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kristidavis Kristi Morrison Davis

    Great message to support our kids with all the positive messages. That is what my Mom did with me but I feel like I fail at it completely. 

    • http://jessicagottlieb.com JessicaGottlieb

      I kind of feel like I fail at it too but I also suspect that we don’t recall our great parenting moments with as much clarity as our failures. 

  • http://twitter.com/TiffanyRom Tiffany Romero

    I am not a jealous person, but Oprah quoting Maya Angelou to me, may or may not be #4 on my life list….  So thrilled for your experience.  And, you are leaving the dream!

  • Christina Simon

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing. I love Oprah and would be thrilled to meet her. I never miss a tennis lesson either! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=139400495 Lisa Kerr

    Beautiful reminder to keep going.

  • Julie Harrison

    I think that this is a wonderful post — and title. I mean … when Oprah is reminding you how wonderful your day to day life is? Wow, that IS incredible. It does make me chuckle a bit that shopping at Bergdorf’s and Tiffany’s is living a “modest” life, though. I suppose if you are spectacularly wealthy, it is modest because you haven’t bought a dozen shoes and a dozen charms. Everything’s relative, I guess. 

    • http://jessicagottlieb.com JessicaGottlieb

      I can see that..

      To be fair I bought one pair of shoes for summer and I was looking for a charm for Jane but got sidetracked when I found a friend and had a $7 fruit salad instead.
      That fruit salad was totally overpriced.

    • Jsnelson926

      I love you jessica.. but a modest life you do not lead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=677186559 Diane Mizota

    i loved this post.  such a great perspective on what living the dream is.  work to live, not live to work.  xoxo

  • http://www.writespell.com/ nicole

    I’m so happy for you! Meeting Oprah, is like one of my, “Ohmygosh, this is so unbelievably amazing, I may just pee my pants!” sort of things. Aside from meeting Oprah, it sounds like you had a good time in NYC, meeting a friend in NYC just goes to show you how small the world can be sometimes. 

    We all have an impact on the people we come in contact with, that is why I always try to make it a good one. 

  • Denice Landry

    That is a WOW moment.

    I literally ran into Oprah.  I was born and raised in Chicago and was shopping at Water Tower on Michigan Avenue.  I was in Marshall Fields getting into the elevator and bumped into this woman.  The friend I was with yelled “It’s Ofrey”.  Even though Oprah was gracious I was so embarrassed I think I could have fallen through the a crack in the elevator floor. 

  • http://twitter.com/RobynBradley RobynBradley

    “And I knew she was right, because I
    am living the dream. The adjusted dream. The dream where we live modestly and
    my husband loves me and I love him just a little bit more than that and the
    kids love us but we secretly know that we love them more than they could ever
    love us because that’s the secret all parents share.”

    LOVE this. So true. Thanks for sharing all these awesome tidbits and insights.

  • http://formerlyaprildawn.blogspot.com/ April

    I needed this reminder when it comes to parenting, so thank you. And yes, you are living the dream. I totally want to be you when I grow up! But if I can’t have that, the life I’m living right now is pretty darn close…and I will remember and appreciate always that you’re part of the reason why. 

  • Trudi

    When Oprah tells you you’re living the dream, it doesn’t get much more fabulous than that. Unless of course you’re beating her in a game of singles, which I’m guessing you could do, too.  A beautifully written post – and an excellent point!!

  • http://www.mommyenterprises.com/moms-blog Stefani

    What an amazing opportunity. I would have loved to be a guest on one of her shows.

    I believe in dreams too, especially after visiting the Magic Kingdom last week.