Oprah Wants My Life and I Do Too

04.4.12

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.

I Don’t Even Know What Oprah Just Converted Me To

03.26.12

So I’m at this lifeclass and I’m watching Oprah Winfrey and Bishop TD Jakes turn lives around. It’s part talk show, it’s part sermon and part intervention.

I never in a million years thought that I’d be willing to listen to the message of a mega church (I’m sorry I still don’t know what a bishop actually IS). But the messages are universal, motherhood is hard, you’ve got to be surrounded by great people if you’re going to be great.

Jimmy Graham’s story is incredible and if you only turn on the TV to hear it be told you will be delighted and inspired. It’s a human story, it’s not about being a man or a woman, but about being part of a family, creating family, knowing what’s available and seizing it.

There are interviews, which she is amazing at and I can tell you that when she talks to you, when her eyes lock on you and there’s a connection it’s something that sticks.

My friend Yvonne says she prays at the church of Oprah… I think it’s probably a very good place to observe.

yvonneinla_on_twitter

Bishop TD Jakes and Oprah’s LifeClass in St. Louis

03.26.12

I’m here live blogging from Oprah’s Lifeclass and Bishop T.D. Jakes is talking about passion coming from pain.

“The losing of you was the discovery of me”.

He’s an incredibly dynamic speaker and I’m listening to him one by one give confidence and hope to an audience of thousands, not including the tens of thousands watching live on the internet and who knows how many who will see the show on OWN. In the span of about two minutes he had given accolades to every part of womanhood, from mothers to size 3’s, to curvy girls, grandmas and young girls. This is a man who knows his audience and how to massage them.

I’ve never been to a Southern Church, but I do feel like I’m in one now. He’s almost singing and he just gave a sermon that brought about a lot of “amen”’s and a deafening amount of cheering. I feel like an outsider looking in, but not an unwanted outsider.

When Jews have a seder it’s often said the table isn’t complete until there’s a guest. I feel like that guest.

Bishop Jakes is talking about living on purpose and about true wealth coming from having a passionate purpose filled life. It’s an incredible moment when Oprah takes the stage and seems dwarfed by his colossal presence.

Jakes’ message seems to be about trusting yourself. There are inmates skyped in from the Rockville Correctional Facility and he’s talking about their minds not being imprisoned. Oprah is looking to have lifeclass into the prison systems in order to lower recidivism rates.

Right now a woman named Keesha is talking about having adopted her nephew and not loving him. I’m floored and going to stop blogging so that I can watch this better.

This session (which I’m going to actually pay better attention to) seems to be meant for people who are beginning radical journeys. There are women (mostly) crying with relief about being able to take steps and find themselves and to head out on journeys.

Thus far it’s a wonderful message. I’m not sure that I feel imprisoned, stuck or in need of movement but I still feel inspired by this process.

Is this session going to change my life? Every action I take changes my life.

Is this session going to radically change someone’s life? Someone who is sitting in the room with me? Absolutely guaranteed.

Ooh… also, this morning I had a long chat with Ms. Winfrey and she told me she wanted my life… which left me speechless. But only for a short while.

St. Louis and Oprah’s Lifeclass

03.26.12

Oprah's Life Class St. Louis Peabody Opera House

Getting here was predictably miserable. After a three hour delay at DIA we were loaded into a puddle jumper to make the short trek to St. Louis. We sat a few moments and then deplaned because it had “no emergency landing gear”.

Having been in a plane once where we were asked to take the crash position I was happy to make that make that move.

We missed the day’s rehearsals but I reminded myself that I’ll have full access to rehearsals in New York City and Toronto. The set is impressive and the staff is excited. It’s really interesting to watch people work on a show that they truly believe in. I’ve been on many sets, this is different.

I’m running out for breakfast with Iyanla Vanzan in a few minutes and I don’t know a whole lot about her but she seems incredibly intuitiive and I’m looking forward to spending time with her.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I have some reservation about meeting T.D. Jakes. My knee jerk reaction is to be very unimpressed by mega churches and their leaders but some of the staff here have whispered to me that they have the same reservations but really enjoy T.D. Jakes as well as Joel Osteen because of their messages.

Since this is one of the strangest days of my life I’m going to do my best to update after each of the shows that are taped today (I think the TD Jakes show will be live on the internet and on OWN)