Because I sometimes have the best luck, Toyota gave me a ticket to attend Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend. It was amazing and overwhelming and I will never forget it. I’m going to do my best to recap it for you, but it’s going to take at least three posts to share everything.
The Life You Want Weekend was held at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. I arrived as early as I could on Friday for the first event, though Oprah wouldn’t be on stage until at least 7PM. I was not alone.
Outside the Toyota Center were hundreds of women. Some had arrived early enough to visit O-town, the tented town center featuring the sponsors and fun experiences for the attendees; others were waiting in line for the glow bracelet that would make the attendees part of the show. Yet others were already waiting in line to enter the Toyota Center.
I’m pretty much an expert at attending events. I’ve been to countless concerts and I am familiar with all the pre-game hubbub that normally occurs. This? Was different. This? Turned hundreds and hundreds of older women (let’s be real, here) into excited little school girls. This? Was a once in a lifetime experience.
So much politeness and so many smiles as our bags were searched and we were scanned with metal detectors. Bump into someone as you are entering? No problem. “Oh! I’m so sorry!” “No, no – you’re fine.” We were all in this together.
The first order of business was picking up my gift bag. I mean, it’s Oprah. I needed to know what was in the gift bag!
I found the bags after weaving through the crowds of women fueling up for the evening with a dinner of concession stand favorites: hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, pretzels. I was hungry, too, but needed to know where I’d be sitting first. Once I found my section I ordered my own version of a concession stand dinner and started carb loading for the emotional workout I was surely about to experience.
After chowing down and touching base with my friend who was also in attendance, I made my way to my seat. And the butterflies began.
It was difficult to grasp that in a few minutes I would see – in person – someone who had been so influential in my life, in my brain, in my heart. And that all of these women were about to experience the same thing. I was proud of myself for remembering to put tissues in my purse, especially because my seat mate and I could barely introduce ourselves to each other without tears. Some emotions are just too big to be contained and have to leak out our eyes, you know.
Finally, the lights dim. The bracelets light up. And THE voice over starts: Oprah was speaking to us. As she spoke, the sun rose on the back drop of the stage until it reached it’s apex and Oprah herself rose up from out of the stage. And thousands of women lost it. That heartfelt excitement, the joy of the moment multiplied times 10,000. We were definitely all in this together.
Oprah started the evening sharing her literal beginnings. From being conceived in the back seat of a car to living with her grandma, to the Miss Fire Prevention contest to The Oprah Winfrey Show, she shared lessons she’d learned along the way. And as she shared these moments in her life she showed her heart to the thousands of us who’d flocked to see her and gain from her experience. She teared up. She paused. She went on. She opened herself up to us because she believes life gets better when you share it.
Ms. O: how I agree with that.
As a blogger, a writer, a story teller, I believe strongly that we must share our stories. The personal lessons we learn can give hope and insight to others and help them grow and share. And it is on this point that I connect so strongly to Oprah’s message. She started as a journalist and realized that she got too connected to the stories. She could not separate herself and just “report” – my experience was similar. I started college as a communications major because I wanted to work in radio, but at my small college that major included TV and print as well. As I sat through my intro classes, I realized I was in the wrong major. I did not have the wherewithal to hear bad news day in and day out and not have it affect me. The difference is my realization led me to major in theatre, and hers led her to a 25 year-career as the most well known and influential talk show host ever. It’s almost the same.
Oprah’s story may seem like an anomaly, but when you hear it in it’s entirety you notice a common thread. In fact, Oprah says the way to find our path in life is to follow the thread that connects the dots in our lives. She learned that when things go wrong, it is the universe trying to send us in a different direction and we must pay attention to that. Oprah says, especially in our greatest trials, LIFE is speaking to us.
Her life has taught her that we are co-creating our lives with the energy of our intentions and that the energy we put out is the energy we receive. We are responsible for our intentions and if we can keep our intentions in check, it allows us to master being the Captains of our Souls. We are responsible for the energy we bring into the room so we must choose LOVE over FEAR.
As she told us tales of her life and the hard lessons she learned (and is still learning, she says), she held fast to the idea that the truest, highest expression of ourselves is Gratitude. Despite whatever hardships we may be facing, maintaining an intention of Gratitude will feed our energy in a way that will come back to us. And that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and we must connect to our spirit. That whatever it is we have to do, it’s better when we share it.
At the end of the evening, after Oprah had been on stage in the middle of the Toyota Center, speaking to thousands of us for two hours, I felt as if I’d been catching up with an old pal. Our “chat” left me feeling completely validated and refreshed; the mark of a conversation with a true friend.
A big THANK YOU to Toyota for providing my ticket to this event.
This is only the first post in the series. (Here’s part two.) Stayed tuned for more!