Oprah and 5,000 of her closest friends came together on Saturday for O You! 2012, O Magazine’s yearly event designed to empower and inspire. It draws O readers from all over the world, along with its leading experts like Dr. Phil, financial guru Suze Orman, CBS This Morning anchor and Oprah bestie, Gayle King; the host of Iyanla: Fix My Life host Iyanla Vanzant; organizational genie Peter Walsh; sex and love doctor, Laura Berman; and life coach Martha Beck for a day of offering advice, book signings, and of course, the biggest pep talk of all from the Empress of Media-Oprah herself. The message is simple: Live Your Best Life. It is the execution that can be difficult. But the day was spent listening to O’s team of experts and her dedicated O Magazine staff (Editor-in-Chief Susan Casey, Creative Director Adam Glassman, Beauty Director Val Monroe, and Publisher Jill Seelig) share with us a how-to guide to achieve this kind of success.
In between stories of his life pre-Oprah (which included a run-in with a country cop in his teenage years and living with an alcoholic father), Dr. Phil said something which really resonated with me. He proclaimed, “You can choose to live a life chosen, or you can choose to live a life assigned. So be the star of your own life!” To me it meant that we should all be proactive in making positive decisions that will enhance and better our lives. And by not making a choice, whether it based on fear, avoidance, ignorance, or any other excuse, is still a choice and will not take you to your best life.
Money whiz Suze Orman chanted the mantra, “Look at loss as a gift.” She added, “It gets you where you need to be, not where you think you should be.” Another golden nugget from Suze? “Your thoughts and actions need to be one because your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, actions become habits, and habits become your destiny.” So, think positive, enriching thoughts! And Berman had the room rolling with laughter as she extolled the virtues of oral sex and the downside of vaginal rejuvenation surgery!
On a lighter note, I got my hair styled by the Paul Mitchell team using some very effective Awapuhi products. I loved the Texturizing Sea Spray which revived my limp curls in less than a minute! And, I had a fun chat with Gloria Williams, aka the Foot Nanny, who is Oprah’s personal manicurist and is also a spokesperson for Sally Hansen. Of course I had to know all about Ms. Winfrey’s preferred nail looks. The Foot Nanny revealed to me that the Queen of Media goes for earth tones on her toesies, while short, nude, and buffed mani’s are her fave. I get it, low maintenance. After all, the woman has little time in the day for fuss!
Which brings me to The Big O. In the moments leading up to her speech, which was the last one of the day, the energy in the room was palpable. As Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” blared over the loud speakers in the South Hall of the Convention Center, I couldn’t help myself. I joined the Twitter brigade trying to encourage her to come out sooner than planned to share her wisdom with us and so I could feel “The Oprah Effect.” I know that this term is usually applied to the phenomenon when products that Oprah endorses go flying off the shelves and thrust the creators of the sold-out goods into a much higher and prestigious tax bracket. But I would like to use the phrase in a different way that shows her connection with people. I even got caught up in it, which honestly wasn’t hard. One fervent admirer hyperventilated, went into hysterics, and literally tried to worship at Oprah’s feet after the multimedia dynamo fulfilled long-standing dream by hugging her onstage.
I have to say, I have seen, met, and interviewed many a rock star (both figuratively and literally), but really none like Oprah. She is a Rock Star, with a capital R and a capital S. To see her live is such a unique and truly fulfilling experience, and it is quite obvious why she is a cultural icon. But at the heart of it, she is like so many of us. She grew up in less than desirable circumstances, felt like hardly anyone valued her, endured abuse, and thought that she wasn’t society’s ideal of what was beautiful and desired. Don’t get me wrong. Her list of accomplishments are beyond extraordinary and her ever-present kindness, compassion and benevolence are without question. But she made the choice early on to be a positive person and to live her best life thanks to her faith and her grandmother’s support. Because of those influences, she worked hard, truly believed that all of her dreams were within reach, and used her God-given talents to help others. And she learned not to stand in her own way. Imagine if we all did the same? The Oprah take-away of the day for me was a Joseph Campbell quote that she recited for all of us. “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” It is, isn’t it?
Come back tomorrow for my interviews with Orman, Walsh, King who chats about “girls night” with Oprah, and O Creative Director Adam Glassman who lets me in on what it is really like to go on a shopping trip with Oprah and Gayle!