Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Oprah Winfrey Show---the end of an era

This isn’t about a gift-giving ceremony, Oprah explains. "There will be no guests, no surprises, you will not be getting a car. This last hour is about me saying thank you, it is my love letter to you. I want to leave you all with the lessons that anchor my life. Everyday that I stood here I knew that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. There was many a day I came to work tired, but I showed up because I knew that you were waiting, you were waiting for whatever we had to offer. That’s why I never missed a day in 25 years."

After 25 years of being on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast it's last show today.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.

Perhaps, bittersweet.

Sure, I had heard the news months ago about the last show airing on May 25th. I absent-mindedly watched the commercials showing the countdown.

I thought to myself, "Oh, how nice. They are really making this an event."

Then it was May and the date crept closer and closer. A funny feeling that I couldn't explain settled in the pit of my stomach and I found myself paying closer attention. After all, this was the woman who was on the TV set in my living room, five days out of the week. . . for 25 years.

Once again, I thought to myself, "I need to watch a few shows for old times sake."

Finally news broke that there were going to be two, not one, final show.

As I reflected, I thought, "Wow, this is a big deal."

And then today---it finally happened. The final show of Oprah Winfrey aired. And to my surprise, I was sad as I made my way down memory lane. Oprah's final show reminded me of the favorite and beloved relative who you think will always be around and you tend to take them for granted. And then....something tragic happens, maybe they die or go far away.

It's at that moment, maybe an "aha moment" when you realize how much they meant to you. Bittersweet memories set in, exactly like what happened to me today. You feel a desire to tell them how they've made a difference in your life and how much you appreciate them.

As I found myself becoming nostalgic, I realized regardless of whether you love or hate Oprah, I for one love her ( I guess you can tell), you can't negate her effect on American culture. No one can take that away from her. She grew from a talk show host to an American pop icon.

Oprah showed the world that a poor, black girl from rural Mississippi could grow up and become the first, black female billionaire and one of the most influential and powerful women in the country.

Oprah crossed color boundaries and became everyone's best girlfriend. Admit it, everyone wanted to be like Gayle and be Oprah's BFF.

When Oprah spoke, people listened. What a brand she manufactured of herself. Her stamp of approval guaranteed a person, business or product, instant, overnight success. Just ask Dr. Phil, Suzie Orman, Dr. Oz and others. Powerful.

Oprah changed publishing as we know it today. Suddenly, it was cool to be in a book club and to actually read and discuss books. And as an author, I knew exactly what it meant to have your book chosen as her Book Club meant becoming a New York Times bestselling author overnight. Oprah validated you to America and America trusted Oprah.

Oprah taught us the difference between being religious and being spiritual. "I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either. That presence, that flow, some people call it grace, it’s working in my life at every single turn. It’s yours for the asking." Oprah added, "God is love and God is life. And your life is always speaking to you, first in whispers."

And who else but Oprah would give an entire studio audience cars? No one will ever forget, "You get a car! You get a car! And you get a car!" We can't begin to elaborate on what Oprah has done on an international basis as well, giving of her time, money...building schools.

We laughed with her, cried tears of sorrow and happiness, kept journals recording our thoughts, experiences and feelings, embraced the power of women, all women, had our "aha moments", learned of our power within, bought our "favorite things" and learned many, countless life lessons over her 25 year reign.

A rare era has ended. No one will EVER replace Oprah. We've witnessed a rare occurrence in our lives. We have Oprah, Obama in the White House, a black first lady, Michelle, along with her mother and beautiful daughters....all making us proud.

As I reminisce, I realize I literary grew up with Oprah. I went from a young woman to a middle aged woman over the course of those years. I guess I never expected her to go away. She was such a staple in my home. I've learned so many lessons about life, love, relationships, people in general, the world and basically how I see myself. At the end of the day, we are all the same, no matter the race, sex, nationality---we want the same for our families, for our children. And none of us are perfect---life is a constant struggle to be the best we can be, live our best lives and serve others. We are all just trying to get it right, one day at a time.

I'll miss Oprah much like I'd miss a beloved relative. I know this isn't the end, only the beginning of even greater things to come. Even as she ended her show, she still had words of wisdom to instill.

Oprah says the lesson she wants everyone to get from this show is to know "what sparks the light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world. I didn’t even imagine that the show would have the depth and the reach that (it has now). ... Wherever you are, that’s your stage, your circle of influence. That’s your talk show, that’s where your power lies. … You have the power to change somebody’s life. Everyone has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it."

As she said her final goodbyes, "I won't say good-bye, I'll just say, until we meet again. To God be the glory."  Once again I thought, "Oprah is a true class act. Bravo."

And then the screen faded to black.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Confessions from a Soon-To-Be Empty Nester

"For over 2 decades my #1 pursuit was raising my children well,
and now the job is over,
and here I stand like a high-level,
high stress but low paid CEO
who's company just got bought out!"

In the not too far distant future, I will enter the realm of empty nester. And to be honest, I'm not too sure how I feel about that.

If you ask my husband, sure, he is ready to have the house to ourselves again. If you ask my acquaintances who have gone through this phase of their lives, it's wonderful. Enjoy it.

I'm still not convinced.

My son, Brandon, is a rising senior in high school and my daughter, Briana, is a rising junior in high school. So, they will leave to pursue a collegiate education in the very near future, and in back to back events. I won't have the opportunity to get use to one being gone before the other leaves.

Over the years, my children and I have had a great relationship; I can't even complain about the teenage years. I've always spent a lot of time with them and have always nurtured their interest, exposed them to new things and supported their endeavors, as most parents do. I've always tried to respect them as the individual and unique young people that they are. If I must say so myself, my children are good kids. They have good heads on their shoulders and will make intelligent decisions as they explore the next chapter of their lives as they "become" and fulfill their destiny.

So, what's the problem you ask?

To be honest, I'm not sure myself. Yes, I will miss them dearly. Yes, my buddies will be away at college, hopefully not too far, but not too close either. Yes, the house will feel empty without them, without the constant activity and chatter. Yes, they are moving on to the next phase of their lives and they will probably make some mistakes. Yes, they will become productive citizens of the world. And yes, I know they will make us proud.

I will forever cherish their early years: the first day of school, purchasing school supplies, buying the cartoon-character Valentine Day cards, picking the perfect Halloween costumes, waking up on Xmas morning, attending ballet, tap, jazz, basketball practices and games, cheering at cross country events, karate lessons, smiling as they recited Easter and Xmas speeches, attending school functions where they received awards, recited poems, and the list goes on and on and on. Great memories, great times...

I think the moving on means I have to enter the next phase of my life as well.

For so long, my identity has been one of wife, mother and author...I'll feel lost without wearing the title of hands on mom. True, I know I will always be their mom, but I must learn to function at a different level.

Change is good, right? Of course it is. The only thing that is constant is change. Now, I will have more time to spend with my husband, more time to focus on writing, more time to focus on me and me time.

A soon-to-be empty nester---that's me. That's my new title.
A title I will eventually wear with pride because I realize I have done the best I can in raising my children. My job is done.

I won't embrace it like a glove, but I'm sure in time, I will accept it. I have no choice.

For the parents who have little ones, my words of advice is to enjoy them, love them, hold them close...because the years fly by so quickly and one day you wake up and they are young men and women.

That's the beauty of's forever changing and evolving, just ripe for new memories and experiences.

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