“Remember to fill your cup up and let it overflow to the others in your life.” This was the theme of Oprah’s recent Live Your Best Life weekend in New York City. A powerful message for women who often put the needs of others before their own. Taking time to celebrate with Oprah for 36 hours was a wonderful Mother’s Day gift to myself. I arrived at the Jacob Javitz Center at 7 am along with 6,000 faithful fan. We came together to commemorate the tenth anniversary of O Magazine. I’ve read every copy and either devoured each issue the day it arrived in my mailbox or savored it during a business trip or for a delicious Saturday afternoon when I could leisurely enjoy each article. Oprah is so inspiring. A self-made person, deeply spiritual, authentic and a visionary. A winning combination that also makes her the target of criticism and put-downs. Yet this weekend, she was surrounded by women and some brave men who traveled from all over the country and even from overseas to recognize her and several of her well-chosen contributors whose wisdom and insights have enhanced many lives, including my own.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book, Eat, Pray, Love, kicked off the morning session with a powerful self-affirming message of being self-loving and doing our best each day. She spoke about four types of women: ones who put career over family and feel conflicted; ones who put family over career and feel conflicted; ones who balance career and family and feel conflicted; and mystics: those who found a deeply resonant inner voice and follow this path where ever it leads. Throughout the day there were sessions with Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus, and Martha Beck. Dr. Oz shared the ten things we can do to live a longer, healthier life infused with great passion. Women are the Chief Health Officers of our families, what we do and say resonates with people and creates ripples of change. Dr. Oz is so passionate about his subject that he speaks very fast, something I can relate to. Nate is such a compassionate, down to earth person with great flair. I loved his session on ten things to do to make your home fabulous, without spending lots of money. He believes that one’s home is a sanctuary to feed one’s soul. He invited us to edit things out that are ugly or sap our energy. I threw out a garbage bag (the industrial-strength extra hefty size) of papers when I got home on Sunday afternoon just to start transforming his words into action. He talked about a crystal decanter that holds his toothbrush and how he bought it for $3 in a flea market. He inspired me to really attack my closet clutter. Now I just need to block out a little time each week to make my way through the house. Martha Beck was magnificent – wise, funny and poignant – and doesn’t sugar-coat anything that life has thrown her way.
Life takes us to joy and to suffering. In suffering we learn what you need to take you back to a place of joy. Years ago, I had heard her speak and devoured her memoir, Expecting Adam. Yet, it was as if I was hearing her story for the first time, totally anew. She shared ten tips to get back on the Road to Joy. The path of stillness, the path of truth, the path of yearning, the path of creativity, the path to risk, the path of treats, path of play, path of rest, path of laughter and tears, and the path of gratitude. Saturday was her son Adam’s 22nd birthday and at the end of her talk, Adam came onto the stage and received a standing ovation.There were so many shared stories, connections and excitement among the attendees. Women of all ages and backgrounds (and those brave guys) converged to “fill their cups” and celebrate the company of kindred sisters. Saturday night was Oprah’s event at Radio City Music Hall. She gave a one-woman performance telling her life story as she said, “From me.
You can tell people you heard it right from my mouth,” clearly a reference to the new un-authorized biography on the same topic. From humble beginnings, traumatic childhood abuses, to eloquent oration that led to her first public accolades “As Miss Fire Safety of Mississippi, 1971,” to her early days in radio and local TV. She shared many failures and humiliations, like being told that her hair and lips were too big. The TV station manager in Baltimore actually sent her on a mandatory road trip to a fancy salon in New York City. The expensive treatment she was forced to endure actually caused all of her hair to fall out, which led to her insight that “I am not my hair or my appearance.” She continued to talk and win over viewers and 25 years ago she launched the Oprah Winfrey Show. Speaking of hair, she shared a hilarious montage of hair styles from the day. She also highlighted two poignant interviews with people who had touched her the most. One was with a young woman whose face had been destroyed by a fire, yet her spirit was untouched.
Another was a new mother who contracted an infection that caused her to lose her arms and legs just days after the birth of her son. Oprah also shared the behind-the-scenes look at the launching of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and spending two weeks with Nelson Mandela as a guest in his home. She showed footage from the initial interviews with some of the girls in her school and shared how their issues of self-esteem can be reflected in each one of us. She also talked about the how she realized the dream of her life, to appear as an actress in the movie The Color Purple. The finale consisted of a ten-foot Birthday Cake, wheeled onto the stage by 50 glamourous Rockettes holding giant copies of the O Magazine 10th Anniversary issue. In a wonderful gender-bending reversal, Hugh Jackman popped out from behind the cake, wearing a snazzy blue suit and playing the role of adoring side-kick, while the entire audience sang Happy Birthday to O Magazine. At the end of the performance, I wanted to savor the moment and spend time to let the message connect with my entire being.
It was a glorious New York City night. I walked across town, wearing a new dress which I bought to celebrate my 50th birthday, which is going to be on June 11. It seemed appropriate to not keep it in the closet until then since my birthday will also be the tenth anniversary of the start of Soaringwords. I decided to celebrate both milestones in style! Sunday morning I joined thousands of Live Your Best Life devotees clad in t-shirts at The Intrepid.
We walked along the Hudson River making our way to Times Square for the close of the weekend with Oprah, Gayle King, Bette Midler, singer Tracy Chapman and others. My dream is to launch the Soaringwords the Power to Heal TV show on the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) which will be launched on Jan. 11, 2011. This past two days gave me much inspiration to push forward in transforming this dream into a reality. As I fill my cup with all of the wonderful teachings and connections I made, it overflows into my mission to inspire millions of ill children and families to heal. Life is great!