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Monday, May 23, 2011

Imagining a World Without Oprah

When I was 17 I wrote for my school newspaper, The Honker Highlights (Yes, our school mascot was the Canadian Goose, also known as a “Honker”). One of the stories I covered was a review of a film entitled “The Color Purple”. This was how I first became aware of Oprah Winfrey.

I knew her as “Sofia”, a scrappy woman who refused to let abuse, poverty and unkindness get her down. I sat in the theater transfixed. I gave the movie a glittering review and then endured quite a bit of mocking for a few weeks from my schoolmates. It was ok, because I was scrappy too.

D & R269
I was not aware of Oprah’s early years as a talk show host. That came a few years later when I found myself an uneducated, single mother barely living above the poverty level. In between fashion makeovers and the beefcake men of Alaska she covered topics and interviewed individuals that made me dig deep into my own self and question what I was doing to benefit the world and others. To consider that if we are all given the same 24 hours in day shouldn’t we be trying to make a bigger difference? Here are a few people and things that made a difference to me.

My eyes can’t help but fill with tears when I think of Erin Kramp. This may be because I lost my biological mother at the age of five and still some 37 years later have a yearning in my heart which will probably never be filled. But more so I believe that she made me rethink about the legacy I am leaving for my own children and the precious gift of time that I have been given and how I should make the most of it. 

I will forever be heart printed by Mattie Stepanek. This young philosopher, poet and peacemaker changed the way many people looked at how they respond to situations in their life. Just one small boy changed the way people thought about the world. Wow.

While I have always been a reader, I at times merely read books just for the sake of passing time. Oprah’s Book Club made me reconsider reading books so that I could grow in knowledge and as an individual. Some of my favorites include:

Night” by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel
The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver
While Sarah Ban Breathnach never made Oprah’s book club list, this incredibly talented author was an invited guest to the show more than once. Her book “Simple Abundance” made me rethink how I see myself, how I could achieve any dream I might possess and how I can live life gratefully every day. Indeed I am now in the middle of my sixth year of re~reading her daily gratitude journal and it is one I recommend to everyone.
But the greatest lesson that resonates in my mind came from author and guest Toni Morrison who made me face the question of “Do your eyes light up every time your child enters the room?”
They didn’t then. They do now.

To merely say “Thank you” to Oprah for helping me dig deep and live my best life seems somewhat small. So instead I will continue to try to better myself and make a positive difference in the world.

I’d love to hear about your “Ah ha” moments.



Fay said...

Laura that was VERY moving to read .You are so right ! thankyou for sharing .these moment continue thru life so my list is very long !
love Fay x

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Just beautiful Laura!! I love the photos of your kids at the end of this post....and so true, our eyes should light up :):):):):):):):)

Chrissy said...

Life is beautiful, Laura. We should embrace every moment. The reading of "Simple Abundance", also made me sit back and think about what I should be thankful for everyday. I actually passed my copy on, but was thinking the other day about buying another one.
Thank you so much for your encouraging comment on my blog and your prayers are very much appreciated :)
Blessings to you

Charlene said...

Great post about growth & seeking self. The last photo is adorable! SWEET! Enjoy this life for it's the only one you have.... That is sometimes a hard fact to grasp & it seems you've done so well at a very early age!

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Hey! I am catching-up on your blog. Lovely post, by the way. I rarely ever get to watch Oprah's show, but I know she has inspired millions.

Blondie's Journal said...

Beautiful post, Laura. I will miss this show so much as it inspired me as well. Oprah really made me open my eyes to the world around me and some of her shows affected me profoundly. I will miss it but I can't wait to see what she does next.


Linda said...

While I'm not really a huge Oprah follower, I did occasionally enjoy her show. I love that statement though about eyes lighting up when a child enters a room. It actually makes me think of something I read by Debbie Boone about her dear Mother-in-Law, Rosemary Clooney, one of my most favorite singers of all time. It was about how she doted on her children/grandchildren and how she literally lit up at their very presence. Yes, I do that with my daughter. Nothing has thrilled me so much in my life, as simply being her Mom, hearing her voice and her laughter, and that of she and her friends. Some people might not understand that. But just a night ago, I sat in the living room, just beaming with a smile ear to ear, to the point of happy tears and gratitude to God. The reason was simply that I was listening to my daughter and her girlfriends in her room, laughing and talking. What a precious beautiful song to my ears.

Gypsy Heart said...

Beautiful post ~ and I so agree! I've shed buckets of tears re: Erin Kramp and her incredible legacy of love for her daughter and husband. They live in this area and have been on our nightly news this past week.

I became aware of "real" gratitude via Sarah ban Breathnach's appearances on Oprah and her book, Simple Abundance. I cannot count the times I've read it too ~ and sometimes just excerpts for a little reminder. :-)

Lots of life changing events in the past 25 years and a true gift to all of us I think.


Gypsy Heart said...

Beautiful post ~ and I so agree! I've shed buckets of tears re: Erin Kramp and her incredible legacy of love for her daughter and husband. They live in this area and have been on our nightly news this past week.

I became aware of "real" gratitude via Sarah ban Breathnach's appearances on Oprah and her book, Simple Abundance. I cannot count the times I've read it too ~ and sometimes just excerpts for a little reminder. :-)

Lots of life changing events in the past 25 years and a true gift to all of us I think.


Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

I have always admired Oprah for all she has done with her life and helping others. It will really be strange not to have her show on TV, although I no longer am a regular viewer.

Karena said...

Laura I am so fascinated as always by your background. Oprah has made such an impression on all of us.

I have read each of the books you have shown and more from her and my book club!

It will be very exciting to see what is on her horizon.

She has instilled in me the acts of Paying it Forward.

Art by Karena

Do Come and enter my Great Giveaway from Serena & Lily!

Karen said...

This is a wonderful tribute to Oprah. I have enjoyed her show through the years and my children have grown up with it. Oprah is an amazing woman and has had a profound impact on the world. It will be strange not to see her on tv everyday. But she has OWN now, I think she will continue her journey of enlightenment on her network.

Fay said...

Hi Laura thanx for your visit and comments yes I love them both and of course they lived and died here in Florence and they are laid to rest in the English Cemetery here which is very beautiful Fay xx

French said...

I confess, I really don't watch TV and can count on one hand the number of times I have seen Oprah's shows, though I did see her in person shopping at the adjacent rack at Chicago's Neiman Marcus a few years ago. Does that count...?? I had to ask the salesgirl..."is that...?" "Yes," she replied, "and we don't bother her." But seriously, I do think she has used her "air time" well for the most part, touching on thought- and action-provoking subjects and guests. Hopefully she will continue to carry this on, in another format or media.

Shirley said...

Dear Laura,
Yes, I too will miss Oprah. She had a way of selecting the best interview's that made a difference in someone's life. I have learned how to respect the many different folks in our world. Fat, Thin, short, tall, poor and yes, even rich. I have learned never think I am better that anyone or less than anyone. She has taught me that life is more than just's living your whole life!

{{{ clapping for a job well done Oprah}}}}

Betty said...

Thank you so much for this ispirational post. I feel today more than ever in my life that Ie must live each moment and give back. As so many writers have said in one way or another. I have a choice each day or each moment on how I want to live...
Bless you

Mimi said...

In the last few years I have been highly disappointed in all things Oprah. I think she is a great person and a philanthropist. But I feel now as though the Power has somewhat gone to her head, which I guess how could it not, she is the MOST Powerful Woman I think of our time.
I did read alot of her books, I listened to alot of her guest speakers who spoke to my heart and I agree 100% that YOU SHOULD LIGHT UP when your Child enters the room, RUN To them with OPEN arms like they are the MOST important thing in the world!!MINE ARE for sure!!!!
Hugs 2 U,

Judy Hartman said...

I too have been tremendously inspired and deeply touched and changed by Oprah over the years. I can't imagine any other show influencing me as much.
This was a beautiful post.

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I just finished watching her show today and I did not have tears in my eyes, they were rolling down my cheeks.


laxsupermom said...

What a beautiful post! I don't know that my eyes light up every time my kids enter a room, but that's definitely something that I can work on. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I love Oprah too! Such inspiring shows through the years.

I love your reminder about eyes lighting up when your children walk in the room. I think it should happen for ones husband too :)

Enjoying looking at all your photos from your trip. Looks like a grand time! XOL

Little Leslie said...

Laura, you have made a difference in our little blog world. You are sensitive and caring and generous. You love to share your life with others, and that's a great gift. Keep it up.

Teresa said...

Oprah never touched me the way I've seen others being touched; so, to be honest, I miss to understand the hype surrounding her...
Your post made the difference, I stand correct.

I just think that she was just the one who pointed the door, your beautiful soul and being was already heading there.

I'll have to return to this post of yours, now there's a sensation here - teresapointsherthroat - that doesn't allow me to enjoy the pictures.

Take care Sweet Lady.

Carmie of the Single Nester said...

Sarah's book is one of a few that I read every day.