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Top Takeaways from Seeing Oprah in Person


Oprah's "The Path Made Clear" Book Tour in Montreal on January 16, 2019

Note: If you are about to see Oprah at an upcoming event, this blog post might be a spoiler.

When Oprah first debuted as host of "AM Chicago" on WLS-TV, it was January 2nd 1984, and I was just over 16 months old. In another year, my baby sister would be born. As I look back, I see that Oprah’s public career paralleled my own life. It seemed like The Oprah Winfrey Show was a constant feature on television at 4pm in our household growing up. In those days, mom would turn on the small kitchen television by hand and adjust the large dial in the upper right-hand corner to ABC 7. There were only 13 channels on that television. There was no remote or even a “space commander” for that tv. I remember that day in 1988 when Oprah, as thin as a toothpick, had wheeled a shiny red Radio Flyer wagon out with 67 pounds of animal fat on it after she had lost weight on a liquid diet. Which reminds me of those chocolate shake commercials with Tommy Lasorda back in 1991 where he would explain one liquid diet program: “A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner!” Oprah’s struggle with weight mirrored my own struggle, as my mom and I were following the low-fat craze through my early teenage years in the 90s. Through the years, dinner time usually followed the Oprah Show. Usually, my father would come home from work just before the show or somewhere in the middle. Inevitably, he would make fun of how people would often express their emotions so openly by saying, “What, are they gonna cry now?” Often my mom, sister, and I would just roll our eyes, giggle, and shake our heads. Apparently, Dad, and probably many other men, just didn’t get it. This really demonstrated the real need of strong female representation in the media and society, not to mention presence and representation for people of color.

The first Rated-R movie that my parents allowed me to see was “The Bodyguard” starring Whitney Houston. The soundtrack from the movie was also one of my parents first compact discs they owned, which frequently was on repeat in their five-disc changer. It was Whitney’s track, “I’m Every Woman,” that became the theme song for The Oprah Winfrey Show starting in 1993.


I remember so many stars that received their big television break on Oprah: Dr. Phil (psychologist), Nate Berkus (interior designer), Iyanla Vanzant (life coach), Dr. Oz (surgeon), Rachel Ray (chef), Suze Orman (financial advisor), and Bob Greene (fitness expert). Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend who often appeared on her show, seems to also be well-known because her relationship to Oprah, however Gayle was always in television. Oprah’s work in personal development and her book club were truly inspirational to me. It was from her show that I first realized what an “Ah-ha” moment is. Oprah defines an “ah-ha” moment live at her book tour event: A moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

Oprah’s online class with Eckhart Tolle was life-changing for me in how I look at worry and stress, as well as the fact that it brought out the capabilities of skype and online classes into the mainstream. I would download the classes as podcasts and watch or listen to them on my ipod, especially while commuting to Manhattan in my 20s. While I knew of Oprah’s OWN channel and Super Soul Sunday series, I had not gotten so involved with it, probably because I was going through so many transitions as part of my 30s, however I predict that I will be continuing to catch up!


Because so many family were asking me what it was like to see Oprah live, I would like to leave you with my top takeaways from being at Oprah’s Montreal stop on her “Path Made Clear” tour. In addition, Iyanla Vanzant appeared halfway through as a special guest who was influential to Oprah and shared lots of wisdom.


When Oprah took the stage and everyone jumped to their feet, I couldn’t help but have tears streaming down my face. She came out wearing a Toronto jacket over her evening gown. She was glad that the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship, but of course that meant her speaking engagement in Toronto was canceled because of the Finals. She recalled how lovely Montreal is in the springtime. The last time she came to the area, her eyelashes and the little hairs in her nostrils froze, and so she vowed to come back in warm weather only. Throughout the evening, Oprah revealed and reflected on many of her life’s stories, from her conception, her relationship with her mother, her early days in television, facets of her relationship with Stedman, the progress of the graduates of her school in South Africa, the death of her mother, and other poignant moments of her epic life.

The many takeaways I received from Oprah were...

Life is ours to design for ourselves. If you are feeling negatively about life, it is our task to design our own lives the way that we want it.

Stop comparing yourself to other people and instead, use what you have!

In relationships, the romantic period disguises the fact that your partner is someone who will bring up all of your “stuff.” Inevitably we then need to be able to deal with the “stuff” and unresolved issues from our past.

You don’t have to look for your purpose. Your purpose gave birth to you. Get on your path, tap into your purpose, and walk it out.

Your roots don’t bind you...Life is not static.

The worst betrayal is to betray yourself, to stay too long in a relationship or job that isn’t meant for you, and even so long that it will affect your health.

When Iyanla came out, the crowd went absolutely wild with love and adoration! Here are some of my takeaways from her:

“If you don’t heal your wounds, you will continue to bleed.”

“Lives fall apart because they need to be rebuilt.”

“Thought is energy that impregnates reality with mental constructs.”

We often are enslaved by our past circumstances, but what we are going through is not located externally, it is located internally. It’s not “out there,” but it’s “in here.”

We need to design a spiritual maintenance plan. We have maintenance plans for the things we purchase, but not for our heart, mind, or soul.

Iyanla starts her day with a prayer, a daily reading, journaling about the daily reading, and listing her gratitudes that she says will program her brain.


Finally, I would like to leave you with some meaningful quotes that were used through the evening:


I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

From Invictus by William Ernest Henley


For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics


I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver


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AMY PANETTA, MA NC

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