I am honored to be writing a guest Career 2.0 blog after my weekend attending Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. I was the perfect candidate, freshly laid off of my job of 19 years as a TV producer. I was canned from my job August 7 while on vacation so I decided to say yes to every opportunity and reconnect with old colleagues and friends while on sabbatical. By chance, I met my old friend Julie at Panera with whom I worked 15 years ago. We used to watch Oprah at 4pm each day at work. We looked important because we worked in TV and had headphones on so people thought we were actually working.
So Julie and I went for a walk, and at the end of the walk she mentioned she had an extra ticket to the Oprah odyssey and I of course jumped at the chance to go. I then went home and furiously plotted, begged, borrowed, and stole Saturday carpools to be able to be present on Friday night and all day Saturday at the Oprahpalooza! So Julie and I (Julie 2.0) met up Friday night at the workshop. Little did I know she had third row seats on the floor of the Verizon Center. I could spit on Oprah. And yes she is the happy, heavier Oprah we all know and love. Of course I have watched too many Oprah shows and immediately when I sat down I felt underneath my chair for the keys to a new car. Sadly they were not there.
So now it is Friday night at the Verizon Center and I’m waiting for Oprah to inspire me. She rose out of the stage a few feet away and joked that, while she could not sing or dance, almost the entire Verizon center was sold out to hear her speak on a Friday night. Mostly women, skewing on the more African American scale but not by much, multi-generational women there to be inspired on what they should do with their lives. We held hands, danced together, and laughed.
So much estrogen wanting to know how to be guided and to find our dream job.
Oprah lesson one is that “the universe delivers what you put out there”. So basic yet true! If you are positive, positive things will come back to you. This message is followed by “you cannot manage other folks”. So do not go there, wasted energy, focus only on yourself. Finally “you co-create your life, so manage it as you want to live it”. It sounds corny now but we had these bracelets on that lit up in colors that correlated to the mood you were feeling. She inspired us all, made us laugh– she is really quite funny – and we all loved the night. I felt like Oprah was my BFF, my sister. I held hands with strangers next to me. Her final takeaway that night was an intimate moment she shared about her grandmother who raised her. As her grandmother got older she explained that one day she hoped Oprah would be as lucky as she was and work for nice white folks. This family was kind to her grandma with money, and donated clothes and food and only hoped Oprah could have the same thing. Oprah rounded out the night thanking us all for being her white folks. So very powerful, we all left on a high!
I had an epiphany during her talk that life is too short to be unhappy. I was inspired enough when I got home I told my husband, Mark, he should quit his job on Monday. Thanks Oprah! Oops, now we are both unemployed.
I’m back in my chair on Saturday morning by 8 am. This is the day we are rolling up our sleeves and figuring out the life we want. Oprah strolls out on stage right in front of me wearing jeans and a blue sweater and glasses and is ready to be the teacher. We have worksheets to finish the day and she is going to moderate us through the exercises.
So we begin by picturing someone we love and writing down what we wish they would do to succeed and be happy. Of course I pick my husband, who hates his job, and proceed to cry like a baby as I write down what I want for him. The cameras filming the event seize on me and I continue to cry outright; thankfully Julie ignores my very blatant tears and slides a tissue my way. It being all women in the crowd mostly, Oprah explains eventually we need to do the same exercise for ourselves. Women never do that for themselves. We then listen to a poet named Mark Nepo, by whom I am now wooed, and I find myself checking my texts on how the kids are doing at various sporting events. Oprah brings us back to the workbook and we fill out a pie chart on how we rank our lives—I spaced out and fill out 75% of mine to include family and friends and then pencil the other areas in like job, health, hobbies, spirituality, financial situation and the contribution to the world, and they all only get a teeny piece of the pie because hey that is the truth of a mom with 4 kids! I clearly need to start balancing out the pie with a few more slices for me. Then Oprah fills hers out on the big techno screen and she only rates her job a small portion of her pie chart. Shocking considering she had her own talk show for 25 years and owns her own TV network. But Oprah’s financial situation pie slice had a gazillion smileys—mine had two.
Saturday continued with inspired talks from Liz Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love who encouraged everyone to find their inner quest. We all have that dream dormant or ready to conquest. Now that I am unemployed – as will be my husband Mark come October 3 thanks to Oprah – we are so very tempted to take a memorable trip but we have a high school teenager too. So sadly it will not happen. I think the most inspirational speaker for me during the two days was a young pastor named Rob Bell, a hip 30-something man with a gift for story telling without the religious connotations. His message was what a miracle it is to be alive and have a conscientious choice.
I think the message I want to end with is that we all do not know our 2.0 yet and are trying to figure it out. I change my plan everyday. Oprah says everyone of us is looking for the same thing – we want to know we matter! And everyone has a story to tell, I just may not know mine yet. I do plan to spend this Sunday watching OWN’s Super Soul Sunday to be inspired again.
Thanks for reading oh and yikes I have a job interview this coming week. Game on Oprah!