I didn’t have a chance to watch Oprah Winfrey’s show yesterday and her announcement that she will be retiring in 2011. I must admit, I never watch her show. At 4P in the afternoon I’m either working or shuttling one of my kids to an afterschool activity. But when the segment popped up on the front of Yahoo last night (which is how I get all of my news) I had to watch. And I will fully admit it moved me beyond words. I never expected that but, over the past year dealing with tons of difficult stuff in my life, I find myself crying at the smallest and strangest things.
My two daughters (ages 7 & 4) were standing there with me as I was watching it. They have never seen Oprah’s show before or any other daytime talk show for that matter. So they asked me who she was. I will admit, I’ve never considered myself a big Oprah fan. I had the privilege of meeting her about seven years ago when she taped a public service announcement on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the power that emanated from her was incredible. But aside from that, I really didn’t keep up with her show.
So how do I describe one of the most powerful and successful women in the world to two little girls? It actually surprised me when I tried to find the words to describe who Oprah Winfrey is. It was only then I realized how much I respected and admired her on so many levels. As I explained to them, she is a pioneer for women in general and broadcast professionals in particular. She overcame incredible tragedies in her childhood and worked her way up to become one of the most powerful women in America. And she’s used that power to do amazing things around the world to help people. Every day, I told my girls, she shares stories about personal triumph, loss and spiritual awakening with millions of people who, because of this, feel a little less alone or sad. She connects with viewers who have walked similar paths to her guests and are searching for answers or comfort. She’s not afraid to discuss her past and the abuse she had to overcome because she knows that in doing this she might help one other person who has had to deal with similar abuse.
In following her passion and working hard, she has become successful possibly beyond her own dreams. And now she works to use her success to make a difference in other’s lives – girls in South Africa who might otherwise never have a chance to get an education.
So Oprah, thank you for providing a role model for my daughters of how, when you work hard and follow your dreams, there’s nothing you can’t do. And once you do reach your goals, it’s time to give back and pay it forward. These are life lessons I try to teach them every day but being able to show them a living example of it makes all the difference.