Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Oprah Experience

About 2 ½ weeks ago, my friend Katie scored two tickets to the Oprah Winfrey show through an on-line lottery. The tickets were for Tuesday, May 17th at the United Center. The tickets were for one visit, where they were taping two shows, her two final shows with a live audience. These two shows will air next week on Monday and Tuesday, May 23rd and 24th. And guess who she invited to go with her!??? Yep, you guessed right! Me! My answer to her invitation was a resounding YES! I was absolutely honored that she asked me and totally thrilled to be attending and to be part of history. It’s hard to believe that Oprah is retiring her day time talk show. Seriously, has it been 25 years already??? I’ve been watching her show since I was 19, yes 25 years and I’ve never been to a show at least not until last night. I always wanted to but it seemed impossible to get my hands on tickets. Last night was the big event. Two fantastic shows were taped at the United Center. The United Center is an indoor sports arena here in Chicago, home to the Chicago Bulls (basketball) and the Chicago Blackhawks (hockey).  I read and its been reported that there were 20,000 people there. The taping began at 6pm and ended after 11pm. Yes, it was a long day and especially a long night, but it was an exciting night. I got home at 1am and it was after 2:30am before I finally fell alseep.

My experience at the United Center last night was exceptionally exciting and truly extraordinary. I didn’t know what to expect which made it all the more exciting. Nobody knew what to expect. It was a surprise. Last night I felt like I was at the Oscars. It was a night filled with many stars, A-list celebrities. Many of them were on the stage. They came to pay tribute to Oprah and did so one at a time. A little over 30 I believe were on the stage at various points throughout the night and this doesn’t include the celebrities in the audience. The celebrities on stage paid tribute to Oprah with their presence, their words and several paid tribute with song and dance. The music was fantastic! It was absolutely sensational and spectacular!  Tom Hanks was masters of ceremonies. The stars and artists I saw last night on the stage were: Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Madonna, Dakota Fanning, Jackie Evancho (power house voice!), Beyonce (she's hot!), Queen Latifa, Halle Barry (lovely), Will Smith (love him!), Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Jordon (Unforgettable), Jaime Foxx (charming), Stevie Wonder, Rascal Flats, Jerry Seinfeld (halarious!), Simon Cowell (yummy, yes I have a not-so-secret-anymore crush on him), Rosie O'Donnell,  Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus (dreamy), Dr. Oz.(smart!), Gayle King (funny), Maria Shriver (amazing!), Tyler Perry( blessed), Maya Angelou (filled with wisdom), Alicia Keys, Kristin Chenoworth, Diane Sawyer, Stedman (Oprah's love), Aretha Franklin and Usher (his music always makes me dance immediately). It was an amazing line up of people! And OMG ... the audience went crazy when they introduced Michael Jordon. Wow! ...

Stedman was the last to speak, yes! … he took the stage! Can you believe it? He spoke beautiful and heart felt words that honored Oprah and used terms of endearment like honey and sweetheart which melted my heart. Seriously, his words made my heart smile really big. I just wanted to hug him! At one point Stedman said: "Honey, you are so special and I love you for making a difference in my life." Then added: "I'm so happy for your success and so proud of you. ... it amazes me that I get to be around a woman who changes people's lives everyday.”  Now doesn’t that make you want to exhale: Awww??? At the end, Stedman said that Oprah's success was possible because of God's amazing grace on her life and with that said, he introduced the legendary Aretha Franklin who took the stage. At this point Aretha began to sing “Amazing Grace.” When the audience saw her, they went crazy! Absolutely crazy!!! It was like being in church last night as she sang Amazing Grace. The joy and the excitement was uncontainable. Usher was the last surprise guest who took the stage. The show ended with Usher singing “Oh Happy Day.” It’s one of my fav’s. Oh Happy Day is a 1967 gospel music arrangement of an 18th century hymn. It’s a sweet song that always reminds me of my early teen years. We use to sing that song at Thursday night’s youth service. Everyone in the audience sang along to Happy Day and clapped. I sang too and clapped and quietly thanked God for such an amazing experience. It was an incredible moment. Last night felt truly magical, nothing short of epic! I still get goose bumps as I recall last night’s event. It's no wonder I fell alseep after 2:30am. Last night was one big LOVE fest. The energy was palpable.

Oprah was deeply moved several times throughout the night. So was the audience. They placed boxes of Kleenex all over the United Center for people because they knew tears would be shed. How very smart of them! I think my eyes got watery once but mostly my face felt like it was going to cramp because I couldn’t stop smiling. My heart felt happy, happy to be there, happy to be part of history and happy to witness such a lovely display of love and affection for woman who has blessed us so richly. I was really happy for Oprah. I can’t even imagine what she felt last night. Love, love, love. That's all I felt in the air last night. I trust that's exactly what she felt too, indescribable, amazing love in epic per portion.

I’ve learned so much through the years because of her show. For 25 years, Oprah has inspired millions, including me. She helped me wake up in many ways. She inspired us to live our best life and reminded us that we have power and that we are people of value and that we matter just because we exist. She’s a true woman of influence who inspired me to be a woman of influence myself. Oprah is one of many who have contributed to my emotional growth. I’m thankful for her contribution in my life. She’s an absolutley extraordinary human being and today, my heart feels a tremendous amount of gratitude. I’m grateful for how she’s blessed millions and for how she’s blessed me. If I had to sum it up, I would say that I learned, I laughed, and shed many tears through the years because of her show. She inspired dreams, and encouraged and motivated people to live their best life and she did that every single day. The world became a better place because of her influence. She helped millions. She helped me.

Thank you Oprah! Thank you for 25 great years. Your life story and your success is an inspiration to many. Thank you for giving back and for inspiring the world to give of their time, their talents and their resources. You have left an indelible mark on our hearts and we will forever be thankful. We love you Oprah! Keep shining!

And thank you Katie for inviting me to share this amazing night with you!

My cup runneth over ...


P.S. Fourteen years ago on May 30, 1997, Oprah gave the commencement address to Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She told the graduates that she'd learned five important lessons that made her life better. Oprah shared:

1.) Life is a journey. Everyday experiences will teach you who you really are.

2.) When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. This is especially helpful with men. Don't force them to beat you over the head with the message.

3.) Turn your wounds into wisdom. Everyone makes mistakes. They're just God's way of telling you you're moving in the wrong direction.

4.) Be grateful. Keep a daily journal of the things you are thankful for. It will keep you focused on the abundance in your life.

5.) Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.

Her words have helped me immensely through the years. Thank you Oprah! Thank you for being you!

Beautiful Goodbye is a song sang by Josh Kelley (Click on link below) This is the song that is played during the current Oprah commercials. It's beautiful. Enjoy ...