Oprah was in Dallas this weekend!!!
In full disclosure, I grew up watching the Oprah Winfrey Show daily. As a young teen, she was to many what she had sought on the screen – a powerful and positive reflection of us. Love or hate her (I sit in the former), you can’t deny her impact not only on little black and brown girls or women watching her dominate a field primarily led by men, but also the larger American culture.
So when she announced her Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus, it was a forgone conclusion I would be there. 17,000 of us joined Oprah for a day of self-empowerment and inspiration to make 2020 our year of wellness and renewal.
Although it was a cold and windy morning, my girlfriend and I braved the wind to join many early birds to line up outside the American Airlines Center before the doors opened at 7:30am. The excitement in the air was so contagious, most of us were able to block out the morning wind.
Once inside, we had the opportunity to walk the concourse and visit several of the exhibits as well as take pictures with giant signs of Ms. O herself before making our way to our seat. WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined), the tour sponsor was also in attendance offering a discount on their program and a free cookbook. After hearing and watching the inspiring weight loss stories, I signed-up on the spot for a membership.
The day started with an energetic opening and dance party by Daybreaker. It was a sight at first to see so many people from all backgrounds on their feet and following the directions of the Daybreaker team.
“Every morning you wake up, you have a choice; to see this world the way you want to see it.”Daybreaker
Once the dance party ended, we were encouraged to turn on the lights on are phones, the arena went dark and it began!! First up was a short story about Oprah’s wellness struggles. A visit to the Tonight Show with guest host Joan Rivers that she later shared felt like fat shaming about her weight. Images of Oprah at various sizes. The famous (or infamous) episode of her wheeling out the wagon of fat after a 67 pound weight loss. Oprah would later share that she ultimately gained back the weight and then some.
After the short film, She. Walked. Out. Oprah Winfrey!! I don’t know what I was expecting, and there is a short list of people I fan over. But there I was, standing ovation, clapping wildly as one of my idols made her way to the stage. She was personable, funny, transparent and honest about her struggles, about where she is at this time in her life and the shift from focusing on the scale to creating wellness and finding the healthy weight for HER. Oprah shared and told stories for an hour – her connection to God, her connection to food and offered a glimpse into her life now. At the age of 66, she told us that she has earned every bit of her life.
Our workbook journey – your wellness quotient
In each seat when we arrived inside the arena was a wellness gift bag including our wellness workbook and a pen. You have no idea how the world will stop if I misplace this pen. For one second I couldn’t locate it and thought I was going to have to stop the show for a floor search.
Crisis averted after I located the prized pen, I turned my attention back to Oprah who guiding us through our wellness self-assessment in the areas of mind, body and spirit to determine by scoring 5 statements each about our emotions, learning style, work, nutrition, movement,purpose and relationships to arrive at our wellness quotient.
My quotient meant that: I know what wellness can be and should aim for more of it.
To close out the exercise, we looked at the statements we scored the lowest to identify three areas we would focus on for more balance in our life.
After the opening session, Oprah was joined onstage by Jesse Israel, founder of The Big Quiet who led us through a guided meditation. In theory, this was an opportunity to clear our minds and connect with our intentions. In reality, it was hard to get total silence in an arena filled with 17,000 people. I spent most of the time trying to tune out the constant walking (I was in an aisle seat) and resisting the urge to shout “Sit Down!” to those in my section. The exercise did remind me to allow more time for meditation in my daily practice.
Our workbook journey – your wellness intention
Sometimes in order to go forward, you have to look back. What didn’t work in the past? What stopped you from reaching a previous goal? During this exercise, Oprah led us through understanding the intentions behind those previous goals through a series of questions designed to provide our own private moment of truth. Now that we knew why the previous goals failed, we were able to set wellness intentions for our mind, body and spirit.I will confess I didn’t finish this section of the workbook during the exercise. It felt like I needed to give more thought to my intentions once I got home and had time to reflect more on the workbook.
Lunch Break – Organized Chaos
Our ticket into the event entitled each participant to a boxed lunch from Panera Bread. I have another confession. Many of the attendees had went early for a break and discovered that you could get your lunch box before the official break. After seeing so many brown and white boxes, I was one of those people grabbing turkey sandwich boxes for myself and my friend.
Watching those who patiently waited to be released to get their lunch felt like a long time. I felt a twinge of guilt mixed with relief that I had gotten our boxes earlier. My one suggestion for the day would have been to give every attendee our lunch as we arrived. The choices consisted of turkey or veggie sandwiches or an arugula salad. Each selection included chips, apple and a bottle of water. Since none of these items were hot choices, we could have kept the lunch at our seat until it was time to eat.
Dance is our Superpower: KINRGY and Julianne Hough
After lunch, Oprah brought Julianne Hough, Dancing With The Stars alum and KINRGY to get the crowd moving again with a 15-minute session part spiritual and part fitness as we connected with the 4 elements of earth, fire, water and air. My girlfriend decided to sit this one out so it was up to me to follow the choreographed moves while focusing on my breathing.
Our workbook journey – our commitment contract
We were nearing the end of our workbook journey. At this point in the day, it was time to make a commitmentment, the “decision to keep our word to ourselves and our lives.”
First, we would need to establish healthy habits based on the self-assessment we completed earlier in the day. There was space in the workbook to establish 3. I will be honest and share that I only got through 1 during the session. I was starting to feel like I wanted to spend more time in thought and prayer before committing anything to paper.
This became true when it was time to complete my wellness contract, a declaration of wellness that would support my vision for 2020. It didn’t feel like something to complete in the arena surrounded by 16,999 new friends. My girlfriend and I both agreed to finish the contracts over the weekend.
Oprah + WW
It was expected that at some point the conversation would shift to WW. After all, weight had been such an integral part of Oprah’s story as indicated in the opening montage. Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW International, joined Oprah on stage to talk about the new WW. This segment also spotlighted local trailblazers who had not only found success with the WW program but who were also making a difference in their community. It was definitely inspiring listening to the burdens lifted, not just the weight, and how these ladies were now thriving in their newfound purpose.
Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour Visionaries: A Conversation with Tracee Ellis Ross
I will admit Tracee Ellis Ross has been a girlfriend in my head since I first saw her on the hit show Girlfriends. Putting aside her mother is THE Diana Ross, Tracee has always come across as relatable and down to earth. Seeing her in person for the first time, she did not disappoint.
Engaging and funny, what struck me the most was Tracee’s vulnerability. She shared the journey she has been on to live a “juicy” life and the fact that she is “choicefully single.” It can be difficult to live in your own truth and make the decisions that work for your life especially when it differs from the expectations of others.
My life is mine.tracee ellis ross
She shared with us that initially she wanted to be a singer, but she tucked that dream in her pocket partly worried about judgement on her voice being the daughter of a legend. Nervously, she gave the Dallas audience a sneak peak of her voice in a scene from a new movie releasing in May.
Tracee was overcome with emotion as she shared the moment her mom, Diana Ross, heard her sing. It was such a touching story and illustrated not only how she found her (singing) voice but also how she found her voice in this world. Needless to say, her mom was very proud. The story reminded me that although we know and love her as DIANA ROSS; to Tracee and her siblings, she is simply “Mommy.”
My takeaway from the story is that it doesn’t matter our background; at some point, we have all struggled with insecurities. What path would we take if we freed ourselves from the expectations or opinions of others. I, for one, can’t wait to hear more from Tracee, the singer.
The space between where I am and where I want to go is often the thing that frightens me the most.tracee ellis ross
Tracee also talked about the challenging the standard ideals of beauty and learning to love and accept herself. It was that belief that led Tracee to create the hair company Pattern, encouraging those with curly, coily and tightly textured hair to celebrate their natural hair patterns.
The day ended with Oprah at her best – an emotional recap of her time with her mom during her last days and the power of forgiveness and acceptance. She challenged us that if she could make it through all that life had thrown at her, then so could we. It starts with a decision.
17,000 of us were leaving that arena transformed. A day spent with Oprah and her guests gave us focus on true wellness (mind, body and spirit), clear intention and commitment.
“Let’s make 2020 the year of transformation and triumph. Beginning first and foremost with what makes us well.”Oprah
And when Oprah said repeat after me, the commitment became personal.
I CAN & I WILL. WATCH ME!
Title Musical Nod: Cherish the Day (Sade)