This past August I was speaking to the good folks at Harpo Productions about Oprah’s Life You Want Tour. It was the biggest, most exciting thing that has happened to me in, ooooh, probably ever. When that fell through I was legitimately bummed. The format changed, or something happened and as quickly as it came, the opportunity went.
I wasn’t going to attend the Tour, held in Miami last weekend. I couldn’t justify the expense or the time away from the family at this point in my Ironman training. But as the universe would have it, I was meant to be there. A week before the tour I received an email from Olay, one of the tour’s major sponsors.
Olay’s sponsorship centers around the most beautiful you, your #BestBeautiful. Basically, if you are happy, content and living the life you want, your beauty will shine through. Olay acknowledges that by creating products that help your skin keep up with your inner glow!
They asked if I would like to join them at the American Airlines Arena with a friend or two.
What a silly question.
The tour was a two-day event where Oprah spoke on Friday about her life, struggles and her path to success. I knew it would be two hours, and thought that is a LONG time for someone to be talking. The thought “she must be somewhat self absorbed” crossed my mind. But Oprah was incredibly relatable even if she was born poor, black and in Mississippi. I left that night with a fire inside.
On Saturday she was joined by her “trailblazers:” Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, and Iyanla Vazant. Between speeches from the cream of the crop, Oprah guided the thousands of people in attendance through a workbook to help us reach a new vision for our lives, the life we want.
I am a “mindful” person in the sense that I believe in energy, universe, spirit and the like. I buy into the whole thing because I have been through the wringer and lived to tell the tale: another day, another story.
Therefore much of what I heard I had already heard in one way, shape, or form over the last eleven years. Yet I am not always ready to receive a certain message, and it goes right over my head. So I am sure that there were hundreds of tidbits, meaningful stuff, insights I just was not ready to receive. Still, I was ready for many others.
I started writing them out for you but realized this would be the longest post in history. Unless you put these messages in a context they become just “memes” you can find on Twitter. I love those, but they won’t do the experience justice. I am committed to write more about them; in fact, one sure way to drive Joe crazy is to tell him “Well you know, Oprah said….”
Each participant was given a bracelet that would light up at certain times to create a mood. Red, blue, green … ten thousand bracelets turned the arena into something spectacular. It was impossible not to be moved.
Yet inspiration comes in all sorts of packages.
Along with a sampling of products, Olay also sent tickets for my friends. I dutifully posted on my personal Facebook page I had an extra ticket. I thought: “whoever really wants it will contact me.” That person was Mayra.
I’ve known Mayra for years but I didn’t know her story. We were in the same triathlon team way back when, and I would see her trotting along, struggling but never giving up.
Mayra has Multiple Sclerosis. A native of Venezuela, she was a practicing Physician at a Miami hospital when her disease took a turn for the worst. She was left unable to move or speak for weeks until finally a mixture of medicines, steroids, and grace allowed her to get up and get moving again. That’s when she started training.
The steroids left her with a significant weight gain as well as with a small hump on the bottom of her neck. She had to change careers since she couldn’t keep up with the grueling work schedule of a Doctor. Yet she recreated herself and works in medical billing while focusing on keeping herself healthy. And though a workout might not happen here or there, she swims daily and it’s the one thing she says she can’t live without.
Mayra signed up and trained for Ironman Florida the same year I did; but the morning of the race she was so sick she didn’t even make it to the starting line. My prideful self would have wallowed in self pity and spiraled into self hate rather quickly. Or I would’ve pushed myself to race anyways and get hurt. Mayra simply said, “this is not worth my health” and drove 900 miles home that Saturday while the rest of us raced. Not giving up, she is going to attempt it again in 2015, where she will be competing in the 60-64 age group. That is what she wants.
And the core of the weekend was that: we can ALL live the life we want. We can ALL dream, want, and heck even expect more of life. It doesn’t come for free, immediately, and without struggle but it does come. There’s a little engine in each of our souls that keeps pushing you to move towards your destiny. It’s a calling you eventually cannot ignore. Yet we go nowhere without a vision. We don’t achieve the dreams we don’t have.
Oprah led us through some exercises and the end of the weekend we were asked to create a vision of ourselves living the life we want. She said it should be concrete enough so that you could feel yourself living it. I don’t know what Mayra wrote, but I wrote mine. And fortunately I am living the life I want.
I have to make some adjustments, I need to figure out my career more clearly, but in general I am content. I am not the woman Elizabeth Gilbert described, the one crying at 3:00am on the bathroom floor because her soul is telling her she is living a life that was not meant for her: bound by obligations and unable to move forward.
Mayra is signing up for Ironman Florida again this weekend. She is going to keep at it. I am getting re-connected with my career path and choices, fine tuning the life I already love.
And as for being part of the weekend? It may not have been the way this journey started out when I was talking to the producers at HARPO; yet if Oprah has one trait I was not counting on is her power of connection. I was in the Olay VIP suite, far above the stage but I felt Oprah was talking to me. Her warmth, charisma, stories reached me as much as if I was sitting on her lap. Perhaps even more so because instead of worrying about what I was doing or how I looked, I could sit back and listen with an open heart and open mind.
A final big message of the weekend was to listen to the whispers, listen to the universe or listen to your soul as it is trying to say something. Those whispers turn into rocks, and then into a brick wall. Listen before you bang against it. I was meant to be at Oprah’s Life You Want Tour – one way or another, knowingly or not, I was going to that event.
Thank you Olay for interceding with my fate and getting me there. I hope to make you, Oprah, myself, and the universe proud of the person I am becoming.