Celebrating and Owning my 50th Birthday- Just like Oprah Did

Rachel Steinman
10 min readJan 19, 2021

Only During a Worldwide Pandemic

Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake mural on my birthday, Los Angeles 2019

Seventeen years ago, I was 33 and the year was 2004. A highlight of my day was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. I set it to the number one position to record on Tivo, insuring nothing superseded it so I didn’t miss one. I’d look forward to the time I could put my baby down for a mid-day nap to watch the day’s previous episode. Or I’d watch that day’s episode in the evening after putting my baby down for the night. Sitting cross-legged on my couch, I’d give my full attention to my hero on the small screen. Oprah was my teacher who loved teachers and I was a teacher. She made me think, feel inspired, consider possibilities, smile, be moved to tears, and dream big. She was the wise sage with an inviting smile who inspired me to read. I would create a book club with a handful of incredible women friends I’d collected from my life offering me mental stimulation and life support when I feared losing myself to the great responsibility of new motherhood.

With each new episode, I was reminded it’s ok to feel deep emotions and not to run away from them. Oprah showed me the importance of supporting other women and to see how strong we can be when we are given opportunities, room to grow, and a sense of purpose. She showed me by example, how one person can make an enormous difference and to believe in the goodness of (wo)mankind.

I don’t remember where my baby was when I watched Gayle King surprise her BFF, Oprah with a 50th birthday party on national TV. She was likely climbing on and off my lap because I couldn’t wait to watch this special and very hyped-up episode without commercials. Oprah’s star-studded, highly produced surprise “50th Birthday Celebration in Style” began with John Travolta toasting his friend with her favorite Cristal Champagne. Stevie Wonder serenaded with a backdrop of walls of roses. Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Celine Dion, Tom Hanks, Josh Groban, and Quincy Jones, to name a few, made cameos and shared their immense love and admiration for the woman who changed the world’s perceptions about owning your life and what it meant to live a life worth celebrating.

Oprah reflected on her 50th birthday by saying, “To deny your age, to lie…

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Rachel Steinman

Host of “Dear Family,” the Podcast, Writer, Educator, and Mental Health Advocate https://writenowrachel.com/