and Robert Kolker
Anyone who knows me knows Oprah has been my Queen for over three decades! She first opened my (and soon the world’s) eyes to understanding everyone has a story worth telling back in 1986. Oprah Winfrey, a little black girl with big dreams-turned self-made powerhouse against all odds, showed me (us) how everyone wants and deserves to have a voice and to find meaning in their life.
The Oprah Show was the backdrop of my teens, twenties, and thirties, first watched live or recorded on VHS and later Tivoed or DVR’d. For all 25 seasons, as I left high school and a family I wanted to run from, went to college, to graduate school, into the teaching world, through heartbreak, through new love and marriage, and then through kids, Oprah was the sage advisor I looked to.
Millions upon millions of peoples’ hearts and minds were opened as we listened to Oprah’s celebrity interviews and, in my opinion, more importantly, everyday peoples’ stories we never would have known. Vulnerability was no longer a bad word as we came to understand by telling our honest truth and listening to others we were connecting and finding compassion.
We joined as Oprah shed sad tears about violence, sexual abuse, and difficult subjects. We joined in her celebrations and rejoiced with happy tears as she modeled the value in love and generosity. Festive holiday giveaways and The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls showed us how giving was the greatest gift of all.
From day one I joined Oprah’s Book Club, grateful to rekindle my love for fiction, especially during those lonely years of raising babies and being stuck at home without intellectual stimulation. I devoured her email newsletters with uplifting and informative articles I was always heard quoting. To this day, my family and friends love making fun of me when it comes to my devotion to Oprah. A favorite long-running joke is for my husband and daughters to send me pictures when they go out without me. Oprah is photoshopped next to them. “Look what you missed?” it might say as they stand in front of the toppings at the frozen yogurt shop.