For those closest to me they know I am not a devoted Oprah follower. Her power at times has been alarming to me and her ability to blacklist or blindly support others has been something I have been skeptical about. Sometimes I thought she would cross from talk show to therapist to censor and campaign manager. But her audience loved her.
All that being said…after two and a half decades Oprah Winfrey stepped away from her wildly successful television talk show to begin a new chapter in her life.
How she would end this part of her journey was highly speculated in the press and met with anticipation by her millions of followers. Would it be a spectacular event with extravagant giveaways? Would it be one that featured famous and inspiring people or her loyal staff? Her last stint on stage was a display of gratitude, humility and a message that rivaled sermons given by Rev. Billy Graham.
Many people saw Oprah adorn the Fortune 500 List as being one of the most powerful, influential and wealthiest people in the world. They might view her as a celebrity who lives an opulent lifestyle in mansions and exclusivity. She is not one layered and there is more than the home that she lives in or her financial statement to validate how she became such a 20th century powerhouse.
There are so many ways in which she opened our eyes up. She made reading popular and exciting through her book club. She inspired self reflection through gratitude journaling. Education was at the top of her list and was an ongoing topic of discussion. Winfrey described the world as her classroom.
Oprah chose to use her recognition and celebrity to bring awareness to social issues no one else would tackle. She made some people squirm a little as she brought issues to the surface that were uncomfortable but needed to be dealt with. People unafraid to confront personal issues were challenged to make a positive change in their lives. As a television personal coach, she emphasized personal responsibility – to own what is the reality of each person’s life in personal, health and financial issues. Oprah forced us to look at how we fit in to a bigger and sometimes different shaped box.
I did watch most of her last show. The best message I received in her closing tribute to her audience was that we don’t have to be rich or famous to be a powerful force to change or make a difference in the life of someone else. Each one of us, no matter what our circumstances are, can do something to make this a better world. In her final statement, she didn’t take credit for her accomplishments as she said, “To God Be the Glory.” “Amen, Oprah!”