I wouldn't seek out spending a weekend with Oprah. Most people who know me, know that I love to spend time outdoors and I love to read. I love to spend my time and money that way. In May when my sister asked me to join her for the weekend, I didn't hesitate. I didn't consider the cost, time and money. If she was going to make all the arrangements, then I would definitely go along for the ride. I had absolutely no expectations for the weekend except for wanting to have one good meal and have a good time with my aunt, sister, mom, and friend.
In a movie or in a book, the backdrop of rain and dark clouds would indicate that we were off to an ominous beginning as a front sat right down on typically sunny Miami, Friday. We spent our day outside regardless of the weather trekking through O-Town. We all waded through the mud, but my day started off right. I won a pair of $150 pants. Wow! I got lucky! Normally, I might spend $150 on a pair of sturdy sensible shoes or my entire wardrobe for the year. But that win was only the beginning.
What followed was an evening with Oprah where she kicked off her keynote dissecting the composition of stars. She ultimately led us to the idea that star material is what we are all made of. What a powerful message, especially one to bring back to students. She then gave an overview of her life and what resonated most with me was how reading impacted her life. She went to kindergarten as a reader and it was the caretaker in her life, her grandmother, that led her to that love. She also told the story of how she loved The Color Purple so much that she carried around copies of it and gave it away to people who hadn't read it. She loved it so much that she desperately wanted to be in that movie. By no accident, she was. Her keynote left us full that night, full of inspiration, full of hope, full of the anticipation of more.
In the morning we were given an unexpected seat upgrade. Although I didn't expect Oprah to stay all day when the rest of the speakers were they, I was delighted by the fact that she did facilitate the entire day. We kicked off the morning with meditation led by Deepak Chopra. We had a brief interlude with Elizabeth Gilbert, who waxed eloquently about Joseph Campell's theory of the monomyth and the importance of hero's story, especially for women. A science and spirit lesson with followed. Laughter, stories, and wisdom from Iyanla Vanzant closed out our afternoon. The day was also interspersed with writing exercises with Oprah. (What I know for sure is that when Oprah looks over your shoulder to read your paper. You better be ready to share.) I used Storify to capture my takeaways from their speeches.
What I loved most was that I carried the energy and spirit of the event into my Monday...and into my Tuesday and I felt people such as my fellow teachers, administrators and students alike responding to my mirror neurons over the past two days. I wonder how long I can sustain that sustain that energy and how I can foster it into my everyday living. I want that energy to last. In the end, I want to thank my sister for organizing the trip and getting us to go. Often that first step is the hardest part. I'm glad she made it.