As her 25 year talk show run comes to an end in 2011, it’s time to reflect on all that we’ve learned from Oprah Winfrey over the years. The Book of O has taught us all a little something- even if we didn’t realize it.
It’s not about the food. Fans of Winfrey’s know all took well of her ongoing love-hate relationship with food. And when she lugged out a wagon full of fat while wearing her size 10 skinny jeans back in 1988, we thought she had it all figured out. Turns out, drinking meal replacement shakes isn’t the answer. It took O a long time to come to terms with what her struggles with weight were really about. She finally taught us all this lesson: when it comes to weight, it’s not about the food.
Books are personal. Oprah launched her infamous “Oprah’s Book Club” back in 1996, with the Jacqueline Mitchard novel, “The Deep End of the Ocean”. I liked that book and planned to forge on. But some of Winfrey’s selections weren’t my cup of tea. A few of her book choices were heavy, when what I was in the mood for was fluffy chick lit like “The Nanny Diaries”. And while some of the later books she selected were classics (“East of Eden”, “Anna Karenina”) I started to feel like I was back in literature class. Life is short and there are so many books to read, so Oprah taught me that reading is a personal choice. I dropped out of her club and never looked back.
Your home should rise up to meet you. Oprah taught us that our home- whether it’s 500 square feet or 5000, should be our sanctuary, a place for nurturing our spirit. She told is to surround ourselves with beautiful things, to clear out the clutter and to organize.
When it comes to decorating, less is more. Forget the fussy floral couch. Oprah’s designer pal Nate Berkus has been on her show enough times to show us that a couch in a neutral color with patterned accent pillows that can easily be switched out are better choices. Simple pieces mixed with a few eclectic picks or antiques will work in any room. Don’t be too matchy matchy, as in don’t buy all of the matching pieces of a dining room set (oops).And don’t forget the flowers. Oprah doesn’t like the fake, plastic ones. Fresh flowers should be in your home- and her florist friend Jeff Leatham gave us another tip: skip the mixed bouquets and buy a bunch of all one flower or keep your flowers monochromatic instead.
Oprah’s favorite things would be our favorite things, too- if we could afford them. For years, Oprah hosted her annual “Favorite Things “episode, usually sometime in late November. She’d showcase that year’s best gift ideas- and doled one of each out to every member in her audience. While I did pick up a few good gift ideas from “Oprah’s Favorite Things” (Philosophy skincare products, the Planet Earth DVD set), many of the items were way out of my Christmas shopping price range. Sure, I’d love to give my mom an LD HDTV Refrigerator, but it just isn’t in the budget.
O knows a lot of chefs- and she’s a good source of recipes. Some of my favorite recipes have come straight off of Oprah’s show and website. She’s chummy with some of the most popular cooks in the biz and frequently had celebrity chefs guests on her show like Martha Stewart, Tyler Florence, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen. Some of my favorite recipes seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show include Cristina Ferrare’s Turkey with Marinade , Rocco DiSpirito’s Lavender Crème Brulee and Oprah’s Favorite Pomegranate Martini. Oprah even hunted down the secret recipe for Donald Trumps Mar-a -Lago Turkey Burger, and while that sucker was expensive to make, it was worth every bite.
When it’s done right, raising children is the hardest job on earth. I didn’t need Oprah to teach me this one, but it’s a statement she’s made over and over again on her show. For someone who isn’t a mom, O is very insightful into what challenging job motherhood is. She has the utmost respect for moms who do it right-whether they work outside the home or stay home with their kids.
What you put out into the world comes back to you. Oprah has said this time and time again, as have many of her guests. While she devoted several episodes of her show to the Rhonda Byrne book, “The Secret”, Oprah was also careful to remind us that the law of attraction is only one law. Oh, and being grateful for what you do have doesn’t hurt either.
We’re responsible for our own financial future. Oprah’s had enough sit downs with financial guru Suze Orman to teach us this lesson: don’t rely on others when it comes to your financial future. Women especially need to take charge, have an emergency fund, take care of living wills and pay off credit card debt. Women should also have accounts with funds available in their own name- so if hubby leaves you, you’re not left high and dry.
Find your passion. Oprah’s had plenty of life coaches on her show over the years and she’s always made a point of saying that you should find your passion and live it. Even better? Find your passion and then find a way to get paid for it. And don’t forget to remember your spirit.
The Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Entertainment 1986-2010