Why I owe Oprah
Today I am at UCLA’s Royce Hall, to see Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Gabrielle Bernstein and a bunch of other speakers. It’s the LA stop on Oprah’s Super Soul Seasions tour.
If you told me ten years ago that I’d brave rush hour LA traffic and UCLA parking to spend a day with Oprah, I’d have laughed in your face (and ordered another pint). But just over two years ago, a friend of mine offered me her ticket to an Oprah “Live the Life you Want” weekend in San Jose.
At the time, I was not living the life that I wanted. I’d just been fired from a producer position on a show I’d been working on at Marketplace, and the fallout from my unhappiness at work was bleeding into my home life. I spent a lot of time wondering what was next, and coming up empty. So when that ticket came up for grabs, I thought, maybe Oprah has some answers! (any port in a storm, amirite?)
Well, Oprah didn’t have the answers. But she helped me understand that I did. The weekend involved talks and workshops and homework (homework!). By the time we were done, I had a rough blueprint of what I wanted to do, and what kind of a life I wanted to live.
Throughout he weekend, the idea kept coming to me, that I really, really wanted to write fiction. I resisted, obviously. I mean, the idea was crazy. And impractical. And irresponsible, because there was no way I could make it work financially, not least because I had no track record as a fiction author, and no proven ability. It was madness.
Write fiction. Write fiction. Write fiction. Over and over. And when you have an idea in your head like that, and you have Deepak Chopra talking into one ear, and Oprah Winfrey talking into the other, telling you, again and again, that you can do this, you can do this, regardless of how much fear you feel …. well, it’s very seductive, and very persuasive.
So when I left San Jose, I decided. I swallowed my fear, and I did it. I quit my job and I started writing.
I didn’t do it on my own. I needed a lot of support, and encouragement and buy-in. A whole lot. But I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believe in me, and who believe that if I believe, that I’m worth supporting.
Of course I had to get to that place first, where I really did believe in myself. That wasn’t easy. It took a long time, and a lot of work. But I wouldn’t even have started without Oprah. She didn’t plant the seed in my head, so much as help me realize it was already in there, and show me how to water it.
So that’s why I’m at Royce Hall today. To say thank you.
Oprah, I owe ya!