It was certainly a delight from planning (less than three weeks before) to my trip to Atlanta. I truly believe God was in the midst of everything from start to where I'm currently at with my 21-day challenge. Grace. There were miracles on top of miracles. And as I look back, I realize the timing was perfection. Just like God.
Miracles and a Mission. Lately, I have had so much on my plate (hence: the time lapse in my blog posts.) While sitting on the side of my bed planning and organizing, I received a text message from one of my sister friends. She and I, friends since junior high school, have been in the midst of making changes. We knew this was the perfect event to get started and become even more inspired, right? Right. We were so excited to be amid other ambitious women from all walks of life. [Pictured above: My sister friend and I leaving the event on Friday evening and some of my souvenirs: the event's program, the #LifeYouWantTour bag, the app shown on my iPad, Oprah's latest book that is on my currently reading list ("What I Know For Sure") and my 'peace, love, Oprah' tee that's made from the most delicate (and durable) material. It feels so good up against the skin and it has the tour's emblem on the back and a quote from Oprah on the inside of it.]
It begins.... Once registered, we received emails, instructions and other suggestions. One of the suggestions included app recommendations: Microsoft Office OneNote and Oprah Winfrey's The Life You Want App. These apps kept us updated with announcements and would come in handy for creating notes during the event. The app also gave us more information about O-Town (a special part of the event where special celebrity guests show up, freebies are given and so much more.) Everything was planned amazingly! Let's begin with the programs shall we? Wow! They were everything! From the colors, the details, the quotes, the bios of each trailblazer, exercises and the words that embraced each page ... a treat. As you begin to open and read the welcome of the program, you will find a quote by Oprah filled with details that her fans know the history behind... like the oak tree in the first few pages. Here, you understand the depth and meaning of the weekend.
Friday evening she was the only speaker and she gave us her all. I shared with my sister friend that she could have stopped (and I would have been satisfied) at 30 minutes (laughing), but she gave us a beautiful two hour message. I remember thinking about the prophecy she shared given to her - that she would preach one day. Listening to her that evening, I saw just that. So many women inspired by her message as she relived her entire life in words and messages giving us intimate details. Some experiences we've heard previously while others we heard for the first time. We were encouraged and inspired by them all. She encouraged us to "pay attention to the whispers," "STAND" and "Surrender." She serenaded us with the hymn, "I Surrender All" while sharing her well-known story of getting that phone call from Steven Spielberg for the role of Sophia in THE COLOR PURPLE. A prayer answered. She shared with us her rejections that became her blessings, her mistakes that became her lessons, her trials and challenges (those she continue to face) as well as her accomplishments. I enjoyed hearing the story about her grandmother telling her that she "pray one day she'll be blessed to work for some good white folk." Oh...the poetry. I, too, wish her grandmother had lived to see the day.
The audience of nearly 20,000 was captivated. We possibly could have heard a pin drop that evening in Philips Arena. As she prepared to end her message she spoke about setbacks and obstacles. She said that overcoming equates to strength! "Overcoming setbacks & obstacles = strength. Strength + Strength + Strength + Strength + Strength = POWER!" What a pleasant and lovely evening.
"I want us all to fulfill our greatest potential. To find our calling and summon the courage to live it." -Oprah
Oprah herself described the event as an estrogen festival! Women were everywhere and we weren't shy as we all chant to the chorus of Whitney Houston's remake of "I'm Every Woman." What fun we had! And, the magic of the color changes on our wristbands heightened the energy of the arena. We started the morning in meditation with Deepak Chopra. As he explained meditation, "Meditation is a practice that is a part of every spiritual tradition: "Be STILL and KNOW that I am GOD." Stillness. "True success is the ability to love and have compassion." -Deepak Chopra
Next, we heard about quests, journeys and adventures...getting unstuck and never settling from Ms. Eat. Pray. Love. herself, Elizabeth Gilbert. If you haven't read her book or watched the movie Eat. Pray. Love or even watched her TED, I suggest you do so. Awesomeness. I remember with floWERS! group reading the book and watching the movie a few years ago. We were all inspired to eat all things Italy, pray in India and finding true love in Indonesia. Poetry. Elizabeth Gilbert truly stepped outside the box. “I didn’t want to hang my head and cry, I wanted to grab the train and ride.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
"What we do comes out of who we believe we are!"
"The life you want begins with embracing the life you have."
-Pastor Rob Bell
Upon returning from lunch, we were led into a 15 minute workout version of Soul Cycle by Angela Davis. From dances and squats, we enjoyed every minute; every move. The energy of the women together and the wristband color changes were everything!
Moments later Aunt Iyanla took to the stage looking absolutely amazing in white. She toast to the changes of life as well as going through pain to birth beauty. We truly had a blast! Once all of the trailblazers had spoken, Oprah gathered them together on stage to speak more on life, spirituality and forgiveness. "I believe forgiveness is a challenge because we want to be right about how wrong they were." -Iyanla
At closing, Oprah gave us a heartfelt farewell in which she expressed her gratitude. We felt really at home as she said goodbye after the weekend we spent with her. What amazes me is while still at the height of her success as an influential woman, she appears surprised people support her in multitudes. How humbling. To the moon and back, I know I'm not alone in saying I thank, love and support Lady Oprah. My weekend with her will forever be treasured. Every thought and moment seized and loved.