Have you ever wanted something so bad for so long that once it finally happens, the experience itself feels surreal? That’s how Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend Tour felt to me.
You see, I’ve had this “thing” for Mrs. Winfrey for many years. I turned to her show for advice, relevant news stories and the most fascinating celebrity interviews. I can even remember running home from the bus stop to catch her episodes in time (which was always only the last 15 minutes, if I was lucky). To condense the broad scope of my love for Oprah in less than a paragraph seems nearly impossible, so let me put it this way: I thought I was the biggest Oprah fan on Earth.
This was my assumption until I arrived at the conference in Atlanta, Georgia. My grandmother rode with me at the very last minute, so I didn’t have to make the 3 hour road trip alone. God bless that woman. Even though she failed to share in the same, desperate feelings I had of imagining how it would be to meet Oprah in person, at the very least, my grandmother yearned to spend time with my uncle Jim. He drove from Augusta to meet us for dinner. But that’s a whole nother story.
I attended the seminar alone but not for very long. Within minutes of entering the line, women around me began eagerly discussing where they’re from, who they’re with and their favorite Oprah episodes. As fate would have it, the chick I hit it off with immediately just so happened to show up alone, as well. So naturally I followed her around all day and, as best buds do, we helped each other take cheesy Oprah selfies with the cut-out versions of Ms. Winfrey scattered throughout the festival.
Games, giveaways, live music, food demos and arts n crafts stations were just a few of the activities reserved for Friday’s opening service. The Philip’s arena near Centennial Olympic Park opened at 5:30 p.m. for all the women to begin taking their seats. By 7:00 p.m. that evening, we were settled and positioned for a night with Oprah Winfrey.
So, now what?
The vague, hokey “Life You Want” description left a lot to question. What does she mean by “Life You Want”? Am I really happy? Or am I not to be attending such an event? (Lord knows the only REAL reason I drove 3 hours to Atlanta was to hear Oprah speak. She could’ve talked about anchovies, communism or even sports, and I would’ve hung on her every word.) To be honest, I had no clue what I was in for. But I caught wind of Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant and Elizabeth Gilbert making an appearance, so I figured “Why not?”
Oprah entered the arena after a 5 minute rundown and synoposis of where she’s been and where she’s going. Everyone wore these slightly bulky wristbands to enter the facility, only to have the bracelets glow like fireflies in the dark as Oprah rehashed Carl Sagan’s famous line, “We are all made of star stuff”. And the crowd went wild as the woman of the night entered the arena!
An evening with Oprah made the entire trip worth it and mind you, we haven’t even made it to Saturday yet. Sure, I had landed graciously in the nosebleed section, but surrounded by successful soul sisters, I felt especially grateful to attend the event.
Saturday lured me out of bed with a promising start to the day with a meditation led by Deepak Chopra. And this is where my review falls short, because I fell asleep just as soon as he told us to close our eyes. The mere sound of his voice is enough to sooth your worries, so I guess in this light I appreciated his efforts. Before I dozed off, I feverishly jotted notes pertaining to consciousness and snippets of wisdom related to mindful breathing.
Following Chopra was Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell and Iyanla Vanzant. That’s not to deduct from the workbook exercises led by Oprah, a lengthy lunch period and quite possibly my favorite part of the event: Soul Cycle. Even though the arena lacked thousands of readily accessible workout bikes, we had our first taste of Soul Cycle, the aerobics edition.
It’s difficult, meticulous and time-consuming to capture every detail of the event. But the entire weekend reeked of authentic oxytocin-induced moments.
What struck me the most was how many of us courageously attended the event alone. I would venture to say, more women turned out by themselves than those that showed up with friends and family members (at least the ones I met). Suddenly I didn’t feel like such a goof after all. In fact, I felt empowered knowing I was surrounded by so many strong, independent women whose interests aligned with mine. Allow me to share just a few of my favorite moments from the event.
Oprah’s Return From Lunch
Meeting Carla Hall
I prepared for months and read the available materials but didn’t expect Carla Hall show up. In fact, I caught wind of her upcoming afternoon appearance the same morning I was waiting in line to get in. Imagine my surprise to discover one of my all-time favorite chefs would be in attendance.
I staked out the stage for close to an hour before Carla arrived presenting food demos. I moseyed my way towards the front and after literally leaping up and down as they called on audience members to join Ms. Hall on stage, my name was called last.
Carla cooked a Mexican dish with spicy, grilled chicken and shredded red cabbage to boot. The warm savory spices left a memorable impression with my taste buds.
Rob Bell: “Your brain is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.”
One of the most definitive “aha” moments of the weekend came from Rob Bell’s riveting speech. Bell encouraged audience members to dig deep and evaluate the 3 most important, major events that have shaped their lives and how these moments defined who we are. And to rid ourselves of fear, anxiety and regrets, Rob asked us to imagine our births, the instant we entered this Earth.
“When you came into this world, what was the first word spoken of you? That this child is full of fear, hatred, jealousy? No. Love was spoken of you. Beauty was brought into the room. Folks, anxiety was never the first word spoken of you, it was taught. In those terrifying moments when you’re faced with choosing between fear or love, remember the first few words spoken of you. This is what truly defines who you are.”
Oprah’s Workshop: The Life Wheel
These exercises proved simple enough and straightforward, but Oprah’s idea to inspect and scrutinize our lives from a holistic perspective led me to believe I have room for improvement. I enjoyed the life wheel activity which pointed out my lack of exercise and stagnant financial situation.
These financial implications rely heavily on the fact that we recently moved. And luckily, I’ll begin saving at least $200 per month now that the commute is no longer a factor. Still, I’ve worked towards financial stability in recent weeks by creating a budget and eating out less. In addition, I’ve improved my exercise routine by taking our dog on frequent walks and returning to my hula hoop.
The overall weekend revitalized my spirit, which was exactly what I needed. This brief post regarding Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend Tour only scratches the surface compared to how much fun I had. Aside from all the freebies and the opportunity to craft my very own personal journal, I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the women I sat next to and those I met on Friday before the event began.
If you’re living nearby one of the upcoming events and asking yourself “Should I check this out?” let me respond with an enthusiastic YES! I would do it again in a heart beat, and I’m so grateful to have knocked out the one major bucket list item that I’ve wanted to fulfill for years: To hear Oprah speak in person.
Scroll down for similar accounts and news articles of the Life You Want Weekend Tour. Some of these sites offer more information concerning the charitable giveaways and direct quotes during the weekend.
And here’s just a few more photos………