Check out Part Two!
Check out Part Three!
Today's post will be a bit shortened for a few reasons. 1) It's like 11pm and it's been a taxing day. 2) I didn't take handwritten notes at either of these sessions. It was the final session time of the day and I really wanted to appreciate, enjoy, and absorb all that was being offered. So, I observed and soaked up as much as I could. Direct quotes are taken either from video that I sneakily recorded at the time or from the O Magazine twitter feed. 3) I want to keep you all interested enough to come back for Friday's major post.
Thanks for sticking with me through this week! It's been a doozy!
Who spoke? Iyanla Vanzant
Iyanla Vanzant, accomplished author, inspirational speaker, talk-show host, and living testament to the value in life's valleys and the power of acting on faith, goes behind closed doors and deep inside people's lives for emotional, riveting conversations. Iyanla has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles, which she has overcome and used in order to help herself become stronger. Now, she's back, hosting Iyanla: Fix My Life, a new series on OWN. Iyanla is helping people fix their lives, using her past to help others' futures - she puts the real in reality. [Official bio from the O YOU! program]
Iyanla burst onto the stage with the energy of a young preacher hosting a revival! As the entire day was centered around "O YOU!" she began a series of comments starting with the phrase...
"Oh you!...who's yadda yadda yadda..". This wavered from the incidental (Oh you who is here today) to the profound (Oh you who has already made it) to the revelatory (Oh you who needed it yesterday).
It went on for several minutes, cleverly, and honestly I couldn't tell whether she was making it up as she went along by pure inspiration or if she had memorized it all ahead of time. It really fired up the crowd and kept us all nodding and smiling.
She took off her uncomfortable shoes and just carried them over her shoulder as she paced the stage back and forth. Cute and a little kooky.
"I am the part of you that's willing to stand up, not worrying about what other people are about to say."
She gave an illustration about sports and life. She said she really didn't know anything about sports, but she knew enough that she knew when a player was on the court/field/diamond/rink that they didn't worry about the trash around them...the trash from the crowd in the stands. She knew that (let's use football, for example) if that football player was headed toward a goal, he didn't stop along the way to pick up a wrapper from food that got in the way. It wasn't his trash to deal with. It was just an obstacle, a distraction maybe, but it had nothing to do with getting to his true destination.
She said this was like life. You gotta just keep going forward. She said life isn't in a straight line where you can see everything ahead perfectly. Life is a curved road.
"The road curves because if God showed us the distance from where we are to where we want to go, we'd think it was too far."
What did I think?
I think the women in that arena were so fired up to see Oprah (who was coming next) that they would have applauded like mad no matter who was on the stage. However, Iyanla has such a striking voice, such charisma to her demeanor, that you simply couldn't ignore the words she spoke. She was wholly motivating. And the way she spoke so definitively about any subject, you just believed what she was saying. You didn't want to argue with her. You just wanted to yell out "AMEN!" or give a little "woot woot!" from your seat and maybe high-five your neighbor.
I wasn't sure if I was listening to poetry or a sermon or a coach's speech at half-time. It was confusing and invigorating all the same, and yet, I almost couldn't keep up with how simple it all was. I know this sounds as clear as mud to you, but I don't really know another way to put it. She gave simple analogies (life is like sports, okay) but then threw out these lines of conclusion that seemingly wrapped it all up in this nice little didn't-you-just-have-an-epiphany feeling, yet left me feeling like "Wait a second, is that right? Does that make sense? Is that true?"
Iyanla is a motivator. She is gifted and inspiring and you feel like you are being hit in the head with little cross-stitched pillows when you listen to her. You know, those little pillows that look lovely from afar, filling a gap in the middle of a comfortable chair because you just aren't really sure what else to do with it, so you let it fill a void for the time being. Little pillows that have sayings stitched into them that sound lovely and ideal and clever and yet lose all intention and true meaning because you have no idea how it would apply to your real life in the middle of a real crisis dealing with real people. Little pillows that are soft and comforting and cover up stains on cushions you don't know what to do with otherwise.
Huh. Maybe Iyanla's not the only one with some analogies up her sleeve after all. (Haha.) I only wish I could have gotten a some concrete follow-through on her steps of motivation. I had the energy, I just wanted the application! That is to say, I really liked listening to Iyanla, but I was left with emotion, not action. Don't just accept good feeling "advice" to fill a void with an answer just because you can't tolerate the unknown.
Who spoke? Oprah Winfrey
She needs no bio. If you don't know who Oprah is you shouldn't be reading this blog - go wiki Oprah and get back to me. (This video was already after a few minutes of cheering, by the way!)
Oprah's entrance was incredible. To say the crowd went insane would be the understatement of the century. Everyone must have cheered for five solid minutes. Not only did she do an adorable little shuffle-step-dance as she waved and smiled; but, she also shot the cover of a spring edition of O Magazine on stage, live!
Oprah graced the stage radiantly in a lovely mint green dress, and opened with a short-background (as if we'd never heard it before) about being conceived by accident by two underprivileged, uneducated parents who didn't want her. She was raised by her grandmother and always felt as if she was meant for something great, but didn't know what. She said as she grew up being taken to church by her grandma that she was the child in the front pew, listening to the preacher, who genuinely and whole-heartedly believed there was a calling on her life.
Of course, we pretty much know the rest of the story, and she unexpectedly rose to fame by climbing a surprising ladder of terrible news anchoring jobs to then talk show host where she really found her purpose on the planet. She mostly breezed through this part of her story as we in the audience were familiar with it already. Still, astounding.
She quoted Joseph Campbell, "The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are."
She said the following (and this is verbatim, transcribed from audio I recorded on my phone):
"What I know for sure is that there is a calling on every life today. Be the star of your own life. To recognize that every morning when you wake up that there is breath in your lungs, and you can claim the day, you can claim the day, you can claim the victory of the day, understanding that there is something at work and at will in your life as it is in all of our lives. I feel so, so blessed to have been able to have led a life that I'm allowed to stand before you and speak to you and share the wisdom that God has put inside myself. To offer that on multi-platforms. ...I don't care about what the form is, what I care about is what the message is. What I care about is being able to speak to an audience, to speak to you in such a way that you understand that your life matters. Who you are matters. What you do with your life matters. What you take upon yourself and how you show the world every day and present yourself matters. That your calling into space, into this earthly plane, matters. And that the real work...is to understand...the real reason you are here is that the power of the Creator blew into you the breath of life. That breath of life comes with enormous responsibility. To honor the privilege that is you. The privilege that is you, when you think about that, the privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are."
She then told a short, recent story of how she had felt a lump in her breast (everything is fine, she later revealed). But, when she was seeing the doctor and laying on the table with uncertainty as they brought in other doctors to come and speak with her, she was feeling overwhelmed with the unknown.
She said "As I was lying there on the table, I felt the greatest calm...and you know what my prayer was? 'In God, I move, and breath, and have my being. In God, I move, and breath, and have my being. And no matter what, in God, I move, and breath, and have my being,' and it's going to be all right."
She ended with, "The work that needs to be done, right where you are right now, starting today from this moment, to use all of this information to be you, this privilege, when you do that, you honor the fullness of your creation. Bless you."
What did I think?
I think you'll have to wait until Friday to really find out.