LYWW-San Jose

*On Friday, Nov. 14, Oprah Winfrey took the stage at the SAP Center in San Jose, California for the eighth and final stop of her eight-city U.S. arena tour “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend.”

Journalist and EURweb contributor Miki Turner was there to observe. Below are her thoughts.

LYWW-San Jose

If you’re a woman of a certain age who has been blessed by both your triumphs and trials, there’s really not much Oprah Winfrey and her band of enlightening trailblazers can tell you. Chances are you’ve known what you know for a very long time and hence, are already being the best you that you want to be.

It’s your life and you’re living it the way you want.

That said, however, being part of a spiritual movement that enables the less empowered to cram a lifetime of enlightenment into two days, is truly something to behold. Winfrey, fresh off the world premiere of her new movie, Selma, hosted the eighth and final leg of her Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend at San Jose’s SAP Center over the weekend. On Friday the sold-out crowd got their Oprah fix for two hours. On Saturday Winfrey talked a bit but mostly sat in the audience and listened as Iyanla Vanzant, Elizabeth Gilbert, Deepak Chopra, Rob Bell and Mark Nepo shared their personal stories of falling in love with their lives.

But as good and relevant as they were, they can’t mesmerize an audience the way Winfrey can. For some folks, the Rev. Dr. Oprah Winfrey is akin to the second coming. It didn’t even matter when she announced backstage how happy she was to be in Santa Fe when she was in downtown San Jose. Heck, even icons have senior moments!

“I’m here to help you embrace why you are here,” Winfrey said, and that’s exactly what she did. She used her real-life experiences, her wit and even a Soul Cycle exercise session to engage, empower, encourage and enlighten women and men of various hues and ages. But when girlfriend actually sang a few bars of an inspirational hymn on key, it begged this question:

Is there anything she can’t do?

Well, to hear her tell it, other than cook dinner for her man everyday, she can pretty much do anything she puts her mind to. That’s a mantra we all need to embrace regardless how high our self-esteem is or how inflated our egos are. You see, according to the gospel of Oprah, “Your life is validated by service to others.”
That’s real food. Eat that up.

Winfrey’s own journey has certainly been validated by her past. She’s used her massive platform and wealth to induce hope in the hopeless. She’s that rare form of earthly angel that sees need and fulfills it; that encourages dreaming and then rewards it as she did on Saturday with Toyota Standing O-Vation recipient Kimberly Bryant. The founder of Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization that provides computer training to underprivileged girls nationwide, Bryant went home with a $25,000 check to keep her dream alive. Winfrey has partnered with Toyota to recognize the efforts of others making positive changes in their community on every tour stop.

Cue up the tears, cheers and bumpin’ beats from DJ Kiss.

There was kind of an eerie silence, however, when Winfrey recalled the now-familiar details of her own personal nightmares. The poor little colored girl from Mississippi who was raped at 9 and who gave birth to a son at 14 who died shortly after his delivery. These tragic events could have informed her future but apparently Winfrey and God had a little chat before her life took this left turn. She told Him who and what she was going to be and it came to pass. She now realizes that the negativity that could have engulfed her was a necessary detour.

“Everything that has happened to you has happened for you,” she said.

This was the one statement of truth that really resonated with all those women of a certain age who thought they knew everything. What some of them possibly didn’t realize is that their triumphs are fueled by their trials; and that every day above ground is yet another chance to right a wrong.

It’s God giving you a second chance.

Of course, Rev. Winfrey could have wrapped that up in a five-minute pep rally instead of a two-hour sermon, but she’s smart enough to know that by using her own life as an example, she will inspire others. It’s not that her story is all that different from any other person whose formative years were less than idyllic. It’s not. We embrace her because of who she is–a billionaire media mogul who has shared the shameful secrets from her past and made those who feel like they can’t, know that they can by living the life that they envision.

The key, however, is that after all is said and absorbed you have a responsibility to share the lessons learned. And you don’t have to be a billionaire icon to pay it forward.

Let the church say, amen.

Miki Turner is an award-winning photojournalist, author and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.

Miki Turner is an award-winning photojournalist, author and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.