Oprah’s vision forward (produced from my mother’s rec room)

I witnessed the astonishing capacity for human connection via innovation Saturday morning in my mother’s basement.

Manning her cellphone, three laptop computers and, on occasion, a hastily borrowed flip phone, my sister Jenny executive produced the final session of WW Presents, Oprah Winfrey’s Your Life In Focus: A Vision Forward virtual wellness tour.

She and an amazing team of technical directors, producers, and Zoom operators put together a seamless event that streamed live on three platforms — Zoom, Facebook Live and Youtube — for an audience that reached nearly four million by the end of the four-session run.

That brave use of technology was cool enough to see and hear, as I was lucky enough to do from a socially distant seat in my mom’s familiar rec room.

Then, Oprah started deftly leading a discussion that, thanks to her unique gift of genuine communication, made it seem like we were all sitting in a familiar rec room with her. 

She reminded us to consider a phrase from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” that has become the virtual tour’s mantra.

“In this moment, I am well.”

She asked us all to take a four-second breath in unison and, from our isolated places around the globe, we all breathed in together.

“In this moment, we take a breath for all those who can’t breathe,” she said. “We breathe for them and celebrate the life that is inside us. Through this we honor them.”

“As long as there is breath, there is a way forward.”

In 90 minutes, Oprah personally chatted via Zoom with 30 different people, including a woman who had just lost her father. She welled up as she described the pain of grieving in isolation.

We all sort of fell away as Oprah zoomed in and it seemed like only those two women were left in the room.

“What was your father’s name,” she asked.

“Bert Ross,” the woman answered.

Oprah spoke at length about how relationships can grow even stronger when someone “who loved you and seeded you” passes away.

“The spirit is stronger on the other side and now you have a personal angel named Bert Ross, your daddy,” she said.

In addition to personal moments like that, Oprah addressed national issues, including the George Floyd protests and the racial discussions and very human questions they inspire.

“Do you see me? Can you hear me? Does my life matter to you? That’s what people want to know,” she said and she encouraged everyone to educate themselves about what they don’t know. Specifically, she mentioned the books “How to be an anti-racist” and “White Fragility”, which are already available, and “Caste (The origins of our discontent)”, which is coming out in August.

“We are clearly at a precipice and it could go either way,” she said. Later, she talked about what it meant to be “woke” and how that enlightenment should be available to everyone.

“Let’s take woke wherever we can get it,” she said. “I appreciate the rising. Come on up to the rising.”

Armed with three lap tops, one cellphone, one much-maligned-but-handy-in-a-pinch flip phone and a large coffee my sister Jenny executive produced the final session of WW’s virtual wellness tour. Designed to build a community focused on health and wellness. the very successful, four-session tour reached nearly four million people simultaneously across three social media platforms.
The tour included a digital workbook and real-time polls. Oprah then Zoomed in on people and discussed their poll results. It was an amazing juxtaposition of human connection via cutting edge technology.
Honestly, to see Oprah comfort a woman who was mourning her dad as though the two of them were the only two people in a room, while the rest of the attendees listened and learned and the production team manned their platforms, and the technical director calmly called out Zoom pins and Jenny tracked it all was just amazing.
My mother is an excellent social distancer. She’s also an excellent dancer and she later joined Julianne Hough in a virtual dance, which was cool enough, but then Jenny turned one of her cameras around and my mom found herself Zoom dancing in front of millions of people. Bravo!
We observed the social distancing guidelines and still enjoyed each other’s company and the show.

5 thoughts on “Oprah’s vision forward (produced from my mother’s rec room)

  1. Amazing! This was such a fun read. Thanks for sharing. PS… I’ve always loved Oprah 😉

  2. Thanks for a behind-the-scenes look! I forgot about that quote in Tolle’s book, but I’m going to adopt it for a while. I’m reading How to Be An Anti-racist. Kendi is a great writer and teacher. And I agree that we are on a precipice. I hope we can keep the momentum moving and go all the way. I do see some good changes starting to happen. Great post, Laura!

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