Oprah’s Lifeclass: I Think I Got Schooled

  • SumoMe

I Got Schooled At Oprah's Lifeclass!My mom called me a few weeks ago to tell me that Oprah was coming to Houston to film a few episodes of her popular series, Oprah’s Lifeclass. Despite the fact that I have never been a huge fan of Oprah, I fulfilled my mom’s request of sending in an email to try to get tickets to the show.  It’s not that I dislike her (Oprah) or anything.  I just don’t ever watch her show.  My mom, my aunt, and I all sent in for tickets, hoping that one of us would get an email confirmation.  A week later we all got emails saying that we were not picked to receive tickets.  I thought that was the last of it, until a few weeks later when I received an email saying that a few more tickets has been released and two had been allocated to me.  I forwarded the email to my mom with a note that read, “I guess we are going.”

I am not going to deny the fact that I was not overly excited about going to the filming.  It was scheduled on a Friday, and we were required to be there for about 3 1/2 hours.  Also, I wasn’t too jazzed about the guest scheduled to be on the show – Pastor Rick Warren.  I wasn’t exactly sure who he was, but not being a religious person, I figured I was in for a long day.  I probably would have given my ticket to someone else, but since the tickets were in my name, I had to attend.

Traffic was amazingly bad as the mass of Oprah fans descended on the Hobby Center.  Our intention was to arrive around 2:30pm, but between the traffic and parking debacle, we entered around 3:15pm.  We didn’t have time to do anything other than head to our seats, which were on the third row of the mezzanine level.  Our seats were in the center – pretty nice actually.  I immediately started snarking on Twitter.  A good friend of mine responded that Pastor Rick Warren was more of a motivational speaker than anything else.  Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

When the warm-up crew came out, the audience went crazy.  But that was nothing compared to the eruption that ensued when Oprah walked onto the stage.  I hate to admit it, but I may have gotten goose bumps.  Periodically, some Oprah-obsessed person in the audience would yell some nonsense to Oprah, to which she was polite enough to respond.  This was mainly during her welcome speech and commercial breaks.  These whack jobs were trying to have a conversation with the woman while she was trying to do her show.  I found this to be completely annoying.

After welcoming the audience, Oprah introduced Pastor Warren.  As it turns out, his book, The Purpose Driven Life, is one of the highest selling non-fiction books of all time.  Who knew?

So, he comes out onto the stage, and lo and behold, he’s wearing jeans and a pair of converse!  Not at all what I expected.  The topic of the show was “how to win with the hand you were dealt.”   In other words, making the most of your life, no matter what glitches exist in it.  He used five-card draw as an analogy.  The first four cards were things you don’t have total control of, such as your physical situation, your relationships, your circumstances, and the way you feel about yourself.  The final card was what Oprah referred to as the game changer, the choice.

I don’t know about calling choice a game changer.  Seems pretty obvious to me that a person born into the best of circumstances can turn their life to My Mom and Me at Oprah's Lifeclassshit through the art of poor decision-making.  Likewise, there are so many stories of people who overcome the most dire of circumstances through sheer will.  I get where they were coming from though.  I guess not everyone realizes the power of self-determination, which is so evident by the people in our everyday lives who wear excuses and poor circumstance like a badge of honor.  Those who make themselves feel better by telling themselves that life is completely beyond their control.

Oprah and Pastor Warren talked to a few people in the audience and via Skype throughout the show.  Each person they spoke to shared a story of some adversity they needed to overcome.  Right after they revealed the “game changer”, they showed a clip on the life of Nick Vujicic from Australia.  I remember seeing a documentary on Nick years ago.  He is so fascinating!  Nick was born without arms or legs (arguably a “crappy hand”), and he leads the most amazing life as a motivational speaker who travels the world spreading the message of hope.  The end of the video showed Nick getting married earlier this year.

After such a humbling video, I imagine many people in the audience felt like their problems were quite insignificant in comparison.  But then, the mood changed quickly as Oprah stood up and announced that Nick was in the audience.  It turned out that Nick was sitting in the aisle seat, several rows down from the stage.  Nick hopped out of his seat, down the aisle, up the steps, and onto the stage.  He was welcomed by thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the audience.  Oprah walked over and gave him a huge hug.  This was by far my favorite part of the whole show!  Nick spent the next ten minutes or so talking about his life.  He was suicidal as a child because he saw himself as a burden and didn’t believe he had anything to offer the world.  But, later, he was able to turn his perception of himself around.

He learned how to surf by taking lessons from Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.  Together, they earned a spot on the cover of Surfer Magazine.  He can write, type, play golf, drive a car, and clearly inspire the crap out of people – myself included!

At the end of his speech, he announced that he and his wife were expecting their first child – a boy.  I can’t say enough about Nick Vujicic and how inspiring I find him.  During the break between the filming of the first and second shows (that’s right, two episodes were filmed while we were there), many members of the audience went over to hug Nick.  It must be an amazing feeling to inspire and motivate so many people.

Pastor Warren and Oprah headed backstage for a wardrobe change. After the break, the topic was “finding purpose in life.”  The gist of it is this:  Some people are surviving life; they are doing good to have food and shelter.  Some people are successful and live a comfortable life.  But here’s the deal – we have been socialized to believe that if you get the house and the car and the money and the success, you will be happy.  But what happens if you get ALL of that and find that you still feel like your life is missing something.  What if you are still not happy?

This is what Pastor Warren calls living a significant life, a life of fulfillment.  He goes on to say that to live a significant life is to give of yourself, and the greatest gift you can give is your time.  Hmmm, I get what he is saying.  I think about my daughter and how happy she is just to get my undivided attention.  The attention makes her feel happy and important and loved.  Could it really be that simple?

I actually really enjoyed going to see the shows that day – especially Pastor Warren.  I liked what he had to say, although I should tell you that I mentally filtered out all of the religion.  Still, after filtering out the religion, there was much substance to his message.  I think I might even pick up a copy of his book.  If it’s anything like the messages he delivered on Oprah’s show, then I know there’s going to be some inspiring stuff to noodle on.

Both shows will air on the OWN network after the first of the year.  If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend checking them out.


It would seem that inspiration CAN come from the most unlikely of places…where should I look next?  What inspires you?


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  1. Really enjoyed reading about your experinece. I think I would have been a little leary about going as well, but I’m glad to hear it turned out to be a worthwhile show!

  2. I really enjoyed Oprah’s Lifeclass, too. I would really like to read the book. It seems like a very positive way to improve your life. I enjoyed being with you , too.

  3. Heather F J says:

    Ben was given a copy of this book by a seat mate on a plane last month. Let me know, and I’ll bring it to you for thanksgiving!

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