LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — A Day With Oprah

“I can. I will. Watch me!” was Oprah Winfrey’s mantra for her “2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” tour. That not only resonated with me but also with the other 17,999 mostly women Jan. 11 in St. Paul’s  Xcel Energy Center.

Never before have I paid so much to see anyone — $178.63 for my seat on the main floor, Row 33, No.14 in view of the stage on the Xcel’s massive arena.

The hype up to the event was intense. I bought tickets for my friend and myself in October when I first learned about the event. After about two dozen, I lost track of the number of emails and texts I received leading up to the event. That information, while helpful, became a tad annoying as they increased closer to the event. That said, two things were not mentioned ahead of time or at least I didn’t discover them until we were faced with which door to enter at the Xcel walking around in minus 2 degree weather, our clouds of breath showing in the early morning cold.

Not being much of a sports- or concert-going person, I’d never been to the Xcel before. Doors opened at 8 a.m. All four doors were open. Then there was a limit for bag size — as in purses. I only learned this the day before the event when my friend, thankfully, sent me a warning text. You could recognize women sports fans as they were carrying their large, clear, plastic bags with Vikings, Gophers and Twins insignia.

The ticket was, as is often the case these days, on the mobile app I downloaded.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., was broken up into morning and afternoon sessions with a lunch break including a large boxed meal (three options) from Panera included in the ticket price. As was our workbook — more on that later.

The preshow 30-minute Daybreaker Dance Party succeeded in revving up the crowd. A similar high-energy aerobic session before the afternoon program was led by Julianne Hough doing her KINRGY exercises in a dance routine that even I — with two new knees — could do. It was superfun and helped me forget that I had been sitting for hours!

In fact, the two sessions helped me double my exercise quota for the day, according to my iWatch. The dance group had the entire audience moving and shaking off the cold as well as ensuring a pumped up audience. Jesse Israel (the Big Quiet) also led the audience in a welcomed silent meditation.

Oprah takes the stage.
Oprah takes the stage.

Then came Oprah. The crowd came back on their collective feet and roared. Oprah commanded the stage, walking and talking, microphone in hand, with such ease that you weren’t even aware of the teleprompters at the base of the stage. It felt like she was having a conversation with ME.

She immediately got related with her audience by acknowledging the Vikings game that would take place later in the day. “Go, Vikings!,” she cheered.

She also brought two women on stage from their seats high up in the rafters. They had traveled from Chicago. Unfortunately, they had been locked out of their hotel rooms in their pajamas (having gone to get a coffee) and, due to a jammed lock, were unable to enter back in their rooms to get dressed before the show. Undaunted and committed to not missing the event, they improvised by getting huge duvets from the hotel and came to the show wrapped in white. Oprah somehow — O magical? — had an assistant bring out two sets of clothing for them and had photos taken with them before sending them back to their seats.

She also gave shout outs to a group of Native American runners in the audience, the Kwe Pac from the Fond du Lac Reservation with members from Minnnesota, Wisconsin and Canada. She had met them the previous day while walking on the Stone Arch Bridge. A video clip of them walking with Oprah was a backdrop on the stage screen.

After that, she followed her own advice and became focused on her message: balance; balance of mind, body and spirit! Throughout the day, she highlighted five areas and ways to obtain balance going deeper into each area with the help of workbook exercises.

  • Look inward.
  • Be intentional.
  • Be present.
  • Be mindful.
  • Just say no!

As a person who has struggled with her weight most of her life, Oprah shared how she has finally come to terms with it. She is at peace with who she is and has conquered her lifelong fear of worrying about what others think of her.

After lunch and before Oprah returned to the stage, Angela Manuel Davis, a former USA Track and Field Team member, gave a motivational talk. Unfortunately, the Hollywood celebrity spin instructor just didn’t connect with her audience and was, in my experience, the only disappointment of the day.

“Wellness quotient” workbook.
“Wellness quotient” workbook.

The first part of Oprah’s afternoon concentrated on competing a “wellness quotient.” On a scale of 1 to 4, each of us wrote down what number we applied to ourselves in the areas of mind (emotions, learning, work), body (work, nutrition, movement) and spirit (purpose and relationships). I was not surprised when my quotient was in the highest category (Scored 132), meaning, “Yours is a life of balance. How might you want to further enhance your balance and help someone else find theirs?” The workbook exercise concluded with, “Your contract for yourself,” in which you commit to a balanced lifestyle by focusing on (fill in the blank), your intention and how you will build on your new healthy habits.

The Vision Tour is sponsored by WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers. Oprah is now their most well-known spokesperson and part-owner. One session featured Mindy Grossman, the CEO of WW. Their Wellness Ripple Effect conversation included an appearance by a local woman who has lost a signifiant amount of weight with the program.

Each of the nine city tour stops across the country will feature a local person who has lost a significant amount of weight on the WW program along with a different celebrity guest called “visionaries” in conversation with Oprah. Those guests include Lady Gaga, Amy Schumer, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez, her bestie, Gayle King and Michelle Obama.

Minnesota welcomed Tina Fey with open arms and thunderous applause. A video from the previous day was projected with the two friends paying homage to their “shero” by tossing their hats in the freezing air in front of the famous downtown Minneapolis attraction, the Mary Tyler Moore statue.

Although Oprah had notes for topics to cover with Fey, the back and forth conversation with Fey was more like being in their living room and listening to the conversation. Fey was authentic, self deprecating and her usual funny self.

Fey admitted to not having any specific new plans in the works in terms of her career. I was surprised that as the mother of two daughters, 15 and 9, she was “Waiting for something special to come” and that she’d know when she saw it. That occurred to be the exact opposite of what Oprah had been coaching about “being intentional,” and O didn’t call her out on that.

After the hourlong conversation with Fey, Oprah pointed to two friends in the audience, Tamron Hall (broadcast journalist and TV talk show host). Suze Orman (author, financial advisor and tv host), was invited to the stage for a few tips on a healthy financial life including — and I’m paraphrasing here — “When you have as much fun saving as you do spending, you will have ‘arrived.’”   Speaking for myself, I admit I haven’t gotten there — yet!

As the daylong event came to a close, Oprah’s closing presentation was”Your Life in Focus.” As a longtime international photojournalist, the word “focus” resonated with me.

In 2020, I’m taking on two exciting projects; first, facilitating a small group of seniors participating in the Landmark Worldwide Wisdom Elders Course. The Zoom Video Conferencing platform allows for including participants from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada as well as groups in England, Germany and Australia. We’ll be having conversations about what it is to be an elder, what we are dealing with, including the eternal and who knows what else?!

Second, I will “focus” on completing my memoir, which I began about two years ago.

Yes, indeed as my workbook exercise pointed out. “Yours is a life of balance. How might you want to further enhance your balance and help someone else find theirs?”

I can. I will. Watch me!

Oprah’s Swag Bag

  • Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus burlap bag.
  • Program on one side and WW promotion on the other side.
  • Your Life in Focus 58-page full color Workbook including numerous photos of Oprah’s favorite places like view from her porch in Maui (“The manifestation of a dream”) and her favorite place to walk. (“An intentional walk in the woods for me is a form of prayer.”)
  • A smaller burlap bag containing four personal care products: a dry spray antiperspirant, All-Over Body Balm, shampoo and conditioner.
  • An Oprah Life in Focus pen.
  • A small motivational sign: Is it One Day or Day One?
  • A note with a quote: Nourish what makes you feel confident, connected, contented. Opportunity will rise to meet you………………….Oprah Winfrey
  • daybreaker.com/2020visiontour
  • WW exclusive WW Membership Offer.
  • $10 Kohl’s Cash coupon.
  • A list of five local restaurants and one book club that partner with WW.

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