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What I Learned From Oprah

As I steam out the wrinkles in Jack’s blue confirmation robe, I’m feeling kind of melancholy. My 16-year-old son has completed another course of study in Judaism and is officially considered an adult member of the Jewish community—turns out he wasn’t quite a man yet at 13 when he became a bar mitzvah three years ago.

Jack is now a junior in high school and that means another year closer to him leaving home, attending college, and realizing that my cooking is not as bad as dormitory cafeteria food.

As the school year comes to an end, another milestone is pulling at my heartstrings—the end of an era known as The Oprah Show. Oprah didn’t say goodbye on her final show on May 25, 2011. Her exact words were “Until we meet again.” Still, I’m sad that Oprah is off the air, especially when it took me nearly 25 seasons to figure out how to record my favorite daytime talk show. At least she asked us to keep in touch and gave out her personal email: oprah@oprahshow.com. I’ve already sent her three letters.

Like many moms out there, I’ve learned a lot over the years from Oprah Gail Winfrey, who was born in 1954 in rural Mississippi and raised dirt poor in a dysfunctional family not unlike some of her own guests who have survived life’s toughest challenges. Whether you’re an Oprah fan or not, no one can deny the self-made success of the richest African American of the 20th century and the most influential woman in the world.

On her last show, Oprah wore a gorgeous coral silk designer dress and a soft chiffon belt that accentuated the Rubenesque figure she battled with all these years. A pink diamond bracelet with tassels adorned her wrist. She exemplified beauty inside and out. With only a single pink chair on stage, the megastar delivered a love letter to fans that reminded me of a rabbi’s sermon. The only difference is that I sat in my family room instead of a synagogue, and I wasn’t embarrassed to blow my nose into a tissue or prop up my bare feet on the furniture.

Following are some of my favorite quotes or “aha moments” from Oprah’s “The Last Lecture,” which mirror many of the lessons of the Jewish sages.

“Live from the heart of yourself.”

“What are the whispers in your life right now? And will you hear it? Your life is speaking to you right now. What is it saying?”

“I want to listen for the guidance that is greater than my meager mind.”

“The only time I ever make mistakes is when I don’t listen.”

“Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for your life and when you get that, everything else in your life changes, my friend.”

“What is your life? What is all life? What is every flower, every rock, every tree? Energy. And you’re responsible for the energy you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others. All life is energy and we are transmitting it at every moment.”

“There’s a difference between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing that you are worthy of being happy. Your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough.”

“This is what I was called to do…Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to find it, and then go about the business of doing it.”

“Everyone has a platform. Mine is a stage in a studio. Yours is wherever you are, within your own reach.”

“You also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world. You have the power to change somebody’s life.”

“Be a safe harbor for someone else.”

“I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common—they all wanted validation. … They want to know, do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say mean anything to you?”

“I’m talking about the same (God) you’re talking about. The Alpha and Omega. The Omniscience, the Omnipresent, the Ultimate Consciousness, the Source, the Force, the All of Everything There Is, the one and only G-O-D.”

”I understand the manifestation of grace, and God, so I know that there are no coincidences, there are none, there is only divine order here.”

“I believe every single event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear.”

“You are worthy because you are born. And you are here. You alone are enough.”

“Gratitude is the single greatest treasure that I have taken form this experience.”

“When you know better you do better.”

“I have no regrets.”

“For everything there is a season, we know, and our time together on this platform is coming to a close. In a few moments when the final credits roll, I see it not as an ending, but as an extraordinary beginning. One chapter closed. The next chapter beginning for all of us.”

“From you whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. And this show has been the great love of my life”

“And I thank you for being as much of a sweet inspiration for me as I’ve tried to be for you. I won’t say goodbye: I’ll just say, until we meet again.”

“To God be the glory.”

At the end, Oprah walks off stage (fortunately she doesn’t trip over her high heeled nude pumps) and hugs her husband Stedman and some other people in the audience. The camera follows her backstage as she greets her staff. Then she scoops up her beloved cocker spaniel and says, “Sadie, we did it! We did it! Sadie, we did it!”

Amen for our dogs.