Live My Best Life? Check.

15th April 2010

Writing thank you notes to my teachers is one of the goals on my Mighty List, and I’m starting off with a doozy.

A couple weeks ago, Bryan surprised me with a ticket to see a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show. I’ve been watching Oprah since I was little, and as I’ve mentioned before, it inspires me:

I cannot stop talking about the things I saw on Oprah. As I will myself to shut up, I can hear my mouth charging ahead with enthralling anecdotes about the Olsen twins’ business philosophies (shut up!), extending your passion to the world (shut! up!), and S-shaped bowel movements (ohmydeargod, shut up!). It’s gotten so bad that I decided I had to stop mentioning Oprah’s name in conversation. So now I say, “I saw this thing on… TV about how your poop is supposed to be S-shaped?” And all the women around me nod knowingly.

You’re nodding right now, aren’t you? Yeah. That’s why you’re on my team.

I signed a contract saying I wouldn’t blog about behind-the-scenes stuff, so I thought I’d tell you how much it meant to be at the Harpo Studios.

Meeting Oprah is on my Mighty List, so when I found out I’d get to see a show taping, it was an oddly emotional week. On the plane ride, I kept tearing up thinking of how much I’ve been influenced by the show, and then pretending to be asleep so the flight attendant wouldn’t see my eyes misting “Oh, no no! It’s nothing. I’m just thinking about… TV.”

I knew I wouldn’t get to meet Oprah this time around, but I figured it would be enough to sit in the audience and radiate gratitude. And you know what? It was.

The crew was taping three shows that day, and I’m sure Oprah was up at 4 a.m. to work out, do some reading, then hair and makeup, then tend to the tedium of world domination. Seeing her at work, I realized I never, ever want to be yet another thing on her to-do list. What I want is to bring her a glass of wine. Bryan used to work in politics, and he said he feels the same way about getting photos with presidents. You see how hard they’re working for the things you believe in, and you just want to do something to ease their lives, instead of inserting yourself in their paths.

Sitting in that studio, I realized that I don’t need to meet Oprah. What I need to do is thank her. So here it is, my very first thank you note to a teacher:

Dear Oprah,

Your message shielded me through a difficult childhood, and your example shaped the woman I’ve become. Through the years, you have been my Mary Tyler Moore, my Maya Angelou, my Mrs. Duncan. I am profoundly grateful for everything you have done for me; for every one of us.

Because of you I have known better, I have done better, I have thrived.

With thanks,
Maggie Mason

40 thoughts on “Live My Best Life? Check.

  1. Jan

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if that one actually makes it to her – I doubt they get too many like that, that aren’t asking for something. Who knows – she might be so moved she invites you on a show about gratitude or something! Stranger things have happened, you know.

  2. Hello. {Blog}

    Congrats Maggie on crossing off another item on your mighty life list. I haven’t met a woman yet that doesn’t love Ms. Winfrey and continually learns and is inspired by her and her show.

  3. Christy

    Beautiful.

    “When you know better, you do better.”

    I say it over and over.

    I too have learned so much from O!

    I hope you are not surprised to hear that at my house and over a glass of wine with friends, your name comes up, “Did you see what Maggie Mason is doing?” “Did you see Maggie’s pictures from Puerto Rico?” I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    You too are teaching us. Keep up the amazing work!

  4. Sarah

    A beautiful letter Maggie. And like a previous poster, don’t be shocked if you get a call from her peeps.

    Several years ago, I was reading along at home on one of her book club things. Her website asked viewers to submit letters about the book. I did. And they called. Her book club show was being taped in my area, and dude, they invited me to come! I skipped my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday bash so that I could go, sit outside in the very last row and watch her. All the other people there were with their clubs, in matching shirts, and with stories to tell. I was there alone, with no one to share my joy with. They confiscated camera’s so I have no evidence of it, but I met Ms. O, ever so briefly and she is as amazing in person as you would think. I wish I’d been less buzzed by the electricity so that I could remember more details of it now.

  5. Sarah

    I forgot to ask, which episode did you get to see taped? Will you be able to tell us after it airs?

  6. Jaimie

    I love the idea of thanking someone helpful and influential in your life. When my mother passed away, I had several sessions with a grief counselor. She really helped me, and eventually I got to a point where I felt like I could continue on my own. Almost a year later, on the occasion of my mother’s birthday, I sat down and wrote that counselor a letter, telling her that I was doing much better and that some good things were happening in my life. She left me a beautiful voicemail in response. Ever since then, I’ve tried to write more of these letters to the people that matter.

  7. Mandee

    I’m an Oprah prophet, too, and I have no doubt that she will see this. And she will love it.

    @Heather – Mrs. Duncan was Oprah’s favorite teacher – 4th grade, I believe.

  8. Katie Kreiger

    I too love Ms. O! I have the magazine and love to sit down and page through it. She (and her people) have recommended useful things, inspiring things, and lovely things. I am so sad that I will never get to see her show in person.

    I also think of your blog and your adventures as inspiring! I want to have well laid out life plans like I see here. I have begun to lay the ground work and sort out the truly important to me, versus it looks like a good goal on paper.

    You have inspired me as well. For that I want to thank YOU!

  9. Melissa Murphy

    One of the most lovely blog posts I have ever read. What a wonderful expression of gratitude. Thank you Maggie for your daily inspirations and contributions to your readers lives. My life list might just include meeting you.

    ps. I also love Oprah. In college my roommate and I plotted ways to get on the show. Sadly those plans have yet to be realized ;)

  10. kat

    everything that melissa murphy just said about lovely blog posts – so true. loved this reminder about giving gratitude.

  11. amanda

    Can’t remember the last time I nodded like this. My parents divorce, moving, bad relationships, wanting to be better…so much of it had Oprah as a buffer, a place to go to see honesty and questing. It was never anything I knew was true, but oh, how you’ve done it. Oprah was and is a person I turn(ed) to. And, coincidentally, Maggie, so are you. To mighty lists and best lives.

  12. stella

    How very cool, Maggie. When my girlfriend and I decided to do a girl trip to Chicago, we tried very hard to get tickets to the show but did not manage to. O has also been a huge influence in my life over the years and I would love to meet her someday. Loved your letter and know that we all feel the same way!
    PS. Your husband rocks!

  13. Brooke

    *tears up*

    Thank you for this, Maggie. Lately it feels like the “thing to do” is to be jaded and complain about how “Oprah is taking over the world and too big for her britches.”

    I can’t remember a time when Oprah wasn’t on tv every day at 4pm, talking to me, my mother, my aunt. She’s a philosopher, a philanthropist, a self-help guru and most importantly: a girlfriend. Similar to all the bloggers out there, she shares things that she’s excited about with the world. Her influence just allows her to share and do things that are that much COOLER.

  14. nelking

    Beautiful thank you. I think you’re doing a good job of channeling the Oprah vibe through your work too.

    One thing, be honest, you looked under the seat when you sat down, right?

  15. Meg

    Ahhh… I got every referance in that letter, and I cried. I little. About TV.

    Whenever I mention Oprah on twitter or the blog, I totally do the “shut up shut up shut up…. oops” thing.

  16. Meg

    I just read the comments, and felt I should re post to add, “Maggie Mason… blah blah blah,” gets said around our house a lot too. In fact, not 10 minutes ago I was emailing my husband a list of places I wanted to go before I was ready to have a baby… and then I realized…. when you mentioned that you guys had traveled a lot after you got married because you knew you wanted to have kids (back when you posted your 100 moments to remember) THAT lodged in my head. I’d forgotten the source as the idea grew, but not the inspiration.

    So thanks, Maggie. For showing us how to do better.

    x

  17. Amy

    Franca, yes you are. :P

    Maggie, that was a beautiful letter. You reminded me that I’ve been saying for years that I should track down my high school physics teacher and write him a letter thanking him for all he did to shape my life. Maybe I’ll go do that right now.

  18. Barb @ getupandplay

    I feel the same way about Oprah! Really, she has touched so many of us in such an impactful way! Good for you for saying thank you. I told my poetry teacher how much I was enjoying her class last week and it was such a great moment for both of us.

  19. Cassie Boorn

    This is the sweetest post ever. You have me a little teary eyed.

    So many people I need to write thank you letter too. So many great teachers in his world!

  20. Miss B

    Franca Bollo — I was wondering the exact same thing! If I’m being completely honest (and opening myself up to some sort of electronic beat-down, surely)…not only have I never seen her show or picked up her magazine, but I also find her more than a little off-putting whenever I have happened to see her being interviewed or talking in some other public forum.

    That said — Maggie, your note was beautiful and your handwriting makes me swoon.

  21. Pamela

    oh my gosh, HOW DID HE GET A TICKET? THE GOLDEN TICKET? How? I want to see an Oprah show – it’s on my list too!

  22. Mia

    Good Lord, you have beautiful penmanship! I’d write a letter to Oprah, too, if it looked as beautiful as yours!

  23. Diane

    Wonderful post, wonderful letter. Thanks for sharing. :)

    However… you have prompted horror in my friends at the notion of S-shaped poo.

  24. Laura Jane

    Oprah and I run hot and cold, but there’s no denying her tremendous spehere of (positive) influence on women and the world at large.

    And you can add me to the list of people who sit around saying, “I just read Maggie’s blog and…” My boyfriend keeps saying, “Wow. That’s great. … But you don’t actually *know* that woman, right?”

    Meeting you just got added to my life list.

    Let’s go blow some bubbles off a bridge, Ms. Mason.

  25. misstraceynolan

    Maggie, I loved reading this today, especially after all the garbage being spewed about our Ms. O online right now in light of that silly Kitty Kelly book. Thank you. And thank you for taking her example by creating inspiring things and spreading positive ideas in the world. Her magazine and your website make ME a better, happier person.

  26. Pamela

    I just sent an email to the Oprah show telling them about your inspiring Mighty Life list and how they should put you on as a guest. If they do, comp me a ticket, will ya? Please?

  27. Jessie

    I saw that episode about S-shaped poop. I tell everyone about it. Its important to know that Tomatoes are so healthy for you!

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