Saturday, April 23, 2011

REVIEW: "Living Oprah" by Robyn Okrant

With the Oprah Winfrey Show officially ending in May 2011, all eyes are on the woman who has been inspiring those in the world to live their best life for the past 25 years. Among those who have been influenced by the Queen of Talk is Chicago residENT Robyn Okrant. Through her book LIVING OPRAH she takes us into what it means to follow the suggestions of Ms. O and how it may just lead to the life we were destine for all along. (* NOTE: Cyrus Webb interviewed author Robyn Okrant on Conversations LIVE! Radio in January 2010 about Oprah and the book. You can listen at this link, )

After seeing Robyn Okrant featured on the CNBC special THE OPRAH EFFECT, I was eagerly awaiting her book of the experiment. So many times you hear people talking about slivers of what the Queen of Talk suggests for living your best life, but here was someone who was taking everything Oprah said and applying it as real guidlines in life.

What was the result?

It took me a day and a half to read LIVING OPRAH, and I closed the book with a smile thinking of the many lessons I took in through Robyn's journey along the way. Yes, the account is about what Oprah says, but isn't the real test of any minister, speaker or individual who is considered an authority on a subject whether or not what they say really works for YOU? That was the day-to-day struggle for Robyn. You can be given all the tools in the world, but it is about how you apply them that makes the difference.

As a fellow creative, I appreciated the way Robyn took to the experiment with great thought. What were the pros and cons physically, financially and quite frankly emotionally? How would it affect her relationship with those in her life, especially her husband (I'll come back to him later)? What if people misunderstood her goal?

Robyn approached the answers to these questions in a way that was deliberate and cautious of the possible side effects. There were many things she liked that were praised by Oprah. When it came to issues of conflict and conscience,however,such as the lessons of The Secret, we see Robyn weigh it against her own beliefs. There were moments when she also seem to realize that by taking this year-long journey, she was going to be noticed. There was a situation when she came literally face-to-face with herself on public transportation, and seemed to realize that not all would view what she was doing as something worthwhile.

Speaking of being noticed, I think all would agree that Oprah garnering success and fame is why a project like this is interesting at all. It stands to reason that anyone who would take up living the life that Oprah encourages would also get attention for doing so; but when the media comes calling to Robyn, she has to decide how much of this attention does she actually want for herself.

I mentioned Robyn's husband earlier, and I honestly believe that the experiment would not have worked if he was not only accepting and supportive but in many ways affected by it as well. I can relate to him personally, because as a man---a gender that seems not to be as much a part of Oprah's audience for tips on living---I can say that a woman who has overcame challenges, followed her dreams and is enjoying the reward, is just as much a catalyst for me to learn from as anyone else. That brings me to my biggest takeaway. I feel that what was impressed upon her husband the most was what this journey was doing to Robyn, how it was making her feel and look at life---not so much who was responsible for it (Oprah). He was her cheerleader, there on the frontline wanting her to succeed as much as she wanted to succeed.

With that I would say that LIVING OPRAH is proof to me that we are only living our best life when we are living the life right for us. Not all of us can do, say or afford the same things, but we have to be willing to do what we can with what we have and expect the most from that. Look at Robyn. She is a published author, making a difference doing what she enjoys. That is all that matters.

LIVING is the big lesson, and I think that Robyn Okrant has shown and taught that well.

--- Cyrus Webb, Conversations Book Club/Conversations LIVE! Radio