On the morning I traveled from Chicago to the East Coast to promote Living Oprah
, my cat knocked one of her favorite toys, a balled-up piece of wax paper (she's a cheap date), behind the TV. She was meowing so sadly and pacing back and forth, unable to reach it on her own. A total tug on my heart strings. I couldn't watch the little puffball suffer, so I reached to extricate her plaything and suddenly realized I was in full embrace of the television. I burst into hysterical laughter, scaring the pants off my cat, who hightailed it out of the room without the toy. That moment — my arms wrapped tightly around the boob tube — could have been an alternate cover of my book.
I spent an entire year completely affixed to The Oprah Winfrey Show, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Oprah.com. I followed every single bit of Oprah's advice for a year for many reasons I'll discuss throughout this week. One of my major hopes was that my exaggerated example might inspire others to reflect upon their own lives and ask themselves how much time, energy, and money they spend following self-help in the media — whether it be on Oprah or other sources. What I didn't expect was how difficult it would be to extricate myself from my project once it was complete. My experiment ran from January 1 through December 31 in 2008. I thought when 2009 began, I'd be able to flip off the constraints of the project like a light switch. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. I'm still drawn like a magnet to magazines that scream, "FLAT ABS IN 4 WEEKS!" from the newsstand, and television programs that promise "EXCLUSIVE, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN!" secrets to a steamier sex life or a balanced check book. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it's true...I'm completely susceptible to the idea of finding short cuts or easier paths toward a more fulfilling life. I, Robyn Okrant, am addicted to others' definitions of happiness, beauty, and success. And while I rarely come up with New Year's resolutions, I have dedicated 2010 to taking back my own power and learning to rediscover trust in my own voice.
Step one: no more hugging the TV.