I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.Read All Entries
our ultimate australian adventure with oprah, a.k.a. “the lovefest!”
We have been fantasizing about our trip Down Under with Oprah for three months – ever since we were lucky enough to be in the audience for that amazing premiere show when Oprah announced, “WE’RE GOING TO AUSTRALIA!!!”
Because we had no idea what to expect – everything was going to be a surprise and all information was given to us on a strictly need-to-know basis – our imaginations went wild. We would call each other every day and laugh hysterically as we came up with the most over-the-top scenarios. By the time we actually left for the airport with our overpacked suitcases and overworked imaginations, we were convinced that pilot John Travolta would disco his way down the aisle of the plane; cashmere blankets, dual-time zone watches and iPads loaded with Scrabble and all of Oprah’s book club selections would be waiting on our seats; and we would be welcomed in Australia with a private concert by Oprah’s co-Kennedy Center honoree, Sir Paul McCartney.
Of course, none of this happened. And everything that did happen was so much bigger, richer and more meaningful than we could ever have dreamed. That’s the power of Oprah.
What we were given were unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experiences and 300 incredible new friends with whom to share them. Because each Ultimate Viewer was hand-picked by Oprah and her staff – a fact that brought us all to tears as she assured us “no one is here by accident” – the people we met on this trip were awe-inspiring. They are the ones you want as your friends. They are warm, positive, supportive, funny – and they can dance up a storm. Their stories are full of overcoming challenges, helping others and living their best lives. We can’t wait to share some of these with you.
The most amazing feature about this group as a whole was its sense of gratitude. No one took any part of this experience for granted, and the “thank yous” flowed as plentifully as the exotic cocktails that accompanied every event. We thanked every one of the thousands and thousands of welcoming Australians who asked us to take a picture with them, who applauded us as we entered the Sydney Opera House, who greeted us on the streets with a “We’re so glad you’re here!” and a “Thank you so much for coming!” It was a humbling experience, and we genuinely couldn’t understand why they would be thanking us – we were the ones who should be thanking them for opening up their gorgeous country to us. We met so many wonderful Australian women and men, and will be introducing them to you, as well.
As we explored Australia, we cheered on the Ultimate Viewers who overcame lifelong fears to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef and climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, “ooh”-ed and “ah”-ed over the photos from everyone’s different three-day excursions and celebrated whenever someone got to experience a moment with Oprah.
Those moments with Oprah were life-changing. If you think she’s not genuine, let me assure you she is the real thing. When she talks to you, she looks you right in the eye and listens to every word you say. The connection is electrifying and deeply personal. She asks insightful questions and reacts from the heart. Her light is absorbed into you, for you to reflect and shine. We are so grateful to her and promise to do her proud and pay it forward.Courtesy of Huffington Post, Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images,
We know you want details – where we went, who we met, what we experienced – and we will happily share them when the shows air. So many people have asked us what we got on the trip and, although we certainly received some beautiful and extraordinarily generous items, the material things are the least of it.
What Oprah gave us was an eight-day lovefest. A time when all seemed right with the world, when anything was possible and all was appreciated.
Now, that is a gift.