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Nov
27

In honor of Season 5 of The History Channel’s popular Vikings series, I wrote about my favorite Vikings — Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises — for USA Today 10Best. Read 10 Ways to Explore the World Like a True Viking (but with more amenities)!

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our chicago ultimate day “o” service by julie lemerond

Last Saturday, 22 of Oprah’s Ultimate Viewers participated in the Ultimate Day “O” Service (UDOS) at PAWS Chicago, the Midwest’s largest No-Kill shelter for cats and dogs. It came on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the fateful day that we were in the audience of The Oprah Winfrey Show when she announced she was taking us all to Australia, so our hearts were overflowing with gratitude.

We spent the first few hours learning about PAWS and its mission to create a No-Kill City of Chicago.  Spaying and neutering animals is the only way to achieve this goal, and PAWS works hard to accomplish this, taking mobile units into impoverished areas of town to spay and neuter both pets and strays. The organization has made a huge difference, but there is still a long way to go.

We spent most of the day on the rooftop deck, meeting and greeting the dogs a few at a time.  Eventually we made our way downstairs to help out with miscellaneous tasks.  Some of us folded boxes, some cleaned in Kitty City and played with the cats, and we all took turns going into the Oprah Suite to play with the four sweet Chihuahuas currently living there.

Animals have a way of connecting us to each other without placing judgment. In looking back on our Ultimate Day “O” Service at PAWS, one of the things that struck me most is that we are all so different, yet we are all so much alike.  And this is what the power of being an Ultimate Viewer means to me.

I consider myself a spiritual person.  I teach yoga, I meditate, and I believe more in the power of energy than in the power of any one religion.  That is what works for me, and through my fellow Ultimate Viewers, I have realized that we are all trying to reach the same place emotionally and spiritually — a place of peace and love.

Throughout the day, the subject of God came up often.  We all know that it was not just luck or mere coincidence that brought us together on this journey. It was so much more than that.  It was God, it was Light, it was Energy, it was the Universe, and it can be called Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or any other name, but beneath it all is a universal force that is magical and beautiful and never-ending.

I truly believe that animals are a vessel to connect us with this higher power.  Animals live in the moment and can’t be anyone other than who they are.  Their furry little spirits connect us all by causing us to smile and take a break from our hurried lives to give them a pat and share some love. They will lie back for their belly rub and lick your hand at the same time, simultaneously giving and receiving.

To me, that is what UDOS is all about: the power of giving and receiving.  We received such a wonderful gift from Oprah, and in return we are giving of ourselves to those in need.

And it is in that giving that we receive.

Read about the Atlanta Ultimate Day “O” Service here.

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