By Loraine Debnam
“What I Know for Sure” is the title of a wonderful new book by Oprah Winfrey.
Since I received it as a birthday present and Oprah is only a couple of years younger than I am, I assumed it was a treatise on aging (gracefully or otherwise). I couldn’t have been more wrong. She writes a regular column for her magazine “O” and the book is actually a collection of some of the articles which she has penned over the past 14 years. Although her life experience has been vastly different from mine, I was astounded at the many similarities in our personal journeys.
She writes she loves to build a fire in her fireplace and settle into a comfy spot to read a good book. Losing yourself in a good novel or coming to a better understanding of how others solve their problems in a memoir or biography is one of my favourite things to do. And if the book is worth recommending, I certainly pass that information on to my friends (as I am doing now). She does it through her “Oprah’s List,” which is a bonus for both the writers and the readers.
One of her favourite words is “delicious” and I can certainly identify with that. I am lucky enough to be the in the centre of three generations of good cooks and get inspiration from both my mom and my daughter.
Oprah’s descriptions of wonderful flavours, both savory and sweet, are mouth- watering just to read. For both of us, unfortunately, those delights have led to lifelong battles with our weight. I can’t count how many different diets and weight-loss programs I suffered through in the past decades.
Finally, the epiphany arrived. We realized the body in the mirror is the one we have been given and as long as we keep it healthy and fit, it will serve us well and people will care about us even though we don’t look like Cindy Crawford (or Twiggy). We both love to garden regardless of the differing climates and hours of sun we have. She grows vegetables like okra and artichokes and is a big fan or turnip greens.
I have fond memories of harvesting turnips for my Mom although I must admit that the taste of new potatoes “hooked” early from the hills in the garden was a guilty pleasure for all of us. How blessed are we that we have fertile soil and water and sunshine in the right amounts to provide this bounty.
Both of us, having lived more than six decades, have been faced with frustrations, disappointments, betrayals and even devastating losses. We have learned to put one foot in front of the other and rely on our Faith to provide a path over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. My Dad taught me some of these skills when I was young and we were hiking in the mountains. “You can always take just one more step” he would say. And it’s true. Sometimes it seems as if you will never make it through to the other side but perseverance, tenacity and a belief in something greater eventually win out. And for that I am certainly grateful.
And all of Oprah’s articles are filled with an attitude of gratitude. There are lessons to be learned from each and every happening on our lives if we are open to the message. Even the tough stuff helps us to expand our horizons, to change and evolve. Oprah calls it “growing out of and into ourselves at the same time” and being thankful for the opportunities to do just that. As I watch my grandson demonstrating this on a daily basis, I hope I never forget to be grateful that we can each “live our best life” as Oprah recommends.