My Dilemma With Oprah

My Dilemma With Oprah

It’s been going on for years. I’ll meet someone. They see my wheelchair. They learn about my crazy life. And then they ask me, “Have you ever tried to reach Oprah?”

I have, my friends, I have. People who know Oprah have tried to help me reach her.
Many times.

So the answer I give is always, “Yes.” And then I listen patiently to whatever ideas they have for approaching her.

Recently, however, I blurted out a response that surprised me. And then strangely comforted me.

A new friend and I were having lunch. He was from out-of-town and in the process of writing his first book, jumping through all the hoops in an effort to find a publisher. I offered to share with him what I’d learned in my publishing experience.

He admitted that he hadn’t read my book yet, but was eager to learn all about my life story.

First he asked about my paralysis.

Yes, it happened in six hours, nine days after my divorce was final. Yes, the incidence is one in 1 million. Yes, two-thirds have some kind of recovery, but no, I didn’t.

Then he asked about my family.

Yes, I had four children. Yes, one had autism. Yes, one had a rare blood disorder. And, yes, one had epilepsy and later died at age 15.

And then he asked about my siblings.

Yes, I have a sister. I had a brother, but he died when I was 20. He was 17.

“Oh I’m so sorry to hear,” he said gently, pausing to absorb it all.

Then the thought struck him.


“Wait, isn’t Oprah from Baltimore?”


“Don’t you think she might be interested in your story?”

“Yes, I’d always hoped so.”

“Well, have you ever tried to approach her?”

“Yes, I have. For about 15 years.”

“Really? And you got no response?”

No response. I thought about that phrase, letting it seep into the years of disappointing efforts. Finally, I took a deep breath and said to my new friend, “You know, she’s just not interested.”

We both laughed out loud and finished our lunch. Later, I thought about my response.

Obviously, she’s not interested. But somehow that day I felt an enormous freedom by saying it. To shut that door. To stop wondering why she’s not interested and get on with the pursuit of anyone who is.

Why was it so freeing to me?

It means the problem isn’t about me anymore. It means that I have accepted her answer even if I may not have figured out the right way to ask the question. I have given it my best shot, along with many friends and professionals. We have knocked on that door and no one has answered.

More importantly, the pressure and responsibility has shifted off of me and on to her, not in a mean or accusatory way, but in an honest way that is helpful to me.

Still, do I really KNOW that she’s not interested?

Of course not. I have no idea if any of my efforts have been thoughtfully considered. But my reality, as superficial as it may be, is the fact that there has been no positive response. My acceptance of that version of reality releases my time and energy to pursue other possibilities.

It means I no longer care. Well, let’s not go that far. I DO care, of course, and would take her call in a heartbeat.

But would that mean that I somehow figured out the magic formula to get her attention?


It would simply mean she’s interested.

Sometimes we need to give persistence a rest and accept a truthful version of reality that’s helpful. Or, to keep it short and sweet as I like to do:

Sometimes we need to give persistence a rest and accept reality.

How about you? Have you ever chased a dream that drained you? Was it a relief to give persistence a rest? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Thanks for your responses and insightful comments on last week’s Thoughtful Thursdays and your “Top Five.” You’re making me think! Love it!

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  1. You definitely have an intriguing story to tell. Even if Oprah doesn’t want to hear, other people will, so keep writing.

  2. That kind of acceptance is very freeing — and I’m going to take a look at that book that Oprah seems not interested in… what tremendous trauma you’ve had in your life. And I for one would love to hear about how you’ve handled it.

  3. Francine Falk-Allen says

    Becky, I wrote a memoir, Not a Poster Child, about my experience growing up handicapped from polio, and what it’s like to be a fairly funcitonal handicapped woman. It has gotten sterling reviews from pros and the public. And I’ve sold less than 1,000 but still working at it. And every once in a while, someone says, “You should be on Oprah.” I take a deep breath and tell them, “I’m too small potatoes for that. You have to have some scandalous, spectacular, or celebrity-related story to get that kind of attention.” When I first published, I was hopeful I’d get interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR. My publicist didn’t exactly laugh, but she did say, “There are a lot of fish in the sea, Francine…” and that essentially, I was a minnow. So I just keep plugging away. I know I wrote an excellent book and I want it out there, maybe making a difference, maybe shifting a few perceptions, maybe letting a few people know that handicapped people can be wryly funny. So, I hear you. I let the whole Oprah/TV talk show/ famous interviewer thing go, too. But I am still kinda hoping!! Hugs to you. Francine Falk-Allen

  4. Ellie Hall says

    Dearest Becky,
    There is nothing in the world you could gain from Oprah. In fact, you are far more amazing than Oprah. Far more. In my humble opinion, Oprah would be blessed and would benefit from meeting you. Period. Xoxox