Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jewel and Oprah!

Since the 1980’s, I have watched the Oprah Show. I have seen many Oprah show changes take place. Such as, her method of connecting to her audience by walking up and down the studio aisle with microphone in hand to collectively sitting on overstuffed living room chairs chatting with the guest of the day. I have seen Oprah go from crying tears of sentiment to crying tears of laughter as she hosts real American life to her audience; yet not nudge away from her own life’s journey of finding her true purpose and destiny.

Oprah’s big question to viewers lately has been, “What are you on the planet for?”

A recent Oprah’s show revealed a way she is making the planet a better place is by building a school for girls in Africa. I have heard Oprah tell her audience how she admires motherhood, admitting mothering is a job she herself has not ventured to. Her better place mission appears to have helped Oprah find a way to experience a small piece of motherhood by taking on the responsibility of helping several daughters learn how to be their very best selves.

There was a time when I dreamed about meeting Oprah. My dream took place in a Colorado town called Telluride. Growing up in Colorado as a child, I have always dreamed of living part of my summer in a mountainous town. In my dream, while hiking up a mountainous trail, I met Oprah as she was on her way down. She stopped and touched my shoulder with her hand. I turned and she said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I liked your book.” At the time of my dream I had not written a book, so this dream was most perplexing to me.

Now what would I say to Oprah, if I had the chance? I would talk to her about living your best life now in the midst of unthinkable loss and grief. This unthinkable loss affects thousands of American families each year.

Motherhood and grand-motherhood has never been something I looked at as a source to live my life through my children’s or my grandchildren’s achievements to show somehow they are proof of my contributions to their life. I have developed and kept alive my own interests through the years. My own interests have helped me keep grounded in who I really am. I welcome new learning opportunities because I can only live what I know. I can only write about what I have experienced and be true to God and myself.

Sure, I have held various titles and names within my family and among my community, but this is only an indicator of who I am to others. I have tried to keep a balance between nurturing my significant relationships between my children and grandchildren that gives us all breathing room. Our family gives each other room to enjoy each person’s uniqueness and develop our own self-identity. I have resisted the temptation to lose myself in them. Little did I know, when our unthinkable loss occurred, it would transform us into a family forever changed. I still try to pay attention to what makes me feel alive; and know in my heart that I am doing my very best now, even in the midst of grief from an unthinkable tragedy. I strive to live this way because I know if I do not do it for myself; no one else is going to do it for me!

If Oprah were to ask me, what is living your very best life now? A couple of author’s books come to mind, Joel Osteen’s, Live Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living Your Full Potential and Grab the Queen Power: Live Your Best Life by Allyn Evans. Both authors encourage the reader to change the way they think about their life and take on the challenge to be their authentic self. They encourage their readers not to try to be like someone else or do something just because that is what a person is expected to do. Osteen and Evans show how to throw away the toxic messages and take responsibility for living your best life now; use the power God gave you to walk out your divine purpose and destiny. I have found that a person, who lives their best life by being authentic and follows their divine purpose and destiny, strives to discover what is “really” important. The important things are what they set out to accomplish, which results in personal joy, peace, and satisfaction as their reward.

So what would I tell Oprah about living my very best life means to me now, while living in the midst of grief and loss? Living my best life now means play dates with 12 of my thirteen grandchildren. It means giving honor to my thirteenth grandbaby with a seasonal visit to his gravesite and promoting my children’s grief book, Flying Hugs and Kisses to help bring awareness and education about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

I would tell Oprah that living my best life now compels me to tell others about the various issues surrounding SIDS. Namely, “SIDS is the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines), and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical and family history. Because most babies sleep in cribs, and therefore, most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is in a crib sleeping, SIDS is sometimes called “crib death." Cribs do not cause SIDS.” (First Candle/SIDS Alliance)

Doctors are not sure about the prevailing cause of SIDS; this leaves American families in a state of ambiguity, searching for meaning. Yes, there is research evidence that suggests some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make the baby vulnerable to sudden death during the first year of life. However, there is not yet a way to predict or prevent SIDS. Current studies indicate that despite the proactive steps parents and caregivers take to reduce their baby’s risk of infant death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continues to be a leading cause of deaths for over 2,000 infants during the first year of life in the United States. I would let Oprah know that SIDS crosses all socio-economic boundaries. There is a grandmother, named Tracy who wants her to know that African American and Native American babies are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from SIDS than Caucasian babies are. Male infants are more likely to succumb to SIDS than infant females.

Collaborative projects are on going throughout the United States medical research arenas searching to uncover the mystery of SIDS and effect positive outcomes for families. These collaborative projects need money in order to continue their efforts to find answers for SIDS families and to end SIDS for future generations.

I would let Oprah also know there are SIDS families affecting a positive outcome for themselves by bringing honor to the lives of their babies; people who are living their best life in spite of their personal SIDS tragedy. Some SIDS survivors are walking out their best life now by providing SIDS specific grief support groups’ online, raising funds for SIDS research to find a cure or to purchase needed resources and services for SIDS families. Other families are making the planet a better place, right in their own backyards by nurturing surviving children through their grief by helping the children make flower gardens or plant a special tree in memory of their SIDS baby brother or sister.

Without any question, living my best life now is looking back and having no regrets at the end of the day. Acknowledging the day may not have been as perfect. The day may have been laced with wisdom and understanding from things gone awry. Events occurred in which no one had control, but there remained self-respect, self-compassion, and self-discovery of how my divine purpose and destiny was pursued the best way I knew how, at that very moment in time. Knowing I did all I could to make the planet a better place gives me inner peace and strength to live my purpose and destiny another day. The things that make me happy are family generated activities. The thing that makes me the happiest is a vital relationship with God and experiencing inner peace because I know I have lived out my purpose for today the very best I can.

Yes Oprah, it would be great to get a chance to sit down with you and talk about SIDS families’ purpose on the planet is to live our best lives now, forever changed. Reality is, it probably will not happen. However, if my article somehow comes to your attention, I hope it broadens your perspective about why some of us are on the planet. Some of us are here, at this point in our lives, to help bring Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to the forefront with the hope that someday someone will find a cure and end SIDS altogether.

1 comment:

Maxine said...

Hello, Jewel, from a fellow member of CCWL. This post gave something of a wrench to my heart. I became a grandmother for the first time a little more than five months ago. SIDS is always a great fear to all of us mothers and grandmothers, I know, and it was good to read what you would say to Oprah. I hope someday you really have opportunity to tell her these things. I am so glad you reacted as you did to your loss--so many react otherwise by crawling into a shelf or being eaten up with bitterness. God bless you and your family and may your book bring help to many.

Maxine (a/k/a Nanna)