thanks for the reminder toni (and oprah)

When I get time to myself on the DVR, I usually hop into my “Oprah” folder to watch what I’ve been missing out on at 4pm for the last few weeks. Right now, I feel a sense of urgency to catch up to the latest episodes, but a sense of sadness that there will be no more to refill that folder come June. I don’t want to be the last person in the world to see Oprah say goodbye, but I also don’t want to delete it from my DVR list. Silly #firstworldproblem …

I caught up with the “Greatest Lessons” show over the weekend, and shed many a tear as I remembered those stories from the past and learned from new ones as well. But one of the lessons was really profound, and I know I’m going to carry it with me every day of my life. If I had heard it when the original show aired, I doubt I would have truly listened and heard it. But on Saturday, I heard it.

One of Oprah’s favorite lessons comes from Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and the question she asked of all parents: When your child walks in the room, does your face light up?
"When my children used to walk in the room, when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up," she told Oprah in 2000.

"You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. But if you let your face speak what’s in your heart…because when they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see."

Toni’s comment has become one of The Oprah Show’s most profound lessons and has touched the hearts of many viewers—including Gennece, who says that hearing Toni’s lesson changed her. "My daughter ended up dying of cancer," she says. "And the last two years [of her life], every time she would come home—whether it was from chemo or a party or the grocery store—I would always say, ‘Niecy’s home! Niecy’s home!’ And she would get so excited. … That made a difference in my life. And now when children are in my space, it’s authentic that my eyes light up, because my heart lights up."

And I heard it again this morning, through fits of crying and hunger. I need to let my love shine through when anyone is in my space, but especially my family is around me. It’s not enough to know it in your head and say it. It really should be shining through in their presence all the time. 

Does your face light up when you’re around people you love?


  • serena @bigapplenosh

    That was truly a wonderful episode. Watching my DVR’ed Oprah is definitely my little guilty pleasure at work! On a fluffier note, yesterday’s episode with Ralph Lauren was stunningly beautiful – I really enjoyed it and hope you do too!

  • Jen @ Living a Brighter Life

    I will truly miss Oprah and hope that she continues teaching great lessons such as these over on OWN. I have seriously been tearing up on every episode just knowing the last one is coming…

    I really enjoyed this episode as well and reading about how it affected you reminded me of this lesson. I now wish I hadn’t deleted it from my DVR so I could go back and rewatch…

    Even though I don’t have children yet, I need to manifest this lesson at home with The Hubs. I know when I get home from work I most of the time have my critical “what haven’t you done that you should have” face on. I think just coming home more excited to see him and not what he has or hasn’t done would make us both really happy.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience!

  • Penny

    I have to say “Does your face light up when I enter the room” is one of the best lessons that I treasure and try to remind myself of – it’s so important, especially when I catch myself complaining or having a bad attitude about a family member.

    I think my other favorite lesson from OW herself is “Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it’s not great!” (funnily, also in reference to Toni Morrison – a reader that said Toni M was too hard to understand!)

  • Carolyn C.

    I loooove Toni Morrison. Aaron took a course on her while he was in college and I have been working my way through all her works. She is a wonderful, inspired author and I’m always writing down quotes from her books as I read them. Her books (even the depressing ones) always make me appreciate everything — and everyone — I have and love.

  • Becky

    Wow, what a story. I’ve actually met Toni Morrison and was put off by her. Now I’m a big ball of sap. Thanks for the reminder to keep my priorities in order.