Lenise Ligon

Rose Bowl 100

January 7th, 2014 at 11:16 am by under Uncategorized

Monday, January 6, 2014 was my first “official” day back to work after being off for the holidays.  Oh, and I also went to the ROSE BOWL!!!  Clearly, I am still gleaming from my trip to Pasadena.

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Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize how fortunate I am.  I mean it’s not every day that your school’s team gets invited to play in the Rose Bowl.  In fact, it’s been 26 years since Michigan State last played there.

I didn’t go to a lot of games throughout my college years.  There just wasn’t any time between all the internships, working full-time, being a full-time student, and running the university housing channel.  But I more than made up for the lost time with this experience.  I had the time of my life!

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photoAnd to think I almost didn’t make it there.  Travel was just a nightmare.  There were delays coming and going to California because of the arctic air.  I met a fellow Spartan in Los Angeles who had traveled from Michigan.  Her flight was more than two hours delayed from Detroit!  I was coming from Mobile.  So while the weather wasn’t an issue in the Port City, the backlog from other flights along the East Coast was.

I flew out on New Year’s Eve.  I didn’t land at the LAX airport until 11:58 p.m.  I had to ring in 2014 with more than 2.6 million other passengers, according to Los Angeles World Airports.  It was definitely a stark difference from the last 10 years or so of celebrating the night with my husband—who’s a New Year’s Eve baby.

Tickets to the game weren’t cheap.  We paid $650 for those seats. But they were right in the end zone!  The cost of being at that game was priceless.

I still can’t believe my Michigan State Spartans won the Rose Bowl, and I was there to watch it all happen!   It was an experience that I will never forget.  No amount of words or pictures can do it justice.

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I just remember walking to our seats.  We kept going down, and down, and down the rows—looking at each other with each step.  Each time we got closer to the field we screamed.  When we finally made it to our row, row “G,” we started jumping up and down!  We were just five rows up from the field!!!  Needless to say, we were ecstatic!

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I searched high and low for Michigan State gear, but all of the vendor stands at the stadium were sold out. That certainly matched the enthusiasm of Michigan State fans at the game, too.  Spartan Nation was so pumped and simply silenced the Stanford people.  It’s probably why they brought out the riot gear toward the end of the fourth quarter and only on the Michigan State side.  From what I could see, everyone kept their cool, so the riot gear wasn’t necessary.

I was only in California for three days.  In addition to the game, I also managed to take a mini-tour of the wine country.  It’s amazing what a beautiful country we have.  I went to a city outside Santa Ana called Los Olivos.  The rolling hills among the vineyards are just breathtaking.

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A girlfriend of mine who lives in LA is a producer on a sitcom starring comedian Tim Allen, called Last Man Standing.  She was kind enough to give me a tour of the studios.  So I got to see the other side of TV—the entertainment aspect.  It was pretty cool.

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By the way this entire blog was written by voice control.  So if there are any typos or grammatical errors, blame Siri (LOL).   Man I love technology.  I also love those Michigan State Spartans!  Go green.

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Are you my secret Santa?

December 28th, 2013 at 6:45 pm by under Uncategorized

I am so excited to write this blog.  I’m actually grinning from ear to ear as my fingers are eagerly typing away.  I mean after all, it’s not everyday a person gets to participate in breaking a Guinness World Record!

I am a bit of a competitor.  It’s one of the reasons I started running (the other of course was to stay in shape).  But I also LOVE spreading holiday cheer.  So when I heard about Reddit’s Secret Santa, I wanted in.

If you haven’t heard about Reddit, it’s a social media and entertainment site.  At first glance, it looks like a massive blogging site.  But it’s more like a collection of stories that users have voted on.   I didn’t find out about Reddit until last year in July even though the site actually went live in 2005.

I was late to learn about RedditGifts too.  I talked about the uniqueness of the idea in my Daily Dot Com segment.  The giant online gift exchange started in 2009 with over 4,000 participants.  The order was tall yet simple: get as many people as you can to help break the world record for the largest holiday gift exchange.

People more than answered the call.  And last year, the exchange had even more participants.

“44,805 internet strangers from 130 different countries put their faith in one another and sent gifts around the world. Pretty awesome, right?”

~Reddit.com

You are probably noticing a trend here.  Each year the goal gets bigger.  So for secret Santa 2013 the goal was a whopping 100,000 participants!  And yes, my friends, I was part of that number.  I was Secret Santa #76938 :-)

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm.  A fellow reporter was a bit concerned about the safety of it all…mostly because people are tasked with ‘cyber stalking’ each other in order to find the perfect gift.  I heeded his advice and proceeded with caution.

I have to give it to Reddit, it’s not easy organizing such a task.  For the last 5 years, I’ve been coordinating the secret Santa gift exchange at my job.  I had 30 people participate this year.  I can’t imagine having 100,000 people.

When I got into work this week Monday, I was more than happy to see this gigantic box on my desk.  I knew right away what it was.  My gift had finally arrived from my ReddidGifts secret Santa!  I had been making such a big deal about it, everyone crowded around my desk to see me open the box.

Inside, was a handwritten note and a board game called Quelf.  But NO mention of who my secret Santa was.  One of our editors said, “oh that’s the best game ever.”  Then someone else said, “you are going to have so much fun playing that.  That’s a really good gift.”All I could think about was who sent the gift.  Just so I could say thank you.

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I was matched with a young lady in Kentucky, who described herself as a person that likes HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Cosplay.

I immediately sent her an anonymous message letting her know I was her secret Santa and that it was my first time participating.  She responded the next day and said she was a newbie too and just as happy about playing.

Shopping for her was stressful and fun.  I wanted to get her a gift that she would like, something that was from Alabama, since that’s where the gift was coming from, and something that was reflective of her personality based on the description she gave me.  It was no easy task.  I didn’t know ANYTHING about her.

I could have purchased something from the RedditGifts marketplace, where people can shop for all sorts of cool clothing, games and trinkets.  Ultimately, I decided on a leather bracelet with gold wing pendants.  It was my effort of playing off the ‘Dark Wings’ episode in Game of Thrones, season 3.  I didn’t get a note from her.  I hope that doesn’t mean she didn’t like her gift.  I more than met the spending limit of $20 and per the rules, I mailed the gift by Dec, 20.  I checked the delivery confirmation and I know it was received.  I really hope she liked it.   And I hate not knowing.

Which is my only negative criticism about the RedditGifts secret Santa.  It’s totally up to the Santa to reveal their identity.  So while, I revealed my information to my giftee –my Santa is still a secret.

I have tried to figure out who my secret Santa was.  But without so much as a username it’s pretty much useless.  If he or she is reading this right now…Merry Christmas and thanks so very much for the gift.


She came!

October 21st, 2012 at 11:11 pm by under Sarah Wall - Monday Moms, Uncategorized

Words cannot describe the amount of joy and love that filled my heart when I saw my little girl.  I never knew the human heart could hold so much love.

Baby Phoenix Rae entered the world October 2, 2012.  She weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces…not too far from the 8.2 pounds the doctors estimated she would weigh.

 

My husband and I have an amazing 5-year-old son named Sidney.  Phoenix is our second child, but the pregnancy was not planned.  Sure…all of our family members were hoping we would have more than one child, but I had other plans.  I guess God had other plans, too. 

They say every pregnancy is different and boy was that the truth for me.  With my son, my pregnancy was pretty easy…I didn’t have any morning sickness, cramping or discomfort.  My biggest complaint was the weight gain.  I believe most women gain between 20-35 pounds.  I packed on 70 pounds!  Seriously, I resembled the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man from the movie, “Ghostbusters.”

This time around I gained 47 pounds, but I was terribly sick.  Quite frankly, I don’t know why they call it “morning sickness.” because for me it was all day, afternoon, and night.  And it wasn’t just nausea but heart burn, too, and nothing provided relief.

Our son was born in Charlotte, NC.  The amount of love and support we had from friends and the community was unexpected and so very kind.  But it’s never easy being away from family.  So this time I decided to have our baby in Michigan, the state my husband and I are both from.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthing experience.  In fact, the hardest part about my delivery was being away from my son.  For safety reasons, I had to arrive in Michigan three weeks prior to my due date.  That meant being away from my son, so that he wouldn’t miss more than a week of school while we waited for the baby to arrive.  Thank goodness she came early.

Everything went according to plan…my birthing plan that is.  I wanted to see the crowning, so my doctor provided a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see everything he saw.  Then when my little girl was far enough through the birth canal where I could grab her by the arms, my doctor guided my hands toward her shoulders and I pulled her out and onto my chest.  It was the greatest thrill.  We laid there for what felt like an eternity, but it was probably more like two minutes.  She’s perfect…so sweet, so beautiful, and healthy.

So Why Phoenix?

Several people have asked me why I chose the name Phoenix.  Well, the answer is simple: I love Greek mythology and the Phoenix is a sacred firebird that never dies.  But according to Google.com, the Phoenix is a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect…I like that too.

As I am writing this blog my little bambini is lying next to me.  She looks so peaceful, innocent and strong.  Whether she was a surprise, planned or unplanned – I am so grateful to have her…so eager to see the beautiful, remarkable lady she will become one day.


Going Red

May 14th, 2012 at 11:28 am by under FOX10 News, Sarah Wall - Monday Moms, Uncategorized

Healthy diet, healthy heart…you’ve heard the phrase before.  Yet according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.

I get extremely passionate when I talk about this topic because of a promise I made to my grandmother, Ethel Lee Edwards, when I was just 16.  I vowed to spend my life making healthier choices to avoid facing the consequences of cardiovascular disease.  See, my grandmother, and I were the best of friends.  She started having strokes, heart attacks and was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in my teens.  Sadly, she was in her early 60′s when she died.  There were many factors but mostly the complications of my grandmother’s death resulted from a poor diet and high-stress lifestyle.   Seconds before she died, she once again encouraged me to take control of my health –heart and soul.

It’s a promise that I have honored, volunteering with the American Heart Association, participating in organizing several walks, and fundraising.  This year I wanted to raise the bar and challenge myself even more.

February is National Heart Awareness month.  It’s a time to recognize the many milestones accomplished in fight against cardiovascular disease, and also bring awareness to the steps we still need to take to truly make a dent in what remains to be Americas burden.

On the first Friday in February, also known as Go Red Day, women across the nation wear red to show their support to wipe out heart disease.  I decided not only to wear red that Friday but everyday of that month.  To say the least, it generated conversation.  Everyday someone asked me, why do you keep wearing red…you must really like that color.

Lenise Ligon, Fox10News Meteorologist Chasity Byrd

To be clear, red is NOT a color I like, but I wanted to do something…create a spark and it worked!  People were engaged and energized about wiping out heart disease.  I received several pledges for fundraising dollars and commitments to join the cause.  In my heart and soul, I believe my grandmother would be proud.

Not a day goes by where I don’t wish my grandmother was still here with me.  She would have been 89 today.

This year the Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk will take place on September 22, 2012, at the University of South Alabama.  I certainly hope to see you there!  Cardiovascular disease forever changed my life, but together we can triumph over this chronic illness.

 


13.1 Miles in “The Mile High City”

October 18th, 2011 at 10:35 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

It was supposed to be my first marathon—the 2nd annual Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon Series in Denver, aka The Mile High City.

Incidentally, the city’s moniker comes from its official height, 5,280 feet above sea level….but you knew that, right?

I was SUPER excited.  I trained for a solid 13 weeks!  But when I picked up my registration packet, I realized I had mistakenly registered for the half-marathon and on-site registration for the full event would have been $210.  Needless to say… I decided to stick with the half.

More than 14,000 people took the challenge.  Participants either registered for the relay, half marathon or full marathon.  October 9, 2010 was the big day! Runners hit the pavement early at 6:55 a.m., and boy was it a chilly start to the race—a brisk 35 degrees.

But honestly after about 20 minutes, I didn’t notice the cold anymore.  I was ready to get into the zone and pass this test of physical endurance.

The course was no joke.

There was the high altitude to contend with and numerous hilly areas.  The race was truly designed for someone in tiptop shape.  I don’t know why I was so surprised—after all Denver is considered one of the fittest cities in the United States.

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of downtown Denver. Keeping with the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme, the event featured live bands along the route.  Some people even got into character and came dressed like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, and Fats Domino.

And the volunteers were great!  Along the route you heard them shouting:  ”You’re doing a good job,” “Looking good,” “Almost there,” “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon, but look at you.”

I even saw a sign that read: If you were running through hell would you stop?

I have to admit that one got me thinking.  However, the marriage proposal I saw at mile 6 took the cake. (I wonder if she said yes…)

I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked.  See, normally I sprint to the finish line when I’ve got about a mile left in the race.   But things got a little difficult right at mile #13, so I had to back off.  Still, I finished in 2:21:39….a new personal record.

Top finishers finished in record time.  In fact, 30-year-old Chris Siemers of Arvada, Colorado broke a state record which had stood since 1993.  He finished the Full Marathon in 2:18:48 and qualified for the Olympic Trials!

Siemers was followed by Andrew Smith of Denver, Jonathan Ndambuki of Kenya, and American record holder Josh Cox, who placed fourth.

Here’s a look at how everyone else stacked up:

Results

Place, Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize Purse

Full Marathon – Men

1 Chris Siemers, 30, Arvada, CO, 2:18:48, $1,000

2 Andrew Smith, 35, Denver, CO, 2:29:29, $500

3 Jonathan Ndambuki, 35, Kenya, 2:29:50, $250

Full Marathon – Women

1 Heather Utrata, 29, Englewood, CO 2:50:38, $1,000

2 Trisha Miller, 31, Missoula, MT, 2:51:43, $500

3 Nicole Chyr, 33, Englewood, CO, 2:52:06, $250

Half Marathon – Men

1 Josh Eberly, 31, Gunnison, CO, 1:06:57, $1,000

2 Bernard Langat, 29, Kenya, 1:08:59, $500

3 Nicholas Sunseri, 25, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1:10:43, $250

Half Marathon – Women

1 Lidia Simon, 38, Romania, 1:14:54, $1,000

2 Nuta Olaru, 41, Romania, 1:15:16, $500

3 Brianne Nelson, 30, Fort Collins, CO, 1:17:12, $250

After the race we took a drive to Colorado Springs to see the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak Mountain.  The day prior we made the trek up to Rocky Mountain National Park and saw lots of elk.

Denver’s downtown district reveals a city that’s looking to the future.  It’s a clean and lovely business district with modern skyscrapers, great food and friendly people.  I had the time of my life!

I am already planning my next race…any suggestions?

I’m thinking about the Pensacola Marathon in November, so all my previous marathon training doesn’t go to waste.


9/11: What did you do?

September 19th, 2011 at 9:35 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  The day means something different to each American.  Somber, bereaved, ardent, resilient, irate, and healing are just some of the adjectives I would use to describe that fateful day.

I have kept a journal since I was 9 years old, detailing just about every important moment of my life.  But when I looked to see what I had written ten years ago on September 11, 2001, there was no entry.  I was shocked but not surprised.

Comprehending such violence and death was no easy task, and writing about it would have been an admission that I simply was not ready to accept at that time.

I didn’t need a journal to remember how I felt, or where I was when our nation was attacked. The events from that day are seared into my memory. I was working at a television station in Youngstown, Ohio. It was just 140 miles away from where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Forty passengers and crew were killed as they fought to take back their hijacked aircraft.  I was assigned to get reactions from family members, friends, or neighbors, so my photographer and I headed to the local churches.

Of the churches where we could fit inside, there was a strange combination of peace and grief.  I didn’t find any families of the victims from Flight 93.  But every single person I interviewed felt a connection to the passengers on that plane—as Americans.  Much of my night was spent consoling men, women, and children of all different backgrounds. That’s when my story turned into one of unity—how despite such a horrific act, resolve and true American grit still rang true.

In honor of the 2977 lives lost, the Museum of Mobile was one of U.S. 30 cities to mark the anniversary of 9/11with an exhibit called, “Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation.” The exhibit is a documentary of the recovery efforts to locate human remains, personal objects, and material evidence following the deadly attacks.   With over 50 artifacts and photographs plus interpretive text on pieces found near the World Trade Center, the exhibit is meant to evoke emotion…but solely for healing.

My 9/11 Tribute


This year, I decided to exercise my freedom—literally.  I ran in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K in downtown Mobile.  Over 3,000 people joined me…. runners, walkers and bikers alike. The event honored the courage and dedication of our first responders, but also commemorated the legacy of Stephen Siller, one of the 342 firefighters who laid down his life on 9/11.

The course started at the Battleship USS Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile, ran along the causeway, through the Bankhead tunnel, west on Government Street, then east on Dauphin Street to finish at Bienville Square.

Throughout the race, you could hear cheers, chants of “God Bless America,” and words of encouragement to keep pushing through.  It was an ironic mixture of sadness and joy.  Sad because of all the families forever changed.  But the joy I felt was reminiscent of the unity I witnessed following the attacks.  Only this time, there was no death and destruction…only peace.

Each participant was given a medal at the finish line. It simply read: September 11, 2001 Remember.  I surly will.


Adventures on Wolf Bay

July 12th, 2011 at 8:46 pm by under Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors, Uncategorized

My family and I were invited to go kayaking with Alabama Kayaking Adventures last Saturday.  To say we had a good time, would be an understatement.

Did you know that Alabama’s coastal area includes 607 miles of shoreline with over 400,000 acres of estuaries? Talk about having plenty to see!

Captain Chris Nelson was our guide.

Our adventure started in Foley, at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve.  It was a 4-mile kayak (round-trip) that took us into Wolf Bay near Orange Beach, AL.  We went from fresh water to salt water and back to fresh water.

Now, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast what I’m about to say next –may come as no surprise.  But as soon as you hit the water, the kind of peace you experience is hard to put into words.  The water is calm.  The rhythm from paddling is hypnotizing.  And the sounds of nature, like the different calls from shore birds, offer such tranquility.

We saw just about everything you could imagine on our trip:

Swamp Iris, Coastal Morning Glory, Wax Myrtle aka Bayberry, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Blue Herons, Ospreys, jellyfish, a couple of snakes and a whole of lot of wasps’ nests.

It was quite the experience and especially for my 4-year-old son.

The Gulf Coast is filled with such beauty.  My only wish is that I had more time to get out and enjoy it.

 


My 7 Angels

March 27th, 2011 at 3:45 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

Earlier this month I had the privilege of flying with the Navy’s precision flying team –The Blue Angels.

The Blue Angels were performing in Biloxi that weekend, for the first time in over 30 years.  I was invited to go up on one of the practice runs.

To say that it was a thrill of a lifetime, would probably be an understatement.   These guys are known for wowing the crowds. We’re talking speeds of about 360 miles per hour, at 27,000 feet.   It isn’t just straight-line flying either.  There are all sorts of twists and turns.

I didn’t fly on one of the Hornets, instead I rode on Fat Albert.  It’s a C-130T aircraft, responsible for carrying maintenance/support support crew, their gear, spare parts and communication equipment for the air show. 

I arrived at Keesler Air Force Base at 12:45 p.m. It was my first time ever being on a military base.   I thought very carefully about what I would wear.  But I missed the mark when it came to my shoes.

One of the military personnel gave me this strange look and said, “ma’am you can’t wear those shoes.”

Lucky for me, a Navy Specialists’ wife offered to take me to the PX, Air Force Exchange, so I could get some proper shoes. Thanks Tina!  You’re the best.

It took about three hours of “briefing” before we went airborne.  The entire flight was close to two minutes.  It reminded me of some of the rides at Cedar Point .

At one point you’re climbing up into the air, at a 45-degree angle, then once the plane propels to an altitude of 1,000 feet it quickly levels off.  Because there’s little force –you experience a sort of free fall or weightlessness — much like you would when you go over the top of a hill on a roller coaster.  

During my flight one of the guys did a back flip and his boot hit me in the head.  But I was more hurt by the fact that I didn’t go floating up in the air.

It’s not for the faint of heart.  But I have always been somewhat of a daring individual: bungie jumping in Cancun, rock climbing/jumping and swimming into sea caves off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

If you haven’t experienced a Blue Angels air show, you should definitely check it out.  I know after this experience I’ll never look at another air show the same.  These guys put so much effort and practice into what they do.  It’s incredible.  They have to have the maneuvers down to a science.

To My seven Angels thanks for taking such good care of me and allowing me to go on a flight of a lifetime.

 


I met Oprah!!! And I lost it…

September 15th, 2010 at 3:40 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com, Sarah Wall - Monday Moms, Uncategorized

I mean I lost it.

So, as many of you know, I attended a taping of The Oprah Show in Chicago.

No, it wasn’t that show—the show where the audience members got a surprise trip to Australia.  No, the show I attended was taped September 8, 2010.  But I ended up with a little surprise, too.

I was so excited when I got the email about the tickets.  Right away I called my mother and sister and told them, “We’re going to see Oprah for her Farewell Season!”

We only had about two weeks to book our flights and hotel.  My mother and sister were traveling from Detroit, and I was flying out of Pensacola.  I really didn’t think we would all make it.

But actually, we found flights at a reasonable price and arrived in Chicago the night before the taping.  That entire night I had butterflies in my tummy.  I was just so anxious.  I was hours away from being in the presence of a woman that I have admired and respected for so many years.

According to our tickets we had to be at Harpo Studios by 11:00 a.m.

We took a taxi and as hyper-excited as I was, I had the nerve to stop by my favorite coffee shop and get a Grande Soy Caramel Macchiato.  Exactly

Needless to say, when we pulled up in front of Harpo Studios, my heart was about to jump out of my chest.

There was a long line of people waiting to get inside.  Over 300 people were there.

It was such a good vibe.  Everyone was just so happy to be there, from the staff to the studio audience; everyone was sharing their favorite Oprah stories and saying how much the show would be missed.

No cameras were allowed inside.  In fact, I had to check my entire purse until after the taping.

We were called into the studio and with each step I took, the pounding in my chest grew louder.  We were escorted to our seats, and I thought I was going to pass out.

We had absolutely amazing seats.

We were seated on the right side of the floor, and in the third row!

So when Oprah came out, she walked right past ME!!!.

I remember how quiet it was right before she came out.  Up until that point, the place was vibrating with music, laughter, and a bit of hysteria from the people who got the front row seats.

But when they announced that Oprah was making her way into the studio, a silence fell over the room.

With just one footstep into the room, there was an eruption of applause.

She made her way to the stage and walked right by my seat.  See, I was sitting on the end of the row.

I remember seeing her shaking everyone’s hand, and then I remember feeling this ball of emotion.  It started in my gut then worked up to my throat.

When she reached my seat and extended her hand to me, I lost it.  I completely lost my cool and, to be honest, that’s where it all becomes a blur.

I must have blacked out, because I don’t really remember much.  My mother tells me I dropped down into my seat, started crying hysterically, and fanning myself.

She reached over to tell me to get up, because apparently at that point Oprah was trying to give me a hug.  I just kept shaking and crying, so eventually Oprah continued  toward the stage.

“Lenise, Lenise, you have to calm down…just breathe,” my mother told me.  It registered.

When Oprah got to the stage, she thanked us all for being there.  Then, she proceeded to tell us a story about how she just loved the Mary Tyler Moore Show when she was a teenager.

Oprah said that she watched the show religiously.  She said one day, she finally met her heroine and, “went right into the ugly cry, snot coming out of the nose and all.”

That’s when she turned to me and said, “I guess I’m your Mary Tyler Moore.”

If only she knew.  I have been watching Oprah since high school, admiring her interviewing skills, compassion, and humility.  Maybe she did know.

When she reached out to me, I’ve never been so taken…even now I am getting tears in my eyes just replaying the image in my mind.

I couldn’t handle all the emotions.  Thank goodness my mother and sister were there to help me keep my feet on the ground, because I was out of my skin with joy.

Once everyone was calm and in their seats, we began taping the segment.  The topic of the show was Modern Families, so appropriately they had the cast of “Modern Family” as the guests: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, and Ty Burrell.

Time flew.  Before I knew it, Oprah was saying thank you to the cast members and asking the studio audience if they enjoyed the show.

She took a lot questions from the audience.  One woman asked if she ever felt like giving up in her career…someone else asked what would happen to Harpo Studios…and another person wanted to know her middle name.

She said, she’s never felt like giving up because she has always followed her true calling, which was to be a teacher.  Regarding Harpo Studios she said it would still remain a production house and her middle name is Gail.  I know quite the coincidence considering her best friend is also named Gayle, just spelled differently.

But she really opened up when one woman thanked Oprah for the profound impact that she’s had on American culture and congratulated her on winning the Kennedy Center Honor.

Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, and Bill T. Jones will be this year’s recipients.

Oprah got really smitten when she talked about sitting next to Paul McCartney—a man she says, she always thought she would marry.

It was cute, seeing her so awestruck, especially since I was so awestricken by her.

And she must have felt my thoughts because that’s when she turned to me and asked, “Have you calmed down yet?”  I nodded my head and said I was just trying to breathe like my mother told me.

AND CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE CALLED ME UP ON THE STAGE!!!!

I almost lost it again.  I just kept telling myself you’re wearing 5 inch heels; you do not want to fall.

I couldn’t speak.  It was completely surreal!

I was on stage with OPRAH!!!  She told me I looked nice and that she liked the orange sweater I was wearing—that it was a good color for me.  She said, you smell good, too… and my response to all of that …”Oh I showered.”  Oh. My. Goodness.

I finally meet the one person I have regarded with such admiration and all I could say was “I showered.”    She was really sweet though and very kind; she just hugged my waist and said, “Here let’s take a picture.”   My mother later told me I was smiling so hard that my cheeks were up to my eyes and that she didn’t think I could see.  She told me that she knew I really, really liked Oprah but she didn’t think I would cry.

My picture with Oprah came in the mail yesterday.  Looking at it brings back such a rush of happiness.

I wanted to include it in this blog but because of copyright laws, I am not allowed.

The picture is framed and will be sitting on my desk to remind me of Oprah’s advice that day:  “We are all called here by a greater energy force; for me that energy force is God.  We all have a purpose; find yours and be the best.”

September 8, 2010.  Honestly, it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Who will fill that seat now?  That’s the question circulating the web.  But if you ask me, no one can replace Oprah.   She’s truly one of a kind.

The episode airs September 29th.  Be sure to tune in, and let me know if you see me in the audience.


A conversation with Shirley Sherrod

August 4th, 2010 at 12:04 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

President Obama made history again last week when he made an appearance on “The View.”  It was the first time a sitting president has ever visited a daytime TV talk show.

But while the President was busy discussing the hot topics, he was also the subject of another heated discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in San Diego.

I know because I was there.

NABJ members enjoy kick-off reception. (picture by Kenneth Hawkins/nabjconvention.org)

Newsmaker Shirley Sherrod appeared before thousands of journalists for a candid conversation, “Context and Consequences: A discussion with Shirley Sherrod.”

The discussion focused on the role race plays in the media.

CNN's Don Lemon, Shirley Sherrod, Mara Schiavocampo, Eric Deggans (picture by Tony Jones/U.S. Census Bureau Charlotte)

Sherrod was catapulted into the spotlight when conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart released an edited video of her speaking at a NAACP meeting.  The video portrayed Sherrod as a racist and ultimately led to her firing as the Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture.

Sherrod said Breitbart knew what he was doing when he posted the video and she definitely plans to sue.

“At this point he hasn’t apologized but I don’t want it at this point.  He’ll definitely hear from me,” said Sherrod.

Sherrod wouldn’t budge on whether she would be coming back to the Agriculture Department but she did however issue a challenge to President Obama.

She was asked if she thought the President needed a history lesson.  ”Yes, he needs a lesson on race issues…on civil rights issues so he can be stronger on those issues, so they can be addressed,” said Sherrod.