As a month, November gets a raw deal, especially during the first week where we are all coming down from a collective Halloween high into the guilt of having eaten that whole big-ass bowl of mini Peanut Butter Cups. Or maybe that’s just me. But, c’mon, no one enjoys the laborious removal of the festive goth spookiness from your house, putting it in storage containers, and then trying to figure out where to fit it in the garage so it won’t block the Christmas decorations that will need to be retrieved in a couple weeks. November is perfumed with the scent of future anxiety. Sometimes it’s a faint wafting of the holiday bullshit to come, and other times it’s more a fear-based stench that comes from the assholes voting for people and policies that will doom us all. But, regardless, it stinks.
Especially this week. A smaller Blue Wave than I had anticipated, another mass murder at the hands of a white male terrorist, another tantrum from the Toddler in Chief, the Notorious RBG sidelined with broken ribs, California burning down, Pacific Standard Time…ugh! But I have found that when I can’t control the chaos around me, it’s best to focus on what I can control — me.
But upon focusing on myself, I realize I could do better. Ideally, I’d like to be the kind of me who is responsible for the energy I create, who faces fear, who never gives up hope, who practices gratitude, and does my best, always. As a secular white suburban woman in my 40’s, this, of course, is all Oprah wisdom.
These are lofty, but achievable goals all day, until I’m in the car, driving home from work, in the pitch black, at only 6pm, being bummed out by NPR. It was enough to start rationalize delaying my Better Me campaign until after November. Because November is a buzz kill. December would be more hopeful and it’s much easier to be responsibly create positive energy when there are sparkly lights in every tree.
And then — poooooof- an imaginary Oprah appeared inside my mind, shaking her head, repeating “mmmmnnnnnt” with a half frown. She asked me, “Who do you want to BE in the world?”
“Well, Imaginary Oprah,” I said, “I want to be a person who can function in ALL months, even the crappy ones.”
I believe we all have some kind of of Imaginary Inner Oprah™. You know, a divining force to kick our asses. Though that doesn’t mean I hold the actual Oprah Winfrey up as a god. Honestly, the real Oprah is way out of my spiritual pay grade, so I opt for a heavy on the desserts cafeteria-plan in the same way I did with my Catholicism before chucking religion entirely.
My Imaginary Inner Oprah™ looks and sounds like the actual Oprah, but she doesn’t seem like she’d judge me for never getting around to reading Eckhard Tolle or most of her book club choices or her magazine or her website. She doesn’t mind that I haven’t seen any of her movies, except for The Color Purple, because I’ve seen that 50 times. She knows I’m not crafty, so she thinks my mental vision boards are just as effective as real ones. And most importantly, this version of her still values the sensationalistic topics of her first few National seasons.
There is, of course, an Inner Imaginary Gayle to sit at the right hand of My Inner Imaginary Oprah™ and they both guide me on the road trip of life together. Supportive, wise, sassy, and fierce, they want me to be surrounded by favorite things and commit acts of random kindness like surprising people at their front doors and hiding swag under their seats. But they also understand that sometimes living my best life involves binge-eating potato chips in a pair of sweatpants.
Chakka Kahn, Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou…they are saints. Googling “Best Oprah Advice” is, I guess, kind of the closest thing to a Bible. Okay, yeah, I’m just spitballing out the dogma right now on the spot, but honestly, choose any other myth/religion and tell me that this is any more preposterous.
My Imaginary Inner Oprah™ has urged me to embrace what I love about November. Like how, it is what true Fall is about in Southern California. October brings dry hot Santa Ana winds and sinus problems , but November takes us down to the chilly low-70 degree days when I can wear tights and boots.
I’m also grateful for Outlander Season 4 airing on Sunday nights this month. And I’m thankful that I’m not ashamed to admit my excitement for A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding to start streaming at the end of the month. November is an excellent TV watching month. It’s possibly even the best month in which to eat pie while you watch TV. Also, hot cider! And so many album releases.
But my daughter, Maddy, gets credit for pointing out November’s biggest asset. It’s the only month where both Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Peppermint Mochas are on the Starbucks menu. Normally, choices are hard, but I just can’t get that one wrong! And when you look at it like that, November is the bridge between the best of two seasons. And that there is an Imaginary Inner Oprah™ miracle because I’m even starting to believe my PR spin.