I remember being fifteen years old, standing in the drugstore three corners from my house, waiting for the September issue of Seventeen to arrive. I was a faithful reader all through my teens, until I turned 18. But the back-to-school issue was the most anticipated, and I couldn't risk having it sell out.
I never had enough money at one time to buy a subscription, but I would sacrifice two school lunches a month for the 50 cents to buy the magazine filled with spectacular fashion, ideas, and dreams. It gave me hope that one day I could live like the girls in those pages.
The September issue heralded the beginning of a new school year—a chance to grow, make fresh impressions, and move forward. I loved everything about going back to school, including shopping for supplies, like a new notebook filled with crisp sheets of paper. I liked to have lots of paper and lots of pencils. I would fill my book satchel with them before school and come home empty-handed after sharing with all the kids who forgot their own. My stepmother soon started rationing—only 20 sheets a day and one pencil—to stop me from giving everything away. To this day, I still get a little thrill when I see stacks of clean white paper. To me each page represents a fresh start.
What I know for sure is that every sunrise is like a new page, a chance to right ourselves and receive each day in all its glory. Each day is a wonder. I forget it sometimes when I'm caught up in my own stuff—deadlines, obligations, expectations. But this summer, I was able to strike a fine balance between work and renewal. Not only did I see the USA in a Chevrolet (on a road trip with my friend Gayle), but I also traveled to South Africa to oversee the Leadership Academy for Girls I'm building there.
In July, I sat on my porch in Hawaii and took pictures of the sunset each evening. Every day I would hike the hills in back of my house with my three rambunctious white retrievers. At 4:30 one morning, Stedman and I drove to the top of the Haleakala Crater and watched the sun rise. That's on the list of things to do before you die. You get to watch the day slowly unfold above the clouds. The sun casts a pink haze over the sky long before you see its rays, and the ridge below the cloud begins to glow. It's so still up there, you can hear life whispering to you. I could feel the depth and potential of my own existence.
No matter what our troubles, when the earth turns on its axis one more time and we see what appears to be the sun rising, I feel it's the universe calling for a change in ourselves. You have one more day. Rise with it!
From the September 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!