Photo: Ruven Afanador
What you see on the cover really isn't so much a transformation as it is the natural state of my hair, without blow-drying or straightening. This is the "do" my grandmother had to deal with when I was a little girl, braiding and unbraiding it regularly to keep it strong. I like wearing my hair this way on the weekends and on vacation—it makes me feel unencumbered. But it's hard to manage daily, because it needs to be braided every night or cut shorter in order for me not to look, as Gayle says, "like you put your finger in a light socket."
Before I turned 50, I'd vowed to cut all my hair off and wear it close-cropped à la Camille Cosby. Her husband, Bill, convinced me otherwise. "Don't do it," he said. "You've got the wrong head shape. You'll disappoint yourself." (I took his advice.) But hair plays a major role in how we express our vision of "self." And getting a new hairdo can change what we see and feel is possible. I even notice a change in my dogs when they get their summer cuts: They're friskier and livelier, feeling more themselves, once the weight of the hair is released.
"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" is one of my favorite Bible verses. I memorized it as a young girl. The very idea of transforming yourself by the way you think about things struck me as profound long before I realized how profound it really is. The only way to transformation is through the mind. That's why, of all the years of makeovers we've done in this magazine and on TV, the only ones that are maintained and sustained are those in which something inside the receiver clicks, aligning with that which is being received.
What I know for sure is that transformation happens when you dare to be awakened to greater heights. When you stay open no matter what. Letting each experience, especially the tough ones, strengthen you and add depth and wisdom. We all make mistakes. Not allowing for other people's mistakes leaves no room for our own.
On the road of life, you can't get off the exit ramp without some bumps and roadblocks—and a few detours. I'm in the middle of some now, while building a television network. I've put in more hours and more miles than I ever imagined possible. That's why I LOL'd to a stranger the other day who said, "Hey Oprah, how are you enjoying retirement?"
I never want to retire from life. From growth. Or from the renewing of my mind.
More of What Oprah Knows for Sure
From the September 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!