For 25 years, I lived at 180 East Pearson in Chicago. Every morning at 6 o'clock, I was picked up in the basement garage of my towering building and driven to the basement of Harpo Studios, a 14-minute trip along darkened streets and the electrical hum of Michigan Ave. I'd work past 8 p.m.—many nights till 10. Only on weekends and in summer did I experience daylight. Not that I'm complaining. That time was one of the best seasons of my life.

Now, though, I'm delighted by the opportunity to live another season. Every chance I get these days, I'm exploring the outdoors. Whether I'm walking through the woods with my doggies or chilling out on the cover of O in one of our great national parks, I'm embracing my outer me. And joyfully taking you along for the ride.

I've been on more than 200 covers for this magazine, mostly standing in a studio, posing for shot after smiley-face shot. I often joked with my production crew—photographers, stylists, hair and makeup team, set designers—that I was running out of smiles.

Getting outdoors has revived my inner grin. It has restored my energy—energy that I'm bringing to O.

And one more thing: As we're bombarded from every side with daily reminders of how divided Americans have become, I know for sure that this is a wake-up call for all of us who want peace and justice in the world. We need to step up more. We need more understanding. More empathy and compassion for our fellow humans. It feels like we're on a precipice, with some big lessons ahead.

Time spent in nature is going to help me absorb those lessons. For me, there is nothing more calming. In moments of uncertainty, just focusing on the stillness of a tree or the intricacy of a leaf can center me in the wholeness of all things. And help me stay open to whatever may come.


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