OPRAH WINFREY IN 24 HOURS
The philanthropist lets us in on a typical day in her fabulous life
7:10A.M. Every day that I can wake up surrounded by nature in my home
[in Montecito, California] is a perfect one. I call it the “Promised Land” because it feels like a spiritual gift from all the forces of life. This morning, when I hit the blackout shades just after seven, the light was casting its golden glow over the green lawn, with the clouds and ocean in the distance. I hadn’t even had a sip of coffee, but it was already a perfect day. 8:00A.M.
First thing in the morning, I brush my teeth and take the dogs out. There are five of them and everybody’s ready to get out, but I make them wait while I brush my teeth. After I walk the dogs around the yard, I make my favorite espresso. I mix caffeinated and decaffeinated espresso with milk and a little hazelnut.As I wait for the brew to froth, I pull out a card from my 365 Gathered Truths box. I read five of them each morning; it’s a beautiful way to start the day. 8:30A.M. I have a series of spiritual exercises that I do every day. After reading Gathered Truths, I check out “Bowl of Saki” on my phone; it’s delivered to my inbox every morning. It contains the teachings of the Sufis, a Middle Eastern sect that believes all paths lead to God and that all religions are one, pointing to the same north star. Then I meditate. My house is surrounded by more than 3,000 trees; it feels like I live in a park. When I want to meditate, I can go to a special rock that’s carved into the shape of a seat.
Or I can sit underneath the 12 live oak trees that I call “the Apostles.” It’s my favourite place on earth. 9:00A.M. After my meditation, I work out for an hour. I do resistance flexibility, a low-impact strength-training programme that involves two, sometimes three, people pushing against you as you push against them. I have stretchers come to my house to help me do it. After that I go for a run. I live on 65 acres, so I can jog for a solid two miles without leaving my property. 10:30A.M. Today I had a little trunk show in my living room. Brunello Cucinelli came up from Los Angeles, and I chose everything that I wanted from their spring line. If it were Thursday, I’d be in the garden after my workout.That’s harvest day, when we cut the herbs, pick the fruit, dig up the potatoes. It usually takes 40 minutes to an hour. 12:30P.M. We [Winfrey and her longtime partner, Stedman Graham] always try to eat lunch in the garden.We have a rule: If we cannot find it in our garden, then we cannot eat it. I love lunch. It’s my favourite meal. If Stedman isn’t here, I will invite others over— all the people I’m interested in talking to or meeting. I had Jennifer Lawrence up for lunch, Chrissy Metz, Princess Ameerah of Saudi Arabia. I do cook, but not if it’s more than four people. I start to get confused about how much stuff to put in. Sometimes
I’ll have a glass of rosé with lunch. My favourite is Promise “The Joy” rosé. It’s from NapaValley. I like my wine very chilled.Wine—if it’s too warm—is the only thing I ever send back at a restaurant. 1:30P.M. I try to take care of any business in the early afternoon so the rest of the day is mine. Wire transfers, cheques. I personally sign all cheques over
100 grand. Having grown up poor, I can
never completely turn over all my money matters to anyone else. It’s important for me to know how much the electricity bill is, to know what’s coming in, what’s going out. I never want to be one of those people who delegates that task to someone else and then one day is surprised to find out how much money they do or don’t have. During the week, I also check in daily with Gayle about the magazine
[King is Editor-at-Large of O magazine], with my office in
L.A., and with Mindy Grossman [the president and CEO of Weight Watchers]. I go down the line of all the business stuff I need to take care of and usually get it done completely within two hours. 3:30P.M. In the late afternoon, I’ll do some form of exercise again. Then I head to my teahouse just as the sun is setting. I never drink tea with caffeine in the afternoon; otherwise I’ll be up until four in the morning because it stays in my system for 12 hours.The teahouse is where I read.You know what I’ve been doing lately that brings me such exquisite joy? Reading poetry. I recently saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, and it touched my life in such a profound way. I have not been able to talk about it without crying. It is so deeply moving—it makes you see the poetry in your own life. The show inspired me to start reading poetry again, and so now that’s how I like to end my day. I’m currently making my through The Way Under the Way, by my friend Mark Nepo. I find it very calming. 6:00P.M. We eat dinner at six, and then it’s time for another dog walk. My perfect evening involves sitting around the fire with family, reading a novel, and drinking herbal tea. I generally prefer reading a novel to watching a movie. I can go for weeks without turning on the TV; which is not to say I don’t love a good movie. A lot of my girls [former students of her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa] are from out of the country, so they’re not familiar with many of the classics. I want to make sure they see certain films because there are expressions they need to know. We’ll watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and they’ll ask,“What does ‘cuckoo’s nest’ mean?” So we’ve been watching a lot of old movies likeTo Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone needs to see that! 9:30P.M. In the evening, I have a bath before bed; it’s a ritual. I’m a bathing professional—I have different bubble baths, salts, beads and oils. I’ve spent a lot of time creating homes that feel like nurturing, spiritual shelters for me. I also have a ranch in Maui, but I don’t love any place as much as this one. The land, the trees and the open sky fortify me. I feel very connected in a way that I never do when I’m in a city surrounded by buildings. I recently travelled to Milwaukee, where I grew up, and I kept saying to myself, “Was it always this grey?”Well, I never noticed because I was always going to work. I left before daybreak and then it was dark when I got home
14 hours later. I never paid attention to the sky. For me now, a perfect day is not just one thing; it’s a series of small things. It’s the crisp air on your face when you open the door in the morning, the reflection of mountains and clouds in a crystal lake. It’s paying attention: What does the sky look like?
Where’s the sun? When you’re walking down a path, how do your feet feel when they touch the grass? I know what people will say,“Well, Oprah, if I were you, I’d have a perfect day too.” But I’ve earned it: I’ve earned the ability to pay attention to every aspect and detail of the day. I have a great appreciation for the little things that add up to that big thing called a meaningful life. ■
“The land, the trees and the open sky fortify me. I feel very connected in a way that I never do when I’m in a city surrounded by buildings.”
Oprah Winfrey at the 2018 Golden Globes
An illustration by Pablo Lobato