She’s been called everything from a cultural icon to the most influential woman in America, but to me Oprah is God’s grace embodied. I do realize that is a tall order to fill. But let me tell you how Oprah’s influence on me changed my life.

When I was sixteen, I lived in rural Quebec just ten minutes from the United States border.  Back in those days we used bunny-ears antennae to pick-up television stations, and since we were closer to the American stations we got all their programming quite clear. My family watched the Oprah Winfrey Show from its infancy.

Without going into intimate details about my childhood in a blog post, let’s just say that it was Oprah’s open and frank discussions on incest that gave my mother the courage to ask me point blank if I was being abused, and gave me the knowledge that I was not alone and could speak up. You see, I had told on him twice before, but it took Oprah shining a light on the taboo subject that allowed all of us to face the truth. My stepfather went to prison, and my life changed in an instant. For that alone I would be eternally grateful to Oprah… but there is more.

A girl cannot grow up the way I did and not have a few “issues”.  Even if my life took a completely new direction at sixteen I had a lot of unhealthy “stuff” to unlearn. But the Oprah show was there every step of the way. Oprah introduced me to Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, which was my first of many life-changing, inspirational reads. I grew up with no religion or spirituality, and Marianne’s explanation of God and Love and that we are all united struck a chord so deeply within me that I knew from that day on that the World is a good place, and that I was going to be Okay.  Oprah also introduced me to Deepak Chopra and his book Quantum Healing, which molded my nursing and then alternative healing careers. And Oprah introduced me to the fact that I wasn’t alone; she introduced me to the many other people in the world who have suffered equal or greater atrocities than I—she told me their stories, she showed me how they paid it forward and rose above their circumstances. Hands down, Oprah is the one woman who has had the largest impact on my life.

So there was not a second of hesitation for me to buy my ticket to see Oprah in Ottawa on April 10th.

Yes, there has been some criticism about the cost of tickets and Oprah having enough money already, and I can go into a long debate over our societal tendencies to sabotage women in power or highlight Oprah’s philanthropic deeds, but I won’t. I personally would walk across burning coal to sit down to dinner with Oprah, and I paid for the tickets with a smile on my face.

And then I heard about an Oprah in Ottawa pre-event!

Just as I am launching my first book into the world and booking speaking engagements, two little angels @smoonsammy and @LisaLarter show up on my Twitter feed with the opportunity to be a sponsor for Live Your Best Life Day in Ottawa. Another YES! without a moment’s hesitation. After all, Oprah has taught us to encourage and inspire others, she has taught us to be savvy business women with soul, and this event is a perfect reflection of Oprah’s principles.

I look forward to giving my inspirational talk that day—to sharing with Ottawa Oprah fans my prescription to our best life. It will be my homage to the woman who changed my life, and though she may not be there watching, I will know that my talk will be my gift to Oprah.