Oprah Magazine & Holland America Line Taught Me How to Have an Affair—With Myself

(Disclosure: O, The Oprah Magazine (O Mag) and Holland America Line (HAL) did not ask me to write this post. This is real talk about a life-changing experience in the hopes it will inspire you to 1) subscribe to a magazine that helps you live  your best life and 2) embark on your own HAL travel adventure no matter what it takes to do so.)

Oprah Magazine January 2018 cover

Find me on the inside of the second cover and on page 4! (Image used with permission.)

The January 2018 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine is on newsstands now, and I am featured in it not once, but twice! I am STILL pinching myself over this. I knew my photo was part of HAL’s marketing materials for the Adventure of Your Life cruises. But what I didn’t know is that my submission to O Mag’s first important question of 2018 would be printed.

How Asking the Right Questions Can Set You on a Whole New Course

This is the feature headline on the front cover of this month’s magazine, and it’s true. As a deep thinker and one who constantly is seeking more self-awareness and self-knowledge, I’m always asking myself questions. So when O Mag posed their first question of 2018, What’s the most important question you’ve ever asked yourself? I submitted my answer and went about my merry business. A couple of weeks ago, a fellow O Mag Insider sent me a message and asked if this was me:

Maria Thomas in O, The Oprah Magazine

I’m the Contributing Friend in the January 2018 edition of O Mag!

I nearly had a heart attack when I clicked open her photo. I tend to have freak-out moments when my name and anything Oprah appear in the same sentence. I mean, who doesn’t? My answer to the question was printed! What’s the most important question I’ve ever asked myself?

Am I brave enough to release my shame in order to tell my story?

Release Your Shame

The answer is yes. After I stared at this page in the magazine for a few solid minutes, I went upstairs to my reading room and had a moment to myself. Here’s my Instagram post from that night:

I just had a #gratitude cry. See the cover of the January 2018 edition of @oprahmagazine? That was taken on board the @halcruises Ms Eurodam in Alaska, and I was on that cruise. Less than 24 hours into it, I was punching away my limitations as motivational coach @shapewithangela spoke light into me. She said,

Stand unashamed in your truth.
Stop cheating on your future with your past.

That was a turning point for me. I decided I could no longer hold onto the shame I was carrying. As poet Mark Nepo says,

We must put down what we carry in order to let more of ourselves enter.

I hadn’t planned on it, but while on that cruise I told not one but two people whom I had just met that in 2016 I was awash in what they call “the dark night of the soul.” I was suicidal. When I found out there was a woman on board who was severely depressed and didn’t even want to leave her room, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. One night on the way to dinner, she just happened to be sitting on a couch outside the dining room as I was walking by. I told my newly made friends (a few #OMagInsiders) to go ahead without me. I sat down on that buttery red leather couch and told her my story. Perhaps that was why I was on that ship. To breathe life and love into her, to reassure her that life gets better if you can push past your pain and sadness.

Make Your Mess Your Message

I came home from that cruise changed. In September, on World Suicide Prevention Day, I published the bravest piece of writing I’ve ever penned. It’s called Just Stay, and you can read it here.

Now, inside this month’s edition, O Mag asked, What’s the most important question you’ve ever asked yourself? MY ANSWER IS IN THE MAGAZINE. “Am I brave enough to release my shame in order to tell my story?”

Yes, I am, and I’m okay now.

I’m in awe at my life over this past year, and so grateful. Thank you, God. Thank you for using me and my messy story so that it might help others.

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

I was a cruise virgin who never would’ve said “Yeah, I think I’ll book my first cruise, go by myself, room with a complete stranger, and hang out with nine other strangers for a week.” But I took a chance and left my life’s baggage on the curb to embark upon the best week of my life. Seven days with complete strangers, O Mag, and the fabulous HAL staff changed my life.

Being selected as a brand ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine has brought me blessings and opportunities I never would have imagined. The people I’ve met I now consider lifelong friends. I think in our own unique ways we’ve all helped each other in some form or fashion.

For me, 2017 was the year of taking back the power I had lost. So yes, it was all about me for an entire year. And I’m not apologizing. I learned how to love myself again, and this cruise was a pivotal moment along the journey.

Until you can alleviate your own suffering, you will continue to inflict suffering—not only on yourself, but also on those around you.

~ Elizabeth Gilbert in the September 2017 edition of O, The Oprah Magazine

What To Ask Yourself

The biggest question you can ask yourself right now should be when will you book your own cruise on board Holland America Line? I didn’t think I had enough money to be able to afford my cruise. But I set my intention, put myself out there and accepted several freelance writing and editing gigs to pay for it. Now I have an experience I will remember and cherish forever. I hope to cruise again in 2018 along with my fellow O Mag Insiders on board a HAL cruise.

O Mag Insiders on Holland America Line

Me (back row, far left) and eight other inaugural O Mag Insiders departing Seattle for the 7-day Share the Adventure Alaskan cruise with Holland America Line and O, The Oprah Magazine

Take the leap. Book the cruise. Have a love affair with yourself. I promise you will be changed because of it.

I have so many more stories to tell you about my OMagonHAL cruise! Here are two more to “tide” you over in the meantime. Pre-Cruise Inspiration and Share the Adventure Alaskan Cruise: Day 1 Embarkation.

2 Comments

  1. So glad you took the year for yourself! I did the same too, now that you mention it, and I’m so proud of and moved by the last year! So glad to have so many O-mazing best friends now!

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