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Local 'O for Fun' party bids farewell to Oprah

FAREWELL TO OPRAH WINFREY: Local women throw an "O For Fun" farewell to Oprah party at La Barista in downtown Detroit Lakes.1 / 2
LORI LINDQUIST admits to being a fair weather fan of Oprah's, but says she'll always remember one of the queen of talk show's famous sayings, "When you know better, you do better."2 / 2

Oprah Winfrey's final farewell show had a reported 48 million fans glued to their televisions for the end of the talk show queen's 25 year-long run.

"How do I begin to say goodbye?" Lady O questioned from her Chicago studio at 4 p.m. central standard time.

Out of that 48 million, about a dozen of them sat in La Barista in downtown Detroit Lakes, drinking coffee and wine, while marking the end of an era with an "O for Fun" Oprah party.

The woman behind the party is Kelly Pratt, a Detroit Lakes woman who knows first-hand how deeply Oprah effected people.

"She changed my life," Pratt began.

"I was going through a divorce in 2005. I had to sell my home, and I was pounding the pavement looking for my pantyhose job -- you know, the type of job that puts you in a box."

But one day when browsing a bookstore, an unhappy Pratt stumbled upon an article in O Magazine.

"It was the five best new pieces of advice by Martha Beck," explained Pratt. "and one of them was to work like a dog."

Upon reading further, Pratt learned that dogs only work when it's something that comes natural to them, something Pratt knew she wasn't doing in her career.

Down the isle, she was then drawn to a book called "The Creative Entrepreneur."

With her new book and new O Magazine, Pratt went home and began to pack up her house to sell.

"And in doing so, I found an old folder of mine from 10 years ago that said 'Life Coach' -- and that was my ah-ha moment," Pratt laughed.

The emotionally embattled Pratt then took her "sign" and switched careers.

"I started training under Martha Beck, the life coach who writes for O Magazine -- she's on Oprah a lot," said Pratt.

Inspired by Oprah and Beck, Pratt became a certified life coach, joining what she refers to as the "Peace Army."

"Oprah gives people the choice to not partake in negativity," Pratt explained, "I can choose to live my life well, and that's why I've made this mid-life decision to be a life coach -- to be a part of that movement.

Pratt takes Oprah-isms with her as she now doles out advice to people around the country who are trying to "live their best life," a message Oprah, Beck, and now Pratt are hoping to get out.

"Being a life coach is not going to make me rich, but it sure makes me happy," said Pratt, as she listened intently to Oprah's parting words.

"What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called," Oprah said, "Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it."

Nearly all the women who attended the "O for Fun" party (and yes, it was all women) got a little teary-eyed now and then throughout the hour-long program.

"I'm trying not to cry," said rural Detroit Lakes resident Terry Kalil, who does not claim to be the planet's biggest Oprah fan, "but it's hard, not because she's leaving, but just the power of her words -- talking about owning your own life."

Silence in the coffee shop during Oprah's monologue was broken only when the show broke for commercials.

Then, it was hurried chatter of input, reflection and memories of past shows.

"I liked the one where her and Gail went camping -- that cracked me up," said Pratt.

"I'll never forget that one where she came out with a wagon full of fat that showed how much weight she had lost," said Renee Herrmann, a flight attendant who has been watching Oprah since she was 20 years old.

"She's been such a constant in my life," Herrmann said, "I can go to Guam, Paris, Amsterdam -- it doesn't matter, she'd be on, and whether it was consciously or subconsciously, she helped shape my life."

New York Life Financial Advisor LoAnn Thompson said the reason Oprah's shoes will be so hard to fill is because of how she makes viewers feel like she's talking to them.

"There seems to always be something that connects us to what she's saying or the story she's presenting that makes it hit home," said Thompson.

"If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now," Oprah said in her farewell, "I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares the common desire. They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?'"

A crying Pratt reached for a napkin.

"See? This is why I do this," she told her friends, "I want to make a difference in peoples' lives too, and now I do."