Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor reporting on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. She creates socially conscious television, books, films and digital media with the...
Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor reporting on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. She creates socially conscious television, books, films and digital media with the purpose of informing, inspiring and igniting hearts and minds in a discussion that produce positive impact in the world.
“Troubled by questions all my life, like a madman, I have been knocking at the door. It opened! I had been knocking from the inside.” -Rumi
I've Been Thinking...
This week, I interviewed Dr. Mehmet Oz about his mother’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As his friend, it ached me to learn that he and his family are now confronted with this mind-blowing disease. Long after the interview was over, though, I found myself thinking even more about something Dr. Oz had said to me about himself. I found myself thinking about how he said he felt shame and guilt that he had missed the warning signs of his mother’s health.
“If the path you are on doesn't lead you deeper into yourself, it's not the right path.” – Lalah Delia
I've Been Thinking...
I’m all for getting back into the post-Labor Day swing of things, so long as it’s not the same swing that I was in before my break. (And, to be honest, I hope Congress feels the same way, because none of us want them to swing back into business as usual — especially when it comes to critical life and death issues like gun reform.)
My pre-break life was harried and hurried. I felt more distracted than present. I had more “should’s” on my calendar than “want to’s.”
More often than not, I felt like I was running in place. I was doing way too much, all while feeling like I was either not doing enough or wondering whether I was doing anything at all.
Breaking a pattern is never easy, but I’m determined not to go back to the way I was. I’m determined to move forward with focus, ease and this new feeling of calmness that has eluded me most, if not all, of my life.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra
How are you? I hope that you were able to take some time away this summer to rest, reflect, and recharge.
My August break abruptly began with a death in my family. It was sudden and heartbreaking, and it stopped everyone and everything in its tracks.
As I flew back to LA after the funeral that was held for my cousin’s 22-year-old-daughter, I thought a lot about the fragility of life. I thought about the suddenness of death, and how it upends us in different ways.
When I got home, I looked at my calendar and, for the first time all year, it was clear. I breathed into the emptiness and didn’t allow it to make me feel empty, invisible, or irrelevant.
Before my August break, people asked me, “Maria, aren’t you worried about losing your momentum on social media, with your Sunday Paper, and with NBC?”
“Yes and no,” I replied. “I’m sure I’ll lose some momentum, but I’m certain that what I’ll gain in return will be more meaningful and more profound.”
“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” — Rumi
This week, I’ve been thinking about the fragility of life. I’ve been thinking about how hard it is for so many of us to keep at it day after day.
This morning, as my family mourns its own loss, I sit here praying for the families in El Paso, TX, who are mourning their own terrible losses after yet another senseless mass shooting—the deadliest one so far this year. The pain they must be feeling is unimaginable.
The news is devastating, but it’s also frustrating. Earlier this week, after a shooting in Gilroy, CA, killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy, I found myself saying, “America, we are better than this. If now is not the time to act, when is?” I can’t believe I find myself repeating those words just a few days later.
Life is fragile and it is heartbreaking. It turns upside down in a minute. That is why we must hold those we love close, and be gentle with those around us.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk our own path.” — Buddhaint Teresa of Calcutta
The other day, I had a conversation with a friend of mine that gave me goosebumps.
She is someone who, by all accounts, is super successful. On the outside, she looks like she has everything going in her favor, but on the inside, she has been struggling to add some order, simplicity and sanity into her life.
When you have a lot going on—when your life is charging full-speed ahead—it’s often hard to step back and figure out what you can drop, if anything. It’s tough to even think about dropping something when everything appears so great to everyone else on the outside.
My friend told me that she knew in her heart that she wanted to make a change to her life, but that she she was nervous about speaking up and actually going after it. For her, this involved having a conversation with her boss about shifting how she worked.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the phrase “go back to where you came from.”
Those were the words our president uttered last week, and after he said them, I found myself feeling the rejection, the pain and the hurt behind them. While his words were aimed at four female elected officials, I know that many of us have also heard words like that in our personal lives.
“Get out! Go away! You are not welcome here anymore. You don’t deserve to be here. Leave!”
Sit with those words. How do they make you feel in your body, your heart and your mind? I know they make me feel pain. Why? Well, underneath those words is the implication that one doesn’t belong, and not belonging cuts to the core of what we desire and need to survive as human beings.
Belonging. I remember a quote from Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) where she said the biggest threat to us and our world was that people don’t feel as though they belong. “If we have no peace,” she said, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
When someone senses that they don’t belong, they don’t feel the ground underneath their feet. They don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. They don’t trust that they belong.
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” — Hopi American Indian proverb
I love striking up conversations with people from all walks of life, especially those who have walked down paths I know nothing about. I try to have these conversations as often as I can, because I am always struck by the wisdom I discover in each and every one.
Earlier this week as my family vacationed at Blackberry Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains, I met a forest ranger named Dwight. Dwight taught me the history of the forests, the wisdom of the plants, and how to remain calm if I ever lost my way in the woods. (He’s got a book called“Lost!: A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue” that I look forward to reading.)
I also met a vegetable gardener named John. John fell in love with vegetable drawings when he was a young boy and parlayed his interest into becoming one of the greatest gardeners in our country. (He’s also got anew book coming out that’s all about his journey to preserve our roots.) Ask John about tomatoes or garlic or seeds and he will give you a history lesson on each and tell you what to eat, when. (Only eat tomatoes when they’re in season, which is right now, he said. Otherwise, you’re eating engineered food.)
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” — Maya Angelou
My friend Clay wrote me the other day to tell me about a book he’s reading. It’s calledSeven Ages of Paris,and in it, the French writer Colette is quoted as having said the following just before she died in 1954:
“What a beautiful life I’ve had. It’s a pity I didn’t notice it sooner.”
That quote landed on me like a thud. I hope you’ll stop and absorb it, too. Make a silent vow to not be Colette, like I did.
Now, to be honest, I’ve been in Colette’s heels before. When I was younger, I was constantly running through life as I juggled work, my children, my parents and all the other obligations coming my way. My to-do list was pages’ long, and it was all of my own making. I wasn’t noticing anything along the way because I was just trying to get everything done and start all over again.
“I have spent my whole life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.” — Bruce Springsteen
The other night, I was having dinner with a friend when she said something that really struck me.
She said: “I just want less. Less stuff. Less to worry about. Less to do. Less of everything, really. I’d be willing to give up a lot just to get less.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about her words as I walked back to my hotel that night.
As we head into our nation’s birthday, this concept of “less is more” is very much on my mind. What do we need to feel peaceful, joyful and happy? Do we need more, or do we need less? Perhaps we already have enough, and should instead focus on giving more to others.
I know I share my friend’s feeling that less is more. I want less, too. I want less of what keeps me from getting closer to what my heart and soul crave. I want less of what robs me from getting more of what really matters.
Now when I say “more,” I don’t mean more stuff. I’m wise enough these days to know that stuff doesn’t bring happiness. I’m also wise enough to know that busyness doesn’t bring peace and that outward success doesn’t bring joy.
True happiness, peace and joy come from spending time in connection with those you love and care about, and one of those people in my life is my friend Eddie.
Every time I’m in New York for The Today Show, Eddie is the one who picks me up in in the wee hours of the morning and drives me to work. He doesn’t just pick me up in his car, though. He also picks me up in life. Eddie is a hard-working man who loves his wife, loves his family, loves his job and—guess what?—also loves me.
“Reaction: a boat which is going against the current, but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.” — Victor Hugo
My entire life, I’ve always been that person who says to the doctor, “I’m not allergic to anything.”
I’ve also been that person who reads the potential side effects of a medicine and declares “not going to happen to me.”
Well, lo and behold, this week I got an adverse allergic reaction to something that was supposed to help me, and it landed me in bed for two days. Of course, it also got me thinking…
Initially, I was mad at my doctor. I have a pattern of doing this, and I know I’m not the only one. We look for someone to blame or get mad at when something doesn’t go our way.
On the first day, the doctor was calm and said, “Maria, I mentioned this had side effects. Perhaps you didn’t listen.”
I replied, “Um, no you didn’t mentionthiskind of side effect because if you had, Iwouldhave listened.”
By the second day, my condition had worsened and my doctor said, “Well, there are always some people who have adverse allergic reactions, but we don’t know about them until they happen. So now we can tell others about yours and that will help them.”
“Um, great.” I thought. “Glad I could help.”
As I sat holed up in my room looking like something I can’t even describe, I started looking for the lessons in this experience. (Yup, I’m always trying to find lessons.)
For one, all this is yet another reminder that there is a severe lack of knowledge about women’s health in America. We’re in the midst of a massive gender research gap in medicine and science, which in turn leads to a massive gender gap in knowledge. Meanwhile, the women on the ground are the ones dealing with the ramifications.
“Make of yourself a light.” — said the Buddha, before he died.
The picture above is a space in my yard where I go when I need to center myself. It is my sanctuary. It is where I come when I feel overwhelmed. It is where I sit when I can’t figure out what I think about, well, anything.
There is so much to think about these days. There is so much to fret about. There is so much to get angry about. (How aboutJon Stewart testifying this weekto a near-empty Congress with all the families from 9/11? His message was powerful and should fire us all up.)
There is also so much to be excited about. So much to be hopeful about. So much to be grateful for. When I sit in my backyard and look at the calm statue pictured above, that’s where I end up—in a place of peace, a place of calm, a place of gratitude. “Make of yourself a light,” said the Buddha in Mary Oliver’s poem “The Buddha’s Last Instruction.” (You can read it in our Sunday Paper Reflection section below.) So, that’s what I want to focus on this morning: making myself a light.
That invitation goes out to each of us every day. It’s also a challenge that each of us can decide to answer take on, regardless of what’s going on in the world. You can make yourself a light for yourself, for your family, for your community, for an issue you care about, or for injustice in the world.
On this Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on all the men who step into this role with light, joy, purpose and passion. I want to shine a light on those who take it seriously. Who show up to their roles, regardless of whether or not their fathers showed up for them.
A father’s positive involvement can change a child’s life. It can build character, instill values, and inspire hopes and dreams. Fathers can make themselves a light in their children’s lives. So today, I want to honor those who have thought deeply about this role. I want to shine a light on the men who do the work. Men who father their own. Men who father the fatherless among us. May we honor those who have stepped into the lives of those who need a father and said, “Let me make myself a light in your life.”
“To be awake is to be alive.” — Henry David Thoreau
There are some days when thinking gives way to feeling. This is one of those days for me.
Today, I am getting out of my head and into my heart. Why? Because my heart feels full. I feel grateful. I feel hopeful. I feel blessed.
This morning, I wanted to share with you a poem I recently wrote called “Blessed.” It’s called that because it’s how I’ve been feeling.
Now, I haven’t always felt this way. Even when people told me I was blessed, I didn’t always feel it, even though I knew intellectually that I was lucky and fortunate in my life. I’ve had to feel my way into feeling blessed. It’s taken time. It’s taken practice. I had to get there on my own.
So, if you woke up this morning feeling down — or feeling anything but blessed — trust me, I get it. I know it can be hard to feel blessed if you’re working paycheck to paycheck, if you’re fighting to put food on the table, if you’re getting over a break-up, if you’re battling a sickness, etc. Life can throw a lot of things our way that make us feel anything but blessed. I know some people in the Midwest may not be feeling blessed after the tornadoes and floods, but I hope they have had moments where a total stranger’s generosity has made them feel blessed in recent days.
I’ve learned along the way that feelings come and go. One thing that’s always helped me when I’ve woken up feeling down about life is to put my hand over my heart, take several deep breaths, and honor the feeling. Then, I ask it to leave.
So today, my wish for you is that you can take a step away from thinking and step into feeling. Ease your way into it. Feel your way into feeling blessed. I share my poem in hopes that it will help you get there.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” — Maya Angelou
It was early evening when it happened.
I was walking back to my car after a boxing session (yup, I box!), when I turned the corner and encountered a homeless man lying face-up on the sidewalk. He was motionless. Quiet. Had little sign of life. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to help him. So instead, I just kept walking with my head down.
A moment later, a thought flashed through my mind. “Did I really just walk past a man lying on the ground and keep going?”
“Have fun is my message. Be silly. You’re allowed to be silly. There’s nothing wrong with it.” — Jimmy Fallon
A few days ago, a friend said to me, “Maria, you have got to start going out more! You have got to start having more fun!”
Her words landed like a thud because I knew she was right. I love my work, but for the most part, it’s pretty serious stuff. I’ve also noticed that if you’re not careful, your life can end up drowning in all sorts of seriousness as you get older.
So, I decided to take my friend’s advice to heart and make fun my goal for this summer. I know fun can seem kind of trivial when the world feels like it’s falling apart, but it’s actually an important tool that we can use to recharge. It’s also an ingredient to a life with purpose and the optimism we need to keep moving forward.
At my dinner table this week, I asked my daughter Christina and her friend Claire (both who are lots of fun) about the role of fun in their lives. Christina said it’s important to have friends who can make you laugh at just about anything. Claire said she enjoys going out, dancing, and talking to all kinds of different people.
Now, I don’t go out dancing, but I do have a monthly poker night at my house that’s pretty fun. I also go to New York once a month for The Today Show, and when I’m there I try to hang out with my cousins and friends who make me laugh. And when I’m back home, I also hang out with my kids a bunch, which I always find to be great fun.
My point is that my life isn’t short on joy, but I still know that I could do a better job of getting out of my house and consciously adding more fun into my life.
“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” — Anne Lamott
Earlier this week, I had dinner with my friends Martha and Ro. They used to live just a short drive away from me in California, but they recently moved back to the East Coast.
It’s always great to catch up with them when I’m in New York, and this week was no exception. Like always, we had a deep, meaningful conversation about all the important stuff in life: family, love, loss, health, politics, changing careers, etc. We also talked about the world at large and the unknown path we feel like we’re walking along these days.
This dinner was my favorite kind because it was fun, funny, light, deep, and thought-provoking at the same time. (The only thing I didn’t like was that no one seems to want to order carbs anymore.)
Later that evening, I went back to my hotel and found myself really thinking about a question that Martha and Ro had asked me. It was one of those questions that’s good for all of us to ask ourselves at different points throughout our lives.
“When the world is complicated, the simple gift of friendship is in all our hands.” — Maria
I’m so happy May is upon us because it’s a month that feels like spring. It feels light. It feels joyful. It feels full of possibility. Everywhere you look, you can see nature unfolding, blooming and becoming.
I’m feeling joyful myself this week because I feel centered and grounded in my life. My work brings me meaning and I have a mission that feels larger than myself. My children are healthy, kind, thoughtful and hard-working. (A day doesn’t go by when I don’t thank God for them.) I’m also feeling blessed that I get to meet so many inspiring and amazing people along the way. This week was no exception.
At the beginning of this week, my travels took me to a summit in Las Vegas to talk about women’s health and Alzheimer’s (I was the first woman to ever speak there!). Then, I traveled to San Francisco for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards ceremony, which honored 21 incredible female entrepreneurs who are driving change through their development of impact-driven businesses around the world.
When I told her no, she said: “If anyone needs to read that book, it’s you!” By the next morning, the book had arrived at my front door with an inscription to “get reading!”
I love when friends suggest books or articles to read because I love to learn. I am constantly searching for ways to be a better, more evolved human being, as well as a more focused and effective leader at work.
Chelsea told me that “Essentialism” resonated with her on many levels, but that there was one point in particular that really stayed with her. It was the author’s message that if we want to rise from “good to great” in our work and our lives, then we must identify what we’re most passionate about and apply the bulk of our effort and energy there. If we get focused and pick the things that matter most to you, then it will empower you to say “yes” to opportunities that align with your priorities and say “no” to everything else.
“What are two areas you want to be great in?” Chelsea asked me and others at dinner last Sunday. “I want to be a great skier and a great writer. Maria, what about you?”
“We may stumble and fall, but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week.
As a child, I used to love going to church on Palm Sunday and trying to turn my palm into a crucifix or some type of animal. I also loved Holy Week because it usually meant I was out of school for Easter vacation.
These days when I go to church on Palm Sunday, though, I find myself really thinking about the significance of the day. I also find myself thinking about how fast the court of public opinion can change someone’s life, just as it did for Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, he was met with adoration. By Friday, he was dead on the cross. I mention this because if we spend our whole lives working for other people’s admiration and validation, it’s worth remembering that external validation can change on a moment’s notice.
External validation is fluid, fragile and ever-changing. What isn’t fluid, though, is one’s relationship with a higher power. That is what allowed Jesus Christ to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” — Thurgood Marshall
After my daughter watched the documentaryFinding Neverlandthe other night, she wrote me a note that landed deep in my soul.
She said, “Thank you for such a wonderful childhood. Thank you for loving me. And, perhaps most importantly, thank you for always protecting me.”
I sat and stared at those last two words.
Protecting my children has always been a huge deal to me. I know it is for most parents. It’s our job to keep our children safe. It’s our job to be on guard against people or situations that might seem appealing, but are actually dangerous. It’s our job to build resilient children who can pave their own way and stand on their own two feet.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the role of “the protector.” I’ve thought about how, when I was young and naive, I thought it was a man’s job to protect. Now as a seasoned protector myself, I no longer hold onto that childish view.