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.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
I've Been Thinking...
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that if you remain open and awake to what’s happening around you, then life will offer you an endless parade of lessons.
Lessons can come in the form of experiences. They can come in the form of encounters and individuals. And, they can come in the form of something we see up close, or witness at a distance. (They certainly come when you watch something historic happen, like the impeachment hearings.)
Not all lessons are pleasant, but they all can serve you in some way. That’s why it’s up to you to make sense of them, find meaning in them, and ultimately grow from them.
Life is our greatest teacher, but every once in a while, a really great person comes along that imparts lessons on our collective humanity. Mr. Rogers was one such teacher.
I find it amazing that he is still “alive,” even so many years after his death. I also find it important to reflect on the fact that so many of us are longing for his guidance, wisdom, and gentle tone to help us navigate the here and now.
I celebrated my birthday on Wednesday. It was a beautiful, warm, meaningful, lovely, and easy day.
It started with one of my daughters bringing me coffee, and then I took an early morning walk with my elder son (who bought me another cup of coffee and a vegan scone!). My other daughter picked me up later and read me my horoscope for the year. And then, my youngest son (who is away at college) Facetimed with me.
If that wasn’t enough (and it was!) so many friends and family took a moment to text, e-mail, and call to let me know that they love me and that I matter to them. I’ve come to learn over the years that that’s what life is really about: having people around that love you, see you, make you laugh, and make a point to reach out to you.
Something else also happened on my birthday that made me take a step back. It made me reflect on how I approach my life and discover a theme for my new year ahead.
What happened was that I got a text from someone I met many years ago—someone I really don’t know at all. It was someone I would have never expected to reach out to me on my birthday, but lo and behold, they did. Their message, which came out of the blue, reminded me of our previous exchange and wished me a happy day.
“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” — Mother Teresa
I've Been Thinking...
November kicks offNational Alzheimer's Disease AwarenessandNational Family Caregivers Month. For us here at The Sunday Paper, it's an opportunity to focus on the huge issue of caregiving (in all its forms), as well as on the value and importance of care.
My mission is to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m relentless in my pursuit of it. That's why you often see curated news from theWomen's Alzheimer's Movement(WAM)featured in this newsletter. My father passed away from the disease in 2011, so I know first-hand what a toll it can take on families. That's why I'm determined to do everything I can to stop it from happening to others.
Yesterday, WAM held its big annual eventMove for Minds, which works to educate and empower you with the information you need to care for your brain health and prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. It’s also a chance to raise funds for much needed women-based research, and to honor the work of those caregiving for someone with this mind-blowing disease.
Caring for another human being is God's work, and how one cares for another person tells you a lot about them. It tells you whether or not they value the concept of care.
Care can be exhibited in so many ways, but what I know to be true is this: when a person feels cared for, the world suddenly feels a little less scary and a lot more OK. When you feel cared for, you feel soothed. You feel secure. You feel safe. And trust me, feeling safe is huge.
The other night, I had dinner with a new friend. We talked for hours about life, relationships, our missions, and our goals. Then, this friend said something that I had never heard before. It was a phrase that took me aback. “All of us have a superpower,” she declared. “It’s kind of like your cape.”
I had never thought of myself as having a superpower, but as I walked home that evening, the description made me smile. I went into the makeup room at TODAY the next morning and asked Edna and Gina (two talented women whom I work with) if they felt that they had a superpower. Like me, neither had ever thought of themselves in that way. Still, they were both able to easily answer the question.
“Being all in with everyone I know,” one of them said. “Forgiveness,” said the other.
At the Democratic debate last Tuesday night, the final question posed to the candidates was one about friendship.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked each of them to describe a friendship they’ve had with someone who has different beliefs than them. The question came in light of what I wrote about last week, which was the uproar over comedian Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. Lots of people seemed to be upset by the debate question, but I found it revelatory in terms of how the candidates answered it and how they didn’t.
Having the question come up in a presidential debate at all tells us that there is a prevailing feeling of fear in our country. There is a fear that people don’t want to be, or are too scared to be, friends with people who have different beliefs than them.
It was, and is, stunning to me that she felt she had to defend herself for sitting next to someone who she considers a friend, but who happens to have different political opinions. I mean, let’s all pause and let that sink in for a moment.
Two people watching a football game. Two people enjoying themselves and their friendship. Two people being kind to each other. That makes people mad?
"The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door...” – Derek Walcott
I've Been Thinking...
“What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?”
That was the question posed to Hillary Clinton on “Good Morning America” last week as she and her daughter, Chelsea, were interviewed about their new book,The Book of Gutsy Women.
“I think the gutsiest thing I've ever done — well, personally, make the decision to stay in my marriage,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Publicly, politically, run for president. And keep going. Just get up every day and keep going.”
Her answer seemed to surprise her daughter, who said: “Oh, goodness, I think I'm so overwhelmed by my mother's answer that I'm a bit out of words.”
When the same question was posed to Chelsea, she talked about her decision to become a mother of three — a gutsy move for sure.
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” – Maya Angelou
I've Been Thinking...
This week, I found myself sitting in my New York City hotel room trying to gather my thoughts as I reflected on the wide range of emotions that I’ve felt over the last few days. I found myself thinking about how I’ve felt inspired, ignited and encouraged as I’ve witnessed so many different women take my breath away.
Sunday night at the Emmy’s, award-winning actress Alex Borstein used heracceptance speechto speak about her grandmother, who barely survived the Holocaust. Borstein said that her grandmother dared to “step out of line," even though she was at risk of being shot. In doing so, her grandmother saved her life, and ultimately created a life that allowed for Borstein and her children to be here today.
“So, step out of line, ladies,” Borstein said as she clutched her Emmy. “Step out of line.”
"The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence... who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins." — Joan Chittister
I've Been Thinking...
The other day, my daughter Christina watched the documentary“RBG”about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and said she couldn’t believe how much this one woman has done in her lifetime on behalf of other women. She said it got her thinking about all the other women who have done so much, yet whose stories we know so little about.
“It’s crazy that so many women my age don’t know about all of the barriers they’ve broken for us,” Christina said. “We don’t know enough about what these women have accomplished, or about what they’re still doing to instigate change.”
Amen, I thought. Amen to acknowledging all that has been done before us, and all that’s still being done. Amen to taking a moment to acknowledge all the women whose shoulders we stand on.
Christina’s words came to mind this Tuesday when I learned that veteran journalist Cokie Roberts had passed away due to breast cancer complications. I gasped when I heard the news.
Like me, Cokie was a child of politics who found her calling in journalism. When I was starting out, Cokie, Barbara Walters, Linda Ellerbee, and Nancy Dickerson were among the women who were out there working hard so that women like myself could succeed.
“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.”