It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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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.
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The Road Less Traveled

Credit:Montes-Bradley The Road Less Traveled
“It doesn't matter how strong your opinions are. If you don't use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.”-Coretta Scott King

I've Been Thinking..

There was much to observe this week if one was “observing” the news.

We observed a matriarch take control of what seemed like an out-of-control family drama. She steered it in the right direction, making room not for what she wanted, but for what her grandchild and his wife wanted, and for what the future might be.

We also observed a different kind of family drama playing out among the Democrats running for president. And then, of course, there was all of the dysfunction and drama we observed playing out amongst those serving in Washington D.C.

I, for one, found myself wondering what on Earth we could do to bring the rhetoric down a notch. I wondered what we could do to ease the tension. I wondered who, or what, it will take to bring us together at the same table and make room for a new take on “we the people.”

As I reflected on all that I observed this past week, I found myself feeling relieved when I remembered that, in our hearts, we are more than just a nation of observers. We are a nation founded by revolutionaries. We are a nation made up of people who are still making revolutionary moves and upending the status quo today.

As we look ahead to Martin Luther King Jr. Day with two of his children, we here at The Sunday Paper want to shine a light on those who have observed an issue or an opportunity—either around them or inside them—and then boldly acted. We want to celebrate those who have started movements from within, as well as those who have started movements on a larger stage and are pushing to raise voices and change laws for the greater good.

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It's Complicated

MShriver.cover It's Complicated
“No matter how many bombs we drop, no matter how skillfully our soldiers fight, we are not responding to the ultimate challenge until we show the world how and why we must all learn to live in peace...”   -Sargent Shriver

I've Been Thinking...

There was so much news this week it was almost impossible to keep up with it all.

We began with stories of retribution, revenge, and a possible war. (Thank God cooler heads seemed to have prevailed.) Then we ended with what’s being portrayed as a war inside the House of Windsor, a.k.a. the British royal family. Impeachment, climate change, a downed airplane killing all on board, and the devastating loss of Australian life and wildlife also competed for our attention. 

Leave it to the queen to sum it all up for us. In a statement from Buckingham Palace, she or her aides pronounced: “It’s complicated." You think? Holy moly.

“It’s complicated” (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) seems to perfectly sum up our politics, the Middle East, and how many families are feeling these days. 

What I took away from everything this week was this: life is indeed complicated, but it can also be really simple. Like Harry and Meghan, each of us has the personal right or duty to take a moment to step back and reassess what is or isn’t working—be it in our families, our relationships, our places of work, and or our politics. Then we can each make a decision to step up and speak out, or step back and stand down.

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This Year, Take Your Breath Away

This-Year-Take-Your-Breath-Away This Year, Take Your Breath Away

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't even happened yet.” -Anne Frank


I've Been Thinking...

I wrote a version of today’s column just a few days before New Year’s. In it, I wrote about my resolutions for the year ahead, and also how I wanted to feel. Then January 1 arrived, and I tossed everything aside. Why? Well, after doing some reflecting that day (as I do every year), it became clear to me that New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t be enough this time around. 

After all, this isn’t just the start of a new year. It’s the start of a great new decade. And a lot can happen in 10 years. I spent some time on New Year’s Day thinking back on the decades of my past, and how many big, life-altering things had happened in my life. That’s when I realized that I wanted to set intentions for my entire decade ahead.

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My Hope For You

foresthome My Hope For You

"We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon." -Franklin D. Roosevelt


I've Been Thinking...

I can’t believe that I have been around long enough to have now lived through two historic impeachment proceedings. I even covered one as a journalist! 

I’ve also lived through the time when a career in politics was once considered the most noblest of callings. I grew up in a family that thought holding public office was the greatest thing you could do to honor your family and your country.

It was right up there with becoming a priest or a nun. How the world has changed, as has our view of those careers. (OK, well maybe not becoming a nun. Being a nun is still right up there in a class by itself, in my mind. That’s in large part because I was educated by the nuns and am still in awe of the work they do in our cities and neighborhoods. But I digress...)

What happened this week in front of our very eyes will now be studied, taught, and debated for weeks, months, and years to come. I’m not sure it will make any real difference to those who support this president, nor to those who oppose him, other than to maybe make both sides dig their heels in even further.

My kids asked me Wednesday night, “If he’s not thrown out of office, then what was the point of all this?”

I know many people are asking the same thing.  

I told them the point is that our system worked and that the President was held accountable, regardless of what he thought.

I told them that when we make mistakes in life be it in our families, our jobs, or in our politics, we can each be held accountable in a myriad of ways. Sometimes we may get fired. Sometimes we may get a time out. Sometimes we apologize and all is forgiven. Every instance is unique, as is this national moment of reckoning.

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The Perfect Gift You Can Bring Is Your Heart

dinner The Perfect Gift You Can Bring Is Your Heart
"At this table, everyone is welcome. At this table, everyone is seen. At this table, everybody matters. No one falls between." -Idina Menzel


I've Been Thinking...

Everyone I’ve spoken to this week has told me how overwhelmed they feel. They are, of course, talking about the holiday season and not the impeachment hearings (which would overwhelm even a constitutional scholar).

To each of them, I said: “Believe me, I get it.”

I tend to feel overwhelmed at this time of year, too, which is why I’m going to share a personal story this morning that I hope might ease what you’re feeling and carrying with you right now. It might just reveal that the perfect holiday gift is closer than we realize…

So, there I was early Monday morning in the TODAY show makeup room, chatting away with Laura and Mary (two talented hair and makeup magicians), when a text popped up on my phone.

It was short. Three words to be precise. “This is you!” it said. It was accompanied by something to download, but no surprise, I couldn’t figure out how to download it, so I just went on gabbing.

Then Hoda burst into the room.

“Did you hear the song I sent you?!” she squealed with delight.

After I explained that I couldn’t download It, she insisted that I stop everything and listen right then and there. “It is you!” she repeated.

Hoda pulled up Idina Menzel’s new Christmas song, "At This Table,” and as it played, my eyes welled with tears, and goosebumps formed on my arms.

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The Language We All Speak

lovelanguage The Language We All Speak

“There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung ... All you need is love, love. All you need is love.”  -The Beatles


I've Been Thinking...

At the beginning of the week, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to write about this morning. I had been thinking a lot about how unscripted the world feels, and how it sort of mirrors my own life’s trajectory.

What I mean is that I feel like I’m basically making things up as I go these days. And where I’m going is shorter than where I came from. That feeling can either be very anxiety-inducing or freeing, depending on the day.

But then, a few things happened that made me want to write about love instead. I wasn’t called to the topic just because I had finished binge-watching “Modern Love” on Amazon (a TV show based on the NY Times column, both which I recommend). No, I was called to write about love because, in a deeply profound way, I think it’s our common denominator. It’s our common desire. It’s the feeling that we all want more of, and that we (and our world) desperately need right now.

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More Joy, Less Stress

candles More Joy, Less Stress

“It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”  -Henry Ward Beecher


I've Been Thinking...


I can’t believe it’s December already. I mean, oh my gosh. How did that happen? I’m anxious already!


Most years, I find myself waking up a bit bummed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I wake up feeling a bit down. Why? Because it sinks in that my favorite holiday is over again. It’s also a day when my youngest son goes back to college, and when my other kids go back to their respective lives. Ugh.


When the anticipation and excitement of Thanksgiving are behind me, I know that it means the stress of Christmas is ahead of me. It stares me down in a way that makes me feel like I’m out of breath.


I know that I need to take a deep breath as I look ahead to December. I need to ask myself, “How can I do better at managing this time of year? How can I be less anxious? How can I be more centered in joy? How can I focus less on stuff and less on checking my list?” (I don’t just check it twice, by the way. I normally check it at least 500 times…)


I’ve come to realize that the stress and anxiety of the holidays are really of my own making (although all the ads don’t help). But, I can make a conscious choice to change how I handle it all.

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A Season of Giving

creative-turkey A Season of Giving

I've Been Thinking...

I’ve been looking forward to Thanksgiving all year. In fact, I’ve been counting down to it every day since it happened last year. Why? Well, as anyone close to me knows, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

I love the days leading up to it. I love the atmosphere surrounding it. I love that it’s a holiday all about gathering around with family and friends for food, football, and faith. I love that it means my house is full of laughter, and that my table is full of people expressing gratitude for this moment in their lives. I love that friends find comfort and a sense of belonging and home at my family table on Thanksgiving each year.

I also love that Thanksgiving isn’t about going out and buying gifts (which I’ve come to realize just stresses everyone out, anyway). No, Thanksgiving is about celebrating the gifts that are within us. It’s a holiday that’s about honoring the gift of friendship. It’s about recognizing the gift of family. It’s about opening your heart and your mind to the larger picture of family. It’s about reaching out to those who might not have a family or a place to go and inviting them to the table.

I’ve written many times before about our collective need to belong, and how we all feel a need to be invited and included. Thanksgiving is an opportunity for all of us to recognize not just our own internal need for those things, but the need that our loved ones and neighbors have for it as well.

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It’s a Beautiful Day to Help Each Other Heal

mr.rogers It’s a Beautiful Day to Help Each Other Heal

“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.

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Why I’m Staying Open to the Unexpected

birthdaycake Why I’m Staying Open to the Unexpected

I've Been Thinking...

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.
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The Gift of Caring

firefighters The Gift of Caring
“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” — Mother Teresa


I've Been Thinking...

November kicks off National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness and National 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 the Women'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 event Move 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.

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We All Have Super Powers

child-plays-superhero-picture-id542802766 We All Have Super Powers

I've Been Thinking...

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.

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A Meaningful Conversations Moment

conversations A Meaningful Conversations Moment

I've Been Thinking...

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.

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Finding Our Common Ground

fallcalmwater Finding Common Ground
“Compassion removes the walls of mistrust and builds bridges of hope, trust and beliefs.” - Amit Ray

I've Been Thinking...

We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK.”

Those were the words that Ellen DeGeneres used to defend herself after people became outraged by a picture of her sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game.

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?

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What's Gutsy To You?

summer-portrait-of-young-at-heart-senior-woman-picture-id903653728 What's Gutsy To You?

"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.

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It's Time to Step Out of Line

stepoutofline It's Time to Step Out of Line

“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 her acceptance speech to 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.”

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Whose Shoulders Do You Stand On?

WhoseShouldersDo-You-Stand-ON Whose Shoulders Do You Stand On?

"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.

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Warning Signs

elderly Warning Signs

“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.

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Finding Your Stillness

stillness Finding Your Stillness
“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.

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Rewriting Your Own Narrative

rewritingyourownnarrative Rewriting Your Own Narrative

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra


Dear Friend, 

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.”

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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