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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There's No Going Back

hospitalship There's No Going Back
"Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -Emma Lazarus


I've Been Thinking...

This was the week when it really dawned on me that life is never going back to “normal.” Well, at least it won’t be the normal we knew just a few short weeks ago.


It wasn’t any one thing that made me come to this realization. Let’s just say there were enough different things this week that brought me to this place. The rise of infections. The doomsday predictions that the worst is yet to come. The pictures of makeshift hospitals and funeral homes. The new recommendations to wear face masks if you go out of your house. The rise of domestic abuse cases. And the startling number of 10 million new unemployment claims!


In the last few weeks alone, 10 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment benefits. Ten million individuals. Ten million of our neighbors, our friends, our fellow families. It seemed like almost every conversation I had this week involved heartache and loss. The loss of a job, the loss of a business, the loss of a dream, the loss of a friend. And in my own family, the loss of a child and grandchild.

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I Need You And You Need Me

ineedyyou I Need You And You Need Me
"Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things. Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things." -Lao Tzu

I've Been Thinking...

I was catching up with a friend by phone the other day when she said to me: “I need you more than ever right now.”

“Same here!” I replied, without skipping a beat.
 
The truth is, we all need each other more than ever right now. We need each other in so many ways, both big and small. We need to rely on one another. Lean on one another. Trust one another. Be compassionate, understanding, and patient with one another. We need to basically focus on being there for one another the best we can.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about just how tied we are to one another. This historic moment is showing us how interconnected we are. It is showing us how we all have similar needs. And yet, as we live through this big, collective moment together, we are also going through it in very individual ways.

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We Are All The Helpers

treeinlight We Are All The Helpers

"...in trying to help others, we might come to realize that compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others." -Pema Chödrön


I've Been Thinking...

The other morning, I awoke early. It was dark outside, and the rain that greeted me the previous mornings had stopped. Now there was only silence at my door.
 

Over the past few days, I’ve tried to stick to my morning routine: Prayer before my feet hit the floor, coffee, meditation/silence, and then exercise. What comes next has been, let’s say, more fluid.

With nowhere to go, I started practicing as if I had to go to work. I got dressed. I got ready. I wrote and practiced “calm, heart-based leadership” for my Sunday Paper team and my Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement crew, both who are also at home trying to stay calm and carry on. I also practiced it for my kids, who have seemed extremely concerned about me, reminding me hourly that I’m in the “vulnerable population“ and that I dare not go out lest I end up in the hospital. In fact my son, Patrick, has moved in with me to make sure I'm not alone. (How touching is that!)

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Our Collective Moment

Our Collective Moment Our Collective Moment
Our dog, Champ, brings joy and comfort to everyone in our home. 

I've Been Thinking...

“We would like the country to realize that as a nation we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago…” —Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


That is the truth of this moment and what a moment this is. It’s a moment to listen up, pay attention, and follow the guidelines so that those on the frontlines are better able to do their jobs.

Like all of you, I’ve been trying to make sense of the seriousness of this moment and yet also get some perspective as I’ve lived through many big “moments” in my life. The Cuban missile crisis, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, and of course, 9/11.
 

All of our lives are made up of moments. Some big. Some small. Some inconsequential. Some life defining. Some joy-filled. Some traumatic.

Usually, the moments we experience in our lifetime are deeply personal. The moment you fall in love. The moment your child is born. The moment you get your dream job. The moment someone you love passes away.

It’s rare, however, that we face a collective moment like the one we are experiencing right now. Rarely do we all experience a moment like this simultaneously. 

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Follow Your Heart

followyourheart Follow Your Heart

"The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are." -Rumi

I've Been Thinking...

The other morning, I was sitting on my porch drinking a cup of coffee when all of a sudden, a feeling swept over me. It was one that took me by surprise. I closed my eyes so I could sit with it for a while and really feel it. Then I decided to describe the feeling out loud so I would always remember it.

“I’m doing great,” I said to myself looking around to no one in particular. “I’m actually happy. I’m content. Life is peaceful, life is good.”
 

“Holy moly!” I thought as I sat there smiling. “I’m happy, I’m good.” I could feel myself smile.



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Just Because

silhouette-of-woman-hand-her-dog-at-sunset-picture-id1136820853 Just Because
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." -Lao Tzu

I've Been Thinking...

I was sitting in my office the other day when my daughter Christina walked in and asked me what I was up to.


I told her I was thinking about everything that had happened this week and how I felt about it all. I sat there thinking about how I felt attending Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service with my son Christopher on Monday. I thought about how I felt on Tuesday as I watched another round of the Democratic debates. (I ended up watching alone because everyone else got up and left, saying “I’ve had it!”) I thought about how I felt about Ash Wednesday, the concept of Lent, and Pope Francis’ challenge for us all to give up “trolling,” or insulting others on social media. I thought about the Coronavirus and the fear, panic, and suffering it's wreaking around the world.

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It's Up To Us

bridge It's Up To Us
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." -Helen Keller

I've Been Thinking...

I was sitting in my hotel room in New York a few nights ago feeling unsure about what to write this week.

Monday was Random Acts of Kindness Day. Friday was National Caregivers Day. I knew that in some way I wanted to write about both. I knew that I wanted to write about the power of caring and kindness, and that I wanted to honor all the caregivers out there who are doing tireless work to care for others and move humanity forward. I live in awe of their generosity and kindness every single day.
 

Then I watched the Democratic debate Wednesday night, and I was left feeling rather unsettled afterward. In fact, I thought about them the whole next day. I thought about the attacks, the takedowns, and the gotcha moments. I thought about how unkind some of the comments were, and about how the whole thing played out like a heavyweight fight in Las Vegas. I sat there wondering to myself, "How did we get here?"


So many people shared a similar sentiment with me afterward. They told me they feel discouraged. Hopeless. "What’s happening to our country?" they asked. "How do we fix this divide? How do we stop screaming at each other and stop trying to take each other down?"
 

My response to them: the divide can only be closed by us. The screaming and yelling can only be stopped by us. The caring, the kindness, and the optimism we want our leaders to exhibit...well, we can exhibit it ourselves.

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The Power Of Acceptance

The Power Of Acceptance The Power Of Acceptance

"I'm beautiful in my way. 'Cause God makes no mistakes. I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way." -Lady Gaga

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, my son Christopher said to me, “Mommy, you should ask Dwyane Wade to write for your Sunday Paper and share the story about how his family is handling his child’s transition. It’s super cool and inspiring.”


My son is a basketball fanatic, but he’s also one of the wisest, most empathic individuals I’ve ever met. When he was little, people would always marvel at his empathy, his kindness, and his loving nature. They would congratulate me for raising a young man like him, to which I always replied: “Thank you, but I had nothing to do with it! He was just born that way!” And that’s the truth.

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Let's Get Loving

letsgetloving Let's Get Loving

“I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you." -Paul Coelho

I've Been Thinking...

My first love was the horse pictured below. Her name was Miss Buck, and I loved her with all my heart. 

Just a few weeks ago, my brother sent me this picture—one I’d never seen before. When I saw it, I was reminded of what love feels like and looks like. Love feels safe. Love feels secure. It feels restful. It feels like home.

 


Do you know what love feels like to you? Several years ago a friend asked me that very question. I distinctly remember pausing, as I was quite sure no one had ever asked me that question before. It moved me and rattled me all at the same time.

Love is like that, isn’t it? It stirs up so many emotions. It can take you to the highest place imaginable, and then break you into tiny pieces. Your heart can be full one minute, and empty the next. You can be so hopeful when you are in love, and yet so full of despair when you feel unlovable.

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There's No Time Like Now

greif There's No Time Like Now

“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure...You don't capitulate to it. You embrace it."  -Kobe Bryant

I've Been Thinking...

I was having lunch with my cousin this past Sunday when my daughter Katherine called to tell me the news about Kobe Bryant.

At first, I had trouble processing what she was saying because she was talking so fast and was so overwhelmed by the news she was sharing. You see, we are a Lakers family. That means Kobe Bryant was a king in our house. Both of my boys grew up with him and are Lakers fanatics. In fact, my son Christopher lived and breathed Kobe his entire life. His room is decorated in pictures of him, and he waited hours to get a ticket in the nosebleed section to his last game, during which he cried and cried and cried.

For Christopher’s 21st birthday, I got him a signed picture from Kobe – it’s his most valuable possession. I had met Kobe several times over the years and he was always incredibly kind, generous, and gracious to me. In fact, just a few months ago I asked him to contribute to The Sunday Paper and he said yes immediately. What I respected about Kobe wasn’t just that he was an extraordinary athlete, but that he was a man who admitted his flaws, embraced his struggles, and spoke openly about his faith and his desire to be a better man. I particularly admired his devotion to his family. The way he embraced fatherhood, husbandhood, and familyhood I believe will be a big part of his enduring legacy.

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Making Space

balance Making Space
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
-Mother Teresa

I've Been Thinking...

At the start of this year, I found myself going on an organization tear quite unlike any I’d been on before. I felt an urge to clean up and clear out. To streamline and simplify. To bring order to all areas of my life.

The feeling came from a place deep within, and it felt different than it ever had before. (Yes, I’ve organized before.) When I told a friend, she said, “Maria, that makes perfect sense. You are trying to make room and space in your life for something new.”
 

“Aha!” I said to myself. “That’s it. That feels right.”

It felt like my desire was about something bigger than simply organizing. It felt like it was about getting grounded and balanced. Clearing out my physical space allows me to pave way for clearing out my emotional space. It helps me see what’s right in front of me so that I can ask myself, “What do I really want in my life? What can I remove, so that I can I make room?"

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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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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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