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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Sacred Territory

sun-rays-in-a-dark-misty-forest-osnabruck-gemany-picture-id1179385633 “You are not the voice in your mind, but the one who is aware of it.” -Eckhart Tolle

I've Been Thinking...

I want to go slow this morning. I want to ease my way into your heart and mind.

After all, entry into those spaces is sacred. I know that. It always has been. But, now it’s really sacred, and it’s something I take seriously.

It’s scary out there, right? It’s scary, and it’s noisy as hell. There is so much trying to make its way into your mind, and very little of it benefits you personally (please see my interview with the director of the new film "The Social Dilemma" below about this very issue). It is challenging to navigate all of the information and/or misinformation coming your way. If you aren’t vigilant, it can make you feel, well... crazy.

Speaking of crazy, I don’t use that word lightly. Anyone who has felt crazy in their life, or who has been made to feel like they are losing their mind, knows how triggering it can be to be told you’re crazy, or that you don’t know what you are talking about, or that what you are saying or seeing isn’t true. That said, we are in crazy-making times. Perhaps you feel crazy like I do when people insist the pandemic is a hoax despite the fact that more than 200,000 Americans have lost their lives. It’s crazy-making that a young woman can be killed in her home and no one is held responsible for her death. It’s crazy-making when the President of the United States floats the idea that he might not leave the White House, even if he loses. What?? 

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We Can't Go Quiet

statue-of-lady-justice-and-supreme-court-building-picture-id1140704130 This is a seminal moment for each of us to dig in and dig deep.
"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."  -Ruth Bader Ginsburg


I've Been Thinking...

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I can’t come up with one particular reason why, however I can come up with about 100 different things that keep me up at night staring at the ceiling.

This weekend, it was the passing of one of my heroes, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her death brought me to tears for so many reasons. I admired her. I was deeply grateful to her. I depended on her. I depended on her being here. I depended on her voice, her judgment, and her guidance in the public square. Her death left me feeling down, really down. I even felt a wave of despair come over me. So much has happened in 2020, and yet Ginsburg’s passing is one of the biggest and most consequential news stories of this year. 

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What Are You Fighting For?

11111cover.112442 "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...

Dear friends, 

How are you? I really want to know.

How are you feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually on this Sunday? Are you feeling optimistic about September and about the fall? Or are you Zoomed out and stressed out by all the politics, social unrest, and COVID-19?

Take a moment to check in with yourself. Put your hand over your heart. There is no hurry or right answer here. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are. That’s how I try to start each day, assuring myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. 

Today, I am back in your inbox after my August break. I am so grateful to be here again! Thank you for making me and The Sunday Paper a part of your weekend routine. If I’m being totally honest, I thought twice about returning this month, particularly when it comes to social media. The distance I’ve had allowed me to look anew at all the noise and wonder whether I’m adding to it. 

The mission of this newsletter is to rise above the noise, clutter, and mayhem. It is to lift up the voices of those trying to move us forward in a passionate and purposeful way. The more I thought about that mission over these last few weeks, the easier it became to return to this forum. My hope is that the inspiring voices we elevate in The Sunday Paper will elevate and reassure you. I hope they will remind you that you are where you are supposed to be, and that you and your voice are so needed at this time.

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Have A Day

stepping-stones-picture-id472467680 Have A Day

"Sometimes the longest journey we make is the sixteen inches from our heads to our hearts."

-Elena Avila

I've Been Thinking...

On Thursday I woke up to an earthquake. My first thoughts were, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This on top of everything else? What is up with this year?!”

I looked at my phone and my kids had texted asking, “Mommy, are you awake? Did you feel that? What’s our plan?” Thankfully, we were all OK, but I thought the same thing. What is our plan?

Plans and 2020 just don’t seem to be on the same page, do they? Earlier this week, I posted a quote on social media that addressed people’s sadness and gave them permission not to feel pressured to have a "good day," but to simply "have a day"... free of plans, to do's, and expectations. I said it’s OK not to expect to have a "good day." It’s also OK not to be great, or even OK. After all, we are living in unprecedented times, right? 

The overwhelming response to the quote took me aback. It made me realize yet again that so many of us need a break and some relief, even if it’s simply being told you don’t have to have a great day and that you are allowed to simply “have a day.”

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There's No Handbook For Life

There's No Handbook For Life There's No Handbook For Life

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love."

-Mother Teresa

I've Been Thinking...

Something interesting happened to me the other day. Just after I had spent the better part of an hour talking about all the things I missed due to the pandemic, I stumbled upon an article talking about all the good things that people felt had happened to them during this time. It reminded me that perspective is everything.
 

The key is being able to hold the yin and yang. If I were writing a handbook for life (and I’m not), it would include a lot that no one told me about. It would talk about how life demands that you be good—really good—at juggling and balancing the paradoxes of life. You must if you want to be a survivor or a happy warrior.

Just when you think, “OK, I’ve got things figured out,” life throws you on the ground. Just when the country reopens and you think, “OK, maybe things are going to get better," the cases surge and the nation experiences its highest numbers to date. Just when you pick yourself up and dust yourself off from one of life’s curveballs, bam! You find yourself on your knees again, learning yet another life lesson.

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And The Answer Is . . .

And The Answer Is . . . And The Answer Is . . .
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."  -Unknown

I've Been Thinking...


One of my favorite quotes speaks to the importance of being kind to everyone, since everyone is fighting some kind of battle whether we know it or not.


I thought a lot about that this week because it felt like every conversation I had with others was about some personal struggle. One of my oldest and closest friends quietly told me that she finally called her doctor and asked for medication to help manage her depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which have gotten the best of her during this lockdown. Another friend told me that he was relieved to finally attend a small in-person AA meeting. In that gathering, he said several people spoke about the increased rate of suicide during lockdown and how challenging it’s been for all of them to stay sober during this isolating time.


Another friend spoke to me this week about the exact same thing and asked me why the media isn’t covering the devastating mental health toll of Covid-19. The impact of unemployment. The loss of health care. The rise in suicide, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The loss of human connection.


“Maria these are Covid collateral stories,” my friend said to me. “You must shine a light on all of this.”

“Agreed,” I said.


So, here are some stats I want to shine a light on: A new study from Everytown for Gun Safety finds that the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 could cause about 20 more lives lost per day by suicide, this year alone. According to Census Bureau data, a third of Americans are feeling severe anxiety right now and a quarter of Americans are showing signs of depression. And a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of 56% of adults. Think about those sobering statistics.

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Spark Your Inner-Child Joy

happy-kids-playing-with-garden-sprinkler-picture-id1159180335 Spark Your Inner-Child Joy

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." -Pablo Picasso

I've Been Thinking...

The news is exhausting, isn't it? We are inundated with information that's often confusing and conflicting. We are inundated with "breaking" news, stories of surges and spikes, overcrowded hospitals and looming threats of another potential lockdown. It's a lot.
 

That's why I've taken to removing myself from the chaos, as best I can. I’m doing it for my own mental health. These days, I read some news in the morning, and then again at the end of the day. But never before bed. I’ve reserved that time for Kevin Costner and his hit TV show "Yellowstone!"

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I Can't Wait

young-boy-carrying-american-flag-over-bridge-picture-id1151203312 I Can't Wait
“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself." -Deepak Chopra

I've Been Thinking...

I can’t believe that the Fourth of July is almost upon us! I can’t believe that summer is in full swing and that the year is already half over. I mean, think about that for a minute. 2020 is half over and many of us have spent the majority of it at home! Geez.

The truth is, there is so much I can’t believe these days, and I know I’m not alone. My new favorite phrase is "I didn’t see that one coming" or "I’ve never dealt with that before, so let me take a beat and think about it before I respond to you."
 

There is a lot to think and rethink these days. Each of us has a jumble of emotions that we’re trying to sort through. At least I know I do. I find myself trying to balance my physical health with my mental health. I find myself desperate to get off Zoom and yet grateful that we have it as a way to gather.

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You Can Be The MVP

You Can Be The MVP You Can Be The MVP
“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get." –Tim Russert

I've Been Thinking...

Just a few months ago, I was sitting at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service in LA listening to one speaker after the other talk about Bryant’s role as a “girl dad.” My eyes welled up with tears as I listened to them reflect on how his embrace of that moniker had affected how they viewed their own daughters and roles as fathers. In the weeks after the service, it seemed like everywhere I turned, men were proudly owning that title. 

I couldn’t help but reflect on my father at that time. He, too, was a “girl dad,” but when I was growing up, being a “girl dad” wasn’t a thing.

I grew up as the only girl surrounded by brothers, and the message I often got was to be like a boy. Be as tough as a boy. Be as competitive as a boy. Be as athletic as a boy. Be as competent as a boy. The "in thing" was to be a "boy dad." 

Even though I went to an all-girls school, dads weren’t applauded the way they are today for showing up and being present in their daughters’ lives. I say this not to bemoan or complain, but to celebrate this moment and to illustrate how much things can change in one person’s lifetime. I know we have a long way to go before parenting roles are equal, but I think it’s an awesome thing for men to be encouraged in their fathering—not just for their own kids, but for so many others in need of fathers as well.

Studies show dads who are present in their child’s life make a difference. Engaged fathers produce more confident daughters. Evolved, kind fathers show their sons a new way forward. Loving, nurturing, encouraging fathers show their daughters what manhood can look like, and what to expect in a man if she chooses to be with one.

Today, I am in awe when I see fathers pushing strollers, dancing with their daughters or doing their hair, standing with their sons while they cry and telling them it’s ok. I am moved when they proudly tell others that they took paternity leave or stand up and fight for it for others. I’m so happy that we have come to this place.

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Imagine The World You Want To Live In

cute-little-girl-standing-in-the-rain-and-holding-a-poster-with-a-picture-id1247205349 Imagine The World You Want To Live In
It is not the critic who counts...The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena." Theodore Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...

The other night, I was wide-awake for hours in the darkness of my bedroom. It was that time deep in the night when it’s so quiet that you can hear the creak in the floors and the sound of your own breath.

I laid in my bed thinking about the last few years and what a rollercoaster they have been. I thought back to the 2016 election night, when I sat downstairs in my family room glued to the TV, stunned as the results rolled in. Then, my mind jumped to the Women’s March, to the #MeToo Movement, to headlines about the Catholic Church. My mind flashed in rapid succession to school shootings. Marches for gun reform and climate change. Images of chaos at the borders. Russia. The impeachment trial. All the President's Men and their cries of “fake news.” The pandemic. Unemployment. The murder of George Floyd and the protests that have followed calling for police reform and to recognize that Black lives matter. And on Friday, the senseless death of Rayshard Brooks by a police officer in Atlanta.

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Love and Order

blm Love and Order

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try." – Rosa Parks

I've Been Thinking...

It was just a few short weeks ago that I wrote that I didn’t think we were going back to “normal.

At the time, it had dawned on me that the pandemic had uprooted us in ways big and small and that those yearning to go back to the way things used to be were in for a surprise. I had no idea how uprooted we were about to get.

This past week, millions watched as America’s streets and cities erupted across the nation. Huge peaceful protests called for an end to police brutality and for overdue systemic change. For a moment, the message seemed to get drowned out by images of violence and looting, which left people deeply shocked and shaken. Elected officials called in the National Guard and imposed mandatory curfews. Meanwhile, citizens in these cities stepped in to clean up the mess. More importantly, though, citizens stepped up to show us the opportunity and the importance of this historic moment.

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We Are Here To Be The Difference

iStock-520938766 We Are Here To Be The Difference
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I've Been Thinking...

Wow, what a week. The death of George Floyd has thrown this country into a tailspin. Protests, looting, curfews—a nation erupting before our very eyes on live television.

As I watched, my heart sank. My mind went back and forth between what was happening last night and the video, still raw, of George Floyd pinned to the street with a knee to his neck, pleading for his life with the words, “I can’t breathe.” My heart sank as I learned from news reports that he called out for his mother in his final moments.

And then, the protests. I felt the outrage and the anger pour out of Americans everywhere who are rightly furious that this kind of injustice seems to know no end. This story is yet another startling reminder that we all really aren’t in the same boat. We don’t all walk down the street or through the park and get the same reactions from one another, not to mention from law enforcement.

So here we are. Headed not just into summer, but in so many ways, into the great unknown. Most stay-at-home orders have been lifted or eased. Businesses are trying to reopen, but many of the ones that did ended up being looted this weekend.  Social distancing and mask rules are in effect, but let’s face it, they will be challenging to enforce. Just look at the pictures from this past Memorial Day weekend. In fact, it seems that in just a few short days, the pandemic has become secondary news.

How both of these stories play out moving forward will come down to all of us. Without clear federal guidelines, we are all left to our own devices. My health and safety will be dependent on your actions, and yours will be dependent on mine. In this country where independence and freedom are prized values, it will be interesting to see if there is, in fact, a common good and a higher purpose that we can all coalesce around.

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Let's Celebrate One Another

celebratememorialday Let's Celebrate One Another

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...


Memorial Day weekend, the so-called “official start of the summer.” It’s also the weekend when we are supposed to focus on those who have given their lives for our country. This year, both have taken on new meaning.

It’s hard to “celebrate” the start of summer when millions are still struggling with a new normal and practicing social distancing. So many of us are walking around masked. Millions are desperately struggling to put food on the table, pay rent, or afford diapers for their kids—all in this “most powerful and greatest nation on Earth.”

 

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Three Wishes For The World

lucky-charm-magic-fourleaf-clover-picture-id1191635117 Three Wishes For The World
“We all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." -Louisa May Alcott

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I went on one of my “walk and talks.” These are socially distant walks that I take in the late afternoon, either alone or with friends who also like to walk, talk, dream, ponder, and wonder about life. 

I often walk with my friend Simon, an optimist and an astute student of leadership. 

The other day, we were walking and talking about Simon’s online courses (you can learn more here and follow him on Instagram, too) and his upcoming podcast, when we came upon two other guys we both know. We stopped to chit chat, and just as we were about to leave, one of the guys said: “I’d like to ask you both a question. What are your three wishes for our country and the world right now? They don’t have to be achievable, but what are they?” 

“Wow!” I thought to myself. I figured he was just going to ask which restaurants had good takeout service or something, but hey, okay. I knew I’d need a few minutes to think about how to answer. 

Simon’s three wishes popped out immediately.

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Dear Class of 2020

pandemic-grad-mother-and-daughter-selfie-picture-id1219949890 Dear Class of 2020
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." - Henry David Thoreau


I've Been Thinking...

  

This week, I wanted to wait until the very last moment to write about what I’ve been thinking because I knew that yesterday was going to be a milestone moment for me. You see, Saturday, May 2, was supposed to be my youngest son’s graduation day from the University of Michigan. It’s where he spent the last four years of his life—perhaps the happiest four years of his life.

Like every other graduation, his was canceled five weeks ago. So, I got together with some other parents and we staged a virtual graduation celebration for the boys that were left in his house and in his community.
 

We wanted the boys to have something special to mark this momentous moment in their lives. I guess as parents, we wanted that, too. I know I did. So, we gathered on Saturday via Zoom. We played the boys favorite songs, like Billy Joel’s “Saigon Nights,” and, of course, we played “Pomp and Circumstance” and the Michigan fight song. Some families made lawn signs. We made pretend diplomas. We got some cheap caps and gowns for pictures. We also got some food to-go from the legendary Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor and sent it to the boys’ house, where they have been holed up for the last five weeks finishing classes.
 

We all knew our “celebration” wasn’t exactly what they had been looking forward to for the last four years, but it was at least something to commemorate what was to have been their big day. It was something for us as well.

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Standing In The Uncertain

clinic Standing In The Uncertain
"There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality." - Dr. Jonas Salk


I've Been Thinking...

Can you believe that on this day many years ago (although not that many years ago), people lined up to get the very first polio vaccine?

Seeing the picture above really made me stop and think this week. It made me think about the life-saving work being done by scientists and researchers as they toil in small rooms for years trying to find a cure that will one day help us all. It made me think about the importance of investing in this type of work. It also made me think about how often history feels like it repeats itself. 

The other day, a friend said to me, "I’m so over 2020! It’s nothing like I thought it would be." 

That, my friends, is an understatement! I don’t think any of us thought we would find ourselves here. None of us could have predicted that we would be sheltering in place this spring. The 26 million Americans who have now filed for unemployment also couldn’t have predicted they would find themselves here. 

We couldn’t have imagined that we would be waiting in long lines and standing six feet apart to get into supermarkets, just to buy the essentials. We couldn’t have imagined that we would be waiting to get tested for a disease that most of us had never even heard of a few months ago. I’m sure none of us would have thought that our country would have been so ill-prepared to fight this pandemic. I know I didn’t.

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What's Really Essential?

essential What's Really Essential?
"The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in a time of crisis." -Thurgood Marshall


I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I found myself thinking and reflecting on life as I took an evening walk through my neighborhood.

“When this is all over, what will I remember?” I pondered to myself. “What thoughts and images will be seared into my brain? Who will I be when I am no longer told to stay at home?”

Will I go back to the same schedule I had before? Will my work and voice in The Sunday Paper be needed now more than ever, or not at all? Will my work at NBC News be the same, or will it change now that every show has been cut back? Will I go back to being on a plane all the time, rushing from coast to coast?

 

Will my work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement survive in a post-pandemic world? Will people still want to fund research into women’s brains when millions of Americans are struggling to eat and pay their rents or mortgages? Will people want to be educated about brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention when one of their most pressing concerns is protecting themselves from the coronavirus? I wonder. 

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Take Care Of The Now

shriver4.12 Take Care Of The Now
"Take care of the now for the sake of tomorrow." -Pope Francis

I've Been Thinking...

Happy Easter and Passover to you!


I know many of you are not feeling very happy at this moment. I know this is not the way you wanted to celebrate the holidays and for that I’m really sorry. I know millions of our fellow human beings are feeling anything but celebratory today.

Many of you have been separated from loved ones. Millions of you have lost jobs. (The numbers are so staggering I can’t even wrap my mind around them.) Many of you have also lost loved ones. You’ve been forced to say goodbye on the phone or attend funerals, like I did yesterday, on Zoom. (I gotta say, I never thought I’d experience that. But it was very moving, very special, and weirdly comforting.) I know so many of you are anxious, mad, scared, and ready for this all to be over. I know.

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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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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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