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The Importance of a Spiritual Break

horse-backriding-in-the-seashore-with-a-dog-during-sunset-picture-id185147903 The Importance of a Spiritual Break

A few weekends ago, I went to visit my brother Bobby and his family in Wyoming. He left LA about two years ago, and at the time, his departure really hit me hard. I liked having him as a neighbor and so close by.

But my essay today isn’t really about why he moved or how his move affected me. Instead, it’s about something he said to me on my first day in his new home.

He said: “When I woke up this morning, I heard your voice downstairs and I said, ‘Everything is good.’ Your voice sounds like home. I’ve heard it my whole life and it makes me happy.”

I was taken aback by his words. The idea that my voice could make another human being feel content and feel at home deeply moved me.


My older brother and I are 18 months apart. He often kids me that people think he’s my younger brother (even though I already have three other younger brothers). I always say that’s because I’m more mature — not older-looking — but whatever. If it makes him happy to think that, then I’ll just go along with it. I’m a good sister that way. 

I enjoyed getting to spend time with my brother in his new home. But what really stayed with me after my visit was that concept of what makes a person feel “at home.” It got me thinking about the fact that there are so many different ways that we can define home and choose to live our lives.

I was raised to believe that the reason we’re here on Earth is to work 24/7 on behalf of making a difference in the lives of others. My parents always said, “You are here to change the world for the better. That’s your job, so get on it.” In their minds, anything short of that was a waste of time and talent. Thus, I made their ethos my own.

Seeing my brother and his family leave the hustle and bustle of LA to go live on a farm really got me thinking. Should one really work until their dying day? Or, is there something to the idea of embracing another way of living?

Where is home? What makes you feel at home?

I’ve always been fascinated by people who followed their hearts and sought to answer this question for themselves, even when they were unsure where it would lead them.

I know people who’ve up and left lucrative careers on Wall Street, only to make a fraction of what they were making in the social justice space. I know people who were passionate about law, then up and left that life to become preachers. I know people who were school teachers and then decided to run for political office. The list goes on and on.

Being in conversation with your gut, your heart and your intuition is hard when you are consumed with so many other responsibilities in your life. Paying the bills. Putting food on the table. Caring for young kids or sick parents. Trying to keep up with the news and social media and everything else in our 24/7, fast-paced society. Sometimes it’s all too much. Sometimes people decide they can’t continue living in the rat race and just up and change course.

Last August, I took what I called a spiritual break. It was a break from my work at NBC News, a break from my work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and a break from my beloved Sunday Paper. I went back east during that month and spent time reconnecting with my brothers. I wanted real quality time — time without being digitally connected. I think I did a pretty good job of disconnecting, all the while knowing that I was blessed to be able to step off the rollercoaster of life for just a little while.

Click to continue reading Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper

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