In her recent Emmy acceptance speech for acting, Alex Borstein told the story of her grandmother, who courageously stepped out of a death line in a Nazi concentration camp and thus survived. So, she advises, “Step out of line, ladies, step out of line.” All around the world, women, often young women, are doing just that. Their strong voices and brave actions are inspiring others as they stand up, speak out, and “step out of line.”
Greta Thunberg started alone, sitting in front of the Swedish parliament every week, striking to call attention to the dire emergency of climate change. One year later, in September 2019, millions of people around the world joined this passionate and articulate 16-year-old woman in a global climate strike, protesting destruction of the environment. She is the latest in a long line of dedicated environmental activists.
More than 20 years ago, Julia Butterfly Hill also started alone. In 1997, at the age of 23, she began living in an old-growth redwood tree to protest the logging of these forests in California. She endured two years of attempts to break her resolve, including helicopter harassment. In the end, the tree was saved, and Julia has continued her activism, co-founding groups to work for social change. Greta appears to be carrying her legacy forward.
More than fifteen years ago, Brian and I traveled through South India with Deepak Chopra and a dozen friends.
One of the highlights of our journey was to experience a “palm leaf reading” also known as a Nadi reading, where a priest and an interpreter found our life history written in ancient Tamil, on a palm leaf.
These forecasts were created thousands of years ago by a Sage and include everything from your name, your life history with extraordinary details, your past life info that impacts your karma in this life (for instance I didn’t have kids in this life because in my last life I was a healer and performed illegal abortions!).
You also discover what is predicted for all the years you have left on the earth including how, when, and where you will die . (Learning that part is optional!)
Deepak had experienced a Nadi reading the year before he took us and he was blown away by the process and the accuracy. One small tidbit from his reading was that learned the name his mother was born with, a family secret he never knew that turned out to be true! He was also given additional life direction he had not previously considered and put that into action and was very pleased with the results.
"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.
Einstein wasn’t the first person to state one of the basic facts of life when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” But most people attempt, time and again, to think at the level of the problem rather than finding the level of the solution. They continue to do what wasn’t working in the first place. They repeat the same actions expecting that this will lead to different results, when it almost never does.
In a new book, Metahuman, I confront this dilemma head on, starting with the notion that repeating the same futile action is endemic to our way of life. The vast majority of people are trapped inside routine, habits, old conditioning, secondhand beliefs, and the like. They repeat the past without being able to free themselves of the most painful memories. They are afraid of new, unknown things even though every creative idea or solution to a problem comes out of the new and unknown.
The whole complex of old thinking and habits burdens each of us in different ways, from stale relationships and boring jobs to ingrained prejudice and xenophobic nationalism. The rhythm of “same old, same old” beats incessantly, and yet somehow solutions are found, creativity flourishes, new ideas emerge, and “Aha!” moments occur unexpectedly.
Big money in Silicon Valley has been spent by corporations like Google, whose life blood is creativity and innovation, to unlock the secret of creative people and how they think. In their 2017 book Stealing Fire authors Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal describe various attempts to turn creativity into a skill set, all of which essentially failed. It turned out that creativity is a state of consciousness, not a skill.
We all go through those moments when we feel like giving up.
Life can be challenging at times.
Perhaps you feel like you should be further along in life or facing repeatedly failures in the pursuit of your dream and feeling like your goals aren’t manifesting quickly enough.
Remember that anything worthwhile takes patience, perseverance, and effort.
If it was easy everyone would be doing it. On the path of greatness everyone is invited, but only a rare few have the courage and dedication to stay the full course and put in the consistent work it takes.
“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.
Growing up half Italian and eating my mom’s cooking, I’m always up for a good pizza. One night, I met some friends, and we found the perfect spot for the “best pizza in town.” I think we all drooled with expectation as our lovely waitress came to take our order.
As she came back with a full tray of drinks, she looked directly at me.“Oh my God! It’s you! I have to tell you what happened when you gave me a message. Would you mind if I talk to you when you’re finished eating?”After my friends and I said our goodbyes, I headed to the kitchen to find my rather nervous waitress Sandy.“Some years ago, I was at the bookstore and heard you were going to speak that evening,”she explained.“I was lucky enough to get one of the few remaining tickets."
“You pointed straight at me and said, ‘This is for the young woman in the back row. I have your father here and he’s asking for forgiveness from you. Do you understand that?’”
Once a man awoke to find himself in a room he didn’t quite recognize. Nothing was certain except for an unexplained dizzy feeling. All around him were mirrors, closets, and tables with trays of different-colored makeup. The place was familiar, but what was he doing there? Anxiety began to seep in as he struggled to remember. But remember what? This was obviously the dressing room of some large theater, but what was his role? Each time he looked into the mirror he felt a stab of pain, because he wasn’t quite sure who was looking back at him. He felt suddenly alone.
Not knowing what else to do, he ran over and opened one of the closets. Inside he found a stiffly pressed, well-decorated uniform that obviously belonged to a very important general. He liked the strength of its appearance. Perhaps this was his costume. Quickly he dressed himself and stood at attention in front of one of the large dressing mirrors. His heart sank. This was a bold wardrobe indeed…but not his. As much as he didn’t want to, he took off the uniform. He tried another closet. This had in it a brightly colored costume from a circus. Not wasting a minute, he jumped into it. No good. Besides not fitting him, the costume made him look and feel like a clown. His desperation mounted. He tried another closet.
I recommend making, and listening to, audio recordings of your own voice that are positive and in the present tense, as if the belief or feeling you are wanting to reprogram has already happened. For example: “I am healthy” or “I am worthy and loved.” The function of the mind is to create coherence between your beliefs and your reality. Listening to positive and present tense affirmations helps to create this coherence.
The human potential movement has existed for several decades, and in many ways is an alternative name for self-improvement. The urge to improve oneself exists naturally in everyone, unless outside forces like poverty damp it down. But the human potential movement is far more ambitious. It aims to open up a vast area of unexplored potential.
I argue in a new book titledMetahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potentialthat the true foundation of human potential is infinite. At first that seems like a drastic overreach. Everyone experiences personal limitations that stop far, far short of the infinite. But let me make the case by first turning the whole premise of self-improvement on its head.
The typical way that human potential is approached starts with the limited individual and seeks to lessen these limitations. There’s a school of thought that believes in achieving a 10% increase in happiness, which is seen as a major step. The notion is that happiness is so difficult to understand that any improvement would have to be small. In an area like IQ, the goal is even smaller, because intelligence is accepted among experts to be fixed, budging very little from childhood. A third example is creativity, which would seem to allow for enormous improvement, but finding out what makes creative people creative has proved to be a frustrating and baffling business.
If you had the choice, would you rather be smarter than you are or more aware? Go a step further. If a wizard came to you and said you could be either the smartest person in the world or the most aware, which would you choose?
It’s a symptom of the times, I think, that most people would choose to be smarter. We live in a world based on technology, wealth, and entrepreneurship. You have to be smart to succeed in those areas, and if you feel you are only average in intelligence, you are not likely to expect enormous success. The argument for being more aware is rarely made, yet by far choosing to be more aware is the better choice—and unlike IQ, you can increase your awareness.
I made this the theme of a new book,Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, so let me encapsulate the argument. Being smart, even very, very smart, doesn’t immunize you from living unconsciously. An unconscious life is driven by habits, fixed beliefs, second-hand opinions, social pressure, peer-group values, and old conditioning. To realize this, and then to escape its grip, requires awareness, not IQ.
Throughout our lifetimes we unconsciously internalize certain agreements that fulfill other people's expectations of us. Maybe your 3rd grade teacher said you weren't good at math. Or you have a recording in your head of your father exalting the achievements of doctors and lawyers, so you thought you had to be one.
As a kid you had a radar system working full-time making sure you fit in, don't color outside the lines, get attention but not too much ... shine but not too bright ... don't embarrass yourself, don't fall down, don't miss the ball ...
By the time you reach your 20's you're shrouded in so many self-imposed rules, expectations from your parents, extended family, society, school, and largely from yourself to the point where you don’t truly know who you are, what you want, or what will make you happy.
These agreements tacitly become the bondage that keeps you from being you. Old agreements are often the cords that keep people tied to jobs, relationships, and ways of being that are unfulfilling.
“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.”
Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.
This is just one version of a very real, very human process of going downhill emotionally. I’ve been through many different types of it countless of times before and I doubt it will ever stop happening. The difference is, this time around, I got it under control. I got myself out of it fast—through gratitude.
It feels to many people as if we’re living in a Humpty-Dumpty time, when everything has gone smash. A sense of chaos and disorder permeates everything, and as you look around, there’s no longer any consensus about the most basic facts. Reality has become the clash of opposing viewpoints. When the phrase “alternative facts” first hit the media, it was met with jeers. Now it’s the definition of our troubling times.
What’s missing isn’t what people usually point to—order, tradition, solid values, and cooperation. Those things depend entirely on the real missing element, which T.S. Eliot poetically called “the still point of the turning world.” For the fact is that chaos isn’t new; disorder has threatened humanity throughout recorded history. The only way for chaos to be defeated is to have a firm foundation, something so solid, immovable, and permanent that we can build upon it. Otherwise, anything we try to build stands on sand.
I’m so excited, as this is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s when I get to share with you one of the best free resources that I have ever created to teach you all about Oracle Cards—it’s my free 3-part online Workshop Series called “Navigate Your Destiny with Oracle Cards!”
I’ll tell you the story of how Oracle Cards saved my life and I’ll show you how you can use them to bring new energy into your life too.
You’ll discover the powerful practice of tapping into the magic of your intuition while connecting with the infinite wisdom of the Universe to create your wildest dreams.
Every day, we’re bombarded by horrible stories in the news and on social media. From natural disasters and terrible acts of violence to climate change, international conflicts, and more. No wonder so many people feel hopeless and depressed!
But it’s important to remember that for every problem we face as a society, there are many brilliant people around the world working on solutions. And some of these solutions are so incredible, they give me a great deal of hope for the future. It’s a matter ofhow to be optimisticthat’s the hard part.
Here are 6 reasons to be optimistic about the future.
“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.
One wave after another, tiny or tremendous, they just keep coming. This is Life.
What do you name the waves? Challenging? Frightening? Hurtful? Miracles? Blessings? Disillusioning? Enlightening?
Wave after wave. They just move through. They just “Go.” And they come and they go … and go and go and go. They never stop.
There is always an opportunity for another. If this one passed you by and there wasn’t really a chance to “hold on” to anything before you noticed it flowing right on through your life, no to worry, there will be another.
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