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. More

Feeling Anxious? Find Where You Belong…

Feeling Anxious? Find Where You Belong... Feeling Anxious? Find Where You Belong…

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about belonging. It’s not something I recall thinking about much when I was a child. At that time, I knew where I belonged, and who I belonged to. (Although I must say, there were times I wondered how I ended up in the family that I did, haha.)

But, I think there comes a time in one’s life — perhaps it’s when your parents die, or your kids grow up and leave, or your marital status changes, or your job ends— when you wonder to yourself, “Where do I belong? Who do I belong to, if anyone? Do I belong here? Do I belong at all?”

I believe that having a sense of belonging is critical to your emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health. Belonging is grounding. It’s reassuring. It’s calming. It gives your life a foundation.

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Making Sense of Life’s Uncertainties

Making Sense of Life’s Uncertainties Making Sense of Life’s Uncertainties

The truth is, sometimes you don’t know what to think because nothing seems to make sense. Nothing that you thought to be true is. Everything you believed to be, isn’t. It all just feels fluid, unsteady, confusing and scary.

For me — for a variety of reasons — that’s how I’m feeling right now. But, what my life has taught me is that these moments pass and that the best way to get through them is to actually live through them and breathe each step of the way.

Breathe. Breathe in and breathe out. I’ve learned that when one feels unsteady, it’s best to try and visualize a wave. See the confusion, the fear, the sorrow, and the grief as a wave that comes in and out and, slowly, it will give way to a calm sea.

No doubt, the calm doesn’t come as quickly as you would like, but it will come with time. For me, knowing this to be true is what makes the unknowing in life more bearable.

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Honor Those You Love. Start Today

Honor Those You Love. Start Today

As I stood in the back of my church on Palm Sunday, I found myself thinking a lot. Actually, I came into church already thinking, as I had just spent an afternoon with a friend who was struggling with cancer.

A year ago, my friend was the picture of health—laughing, debating issues of the day, and planning her future like the rest of us. She is my age, and like my friend Nancy whom I wrote about last week, there is no future left to dream about for her, either. So instead, we reminisced about the past.

The past made us laugh. It was filled with adventures and possibilities. Dreams and opportunities. I called her on my way home and said, “Thank you for today. There’s nothing like an old friendship.” “So true,” she replied.

They say that youth is wasted on the young. So is our health. So, whether you’re young or old, I encourage you to value your friendships. Value your health. (I hope you’ll register and join me in June for Move for Minds 2018.) Value the moments you have now to let someone know that you care about them.

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And the Doctor Said, ‘Go Live Your Life…’

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A few weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Nancy.


She didn’t ask me to come, I just went. I went because she told me the doctor (actually, multiple doctors) had told her there was nothing left to be done for her. Her cancer — the disease she had long kept at bay — had finally gotten the best of her.


She looked me in the eye and said, “What do you suggest I do?”


I looked at her. Her beautiful eyes locked with mine and I felt as if my heart were on a magnetic wave with hers. “Good question,” I replied.


What does one do when something like cancer gets the best of you? What does one do when there is nothing left to do, but enjoy what’s left? What does one look forward to when there is almost no forward to look towards?


I asked her, “What do you enjoy? What brings you joy?”


“Being with friends,” she said. “Being by the ocean. Letting the sun hit my face.”


“And so,” I said, “Let’s do that…”

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Changing the Way We Think About Fear

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As I travel around the country for my “I’ve Been Thinking…” book tour, I continue to be moved by the conversations I’m having with people along the way. This week, I was particularly struck by the conversations I’ve had with people about fear.

Fear. It’s one of the scariest and most complex emotions that we face as human beings. It can paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. Or, it can motivate us to keep fighting and keep pushing forward. Pushing through fear is not easy, I know. But it really is up to each of us to decide how to manage this nerve-wracking emotion that wreaks havoc on so many of us.

This week, I felt moved as I watched so many students push through their fear and use it as a motivator to stand up and speak out against gun violence, walking out of classrooms across the country. Rightfully so, these students and their parents are terrified of what is happening on school campuses across America. They don’t want to live in fear any longer as they sit in class or drop their kids off at school. These students and those who support them are using their fear to propel themselves and others into action. I am so inspired by their indignation and I admire the way they are using their voices.

My mother once told me that you are never too young to create an impact. You are never too young to make a difference. You may have to be 35 to run for president, but you don’t have to be that age to make a difference. That’s why I bow down to these students and I look forward to joining them next weekend as they mobilize again for “March For Our Lives.”

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Finding Your Way in Times of Transition or Uncertainty

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As I’ve traveled the country these past few weeks for my new book “I’ve Been Thinking…”, I’ve had the opportunity to meet thousands of people.


In my conversations, I’ve been struck by the number of people of all ages who have told me that they feel as though they are in “transition.”


Yes, that’s the word that keeps coming up over and over. Transition.


“I just got out of college and I’m in transition.” “I just left my job and I’m in transition. “I used to be a lawyer and now I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I’m in transition.” “My kids just left for college…” “I just got fired from my job…” “My boyfriend just left me…” “My mother just died…” “I’m a caregiver and I can’t make ends meet and I’m in transition…” And the list goes on.

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I’ve Been Thinking About Gratitude

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There I was, sitting in a small back room at Molloy College, waiting to go on stage to talk about my new book, “I’ve Been Thinking…”


This was Wednesday, two days into my book tour. I had just driven two hours from Manhattan to Long Island and I was tired. I was sitting alone. I was feeling anxious. (Yes, I still feel anxious when I have a new book come out.)

I was trying to take a few moments to gather my thoughts. Trying to calm my mind and heart. Trying to remind myself why I had written this book and why I was doing all of this in the first place. Then, thoughts of self-doubt started to fill my head. (Yes, I gave up self-doubt for Lent, but like anything hard, this is a process.)

“Will anyone like my book?” I asked myself. “Of course, they won’t.”

“Oh my God, I should have added this line and not that one,” I thought.

There I was feeling a bit like “God help me.” Then, I heard my name introduced on stage. I walked out from behind the curtain and saw a packed room sitting before me. People filled the auditorium all the way up to the rafters. I looked up and around and the first thought that came to my mind was, “I’m in the wrong room! God help me! I’m in the wrong room!”

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I’ve Been Thinking…

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The other day, I told my friend Elizabeth what I was thinking. She responded in the best way possible.

“You are,” she said, “right on time.”

Her words landed and made me feel grateful and joyful. Here I am exactly, where I’m supposed to be.

This week, my new book “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful LIfe” arrives in bookstores everywhere. Right on time. The fact that there’s a book at all is a testament to you, the readers of The Sunday Paper. Many of you suggested that I curate my “I’ve Been Thinking” columns and bind them together into a book. Voila, here it is!

This book couldn’t have come out last year or the year before. I wasn’t ready then. But, now I am. Thank you.

Today, I’m knee-deep in gratitude to those who have helped me, sustained me, and supported me along this journey we call life. I like where I am. As Hafiz says, I like that I am in a place that God circled on a map just for me.

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What I’m Giving Up For Lent This Year

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On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, my pastor asked all of us at church to start thinking about Lent. What might we do this Lenten season, and what might we give up, he asked?


His sermon really got me thinking. In the past, I’ve used Lent as an opportunity to give up things that I loved. Things that might sound simple and slightly ridiculous, but that were actually quite hard for me to cut out. It was Swedish fish one year. Popcorn and licorice another. Last year, I gave up chips and guacamole (my all-time favorite).


What I’ve learned from Lent over the years is that stopping something cold does make a difference. It doesn’t matter what you give up. Your relationship with whatever has a hold on you will change, no matter what it is. And so, as I thought about all of this last Sunday, I wondered: what vice do I have right now that has too much of a hold on me? Then, out of the blue, it came to me. The answer is self-doubt.


Yes, I have self-doubt. Yes, I question myself. Yes, I question the decisions that I make — big and small — way more than I care to admit. But, I’ve come to think and to feel that self-doubt is really harmful. It’s cruel, it’s critical and it’s mean. It’s also bad for my health — my physical health, my mental health, and my spiritual health.


And so, I decided right then and there to kick the habit. Then Ash Wednesday came —  the day I was to begin — and the school shooting in Parkland, FL, happened. That led me back to church, trying to make sense of such a senseless tragedy.


I sat there trying to think about whether I should stick with giving up self-doubt for Lent. It just seemed so trivial in the wake of 17 people being killed. Then, I stopped myself cold. No, I was sure. Self-doubt is exactly what I should give up during these confusing and troubling times.


Giving up self-doubt is the right thing for me for many reasons, but it’s especially important now because I don’t want to spend any more of my precious time alive on this earth doubting myself.

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What Makes You Feel Loved?

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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been mesmerized by love stories. Love stories in books. (Hello, “Wuthering Heights.”) Love stories on the big screen. (“The Sound of Music,” “Notting Hill,” “Love Actually”… I won’t tell you how many times I’ve watched these films again and again.) Love stories in the news. (I read the New York Times’ Modern Love column religiously each Sunday.) Yes, I love love stories. I’ve even been known to burst into tears when an elderly couple tells me their love story. Stories like these inspire me. They give me hope. They bring me joy.

Many years ago, a friend asked me, “Maria, what makes you feel loved?” The question stopped me cold in my tracks. I was quiet for a bit because the truth was, I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer the question. But today, I know exactly what makes me feel loved. I feel loved when I feel seen. I feel loved when I feel heard. I feel loved when I feel safe, secure and understood. I feel loved when my children hug me or take a walk with me. I feel loved when I arrive to lunch with a friend and see that they’ve ordered me something that they know I like.
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The Best of Us

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Earlier this week, my brother sent me a link to this commercial for the Winter Olympics that features skier Lindsey Vonn and ends with the tagline “The Best of U.S.”


It’s an inspiring, uplifting and motivating video. And, as usual, it got me thinking. It got me thinking about the best of us, and about all of us.


This was a week when political leaders told us about the state of our union — in other words, the status of “us.” Media pundits argued over whose point of view was valid, who could take credit for what, and whose facts were right.


I watched and listened to it all, and as the week wound down, what stayed with me —what really rose above the noise — were the stories I read or heard about the best of us. The men and women that President Trump singled out in the House gallery, like Preston Sharp, who at just 12 years old has made it his mission to lay flags and carnations on the graves of all veterans. The hard-working Americans from Fall River who gathered to hear my cousin Rep. Joe Kennedy III give the Democratic response. Americans who, as Kennedy said, quietly serve, rescue, help and heal every single day. What stayed with me were these people’s stories. They are the best of “us.”


As I wrote last week, the division of “us” is what really breaks my heart. Especially all of the news that highlights the worst of us. I believe that highlighting the best of us is what this newsletter strives to do on a weekly basis. That’s not naive. It’s a point of view. It’s a perspective.

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What Breaks Your Heart?

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The other day, I had the chance to speak with Architect of Change Dr. Tererai Trent about her new book, “The Awakened Woman.” In addition to being an author, Tererai is an internationally renowned scholar and humanitarian whose voice and incredible life story have inspired millions, myself included. 


After Tererai and I finished our Architects of Change interview, she turned to me and asked a very simple, but profound question.


“Maria,” she said, looking me dead in the eye. “What breaks your heart?”


I stared at her for a bit, knowing that this was a big question to be asked. I knew this was not a question for my mind to answer. This was one for my heart and soul.


“What does your heart ache for?” Tererai asked, expanding upon her initial question. “What do you envision for the world, and for yourself?”


Over the years, I have interviewed many Architects of Change. I was also raised by two formidable Architects of Change. All of these individuals, in their own way, have asked themselves this kind of question — a question that has led them to their life’s purpose. But, no one I’ve met has ever posed it to me quite the way that Tererai did.


What breaks your heart? What does your soul long for? And, how is that connected to how you are living your life now?

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Finding the Light in the Cracks

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This week, I found myself really trying to find the light in the cracks.


That’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if you focus your attention on the blame game coming out of Washington right now with regards to the government shutdown. I mean, really? Who cares? Just fix it.


To me, though, there was a lot of light to be seen this week. I saw the light shine through in the women’s marches that were held around the world on Saturday, and which continue today. People are using their voices to stand up for their rights, and for those of others, and that’s a powerful thing.


I also saw the light this week coming from voices like Olympian Michael Phelps, who bravely opened up to CNN’s David Axelrod about his battle with depression and thoughts of suicide. That sort of honesty and truth will hopefully help many people who are suffering from the same thing know that they are not alone.I also saw the light this week in the news about our president taking a test to assess his cognitive health. I was especially pleased that his doctor spoke about the test and even directed people to take it.

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Try Starting Your Day Like This…

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Here we are in a new year, with the promise of a new day. New days. New years.

 

Earlier this week, my dear friend Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful speech about a new day being on the horizon. I love that imagery, I love her, and I love that truth.


I, for one, believe this new day is already here, and that its arrival will make 2018 our best year yet. (Read NY Times columnist Nick Kristof’s excellent piece about why 2017 was also the best year yet for humanity. It will really make you think.)


Last week, I wrote that my intention for this new year is to lead from a place of love. Shifting my perspective in that way has already enabled me to make another unexpected shift — one that is changing my day-to-day life for the better. Now, instead of waking up each day and saying, “I ‘have to’ go to work… I ‘have to’ write something smart and insightful… I ‘have’ to meet with so-and-so…,” I have decided to turn my “have to’s” into “I get to’s.”

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My One Intention This New Year

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Last year around New Year’s, my kids and I stood around a fire. One by one, we threw into the fire what we wanted to burn from the past year. We also voiced our intentions for our lives moving forward.


We did it again this year, but this time, I had just one intention that I wanted to set. That was to live and lead from a place of love. That’s it. Every other intention I’ve made in the past pales in comparison.


Trust me, leading from a place of love is going to be way harder than losing 10 pounds (which can be done, but it always comes back — at least for me). It’s going to be way harder than silencing the critical voice in my head (although I did make progress on that last year, so I’m proud of myself for that). It’s also going to be way harder than giving up sugar (well, that is pretty hard, so maybe I’ll save that one for Lent).


Yes, leading from a place of love is going to be my toughest intention yet because it means I’m going to have to show love to people who don’t show it to me. It means I’m going to have to show it to people who I don’t agree with, who I don’t care for, and who don’t show it to those that I do care about. It also means I’m going to have to find it deep within myself when my first reaction might be anything but loving.

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What I’m Hoping to Do More of This Holiday Season

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This week, I’ve been thinking, feeling, watching, listening, and taking stock of my life. It’s been hard not to do this, as I’ve spent time unpacking all of the items that I packed up while preparing to evacuate from the wildfires.


I’ve been taking stock not just of the “stuff” in my life, but of what’s really important to me these days. On Monday, I sat down with my friend Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, who has devoted his life to studying the places on earth where people are healthiest and happiest. Our conversation really got me thinking deeper about what I value and whether I’m really leading a life where my values line up with my actions. (You can watch our conversation below.)

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Nothing Like a Wildfire to Get Your Priorities in Check…

Nothing Like a Wildfire to Get Your Priorities in Check…

What a week it has been.

Wednesday, I awoke to the smell of smoke inside my home. I rushed to my back door and found that smoke filled the air outside as well. Immediately, I knew something was wrong.

I turned on the news and saw that wildfires were raging out of control just a few miles from my home. I watched in disbelief as firefighters battled brush and winds on the hillside along our big freeway, which was engulfed in flames.

It looked like a scene out of a movie, but this was real life. And, it was unfolding in real time.

My daughters called to see if I was okay. One asked me, “What’s happening?” I told them it would be fine, but then a friend called and told me she was evacuating. With urgency in her voice, she told me to grab some stuff and get out now.

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It’s Time to Embrace Love

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This past week got off to a love-filled start, with the announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement.


Their news made me happy, as it did so many others. I felt happy for them as a couple. I felt happy for this story of joy, hope and acceptance by the world.

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These Are the Things I’m Grateful For

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On this Sunday after Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting. I am reflecting on the larger world we share. I am reflecting on our country and all that is going on here at home. And, I am reflecting on my own, smaller, world, right here within myself.


Through reflection, I find that I am able to be both optimistic and deeply troubled by the state of our world. I am troubled by the violence that exists in our society, by the state of men and women’s relationships right now, and by the hopelessness that so many feel about our politics and our national discourse. But, I am also optimistic that we are in the midst of a national awakening. I believe that we are in an awakening about our politics, about power, about the realities of sexual harassment, about economic inequality, and about the importance of having a free press that can do its job.

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Why Thanksgiving Is My Favorite Holiday

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We are heading into my favorite week of the year.


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it represents everything that is important to me: My family (I just spent a few days with two of my cousins. How deeply meaningful it was to share laughter and connection with them), my kids, my friends, my open table, food, and my faith in this country.

 
I’ve thought a lot lately about welcoming people to the table—not just to my Thanksgiving table, but to my kitchen table on a weekly basis as well. I deeply believe that we all have a common desire to be welcomed, to be invited in, to be included—not just on Thanksgiving, but on every day of our lives. I know I do.
 
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