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.

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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The Power of the Moment

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The other day, I was sitting at lunch with my kids as they started to discuss the Texas shooting and started to wonder why the news had moved on from this story so quickly.


My son said, “Wow, that Texas story was wild. Why aren’t more people talking about that? Isn’t it weird that it just came and went?”


I thought about that. Stories used to stop us all cold in our tracks. Now, they just seem to come and go. Moments that used to bring a collective sense of grief—a collective sense of oneness—now seem to come and go without landing.

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My Birthday Reflection

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As I approach my birthday and a new year of life, I’ve been thinking about how blessed I am.


I’m blessed to live in this country. Blessed to have my family and my friends. Blessed to be in conversation with a loving non-judgmental god. Blessed to have work that interests me. Blessed to be in community with people who are good, kind, compassionate and inspiring. I include you, the readers of The Sunday Paper, as part of that community.

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The Power of Re-evaluating Your Beliefs

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The news of the week, as it always does, got me thinking. It got me thinking about politics. Thinking about addiction. Thinking about success. Thinking about how to live one’s life.


Every new year, I usually do some kind of inventory of my own life. But I can’t wait until then. I just can’t. (Plus, my birthday is around the corner, so now is as good a time as any.)


And the truth is, it’s not just the news that has got me re-evaluating. My body has also been speaking to me to pay attention. My heart has been calling me out. My mind is telling me not to get caught up in the noise, but to instead step back and think about the effect that the noise has on my life, and on all of our lives. Plus, it’s all been giving me a complex migraine, complete with vertigo and vestibular damage (don’t ask).

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What People With Passion Have in Common

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This upcoming Saturday is National Make a Difference Day, but for me, every day is an opportunity to make a difference.


Over the years, I’ve noticed that the people who are passionate about making a difference all have something in common: they have drive. They have a purpose. They have a goal.


I deeply believe that every one of us has a calling, a unique gift, and a specific reason for being here on this earth. I’ve spoken to so many people over the years who desperately want to find their passion, but can’t seem to land where they think they should. What I’ve learned, though, is that sometimes all you have to do is look within you, and around you.

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The Power of No

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I've been thinking a lot this week about the word "no."


No is a word that has great power in our lives and in our society. And yet, it's one of the most challenging words in our vocabulary.


Every time I've heard "no" in my professional life, I've challenged myself to defy it. To go around it. I've used it as fuel to keep fighting—whether it's in chasing a hard-to-get interview, or in proving to doctors and researchers that Alzheimer's does indeed discriminate against women, even when they told me it doesn't.


In fact, all of the Architects of Change we feature in this week's Sunday Paper have heard the word "no" at some point. Some have heard it from others, who told them that what they wanted to achieve could not be done. Others have said it themselves, declaring that one thing or another in our society is unacceptable and that they won't rest until they've done something to change it.

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I've Been Thinking: The Power of One

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I've been thinking all week about the power of one. One moment. One person. One action. Any of these can change your life forever.

It takes one person to fall in love with you to change your whole world around for the better. It also takes just one person with violent intentions to turn your world upside down.

All week long, we have listened and read stories of heartbreak, anguish, and pain about beautiful lives that were cut short. Lives forever altered. Families forever changed. Love stories that will never get their happy endings.

All week long, we have also listened and read stories about individuals who stepped into the line of fire to save someone. Often, these were total strangers who risked their own lives to save another. Individuals like concertgoer Jonathan Smith, who raced to rescue at least 30 people from the scene in Las Vegas. He was struck by two bullets in the process, then had his own life saved by another brave individual, off-duty officer Tom McGrath.

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I've Been Thinking

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"America is an idea. America is the greatest idea that the world ever came up with." — Bono


I just love that quote from Bono because it's so true. America is definitely the greatest idea that the world has ever come up with. 


Now, that doesn't mean our nation is perfect. It doesn't mean we don't have problems. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep striving to do better. It just means that the idea that defines the bedrock of this great nation is still the greatest idea ever. May we not lose sight of that.


America was founded upon an idea. We were also founded by people who took a stand. That's our heritage, and it’s part of what makes the idea of this nation so great.


This week, there has been a lot of discussion about taking a knee and locking arms. There has been a lot of discussion about how to respect our flag and our “National Anthem,” about how to acknowledge and address racism, and about how to define what it really means to be an American.

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The Power of the Mind

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The other day, my daughter said to me: “Mom, do you ever stop thinking? Does your mind ever turn off?”


Trust me, this was not a compliment.


I laughed and explained that, yes, my mind does turn off when I meditate in the morning (or, at least, I try to turn it off). But the rest of the day, I’ve gotta say… it’s thinking. Like, a lot.


This week, I found myself thinking about the tragic earthquake in Mexico City. As I read story after story, they broke my heart and reminded me yet again how fragile our lives can be. (Learn how to help here). So, if you have an outstanding beef with someone—a person you once loved, or who was once your friend—try to resolve it now. Time is precious, and our world is fragile.

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This Is What Happens When You Open Your Eyes

This Is What Happens When You Open Your Eyes

Yep, he’s at it again.

Pope Francis that is. That man has a way of getting above the noise and it’s not just because he’s the Pope. Pope Benedict rarely got my attention, but this guy… well, he’s different.

This week, Pope Francis spoke up about climate change. He directed his message at all of us and sounded an alarm that if we don’t review the choices we’re making about Mother Earth, then there will be hell to pay.

Okay, he didn’t actually say “hell,” but that was the gist. He warned that “history will judge us for our decisions” and that we “will go down” if humans fail to curb climate change. But, it was this line from his speech that really stopped me in my tracks: “When you don’t want to see … you don’t see.”

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