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

Healing Our Nation Starts From Within

landscape-of-sunset-on-the-field-picture-id697308736 Healing Our Nation Starts From Within

“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” — Chinese 

I’ve been thinking so much lately about what can bring us together and what can bridge our deep divide. All kinds of ideas have come to mind.

Some are so very basic, like “vote! vote! vote!” It’s a gift and it’s our civic duty, so let’s exercise that right on November 6 (which just happens to be my birthday).

I’ve also thought about the importance of seeking out our neighbors. It’s such a simple idea, and yet, it’s an important step in building community, connection and common ground.

So are Sunday dinners. I’ve talked about the power of them before and it’s an idea that I’m really hoping will catch on. Invite people from all different walks of life — people from different races, people who hold different political views, people who have different life experiences than yours. After all, if we want to bring people together, then starting in our own homes is a powerful place to start.

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Where There Is Anger, There Is Hope

beautiful-sunrise-landscape-in-high-mountain-road-picture-id615619640 Where There Is Anger, There Is Hope
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” — Jane Addams

I know many of you are waking up feeling enraged, angry, frustrated and disillusioned this morning. Meanwhile, others of you feel this process ended fairly and are probably just relieved that all this Supreme Court drama is over.

In fact, I heard some say yesterday, “I’m glad this is over. It’s time to move on.”

Yes, the news cycle will move on. It always does.

But, I believe the soul of our country is forever altered. So are the souls of all those people who shared their stories. Who confronted long, buried and painful memories. Who testified and spoke up. Even for those who stayed silent, I imagine their souls are also forever changed.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

ocean-wave-picture-id477557723 Where Do We Go From Here?
“The ego seeks to divide and separate. The spirit seeks to unify and heal.” — Pema Chodron

I had been looking forward to this past week for months.

My youngest son turned 21 on Thursday, and months ago, I made plans to fly out to see him in Michigan and celebrate. After all, 21 is one of those landmark birthdays. With him being the baby of the family, I was excited to go visit.

First thing Thursday morning, I called to tell him that I loved him. Then, I got on a plane to head his way and ended up spending the entire travel day watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies. It was a day I will never forget.

By the time I landed in Michigan, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, even though all I had done all day was listen. But, I guess I had also absorbed everything that had transpired. I absorbed and related to Dr. Ford’s terror and her fear. I believed her story and I understood her reticence to step forward. I admired her sense of civic duty, her bravery, her courage and her honesty. I felt her pain. As she spoke, I wept. I wept for her and for all the people who have experienced sexual assault and who continue to deal with its lasting trauma.

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Learning to Find Your Voice

bluedoor Learning to Find Your Voice

“The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and responsibilities who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins.” 

– Joan Chittister

“You have found your voice.”

That’s what the subject line of the e-mail said.

I stared at it for the longest time. I didn’t really even think that I wanted to open the note. The subject line was a gift in and of itself.

As I stared at it longer, my eyes welled up with tears. I had waited a long time to hear a message like that, much less read it in print.

Think about that phrase in the context of your own life. Think about someone saying that to you. How would it make you feel?

Do you feel as though you have found your voice, and if so, are you using it the way you want? If you haven’t, do you know what’s keeping you from finding it?

For many (and I’d put myself in this category) it can take a long time to find your own authentic voice. Over the course of my life, I’ve used my voice in a myriad of ways. I’ve used it to tell other people’s stories. I’ve used it to advocate for people running for office or causes I believe in. I’ve used it on behalf of those I love. I’ve used it lovingly, sternly, timidly, and assertively. And, somewhere along the way after using it enough, I’ve finally found my own true voice.

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Making the Most of Right Here, Right Now

girl-in-a-lavender-field-picture-id466512185 Making the Most of Right Here, Right Now

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.” – Thomas Edison
This week, I’ve been thinking about how many of us spend our present lives stuck in the future.

“When I make this much money, I’ll finally do x, y or z…”

“I’ll travel one day…”

“When my kids are older, that’s when I’ll really get to living…”

“I’ll vote in the next presidential election, but I won’t this November because it’s not as important…”

The list goes on and on.

Needless to say, I’ve certainly done a lot of that kind of projecting in my own life. But I was reminded this past week that our present is all we have.


We have today. That’s it. We don’t get to decide about tomorrow. So the question we should all be asking ourselves is, “What am I doing today with the time I have, right here, right now?”

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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Why We Should Make Time for Wonder

africa Why We Should Make Time for Wonder

Dear Friend (a.k.a., you, the Sunday Paper reader),

How have you been? I’ve missed you over these past few weeks. Even though I spent August taking a spiritual break, I found myself missing our weekly connection.

I must confess, there were moments when I found myself wondering whether you missed me as well. But as I stepped back from work for the month (which was way harder than I anticipated), I found that I was better able to realize what I was seeking in my life. (Remember, I said that I wanted to make good on Rumi’s quote, “What you are seeking is seeking you.”)

Turns out, I was seeking less busyness. Less intense thinking. More calm. More connection. More wonder.

Wonder gets you out of your head. It feels less intense than thinking. It feels more stream of consciousness and more creative. It actually feels freeing and it allows one to connect more with oneself and others.

As I set out for Africa with my youngest son Christopher at the beginning of August, I decided that my month would be focused on that concept of wonder.

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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.

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The Power of Inclusion

education-students-people-knowledge-concept-picture-id889408634 The Power of Inclusion

Before this week even started, I knew that I wanted to write my essay this Sunday about inclusion and unity.

I knew that I wanted to write about pushing for change. About staying the course. About the power that one voice and one idea can have in making a difference. About how people can mobilize around that one idea and work together to change families, change futures, change lives, and change our entire society for the better.

I wanted to write about all of this because, this past week, the Special Olympics — the program that my mother started in our own backyard – turned 50 years old! My family and the larger Special Olympics family came together to celebrate in Chicago, the site of the very first games. We were joined by many familiar faces, as well as lots of new ones who showed up to lend their voices and support to this important cause. It was a wow on every level. (Thank you, Chance the Rapper, Smokey Robinson, and all the other artists who performed at the celebration concert last night.)

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The Power of Relationships

budgies-are-in-the-roost-on-the-green-background-picture-id682216822 The Power of Relationships

Love. It’s that four-letter word that makes our world go ‘round.

Artists sing about love. Writers write about love. Painters paint about love. Protestors take to the streets carrying placards that plead for more love. And, every once in a while, a political leader stands up and speaks about the importance of leading from a place of love. (I wish this happened more often than it does.)

I believe in love big time. I also believe that we can all get better at loving ourselves and loving each other.

Love is easy and love is hard. Even if you’ve been burned by it, you still want to put your heart back in the fire. It’s just that good. It’s just that necessary. It’s just that vital to your health.

Because love is such a big topic, I talk to my kids about it a lot. I talk about what I’ve come to learn love is, and what it isn’t. The truth is, I don’t think we talk enough about the reality of everyday love. So often it presents itself to us in small moments, but we’re too busy to stop and notice that it’s there, much less give gratitude for it.

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The Power of Community

hot-air-balloons-1867279_1280 The Power of Community

The other day, my brother Timothy spoke to a packed stadium as he opened the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

As he talked about “taking a stand for inclusion,” everyone in the stadium rose to their feet. Tears filled their eyes. Hearts burst with inspiration. A friend who was there even told me that he left the stadium feeling more hopeful about humanity and our country than he had in ages.

Meanwhile that same night in Los Angeles, my friend Suzanne took her kids and a few friends to an open-air revival of the musical “Grease.” She said that she, too, was struck by the joy that filled the amphitheater. She, too, was moved by how easily everyone came together to enjoy themselves, to be kind to one another, and to be in community.

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What I’m Thinking Ahead of this Fourth of July

4thofjuly What I’m Thinking Ahead of this Fourth of July

The other morning when I sat down to meditate, my mind was bouncing all over the place and I struggled to access a place of calm.

 

One second, I was thinking about my children. The next, I was thinking about the children who have been separated from their parents at the border. I could feel myself feeling their fear and anxiety and I shuddered at the thought of what they must be going through.

 

Then, I found myself thinking about the terror inside the newsroom in Annapolis. I felt terror inside me as I thought about how unsafe everyone seems to feel these days. In fact, just the other day, I cautioned my kids not to get into a fight with someone on the road (or anywhere else for that matter). I cautioned them that everyone has so much rage and anger these days that you have to be careful in every circumstance. You just never know.

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Now Is the Time to Find Your Voice. Now Is the Time to Care

butterflygirl Now Is the Time to Find Your Voice. Now Is the Time to Care

I’ve changed this column numerous times over the past few days.

 

Why? Because words matter, and I wanted to convey a message this week that is hopeful, yet still has just the right amount of indignation to it. After all, this is a moment that requires some indignation.

 

Over the last few days, I have found myself stopping, staring, shaking my head, and getting upset at what I’ve seen. My friends, this is not a moment to scroll by. This is a moment to make your voice heard. I’m not just talking about the important issue of immigration. (I think we all know that immigration reform is needed, and I do believe that we can come to a conclusion that is both compassionate and respectful of our borders.) I’m talking about making your voice heard on all issues that we face today, and that we’ll continue to face in the days, weeks, and months to come.

 

This is not a moment to lose your mind and rant and rage. I don’t believe that ranting and raging works. What I do believe works is using our voices in a forceful, confident, and collective way. What works are voices that express just the right amount of outrage, just the right amount of shock, and just the right amount of care — as in, capital CARE.

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Making Memories That Last a Lifetime

Making Memories That Last a Lifetime Making Memories That Last a Lifetime

I’ve been thinking about how to make each and every day matter. How to make each and every day memorable and meaningful.

 

If the last week or so has taught us anything, it’s that people are super fragile. All of us are, at one point or another. It’s hard to know what’s really going on inside the hearts and minds of others, including those we care about most. So, the most important thing any of us can do with our lives — and with the minutes of our days — is to try our best to make them matter for ourselves and for those we care about.

 

On this particular day, Father’s Day, I’m thinking a lot about my father and the memories we shared during the time we had together. I’m also thinking about all the other fathers I know who are stepping up, showing up, and trying to be as present as possible in their children’s lives. Happy Father’s Day to you!

 

Like motherhood, fatherhood is the job of a lifetime. And, like many mothers, there are fathers who also doubt themselves and struggle with their role as a parent. They wonder about their importance and their influence on their children. They wonder if they’re getting things right, or if they’re messing up. They ask themselves, “am I better at this than my own father was?” So many men tell me that’s their hope and their desire. They also wonder, “What will my children remember about me after I’m gone?”

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The Power of Shifting Your Perspective

The Power of Shifting Your Perspective The Power of Shifting Your Perspective

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of shifting your thinking.

 

I’ve written in the past about shifting my own thinking from “I have to…” to “I GET to” I also wrote last week about my shifting my thinking on time from “It’s happening to me…,” to “It’s happening FOR me…”

 

Shifting your thoughts can shift your perception of a person, of a place, of an event, or most importantly, of yourself. How you view yourself is truly dependent on how you think about yourself and your life.

 

Do you see yourself as a victim? If so, try shifting to survivor. Tell yourself, “I am a survivor.” Just use the word over and over again.

 

Do you see yourself as weak and indecisive? Then tell yourself that you are brave, clear and confident instead.

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The Power of Timing in Our Lives

The Power of Timing in Our Lives The Power of Timing in Our Lives

Not too long ago, someone asked me why I hadn’t published my book, “I’ve Been Thinking…,” sooner. After all, I’ve been writing these essays and sharing them in The Sunday Paper for years, so I could have easily published it a year or two ago.

 

But, as I told that person, and as I’ve told others on this journey, I honestly couldn’t have put it out any sooner. This book came out when it was supposed to for me. It came at just the right time.

 

I think so many of us are in a rush these days. We’re in a rush to get on with things. A rush to get over things. A rush to be where we think we are supposed to be.

 

But, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that stuff happens when it’s supposed to in our lives, not always when we think it should. At least that’s been the case in my life.

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The Power of New Beginnings

sunflower-2071186_1280 The Power of New Beginnings

“Your soul senses the world that awaits you.”


That’s the last line of a poem by one of my favorite poets, John O’ Donahue. It’s called “New Beginnings,” and I just love the image that it conveys. A world awaits you and your soul.

Several years ago, I printed out the poem, put it in my wallet, and promptly forgot about it. Then last Sunday as I was sitting in a parking lot, I rediscovered it.

The crumpled piece of paper caught my eye as I was rummaging through my wallet trying to find one of those crazy punch cards for juice that my son makes me buy.

“What’s that?” I thought to myself as I spotted the wrinkled paper.

I unfolded it and found the poem. There, sitting in my car in a CVS parking lot, I read it once again. Tears streamed down my face.

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The Power of Healing

The Power of Healing The Power of Healing

I know, I know. I know what happened yesterday. An American woman joined the royal family. Yippee!

I actually got up to watch Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding. Yes, I did. I watched it because I’m a romantic at heart. I just love love stories, and theirs is an especially good one because it’s about more than just two people in love. It’s also about acceptance, race, second chances, overcoming differences, old rules and new traditions. That’s what love can do for you. It can let you see the world again with a fresh set of eyes. When two people take a stand for love, other people can see the world differently through their example.

Meghan Markle’s story is quite the American story. She is a child of mixed race who grew up in California. Now, she is the Duchess of Sussex and a woman recognized around the world. Markle has a huge opportunity in front of her to rewrite the definition of a royal for young women everywhere. My hope is that she continues to use her voice for causes she believes in and that she uses her American grit and strength to overcome whatever balls get thrown her way (because there will be many).

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Conversations Around My Kitchen Table

Conversations Around My Kitchen Table Conversations Around My Kitchen Table

My kitchen table is always a busy place. (Not as busy as newsrooms or the White House were this week, but pretty busy nonetheless.)

I love family, I love food, and I love to invite people into my home to sit with me at my table. Oftentimes, I invite friends of mine or people I’ve met through my kids. Other times, I invite people who friends have suggested I meet because they’re doing something interesting in the world. I invite people who have different perspectives on different issues. People who think differently than me politically. People of different races. People of different faith backgrounds. I’ve even been known to cold-call someone I’ve read about and invite them to join me at my table.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from those who join me. I learn how little I really know. I learn how vast the world is. I learn how wide-open people’s hearts are. How much suffering there is. How many creative and inspiring ideas are out there bubbling in people’s minds.

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Making Time for What You Value Most

Making-Time-for-What-You-Value-Most Making Time for What You Value Most

This week was a good time to think about what you value in your life.


France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivered an impassioned speech to Congress this week about what he values and what he believes in. Hearing him speak got me thinking about my own beliefs and values.


“Our strongest beliefs are challenged by the rise of a yet unknown new world order,” Macron said. So true. There are so many forces these days that are testing our values and our beliefs — those we hold as individuals, and as nations.


That’s why I think it’s a good exercise for all of us to stop and think, “What do I believe?” “What do I value?”


Do you know what you believe in? Do you live your life according to those beliefs and values? None of us are perfect at walking our walk, but what I’ve found helpful is to stop and check in with one’s self and assess how one’s values and beliefs are lining up with one’s actual life.


For example…


Do you talk about saving the planet and then not recycle?


Do you talk about the importance of parenting and then look at your schedule and see that you are a workaholic? 


Do you talk about women’s empowerment, but as a business leader, you refuse to provide paid family leave?


Are you a registered Democrat, but in your mind and heart you are more purple than blue and yet you’re afraid to register as an Independent? Or vice versa?


Do you talk about brain health and then not follow what doctors tell you? (My daughter told me to add this because I need to do a better job at what I’m telling others to do, like managing stress and eating less sugar.)

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Finding a ‘Yippee!’ Moment in Every Day

Finding a ‘Yippee!’ Moment in Every Day Finding a ‘Yippee!’ Moment in Every Day

A profoundly simple idea came to me last weekend.

It came way before I watched the Comey interview. Way before the Time 100 list came out. Way before Jeff Bezos told us how many Amazon Prime customers there actually are. (OMG.)

The idea came to me as I was sitting in conversation with three old friends and a dog. I don’t know exactly whose idea it was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the dog’s. 

The idea came out of one of those conversations that traversed the news of the day, the bumps of life, and the challenges at hand. As we were talking, we collectively decided that we all needed more joy in our lives. “Yippee moments,” to be exact.

What is a yippee moment, you ask? Well, it’s a moment you consciously celebrate. It’s a moment where you decide that you get to feel joy-filled at least once per day, since most of us don’t focus on finding joyful moments on a daily basis.

Most of us are so bogged down getting through life and attending to life’s never-ending stream of responsibilities that before we know it, we aren’t playing anymore. We aren’t celebrating anymore. We aren’t thinking “yippee!”

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