What I’m Hoping To Do More Of This Holiday Season-Maria Shriver

I’VE BEEN THINKING

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.)

The news of this week also got me feeling and thinking about my values, and about what we value as a country. On Wednesday, I felt joyful when I heard about the large turnout of voters in Alabama, and about the powerful impact that black voters had, in particular. The people are awake! What a powerful reminder that a vote can disrupt the status quo. It’s also a reminder that the people have a voice, and that they want to be heard. As Kaushana Cauley wrote in the NY Times this week, if the Democrats want to win more elections like this one, then “they have to integrate black voters into the heart and soul of the party.”

Speaking of status quo, on Thursday I was saddened to think about how we haven’t been able to disrupt the status quo when it comes to gun violence in this country. As we observed the 5-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, I thought about the grief those families still deal with on a daily (if not hourly) basis. It must be so overwhelming. Then, for them to see us as a nation still deadlocked when it comes to sensible gun reform…it just breaks my heart and enrages me all at the same time. I also thought this week about the parents of Sandy Hook who took this tragedy and used it as a call to action to try and do something to stop this senseless violence. Mothers like Nicole Hockley, Alissa Parker and Scarlett Lewis, all whose voices we’ve shared in The Sunday Paper with you before. Their strength and determination give me hope for the future.

On any given day or week, joy, grief, sadness, anger, and reflection can all go hand in hand. Such is life, I tell my children. I counsel them to understand that they must be adept at these emotions if they expect to live a full life and/or get anything done in life.

This is also is one of the reasons that every year during the holiday season, I make it one of my traditions to sit down with my kids and our friend, pastor Chad Veach, to connect and take stock. I’ll be speaking with him again on Monday, and will share our conversation with you in next week’s Sunday Paper.

We all need to take stock of our lives, our priorities, our goals, our dreams, and of who and what we value. As we enter this season, it’s a way for us to connect and, I hope, focus on what’s important to one another.

It’s also a chance for us to listen. It’s a chance for us to hear, in a safe environment, about the struggles, the triumphs, the anger, the joy, and the grief that we may be feeling. It’s a moment for us to talk about what’s working and what’s not, and about how we might each connect better to one another.

This is what I’m hoping all of us might be able to think about doing over this holiday season. How might we do a better job connecting to one another? How might we all pull up a chair, like Joe Biden did this week when Megan McCain was overcome with emotion regarding her father? Joe Biden pulled up a chair and he connected. He moved in with compassion and strength. What a powerful move it was.

So, as we move into the holidays and into a new year, I’m going to be thinking about where I can use my voice to upend the status quo. I’m going to be thinking about when and where I can pull up a chair. I’m going to be thinking about where I can move in to listen, to comfort, and to connect with another.

At the end of the day, these are the moves that Move Humanity Forward.

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