The Power of Boredom, Breaks and Creativity-Maria Shriver

Illustration by Julie Paschkis

I’VE BEEN THINKING

Let’s face it. Boredom has a bad rap.

Or, at least it had a bad rap with me for the longest time. I grew up thinking that there was almost nothing worse than being bored. So, I worked, and I worked, and I busied myself, and I did everything I could to try and stay two steps ahead of the old boredom curse.

“Nothing worse than being bored,” I’d tell myself and my children.

But lately, I’ve found myself challenging my beliefs about boredom. And, I’ve actually found myself craving it. I’ve found myself longing for some silence. Some time away. Some time to turn off and give myself the space to think, create, and daydream.

I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. Why? Because I see too many of us running through life with no time to think. No time to reflect. No time to be creative. No time to check ourselves. No time to get to know our evolving selves. No time to ask, “Am I doing what I want to do? Am I living aligned with who I am? Or, am I living in fear? Am I just running around because I’m too afraid to slow down and take a break?”

Funny enough, as soon as I started contemplating boredom and my own desire for it, I started seeing books about its benefits everywhere. I started reading articles warning us that we lose boredom at our own peril—as individuals, and as a culture. I started reading essays written by wise people who took the time to be bored, and discovered that they learned a lot about life, love and themselves in the process.

As I was contemplating the concept of boredom this week and reading more about it, my colleagues at The Sunday Paper informed me that July is actually labeled “Anti-Boredom Month.” Really? Isn’t summer the perfect time to catch an opportunity for a break?

So, this week’s edition of The Sunday Paper is dedicated to the benefits of boredom. Today, we share insights from Architects of Change who can educate you on the value of taking a break from the norm, and how doing so will allow you to tap into your creativity and find your voice to dream.

I’m going to go out and try boredom today, and I hope you will be brave enough to join me. Take time away from the screaming and hollering of the nonstop news cycle. Put down your phone and all of those other screens that keep you so connected to other people’s voices that you can’t recognize your own. Spend some time with you.

Yes, you. Spend some time alone in the quiet. Twiddle your thumbs. Look up at the sky. Notice your surroundings. Listen for your voice. It’s there that you will find your mission. I’ve learned that the latter can only truly be accessed by allowing myself to access the quiet and the stillness that’s just within my reach.

I’m going to finally start embracing boredom so that I can see if I can tap back into my truest voice: my own. Take a moment to do this yourself, and let me know what you learn.

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These Great Dames by Maria Shriver

I’VE BEEN THINKING

Every week here at The Sunday Paper, we try to get above the noise of the week and offer positive perspectives to get you thinking, dreaming and talking about something you may not have considered before.

To that end, this issue is dedicated to awesome and inspiring Great Dames. No, not great danes. 🙂 Great DAMES. Yes, Dames.

Why?

I wanted to write about Dames this week because my mother—one helluva Dame herself—was honored at ESPN’s ESPY Awards Wednesday night for her relentless work on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. (Great Dame Michelle Obama presented the award.)

What a night it was. I was moved, motivated, inspired, deeply touched, and prouder than a peacock. I was proud that my mother got the recognition she deserved, and proud that she worked her whole life pushing boundaries right through and into her 80s.

I remember her telling me when she was 85 or so, “You know, Maria, there is no excuse not to work nonstop until you are at least 80.”

“At 80,” she said, “I had some issues here and there (lol, that’s an understatement, but she continued), but I didn’t give in. I just kept working. There is so much to do.”

My mother didn’t understand retirement. She didn’t understand slowing down to smell the roses. It just wasn’t her forte.

Changing the world was her forte. Her approach to life and work made me think about how many other Great Dames there are out there who are still breaking boundaries and changing perceptions about women, longevity and relevance. (Of course, there are plenty of men who are doing the same, but I’ll feature them in another issue. I have several to write about, so no worries.)

I call my mom a Dame ‘cause she wasn’t your average lady or woman. Trust me, I was very aware of this at a very early age. 

She smoked cigars. She wore pants. She hung out with men. She played football. She tried to dunk you in water polo well into her 80s. She was a first class sailor, no matter the weather. She was just a first-class competitor in every way. There wasn’t a sport she didn’t try to master. There wasn’t a man she didn’t try to beat (or a kid for that matter, this one included).

She rarely wore makeup, rarely brushed her hair, never went shopping and never, ever got a filler or a facial. But, when she walked into a room—any room—every eye was on her.

Why? Because she was an original. The real deal.

My mother was wicked smart, fun, challenging, and fearless. She was intimidating, for sure, but she was authentically herself. In today’s world, you would call her fierce. A force of nature. People often remarked that she was “a lot.”

The women in this issue of The Sunday Paper are cut from the same cloth and the same mold as my mother (although they brush their hair, wear beautiful clothes, etc.).

They are all still at it. They own the room when they walk in. They are personally inspiring to me because age doesn’t slow them down.

Which brings me back to my mother. This past weekend, I was at a friend’s wedding and got to talking to a gentleman who wanted to offer some “helpful” advice to me as to how I might improve my social life. He mentioned that I hang around my kids and their friends a lot, and speculated that that, and my work, might be intimidating to some people.

Then he said to me (or his vodka said to me…vodka usually speaks truth, in case you’re wondering): “You know, Maria, you are still very attractive (gee, thanks), you’re intellectually dynamic, but let’s be honest…you’re a lot.”

I wanted to argue with him, but then I stopped myself because I instantly thought of my mother, who everyone said was “a lot.” I also remembered a friend telling me about a wedding he went to where the mother of the bride stood up and toasted her new son-in-law, saying that her daughter was “a lot,” just like her, and that only really extraordinary men and people could handle those who were forces of nature. She then raised her glass to her new son-in-law, her own husband and to all of those secure enough to be in partnership with forces of nature.

So, this Sunday Paper is dedicated to all those who are proud enough to own that moniker, and to all those who accept that force as it is and let it rip. Just like my father let my mother roar. He knew a force of nature when he saw it, and how proud he was to be the one to celebrate it.

Just like I’m proud to celebrate all the forces of nature highlighted here, a.k.a. Architects of Change. 

So, the next time someone is brave enough to call you a force of nature, or says “you’re a lot,” remember my mother. Remember her fight on behalf of those with special needs.

Remember that everyone said those with intellectual disabilities couldn’t compete, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t hold down a job, couldn’t marry, couldn’t live at home, couldn’t speak, couldn’t dream, couldn’t be included, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t…

Remember this truth. She proved everyone wrong, she did things her way, and she embraced the force within and changed the world outside.

Be a force, ‘cause that’s what it takes to change the world.
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P.S. And don’t worry if you forget to brush your hair or if you hang out a lot with your kids. Just blame it on the vodka! And, if you want to see a force of nature in action, watch the video of my mother’s ESPY award below.

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It’s Time To Rethink What We Know by Maria Shriver

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

It’s time. Time to rethink everything.

How do I know that? Call it a woman’s intuition. Call it my gut. All I know is that I feel it deep in my soul.

I’m not saying this just because we have a president who’s been entangled in controversy with Russia since day one (and who finally met with Putin on Friday). Or, because we have a president who uses the power of his office to tweet videos of himself body-slamming a news network. (I mean, really? I know people think it’s funny. I know it gets lots of views. But there’s nothing presidential, dignified or classy about it.)

I say that it’s time to rethink everything because the fact is, there are just too many areas of our public and personal life that are in need of reconsideration.

It’s time to rethink our two-party political system because it’s just furthering our divide. No one from either party can hear the other. They are both at fault. We can do better. We can be more creative. (I like California’s open primary system. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.)

It’s time to also rethink our relationship with social media and our relationship with views, likes, retweets, mentions and followers. I know social media is capable of doing good things. I know it connects people to each other and to the larger world and its causes. But, so much of it is filled with rage and hurtful comments. Each of us can do our part to make sure we are not part of this. Our life’s purpose can’t be racking up hundreds or thousands of likes.

Summer is also a great time to rethink how we are working, how we are learning, how we are consuming our food, our energy, and our time. It’s a great time to rethink our lives and how we are living.

Thank God there are some evolved, enlightened, thoughtful and smart Architects of Change doing just that on our behalf. They are sharing their thoughts with us in today’s Sunday Paper. I hope their thinking will get you thinking, because it’s time that we do.

The fact is, whatever you thought “was” … is now up for renewed thinking. Our health care system. Our pension system. Our infrastructure. Our prison system. Our political election process. You name it.

This is the time for each of us to ask ourselves: What do I think? What better idea do I have? What kind of work life do I want? What examples do I want to set for our children? What image do I want to put out into the world?

The rest of the world is rethinking the United States’ role, voice and standing in the world right now. That’s why it’s a good time for us to rethink our own roles and our own voices in this country.

Are we passive bystanders who watch videos while laughing? Do we know more about Rob Kardashian than we do about our state reps? Are we part of the problem, or are we offering up solutions to help us move forward in a more unified and united way?

I asked one of my sons the other night, “If you could change one thing about our country right now, what would it be?” He said, “Our politics. If we could change the way we talk to one another, work with one another, and listen to one another, then everything else would follow.”

I agree.

So, here’s to our leaders rethinking the animosity they have towards one another. Here’s to those who seek common ground. Here’s to those who speak of solutions instead of pointing fingers. (See Mark Zuckerberg’s idea below, or the idea that two of his fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have to remake the Democratic Party. Their ideas may not be perfect, but at least they are igniting conversation.)

So this summer, think of yourself as a founding mother or a founding father. Think of yourself as a big thinker. If not you, then who?

Think about where we could be in 2025. Our National Alzheimer’s plan has a goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s and other related dementias by that year. What other diseases can we wipe out by then? What else can be different by then?

Steve Jobs had a vision for a computer in the pocket. It took him years to get there, but he had a vision. What’s our collective vision? What’s yours as an individual?

What does 2025 look like to you? Think about it.

Here’s to those who have the courage to step back and rethink what is, in favor of what can be.

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The Focus is Acceptance

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

I read a news story this week that saddened me, but unfortunately, it didn’t really surprise me.

It was about how our country has never been more polarized. The article also reported that those who label themselves as Democrat or Republican focus more on what they hate about the other, than on what is positive about their respective affiliations.

Wow!

That kind of negativity, anger, division and divisiveness is what led me to become an Independent a few years ago. I wanted out of that closed mindset. Out of the angry back and forth. Out of seeing the “other” as the enemy.

That choice led me to instead focus my thoughts on what I was for, not against. It led me to search my soul and shift my focus onto the pillars that I believe in and the values that I admire (compassion, empathy, collaboration, consciousness, care, kindness, and love being just a few).

It also allowed me to surround myself with people whose aspirations are positive, forward-thinking and unifying. I’ve moved away from people who complain non-stop and toward those who espouse positive views of others and who challenge themselves to come up with solutions to make our country stronger.

Today, I consciously choose to be in conversation with others who are asking us all to be kinder, less judgmental, more open-minded, and more accepting (individuals like my friends Brian Grazer and Glennon Doyle Melton, who share their voices exclusively with you today).

The truth is, we can all be less judgmental and more accepting. We can do better at accepting our differences and accepting those who may not look like us or think like us, but who are still good, kind, loving and able people. (Our Architect of Change of the Week Gordon Hartman is one individual who is helping lead us in this direction.)

Over the years, I have worked in unison with Democrats and Republicans. I have met good men and women in both parties who are united in the belief that we can be more socially compassionate, environmentally conscious, fiscally responsible and be accepting of our shared humanity.

Let’s be real: labels divide us and lead us to assumptions about the other. Assumptions lead to judgments, which in turn make it harder to accept what is. Accepting what is requires presence and focus.

Now, let me be honest. Acceptance has been somewhat challenging for me because I’m one of those people who in the past just assumed that if I worked hard enough at something, I could get it to work like I imagined. How arrogant of me.

But then a friend said to me, “You know, Maria, there is your business, there’s the other person’s business, and then there is God’s business.  Whenever you are in someone else’s business—God included—you are in the wrong business.”

Bam!

Letting go of other people’s business and accepting what is has turned out to be a huge relief for me. It’s also given me more time! I’ve also learned that just because we accept something as it is, it doesn’t mean we have to let go of our hope or our aspirations for ourselves.

There are quite a few things in my own life that I don’t like (I’m not going to tell you), but I accept them as they are today. But, I’m also focused on aspiring to do better and I’m hopeful about what’s to come. I’m hopeful not just about my own life, but the life of our country. (Yes, I really am!)

I accept that we are divided. I accept that the two-party system is divisive. I accept that the mainstream media and other media can and must do better. But, I don’t believe we have to stay as-is.

Imagine if we all became Independents. Imagine if we all dropped the assumptions about the “other.” Imagine if we got out of minding other people’s business and used all that mental energy to focus on how we can be kinder, more loving, more compassionate, and more inclusive.

Imagine if we used our mental energy to focus on conversations that brought us together (thank you, Janet Mock), and focused on issues that we could agree on.

Imagine the world that way, and then start building it—conversation by conversation, idea by idea, thought by thought, issue by issue. Maybe start by thinking about the idea of shared national service. It would give us all a common experience and a common commitment to something larger than ourselves, like our country.

In any event, that’s what I’m thinking of doing this summer because I refuse to accept that “what is” is the best we can do. Acceptance and aspiration can lead us out of what is and into a more accepting and unified nation.

 

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Focus on Kindness this Father’s Day

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the pillars of the society I want to live in. The society I want to work in. The society I want to grow old in.

Love, as I wrote last week, is the guiding principle of that society. There are several other principles as well, which I’ll get to over the next few weeks. But today, on Father’s Day, I want to focus on the concept of kindness.

Kindness, I believe, is one of the most important qualities that we can have. It’s what can lead us out of our current atmosphere, which is anything but kind.

We rarely recognize kindness as a form of strength, but it is. It takes strength to lead your life from a place of kindness — whether you are leading as a father, an elected official, a teacher, a CEO, or as someone in some other role.

Being kind starts with being kind to yourself. You know that inner voice that so often berates you and everyone around you? That voice that tells you that you’re not working hard enough? That you’re not keeping up? That says, ‘Who do you think you are’? Well, when that voice finishes berating you, it comes out of your mouth and reaches everyone around you.

So, start by changing the conversation in your own head. When you go to speak — whether it’s to your children, your colleagues, your partner, or even someone from an opposing political party — check yourself.

Is what’s coming out of your mouth kind? Are the words you are using positive, or are they critical, demeaning and cruel? Cruel words lead to cruel actions, and they leave lasting damage on a person’s psyche and emotions, especially children.

Kindness is different than niceness. Kindness requires thought, empathy, true concern for the other, and honesty. Honesty can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but necessary.
Kindness has principles. It’s not wishy-washy, bland or weak. And perhaps most importantly, when you exhibit it to another person, they can feel it. God-willing, they will want to emulate it, too.

That brings me back to men. Men are often raised to be tough, emotionless and intimidating. They are told that those traits are masculine. Kindness, like love, is often viewed as a quality of the weak. So many men think that if they are kind, that they just might get walked on, or over.

We as a society often play along with that notion. Our fear of the bully makes us laugh along as he berates his opponent with words that sting. We don’t have to look far to know the damage that all this meanness and rudeness is causing us.

The fact is, kind fathers raise strong daughters. Kind fathers raise good men.

Fathers, like mothers, often comes to their kindness in a round-about way. I know I have, and I know I wish I had come to it way earlier in my life. But, the truth is that I wasn’t raised with kindness as a guiding pillar. I was raised to be a tough, strong competitor. I was raised to make a difference in the world. I got the message — be it right or wrong — that kindness wasn’t going to help me “in the arena.”

That was a mistake because I have come to know that kindness not only helps in the arena, but it helps in every area of life.

So, on this Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on fathers who are leading from a kind space, and thus, from a strong place. I want to shine a light on men who are talking openly and honestly about their experiences as fathers, about what they learned from their own fathers, and about how they are using what they have learned to help others.

Fatherhood is, indeed, a defining role. It’s one that is being redefined by men everywhere. Today when I go out for a walk, I see men pushing baby carriages. I see them carrying diaper bags, showing up in records numbers to school functions, and showing up in equal numbers to their daughters and sons’ games.

I hear men talk about their emotional intelligence. I hear men talking about their children and how they want to be kinder, more attuned, and more involved.

My hope is that we can all exhibit more kindness towards one another because what we are exhibiting in our national discourse and in our politics is taking us down a numbing, destructive path.

Our families, our country, and our world need more kindness. Pope Francis, the father of the Catholic Church, has called for a revolution of tenderness to benefit us all. We need it.

So, on this Father’s Day, let us all celebrate the power of kindness — in men and in women. May we know that it exists within each and every one of us.

Love and kindness are among the most important and powerful pillars in a just, good and meaningful society.

My fellow Architects of Change, we can build this together.

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This Week, I’m Focused On Love by Maria Shriver

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

Lordy Moses, what a whirlwind!

As the noise of the news continues to get louder, meaner, more violent, more confusing, more divisive, and more heartbreaking, I have found myself trying to look through it all and find the cracks.

Yes, the cracks. As the famous songwriter Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

At this moment in time, I’m choosing to widen my gaze beyond my traditional news outlets and seek out the good— the light, the love and the truth — that is shining through. Surprisingly, I don’t have to look far because I see so many great examples of light, love and integrity everywhere I look. (Yes, I do.)

I hear songs about love. I see corporate campaigns about unity. I see concerts about oneness and marches for tolerance and understanding. I see people who are doing their best to help their communities and be of service to humanity.

Right now, I find myself trying to turn away from the grown men and women who routinely hurl insults at one another on social media and TV. I find myself turning away from those in Washington D.C. who seem to delight in the “he said-she said,” while millions of our fellow citizens are struggling. They’re struggling in unsafe neighborhoods and schools. They’re struggling to survive paycheck to paycheck. And, they’re living in fear that they will lose their health care or other vital services, like Meals on Wheels.

Sure, I watched James Comey testify on Thursday (I wasn’t going to miss that). Yes, I followed the British election results with great interest on Friday. I still listen to the news. I’m a journalist and a citizen, and I want to be informed. I just don’t want to be taken down by what I’m witnessing play out in our politics and in our national dialogue.

Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the examples of love that I see because they reinforce my belief in humanity. They inspire me to work harder, do more and focus on hope.

Now, I know that the word love gets thrown around a lot. I, myself, have struggled with it in my life. But, nonetheless, it is still my favorite four letter word!

Thank God I know what it feels like to be loved. I work hard to spread love wherever I can because I know it’s the healing and unifying connection we are all seeking. And yet, it seems to evade us so easily.

Why is that?

Why do bullying, grandstanding and power-mongering take precedent over love? Why is exhibiting love harder than exhibiting meanness? Why do so few leaders talk of love? Why do so few leaders exhibit it on the world stage for us to witness? Is it because it’s viewed as weak or soft?

Love, as my friend Elizabeth Lesser once said, is a muscular concept. It takes strength to love and to receive. It takes strength to pursue it and to put it forth as a guiding value in your life.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so over the meanness, the negativity and the gaslighting. I don’t want leaders who threaten or intimidate. I don’t want leaders without any emotional intelligence. I don’t want leaders who are too scared to even talk of love, much less lead with love. I just don’t, and I’m not afraid to say it.

The good news is that the cracks give us glimpses of the leaders among us who are leading with love, and who have the guts to say so.

So, my fellow citizens, if you have love in your heart, step up. Step out. You are what the world needs now more than ever. Love is the most powerful weapon on the planet. Imagine if we all decided to lead with it.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. … Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.”

Imagine if we all spoke from that space. Imagine if we all interacted from that space. Imagine if we all approached one another with love, light and truth.

It’s within us. We just need to let it rise to the top and lead with it. We need our leaders to lead with it.

Love. It’s our best defense, and it’s the only way all this other noise will fade to the background.

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What We Should All Be Doing This Memorial Day Weekend

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

Reflect. Remember. Rest. Recharge.

That’s what I want to do this Memorial Day weekend because I feel that everything is moving way too fast — the news, our politics, our conversations, our relationships, and our lives.

When everyone is in such a hurry, balls inevitably get dropped. Hurtful things get said. Personal and political misunderstandings occur. Crazy things happen, and no one takes the time to say, “Hey, wait a minute…”

What are we doing? What are we thinking? Where are we going? Let’s stop. Let’s rest a minute. Let’s reflect on what is happening now, and on what has happened. Let’s take a beat and gather ourselves so that we can refocus, recharge and move forward in a more unified way.

I mean this sincerely and seriously. It’s time for all of us — regardless of our age, our gender, or our political leanings — to be more conscious, more considerate, and more compassionate, not to mention less angry and less judgmental.

Now, before you scream, “How can she talk about resting when bombs are going off that are killing young children? When politicians are threatening to cut programs that for many mean the difference between life and death? When the ice caps are melting? When Washington is embroiled in a who knew what, when? When the world feels like it’s coming apart at the seams?”

Well, I would suggest that this is exactly the moment when we need to rest.

Now, resting isn’t something I grew up with. In fact, I think it’s fair to say it was scorned upon in my home. If either of my parents saw anyone resting, well let’s just say…no one would have dared to try.

But, I’ve come to realize that resting is of value. It doesn’t mean you are weak or too tired to go on. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re un-American (even if Americans like to think of themselves as the hardest, most competitive and most driven people on the planet).

Resting is important. It’s important for your mind, your body, and your heart. When one rests, one can recharge and refocus. One can dream. One can tap into their creative spirit and into their consciousness. One can be at one with one’s self, with one’s own divinity, and with one’s own purpose and mission.

The truth is, I’ve run through a lot of my life, only to discover that the most successful people get more done when they slow down and rest. (Author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang has some amazing insights into this in his new book. You can read an excerpt below.)

When people rest, they are kinder. They are more thoughtful, they are more focused, and they are more at peace with themselves and those around them. They are also better parents, better partners and better professionals. People who make time to rest get stuff done — and they do it without creating carnage in their wake.

So, on this Memorial Day weekend (the unofficial start of summer), I’m going to make rest part of my time off. In fact, I’m going to make it part of my summer and my life. (That is, after we come together next Sunday for Move For Minds. If you haven’t signed up yet, please join us in one of our 8 cities. Help us make a difference in the fight to save our minds!)

I’m also going to spend time this weekend remembering all of the brave military men and women who gave their lives for our country. I want to pay my respects to them and express my gratitude to the families that get left behind and who too often struggle alone to put the pieces back together (like our incredible Architect of Change of the Week Taryn Davis, a widow who has devoted her life to helping military spouses find hope and healing after loss).

I’m also going to spend time reflecting on the legacy of my uncle, President John F. Kennedy. It’s his 100 birthday tomorrow and his daughter, my cousin Caroline, has done such an amazing job helping people remember what her father stood for, what he fought for, and why his words still have such an impact today.

Caroline’s video says it all. It makes you think, “What do I stand for? What am I doing for my country? How am I giving back? How am I serving the common good?” (Complaining or railing on Twitter doesn’t count as serving the common good, by the way.)

So, before you say to yourself “I can’t rest. I don’t have time to reflect or recharge. I have too much to do…” Take it from me (someone who would have said those same words a few years ago). We are all going to end up in the same place, so what’s the rush?

Please rest. Please reflect on who and what is important to you. Please reflect on why you do what you do.

Recharge your batteries. Refocus your resolve. Remember that you are among the blessed. You are still here, so you still have a shot to make an impact with your life and benefit others. Why not take it?

Rest now. Because, trust me, we still have a lot of work to do.

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Reflections on a Whirlwind Week by Maria Shriver

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I’VE BEEN THINKING
Have you ever had one of those weeks where no matter how hard you try to stay upbeat, cheery and positive, you just can’t?

Of course you have. That’s what this past week felt like for me, too.

This was one of those weeks where the news unfolded so rapidly that it was hard to keep up. It was hard to stop shaking your head; hard to not complain; hard to actually believe what was happening. It was hard to know exactly what to do.

I spoke to folks who were glued to the news and social media. They were dissecting it in real time trying to figure out what it all meant. Meanwhile, others I spoke to said they just couldn’t bear any of it and turned away.

In the world we live in today, it can be hard sometimes to see a clear path ahead. Few things feel certain anymore. These are confusing times, for sure.

It’s hard to know what to think when everything seems to be changing more rapidly than it takes to form a new thought. That’s why during times like these, I try and spend time away from the noise so that I can properly formulate my own thoughts.

I reach out to those whom I respect — people who I feel can offer perspective and who can remind me that we’ve been here before. (Tom Brokaw is one example. You can read his thoughts below.) I also read and/or listen to others whose words and thoughts lift me up and focus my mind on the positive. That’s not being naive. It’s simply acknowledging that there are issues unfolding around us and that we can choose how we respond.

I’ve lived through tumultuous times before. Assassinations. The turbulent ‘60s. Vietnam. Watergate. A president’s resignation. Iran Contra. 9/11…the list goes on.

I’ve learned that the will of the people trumps the mightiest of power players. I’ve also learned that unraveling takes time. So does clarity.

Give yourself permission to step away. Breathe. Ask yourself: “What do I think?” Turn to those with wisdom who have seen it all and who have lived to tell it. Stay attuned to the news, but don’t allow yourself to become consumed by it, either.

Know that this will not be resolved today or tomorrow, but it will be resolved.

So, find your resolve. Focus on what good you can do in your own life, or for your country that so desperately needs it. Our nation needs what we have to offer. It needs for us to turn down the volume, calm the “he said, she said,” and look forward to a future that’s more united than divided. I think we can all agree that we deserve a future that’s brighter than darker, more compassionate than critical, and more honest than what we have today.

I’m focused on moving us forward and uniting us. Will you join me?

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Something to Focus On Other Than Your Lips, Eyes and Thighs

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

I don’t care what you wear or don’t wear. I don’t care how much you spend on makeup and/or fillers. I don’t care if you’ve had plastic surgery or want to in the future. I don’t care if you’ve been divorced, dropped out of work to raise your kids, or worked like a lunatic your entire life.

I don’t care if you are a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a Green, or a decline-to-state. I don’t care what your job is, how much money you make, or who you know or don’t know. I don’t care if you are a Catholic, Buddhist, Protestant or atheist. I don’t care if you identify as male or female, gay or straight, black, white, brown, or none of the above.

I really don’t care.

What I do care about is your mind, and I want to get into it. I care not just because it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, although I do care deeply about mental health. (In fact, this campaign caught my attention and allowed me to approach the subject with my kids in a new way). I care because I want to help you protect your mind and make it last a lifetime.

Every 66 seconds, a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of those brains belong to women, and no one knows why that is. To me (and I hope to you as well) that’s unacceptable.

It is my mission to find out why Alzheimer’s is robbing so many people of their minds in the prime of their lives. I’ve seen what Alzheimer’s does up close and I don’t want YOU to have to experience losing your mind or have to watch someone you love lose theirs. (Take my word for it, it is truly mind-blowing to witness.)

That’s why I was so grateful that Congress gave a $2 billion raise in funding to the National Institutes of Health last week. In March, I testified on this issue and asked Congress to protect NIH funding because it’s so critical to advancing our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s. I’m proud that this bipartisan action took place and that $400 million of the money will be going to Alzheimer’s research.

I have to say that I was deflated just a few days later, though, when Washington divided itself again along party lines and left those who depend on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) holding their breath.

Today, our Sunday Paper is focused on the most expensive health crisis facing our nation — Alzheimer’s — and what you can do to protect your brain.

We’ve asked a few amazing Architects of Change to share their views about what you can do today to save that thing in your head that controls your mind — that all-powerful organ that is so often overlooked.

My passion for the mind is what motivated me to start Move For Minds, an event that will be held in eight cities on June 4 and that focuses on engaging you in the areas that we know help keep your mind working at its best: exercise, nutrition, stress-reduction, social activity and more. I hope you’ll join me.

My mother always drilled into me the importance of developing my mind. She’d say, “Maria, your looks will go, but if you develop your brain, it will last you a lifetime and make all the difference in your lifetime.”

So, while I am trying to hold onto my looks as long as I can (haha), I’m primarily focused on my brainpower and yours. I care deeply about both.

Our minds are something we all have in common. Together, we can save them.

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“Am I Worthy? ” Reflection by Maria Shriver

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I’VE BEEN THINKING

The other day I was in conversation with my friend Matt.

Matt is a healer, a spiritual teacher, a health expert, a convener, a connector, a wanderer, and a world traveler. He’s someone who defies any one description. I love people like that — individuals who choose to live and work outside of the box.

Every so often, Matt shows up at my door (yes, he does) and we get to talking. Our conversations open my mind and enable me to see my purpose in life with more creativity, more clarity, and more conviction. What a gift.

The other day I asked Matt, “Is there anything that connects all of the people you work with? All of the men and the women? The rich and poor? The strong and the weak? ” He said to me, “Yes, there is.”

Whether they realize it or not, he said, everyone the world over asks the same question: “Do I matter?” They want to know, “Does what I do have meaning to others? To myself?” And underneath of that, what they really want to know is, “Am I worthy?”

“If you can come to believe that you’re worthy,” Matt said, “then your entire life shifts.” The key to feeling that way is all in your own mind.

Change your mind about that fundamental belief, and Matt says you can change your world, and the world at large. Wow! I love that because it’s so true and so empowering.

As Pope Francis said this week in his surprise TED Talk (see video link below), YOU are the future. You are the key and you hold the key. Think about that! Focus your mind on that concept. Wrap your mind around the power that resides within each and every one of us.

This message gets me so excited because I believe it 100 percent. I’d much rather talk about that than Donald Trump’s first 100 days. Focusing on what grade to give him takes me away from thinking about what I can do to make my world, and the world at large, better.

I have a vision for humanity and it starts with me. As Pope Francis said, it’s up to each and every one of us to lead. It’s up to each and every one of us to think about how we want to walk through the world with humility, tenderness, and a respect for the other. It’s doubly important to do this, he said, if you are in any position of power — perceived or otherwise.

I hope President Trump and all of our elected leaders from every party absorb Pope Francis’s message and challenge themselves over the next 100 days to walk out into our communities and into our world with the intention of making it better. I hope they think about the values that he spoke about: Caring, Tenderness, Respect, and the Intersection of Power and Humility. I hope they re-read the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as I have done, and think about how it is the story of today’s humanity. I hope they will think about the pope’s message that none of us are any better than any other of us.

In today’s Sunday Paper, we share with you the voices of a few Architects of Change who are working in their own ways to make the world a better place. As Pope Francis said, we are all worthy of answering that calling. We are all worthy of challenging what is, imagining what can be, making a difference, moving humanity forward and ultimately, uniting it. We can do that by being the best version of ourselves and sharing that with one another.

Over the next 100 days, I’m going to double down on making the changes I want to see in the world. I believe that we all have the power within us to make this a better world — not just for you, but for everyone whose paths we cross. These are exciting, empowering, and inspiring days. Let’s get moving.

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https://www.ted.com/talks/pope_francis_why_the_only_future_worth_building_includes_everyone?language=en