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.
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?
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.
|As someone who has struggled with the concept for years, I wrote the introduction to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler’s seminal book “On Grief and Grieving” and I have in my own way tried to advance the conversation on this subject. My friend Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s new book about resilience and grief will, I’m sure, advance it further. I applaud Sheryl for wanting to make the topic of grief a mainstream conversation. (You can read an excerpt from her new book here.)
Life-altering events impact not just our hearts, but our mental health as well. The same event can impact the members of the same family in different ways. It’s naive of us to think that we can all just power on and power through without talking about how life’s ups and downs impact our minds and our bodies.
My friend was right. We all have mental health issues. That doesn’t make us weird or weak. That makes us human.
So, next time someone tells you or me that they are seeking counseling or have sought counseling — be it for the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, the loss of a job, anxiety, depression, or whatever else they deem traumatic — be gracious. Be compassionate. Be understanding.
After all, what Prince Harry said was both profound and telling: he just needed someone to listen. I might add that he also needed someone to protect his privacy. Both are in short supply. But now that we know, we can give those gifts to one another starting today.
For me, the retreat was the perfect way to go into Holy Week. It gave me time to think about life, think about my own story, and think about the highs and lows of life — not just of my own, but of all of ours. For as Father Rohr said, if you have a soul, then you must acknowledge that everyone else does, too. They also have highs and lows and dark and light.
That beautiful truth was one of so many takeaways I had from the weekend.
Here are 20 profound truths that I thought were worth sharing:
1) We are all united in our brokenness and in our suffering. What is broken in you makes you human, not bad. Acknowledge it.
2) Revelations happen from the inside out, not the outside in. Allow for them.
3) We think we need to know someone before we can love them, but divine thinking is to love before you know. Love unconditionally.
4) One of the biggest challenges we face today is loss of meaning. Find meaning wherever you can.
5) Religion has become too centered on sins. We were taught that our sins separate us from God, but that’s not true.
6) If you always have to convince your parents to love you, then you never trust that they do. Note to parents: focus on the love your child is seeking.
7) There are moments in all of our lives when we are blind, then we see. Open your mind to other ways of thinking and seeing. That will get you out of the dualistic frame of mind of good vs. bad or right vs. wrong. Open your mind to a third way. It’s more creative and playful.
8) The contemplative mind approaches things in their completeness. Be contemplative in action. They actually go together.
9) Most thinking is simply the result of an obsessive mind. Find ways to turn yours off.
10) You have to pull the rug out from under yourself. Only then can you live in the flow. In choosing to accept the unknowing that life presents, you’ll be able to accept the flow.
11) Wholeness is when the way of your being matches the truth of your being. And the truth is, you are a very good creation. Note to self: accept this truth as it is.
12) The opposite of more… is enough. Remember that.
13) In order for your “yes” to matter, your “no” has to matter, too.
14) Everything comes down to your capacity for presence. Your mind dwells in the past and the future. Work with it to focus on the present.
15) Most of us carry shame in our bodies, so we punish them. Integrating your mind and body helps you be present.
16) See yourself as doing God’s work. My takeaway: if you see yourself this way, see others as doing it, too.
17) We often hold onto other people’s stories of ourselves. Know your own story and tell it.
18) Electricity can only operate in a circuit. There has to be a giver and a receiver. Remember that.
19) You will know what you need to know when you need to know it.
20) Your experiences are yours and yours alone. My takeaway: rise to your own calling. Each and every one of us has a calling, a mission, and a purpose. Our challenge on this day and all days is to rise to that calling.
The final thought I will leave you with today is this: I would never have gone to this retreat had my brother Timothy not asked me for the time. I’m so glad he did.
I’ve Been Thinking
I’VE BEEN THINKING by Maria Shriver-Sunday, March 12, 2017
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about care. The word. The concept. The act of it.
Care was something that was front and center in our political discourse this week. The Republicans put forth their new healthcare proposal (a.k.a. Trumpcare) on Monday and spent the week debating it. Meanwhile, the Democrats (like my cousin Congressman Joe Kennedy III) took to the floor to fight for retaining the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
Care was also front and center of my mind on Wednesday, International Women’s Day. I got to thinking about all of the millions of women whose lives are devoted to caregiving — whether that’s because it’s their profession, or simply because it’s who they are and what they do.
I also thought about care on a personal level this week. I had a small surgery on Monday that made me dependent on the care of others. My children cared for me, first and foremost. Then there were the doctors and nurses who I didn’t even know, but who stepped up to care for me and care about me during my time of need.
All of this got me thinking about what care means to me in the most practical of terms. How do I define care? What do I care about personally, professionally and politically? How do I show that I care? How do I know someone cares about me, or will care for me? Can a political leader really make you feel cared for? Can your boss? Should he or she even have to care about you?
I think so. I think care is one of the most valuable and important principles for a healthy family and for a healthy country.
I think this is a good time for all of us to think about what care means to us. Many see care as soft, but it’s anything but. Care is a tough, muscular concept. It takes courage to care. It takes passion to stand up for someone or something that you believe in and care about.
This week, I had the chance to speak with a few Architects of Change who have put care front and center in their lives. I was so moved by their caring and so inspired by their work. Their caring has literally changed lives and they are worthy of being honored here in The Sunday Paper. (I hope you will also be touched by their stories, which you will find below.)
I myself am trying to build a more conscious, caring, compassionate and connected world, and I’m trying to do that while also not caring too much about what others think about me and how I live my life.
We must each balance our own idea of care with the world’s cold sharp judgments that stop the tender-hearted among us from stepping forward. Remember, those who judge you don’t know you, nor do they care about who you really are. If we want to find our passion and our purpose, we have to care about something deeply, and yet not care about what other people say about what we’re doing. So, care for yourself. Care for others. But don’t care too much what others think or say. Get that right and you can change the world.
My mother used to always say to me, “If you have your health, you have everything.” I would add that if you have someone who truly cares for you and about you, then you have something money can never buy. You have the whole wide world.