We’re Not Helpless: An Answer to Our Violent Times

love will always find a way

Not too long ago Pope Francis said indifference is one of the greatest threats to our global world.

I wrote about that a few months back and this week I have found myself coming face-to-face with it again as I’ve read and watched on TV as the violence erupts again and again in the Middle East.

Children dead. Lives cut short. The Malaysian plane crash. Hundreds of lives brutally upended. Lots of pointed fingers, lots of talk, little resolution.

[Read: Maria Shriver's: Let's Start A Prayer Summit Movement]

I don’t want to be indifferent to what is going on the world but, like many I suspect, one feels quite helpless.

What can I do for the families of the people who lost a loved one on that plane? What can I do about the violence in the Middle East? What can I do to show that I’m not indifferent? That I see, that I feel, that I care?

What do we do?

I believe we start close to home. Showing those in our families and our lives that they matter, that they are valued, seen and respected. We start in our communities reaching out to those who might be lonely or in pain.

[Read: Maria Shriver's 'We Have An Indifference Problem]

I have a ninety-one-year-old neighbor. I’ve never invited her for dinner. I’ve said hello in passing but the other day I went over to her house to talk to her. She told me about her life, the loss of her husband and her only daughter. She talked about her determination to continue living in her own home as long as possible. She told me most of her friends had died and that she was always open for companionship.

She’s coming to dinner on Monday.

[Watch: What Does This Gandhi Quote Mean to You?]

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling like I’m helpless. I know there is always something we all can do. I used to think that something always had to be big and grand or it didn’t matter.

I was wrong.

The opposite of indifference is caring. Is love. Start with caring and go from there.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Blogs]

My heart goes out to those who were touched by violence this week. The violence I saw on the news and all of the violence that happens every day that goes unreported. Reach out today to someone you care about. That’s the only way to best this indifference plague.

“Love will always find a way. Indifference will find an excuse.” #PassItForward

[Image via Pinterest]

How Will You Live a Life That Matters?

lifes work

The other day I was sitting at a friend’s house and I noticed the house across the street was being demolished.

For some reason I couldn’t take my eyes off of the scene.

As the man in the large bulldozing machine literally crushed the house I found myself thinking about the family that had once lived there. About the memories that had been made there. I found myself thinking about the fragility of life — how quickly it’s all over.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Essays]

Machines come in, driven by strangers, and whisk all of one place away — the materials and the memories. Then up goes a brand new house.  A brand new family moves in and it all starts over again.

It made me think about how much time I waste thinking about stupid things, about how much time I spend worrying about stuff that never happens.

When I went home that afternoon a friend sent me a plaque with a quote from the Dalai Lama. It says: there are only two days we can’t worry about: yesterday and tomorrow.

[Read: 10 Tips to Try for Tech-Free Fun This Summer]

Today is the day to live, to love, to believe.

Before we all know it, it will be over.

So this summer I’m choosing to live one day at a time. I’m choosing to spend less time fretting and worrying. I’m choosing to start and end each day in gratitude.

[Read: 6 Tips to Feel Healthy Inside and Out]

For the love in my life: the friends and family who I make memories with.

More and more I get it that we are all just passing through. I’ve been thinking about how I can make my time here matter. To me, to those I love, to those who love me.

[Read: How to Bust The 'Good Enough' Myth]

The only home no bulldozer can crush is the one we all build inside of ourselves.

That’s our life’s work.

That’s my summer work. Actually it’s my life’s work: To live a life that matters.

Pass it forward.

Happy 4th Of July! Time to Take a Break

I’ve been thinking about taking a break.
Summer is officially here, and it’s our nation’s birthday.  Hopefully that means you’re getting a little time off to celebrate and spend time with loved ones.
This holiday weekend I am planning to pause, hang out with family and friends and enjoy some sunshine!
I hope you do the same. I hope you can take a break from the grind, and do a little relaxing. As I have said before, it’s important to pause now and again.
Wishing you a wonderful Independence Day.
With love,
Image Credit: 23Frog on etsy

Go USA! Let’s Keep Our Patriotism Alive All Year Round

american flag

The country has America fever and I, for one, love it.

My kids invite friends over to watch the United States play in the World Cup and they cheer and cheer.

My youngest son has been walking around in a Team USA jersey we bought last week.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking Essays]


Cities across the country are hosting massive watch parties for the matches. According to the Nielsen ratings, more than 25 million people tuned into to the U.S.’s game against Portugal— making it the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

With the Fourth of July just days away, stores are filled with red, white and blue American-themed decorations to celebrate our Independence Day.

Patriotism is hot.

And it should be.

[Watch: #InspireHerMind: Verizon's Viral Ad Has an Important Message For All of Us]

We live in the greatest country on earth.

I know the news talks a lot about what divides us, but everywhere I look these days we seem to celebrating who we are together.

I hope this patriotic fever continues past the World Cup and the Fourth of July.

[Read: We all Need to Unplug: Here's Why]

We are blessed here.

Americans are generous people, hopeful people, fair and hard-working people.

On this day, and every day, I’m proud to be an American and even prouder when I see the patriotism on display from my fellow countrymen and women. Go Team USA! Go America! God bless the land of the free and the brave.

Tell me your plans for the Fourth in the comments!

[Image via Etsy]

Are You Ready to Make a Difference?


Summer is here and I don’t know about you, but my schedule is heating up. Today I am speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas, TX.

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending the White House Summit on Working Families. I’m honored to be attending. It’s exciting that it’s happening and I’m hopeful that some creative, bold ideas will come out of it.

At both events I’ll be talking about the findings of The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. I’m sharing my ideas for what I can do, you can do, cities and our government can DO about the staggering fact that 1 in 3 working women in America are living on the brink of poverty.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Essays]

We’ve created a call to action, the City-Festo, with our friends and colleagues at Tipping Point, Lift, Kiva, Best Buddies, the Alzheimer’s Association and more. It has 10 steps for cities to improve their communities, but it provides resources for citizens too.  I’m sharing it with the Mayors of America today, and I wanted to share it with the M Team too.

I think it’s helpful, and I think it’s important. I think it’s perfect for our Architects of Change community. Being an Architect of Change means that when you see a problem, you do something to try and solve it instead of waiting for others to fix it for you.

[Check out Tips for Transformation & Inspiration]

One of the most important things we can all do is to be informed. Get The Shriver Report. Read it. Watch the companion documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. Discuss the issues. And then, if you’re in a position to make a difference, support organizations like the Woman’s Nation Lending Team at Kiva. If you’re in need of help yourself, visit LIFT, TippingPoint.org (if you’re in California’s Bay Area) or WeConnect, the program I established as California First Lady, to find resources and a hand up.

[Read the City-Festo]

I think fixing the issues facing our country today is up to us. I hope YOU will read the full City-Festo at ShriverReport.org. And I hope YOU will read our other tips, 10 Things You Can Do to Power A Woman’s Nation.

Then, I hope YOU will join me in trying to make a difference. It’s all about #ThingsThatMoveYouForward. Pass it on.

Have a great week.

[Image via Pinterest]

It’s Time To Celebrate Fatherhood

dove father's day

I love this ad produced by Dove that celebrates fathers. It’s real, honest and touching. I like that it ends by asking a question of all of us: Isn’t it time we celebrate fathers?

The answer is, of course, yes. And not just on Father’s Day.

But how do we get there?

One of the ways we can start is for men themselves to talk openly about the importance of the role of fatherhood in their own lives.

[Read: A Father's Day Essay: How I'm Raising Good Men by David Robinson]

Studies show men care deeply about what other men think. Men see themselves as providers and protectors. They get public credit from men and from women for being good at those roles. But what credit do men get at work and in the world for being good fathers?

If other men make fun of men who take paternity leave, we can’t get to a place where fatherhood is celebrated. If men make fun of guys who choose to be stay-at-home dads, it’s hard for other men to even consider it. If men want to leave work early to go to a child’s game, we can’t think they aren’t as motivated as others.

[Watch: Disney Star David Henrie's 'Catch' trailer: A Short Film on Fatherhood]

And we women, we too have to celebrate the way men parent — even if it’s happens to be different from the way we do.

Fatherhood needs to be cool.

It needs to be celebrated as a big success just like the fancy car and the big house.

Being a great father is a huge triumph. Not just for the man, but the people he is fathering. The partner he’s supporting. The example he’s setting.

[Watch: Maria Shriver & Rob Lowe Discuss Fatherhood & New Book]

So men: Start celebrating your role as fathers. Start supporting other men as they try to juggle their multiple roles as providers and parents.

Lets all talk to our sons and our daughters about the importance of both parents — male and female — in a child’s life. Let’s celebrate good parents. Let’s teach our kids that being one is as — if not more — important than any corner office they ever sit in.

[Read: 4 Lessons My Father Taught Me Before He Died at 58]

Today I want to celebrate the fathers in my own family and in my village of friends, and in my M Team. There are so many, and I celebrate the time they put into that role. 

Happy Father’s Day.

Tell me: How are you celebrating?

Will You Join Me on the M Team?


I’ve been thinking about the MariaShriver.com community a lot lately.

What it means to me, who’s a part of it, how we interact and and how we can grow together.

MariaShriver.com is a community of women and men who believe in the power of inspiration. The power of storytelling.

[Read: All of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Blogs]

We come from all walks of life, from different socioeconomic situations, but we have this in common: We are writers and readers. We are communicators and connectors. We want to move the ball forward in our own lives. In our homes, in our relationships, in our communities, in our businesses, in our government.

We are about elevating each other and we do that by sharing our own personal stories or by sharing the stories of those who have ignited our lives.

[Read: An Excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's]

We are Architects of Change: individuals who see a problem and instead of waiting for others to solve it, challenge ourselves to come up with a solution.

We believe that each person has a story within them that can inspire another.

We believe these stories can ignite change and create impact.

[Read: Take Back Your Crayons: 4 Tips for Creative Entrepreneurs]

On this site you will find Things That Move You Forward: tips for transforming and inspiring your life; tools for leading a healthy life — mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. You will be moved by empowering tales from the front lines of the lives of millions who caretake or are living with Alzheimer’s. You will find practical takeaways to inspire you and share with your friends. We invite you to join this community of Architects of Change — or as one friend calls us, “The M Team.”

We invite you to join the M Team. Tell me your inspiring story and I’ll publish it on MariaShriver.com. Tell a friend and inspire them to become and Architect of Change.

Our mission is to be the go-to destination for Things That Move You Forward in your life. We hope you accept out invitation to join the M Team. We are stronger when we are together. Then #PassItForward.

Will you join?

[Image Credit: We Heart It]

Let’s Start a Prayer Summit Movement


Last week Pope Francis did an amazing thing. While touring the Holy Land, he invited warring Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to join him in a “prayer summit” at the Vatican June 6.

The invitation was news making. The nearly immediate acceptance of the offer by both leaders was hope making.

I am so interested in the idea of a prayer summit.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Blogs]

What it looks like. What it sounds like. What it means.

The definition of prayer, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.”

That’s a simple description for a varied act. Communicating with God means different things for almost everyone. For some it’s a private conversation with a higher power. For some it’s meditation or the goal of touching transcendence. For others it’s being in nature or a Holy place. What is “Holy” is even different for different people.

But at the base level, prayer is the search for a connection. Within ourselves, with one another, with a greater being.

[Read: 12 Inspiring Quotes from Maya Angelou]

The Zionists of Israel and the Arab Palestinians believe they worship fundamentally different Gods. And yet, their leaders will sit in the same room and pray. Together but separate.  That is awesome.

The idea of bringing people together to pause in prayer – especially people who see the world differently – is such a wonderful concept. Prayer is a personal act. And while many of us do it in a congregation, the action itself – the speaking or thinking of the words – is something you alone can do.

Having this time alone while being together to pray to your own God, no matter what or whom you believe in has ignited me this week. It’s an idea that is open to all faiths.

[Read: 5 Ways to Detox Your Negative Thoughts]

It’s such an inspiring notion.  Something we could all do.

What if we all did? What if we all had our own prayer summits on June 6 and sent out a huge amount of positive energy and hope for peace into the world? We could start a movement. We don’t have to be with the Pope, or even do it at the same moment. We don’t even have to believe in the same faiths. Sometimes the biggest summit you can have is one within yourself.

If we could each find someone that we see things differently from and find a common ground, that would make an impact. That would make a change.

On June 6 I’ll be participating in a personal prayer summit. Will you join me?

[Image credit: AFP Photo/Taufiq Khalil]

Graduation: Some Reflection and Advice


Inspiration is in the air.

It’s graduation season, and millions of young adults (and not-so-young adults) are ending one journey with bright hopes of embarking on another.

Graduation brings about reflection, and not just because most of us are forced to sit through a speech about it, whether as graduates or their guests.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' Essays]

I’ve had the honor of being asked to deliver that speech a few times in my life, and it’s always meant a lot to me. It’s always terrified me too.

My speech at my daughter Katherine’s graduation from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications has been resurfacing lately. It was featured on NPR’s impressive-sounding, “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever,” list. It also made Time’s “12 Inspiring Graduation Speeches by Amazing Women.”

That’s quite an honor.

[Watch: A New #BringBackOurGirls Question: What's So Scary About Smart Girls?]

What I said in 2012 still rings true to me: Pausing today, and throughout your entire life, allows you to take a breath, it allows to take a beat. It allows you to be in the moment. As everybody else is rushing around like lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite. Dare to trust in the Power of the Pause.

I believe in that message. It isn’t the only one I’ve delivered though. I gave the commencement address at my nephew’s High School, which turned into my “Just Who Will You Be?” book. Another speech I gave at a mother-daughter luncheon for my good friend Ally’s senior class became “And One More Thing Before You Go…” I also addressed the 1998 graduating class of Holy Cross College, which turned into the book “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known — Before I Went Out into the Real World.”

I dug up a C-Span video of it… my how technology has changed!

[Read: 6 Topics to Talk About with Your Adult Kids Now, Part 1]

Now, Katherine,  whose graduation I celebrated just two years ago, released a book, “I Just Graduated … Now What?” that speaks to her generation. I’ve found it also speaks to me.

During this season of change, when everyone’s asking you “What’s next?,” I hope one (or all!) of these speeches and books can help to inspire you.

And if you’re still looking for graduation gifts…I’ve got a few book ideas for you. See above. ;)

Do You Know What Inspires Creativity?


My daughter, Christina, who is a creative artist and looks at the world through a creative lens turned me on to this video from Italian coffee company, illy, called “Inspiring Creativity.”

I think it’s inspiring, and important.

Creativity is the spice of life. Creativity is what makes the world an interesting place. There are so many ways to be creative. So many outlets for expression. The world may be getting smaller in many ways, but our opportunities for creativity are ever-growing.

[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking's']

This video got me thinking: Creativity is different for everyone. What does the word mean to you? How do you express it? What INSPIRES it?

“Creativity is your spirit, is your heart,” director Lee Daniels says in the video.

For James Franco it’s found through acting. “I think movies and performance and characters are very good ways just looking at who we are and examining our lives,” he shares in the project.

[Read: Transformation Requires a Healthy Dose of Crazy]

For me, creativity comes through my writing and creative projects like The Shriver Report. Christina expresses herself through art and design.

We all have art inside of us. And it all deserves to be shared.

I like to say: Tell your story. Pass it on.  Those aren’t just words, it’s a call to action. Your story can live in many things: movies, song, words, painting, food, dancing, fashion. Express yourself.

[Read: Do You Know What You Were Born To Do?]

I hope you watch this video and get inspired. I hope it sparks your creativity, which sparks your curiosity, which leads to a spark that sets your hair on fire (not literally).

“Most of us do not see the root of the word ‘Question’ is the word ‘Quest,’” says TED founder, Richard Saul Wurman.

I’m continually on a quest to create. In my work, in my home, in my community and the world. Join me.

Tell me, how do you express yourself? What inspires your creativity?

[Courtesy of Liberatum]