What Would You Wait For?

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At dinner the other night my daughter said to me, “You know how you tell me I have to work my way up? No one does that anymore. Our generation isn’t waiting. We just go for it and why not? Everywhere we look people our age are making millions starting their own businesses, doing their own thing. We are in a hurry.”

I waited until she was finished. “Ok,” I said, “where are you rushing to, might I ask?”

She looked at me said, “I don’t know, but I do know that I’m not going to do what you did.”

[10 Teens Share 10 Tips for Ending Bullying and Self-Hate]

I get it. Everyone everywhere is in a rush. A rush to come up with the next Facebook, Uber or Google. In a rush to post, tweet, Instagram and Snapchat. In a rush to know it first, see it first, post it first. Everyone seems to have FOMO. Yes, FOMO: Fear of missing out.

No one — and I mean no one — wants to wait for anything or anyone. Need a car? Uber. Need food? Postmates. Need an answer? Google. Need a date? Swipe right.

You know the list goes on and on. So when I say to my kids, “Wait. Wait. It will happen, it will come, you will see.” They look at me like I’m from Mars.

What I do know is there is power in waiting. I know this because I used to be in a hurry. I grew up in a family that believed waiting was a waste of time. I went into a profession that valued and rewarded speed. I too was in a hurry, so much so that I over-scheduled myself, my kids, my life.

[The 1 Key to Improving Your Long-Term Memory]

When you are over-scheduled and rushing you are impatient, insensitive and invisible to your own life. You don’t have time for anything or anyone and nor do those around you.

Everyone I know is busy. Their to do lists are jammed packed. They are on e mail. They’re on the phone. They are posting. They are rushing from thing to thing, place to place, event to event. Barely able to take a beat, breath, much less stop to think, reflect, imagine or dream.

A while ago I was talking with a wise friend and I was saying “I’m in such a hurry to get this, do that.” And she said “…Where are you rushing to? Where are you in such a hurry to get to?”

That stopped me. Where, in fact, was I rushing to? What was I in such a hurry to do?

She went on, “Maria, you must learn to wait.”

Wait? Why? For what?

[5 Ways to Get Your Groove Back and Make a Fresh Start]

“You must learn that there is power in waiting. Waiting requires strength. Waiting requires maturity. Waiting requires self-respect and self-restraint. Sometimes waiting is the only thing we can do to truly see ourselves clearly. Sometimes the best thing we can do is wait. Wait to see. Wait to give an opinion. Wait to make up our minds. Wait to see what we really need. Sometimes waiting is the most important thing we can do.

And so lately, I’ve been doing a lot of waiting. And I’ve discovered some amazing things. As I’ve been letting my kids know that I’m happy to wait, it has reduced their anxiety. Waiting to give my opinion about something has allowed me to make better decisions and say smarter things. Waiting has enabled me to see, to feel to experience more of my life. Waiting has allowed me to discover that I admire people who have patience. I respect people who have the courage to take time out to reflect, stop and wait until they are certain.

Waiting has allowed me to be kinder to myself. It has allowed me to be kinder to others, which has, in turn, made me feel better about my own life. In waiting I’ve learned that waiting is anything but passive, it’s very deliberate, very intentional.

[Watch: One Man Making a Difference Through his Pizza Parlor]

In waiting I’ve learned that I have friends who will wait with me. I’ve learned that I am blessed by people who will wait for me to figure it out. Who will wait for me to unfold. Who will wait until I finish doing what I’m doing no matter how small it is. That has been a huge reveal to me and for me.

We wait for those we love. Starting with ourselves.

Wait for yourself to be ready.
Wait for yourself to be clear.
Wait for yourself to know.
And wait to see who will wait with you.

It will reveal a lot to you about who you are, what you value and who values you. Sometimes waiting is the most revealing thing we can do.

[Read more ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay’s from Maria]

There is a great Hopi poem that I have framed in my office. It says: “We are the ones we have been waiting for!”

In waiting you will more than likely discover you are the one you have been waiting for. From there you can create a tribe. Build a life. Find a passion. And then when the moment is right, go for it.

So the next time someone pushes you to say something or decide something and you don’t feel ready, Have the courage to say, “I’m waiting.” #PassItForward


[Image via imcreative.com]

Motherhood: Why Do We Still Feel Like It’s Not Enough?

Dedication Of The Rose Kennedy Greenway

This past week was the anniversary of my mother’s passing.

On that day I posted a comment regarding her and I said, “If you have your mom, hug her tight. Call her. Tell her you love her. If necessary, make peace with her. Thank her, honor her, laugh with her. No moment like now.”

I said that there isn’t a moment where I don’t miss my mother.

[Watch ‘The Gift My Mother Gave Me’ from Maria]

I was so moved (and I said so), and further humbled and awed by the comments that flooded into my social community. Individuals by the thousands started posting about their own mothers. How much they missed them if they were gone. How much they admired them, loved them, were shaped by them, were who they were because of them. The stories, pictures and comments really made me smile, tear up, shake my head in understanding, connect, empathize and step back and think.

And this is what I thought: Wow isn’t it interesting that women still doubt the importance of motherhood? Still think that they aren’t interesting enough at a dinner (or wherever) if they are “just a mother.” We all — and I include myself here — think we have to do something else besides being a mother to matter in the world.

Yes, I know the vast majority of mothers work outside the home because they have to, but I still feel, even in 2015, those of us who are mothers still don’t lead with that role when we are out and about. We still feel in many ways as if we are not doing enough by simply being a mother, so we supplement with things and jobs that we think will make us more interesting, will make us feel more worthy, worthwhile interesting, valuable.

I thought a lot about that as I read through all the comments. People rarely mentioned what their mothers did out in the big wide world. Over and over they mentioned their mother’s laughter, their untiring spirit, their strength, their humor, their support, their love.

[6 Tips for Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in a Self-Absorbed World]

Once again — it is love that makes people feel worthy. It is love that gives people their confidence. It is the love that people miss when their mothers are gone. It is the love they remember.

Motherhood is the most powerful job in the world. Those aren’t just words, they are the truth. Talk to any person — really talk to them, intimately, quietly, patiently — and you will hear about their mother. The good they did, and yes the neglect they felt will many times come out too. But what struck me this week was all the good being shared. All the love, all the ‘I owe her’, all the pain at the loss of ones mother.mariaeunice

My entire life I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to survive if something happened to my mother. I really was afraid that I wouldn’t be ok if she weren’t here. And on many a day since she has gone I’ve wondered whether I was, in fact, “ok.” Or whether I would ever be “ok” again. It has been hard for me. She left a void. But for one day last week, I felt like a part of a tribe, a group, a community of others who loved their mothers and who miss them deeply.

[Watch clips from the 30 for 30 “Brave In the Attempt” on Eunice Kennedy Shriver]

I loved reading the stories and the comments. They made me feel full. They made me remember what my mother said to me: “It’s fine for you to go out and become a journalist, get married, do well. But never, for one minute, forget that being a mother will be your greatest achievement and your greatest legacy. Never think that role is beneath you. Never doubt its importance. You are shaping an individual and that individual will go out and touch another individual.” And so on and so forth.

I’m blessed to be a mother. I was blessed by my mother, and her mother, and I have been supported and loved by so many mothers (some of whom never had biological children, but who still know how to mother in a beautiful way) since I lost my own.

Motherhood: it’s 24 hours a day on the frontlines of humanity. The most powerful, awe-inspiring, legacy-creating, impact-job on the planet. It’s better than an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony, a best-selling whatever and money in the bank. Period. End of story.

[Read more of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essays here]

If you don’t believe me, go read the comments on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Mothers are what make countries and people great. I know fathers do too, but this week I’m talking about mothers and honoring the legacy of mine. #PassItForward

What I’ve Learned to Deserve

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Growing up, my parents never spoke to me about what we, I, or anyone “deserved.” They spoke to me a lot about expectations. They were very clear with what they expected of me and from me. They expected me to work hard, they expected me to help others — especially those struggling on the margins. They expected me to be tough, hard-working, well-read, smart.

They sent me to work in impoverished parts of the world so I would “realize how lucky I was and not complain.” They expected me to go to church every week. To be honest. To help my brothers, my cousins, my community. They expected me to hold my head up and to walk forward no matter what.

They expected me to stand up when they walked into the room; something I did until their dying days. And to not disrespect them. The list of their expectations goes on and on.

[Watch the First Clips of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver 30 for 30 “Brave in the Attempt”]

Somewhere along the line their expectations slowly became my own, but over time another word crept into my life. Slowly at first, even timidly, I would say. For me, the word felt foreign, maybe even embarrassing.

It was “deserve.”

To think you “deserve something” when others have so little felt arrogant. As in, “Who do you think you are?”

But I’ve come to understand that there is power in ‘deserve.’ What you deserve can have nothing to do with material possessions and everything to do with how you see yourself and how you want to be treated — by yourself and others. I’ve come to understand that expectations can be directly tied to ‘deserve’ and I’ve come to understand that if you lead with your ‘deserve’ other things just naturally fall away. Including some expectations.

For example: If you are a hard worker, you deserve to be appreciated and respected. By yourself and those you work with. That’s not asking too much. If you work a lot you deserve to rest. My parents wouldn’t like me saying that, but it’s true. Resting your body and your mind isn’t being lazy, it’s smart. You and your body deserve to rest so you can be healthy, emotionally and physically.

[Resilience: The Greatest Gift a Parent Can Give Their Children]

You deserve to be treated kindly by your friends, family and significant others. As I say to my kids over and over: your siblings deserve your respect. And as I say to their friends: so do I. So stand up when I come in the room, look me in the eye when you talk to me and don’t you dare text at the dinner table. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that if we don’t treat ourselves as if we deserve these things it’s hard for others to see that they’re important to us.

So what do you deserve? That’s up to you. I can only answer with what I have come to believe I deserve.

I deserve to be happy. Much of that is in my control, but just knowing that I deserve it has helped me become happier. I deserve to be treated kindly and respectfully. And that starts with how I treat me.

I deserve to rest or take breaks. That’s why I’m going to Cape Cod for a few days. I’m actually on the plane writing so I don’t have to do it while I’m there. I’m not yet at the place where I can say I deserve a really long vacation, but I’m working towards that ‘deserve.’

Yes, I am and I’m no longer embarrassed to admit it: I deserve to live in a safe place. I deserve to have my boundaries respected. I deserve to love and be loved. I deserve the right to dream again. Yes I do. Dreams are not just for twenty-something’s, dreams are for us all at any age. I deserve to grieve in the manner that works for me. If that’s longer than others, so be it. I deserve to have people around me who lift me up, want the best for me, tell me the truth. I deserve to take time for myself. If that’s to read, rest, go out to lunch with friends, so be it.

[Feeding Your Brain: 6 Foods to Find and Eat]

I deserve to laugh as much as I want. I deserve forgiveness. We all make mistakes, do dumb things and so often the hardest person to forgive is one’s self. We often forgive others quicker than we forgive ourselves. Start with yourself and work out from there, and once again, do it in your time. You deserve that.

I deserve to not know. That’s right, I deserve to be unsure or uncertain of how I feel about something or someone. Until I know. I deserve to express my opinions, and I don’t deserve (nor, by the way, does anyone else) deserve to be attacked for what they say, for who they are, for what they believe. I deserve the right to change my beliefs once I’ve seen they hurt me or hold me down, or when I discover a better way.

The list can go on and it can grow and change. In fact I expect it to. I hope it will.

[12 Ways to Remove the Roadblocks to Loving Yourself]

I write all this because I want you to think about your own ‘deserve’. I hope you will allow space in your life and your mind to have this conversation with yourself way earlier than I had it with myself. It’s not selfish or arrogant. It’s kind and loving of yourself and to yourself.

This thing called life is a magical journey. I’ve found it rarely makes sense. It’s filled with uncertainty, joy, struggle, surprises and disappointments and rewards. It’s rarely fair. Rarely, if ever, clean and neat. You deserve to design it the way it works for you and then redesign it if you need to.

[Read more of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ Essays]

That’s what I have come to expect. That’s what I’ve learned I deserve.

Now go have a great day. You deserve it!! #PassItForward


[Image via Pixabay]

Break Your Mirrors! A Thank You

Special Olympics

“Break your mirrors!! Yes, Indeed — shatter the glass! In our society that is so self-absorbed, Begin to look less at yourself and more at each other! Learn more about the face of your neighbor, and less about your own.”

That’s a quote from one of my Dad’s speeches at Yale University and it’s the mission of the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute.

I mention this because all this week I have been deeply struck by all the thousands of people who broke their mirrors and came out to support the Special Olympics International World Games.

They came as volunteers. They worked in health clinics. They cheered in stands. They acted as translators and coaches, guides, mentors. They played on Unified Sports teams. They brought their children to witness athletic prowess, and more importantly, character superstars.

I was blown away day in and day out.

Moved to tears, humbled, left speechless on so many occasions.

I found myself wondering everyday: Who are these people??? Where are they when they are not here??? Who raised them?? How did they get so kind ,so caring, so selfless??

In the era of the selfie, all week long I meet selfless people. People who took hard-earned vacation time to volunteer. People who closed their own business to be here.

I feel so blessed that I got to witness this kind of selfless humanity. I feel so blessed that my kids got to see it as well. It had a great impact.

As the games come to a close I feel a swell of emotion. I’m so proud and so grateful to all those who volunteered. I’m so humbled by the athletes and their families.

Thank you all for showing me love in action.

To the companies who stepped up: Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Mattel, Bank of America,Toyota, Kaiser Permanente, ESPN, New Balance, USC and UCLA: all my gratitude. And thank you to my friends who gave so generously, you’re truly the Angels of LA.

To my parents: thank you for teaching me about service and for introducing me to people who seek a better world and work hard to make it so.

And to all the people I hugged, cried with, cheered with: Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you for restoring my belief in the City of Angels and for showing me that differences are to be celebrated not hidden. May the positive ripple effect of these past 9 days reach out from the hearts and souls that participated in these World Games and hopefully touch many more hearts and souls in towns and homes all over this great country and this world. #PassItForward


[Images via Special Olympics LA 2015 World Games Flickr]

Are You Brave?

Special Olympics Richard Corman

Are you brave?

Growing up I would hear that a lot, “Do this.” “Try that.” “Be brave.”

I usually associated being brave with some athletic adventure. Ski down the black run. Jump the highest fence. Volunteer in a far away country. Tough it out. Run for office. Serve your country. Risk your comfort, your security. That’s what bravery looked like.

For me, being brave slowly evolved into: Do live TV. Move across the country. Get married. Have kids. Put yourself out there. Try. Be brave.

I knew my bravery wasn’t the same as someone who risked their life fighting for their country, or running for the highest office in the land. To me, those were really brave people, but slowly, over time, I’ve come to realize that bravery is all around me. It shows up in people everyday.

[Watch Maria Shriver’s sit-down with Robin Roberts for ‘Good Morning America’]

As the Special Olympic World Games opens here in Los Angeles, I’ve been reflecting on bravery.

I think of the athletes who have come from little villages, who don’t speak a word of English and yet they come here to the U.S. to compete in front of thousands. That’s brave.

I think of the volunteers who take their vacation time to volunteer and help the Games go on. It’s not nice or sweet, it’s brave.

I think of the families who have a special needs child. How they care for them 24/7. That’s brave.

I think of my friend Eddie Barbanell, who is intellectually disabled. I’ve watched him stand up and speak about his disability, about his loneliness, his pain and his joy. That’s brave.

[Do You Want to Make an Impact in the World? 10 Ways You Can ‘Change The Game’]

And I think of my mother who started the Special Olympics. Who stood up, said she would change the world for people with ID. Who walked into the President’s office and demanded change. That’s brave.

Bravery is all around us. Here in our Architect of Change community I read stories of incredible bravery. Of people starting over. Of people who risk everything to live in their own personal truth. Wow. So Brave.

Today and this week I’d like to celebrate the bravery that is all around us and in us. I’d love to invite you to watch the 30 for 30 film I did about my mother called “Brave in the Attempt.” Those four words come from the Special Olympic athlete’s oath, but they also describe everyone in the movement and they describe my mother, who got up every day, put on her big-girl pants, used her strong female voice, stood her ground, and got s+++ done. She was a brave woman.

[Watch clips of the ESPN 30 for 30 “Brave in the Attempt’]

And I’ll bet you also know someone really brave. Share their story with me. #PassItForward


[Image by Richard Corman for the Special Olympics]

What This Week Taught Me

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There were so many images and stories this week that made me pause, think, smile, shake my head and reflect on life.

What struck you? What elicited emotion? What did this week teach you?

My heart broke for the families in ChattanoogaIt reminded me once again how fragile life is. You never know what’s coming next, so reach out and tell the people you care about that they matter today.

Caitlyn Jenner’s speech at the ESPY’s made me think about the idea of courage and how difficult it is for so many to figure out who they are and their life’s purpose. While many applauded her speech, there was still so much hate that filled the Internet in response, which tells me acceptance for those who chose a different path is still threatening to many.

[What Do You Really Want? 1 Simple Way to Find the Right Answer]

Why is that and how can each of us move the needle from hate to love?

I was struck by the image of President Obama going into a federal prison to meet prisoners and get a sense of life behind bars. He is the first Commander in Chief to do that and I found myself moved by his comments that we all make mistakes but too many don’t have the family or community support to help us get back on track. Family, support, guidance, how does one navigate life without it? That’s really hard to do.

All of these images and stories reminded me how blessed I am and how difficult it is for so many: Financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually. They made me check in with myself.

Do I tell those I love that I do indeed love them? Do I support and comfort my circle? Am I there when someone makes a mistake (or I do) to offer guidance, reassurance, to listen? Do I accept and let others pursue their life’s journeys even though it might not be comfortable to me or for me? Have I ventured outside my comfort zone to see, meet and find out how others live so that I may be more informed and reflective?

[Three Things I Wish I Knew at 20]

It’s not just people behind bars that feel as though they live in prison. Any one of us right now could feel trapped, forsaken, invisible, unaccepted.

And so on this Sunday my prayers are with the families of the slain American service members. My heart is with all those who struggle with their identity, sexuality, purpose. I am pushing my mind to be more open because, when I hear Donald Trump, I know I have to work harder to understand the political divide in our country.

It’s easy to shake your head and close your mind. It’s harder to shut your mouth, listen and try to understand. Understand why what he is saying infuriates so many and yet cause so many others to say “That’s my guy.” That tells me that whoever wins the election next year has to be open in their mind and their heart. They have to be inclusive in their speech, because we have a long way to go before we see eye to eye.

[Read more of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ Essays]

So on this day I’m thinking a lot about how to understand: Myself, others and the world around me.

What about you? What struck you? What is your intention for this week? Is it to turn off and go inward? Or is it the opposite? Tell me, I want to know. And, as always, take some positivity and #PassItForward.


[Image via Unsplash]

Change Is All Around Us

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I’ve been thinking a lot about how fast everything seems to be changing these days and what impact that has on our minds and our hearts and how we see our world and The world.

Just this week alone I was struck by all different images of women.

For the very first time we saw a women’s sports team be celebrated with their very own ticker tape parade in New York City. When I was growing up that was reserved for Presidents or men who went to the moon. Here were really strong, resilient, heroic women being feted by a city and a nation. The women went on to appear onstage as part of Taylor Swift’s, another M-Powered woman, record-breaking world tour. Swift had the World Cup champs walk out on stage to thunderous applause — they were treated like rock stars. (Swift, herself, pulled an M-Powered move just a few weeks back when she penned a open letter to Apple music leaders forcing them to change a policy that didn’t pay artists for their music.) Bam!

[You CAN Get Happier, Maria Shriver Reports for Today]

No sooner had that image been digested by the world than it was replaced by Serena Williams powering her way to another international tennis championship, the “Serena Slam” as it’s now being called. No matter who you are you had to be awed by her eye-popping strength, her talent and sheer dominance of her sport. Oh yeah!

And then there was, and is, Hilary Clinton, who continues her march on the Presidential campaign trail. I continue to listen in amazement as young women I talk to more or less think that it’s normal or “expected” for a woman to run for President. While folks my age can’t believe it’s actually happening. I feel like I’m continually shaking my head.

Change is everywhere.

As a friend of mine recently said to me, “Maria it’s like the Wild West out there.”

Marriage is being redefined, so is gender. Institutions are crumbling. Countries are defaulting. Even the Popepope is in on the change, saying you don’t have to believe in God to be spiritual and opening the door to millions who want to see themselves as good, spiritual people but not be tied to a church practice (much less church donations). Whoa what?

[7 Novels to Read this Summer]

And people, all that is just in the last month.

So, buckle your seat belts and get your M-Powered hats on because we are all going to need it. Now, more than ever, it feels to me that one’s own core beliefs, one’s own core strengths, one’s own center must be strong, because if not change will bounce you around every day and you will be left not knowing what you think, what you believe, what’s ok with you and to you.

The world is asking us to change in thought, word and deed. To be comfortable in our own unknowing. That is, I believe, something each of us must face and figure out for ourselves.

How do you navigate change without changing your core?

How do you start over? Whether it’s in a job, a city or a new relationship, without throwing everything out? How can you be open without losing yourself? Open to new beliefs, new words, new thoughts. Open to change.

[Keeping Anxiety At Bay: 8 Home Remedies to Try]

Not too long ago I wrote about how my cousin asked me to be her change consultant as she was preparing to sell her dream home and embrace a new life in a new stateIt turns out she didn’t really need me. She put her house on the market, sold it in record time, packed her stuff, planned her son’s wedding and announced how excited she is about starting over. Turns out she is going to need to be my change consultant. Because as I look ahead to an empty nest, a new decade of life and a slew of other changes, I too want to be excited and hopeful. I want to embrace the Wild West. Ride the wave of change and be open to the joy of starting over.

So share with me your stories of navigating change. Share with me your steps to successfully starting over in every area, no matter your age, tell me how you did it. How you went for it. How you stumbled, got back up changed and triumphed.

[Read more of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essays]

Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine. Let’s go. #PassItForward


[Image via CNN]

Happiness Is a Choice; Will You Choose It?

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I was shooting a story this week for the Today Show (it airs Monday) on the pursuit of happiness. I interviewed two young guys who set out across the country to talk to the happiest people in the United States. And what they found was pretty simple: They found people who believed in gratitude, who relied on community and who consciously decided to choose happiness.

Choose happiness…

Direct yourself — your mind — towards that goal. I like that because it means that happiness — positive well-being — is actually within our reach. It’s in our power.

[A Conversation with Jane Goodall: 4 Lessons on Aging, Communicating & the Environment]

That’s huge. Because that means every day we can get up and decide to look at the gloom and the doom or we can redirect our thoughts, shift our outlook, and look towards the good.

As one expert I interviewed (she airs Wednesday) said, “It’s like going to gym. You have to work for it.” Just like you can decide to pursue a healthy body, most of us can chose to pursue healthy thoughts.

On this holiday weekend when we celebrate our independence as a nation, I think celebrating the fact that we have the freedom to chose happiness is also a cause for celebration.

Now, I know millions struggle with depression. Other face sickness that can surely rob us of joy. Every day people confront grief and loss, but what these guys and others found is that very often people who go through really hard times, who face what seem like insurmountable issues, come out the other side and experience joy, and yes, happiness.

[9 Tips to Travel Healthily (& Comfortably) This Summer]

They choose it.

A friend of mine said to me not too long ago: “Look, everyone is fighting for happiness and you really do have to fight for it.”

Sure, some lucky people are just born happy. God bless them, but most of us have to fight for it. Most of us have to fight through stuff, and the good news is that most of us can get there if we decide it’s a priority worth fighting for.

Our forefathers and mothers fought for freedom in all areas of their lives and they believed that the pursuit of happiness was worth fighting for as well. I know that being grateful, being part of a community, giving back as much as you can, it all helps push us in the right direction.

But knowing that everyday I get to make my own happiness choice is a gift.

[Read more of Maria Shriver’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essays]

On this holiday, which I’m blessed to be spending with family and friends, I will choose happiness and will be, as always, so grateful to live in the greatest country on Earth. 

Thank you to all those who fought to make this land what it is and all that continue to do so. God bless America. Land of the free home of the brave. #PassItForward


[Image via Pixabay]

The Message of Love

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I sat down when I heard about the Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay marriage this week. It was that big of a deal, I needed to let it sink in.

I nodded in agreement when I read the President’s comments about the acts of courage of everyday people through the years that got us here. Regular people and families that searched their souls and had the courage to open their hearts and change old beliefs to let love in.

Two years ago one of my best friends married the love of his life in a beautiful ceremony. I was honored to stand up for them and with them to read a poem about love. Seeing their love for each other and the love of both of their families who put the love of two men first while pushing past old beliefs about gender and marriage, on display was one of the most moving moments of my life. That day I witnessed the domino effect of love.

[One Easy Way to Change Negative, Judgmental Thoughts]

To me, that’s what is exciting about this ruling: To see that change can happen if courageous people keep at it and keep pushing for what they believe in. This could only have happened because people stayed at it.

They kept trying. They kept pushing. Kept telling their story. And with time people’s hearts opened.

I think of those who fought for this day and didn’t live to see it. I think of those who fought in small towns who risked losing everything and everyone for love.

Last week the Pope summoned us all to changeI firmly believe that what our world truly needs is more love. It’s the best way to open your heart, to hear others, to allow for change.

[#AskKat: How Can I be Happier? 7 Tips from Katherine Schwarzengger]

And I feel the shift. In this week alone, the President sang “Amazing Grace,” health care was protected and provided for any and all who need it, anyone can get married, my kids are getting along (really!), even the White House was a rainbow! We have been living in a state of heartbreak, so let’s revel in this moment we are experiencing right now, we’re living history.

I have long envisioned a more conscious, caring, compassionate, loving society. I believe that it starts within each of us. Love starts within us and goes out from there. It can take you into the embrace of another. It can take you to the registrars office, to a church, to a shared home. It can even take you to the Supreme Court.

[Read more of Maria Shriver’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essays]

I am so happy that I got to witness this decision. That I got to witness people I love be able to proclaim their love to one another, to their families and to the loving God that I believe in.

I’m so proud to live in this country. I’m encouraged that change can happen. And I know that love is the best catalyst there is.

Amen. #PassItForward

What Is Up With Us as a Nation?

sargent shriver martin luther king

Today is Father’s Day. It’s also “The Longest Day,” the biggest day for those of us involved in the fight to wipe out Alzheimer’s. It’s called The Longest Day not only because it’s the actual longest day of the year, but once you or someone you know is diagnosed with this disease every day becomes an incredibly long one.

It’s the first time The Longest Day has coincided with Father’s Day, which is important to me as my dad died four years ago from Alzheimer’s. I can’t help but think about him on this day and about the disease that took him from us long before he died from it.

I know for millions today will be a joy-filled day. But I can’t stop thinking of all the families of those who lost their lives and their loved ones in the Charleston tragedy last week. Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Reverend Daniel Simmons Sr. Myra Thompson. DePayne Middleton Doctor. Susie Jackson. Ethel Lance. Tywanza Sanders. Cynthia Hurd. Fathers, mothers, future parents all taken in a split second.

Why? 

What is up with us as a nation?

When addressing the attack, our President, a father himself, spoke about the fact that he has had to make too many similar speeches. Other public figures offered their thoughts and prayers. Media outlets focused on the shooter. Who was he? What was he so mad about? Why did he do this? Families are left shocked. No one will fill the spot of the loved one they lost.

They were men and women at bible study. No doubt praying for our country and world’s collective family.

We need it.

Pope Francis released his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si,” this week saying, “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.” He wasn’t saying this in response to Charleston, he was saying this in response to all of us and they way we walk through the world in 2015.

The sentiment is 100 percent true. The words apply to Charleston just as much as they apply to climate change, ISIS, Syria, Yemen, Israel and Palestine, the list, sadly, goes on. But while I’m a big believer in prayer, especially collective prayer, I don’t think prayer and our thoughts are going to do it anymore. I think we all have to go back to our own drawing board, as mothers, as fathers, as children. We need to look inside ourselves and take stock. The families of the victims acknowledged their hurt and offered forgiveness. This is a lesson to all of us. Follow their lead. How are we behaving? Are we quick to rage? Are our conversations racist in any way? Do we have hate in our hearts? Do we need to offer forgiveness? Are we spewing hate or judgement that our kids are hearing?

Are we each sufficiently awake in our own lives to see what’s going on in our own homes? Are we surrounded by people who tell us the truth, or encourage us to look the other way even when it comes to our kids?

One can’t help but notice that all of these tragedies seem to share a pattern: The loner, quiet, kept to himself, but showed signs of what was to come. Facebook pages that might have caused concern. No one took the troubling comments seriously. There is a flag here for all of us. Look, listen, take stuff seriously, reach out.

Change starts with us. Peace starts within and goes out from there. So today, be kind to you and then take one step out into your circle and be kind to someone else. Keep moving that outwards. Try the effect of peace on just two others, other than you. We must change.

This latest national tragedy makes me sick to my stomach. As an American, as a mother, as a person.

This is about more than gun control, although I do believe we need stricter laws and better education. This is about mental health and parenting. This is about racism and how deep it runs in this country where so many have fought so hard to eradicate it. This is about our collective family.

Who are we? What values are we espousing? What are we teaching our kids?

Which brings me back to my father. Before Alzheimer’s robbed him of his mind, he used it to fight against racial intolerance. He used it to fight for social justice. He used it to spread the gospel.

He taught my brothers and I that people of different colored skin were not to be feared but embraced because they were the same as us. He taught us that people who were poor deserved our nation’s support and help and compassion. As a daily church goer, he filled our home with people of different faiths to stress understanding and acceptance. He ran for President because he believed we as a collective family could do better and should do better, not just for the few, but for all.

I will miss him on this Father’s Day. I’ll miss his voice, but I know it’s in my head.

On this Father’s Day may we all think about those who are no longer here, may we pay homage to those who lost their lives in the church at Charleston and may we celebrate and love the fathers still amongst us. Encourage them in their roles.

Happy Father’s Day to my father who I’m sure is in heaven. Happy Father’s Day to my brothers, to all my friends who take the role of fatherhood seriously and to the father of our blessed children. May we celebrate them all, encourage them all and support them all — and those who need fathering — on this day and all days. #PassItForward.


[Image via Sargent Shriver Peace Institute]