The Power of Thank You

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I’ve always been a fan of good old-fashioned manners. I was raised on them and I drilled them into my kids. Always say “Please” and “Thank you.” Stand up when an adult walks into the room. Hold the door for another person. No phones at the dinner table. Always introduce yourself — and if you have a friend with you, introduce them as well. Look someone in the eye when they talk to you. Thank the host and/or hostess when you go to a party at their home. Bring a gift when you go to someone’s house — a candle, some flowers, a little book, anything. And ALWAYS, always write a handwritten thank you note.

I’m a huge fan of handwritten thank you notes. In fact, I’ve never hired anyone to work with me who didn’t write a handwritten thank you after the initial interview.

Manners never go out of style and a thank you never gets old. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, the power of “Thank You.” Those two seemingly small words put together have huge power and huge impact.

So, today I want to say thank you.

[Thank You: A Simple Act of Gratitude]

Thank you to all those who came out for Move For Minds yesterday. It was an inspiring, moving, fun-filled day. And I believe, because of all of you, we are on our way to getting the answers we want as to why so many women are getting Alzheimer’s.

I also want to say thank you to all the Architects of Change who came out to share their wisdom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know that you are all super busy and you made time to be present and to share your voices and your knowledge.

Thank you too to Equinox Sports Club. You stepped up and in and you are an incredible partner in helping us to spread the knowledge that physical health and brain health are connected.

[Live in Gratitude and Thank Your Creator by Enjoying Your Life]

I want to say thank you as well to all of my friends and to the people I don’t know who supported me with donations so researchers can begin to study women’s brains and hopefully provide answers that will benefit all of us. Thank you.

And while I’m saying thank you I want to thank all of you who have signed up for the Sunday Paper, who read it, think about it, and so often tell me it means something to you. That means a lot to me as well.

The reality is, there are so many people we can all say thank you to on a daily basis. But too often our busy lives get in our way and we forget. I know I have. I rush through my day often forgetting to thank the very people who make my day in every way.

[Gratitude is True Power – Why to Choose it & How]

The people I’m blessed to work with. The people who help me at home. The other parents in my circle who help me in so many ways. My friends who pick up the phone to simply say “Hi.” My brothers and sisters-in-law, cousins, and of course my kids. The list goes on and on.

I notice in my own life when someone thanks me for something it touches me. It makes me smile, it makes me happy. I notice it. I notice every time my son’s girlfriend writes me a handwritten thank you note. It’s made, and always makes, a big impression. I notice when my kids’ friends thank me for doing something for them or when my daughter thanks me for taking her to the Beyonce concert with a box of doughnuts! Or when my other daughter sends me information about supplements I should be taking (but I’m not). When my son asks me about my day or another brings me a coffee even though I didn’t ask for one. Or when my brother or friends include me out on the town whether I’m a party of one or have multiple kids in tow. Seemingly small things that make a big difference: A note, a card, a coffee, a phone call, an invite, a thoughtful email…it all adds up.
Expressing gratitude, saying thank you, is so powerful. It means you see the other person, it means you noticed what they did or who they are. It says to another person “You matter and I want you to know that you do.” That’s big. It’s a sign of manners, but it’s also a sign of care.

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

So on this Sunday I am filled with gratitude. To God. To my family. To my friends: Thank you for being there for me. Yesterday and on all days.

And a special thank you to these four well-mannered, loving individuals. Thank you for the joy, the love and opportunity to be your mother. You make, and have made, my life joyful.Image-1

Thank you.
P.S.: Don’t forget to write those thank you notes I asked you to write!!

The Power of The Mind

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Growing up my mother always said to me, “If you have your health, you have everything.” She also was always on me to never focus on my looks and to always focus on my mind.

Well right now, my mind is intensely focused on answering this question: Why are women disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease? My mind searches for answers as to why a new brain develops Alzheimers every 66 seconds and 2/3 of those brains belong to women.

Why is it that no one can tell me why this is happening? Why is it that billions of dollars are being spent on cancer and AIDS (by the way, I’m glad they are) and Alzheimer’s gets a fraction of that? Why isn’t the disease receiving comparable federal funding when millions of people have it (we’re talking about 5.3 million Americans and counting) and millions and millions more people find themselves caregiving for it around the clock. In fact, I heard a sobering statistic recently, it would take 43 football stadiums to hold all of the women in America who currently have Alzheimer’s disease; if each of those people only had one caregiver (and they don’t), it would take 86 more football stadiums to hold all of them. 

[Are You In Denial? New Shriver Report Snapshot Shows Fear of Alzheimer’s Stops Action]

This Saturday, in partnership with Equinox Sports Clubs, we are hoping to get answers to some of these questions. Women across the country — and the men who love them — will come together in six cities at six Equinox Sports Clubs to exercise, raise money for gender-based brain research and get informed as to what we can each do to lead lives where our brains are as in shape as our bodies. We will Move for Minds

My experience is that when people — women AND men — put their minds to something, it gets done.

My mind is focused on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. It’s also focused on living a life that might delay its onset in my own body by exercising, meditating, sleeping and eating right. I have four kids and I want to live to see their kids. I want to know their names and their children’s names.

[5 Steps to Help a Common Caregiving Side Effect: Guilt]

It’s beyond mind-blowing to find yourself sitting across from a parent who has Alzheimer’s and has no idea who you are, or worse, who they are. Trust me I’ve been that child and I would do anything to spare someone else that experience.

I want to be healthy. In my mind and in my body. I don’t take my health for granted. My physical health OR my mental health. None of us should. So, while researchers today can’t tell us the ‘Why?’ when it comes to Alzheimer’s, they can share with us what we can do right now. Because there are things we can do. Things we can do together that will help our minds and our bodies. In fact, experts and doctors will be at each of our six Move for Minds locations doing just that on May 21. 

I hope you will focus your mind on this issue as well. I invite you to join me and so many other amazing thought leaders, researchers, innovators and Architects of Change this coming Saturday, May 21, to get educated, get empowered, get engaged in your own brain health and body healthIt’s the best way to make them last a lifetime.

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

The Power of Motherhood

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I say it that many times with the hope that it lands because today is definitely a happy day. I know our society says today is about flowers and cards and brunches, but for me this is really a day to pause, to take a deep breath and reflect on the enormity of motherhood.

That’s right, the ENORMITY of it because it is the biggest, most powerful, most all-encompassing job on the planet. 

I feel so blessed, so humbled and so honored to be a mother to Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher.

The truth is, I was scared to become a mother. I was afraid to mess up, afraid I wouldn’t know what to do, afraid I wouldn’t be naturally good at it. That I would make all kinds of mistakes. I was raised by a formidable mother. And I was sure I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, measure up to the standards she set. (I actually discussed this—and other mothering musings—with Katherine for Huffington Post’s “Talk to Me” series, you can watch it here.)

[4 Ways to Celebrate Mom On Mother’s Day After You’ve Lost Her]

But I’ve come to realize that we all can mother in our own ways. And I’ve come to trust myself in this job.

I know my children. And I know deep in their hearts that they know I love them deeply. They know they are, and have been, my priority, my joy, my greatest purpose. They know I’ve made mistakes. They call me on how my parenting styles in their opinions have changed from the oldest to the youngest and what they sometimes see as inconsistencies between the boys and the girls, but I know they love me through all of it (and sometimes they’ve actually had a point).

They have taught me so much. They have taught me to love gently. They have taught me patience, kindness and acceptance. They have reintroduced me to play. They have helped me keep my sense of humor and my spirit of adventure. I have traveled the world with them, but the most valuable trips have been the ones where they have taken me deep into their thoughts, their hopes, their fears, their dreams.

On this Mother’s Day I give thanks to them. I thank them for who they are and all they have taught me and brought into my life. 

[Architects of Change Share 23 Important Lessons They Learned From Their Mothers]

I give thanks to my own mother who is celebrating in heaven with her mother. My mother taught me so many things, but what I miss most about her is her company and her presence.

What I have learned about motherhood is that I didn’t need to be afraid of all the things I couldn’t do. The most important thing I could do and can do is to love. Love openly and love unconditionally. Nothing else really matters. Not the to-do lists. Not all the classes I organized. Not all activities. At the end of the day, it’s the time we spend loving one another that I think our kids remember the most. The fun dinners, the UNO games, the walks, the talks. That’s what I’ve learned.

So as I sit here on Mother’s Day and as I contemplate my impending empty nest, I’m grateful.  So deeply grateful to God for letting these four people come into my life. They are, without a doubt, the four most beautiful souls I know. I love them to the moon and back, everyday and all days.

On this Mother’s Day that’s what I’m thinking about.

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

The Power of Communication, Consideration & Respect

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Communication, consideration and respect.

Those are the words Kelly Ripa used when she returned to her job this week after being blindsided by changes at her show, “Live With Kelly and Michael.” 

I think a lot about those words, “communication, consideration and respect.” I talk to myself and my kids about them all the time.

[Read: What Would You Say to Your Younger Self?]

I was happy that Kelly took a few days to gather her thoughts before speaking out. I was glad she talked about the need for a larger conversation and the importance of those qualities. Whether it be in the workplace, the home or in our individual relationships.

This was a big week for women to communicate about consideration, respect and self-respect. Kelly Ripa did it her way. Beyonce did it with her powerful album “Lemonade.” Hillary Clinton sought to change the tone and promote words and values surrounding love and kindness. Patti Davis used her voice to communicate openly, clearly and respectfully about Alzheimer’s and her father, and change happened — after an open letter, Will Ferrell severed ties from a film that planned to use Ronald Reagan’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease as comedic material. And one of our Architects of Change, Carole Brody Fleet, took a bad personal situation and turned into into a survivor’s a storyThese four women, of different ages, different situations, highlighted respect and consideration through communication on a national stage, but there are countless women who do it every day in all ways out of the public eye. They stand up, they speak up for themselves and their families. The world is better off because they use their voices, yes for themselves, but really they use them for all of us. They move forward. That’s what feminine power looks like. It’s centered it’s certain, and it brings us all with it.

These women come from very different places but what they have in common is what we all have in common:

A desire for love and kindness.

A desire for respect.

And consideration for who we are as people. Not just so-called “workers,” but real life people. 

[The Ultimate Guide to a Long Life]

No one likes being blindsided. It leaves you in a place of doubt, fear, confusion. But once you gather yourself — and that takes different people different amounts of time — you have the chance to use your voice, not just for yourself but for others who feel the same way, have experienced the same circumstances and want the same things. 

Respect. Love. Kindness. Consideration.

Those words are the universal recipe for taking lemons and turning them into lemonade.

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


[Image via Pixabay]

The Power of the Internal

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Last week I wrote about the Power of the Individual and my spirited conversation with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I wrote about her pushing me to do more. What I left out was the moment her questioning came to a halt.

As I wrote last week, the Justice kept peppering me with questions as to what I was doing that was of significance with my time. With my voice. With my life.

I responded with all sorts of things but she kept at me until finally I told her the single most important thing I’m doing that left her speechless. In fact, after I said it I almost cringed waiting for the rebuttal, the attack, the come back.

[Poetry: Silence and Solitude Can Teach Us Valuable Lessons About Ourselves]

But to my shock there was nothing. She just looked at me dead in the eye. It felt like forever. It was probably seconds.

As she stared at me I realized she was actually taking in my answer. I realized that my answer had not only surprised me but stopped her as well. Realizing this I said, “Wow, you’re speechless, I can’t believe it. I actually said something that got your attention. You don’t know what to say.”

She smiled and squeezed my hand. I squeezed it back. Grateful was I to her that she had let my response land. Relieved was I that she not only let it land, but that she thought about it and by squeezing my hand reassured me.

“What are you doing with yourself that is significant?”

That was her question to me from the get-go. I ran down my professional list in rapid fire which just didn’t seem to impress her all that much. I detailed my conversation series, my website, my column that you’re reading and the community of Architects Of Change I’m trying to build online. I brought up my work at NBC News. I talked about my non-profit work with A Woman’s NationAnd my work to find a cure for Alzheimer’s — That one did make her pause for a split second, but she shot back at me quickly that I wasn’t getting the cure fast enough and I should put it all on a faster track.

[Why It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again]

Exasperated I looked at her and said, “You know, the truth is, what I’m really doing is building myself up from the inside out. I’m trying to make myself strong on the inside to be able to deal with life on the outside. That’s what I’m doing that’s significant.”

Bam! 

There. I said it. And now I’ve written it. 

It was, as I’ve said, met with silence. The kind of silence that makes you feel anxious. The kind of silence you want to fill up with something more. But this time I didn’t. I just let it sit. I let us both sit in silence. For me it was a significant moment. A significant move.

I have come to know, and to believe with all my heart, that making one’s self strong from the inside out is indeed significant. 

I wasn’t raised that way. Significance came from achievement, accomplishment. And I know that that’s what the Justice was looking for from me. I knew it because I could feel it.

[‘Happy’ Is The New Rich: 5 Intention Actions to Achieve Happiness]

I think the questions: “What are you doing?” “What do you do?” “What are you up to these days?” are everyone demanding from the other to state their significance. And then we decide whether to pay attention to that person based on their answer. But all the doing on the outside means nothing if your insides don’t feel centered strong calm. If you don’t feel significant on the inside in who you are as a human being. People don’t necessarily see the work that goes into getting that strong.

But it’s the most significant thing you can do.

Yes, I believe that. If you are strong on the inside you can be a better person, a better parent, a better professional. You can give back because you have given to you, and now you can give from a place of strength. As I’ve written many times, life can be a bumpy road and in order to stay on it and stay in it you have to be strong. Not just in your body, but in your mind and in your spirit.

I asked the Justice where she got her strength, where she got her strong on, and she said, “On the ranch when I was a young girl. That’s what made me strong.”

Yes it did.

Along my path I’ve been strong and I’ve been weak. I’ve been confident and I’ve been insecure. But I’ve never had the strength to just say out loud that focusing on my internal strength is a significant act for me. Last week I said it to someone who is more than slightly intimidating and I got a nod and look of respect. I share this because I think we are all searching, hoping, trying and sometimes the best response is the simplest, truest one. 

Sometimes what in your mind might seem insignificant and small turns out to be the biggest and most significant thing you could do.

[To read more of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essays, click here]

The Power of an Individual

Maria Shriver Power of Individual

At the beginning of this week I reread the statement/poem Kobe Bryant released a few months ago in which he told the world of basketball he was going to step off the court (which is exactly what he did this past week). He wrote about the mind and the body and said that despite still loving the game he knew it was time to go.

It made me think about how hard it is to step away from something you love and then do that exit well.

I watched his final game from a hotel room in Arizona where I was attending the Arizona Women’s Foundation’s 20th anniversary luncheonI went there to receive the Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award. It was an honor for me to receive an award named in honor of one of my heroes. I was so touched by the fact that she nominated me and I was so happy to get to spend time with her.

[#ThrowbackThursday: Sandra Day O’Connor Receive the Minerva Award for Her Remarkable Legacy]

Alert: Sandra Day O’Connor is still one smart, tough lady!

The entire time I spoke with her she kept telling me I should be doing more (I thought my mother had come back to life). I tried to tell her about all of the various things I am working on — she nodded and said “Um ok, but what else?” — and when I told her that I’m busy trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s (her husband had it, as did my father) she paused…said, “Good. You just need to get it done immediately. I’ll give you the year!”

God help me.

As I sat listening to her, I thought of how much she has accomplished in her own life — not the least of which includes becoming the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court. I then found myself thinking about the moment she announced to the world that she was stepping away from her beloved Court. Something quite unheard of when she did it. She did it because her mind and her heart weren’t in alignment. She did it to care for her husband who had Alzheimer’s. She left something she loved and never looked back. Instead, she found other pursuits where she could make a difference and she focused where she needed to focus.

Maria Shriver Sandra Day OConnor

I always tell my kids, ‘How you step on the court of life is one thing, but it’s also really important to know how and when to step away.’

[What Does It Meant to Be an Architect of Change?]

I think we underestimate the strength it takes to do that well, especially when you are leaving something you love. My son was at Kobe’s last game and he said the experience moved him to tears — he’s 18 and Kobe has been playing for the Lakers his entire life. 

Well, being in Justice O’Connor’s presence this week also moved me. 

It moved me to look within. It moved me to have a renewed sense of urgency to find a cure for this mind-blowing disease we know as Alzheimer’s (see our exciting event Move for Minds and join us on May 21). She moved me to think about my life in an even more expansive way. Why am I doing what I’m doing (she whispered to me, “Don’t do it for any accolades or affirmations, you won’t get them. Do it for you and to make the world a little bit better.)? She moved me to think: Where am I needed most? Where could my voice have the biggest impact? Where is my heart and is it in line with my mind? And if they are not, to know that I should step away.

In short, she moved me to get a move on.

These two very different individuals were legends on their own courts for sure and they both knew when and how to step away. They knew it inside of themselves.

[Watch Architects of Change LIVE: Maria Shriver & Russell Simmons Talk Stillness, True Success, Going Vegan– & Donald Trump]

The truth is individual internal change is hard. It’s scary. It’s one of the most important principles of our Architect of Change community: Change from within. To do that, you have to know yourself. You must look within, know what’s right for you. You have to be capable of drowning out the other voices and listen to your own and be brave enough to act, to change.

I don’t know what Kobe Bryant will do now that he is off of the court but I’ll be watching with interest, because I bet it will be interesting. I do know that Sandra Day O’Connor will continue to move whomever she speaks to or whomever sits down next to her (be ready!). I do know that she will continue to push civics lessons in communities across this country and she will continue to move hearts and minds in the direction of making the world better for all of us; especially women and children.

None of us should ever underestimate our individual power to move people. 

In fact, I met three inspiring  young women in Arizona: Melody, Angela and Anissa, who with the help of the Arizona Women’s Foundation and the organizations they help to fund, have turned their own lives around. They have courageously stepped away from drugs, abusive relationships and people who told them they loved them but didn’t act like it, to reclaim their lives. I was so moved by their heartbreaking stories and their bravery. All they want to do now is inspire others caught in a downward spiral. To believe that they too can step away and step into a new life.

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

So remember: You don’t have to be a Hall of Famer basketball player or a Supreme Court Justice to move others’ hearts and minds. You just have to be you. Doing what you love. And trying to make the world a little bit better.

Because that’s really moving. And that’s really powerful.


{Image credit: Yuliya Ginzburg, Unsplash}

The Power of Positive Thinking

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I spend a lot of time thinking. Even the name of my weekly message is called “I’ve Been Thinking.”

I think about everything. What I read. What I hear. What is happening in this Presidential electionWhat does this mean for our country. I think about what my parents taught me, what my family believes, what my kids say and don’t sayYou name it, I think about it. And yes, I’ve been known to overthink things.

Lately I’ve been trying something new. Instead of just thinking or dwelling on something, I think about how I can turn a thinking/dwelling thought or negative thought into a positive thought or a certainty thought and then move off of it.

This requires awareness and a determination to shift away from ruminating. Now when I notice a thought, and especially if it’s negative or questioning, I stop, and then I redirect it ASAP into a positive statement. A statement of certainty and clarity. 

For example: When you’re faced with an impending decision, you may start thinking, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’m confused.’ Turn it around to:  ‘I’m smart. I know what I’m doing. I’ve made a lot of good decisions in my life and I’ll make another one.’

Or:  ‘I’m going to fall apart when my youngest son graduates.’ Versus: ‘I’m going to be absolutely fine when my son graduates. I’ve prepared him well and I’m excited about this new time in my life.’

One thought puts me in a place of doubt, the other puts me in an empowered position.

Questioning your thoughts makes you question yourself. Staying in your head takes you away from your intuition. Negative thinking gives you a negative mindset and a negative outlook on your life and the lives of others. It also keeps you in a fearful and anxious place.

The mind can be a very powerful ally or a very powerful opponent.

Athletes know this very well and are often taught mental strength exercises. Mental strength is as important — and sometimes more important — than one’s physical strength. Just like you exercise your body, so too, must one train one’s mind to work for you not against you. And you have got to do it over and over and over again.

You have to train harder if life knocks you down. You have to train if you suffer a disappointment. You have to reset, refocus, reframe and, yes, reimagine. 

It’s not just athletes that need to know how to do this. We all need to learn mental strength. A little while ago I wrote about the Power of Rising in your own life. For most of us rising is a mental job. One has to visualize oneself rising. Rising above disappointment. Rising above failure. Rising above and over a negative mindset.

No matter your age, no matter your income, no matter what life has thrown your way, your mind will be your best ally in moving you forward. The truth is it’s not selfish to spend time learning how to redirect your thoughts, it’s crucial if you want to live in your power, in your center, in your certainty.

In fact, I read this great quote once: Falling in love

So this day, this week, remember that. Think about what it would take for you to feel indestructible. Remember that quote while everything you read tells you to get in shape for spring and summer. Remember that it’s great to have your body in shape, but it’s just as important to get your mind in shape too.

Learn how to rest it (Try meditation). How to ignite it (Try writing. Try reading. Try joining us at a Architects of Change Live and get inspired by another person’s story.). How to grow it (Try brain exercises. Try anything new really). How to make it work on your behalf (See our stories on beliefs and mindset). Learn how to make it say positive things to you, about you, about why you are here, about how wonderful you are (Study positive affirmations).

Your mind is your asset. It’s the best personal partner and business partner you will ever have. It’s going to be with you for your entire lifetime so there is no better time than right now to start making it work for you.


[Image via Pixabay]

The Power of Poetry

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April is National Poetry Month and I couldn’t be happier about it. I love poetry. I read a lot of it. And believe it or not, I write a lot of it as well.

I’ve found writing poetry to be healing, illuminating and even very inspiring. I’ve found comfort in poetry. I’ve found a kindred spirit in poetry. And I’ve found community.

Not too long ago I had a big birthday and a young woman who is a member of Get Lit wrote a poem for me…about meI worked with Get Lit while I was First Lady of California. I invited them to The Women’s Conference and other events I produced. This poem was their birthday gift to me, but I hadn’t met its author, Miriam Sachs, before. I may not have known her, but Miriam wrote one of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read and she wrote it about my mission in life. 

[Read Maria’s 60 Life Lessons for her 60th Birthday]

It brought me to tears because she saw things in me I didn’t even see in me. She was able to put into words my life’s mission in ways I couldn’t. She spoke to me and inspired me to keep at it, to go all in.

I often re-read her poem to keep me focused and to remind myself that sometimes others can guide you with their words when you lose your own. She wrote it for me, but the truth is you can insert your name where mine stands. We are all light in our lives and the lives of others. We are all also constantly changing. I’m sharing it with you in the hope that you too will find yourself in it too.

Poetry has a way of peeling back the surface and uncovering things you didn’t even know were within you. It has a way of speaking to parts of you you didn’t even know needed a voice. It has a way of showing you the path you didn’t even know you were looking for.

[How Do You Survive Life?]

I’ve often written that The Journey by Mary Oliver, one of my heroes, spoke to my heart, as does Derek Walcott’s Love After Love.

After I read the poem Miriam wrote in honor of my birthday, I partnered with Get Lit and asked some of her fellow poets to be the guest poetry editors of our site for the entire month of April.

I’m so proud they said yes. They are gifted, wise, honest and talented. I hope the poems we share each day of this month speak to some part of you.

[Read all of MariaShriver.com’s Poetry Archives here]

Our mission is as always the same: To ignite your hearts and your minds. To encourage you to stand confidently in the center of your own life. To M-Power you forward. To be here in community as you navigate your way forward in your ever-changing life. And to build a more collaborative, caring, conscious world with you.

Reading poetry, writing poetry, sharing poetry is one step along the way. We’ve got you.

Click here to read Miriam Sach’s poem: Maria Of Light, Of Change


[Image via Pixabay]

The Power to Rise

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Growing up I loved going to Easter Sunday mass with my family.  My grandmother always wore a beautiful hat and girls my age wore pretty Easter dresses.

When our kids were young I dressed then in matching Easter clothes. They still complain about it to this day. Looking back at those pictures makes me happy and think of days gone by. Days that feel simple in light of the complex, frightening world we seem to live in now.

Today Im making a conscious effort to look at Easter with a more open mind and a more open heart.

[Pope Francis reveals where he pray’s]

Today I’m thinking about the idea of rising. I’m thinking about renewal and I’m thinking about the importance of faith.

I have faith that no matter how scary the world feels it’s within our power to rise above our fears.

I have faith that no matter how many mistakes we may have made in life, Easter gives us all a chance at renewal. A chance to choose anew who we want to be.

One of my favorite quotes is from Oscar Wilde:

Every Saint has a past

I love that because it’s true. All of us our sinners. All of us have a past and yet all of us also can be, and are, holy.

Today is a holy day. Easter Sunday is a day of rejoicing in the Catholic Church. But you don’t have to be Catholic to look at this day as a holy one. You don’t have to be Catholic to see it as a day of renewal or as a day about rising. The choice to see any day of your life that way is within you. Every day from this Sunday on, you can get up and see the day as a holy day or not. You can see the day as an opportunity to rise above your past and embrace a different path forward.

[Watch the latest Architects of Change Live: DeVon Franklin & Meagan Good discuss abstinence]

 You can choose fear or you can choose faith.

On this Easter Sunday I’m choosing to rise. Rise above mistakes. Rise above judgements. Rise above fears. Rise above anything that holds me back and/or down.

Renew. Rejoice. Rise. 

The power to do all three is within thee. Happy Easter!

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

The Power of Waiting

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I’ve been thinking about the power of waiting.

Oftentimes we think of waiting as inaction. As the opposite of doing. We wait because we’re fearful. We wait because we’re not ready. We wait because we don’t know the answers, don’t know how, don’t know yet, just don’t know.

But waiting can be powerful. Decisive. Strong. The ability to know when to act and to know when to wait is not only strategic, it’s smart. Timing, as they say, is everything.

This week I sat down for an Architects of Change Live conversation with DeVon Franklin and his wife, Meagan Good, authors of “The Wait.” They both waited to have sex with one another until they were married. And they said the wait made their relationship strong, deep and connected. It freed them from focusing on the physical to connect on mental, emotional and spiritual levels first. Now that they’re married…they said they don’t wait for the physical (phew!), but they still use the wait to focus their power in other areas. It has made them patient — with each other, with friends and family, with their bodies and in their careers.

[Read part of DeVon and Meagan’s “The Wait” here]

Waiting affects every part of life. But just because you’re waiting, doesn’t mean you’re not doing. You can still do aggressive and impactful things while you’re waiting.

We’re waiting for a cure to be found for Alzheimers’, but it doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything in the meantime… In the meantime we are putting our minds towards making an impact. I’m using my voice, and I make it as loud as I can, to tell the world HELLO we are losing one mind every 67 seconds to this insidious disease. The majority of those minds are women and I believe if women knew that, and put their minds to it, we could end this mind-blowing disease. We have partnered with Equinox to fundraise for researching women’s brains. We’re calling it Move for Minds and it will be happening in six cities across America on May 21. Please join us for this incredible day while we raise money, attention and hope for women’s brains. I’m waiting for a cure, but I’m not waiting to act until there is one.

[Sign up for Move for Minds here]

Mother Teresa spent a lifetime serving others. And just this week Pope Francis announced she will be made a Saint on September 4. She died on September 5, 1997, so there was a nearly 20-year wait for canonization. You know what happened in that 20 year wait? A miracle. A Brazilian man was healed of multiple brain tumors after loved ones prayed to her. We were waiting, but she was acting.

Our country is waiting. Waiting to elect a new President. Waiting to see who our options will be. In California, and many other states, we’re waiting to vote in our primary (which isn’t until June 7!). But just because we haven’t had our primary yet, doesn’t mean we can’t be active in the race. It doesn’t mean we have to wait to get informed and involved. We may be waiting to vote, but we’re not waiting to be a part of the election process.

In my office we’ve been talking about focus and streamlining. We’ve been taking a step back to look at what we are doing, how we are doing it and what we can be doing better. We’re always shifting, growing, evolving. In business as much in life, you have to do that every day. You have to change because the world is always changing. But while we’re examining our focus and brainstorming changes to make, we’re waiting to make them. We’re exercising the Power of Waiting to be strategic and smart.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. What about you? What are you waiting on? What are you waiting for?

Read more of Maria’s “I’ve Been Thinking” blogs & #PassItForward


[Image via Pixabay]