Humility Is Strength

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This Holy Week, I’ve been paying close attention to Pope Francis’ actions.

Last year on Holy Thursday the Pope washed the feet of two women and two Muslims at a juvenile detention center in Rome. Yesterday, he visited Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, a home for the elderly and disabled. He washed the feet of 12 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during a Lord’s Supper Mass.

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

What a humbling act. Washing feet. To do it, you must actually kneel before another. Last night the Pope humbled himself to become the servant.

What a great statement. Pope Francis has worked to show that it’s not what we look like on the outside that matters, but what’s within. He’s worked to treat everyone — especially non-Catholics — with respect, kindness. To show we’re all equally important.

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

Have you humbled yourself for another lately? For a parent, a child, a friend, a stranger?

So often we worry about what others can do for us. It’s important to think about what we can do for others. Putting yourself at the service of others is important. It reminds us why we’re here. To help one another. To give and be given love.

[Read: Making Changes In Life Means Making Changes In Yourself]

Jesus was called a radical because of washing feet. Our Pope has been called the same.

I’ve been thinking about the feet I wash — both literally and figuratively.  Thinking about the people I humble myself to take care of. I’m going to lengthen that list.

Tell me, who do you humble yourself for?

[Image via Abby Frazier on Pinterest]

We Have An Indifference Problem

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The other day when Pope Francis met with President Obama they talked about lots of things. But the line that stood out to me, that I’ve been thinking a lot about is the Pope’s statement that one of the greatest dangers we face is that of indifference.

That word: indifference.

Are we so inundated with so much information we can’t focus on any of it? Is the world moving so fast that stories just come and go while we just go and go?

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

When I was growing up (I hate when people say that but anyway), when I was young I remember the world stopping in its tracks when a President gave a speech to the nation. I remember time stood still when a man walked on the moon. I remember a nation that mourned and searched its soul when political leaders were gunned down in plain sight. I remember pictures of children from Biafra on the front of the newspaper causing the nation to talk.

It seems like we focus but only for a moment when there is a tragedy like 9/11, Sandy Hook, Ft. Hood or yesterday’s stabbing at a high school in Pennsylvania by a young 16-year-old boy.

I have a 16-year-old son, also a sophomore, and this story stopped me. What’s happening?

[Watch the Live Stream of the LBJ Library Civil Rights Summit]

I’m wondering what’s happening to us? To our children? To or sense of community? To our empathy?

How can we come together more In our politics, in our opinions, in our races, our genders? I worry we are moving too fast, digesting too much and nothing is landing.

I don’t have the answer but I know that we are in danger of losing our shock, our outrage, our concern, our sense of awe, wonder and attention.

[Read: I Was Born In A Prison, One Woman's True Story]

I’m thinking a lot about this and I’m thinking we can do better. As parents. As citizens. I don’t want to lead an indifferent life. I don’t want to raise children who are indifferent, who lack empathy, who do not realize that the world needs all of us to stop, pause, check our indifferent meter, switch it off and turn on our focus meter.

My heart goes out to the families in Murrysville, PA.  My heart is in Ft. Hood. I still think of the families who suffered on 9/11. I think of the families I met the other night here in L.A. who are struggling with poverty and with foster care. My heart is with the veterans who come home and can’t find a job or a house. The list goes on.

We all can focus on our indifference and become a more conscious, caring, compassionate society. I’m going to try and do better right now.

What about you?

Work Hard, Be Awake & Never Think You Are Too Good To Do Something [Excerpt]

FINAL Cover Image _ I Just Graduated

My daughter, Katherine Schwarzenegger‘s second book, “I Just Graduated … Now What?” comes out April 1 and I couldn’t be more excited or proud. She has compiled advice from some of the world’s most influential people and I think it’s a great resource for anyone, young or old, making decisions about what to do with their lives.

She even interviewed me. And I wanted to share an excerpt of the advice I offered. Make sure you pre-order a copy!

When you’re in journalism, you are always on call. People work holidays, and that is usually what leads to your big break. If you are curious and want to do your best in a job, that is how you learn the most. It was up to me to make my reputation, book my stories, and find my own beat. It took me a while, but eventually I found my way. …

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

… My secret to becoming a successful journalist is pretty simple. I was passionate, curious, and hungry. Working with someone who inspires you can ignite you. Think of how a teacher ignites a kid into a passion or a love of learning. Who you work for is far more important than what you do. If you can get a low-level job but work for a really inspiring boss, that is better than a high-level job working for a jerk. If you can answer a phone, but you are in a great organization working for someone who has a vision, who is an inspiration, and who wants to do something important, being in that environment ignites you to think and be creative. If you are around people who are working hard and trying to do interesting things, you will find that it raises your game. It’s like playing tennis with someone who is better than you—your skills rapidly improve. When you play with someone who can barely hit the ball, you have no motivation. Self-motivation is important, but having someone who takes an interest in you—and it only takes one person—can get you fired up.

[Read: Fighting The 'Other Than' Instinct: Why We Should Let People In]

When I look back on leaving CBS [in 1986], I understand that how you leave a job is extremely important. How you behave on the job matters, but how you exit that job is critical. When I left CBS, even though I was mad, I made a conscious choice not to bad-mouth people. I will tell them how I feel in an honest and direct way, but I always do my best to maintain the relationships I worked so hard to build along the way. I have bumped into the people I worked with many times over the years, from executives to members of the crew. I am especially nice to the crew because they can make or break you when you are on camera.

[Read Dan Harris' 6 Selfish Reasons to Be Nice]

Try to be grateful in your work and to the people who help you. And by all means, stay humble and open. All of those experiences help awaken you and your life to the world around you. Life is about constantly waking up and taking notice.

[Related: My Daughter, The Author]

Reprinted from “I JUST GRADUATED… NOW WHAT?” Copyright © 2014 by Katherine Schwarzenegger. To be published by Crown Archetype, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.“I Just Graduated … Now What?” will be released April 1. Go here to purchase your copy. 

My Daughter, The Author

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My eldest daughter Katherine came out with her second book, “I Just Graduated … Now What?” this week and I believe it is a winner.

It’s geared toward young people at the moment they graduate from college and have to face the real world. To face the expectations. The employers. The peers. The stress. The responsibilities. The parents. The questions.

[Related: An Excerpt From Maria Shriver's 'I Just Graduated ... Now What?' Chapter]

But it’s really a book for any age, any sex, any person whose come to a crossroad in their life. Or even someone looking to pursue a passion, rekindle their drive or start anew. We all have to deal with the voices in our head (and in the world) questioning our decisions, and sometimes our lack of them.

I’m proud of her.

It takes guts to put yourself out there with a book. Some people will love it, others will criticize it and her. … The truth is you have to be brave, you have to walk into your fear if you want to use your voice.

I never would have been able to do what she has done at the age of 24.

[Watch: Katherine Schwarzenegger's 'Today' appearance]

So as I watch this young women step out and step into herself, I’m filled with pride and awe. She is smart, feminine, gutsy with a great smile — and a great future. She is ready to fly and I can’t wait to watch her soar.

God bless my Katherine. Good luck and God speed.

[Image via KatherineSchwarzenegger.com by Jessica Iovine]

You’re Not Alone, Tell Your True Story

3 25 2014- Oprah Prime-Maria Schriver

I went back to my hometown of Chicago this week.

That’s right I’m from Chicago.

It’s where I was born and lived until I moved to Washington, D.C. at the age of five and a half. Many people that I meet think I’m from Boston because my mother was. Others think I’m from Maryland because that’s where my dad grew up. I’ve spent the majority of my life living in California.

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

But I spent my formative years in the Midwest, so at heart I’m a Midwestern girl.

I came back to Chicago because my good friend of 36 years, Oprah Winfrey, wanted to do a Town Hall-style show for her OWN network with an audience of women living paycheck to paycheck and to discuss the film I  just executive produced for HBO of the same name.

I’m grateful to her for using the power of her pulpit, as she has always done, to talk about the truth of the majority of American women’s lives: 42 million American women are living on the brink of poverty, and supporting 28 million children.

[Read: Fighting the 'Other Than' Instinct: Why We Should Let People In]

The gathering of women moved me deeply.

At times I could feel my eyes well up with tears when I heard what their lives are like, how hard they are trying and how little they are supported.

None of them were looking for a handout, They just need a hand up.

[Watch: Maria Shriver, Oprah Winfrey and Katrina Gilbert in their Google+ Hangout]

None of them looked like they were struggling on the outside, but on the inside they were and are. More often than not, our outsides  don’t accurately reflect who we really are and what we are going through.

I hope people will watch this show and reach out to the people around them and ask: “How are you?” “Do you need a hand?”

I really believe once we all ask that question, we will hear stories that will surprise us, move us and ignite us.

[Read: Do You Know How to Prioritize Yourself? 5 Ways to Stop #DoingItAll]

Thank you Oprah for giving us a chance. Thank you Katrina Gilbert for having the courage to show your life like it really is.

Everywhere I go people say to me in hushed tones, “That’s me. That’s my sister, my brother, my mother.”

It’s the story of our times.

If you tell your story you will be surprised how many people will say “me too.” Better yet, tell it on our site, or our sister site, ShriverReport.org.

**Watch Oprah & Maria Shriver: The “Paycheck To Paycheck” Town Hall Sunday 3/30 at 9pm ET/PT on OWN**
Photo courtesy of Harpo Studios Inc. / George Burns

You Are More Beautiful Than You Know [Video]

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I know Dove’s Real Beauty sketches aren’t exactly new, but this week I re-watched this video, and I’ve been thinking about the idea that we are all more beautiful than we know.

More special to others than we experience within ourselves.

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

It is so moving to see how beautiful you are in someone else’s eyes.

Remember that today, this week and next.

You are more amazing than you know. And many people think so.

How would you act, how would you talk, how would you dress and stand if you could see yourself the way others do?

[Read: 8 Spiritual Tips for Letting Love In]

What would your life be like if you believed yourself to be special, unique, beautiful?

The way these women react to seeing the picture they’ve created of themselves in their minds tells me that the fear we walk around with is armor we don’t need. The stories we tell ourselves about how we look or dress, how smart we are or aren’t just aren’t true.

[Read: 6 Selfish Reasons to Be Nice]

What the world needs more of is each of us to try and drop just a little of the armor we are wearing. And allow in the idea that we are more beautiful than we believe.

Will you give it a try?

[Image via Quotes On Images]

There Is No Room for Love In Judgment and Shame

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“There is no room for hate in love.”  – A wise girlfriend once told me to remember that.

Let it land.

Soak it in.

She’s right. But, I would add another line: “There is also no room for judgment and shame in love.”

I just made a film, “Paycheck to Paycheck,” about an inspiring and courageous woman named Katrina Gilbert. It’s the kind of film that I believe will stay with you long after you see it.

[Watch the trailer for "Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert]

A few people who attended our L.A. premiere confessed that before seeing the film they had already judged both the subject matter and the woman herself. Katrina is a single mom with three children, who like 42 million working women in America, is living paycheck to paycheck. She’s not just on the brink of poverty, she’s living in it.

They judged her. Blamed her for the situation she finds herself in.

Judging shames.

I’m sure we have all done it. And I’m sure we have all felt it. And when shame lands, wow does it hurt.

I gave up chips and guacamole for Lent, but I’m now adding judgment to that ‘Give Up’ list.

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

I can’t stand how it makes me feel to judge and be judged. And I can’t stand how often it’s directed at women and men who live on the brink with their children churning in and out of poverty.

I hope you watch this film. By yourself, with your kids, or, even better, with a group of friends. It’s being streamed free for one week courtesy of HBO, so it won’t cost you a thing.

Let the film in. Please try to suspend judgment and watch with an open mind. And an open heart.

Because it’s true: what the world needs is more love. I’m not talking about big, epic, “The Bachelor” type of love. I’m talking about being kind, empathetic, understanding, compassionate.  Caring for our fellow humans.

[Read: Promote Yourself: Are You Being a Good Inner Boss?]

That, after all, is what love is.

Remember what my wise girlfriend said: There is no hate in love. And there is no love in shaming or judging.

I hope Katrina’s resilience and positive attitude inspires you to show that compassion to yourself. From there it will all just flow forward.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. What about you?

Do You Know The Key To Having A Joyous Life?

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The key to leading a joy-filled life comes from finding inner peace.

So says His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I had the chance to speak with His Holiness and introduce him to a large gathering at The Forum this past week here in Los Angeles.

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

He spoke about compassion being a sign of strength and anger being a sign of weakness.

He spoke about the need for all of us to streamline our lives to find quiet time to develop inner peace and inner fortitude.

From birds, to bees to humans, “Everyone has a right to achieve a happy life,” he said.

Amen to that.

We are all the same. The creatures that live on this one Earth, including ourselves, all share the same desire: to enjoy our time here.

[Read: How Russell Simmons Finds 'Success Through Stillness']

What I admire about this man is that in his words and in his life he is showing us a new way to live, behave and lead. His wisdom offers us a new way forward.

And his message is the right one. The world needs more compassion, more empathy, more love. We must focus on the things that move us forward. The inspiration that ignites us. The information that influences us. Making that impact on the world must start within each of us. You must calm yourself and your world from the inside. If we can get that right we can right the world.

[RECENT: Anna Guest-Jelley, "3 Questions to Become Your Best You"]

To quote His Holiness, we must “innovate a new way to educate.”

I really believe that.

Let’s move forward together. Let’s be the best we can be. The world will follow.

Are you with me?

In Your Dream Community, Who Would You Be?

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I was at a gathering the other day and the conversation took an interesting turn. Everyone present began talking about having a longing for a new kind of community. One in which people felt accepted, valued, included. A community of open-hearted and open-minded people.

Eventually one woman suggested we make the discussion “feel real,” and people began to go around the room describing their strengths and the role they saw themselves playing in this imaginary new community.

[Read more of Maria's 'I've Been Thinking' columns]

It was fascinating.

One friend saw himself as The Restorer. He believes that if people had more experience with nature and animals it would help restore their spirit and help them live in harmony with themselves, their work and the world.

Another saw himself as a Gender Reacher. He felt like the world could be taught how to accept gender differences in a more compassionate way than the way society is currently approaching the topic.

[Read: Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking': Valentine's Day is For Lovers ... And Friends]

Another wanted to mother. She saw her ideal role as a nurturer and comforter. She rightly feels that we all need more nurture and “mother loving” in our lives.

The group was big and engaged in dreaming of what this new community could be like and how they could play their best role in it.

I’ve been thinking: what if everyone played that game? Imagine how your village or community could be better and what specific role you could play. The Artist, The Healer, The Leader, The Dream Weaver, The Negotiator.

[Read: Life Really Is Like A Box of Chocolates]

We all have a role to play. And each one is an important piece in this puzzle that makes up our world.

This weekend, I challenge you to think about how you see yourself. Figure out the role you were meant to play. And then go out and make it happen.

[Image via Behance.net]

Valentine’s Day is For Lovers … And Friends

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Everywhere I look it’s coming up hearts.

Chocolate ones, red ones, pink ones, teddy bears that say “I love you,” restaurants  and hotels are beckoning lovers to sweet deals.

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air.

[Read more of Maria's 'I've Been Thinking' columns]

But is this only a day for those that are in relationships?

What about the millions of others who aren’t?

A young father who was in my office today said to me: “You know when kids are young and the schools promote Valentine’s Day as a day of friendship and the love friends have for one another? It’s too bad we lose that as we get older and only romantic love is celebrated on February 14.”

[Read: 9 Valentine's Do's and Don't's]

He’s right.

Let’s celebrate all different kinds of love tomorrow, and then let’s try to do it more than once a year.

We often miss the love that surrounds us on a daily basis because we are too busy dreaming about the big kind of love we see in the movies or read about in a romance novel. Love from our friends, family, co-workers, strangers is coming our way all the time, we just need to re-categorize it in our minds.

I hope that everyone going out to dinner and buying flowers on February 14 have a great time. But I also hope that even if you’re not celebrating with a special someone, we don’t lose sight of all the love we each have in our lives.

[Read: My 365 Days of Gratitude Challenge]

To quote a friend named Will: “You don’t have to be dating to tell someone they’re your Valentine or send them flowers.”

It’s a lovely thought. Let the love bloom.

[Image via Sewn Sweets on Etsy.com]