What I’ll Be Remembering This Memorial Day

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Memorial Day weekend. The official start of summer.

When big movies come to theaters near you. Women can break out their white outfits and families across the country fire up their backyard grills.

But Memorial Day is most importantly a day to think about those who have given their lives fighting for our country.

[Are You a Good Listener? 4 Techniques to Try]

Just the other day I was in a hospital elevator with a young doctor when a gentleman wearing a veteran’s shirt entered the lift.

The doctor said, “Excuse me, did you serve in Vietnam?”

The man said, “Yes, I did two tours.”

The young doctor saluted him and said, “Thank you for your service and thank you to all of the others who served with you.”

[Lessons from Female Soldiers]

Embarrassed that I hadn’t said anything, I chimed in after the doctor to deliver my own “Thanks.”

The vet then responded, “Thank you so much, most of my friends didn’t come back.”

That young doctor’s small outreach opened my eyes, my heart and made me open my mouth.

Today, and this holiday weekend, may we all remember those who didn’t come back from fighting for our freedoms, but may we also remember those who served and those who are taking care of those who served today. For many, that’s a full-time job.

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

May we remember to be thankful for all of them. May we open our eyes, our hearts and when we can, our mouths, to thank those who served and still serve on the frontlines of humanity. Happy Memorial Day. #PassItForward


[Image via PhotoEverywhere on IM Creator]

A Calling: Do You Have One?

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The other afternoon a friend came by to visit. He wanted to talk to me about a film he’s making about a former college classmate who had gone off to the Sudan to care for an entire community of villagers that have no doctor.

I listened and then watched his footage of this man who had clearly given his life to care for others. My friend explained that his friend, the doctor, had left everything behind because he felt “called” to do what he is doing.

Our conversation has stayed with me all week. And I must say, throughout my life, I have thought a lot about the concept of being “called upon.” I’ve often thought, ‘Does every human being have a “mission” in life?’ A purpose? A calling? Are we each called upon to do something unique and special with our lives? The wisest elders I have met would answer those questions with a resounding “YES!!”

[3 Ways to Build Resilience for Life’s Inevitable Hardships]

They would say that each of us do, in fact, have a calling and that our lives — our hearts — are speaking to us all of the time, but that most of us are moving too fast to hear. We are too distracted to listen. Too scared to act.

I have thought a lot about my own calling. Do I have one? Is it journalism? Is it writing books? Is it producing documentaries about people doing good for the world like the doctor my friend was telling me about? Is my calling to gather people to connect with one another and change the world? Am I supposed to be singularly focused on trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s?  Is my calling motherhood? Am I here to raise children who feel happy and loved?

In my morning meditation the other day I focused on this question: What am I called upon to do with my life? The response I got startled me. ‘You are,‘ my little voice responded, ‘called upon to love. Love yourself wholly and completely, the good and the bad. You are called upon to love others. Not for what they do but for who they are.

‘Wait a minute, that can’t be,‘ I thought. ‘I’ve got to do something big in the world. For the world. That’s the way I was raised. I’ve got to get going and get doing.’ But that voice, I realized, was an old voice. A critical voice. A false voice. One that is never satisfied. It’s a voice that no longer belongs to me.

[5 Steps for Dealing With Disappointment from Katherine Schwarzenegger]

The man my friend wants to introduce to the world feels he is being called upon to heal the sick and the poor. He is being called to love those who are invisible to the larger world. But, they are not invisible to him.

I do believe we all have a so-called “calling.” I hope today, or this week, you can pause and quiet yourself. Ask yourself, ‘What am I here to experience? What am I here to do? What is my calling?’

If at first you hear nothing, keep trying. Keep pausing, keep listening. The answer is there. It may not be to travel halfway around the world and live and work in a dangerous area caring for the sick and the poor. It may be right in your own home, in your own heart.

[Since You Asked… a new Advice Column]

In fact when someone once said to Mother Teresa, “Should I come here and work with you in Calcutta?” she said, “Go find your own Calcutta.”

Find your own Calcutta.

You might not have to go far to find it. It may be in your own neighborhood. It may actually even be within you.

Think about that for a moment: Your Calcutta may be within you.

All that poverty and abandonment might actually be within you. So trying to love your broken, impoverished, abandoned self is a monumental task. For some of us, trying to do that is like trying to climb Mount Everest.

After all I have learned, after all of the people I have met, after all of the books I have read, I have come to realize that our worldly callings are empty if we can’t each begin with the hardest challenge of all: To love ourselves and love others for no reason at all other than the fact that it’s what we all need. Love. Unconditional love. That is a huge calling.

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

I’ll never forget, when in the midst of my dad’s Alzheimer’s, when he couldn’t remember my name anymore, he looked me dead in the eye and said to me, “You gotta go internal before you can go external. That’s the only way to go eternal.” I was stunned, but he was oh so right.

Go internal. Find your calling. And work out from there. #PassItForward


[Image by Blake Richard Verdoorn via Unsplash]

My Mother’s Day Musings

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Today is Mother’s Day.

Just writing that makes me smile. I love Mother’s Day because I love being a mother. I like really, really love it. I mean deeply love it.

I love my kids so big it scares me. I love hanging with them, laughing with them, traveling with them, playing games with them. I love having their friends over and watching them unfold before my very eyes.

Yes, I love being a mother.

It’s funny because it was something I was scared to do. I was SO scared I wouldn’t get it right, so scared I would make mistakes. To be truthful, like any parent, I know my kids would say that I’ve made some mistakes. I was stricter with the older ones than the younger ones. My daughters say I favor the boys; the boys say I spoil the girls. They would say all kinds of other things that I will not commit to print. But I know they know I love them. They know they are my world and that I have tried hard to let them know that.

[A Dazzling Dessert for Mother’s Day: A Sorbet Ice Bowl]

On this Mother’s Day I hope to laugh with them and just be in their presence. It’s really all I want.

On this day I also think of my mother. She died six years ago and I miss her every day. Every week something will pop into my head and I’ll still go to call her and then remember, ‘Oh yeah, she’s no longer here.’ Every week something funny will happen or I’ll struggle with a decision and I’ll think ‘I’ll ask mummy’ then I’ll remember she’s gone.

But she lives on in me. Her lessons, her tips, her takeaways are in me and I pass them on. This week I asked people to share one thing their mother had taught them that they carry with them every day. And the responses were amazing. It made me think of the incredible power of motherhood.

And yet, so many of us dismiss the role. We say “I’m just a mother.” We feel we need to supplement it with other things we are doing so we will be seen and/or accepted.

[10 Ways to Comfort a Grieving Heart]

Motherhood is the most powerful job on earth. Our words, our actions shape human beings long after we are gone.

As I said my mother has been gone six years and yet her voice, her bearing, her view of the world, are as much alive in me as my own heart. 

On New Year’s Day this year I gave my kids some musings. Tips I wanted them to think about, to carry with them as they navigated the journey of life. Some were mundane, like always write a handwritten ‘Thank You’ note when you receive a gift. Stand up when an adult walks into the room. Look people in the eye when you speak to them.

Some were passed down from my own mother like, stay connected to your siblings every week. They are each in a category of their own. Life is a marathon not a sprint, be focused on the long road. Be of service. To whom much is given, much is expected.

But some were are my very own. Written special for them and to them. On this Mother’s Day I pray that my children can close their eyes and feel the love that has been bestowed on them. Feel the encouragement, feel my gratitude to them and for them.

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

Motherhood is the most amazing job on earth and I’m so deeply grateful that I was given a chance to experience it.

Happy Mother’s Day to anyone and everyone who has mothered. #PassItForward

What We Need Now is Healing, on the Inside and Out

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One of the first TV jobs I had was in Baltimore, MD. I lived and worked there for two years. I loved the city. Some of the people I met there have ended up becoming lifelong friends.

So watching Baltimore explode this week made me pause, reflect and think. I thought about all of the good people who call that city home. Who feel they are currently being painted with broad strokes on a national scale. I’ve been thinking about Freddie Gray’s family, the pain they are going through and also about the push and pull I’m sure they’re experiencing having found themselves thrown into a national news story.

There is a lot of pain on the streets in Baltimore, but it’s important to know that the anger and rage that was shown on social media and TV this week is not just confined to Baltimore or Ferguson or New York. There is anger, rage, poverty and disenfranchisement all over our country.

[Read: Just Before the Mask Goes On: 1 Take on Masculinity]

This discord is not just about race, it’s about divisions that are ripping our country apart. Pitting people against one another. Cops against those they are supposed to protect. Mothers against sons. Black against white. Young against old. Men against women, and against men. The divide goes on and on.

And I wonder: When and how the healing can occur?

Yes, for sure, there needs to be changes in our criminal justice system. But I think the bigger, universal change that’s needed starts within each of us. What role can each of us play in healing?

For starters we could put on our “understanding hats” on. Instead of rushing to judgement, might we pause and try to understand what it’s like to grow up in a different socioeconomic environment? What it’s like to put on a uniform every day and go out not knowing if you are coming home? What’s it like to be a single mom with teenage boys who you feel you have lost along the way? What’s it like for so much of our country that feels strapped, anxious and scared?

All of these stories, these uprisings, are bigger than any one person or any one city. Healing is needed all over our country. In our hearts, in our minds and in our language.

[Watch: ‘The Business of Being Human’, a spoken poem from Azure Antoinette]

I’ve often found peace in the prayer of Saint Francis, which begins:

“Lord make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love”

This is my version of a prayer for our country, but mostly for each of us:

“Where there is anger; we must seek understanding;
Where there is rage, we must address pain and fear;

Where there is abuse, we must seek to educate that there is a different way”

Healing can start today within ourselves. Take a moment away from the TV, away from social media, away from others and just be with you. What change would you like to bring about in you? In your family? In your community?

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

Right now each of us can start the healing we all so desperately need. #PassItForward


[Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read]

Cracking Stereotypes: Bruce Jenner, the 21st Century Man & the Unknown

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On Thursday of this week we issued The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man. There were a lot of fascinating statistics that came out of the national survey we conducted. Many breaking down old stereotypes about who the 21st Century Man is and isn’t.

But when it comes to cracking stereotypes wide open, the Oscar goes to Bruce Jenner. A famous man who publicly proclaimed he identifies his gender as female on national television Friday night.

[Read my Op-Ed on the 21st Century Man]

I was transfixed by his recounting of his life. The personal journey, the struggle to live his truth and the courage it took to step out into the unknown. Cracking stereotypes, breaking out of old boxes, approaching life with an open mind and open heart: That’s what Bruce Jenner asked of all of us on Friday.

To just be open-minded, open-hearted.

In looking at our polling results about men, I was surprised at how men are evolving, changing and defining their masculinity in very different ways than the past. Today’s man is not the same guy as his father or grandfather.

I believe we are in historic times.

Families are changing, women are changing, men are too. Those in the transgender community are asking to be heard, accepted and loved for who they are.

[Sometimes Putting Yourself Before Others Is Vital]

One thing I saw from many angles this week —  studying our findings, in the Jenner interview, and from The Shriver Report Snapshot panel I moderated with Jennifer Siebel Newsom (the writer, director and producer of The Mask You Live In — a film I executive produced), Tony Porter, Jackson Katz, Jerry Tello and Josh Levs — is that there is a lot of concealed pain, anger and shame in this world. It’s hidden among women, among men, among us all.

My hope is that we may find a way to all be more open-minded and open-hearted with one another.

I believe we are all in unknown territory. The “traditional family” where the woman stays home so the man can provide, is a thing of the past. Women today run companies, homes and are even running for President. And guess what? So are men.

Today’s man is cracking stereotypes, proclaiming that his strength isn’t always found in his physicality, but who he is on the inside. His values and character matter too. The men in our poll even said showing emotion isn’t a sign of weakness.

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

Bruce Jenner spoke about contemplating suicide. He¹s not alone in those thoughts. Seventy-nine percent of all suicides today happen in the male community.

The transgender community is also cracking stereotypes, telling our society they aren’t what we thought either. Bruce Jenner’s journey is a personal one, but there is a public teaching lesson here for all of us, regardless of gender, politics or religion.

We all want to be loved for who we are. We are all struggling.

We are all trying to find our place in a rapidly-changing society.

At A Woman’s Nation, the non-profit I founded, we talk about evolving into a more informed, caring, conscious and compassionate society. Being a nation that values the well-being of one and all. The way to do that is through one person at a time.

Bruce Jenner spoke his truth. He has asked for our compassion. Let’s find it in ourselves for ourselves, and then give it to Bruce Jenner and everyone else. It’s what we’re all asking for in our very own ways.

#PassItForward


photo credit: 1995 Fathers/Sons via photopin (license)

My New Title: ‘Change Consultant’ — Who’s Yours?

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My cousin Sydney came to visit me the other day. She was in town for her son’s wedding and we got to talking about life: kids, growing older and change. Having married her first love, she said to me “I’m unacquainted with the feelings that come from a breakup. I just can’t relate when my kids talk to me about the upheaval of that type of change.”

She went on to tell me that she and her husband had just bought a home in Florida and had decided to sell the home they raised their kids in. Or “Her dream home” as she calls it.

When Sydney left and returned home, she wrote me this, “Ugh. This selling of my home is horrible. All of the memories, the stuff. It’s so sad. I’m not going to be able to do it. I need you to be my ‘change consultant’ and help me through.

[Read: 3 Keys for Mastering an Unbalanced Life]

“Ahh,” I said, “now you’re getting acquainted with a different kind of breakup. But a breakup nonetheless.”

I thought about the title she assigned to me: “Change consultant.” I hadn’t heard it before and it made me smile. I liked it. I felt qualified to own it.

Change is hard for all of us, I know that to be true. Especially when it’s emotional. Some people seem to sail right through, but the rest of us — or even the majority of us — struggle with upheaval. We struggle to make sense of change, struggle about where to put our feelings of loss and grief, struggle with the vastness of the unknown ahead of us, struggle with our fear of those things we don’t know.

[From Hot Flashes to Hot Momma: 5 Ways to Stay Strong and Sexy as You Age]

I’m sure we could all use a “Change Consultant.” But what would we look for that person to do for us, I wondered. Reassure us that we will be ok? Reassure us that we are strong enough to handle the change?

Give us some tools to navigate the feelings associated with change? (The best advice I ever got on this particular question is to remember that those feelings are just that … feelings. They will come and go like a wave, you just have to breathe through them.)

Talk to us about the changes we go through with our children? When they get older and want (and need) lives of their own, the Change Consultant could tell us that it’s ok to grieve the loss of their dependence on you, but to remind yourself that it also means you did a good job.

A Change Consultant would probably tell my cousin that isn’t really the stuff in her house that contains all of those memories. It’s her (and all of us) that have the memories; not the stuff.

[How to Stay Asleep and Sleep More Deeply]

So, let go of the stuff, hold onto the memories. A house is just a house. You can recreate a “dream home” wherever you go, because the dream home is IN you. Most of what we need is in us. A modern-day Change Consultant should tell you that the less you store away, the better off you will be. Most kids don’t want their second grade art project when they’ve become adults; maybe one example, but certainly not the 100 projects you have kept. And many more nuggets of wisdom just like those.

Even though it’s only been three days, I like my job as Change Consultant. I’m going to keep it.

I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my own life and so many people have listened to me, talked me through, held my hand, encouraged me, pushed me forward and they were always right when they said: “It’s going to be ok.”

You are ok.

You are strong enough to handle the change you are going through.

You are loved.

Stuff is stuff.

Memories are yours.

Home is inside of you.

And love, while it may evolve, is always there. For you, for your kids, your friends, your home.

Here’s my Change Consultant motto: Change is inevitable (1)Change is inevitable. Embrace it. Believe you can handle it. Believe that you will be ok.

Why? Cause it’s true!! PS: We all have the power to be change consultants. Share  your own tips for navigating change here. You may just help Sydney and many more “Sydney’s.” #PassItForward

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


[Image via Unsplash]

What I Learned About Power from a Community of Nuns

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I traveled to Erie, PA this past week to have a conversation with Sister Joan Chittister about women, social justice, peace and spirituality.

Sister Joan has been a Benedictine nun for more than 60 years and in that time, she’s written over 50 books. She speaks out regularly on behalf of women. Women in poverty, women in the church, women who face injustices.

[Read an excerpt from Joan’s latest book]

It was a moving experience for me to return to Erie. I’d only visited the community once before, a few years back. It was a peaceful, spiritual visit and this time I experienced the same sense of calmness and peace.

But this time though I arrived late at night in the cold and had not come prepared for the weather, I had a welcoming committee at the airport. No Uber, no cab … just real people who smiled at me, hugged me and welcomed me. One nun took the coat off her back and gave it to me so I wouldn’t catch cold. Everywhere I went in Erie, people were gracious and kind.

[Read: 107 Years of Words and Wisdom: The Poetry of Peggy Freydberg]

It actually kind of threw me off. Much like the time before, I got to thinking: what is it about these nuns, what is it about this community, that makes it such a haven of loving kindness?


[Watch my interview with Erie’s local news]

The evening reception I came to speak at was packed. There were close to 70 nuns in the audience of 800. Each one smiling, loving, laughing, smart as all get out, intellectually curious and sharp. These are women who work in our inner cities teaching, helping, serving. They largely go unnoticed, they are rarely on covers of magazines and they don’t make any money, but boy do they seem fulfilled. Fulfilled by their vocation, fulfilled by the simplicity of their lives, fulfilled by living in community with one another, fulfilled by service.

Now I’m not naive enough to think they are without struggles. I have read Mother Teresa’s diaries where she detailed her own private struggles with God, her vocation, her work.

mercyhurstBut I bet if any of you went to spend time with this community (and I should point out that visitors are welcome!) to go write, heal, or just simply be, you would come out feeling the same as I did: Calm, centered, grateful, at home in myself and at home with those servants of peace.

[The Hormone Reset Diet: Lose Up to 15lbs in 21 Days]

When we talk about powerful women, we always focus on women in office, women on magazine covers, women who star in films and on TV. But I want to focus some attention on women whose power comes from their presence, from the power they have within themselves. Not from their clothes, not from their jobs, not from their cars or spouses. None of the typical trappings that makes us think people are powerful.

I’ve come to change my opinion on power. Power comes from presence, from values, from belief, from within. The women I spent time with this week may not be stepping up to run for President of the United States (though Mrs. Clinton deserves applause for having the guts to throw herself into the ring), but they step up for others every day. They speak out for those who are struggling. They are doing the Lord’s work. I like being around people who are intellectually curious, who are growing, evolving and interested in their own journey and the life journey’s of others.These women are stepping up every day to try to make life better for everyone in the world.

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

I’ve been thinking about how much I admire them, respect them and seek to emulate them. No I’m not joining the convent, but I’m joining their sisterhood of the heart

Check out some of Sister Joan’s work and inspiration here, and join us too. #PassItForward

This Easter Sunday I Hope You Rise

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To me, and for me, Easter Sunday is all about rising.

Rising up from the dead. Rising up in your own life. Rising from being a small person. Rising from the past. Rising, rising, rising.

As I say to my kids: life can knock you down, but we each have the opportunity in front of us every day to rise back up.

[Take the National Poetry Month #1for30 poem Challenge]

Rise up from our failures, rise up from our heartbreaks, rise up from our losses, rise up even when we don’t want to or think that we can.

Who among us has not felt defeated at times? I know I have. Who among us has not felt beaten down? I know I have. Who among us has not doubted our own right to speak up, much less to rise up?

It takes strength and courage to rise and shine, to show up in your own life and be the designer of it. It takes courage to rise. This day inspires me to do just that.

[Watch: Do You Believe in the Afterlife? Maria Shriver reports]

Sure, I love Easter egg hunts. I love Sunday Mass with everyone in their Easter best. It brings back memories of my own childhood and memories of when my kids were young and would get so excited about hunting for eggs.

Today they are grown. I still get them Easter baskets, but now this day is more focused on the true meaning of the Easter season: the Resurrection.

So on this Easter Sunday, may you don your Easter bonnet, hunt for eggs, eat chocolate, laugh, spend time with your family, but may you also think about the idea of rising up in your own life.

Figure out what that means to you, and for you, and then do it.

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

We are all too special to be knocked down by life.

We all deserve to rise.

Amen. #PassItForward


[Image via Pixabay]

A Note of Thanks To Some Important People in My Life

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As we approach Holy Week, I’m thinking about everything I’m grateful for and everyone I’m grateful to.

A woman named Anne I met last week asked me to try out a gratitude exercise with her. “I want you to say a really important prayer every morning when you wake up,” she said, adding, “Say it in the afternoon as well.”

My response: “Uh, ok. What is it?” (I said “Uh” because I was expecting some long-drawn-out prayer I would have to memorize.)

She said, “Please repeat after me: Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

[Read: When is Enough Enough in Life?]

She went on for two minutes saying those two words over and over asking me to repeat after her, soft, loud, fast, slow. I gotta admit, the first few times I was like, ‘This is weird,’ and I laughed a little (she didn’t). So then I just started following her tempo.

I started focusing on the words: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I settled in and, in time, her voice gave way and I was saying the two words by myself. With each time I spoke, I settled into the power of those two words and everyone I could say them to.

  • To God: Thank you for the gift of my life.
  • To my parents, both of whom died not too long ago: Thank you for being there for me and sharing your lives with me.
  • To my family: Wow, yes. Thank you to them for holding me in the protective womb of our family.
  • Thank you to my friends who check in on me all the time, who include me in their lives and their families.

[Watch: 4 Ways to Improve Your Memory]

  • To the people I’m lucky enough to work with each day: Thank you to you for helping me so much every day both at the office and at home.
  • To strangers I meet on the street who share a kind word when they don’t have to: Thank you.
  • To the people who share here on MariaShriver.com and to the people who have collaborated with us on AWomansNation.org and who have accepted the challenge to Wipe Out Alzheimer’sThank you for being so generous and so brave. Thank you.
  • To my children’s friends: Thank you for sitting with me, sharing with me and helping me to stay young at heart.
  • To those on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages who share inspiring messages and thankfully share my zero tolerance for meanness: Thank you.

This little prayer that I learned from Anne has helped ground me and put a smile on my face this week. I try to practice gratitude every day, but I think I was making it more complicated than I needed to.

All I had to do was say “thank you.”

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

I’ll continue to practice my thankful prayer, and I’ll continue to express my gratitude in big and small ways whenever and wherever I can. Thank you for listening and reading. Happy Holy Week to all of you. I can’t wait for Easter and to be able to eat dessert again!

#PassItForward


[Image via Morgan Sessions]

Internet Abuse is Real and It’s Up To Us to End It

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This week I watched as my friend Ashley Judd fought back against Internet abuse.

“Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood,” she wrote, adding, “As I began on Twitter to identify and push back against this toxicity and abuse, I faced the standard bashing anyone (girl or boy, woman or man) experiences when objecting to and taking action against misogyny.”

[Read: 7 Things Children Can Teach Us]

To illustrate why she is so offended by the written assaults she has experienced on the Internet, she bravely told a personal story of sexual violence, making comparisons and finding similarities between the two. And she correctly stated that the nameless, cowardly assaults that take place on the Internet have to stop.

She is right.

As was Curt Schilling when he stepped up to call out the “trolls” who were harassing his daughter.

Internet harassment is a real thing. It’s violent, hurtful, abusive and scary. And I know it affects all kinds of people, not just those in the public eye.

[Why You Need to Find Your Inner Voice]

I’ve been thinking about what we can do — what I can do — to stop this kind of violence, because that’s exactly what it is: Violence against women and men.

We could boycott publications that print things with the sole intention of destroying people’s lives. We could delete our accounts or hold the companies that run them responsible for removing the hate ASAP. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook ,etc. can do a better job of policing comments that are jaw-dropping, abusive, offensive and threatening. We can each watch our own words, our own tempers, our own sides of the street.

I’m not naive enough to think that everyone will always be kind.

But I do know that when people speak out and say how these comments and commenters, “trolls” or whatever they are called, make them feel, it does have an impact. It does affect others and make them pause and think about their actions. Or, at least, I hope it does. It does for me.

[Read: What #HappyActs Will You Do Today?]

Ashley Judd made me stop and think. Curt Schilling made me step back and say “wow.” Kendall Jenner called out a prominent weekly magazine for attributing quotes to her that were totally fabricated and that hurt her.

I have seen those I love experience it and I, myself, have been stunned more times than I can count by not-OK comments. I try to practice compassion and forgiveness, but sometimes just like Ashley, I gotta say “this is not OK.” 

Our goal must be to become a more caring, compassionate, conscious culture. If we can’t be kind together, we’re never going to be able to work together, to move this world forward together, to build happiness together.

It starts with each of us.

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

Let’s make these mean and threatening kinds of comments more than not OK. Let’s have a zero tolerance policy for Internet abuse.

Let’s start now. #PassItForward


[Image via Death to the Stock Photo]