My daughter Christina left yesterday for the Big Apple.
She’d left before, five years ago to go to college, but then she moved home to reconnect and work at finding her passion. It’s always been art and design so she applied for her masters in business and design, packed her bags and yesterday morning she left.
It feels different this time.
In my gut I know she’s on her way.
[Read all of Maria Shriver's 'I've Been Thinking' essays]
I’m happy for her, but as I sat to do my morning meditation my eyes welled with tears and I felt sad, really sad. You could say ‘Snap out of it, be happy for her,’ etc. I know everything you could say but I still feel really emotional.
Last night my four kids and I had dinner.
We are blessed.
We laughed, told stories and ate under the California moon.
[Read: 3 Steps to Finding Gratitude in Your Life]
There they were, four young men and women with big dreams and big hearts. One moving to the Big Apple. Katherine, next month, is moving out and in with her high school friend who’s moving back from NYC. Patrick will move back to college next week and my youngest, Christopher, will start his junior year in high school. Saddly, the countdown to his leaving has begun.
It’s all natural, I know, life is predictable… and unpredictable.
We feel blessed one minute and so lonely the next. Our lives can be feel so full and then so empty. One minute we are laughing, our houses are full and the next day they can be quiet and empty.
So goes life.
[Read: Do Justly, Love Mercifully, Walk Humbly]
This past week as I watched the outpouring of love and confusion over Robin Williams’ death. I felt that paradox. A man of such talent and laughter, a man who felt such anxiety and depression.
We never know about someone else’s life. It may look easy for them on the outside but it can be dark and lonely on the inside.
I know many people understand this. I shared a quote this week about the need for kindness because everyone is engaged in a tough battle and it was shared almost 1 million times in just a few days.
That tells me something deep and profound: We all feel joy, sadness.
[Watch: Maria Shriver Talks Special Olympics for The Hollywood Reporter's Philanthropy Issue]
We feel when someone is mean to us and when someone is kind to us. I know deep in my heart that it’s much better to feel kindness than shame. The quote I shared reminds us that every one of us is engaged in a tough battle. Some days we don’t feel it, other days we do.
Life is unpredictable so treat others as you want to be treated. With kindness.
Growing up in a large, competitive, tough, Irish Catholic family, I used to confuse kindness with weakness. As an adult, I’ve learned differently. I now understand that kindness doesn’t mean weakness. You have to be really strong to be kind.
I’m not saying it’s easy. You have to be strong and to be patient to be kind. You have to really be mindful.
[Read: Read — 5 Things to Remember When A Friend is Grieving]
Lots of people look “happy on the outside,” and who knows what’s happening inside. Their kid may have just left home and they’re sad, their mom may have just died or be sick. Their home may be in disarray.The list goes on and on.
But think how kindness makes you feel, think about yourself … then move out from there.
I’ve been thinking in these last few days of summer, with young men being shot, kids going off to college, people being senselessly killed in the Middle East, funny people dying, people crying. What we need is a social kindness movement.
Let’s start this very moment.
[Also — 7 Things I Learned the Hard Way–Life After Loss]
If we really are the strongest nation on earth, then who better to lead a kindness revolution? Join me in a kindness movement.
And if you see my girl on the streets of the Big Apple please be kind to her.
[Image via Pinterest]