The Message of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen. #PassItForward

What Is Up With Us as a Nation?

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

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

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

Why? 

What is up with us as a nation?

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

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

We need it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Image via Sargent Shriver Peace Institute]

Here’s What I Plan to Do This Summer

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Summer is upon us — and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. Excited for my kids to all be out of school and at home with me (though not excited for any upcoming sibling drama), excited for the time we’ll spend together and I’m excited for the big things we’ve got going on right here in LA.

There are a lot of big things happening in the next few months. Right now, I’m in Japan with all four of my kids (Lord, help me) to visit my cousin Caroline while she’s serving as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. It’s my first time in the country, which doesn’t happen frequently for me these days and it’s been an amazing trip.

[8 Ways to Make the Most of Summer Travel]

When I come back we’ll be just 35 days away from the Opening Ceremony for Special Olympics World Games, which are happening in Los Angeles. The City of Angels. It’s the first time this century the city will host such an international event (the Olympics were held here in 1932 and 1984), and the first time the Games have been in America in nearly a decade. Over 7,000 athletes from 177 different countries will come to LA to compete in over 25 different sports. It’s a program my mom, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, started in our backyard, and it’s grown to an international event of epic proportions and I couldn’t be more excited to have it happening now in the “backyard” of the city I call home.

[Watch: Maria Shriver Talks Special Olympics with Hollywood Reporter]

I’m also excited to just spend time with my kids. My four kids are evolving and growing into lives of their own choosing. I’ve just started the one-year countdown to being an empty nester. And believe me, you’ll be hearing a lot about that. I’ll need your support when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m working on being in the moment, celebrating the gift of my life, my health, my friends, my kids, my tribe. I am lucky to have them so near to me, and I know it. I want to spend my summer just enjoying them. Laughing with them and learning from them.

I hope the same for you in these next few summer months. And if you are looking for a place to visit, come to LA from July 25 through August 2 for the Special Olympics World Games. The world is invited and I guarantee you will leave changed, invigorated and inspired. #PassItForward

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

Are You Living An Authentic, ‘Free’ Life?

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My daughter Katherine texted me the first picture of Caitlyn Jenner. At first I didn’t realize who it was. When I did, I stopped, took a deep breath and realized the world had just shifted.

I then watched a short video wherein Caitlyn said once the world had seen her Vanity Fair cover she would finally be “free.”

Finally Free.

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I started to think about that phrase: “I’m finally free,” and I wondered, What would make me (or you) feel that way?

Do you know? Do I?

Caitlyn Jenner aside, the desire to live free, to live your own authentic life, is a deeply personal desire, a deeply personal quest. Some go on that quest at a very young age. Others wait for children to leave the nest to finally ask themselves ‘Am I living the life I desire/want?’ Others never answer that question at all.

As Caitlyn said, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

The question in front of all of us is: How do you know whether you are or aren’t living your authentic life?

For me, it’s pretty simple, I think it’s a feeling. 

[5 Lessons About Self-Love I Learned From Pregnancy]

I remember in high school feeling I wanted to be a journalist. It was just a feeling I had that it was where I was meant to be. It didn’t make sense to many of the people in my life, but it made sense to me. And so I followed that feeling. I checked in with myself along the way and that’s something I continue to do.

Many I have spoken to saying living with a sense of freedom is a financial luxury. Others have said it has nothing to do with money, that freedom is a state of mind. It’s not just about the country you live in, it’s how you live within yourself.

It’s up to you to organize your life in a way that grants you that feeling. Because the feeling of freedom is based on your tribe, your passion, your heart and yes, also the country you live in. I feel so blessed to live in a country that was built out of the quest to live freely. Living free, living from an authentic place and/or space is my wish for every human being — regardless of gender, finances or nationality.

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

May we all support those on a quest to find that free space with love understanding and acceptance. Let’s give that peace to ourselves and to others. #PassItForward


[Image via Vanity Fair]

My Message to Graduates

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We’re in the thick of graduation season again, and I’ve been thinking back on all of the commencements I’ve given over the years.

When I think about all the young adults heading out into the world — whether that be to start their first year of college or enter the workforce — I have many hopes for their future. And since I’ve talked about those hopes in many commencement addresses over the years. I thought I’d share some snippets from them all today.

“I know everybody is asking you these exact questions: ‘What are you gonna do after graduation?’ ‘Where will you be working?’, ‘How much are they gonna pay you?’, ‘Where will you be living?’, ‘Where are you going?’ … There are so many questions,” I asked the graduating class of 2012 at USC (which included my daughter Katherine).

[4 Strategies for Raising Your Self-Esteem]

“But today, I have one small wish for you. Before you go out and press that fast-forward button, I’m hoping, I’m praying that you’ll first have the courage to press the pause button. I hope you’ll remember about the Power of the Pause. Pausing today, and throughout your entire life, allows you to take a breath, it allows you to take a beat, it allows you to be in the moment.”

I identified “Ten Things I Wish I’d Known — Before I Went Out into the Real World” for a 1998 commencement speech I gave to the graduating class of Holy Cross College (I dug up a very dated C-Span video of it here). I won’t put all 10 here, but I will share a few: Pinpoint your passion, no job is beneath you, who you work for is as important as what you do and be willing to fail.

I also believe that “it’s ok to be scared. And not only is fear okay, it’s a good thing. Our fear gives us wisdom. It lets us know we’re confronting something new.” These thoughts come from another speech I gave at a mother-daughter luncheon for my good friend Ally’s senior class (that became my book “And One More Thing Before You Go…”).

[Watch Maria Shriver & Katherine Schwarzenegger Discuss Post-Graduation Paths & Reinvention]

I’ll end with part of the poem I wrote for the commencement address at my nephew’s High School, which turned into my “Just Who Will You Be?” book.

Just Who Will You Be 
When you get to prime time?

In the end all that matters
Is not in the bank
Not your money or your home
Or the gas in your tank

It’s not just about
Your husband or wife
It’s what’s in your heart
How you live your own life

How much joy do you give?
How much love, how much laughter?
All the people you helped
And felt so good after

If you follow your heart…
And just listen to me
You’ll turn into the you…
You are destined to be! 

My daughter Katherine, who I mentioned graduated from USC in 2012, has her own advice for graduates in her generation that she shared in her book “I Just Graduated … Now What?”. “Pace yourself for the road that lies ahead and don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers right away.” It’s great advice and there’s lots more from lots of interesting people (maybe even me) in the book.

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

So if you’re graduating this year, I hope you’ll pause, be willing to fail, accept your fear, follow your heart and pace yourself. And if you’re still looking for graduation gifts…I’ve got a few book ideas for you. See above & #PassItForward


[Photo Credit: mfillhart via Compfight cc]

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!!”

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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

men

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)