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]

Is America in Need of a Time Out?

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The other day I was sitting at former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral. (Watch my TODAY interview with her daughter Patti Davis here.) I knew Mrs. Reagan from her time in Washington, D.C. where I grew up. In fact her husband President Ronald Reagan gave my mother the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But I got to know her much better on a personal level once I became First Lady of California. We would often meet for lunch. She would give me her two cents about the state of California and the state of our national politics. I would ask her about her time as First Lady of the Golden State — what she learned while serving, what she would have done differently (nothing) and what advice, if anything, she would give me (“Do whatever you want because you will get criticized no matter what”…great.).

The lunches were always interesting, but invariably I would always leave thinking to myself, ‘Wow, politics has really changed since they were there.’ Little did I know how much more it would change.

Sitting at Mrs. Reagan’s funeral was like sitting in a time warp. People were on their best behavior. Speakers spoke of the Reagan’s love for one another, but they also described another era in our political climate: One in which parties worked together, one in which people might disagree politically, but worked to get along personally.

[Patti Davis on Ronald Reagan and Alzheimer’s]

Those watching on TV could compare what was going on at the Reagan Library with what was going on on the campaign trail. Very different worlds, to put it mildly.

While a Marine band played “God Bless America,” riots played out in Chicago. Inflammatory rhetoric played out in rally’s and all over the Internet. After watching it on TV, a friend remarked, “You know, Reagan would never be able to win his party’s nomination in today’s political climate. Nor would your uncle be able to win his. Neither would Lincoln, Bush or really anyone who is in the center. None of these Presidents would be able to secure their party’s nomination today, much less get elected.

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That got me thinking. About where we are politically and personally today. About the loss of civility and manners. About our inability to listen to opposing views. About our extremism and where we are headed. Where are we headed, in fact, when people can’t say anything in the public arena without the other side screaming them down? Where are we headed when everyone thinks everyone else is the enemy? Where are we headed when people can say all kinds of brutal and/or untrue things on the Internet without any recriminations for what they say? Where are we headed when people running for President say things that if our kids said them, we would put them in a time out?

[I Live in Washington D.C. and I Don’t Vote. Here’s Why]

Is America in need of a time out? Are we ALL in need of a time out? Can we even suggest a time out today and not get ridiculed for doing so?

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting we go back in time. But I am suggesting that we perhaps pause for a moment and think about how we want to go forward. Can we go forward with respect and understanding? Can we go forward listening?

[Why I Vote: Participation, Patriotism and Power]

I understand people are angry. I understand people don’t feel seen and/or heard. And they think the best way to achieve that might be to protest or bully the other side. Perhaps what we need is to create a safe space so that we can listen. Hear the pain that is bubbling underneath. All I know is that whenever I have stopped on a personal level to listen, I have made progress. All I know is that whenever I’ve been involved with trying to outdo another, I’ve never gotten anywhere.

It’s hard to stop. To pause. To hear.

That’s what happens at a funeral like Mrs. Reagan’s. You stop, you think about your country, you think about what was, and yes, what can be. If we all took a deep breath, assumed the best instead of the worst, challenged our leaders and ourselves to find common ground and common good, if we did that, perhaps leaders could and would emerge that had all our best interests at heart.

That’s what I’ve been thinking, tell me, what have you been thinking? #PassItFoward

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


[Image via Pixabay]

A Message From My Mother That I Will Cherish Forever

Dedication Of The Rose Kennedy Greenway

The other day I was going through my books. I’m desperately trying to follow Marie Kondo’s advice in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and only keep things in my home that spark joy.

I started with books. I love books. I also love photos of people I love, and I admit I have too many of both. Kondo says leave the photos for last, which I intend to do.

[10 Easy Spring-Cleaning Decorating Resolutions]

So I’m going through my books, donating this one and that one and all of a sudden I come to one that I open and see it’s inscribed to me from my mother. Many of my books are from my mother but this inscription stopped me and made me burst into tears. Why? Because I know what she wrote here is true.

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I have no doubt that my mother loved me here on earth but she was tough, relentless and driven. She showed her love by pushing you and driving you forward. There is no doubt on my mind that she wanted to love me and others in a gentler way, but she wasn’t raised like that. So to see her handwriting, to see her message to me these many years later tells me that truth: she can love me more from heaven where she is free to love in a different way.

[Watch a clip of the ESPN 30 for 30 Brave in the Attempt on Eunice Kennedy Shriver] 

My mother died almost seven years ago. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her, where I don’t want to talk to her about something. Finding this book with her message in it made me feel connected to her in such a beautiful, profound way. 

Grief and grieving is such a personal experience. It’s a journey into unknowing, into faith, into letting go and acceptance. It’s hard. At least it’s been hard for me.

I’ve written about grief quite a bit as I’ve struggled to make sense of it. In fact, the first book I ever wrote was a children’s book about grief, death, heaven and the questions a child has about it all. They are the same questions we have as adults, yet we don’t often create an open space to talk about such pain in adulthood.

[Read the MariaShriver.com Grief Series]

Ironically, this week on MariaShriver.com we launched a series on grief with the mission of bringing light and healing to anyone grieving. In reality we are all grieving. We just do it in different ways.

The truth is, all week long I was wondering how I was gong to write a message for this Sunday Paper that would contribute to our discussion about grief, loss and healingI couldn’t figure out how to start it and then I opened my book. A book that I had stashed away. A book that had a message of love from my mother to me that was in my home all along. Now it’s in my heart forever.

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

I’m grateful I started tidying up and I’m grateful I looked at each book before just throwing them out. If I hadn’t, I would have missed one of the most profound messages I’ve ever been given from my mother. That I can be and am loved from heaven and on earth. Wow. 

#PassItForward

What Spotlight Do You Seek?

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On this day one year ago Julianne Moore won the Oscar for her heart-wrenching performance in Still Alice. 

I was proud to be one of the executive producers of the film and I’m proud of the way it brought Alzheimers onto the red carpet and into the light of day.

Tonight someone else will win for their work and the spotlight will shift, as it always does, even though the work must continue. The fight to find a cure still wages on and the millions of families living and impacted with the disease still struggle to get the attention of government leaders, philanthropists and everyday people.

[Read the facts from our just-released Shriver Report Snapshot on Alzheimer’s]

I’ve thought a lot over the years about the spotlight of fame. Why so many people crave it, why so many people run into it then try to escape it. What is it we are are looking for? What is it we want from the spotlight?

At its most basic level I think we are all hoping that someone notices we are here that we matter, that our stories, our lives, mean something to someone. 

Today at the Oscars the spotlight might focus on the film of the same name and the journalism that uncovered the pain endured by so many at the hands of priests they and their families trusted. The spotlight might shine on famous men and women who are hoping their work will be acknowledged by their peers and the world. The actors and actresses will look glamorous and many millions watching will dream of being where they are, never thinking about what their lives may be like when the light goes off.

The spotlight that fame brings with it can shine ever so brightly and be extinguished ever so quickly. It’s blinding allure brings people to heights and depths never imagined. If they are not careful, they can spend their lives in restless pursuit of it only to miss the real life going on around them.

[Read Maria’s op-ed on the State of Denial we’re in]

Last year when Still Alice was the toast of the town I wrote a poem entitled Still Here. It was meant to speak on behalf of those struggling with Alzheimer’s, but I think it actually speaks to a broader group of people. Everyday people who will never win an Oscar, who will never stand on a golden stage with the spotlight beaming down on them, but who deserve an award for how they live their lives, how they raise their families, how they dedicate their lives to building something bigger than themselves. 

[Watch a clip of Still Alice]

I’m sharing it with you in remembrance of Still Alice, in honor  of all those who struggle with this disease and those who live as caregivers and caretakers. May the spotlight shine on their work and their noble lives and may we all remember they are Still Here.  #PassItForward

 “Still Here”

I’m still here

Still breathing

Still being

Still walking next to you

Don’t you see me

Don’t you hear me

Can’t you feel me

I’m not gone

I’m crying out, out to you

 

I’m screaming so you’ll hear me so you’ll see me so you’ll feel that I’m still here

Don’t you see that I’m not wiped out

I’m still here

 

Wipe out the disease that is stealing my mind

Wipe out the disease that is stealing me from you

Wipe out the disease but don’t wipe out me

 

Hallelujah amazing grace almighty father

Can’t you hear

Glory hallelujah Mother Mary

Can’t you see?

Don’t make me bargain with the devil

I’m still here

I’m still breathing

Still thinking

Still standing next to you

Why can’t you see me

Why can’t you love me

I’m going crazy because you can’t see that I’m still here

 

Wipe out what’s blocking you

Wipe out the lies

Wipe out your sad beliefs but don’t wipe out me

I’m here

My soul still aches

My soul still breathes

My heart still breaks because you’re wiping out me

Sing glory Hallelujah

Sing amazing grace

Sing whatever makes you remember that I’m still here

See me dance

See me laugh

See me throw back my hair

See my wildness

See my beauty

See that I’m still here

 

Please be still my love

Please be quiet

Please lay down your busy life

In your stillness you will see that I’m still me

Be still

Be still

Be still

And when you wake work hard to wipe it out

Wipe out the pain

Wipe out the fear but don’t wipe me out because remember

I’m still here

[Watch Seth and Lauren Rogen Discuss Hilarity for Charity at Architects of Change Live]


[Image via Pixabay]