This Is Our Moment in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Still Alice walking

***We’re starting a movement, will you join us? Head to WipeOutAlzheimers.org to stand with us.***

Last night was a big moment for Julianne Moore. I am so happy she received a Best Actress Academy Award for her stellar performance in the magical film Still Alice — a film I am so proud to be co-executive producer of.

As a child of Alzheimer’s, her portrayal of Alice, a 50-year-old linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, left me moved, humbled and so very grateful. As the audience, we see through her eyes the toll this disease takes, not just on the person who gets it, but on all those who love them. We feel her struggle, we sense her bewilderment, we witness her valiant efforts to hold on to who she is, what she knows and what she remembers. Alice struggles to still be herself. Julianne does this so well that audiences and critics have been honoring her with every award in sight — and tonight I hope that streak continues.

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

This is a special moment in Julianne’s extraordinary career. A well-deserved moment for someone who has worked long and hard and has always given a performance that astounds. But this is also a moment in the fight to wipe out Alzheimer’s.

These are the facts: Someone gets Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds. A woman in her 60’s is twice as likely to get it as she is to get breast cancer. Women make up 65 percent of all those who get Alzheimer’s and they’re nearly two-thirds of all the caregivers in this country.

[Watch the ‘Still Alice’ trailer & find a theater near you]

Why do women get it more? No one knows.

What’s the cure for it? No one knows.

What we DO know is that this film, this performance, is waking up our country to these facts and to the reality that more must be done to wipe out this staggering disease that is affecting millions.

To that end, myself and others have put our brains together to launch a global woman’s initiative called Wipe Out Alzheimer’s. Our mission: to research women’s brains and figure out why this disease is disproportionally affecting us. Our goal: Wipe out Alzheimer’s. When? Right Now. And everyone is invited to join us.

[Read: The Most Useful Phrase for a Lasting Relationship]

This is our moment, and we’re going to use it to study the female brain to wipe out this mind-blowing disease (and hopefully some others while we’re at it!).

I hope you’ll visit our new site and sign up to join us. And then #PassItForward to your friends.

Visit WipeOutAlzheimers.org to learn more.

What is Love?

what is love maria shriver red roses

On this weekend it’s hard to think about anything other than love.

It is the stuff of great songs, novels, poetry and films. It’s also the great gift of life: To love and to be loved.

My friend wrote a book not too long ago where she wrote something that struck me. She said, like many women, she had spent a lot of her life searching for the love that’s depicted in the movies or fairy tales. So much so that she had missed the everyday love that was all around her.

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

She didn’t realize this until she got cancer, and she let all the love that was around her in. She regretted the love she had missed out on, but was grateful for this gift that cancer was able to teach her.

Every day there is love all around us that many of us miss out on.

Valentine’s day is a big commercial holiday. I’ve noticed that it makes many people who are not in relationships feel badly. And for those people who are in relationships, they can feel lots of pressure to come up with something smart, clever or expensive to “show” they love their significant other for February 14.

[Read: Are You So Plugged in You’re Out of Touch?]

But is love really any of those things? What is it? What is love?

Is it chocolates, roses, jewelry? Is it big fancy dinners?

Those things can certainly be part of the equation, but the kind of love I think everyone needs is the kind of love that’s already all around us. Love that is patient and kind, supportive, gentle and accepting. That’s what love is about.

It’s about caring, listening, being present. It’s about forgiveness and understanding. It’s when someone brings you a cup of coffee or orders you an iced tea before you get there because they know you like it. It’s your friend sending you a quote. Or someone calling to just check in on you.

I’m not saying I don’t like flowers or beautiful dinners, but like my friend, so many of us miss the gift of love that’s present in our lives every day.

[Find out where ‘Still Alice’ is playing in a theater near you]

Valentine’s day comes around once a year. But we can all practice love every day. What the world needs now is more love. What each of us needs is to see the real hardworking love that’s already there every day. We need to see it, feel it and recognize it for what it is.

Real love in real life.

And Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. You’re a part of the love that surrounds me daily, and I hope you feel it too. #PassItForward


{Image Credit: Picjumbo}

The Power of Words

DeathtoStock_Wired3

Not too long ago I gave a speech called ‘The Power of the Pause.’ I talked about the importance of pausing in all areas of our lives.

The power of the pause has never been more important than it is right now because our world is changing at warp speed.

Change is everywhere and it’s scary how fast what ‘was’ no longer ‘is.’

[Watch Maria Shriver’s full ‘Power of the Pause’ speech]

Companies come and go. Carefully orchestrated careers end in minutes. Friends up and move. Kids grow and leave. People change, governments surprise.

This week alone I woke up to images of a man being burned alive in a cage, and before I could close my mouth two more people were hung in swift retaliation.

I just didn’t know what to say.

And then I saw this piece by Kasey StuddardAnd then this piece by Nicholas Kristof. And then my daughter Katherine told me the brave words she said to a woman who was sitting next to her idly gossiping about our family in an unflattering way.

[Read: 13 Things I Would Tell My 29-Year-Old Self Now]

I sent both of the articles to my kids and their friends. I wanted them to see the effect negative words can have on someone’s heart. I wanted them to see a different take on a story that was unfolding in real time about a famous individual. I wanted them to see that they could use their words to join in the gossip or they could use their words to promote compassion, empathy and understanding.

The old nursery rhyme says “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

That’s just not true. We’ve all used words that we regret. I know I have.

Words are powerful.

They can promote unity and peace. Look at Nelson Mandela, the Pope and countless “ordinary” teachers who are promoting kindness and emotional intelligence every day. Words can be used to empower.

Words can also cut just like a knife.

The power of the pause. The power of our words. The words we use in real life and on the Internet can both benefit from pausing to recognize the power they weild. 

I’ve been thinking about how I, and those I love, can use our words more for good than harm. In these changing times it’s one piece of power we all can share.

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

Will you join me in harnessing the power of your words for good?

#PassItForward


[Image via Death to the Stock Photo]

Wipe Your Slate Clean

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My daughter’s friend Stephanie got engaged not long ago. This was big news in our home cause Stephanie had struggled in previous relationships. Now at the age of 35 she has found herself in a real and healthy relationship.
This week I went to her engagement party to meet her husband-to-be and to ask her how she turned her life around.

She said, and I quote, “I worked hard. Really, really hard to get me right. I took responsibility for my choices. I looked hard at myself, I wrote it all down then wiped my slate clean.” (Ps this took time.)

“Wiping my slate clean,” she said, “was a liberating experience because it allowed me to put the negative, the sad, the heartbreak, the shame, the guilt behind me. Once I did this a good, kind man appeared in my life and I was ready.”

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

(She promised me she would write this up for our community and I’ll share it once she does.)

I thought a lot about what she told me, what she told my daughters and the others who had gathered to celebrate her.

Wipe your slate clean. Give yourself permission to put the sad and the negative away. Give yourself permission to start anew. But first make sure you do the hard work on you so that you will truly be able to wipe out whatever feelings you have that are dragging you down.

I don’t want to wipe my entire past away. It has made me who I am and those experiences and the many people I have met and loved on my life’s journey are the ones I want to move forward with. But what we all can benefit from wiping away are the feelings of shame and sorrow, sadness and guilt that Stephanie was talking about. Those are worth wiping away because they are heavy and they prevent us from feeling light joyful and well.

[Read: Getting Older Isn’t a Crisis, It’s a Blessing]

Ironically, “Wipe Out” is also the name of the movement we are launching to wipe out the staggering disease known as Alzheimer’s. 

Alzheimer’s disproportionally affects women and I’m hoping that scores of women will join us and put their brains to use to put the disease where it belongs: in the past.

[Watch: The Official ‘Still Alice’ Trailer]

We will give you more details as our movement unfolds but I love that it shared the name of the action that Stephanie took to get to happiness’ door. Wiping out Alzheimer’s… now that will be worth celebrating.


[Image via Pinterest]

Life is Yours to Create … and Recreate

life -jeff sheldon

This week I’ve been thinking about this thing called life.

The truth is, when we are in our twenties we think a lot about planning a life. We look for someone to plan it with, we look to build a career to make our life, friends to complete it, kids to enhance it. But life has a way of upending your carefully made plans. All of a sudden you can find yourself having to plan this thing called life all over again.

I recently watched this Steve Jobs interview, and I agree with Mr. Jobs: Life, or what we are told about it, can either be limiting, safe, secure OR wide open, creative and sometimes scary. It’s ours to paint, draw, decide and create.

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

I was thinking about this as I listened to kids in my house complain about the boring nature of school.

“Why can’t it be more creative?” they asked. “Why should it be taught the same way as when you were little? It’s so limiting.”

Pushing up against the way it is, or the way it’s been, is smart. It takes courage to push up, push back and be creative with the gift of life. But that’s exactly what building a life of your own requires. It requires you to be creative, to think outside of the box.

[Find out when ‘Still Alice’ is coming to a theater near you]

Your life is yours to create and then recreate. Once you realize this, in Mr. Jobs’ words, your life will, and should, “never be the same again.”

That’s what I’ve been thinking, what do you think? Tell me, I’d love to know. And, as always, #PassItForward


Thanks to Faranam Street blog for the inspiration. [Image via Jeff Sheldon/Unsplash]

My 2015 Idea: Small Gestures, Big Impact

reflections

It was a busy week. 

The Supreme Court made news by saying it would tackle same-sex marriage. Finally and bravo. The entertainment world continued to honor it’s own with numerous awards ceremonies and announced Oscar nominations, including one for Julianne Moore’s “Still Alice” performance. The Pope continued to speak on hot-button issues, causing anyone who follows him to stop, pause, reflect and thank the Lord he is where he is and is who he is.

What else happened? Presidential contenders jockeyed. And the rest of the world went about the business of life: Working hard, raising kids, paying it forward.

Trying to make sense of this world of ours that seems to be changing and moving at warp speed. I, for one, am focussing more and more on how small acts can have big impact.

[See the Women Behind “Still Alice” in One Photo]

Here, in this community at MariaShriver.com, brave men and women share their life struggles and stories with the hope that their journey might help someone else. They share their tools, their tips, their tales and their takeaways. And guess what: they are igniting not only their own lives but other’s, and in turn, our world.

Everywhere I look, everyone I talk to, is telling me they feel they have to be entrepreneurial in every aspect of their lives these days. They don’t count on government or anyone else to guide them forward. They rely on their circle of friends, mentors and others to guide them through.

I do the same. Every day I read a piece that makes me stop, pause, check my belief system and move forward — hopefully a little more inspired, enlightened and open.

I went to a lunch this week organized by Elle Magazine editor-in-chief Robbie Myers. I enjoyed the women I met there. All of them were committed to helping one another through stories, business, networking and mentorship.

[Read: Fighting Feelings of Failure…One Melon at a Time]

That’s a great new vision and idea for all of us: To share our story and use it to guide another human being forward.

So while a few contemplate runs for the highest office in the land, let the rest of us reach out to one other person and help to guide them forward.

Life is moving fast. Time is racing and we all need guidance.

Small gestures that result in big impact are all around us. The guy in the deli in France who hid people in a freezer and saved their lives. A woman I read about in LA who took it upon herself to walk the streets to give food to homeless people and take them to doctors herself. A young woman in my son’s school raised thousands of dollars for a friend’s family who suffered a tragedy. All seemingly-small, yet powerful gestures.

[Read: How to Manifest Success and Abundance in 2015]

Small gestures, big impact: that’s my big/little idea for 2015. I’m on the lookout, send me some that catch your eye. And #PassItForward


[Image via SplitShire]

#IamMaria. Who are you?

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I was hoping for a more peaceful New YearOne in which we could all do a better job of getting along, being less judgmental, being more tolerant, being more empathetic. 

But then Paris happened.

A guy I know says with every news story like this one, he sits with his kids and talks about the silver lining … except this time he said he couldn’t find one. Will.I.Am’s new song says the world is going crazy. I feel that too. But I have to believe that the good that lives in so many of us trumps the terrorism that played out in front of all of our eyes this week.

#JeSuisCharlie. #JeSuisAhmed.

That means “I am Charlie” and stands for the magazine Charlie Hebdo where the terrorism occurred. “I am Ahmed” represents the courageous French cop, Ahmed Merabet, who was also gunned down and who happened to be Muslim.

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

Those hashtags got me thinking about each of us. Who are we? Individually, collectively?

#IAmMaria.

What is my mission? What is my role? What am I contributing, doing? Who am I being?

The silver lining for me in this act of terror has been to drill down on myself. To look at my own speech, my own actions, my own judgements. How do I reward the good? How do I turn away from the bad? How can I pause? How can I be more mindful?

Before anyone of us can say “I am Charlie.” “I am Ahmed.” “I can’t breathe.” “I’ll ride with you.”, we have to dig down in to ourselves. Who are we? Who is the you in your hashtag? Are we part of the problem? Is our speech divisive? Are our thoughts judgmental? How are we making the world better? How are we supporting the good in ourselves and others?

[Watch a new clip of Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin in ‘Still Alice’]

I tell my kids that none of us are perfect. All of us are flawed. All of us can do better. Change, kindness, compassion, love, goodness, does indeed start with us.

In this New Year, in this new week, in this new day, we can each commit to being a part of the solution, not the problem.

Here at MariaShriver.com we are about igniting a community of Architects of Change. People who want to pause, listen, think, reflect and then work hard to bring about the change we all need to make this world we live in better.

[Read: Four Key Ingredients to Mastering Your Own Life]

Each of us has tremendous power within us. Power to do good or to do bad. Starting today: how will you use it? How can you ignite the good in you and others? Think about your own name turn it into an acronym for yourself, make it stand for something in your mind.

#IAmMaria.

I am powered by inspiration to be Mindful Active Reflective Informed Accountable.

My power is within. What powers you? You are the architect of your own life. What’s your blueprint? We all need one. Share yours here.

My New Year’s Intentions

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From my family to yours, wishing you all a blessed joy-filled and a happy New Year. One in which we will all work to be kinder, less judgmental and more accepting.

That and this are my New Year’s intentions. Amen. #PassItForward

-Maria

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

Let Us Be Women Who Love

By Idelette McVicker

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth with extravagant Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who make room.

Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.

Let us be women who carry each other.

Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.

Let us be women who live for Peace.

Let us be women who breathe Hope.

Let us be women who Create beauty.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.

Let us be a garden for tender souls.

Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.

Let us be a womb of Life to grow.

Let us be women who love.

Let us rise to the question of our time.

Let us speak to the injustices in our world.

Let us move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us listen for those who have been silenced.

Let us honor those who have been devalued.

Let us say, Enough! With abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.

Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.

Let us be women who love. 

Let us be women who are savvy, smart, and wise.

Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.

Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.

Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.

Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.

Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.

Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.

Let us be women who Love.

2014: Thank You and A Look Back

2014

This week I’ve been thinking about what an exciting, productive, learning, change-filled, sometimes scary, many times joyous, “Fully Alive” and, most importantly, inspiring year 2014 has been.

We’ve seen so much struggle and strife, from Ferguson to ISIS to #ICantBreathe and the deaths of some of our greatest American legends.

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

But we’ve also seen a lot of greatness and love in 2014 — Pope Francis continues to spread compassion and open-mindedness throughout the world, after decades of bans and restrictions we’ve started to open up our interactions with Cuba, the battle of the sexes has shifted and both men and women are making steps towards working together instead of apart, we saw huge amounts of patriotism and pride this summer during the World Cup and there have been countless other displays of humor, love, joy and kindness all the year through.

My team and I have launched big projects that I’m so proud of this year, from “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink” and “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert,” to our Shriver Corps members who are connecting low-income Americans with the services they need and the gratitude initiative we launched, The Envelope Please, that is now in over 200,000 hotel rooms across the nation. And I couldn’t be more proud to be an executive producer of “Still Alice” and the awareness it’s raised for Alzheimer’s and the millions of American’s suffering from it or taking care of someone who is — though we still have a long way to go in our fight to wipe out that mind-blowing disease.

[Read: The Best Gift You Can Put Under the Tree]

As we wind down yet another year that I hope we’ve each lived out to our fullest potential, I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to the M Team — my Architects of Change community.

Your stories that you so wisely, kindly and bravely share with me and the world on MariaShriver.com inspire me and the millions who read them daily. Our community has grown by leaps and bounds this year and continues to expand, and that is thanks to the amazing essays you all share every day. Thank you for your involvement in this journey I started four years ago. Thank you for your honest stories. For your wisdom. Your tips. Your tools. Your tales.

It continues to be a pleasure to work with you all. I am so warmed by what we’ve done this past year, and even more, I’m so excited about where we’ll go in the next. Here’s to having an informed, innovative, impactful and inspired 2015. Onward!

[Read: #12DaysOfKindness: Kindness is Contagious]

Have a happy holiday season, I hope you’re getting to take a break to be with loved ones and have some time to reflect, recharge and reignite. I am and I’ll see you all again renewed and raring to go in 2015.

#PassItForward


[Image via Pinterest]

America Needs to Catch Its Breath

breath

Earlier this week I tweeted out that I thought the country needed a national conversation about force, race, rage, men and inequality.

By week’s end, I would add women to that group. Upon reflection, we need to not just pause, we need to stop. Stop dead in our tracks and look at all of these protests, all of this anger, all of this mistrust, distrust, rage and confusion. Between men and between women. Between blacks and between whites. And we can’t stop there,  we have to include Latinos, Asians and every race. We have to look at Democrats and Republicans. And the institutions we are told to trust.

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

Police officers are under attack. Political leaders struggle with irrelevance. Journalists don’t check facts or talk to the other side before publishing stories anymore.

C’mon.

People feel unsafe — and rightfully so. No one seems to know who to trust or who to believe.

When I grew up, political leaders were admired. So were church leaders and, yes, even journalists. We believed in them and we trusted them to keep us safe and guide us forward. Political parties and their responsibilities were clear. As were roles for men and women.

Today it feels like everything is moving, changing, cracking.

[Read: 3 Tips for Forging Ahead After a Setback]

What I’ve discovered in my own life is that when it all begins moving so fast that you can’t catch your breath, it’s time to stop.

Eric Garner will not ever be able to catch his breath and my heart goes out to his family and friends.

But those of us who can, must. As a nation we must pause to catch our breath and try to breathe new life into our own hearts and minds. Into our own communities, cultures and into our country.

Who are we? Who do we want to be? What are our own guidelines as people, as families, enforcers, as a nation?

[Watch: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Talks Mothering 4 (Almost 5!) kids & Running a Company]

If we are struggling with trusting our institutions, we have to first ask: can we trust ourselves? Can we stop our own anxiety-filled lives that always seem to be on fast forward and ask ourselves to be better people?

No institution is going to save us. But each of us can stop and try to reset. We all need to hold ourselves accountable in our own homes, in our workplaces and out into our communities.

Our country has never been less black and white. We are in a major grey area.

I pray that as the holidays unfold each of us has the courage to stop and take stock. The nation needs a giant permission slip to take some time off from rubbernecking, from tweeting, from trusting other’s opinions and accounts and go in to ourselves. Reflect, meditate on our anger, our beliefs, our own codes of conduct.

[Read: How to Navigate Your Way Through Change]

This new year can be new. It needs to be new in so many ways.

It’s up to each of us to figure out how we can do better. How we can be more united in ourselves and as a country.

We all need to breathe. #PassItForward

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


[Image via Pinterest]