The Sunday Paper, January 29: This Is the Time to Stay Focused

(Photo Credit: Chris Gash/New Yorker)

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All eyes are on “La La Land” heading into Oscars season. The film received a stunning 14 nominations, tying it for the all-time record.

“La La Land” is a beautiful, creative and magical movie with an ending that no one I know can agree on. As my friend John said to me the other day, “The end left me confused, but not in a bad way.”

I mention “La La Land” because everyone I seem to talk to feels like they are living in some version of a “La La Land” illusion. But unlike my friend John, they tell me they feel confused … but in a bad way.

I get it. We seem to be living in a world of alternative facts, which in turn makes one question any and all facts. When people want to confuse you — be it in your home, your place of work, the movies or in the world at large — they create alternate realities so convincing that you begin to doubt your own reality and, in turn, you feel like you’re starring in some strange film. You feel like your mind is in “La La Land.”

So, if you do feel like you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, might I suggest you stop and take a reality check.

Yes, there is such a thing as reality. It’s a place where facts are not alternate. Where life is really unfolding. Where people trying to come into our country really are being detained due to their ethnicity or country of origin. Where people do what they say and say what they do.

Now, when I’m in doubt or confused or suffering, I circle back to what I’m certain and clear about. I reach out to certain friends and family members that I know are grounded in truth and will tell me the truth, even if it’s unpleasant.

I go to church. I sit in silence. I breathe. I walk in nature. I read. (See the eight lifestyle choices that the Buddha instructed his followers to practice to alleviate suffering and confusion.) I write and I write and I write. I tune out the noise. I turn off shows where people scream at each other and throw out facts they can’t substantiate. I turn to my meditation practice.

When in doubt, I don’t ask other confused people what’s going on. I ask myself, what do I think is going on? What do I think is real? What do I trust? What do I observe? What do I feel?

I keep my focus there. I also reach out to people who can teach me a thing or two about mental focus and about how to keep my mind where I want to keep my mind, not where someone else wants to take it.

Enter Tom Brady. Yes, I said Tom Brady. This week, Tom Brady also made history (yes, so did Meryl Streep – if I were looking for acting lessons or lessons in courage, I would call her). Tom Brady is on his way to a record-setting 7th Super Bowl. Yes, he’s an incredible athlete, but he’s also an amazing student of mental fitness. Keeping his mind calm, clear and focused is just as important to him as keeping his body in peak physical shape. So, before you tell me you might not be a Patriots fan — actually don’t, cause I am, 😉 — please do yourself a favor and read the answers Tom wrote for you about how he’s learned to keep his mind focused — where it needs to be and not where others might want him to focus.

My fellow Architects of Change, this is a time to stay focused. Stay focused on what you know to be real and true. May we each be brave enough to challenge what is, imagine what can be and Move Humanity Forward. Challenging what is is the best way to make sure you don’t end up living in “La La Land.” Because unless you’re Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling, that’s not where we need to be.Maria Signature




Every week at The Sunday Paper, we want to go to a positive place. That is our mission. Every week, we also want to honor individuals who are using their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.

We call these individuals Architects of Change. They come from all areas of human endeavor and they make our world better, one idea and one person at a time. This week, we honor Andy Puddicombe as our Architect of Change of the Week. Andy is the visionary leader and voice behind Headspace, an app that is bringing guided meditations and mindfulness training to the masses. He is a man who is helping millions of people around the world achieve a clearer, calmer mind.

Andy and the folks at Headspace have a mission to improve the health and happiness of the world.

Andy AOC of Week

Andy Puddicombe
Mindfulness Expert · Entrepreneur  · Architect of Change

1. Why We Need Meditation Now:  “I think we feel such a sense of busy in our lives and in our minds,” Andy said. “So having a tool to unplug and become more aware of what is going on in the mind, I think it has huge implications. Not just for our own happiness, but for the happiness of those around us in our lives as well.”

2. What Andy Says We Can Do to Calm Down and Get Focused: 1) Meditate and be more mindful in life. 2) Reflect daily on how precious life is. 3) Know that everything is changing all of the time. 4) Think about cause and effect. Examine bad habits or mistakes and change the behavior. 5) Bring a greater sense of acceptance to life. Know that it’s not easy, but don’t resist it. Take away the layer of tension in the mind.

3. How Meditation Can Help Move Humanity Forward: “I think it always comes back to awareness and compassion. The more aware we become in our lives, hopefully, the more compassionate we become in our lives. Not only do we become happier as individuals, but also for the people around us.”

WATCH: Click here to view my Architects of Change conversation with Andy.

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All eyes are on Tom Brady this week as we countdown to Super Bowl Sunday.

Next Sunday, he will lead the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl for a record seventh time. What people may not realize is that he spends as much time training his mind as he does his body. (He has also raised millions of dollars for Best Buddies, but I’ll talk about that another time.)

Together with his trainer Alex Guerrero, he has built the TB12 Sports Therapy Center ( We reached out to Tom to find out how he keeps his mind focused and what we can all learn from his regimen. He took his mind off Super Bowl preparation for a few moments to answer these questions for you, readers of The Sunday Paper.

1) You are going to the Super Bowl for a record 7th time. Getting there is as much a mental feat as it is a physical one. What is your secret for staying mentally fit? 

Tom Brady: I feel the mind and body must work together. I believe just as strongly in the importance of mental fitness as I do about physical fitness. For me, mental fitness comes from a combination of activities and choices. I perform cognitive exercises (which are available to anyone at that help me stay sharp and make better split-second decisions on the field. And I prioritize getting enough rest to allow my body to recover. And I strive to keep a positive mental attitude at all times.

2) There is so much noise going into a football season. Double that for a Super Bowl. How do you maintain a focused mind when the world is trying to distract you? 

Brady: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a big game or event — after these many years I’ve learned to ignore the noise! For me, having a regular routine is very helpful. That means establishing a consistent bedtime and getting an adequate amount of good-quality sleep every night, and carving out time for the TB12 BrainHQ cognitive exercises that help me focus my mind on the most critical information and disregard the rest.

3) How important is the food you eat, the people around you and the environment that you exist in? 

Brady: I believe that what we get out of our bodies is a direct result of what we put in. I (mostly) follow a plant-based diet of whole foods that helps my body stay in balance and limits additional inflammation. I try to surround myself with positive people, and I work to minimize distractions whenever possible. My lifestyle has helped me stay physically and mentally fit.

4) Most people never make it to a Super Bowl but many want a clearer, calmer mind. What is one thing that people can do to get there? 

Brady: That’s a great question. I think it’s tempting to want to find a quick fix and “one thing” you can do — but I think sustained peak performance can really only be achieved through a combination of things… there’s no silver bullet. The “TB12 Method” I’ve developed in partnership with my body coach brings together the right exercise, nutrition, supplementation, and mental elements into a comprehensive lifestyle that I think can help people of all ages and all levels be their best.






This week, we asked our Facebook community the question: How Do You Want to Move Humanity Forward in 2017? Here is what some of you had to say…




Below is a picture of where I spend my Sundays. It’s a spot at my home where I find peace and calm. We recognize that Sunday is a special day of the week — one that is unlike any others. We want to see where you spend your time on Sundays, so send your pictures to and we’ll share them here in the weeks ahead.

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And since there is so much talk about journalism these days, I recommend watching “Tom Brokaw at NBC News, The First 50 Years” tonight with your family. I, along with many others, had the chance to interview Tom for the special. It’s a great opportunity to see journalism at its finest — how it was done in the past and how it’s still done today.



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The Sunday Paper is a product of Shriver Media © 2017. Shriver Media is a For-Benefit Media Enterprise that believes media can be used as a Force for Good in the World.  We Ignite Hearts and Minds.


The Sunday Paper: January 22, 2017

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I’ve done a lot of thinking this week. 

I’ve thought a lot about what President Trump said and what he could have said. I’ve thought a lot about symbolism, about manners, about civility, about tone, about politics, and about democracy.

Most of all, I’ve thought about my country. I’ve thought about where we are and how we got here. I’ve thought a lot about where we are going.

At times, when I struggle to find the right words, I sit in silence. I read the words of great spiritual leaders. I turn to poetry.

One poem I read was Langston Hughes’ “Democracy.”


Talk of our democracy and citizenship has gotten a lot of play this past week. Hughes’ poem reminded me that we all have ownership of our great country and we all must stand on our own two feet and own this land.

As I wrote right after President Trump’s speech, I wish it had invited more people in. I know those who voted for him may have felt like it did, but I know millions didn’t, and that broke my heart.

Inaugural speeches are opportunities to reach out and across the divide. They are openings. I hoped for a vision of uniting one president’s vision of “we” with the other’s. I hoped for language that would bring the two halves of our country together. I hoped he would reach out to the millions who didn’t vote for him and acknowledge their fears. 

The truth is, we the people are the strength and the backbone of this country. This country doesn’t belong to Obama’s “we” or Mr. Trump’s “we.” It belongs to all of us.

It will be up to the majority of us to remind this president who we are, what we care about and what is most important to us. We, the large “we,” must stand on our own two feet and use our own voices to speak for what we believe.

Our founding fathers weren’t afraid, nor should any of us be. May we all focus on Moving Humanity Forward one person at a time, and may we watch our tone, our language and our words. For our words tell us — and our global neighbors — who we really are.

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Every week at The Sunday Paper, we want to go to an inspirational place. That is our mission. Every week, we want to honor individuals who are using their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.

We call these individuals Architects of Change. They come from all areas of human endeavor and they make our world better, one idea and one person at a time.

This week, our Architects of Change of the Week are all of the women and men who participated in The Women’s Marches on Saturday. From Washington D.C. to San Diego to Sydney, Australia, millions of people flooded the streets of cities and towns across the globe. They assembled in a statement of solidarity to send a message that they expect elected leaders of both parties to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.

These individuals gathered to remind us that this nation belongs to all of us. Search the hashtag #womensmarch on social media to get a closer look at the women and men who represented the march.

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The People of The Women’s March
 Citizens · Activists · Architects of Change

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(Courtesy Stacey Schultzman)

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Tom Brokaw: “I am hopeful…”

Over the last 50 years, Tom Brokaw’s voice is one that has guided us through many of our nation’s most important moments. While many feel that we are experiencing uncertain times, he insisted that we’re still living in a very strong country.

“We have been through difficult times before,” Tom told me in a special Architects of Change conversation. But he said now more than ever, Americans need to stand up and actively participate in our democracy.

“They have to get involved,” he said. “They have to set aside their emotional commitment to somebody and do it on a practical basis. Does this work? Does this make sense? Is he going to have success with it?”

WATCH: View our conversation here.

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Joan Chittister: “Maybe it’s time for us to form uncommon groups of unlike minds…”

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about those words from my friend Sister Joan Chittister. Joan believes all of us must aspire to be peacemakers and that we must find a way to come together for the common good.

In the days ahead, we should not be afraid to use our voices to advocate for the issues that matter most to us. But the manner in which we use our voice will make all of the difference.

Joan, an author and a Benedictine nun, is someone who has always ignited my spirit. She has written more books than I can count and is someone I deeply admire. She wrote the words below especially for you, readers of The Sunday Paper. I’m grateful to be able to share her wisdom here with you here today. 

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And Finally, My Thoughts For the Week Ahead…

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Join Me For an Architects of Change Conversation

I’ve always believed that we all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives, in our own homes and our own communities. By working together, we can Challenge What Is, Imagine What Can Be and Move Humanity Forward. Now more than ever, I hope all of us can begin to see ourselves as Architects of Change.

On Thursday, January 26, I will sit down for an Architects of Change conversation with Andy Puddicombe. Andy is the visionary leader and co-founder of the world’s leading meditation app, Headspace. He is Moving Humanity Forward by bringing meditation and mindfulness to the masses.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I hope you’ll join us. If you’re not, you can watch our conversation live on my Facebook page.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from this conversation benefit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.

Get Tickets Here

Maria and Andy

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The Sunday Paper: Special Inauguration Edition

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“Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.”

Those were some of the words my uncle John F. Kennedy gave in his 1961 inaugural address. Divided there is little we can do. Let us remember that over the next few days because change is upon us.

We are less than 24 hours from inaugurating our new president.

Yes, I said “our” because starting Friday Donald Trump will be representing our country.

I know that some of you say he doesn’t represent you. I know many are boycotting his swearing in. I know millions are still in shock. Still shaking their heads. Still angry and upset. 

But, I also know there are millions of our fellow Americans who voted for him — good, hardworking, decent people who voted for change. Individuals who really believe that President-Elect Trump can make the changes they desperately want and need in their own lives. 

Igniting change will not be easy for this new leader. It will be even more challenging if we remain divided.

I’ve seen firsthand how hard it is to go from an outsider’s campaign to governing for all of the people, even if that’s your intention. It’s hard to break through and break down all that divides us, but it’s not impossible. It’s not impossible! I’ve also seen it work as long as the leader leads by example and inspires everybody to have an open mind and take an open approach.

Here at The Sunday Paper, our approach is to always look for the positive. It’s to seek common ground. It’s to open hearts and minds. It’s to Move Humanity Forward.

To that end, we have produced this “Special Edition” of The Sunday Paper. Our goal is to remind you that we have navigated change before and we will navigate it again. We wanted to share excerpts from the inaugural speeches of other presidents who also took over the helm of our country during turbulent times.

We also reached out to Architects of Change who are renowned at navigating change in life. We asked them to come up with words that would provide an elevated perspective to help us go into this inauguration and this weekend with hope and wisdom.

Great leaders find common language and ignite common dreams. Inaugural speeches provide a platform to do this from the start.

Regardless of how you voted, this is a defining moment for our country. It’s a transformative change for all of us. Each of us gets to ask ourselves: how do we want to navigate it? How do we want to behave? What will be our tone? What will we say? Will we seek common experiences, or do we go in with our minds already made up?

This is the greatest opportunity of Mr. Trump’s life. I hope he does all that he can to safeguard the lives and freedoms of all of us.

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Below, we share with you excerpts from previous inaugural speeches that acknowledged differences and where the president reached out and across the divide. 


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(Read Reagan’s Full Speech Here)

Kennedy 15

(Read Kennedy’s Full Speech Here)

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(Read Lincoln’s Full Speech Here)

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(Read Obama’s Full Speech Here)

Inspiration From Architects of Change:
Thoughts on How We Can All Move Forward

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I also share with you Robert Frost’s poem “The Gift Outright.” Frost is one of my favorite poets and he also happened to be the poet at my uncle John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

Poetry has always had the power to lift me up during times like these. I hope Frost’s poem will inspire you as well.


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Gift Outright Frost poem


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Which Side Are You On?

One week into the new year and there is already so much one can be anxious and/or angry about. But, I promised myself in this new year to focus my mind and my voice on the positive. So, I’m not going to rant and rail about the House ethics debacle. I’m going to instead give a shout-out to all of the citizens who flooded their representatives’ offices with complaints and—lo and behold—got a senseless decision overturned in record speed.

I’m not going to pile on singer Kim Burrell, who sang one of the songs for the film Hidden Figures and was disinvited from Ellen Degeneres’ show after she made homophobic comments. Instead, I’m going to focus on Ellen’s authenticity and her guest musician Pharrell Williams, who is a composer and producer for Hidden Figures. Williams did appear on the show and he spoke eloquently about how we all need to condemn hate speech and how we also need to increase our empathy.

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Pharrell Williams is right. We all get to choose what side we are on. We all get to decide what we are willing to fight for. What we are willing to stand up for. Speak out for. What we as people fundamentally care about.

Fighting FOR something is very different than fighting AGAINST something. It’s a different mentality. It comes from a different place inside of you.

Last year, there was so much attention around what certain people were fighting against. It felt, as I’ve written before, divisive, angry and mean.

When people stand up and say this is what I’m for—when they offer a vision that is hopeful, inclusive, positive, and aspirational—it’s so much more exhilarating.

As we head into this new year, I hope we can each think about what we are FOR, as opposed to what we are against. I know that I want to live in a country that looks at itself as a family. One where we are all seen and accepted, and where everyone is expected to contribute to its greater common good.

And, when we see something we don’t agree with, or something that troubles our hearts or our minds—like that deeply disturbing Facebook video of four young people beating up a mentally disabled man—my hope is that we will stand up and use our voices quickly, efficiently and collectively. Just like my brother Timothy did.

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In this new year, may we each ask ourselves: What am I for? Which side am I on? What do I stand for? How we individually and collectively answer that question will tell us a lot about where we are going in 2017.

What I’m Carrying With Me Into This New Year

Happy New Year!

These are the first days of 2017, a whole new year. Amazing, isn’t it?

We have a chance to make this New Year our best year yet — personally, professionally, and politically.

On December 31, I wrote down all of the things I want to bury, burn or just stop bitching about moving forward. I also made a list of all of the positive things in my life that I want to carry with me into 2017.

What I Want to Bury:

That critical voice in my head. I want to remove it once and for all. It’s so judgmental, so boring and so not accurate.

My fear. I want to grab my fear by the you know what. It’s got no place in my life in 2017. Time is running short and fear keeps me running in place. I’m burying it.

Comparisons. Even though I know that absolutely nothing good comes from making comparisons, I’ve still engaged in them. No more.

Control. I’m also letting this go. It doesn’t work anyway. I can’t control what people think, say or do, so I’m getting out of that ridiculous business.

What I Want to Carry With Me into the New Year: 

My gratitude practice. Every morning, I thank God for my faith, my family, my friends and my health. I want to keep doing that.

My meditation practice. I want to get better at this because it makes me better at life.

My mental and physical health. I want to really make them a priority and really set aside time for both. They go together and they both deserve a practice.

My mission. I want to be bolder with my mission in 2017. Two-thirds of all brains diagnosed with Alzheimer’s belong to women and no one knows why. That’s terrifying and unacceptable. I believe I can play a role in getting to the bottom of this, and in doing so, help millions of families. I know I need help doing this, so I’m going to bury my ego and keep reaching out to ask for help, even when I’m told to go away.

My voice. I also want to be bolder with my voice. I’m a journalist, but I’m also a citizen of this great country. I’m so over hearing about how smart Putin is. Like, so over it! I’m over hearing about what sore losers some people are. I want to hear more positive, uplifting messages that move us forward. Not just some of us. Not just women. Not just people of one color. All of us. I don’t care what party you belong to or don’t belong to. I don’t care who you voted for or whether you voted at all. Let’s leave all of that behind us. It was divisive, mean, and detrimental to humanity.

Let’s move forward. Let’s be positive. Let each of us think about how we can move humanity forward — one person and one idea at a time. We all have a role to play. We can all be of service. We can all be a part of elevating our dialogue, our responses and our behaviors.

At The Sunday Paper and, we believe that 2017 will be an extraordinary year. We want, as always, for this place to be a positive space. A place where we elevate the ideas and the voices of those who are trying to move humanity forward. That’s our mission and our purpose. We believe that individuals like you can have a positive and direct impact on our personal discourse, our professional discourse and on our political discourse.

This is a new year. It’s a new chance for all of us to use our voices for good. That’s what Architects of Change do — challenge what is, imagine what can be and move humanity forward.

That’s what I’m thinking about. What about you?

Finding Your Unique Purpose in the World

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes a real and meaningful life.

What are the pillars that need to be in place? What has to be clear in our hearts and our minds so that we can not only feel good, but do good in the world as well?

The truth is, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that we are all here on this planet to do good. To fight darkness. To call out injustices. To move humanity forward.

That’s not sweet, soft, or simply a cute slogan. It’s a real hardcore truth and mission, grounded in a firm and passionate belief system. Building a meaningful life is both difficult and simple. I believe you have to be passionate about it and purposeful. Disciplined and focused. You have to check in with yourself regularly and repeatedly.

You have to ask yourself: What is my mission? Am I in alignment? Is my intention clear? How and where do I want to move the needle? What do I want my life to stand for? Who is the company I keep?

Over the course of my own life, I have answered these questions in different ways at different times. As I’ve grown—as I have experienced different life experiences—some things have shifted and some things have stayed the same.

What has never shifted is my belief that I am here for a purpose bigger than myself. I used to be afraid of saying that because I thought it sounded arrogant. But, I’ve come to understand that it’s not arrogant at all. We are all here for a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves. Each one of us is unique. Therefore, our purpose in the world is unique to who we are. I’m not here to be like you, nor are you here to be like me.

Do you know why you are here? Do you know your mission?

A few weeks ago, I shared a Hopi Elder poem that I love. What really keeps resonating with me from that poem is the line, “This is the hour.” This is indeed the hour. I feel that now more than ever. This is the hour to check in with ourselves.

Am I living a meaningful life? Is my home aligned with my work? Are my friends aware of my purpose? Am I really living a life that matters?

Over the Christmas holiday, I am going to take a digital break. I want to get away from all of the noise that I hear on social media and on TV. I want to get away from what feels like one big reality show. I want to spend some time asking myself important life questions so that I can begin the New Year in alignment. At the end of the day, it’s up to me to create a life that is in balance. It’s up to me to know my mission. It’s up to me to decide what matters and who matters. It’s up to me to build the meaningful life I want to live. Life is fragile. I’m aware of that more and more every day.

This is indeed THE HOUR, and I want to make the hour matter. So, I’m going to take a digital break so that I can quiet my mind and focus on what I’m building with the blessed time I have on this Earth.

You can still count on a Sunday Paper next Sunday on Christmas morning. We will celebrate our Architects of Change of the Year, recognizing them for all of the hard work they are doing to move humanity forward. Their work is a gift to me, and to all of us, because they are moving us forward in a conscious, compassionate, and caring manner. The following Sunday on New Year’s Day, we will look ahead together and share inspiring thoughts from our community.

Happy holidays. I hope you have a blessed and safe Christmas and New Year.


The Problem With Fake News

I grew up in a public family where rumors were a part of life. I don’t know if that’s what led me to my career in journalism, but I do know I was always interested in what was true and what wasn’t.

I understand that what’s true for me and what’s true for you can be different depending on our set of beliefs, how we were raised and our experiences. That said, facts are facts. They don’t lie. That is what is at stake in this spread of “fake news.”

I have begun to encounter it quite a bit in discussions with people I know who say, “Did you see this or that? Did you hear what so and so did? Did you read the latest…?” Often times, I’ll ask,“Where did you get that?” and they don’t know. Or, it’s several sources removed from wherever it originated. Most troubling, it’s often times an exaggeration, a distortion or even a total fabrication without them realizing it until they were told.

This is a dangerous trend, but it’s also an opportunity for all of us to become reporters ourselves and fact-check our sources—be they websites, individuals or social media. We should fact-check ourselves before we spread stories that we can’t corroborate as truth.

Just this week, Pope Francis said misinformation is probably the greatest damage that the media can do. He went on to not only caution the media, but to caution all of us to think twice about the penchant for covering scandals and covering nasty things—even if they are true.

I was also relieved to see President-Elect Trump fire Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s son from his inner circle after he spread an insane rumor about Hillary Clinton. But, it took a violent moment (which occurred because of the fake story) to get everyone’s attention about what he and others were spreading. (Note to the President-Elect: please monitor his father’s Twitter feed as well, as his tweets could be even more dangerous.)

The truth is, it shouldn’t have to go as far as Pizzagate to get our national attention. Rumors and bullying are hurtful. Trust me, I get that. I know they are almost impossible to curtail in this voracious news cycle, but fake news is dangerous to our national reputation, our national justice system and perhaps most importantly, to our national security.

So, before everyone lumps all of the media into a disaster bin, let’s take a beat. Real solid journalism—a journalism of facts, a free journalism—has never been more needed or more important. We all have a chance to support organizations that believe in facts and to support reporters who do their jobs based upon the truth. We all have a role in giving power to truth in our homes, in our social and professional conversations, and in our political discourse. It impacts our judicial system, our political system, our free press, and at the end of the day, who we are as human beings and as Americans.

We can see the world through our own eyes, but we can’t make up our own facts.

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

Why We Need Time to Think and Reflect

While visiting Sacramento, CA, this week (where I was inducted into California’s Hall of Fame), I had the opportunity to speak with two great public servants. One Democrat. One Republican. Both men who I deeply admire.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and George Shultz (former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor… I mean, wow), are two men who have seen a lot and done even more. They are gracious and generous in sharing words of wisdom.

We had a wonderful conversation about politics (yes, we did). We spoke about our country, our new president-elect, about the value of experience, about the power of words and about the danger of empty threats.

But what struck most during our conversation, and what I wanted to share, was that both of these men spoke to me separately about how important it has been throughout their careers and lives to allocate uninterrupted time in their busy days. Uninterrupted time to think, to be, and to reflect. Both of them went on to explain how difficult it is to safeguard that time, but also how critical it has been to their thinking and their ability to create and lead.

I loved that simple, but profound advice. No matter how busy you are, carve out time in your day to think. To be calm. To reflect. To be present.

I’m grateful that they both mentioned that advice to me right before I went to the Hall of Fame ceremony because it helped me stay present. It helped me stay in the moment. It allowed me to take in what was actually happening in my life at that moment.

As I sat on the stage looking out, I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude to my parents, gratitude to my family, and gratitude to all who have helped me in my life. There are so many people who have helped me, and who continue to help me in so many ways. Being present also allowed me to take in the love that I felt was, and is, there for me in my life. I didn’t push it away like I might have done in the past. I let it in and it felt beautiful.

It was a moment in my life I will never forget because I was present for it. When I went back to my hotel that night, I made a vow to myself. I promised to create more empty space in my days. More time to think. To dream. To be calm. To just be, so that I can be more present in my own life.

I think we are at a unique moment in our fast-paced, ever-changing world. I think our world needs us all to be more present in it. To be calmer. To be more reflective. More creative.

I think all of us could take a beat before we react to every tweet, every post and every conversation. I think our national discourse and our personal discourses are in need of the same things: Breathing space. Thinking space. Presence.

If we each made an effort to carve that out in our daily lives, I have no doubt that our interactions with one another would be different. I have no doubt that we would see different things, hear different things, and realize different things. I have no doubt that we would show up in our lives in a different way, speak up in a different way and perhaps move our country forward together in the way that we all say we want to do.

So, I’m going to take the advice of two great public servants who have worked across the aisle, and who continue to work to make the world a more conscious, more collaborative, and more caring place. They are men of ideas, men of thought… and busy men who make time to not be busy.

That’s something worth thinking about.

‘We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For’

In the last few days, I’ve tried to spend less time thinking and more time reflecting. Not just reflecting back, but reflecting on how I want to move my life forward.

I know I want to move forward with hope. I want to move forward with faith. I want to move forward with conviction, with passion and with purpose. I know I want to use my voice clearly and confidently on behalf of the people and issues that I care about. I want to use it to elevate others who are using their lives to Move Humanity Forward. I want to use it to move the needle forward when it comes to understanding the mind and why we are losing so many beautiful minds to Alzheimer’s. This disease is wiping out our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our brothers, our fathers, and our families. It’s wiping them out financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I firmly believe that we can wipe out this mind-blowing disease, and I will not rest until we do so. I do this because each of us can play a role in creating a more caring, conscious and compassionate world.

In fact, I don’t find myself discouraged by the enormity of that challenge. I find myself invigorated by it because I believe the goal is attainable. On the wall in my office hangs a poem that deeply inspires me every time I read it. In fact, it moves me to get moving. It gives me a sense of urgency and it speaks to my heart and to my mind.

It’s written by a Hopi Elder, and I loved it the moment I discovered it. Why? Because it speaks to the urgency of the hour. It speaks to the leader that lives in each of us. It speaks to the power of the individual and the need for community.

And perhaps most importantly, it challenges us not to sit by and wait for another to lead us forward. It calls on each of us to believe that we are in fact the ones we have been waiting for.

This is the hour, it tells us. And there are things to be considered.

Hopi Elder 1126

So, if you find yourself at this moment in your life reflecting on what was and what is, take a page from the Hopi Elder. Speak your truth. At this time in our history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.

I agree that all that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. I agree that the time of the lone wolf is over. We are indeed the ones we have been waiting for. As this holiday weekend comes to a close and a new holiday season begins, I hope that we can all remember that profound truth.

That’s what I’m reflecting about, thinking about, and inspired by this week. What about you?

What I’m Grateful for This Thanksgiving

Almost everywhere I went this past week, I heard a lot of soul-searching. I heard continued disbelief and continued anger from people who voted for Clinton and/or Trump. I heard people who were baffled that others didn’t seem to understand, or had mischaracterized what they thought to be true.

I had friends who invited me to gatherings saying, “We are organizing. Will you come?” I would say, “Organizing to do what?” They would respond, “We don’t know yet, but we have to do something.”

Do we? Or might this be a moment to sit in what I refer to as a place of unknowing?

In my life, I have been certain about some things and uncertain about others. I have felt strong. I have felt vulnerable. I have seen the path ahead clearly, and at other times, I have stood at a crossroads, unsure of which path to take. At moments like those, I have learned that it’s okay to sit or stand in my unknowing. I’ve learned that it’s okay to pause—to wait to breathe—so that the answer and my knowing can rise up to meet me. I’ve also learned in times of uncertainty or unknowing to direct my focus to what I am clear and certain about, to what I do know.

What I do know is this: This upcoming week is my favorite week of the year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s about knowing what’s important in life: family, friends, my faith, and food. I could even throw in watching football because that will be going on a lot in my house this week (Go Blue!).

Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It’s about gathering. It’s not about wrapping and/or unwrapping presents. It’s about being present in our loved ones’ lives. It’s also such a uniquely American holiday. I’ve often had people at my table who weren’t born here, and who weren’t raised on this holiday, but who have come to love it because it’s about being welcomed to the table. It’s about acceptance. It’s about being invited in. That’s powerful.

So if you are still reeling from our election, or if you are wanting to gather or organize, gather first at the table. Invite people in. Gather with people you love and care about. Listen. Learn. Love. Focus on what you know makes you feel good, and what makes you feel certain. Focus on your gifts. Focus on your gratitude.

I know that’s easier for some than others. But I’ve learned that focusing my attention forwar—on what I’m grateful for, and on all of the love that exists in my life—helps me focus on all the good that is around me in my home. At my table, in my life, and, yes, in my country. There is so much good in our beautiful country.

Today—right now—it’s okay not to know, and to know, all at the same time. That’s life, and I’m thinking about how grateful I am to have one that I know is blessed.

That’s what I’m thinking about this week. What about you?