Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an influential voice on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Shriver was California’s trailblazing First Lady from 2003 to 2010. Her work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. She herself is dedicated to creating empowering initiatives, transformative events, inspirational awards, and the groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society today.
May 16, 2013
I'm in Washington, D.C. for my daughter Christina's college graduation. Wow, the emotions are swirling! Just last year, our first child, Katherine, graduated from college. And now Christina.
It was a blink of an eye ago that I was playing at the park with Christina, braiding her hair, having tea parties, reading her Goodnight Moon.
I'm so very proud of Christina. She challenged herself and she made it. I'm excited for this new phase of her life. Graduating is a thrilling experience but I know, for all these kids, it's also scary because the list of unknowns goes on and on.
Where do they go? What do they do? Can they get a job? Does it pay? Do they have loans hanging over them? Do they move back home?
But for today, and for the next few days, I hope these graduates stay in the moment and let the questions rest. I'm going to try to do it myself. I'm going to pause during these festivities -- pause in the wonder of Christina and pause in gratitude for this moment.
I want Christina to pause, too, so she can feel this experience and so when her own kids graduate, God willing, she can remember how she felt in this moment and how proud we all were of her.
May 10, 2013
As Mother's Day nears, I've been thinking about my mother but also about my wonderful kids -- Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher.
I love them so much. And I like them, too...a lot. They are each so unique and, as a group, they are loving, fun and kind.
I thank them for being who they are and for the love they have given me. I am grateful for the time they spend with me and for the joy they have brought into my life.
My life changed forever when I became a mom almost 24 years ago. I feel so blessed by these four lovely human beings.
And I am eternally grateful for my own mother, for my grandmother and for all the people who have mothered me along the way.
When all is said and done, it will be the small acts of daily love that carry us through life.
May 7, 2013
It's that time of year: daughters and sons are buying boxes of chocolates, putting the finishing touches on their cards and making reservations for brunch to show appreciation for their mother's love, sacrifice and support..
I love Mother's Day, but since I lost my mother almost four years ago, I have to admit: it's a little bittersweet. My mom was my best friend, my champion. She pushed me, prodded me, challenged me. I miss her very much.
Our mothers give us so many gifts. They give us the precious gift of life, of course, but they also leave treasured lessons that can guide us along our journeys even when they are no longer with us.
The gift my mother gave me was the gift of possibility. From an early age, she instilled in me a belief that I could do anything I wanted to do. It wasn’t a matter of, ‘Can I?’ or ‘Should I?’ It was just, ‘You can, you must, you will!’
She wanted me to believe that anything was possible. That belief was at the core of who she was and it was at the center of how she lived. My mom was a competitive, forceful, free spirit...and she changed the world.
April 30, 2013
I've always been fascinated with people's stories -- lives of triumph and adversity, stories about women and men impacting the world with their voices and their lives. That's why I chose a career in journalism way back when: to report stories that informed, inspired, and got people thinking.
In 2004, I took a leave from network news to work as First Lady of California, which was also an honor and a privilege. But the truth is I never took a leave from journalism. I just took my reporter's skills and used them in other arenas: producing The Women's Conference, the Minerva Awards, The Shriver Report, The Alzheimer's Project, and my own website where everyday people report from the frontlines of their lives.
Wherever and whenever I could, I’ve collected people's stories and tried to tell them in ways that could empower them and others. The journalism is in me, so all my life, I've looked for platforms (films, books, live events, digital and social media) where I could engage my passions and my purpose.
After doing that for several years, I've come to appreciate even more how television journalism, paired with digital, can engage and elevate humanity in incredible ways -- educating, edifying, impacting people's minds and hearts.
April 25, 2013
I can't stop thinking about the Richard family and all the others who were hurt and injured at the Boston Marathon.
Their road to healing will take a different kind of endurance. It will be a marathon for each of them.
In truth, we are all on the same road, progressing in our own way and in our own time toward the finish line and beyond.
Sometimes we have the strength to sprint. Sometimes we can only bring ourselves to walk.
And sometimes -- on those days when we're unable to see the finish line and lose heart -- we sit down on the road and don't think we can continue.
At times like those, we need the support of a loving community -- a friend or a loved one to come by, hand us a drink of water, help us up and urge us on.
The endurance, drive and desire to heal has to come from within each of us. Just as a marathon runner has to finish the race herself, so do we.
Let us all continue our road to healing -- our marathon to wholeness.
April 18, 2013
I try to begin each day with a few moments of silence, but this week I've been brought to silence several times throughout the day.
The terrible events in Boston brought me to silence. There are just no words for moments like that.
As each story was reported, I found myself stopping, taking a breath, saying a prayer, pausing in silence and then thinking…
What is happening in our nation?
What is happening to our human race?
What is at the root of all of our violence?
I know that there are no easy answers to those questions, but I do know that we are in need of healing.
Our American Family needs to heal -- not just the families in Boston who are struggling to make sense of their unimaginable loss but also families across our country who are feeling the pain, in whatever form that might take.
At times like these, we must try to acknowledge the heavy share of pain that all of us carry around wherever we go. We must try to treat ourselves and others with as much care and compassion as we can muster.
April 11, 2013
National Poetry Month has me seeing and appreciating poetry everywhere I look.
I find myself returning to highlighted lines in long-forgotten books, being struck by the way a beautiful lyric can unexpectedly stir the soul, and paying closer attention to the poetic turns of phrase in conversations, notes and emails.
I believe there is a poet living inside each of our hearts. Don't you?
I write what my kids call "reporter poetry" -- it's not Mary Oliver, of course, but it is a record of my thoughts, my feelings, my life. It's my best effort of finding the hidden truth of my experience.
"The only source of knowledge is experience," Albert Einstein is supposed to have said. If he's right, then poetry can be seen as a way to tap into that source of essential knowledge.
For that reason, we should never underestimate the power of our experience. Each of us is here to live out our lives and share the lessons we learn.
The knowledge we gain from our experiences, and the insights we are able to pass on, have the power to change the course of our lives and the lives of others.
April 5, 2013
For the entire month of April, we're celebrating National Poetry Month with a special series of essays and articles about poetry's power to help us celebrate life, honor love, inspire laughter and overcome loss.
The written and spoken word can embolden us as we navigate the changes, struggles and obstacles that we will undoubtedly face.
In this way, poetry can inspire us -- and perhaps most important, remind us -- to approach our lives as Architects of Change.
Mary Oliver is the "poet laureate" of MariaShrivercom. In 2010, she appeared at The Women's Conference and read five fan favorites -- "Wild Geese", "The Journey," "Percy," "The Summer Day" and "Mornings at Blackwater."
April 4, 2013
A wise friend told me the other day, "How you care about and for yourself tells you what you think of yourself."
Do you care enough to eat food that can nourish you? Do you care enough to take time for yourself?
Do you care enough to stop attacking your spirit with your own thoughts? Do you care enough about yourself to be tender or gentle with yourself?
So many of us treat our pets better than ourselves. So many of us abuse ourselves everyday with our woulda-coulda-shouldas.
I noticed that Pope Francis addressed this last week when he noted that though God forgives us over and over again we are often much harder on ourselves.
It's hard for someone to help and support us (and we all need help) if we feel like we aren't worthy or worth it. It's hard for someone to take care of and nurture us if we don't show any care for ourselves.
It's not a sign of weakness to be tender and gentle with ourselves -- it's all in how we market it.
March 28, 2013
There is so much to reflect on and celebrate this Holy Week.
With Easter Sunday fast approaching, I've been thinking about the idea of rising.
Easter is a day when we can all rise up from whatever may be keeping us down. It's a day when we can rise and shine and give thanks for the life that we've been given and the love that surrounds us. It's a day when we can rise above our own limitations or expectations and embrace the opportunities that present themselves to us.
What would you have to do to rise up and meet the challenges of your life in a new way? What would have to change in your life for you to feel that you have risen above old problems? What holds you back from rising to the occasion?
Maya Angelou wrote a powerful poem about rising called "Still I Rise." In it, she writes: "Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise."
Rising is the natural order of things. Each spring, we are surrounded by a natural uprising.
March 21, 2013
What an experience! While I was there, I met many people who took the path of religious life. They all seemed to have one thing in common: an inner peace and an outer joy.
I tried to speak to as many of them as I could, men and women. What was it that made them so content, so at peace? Many of them told me that their faith, their service to others and their simple lives were the difference makers. One nun said to me, "What do we all really need in life? We need food, a place to call home and love."
Many of us feel like our lives are incomplete because we don't have this or that. We feel less than because of what our neighbors have and we don't. We feel less than because we don't look as good as this person or that one. This list can, of course, go on and on.
It's hard to stay centered in a world that advertises that more is more. It's hard to feel beautiful as you age in a society that extols youth. It's hard to feel valuable if your job isn't valued or, worse, if you aren't able to find one.
March 14, 2013
Yesterday, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected as the new leader of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis, the first South American and first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years, is a Jesuit priest known as a humble voice for the poor who has lived simply and served among his people.
There is no better sign of that than the name he chose for himself: Francis, named after St. Francis of Assisi, the great role model of service, peace and social justice.
What a moment for the church, for the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, and also for him personally. Let us not forget that the pope is a human being. The church says he is infallible, but it helps me to remember that he has the feelings of a man, the heart of a man, the fear any human being would have.
I thought it was fitting that he used his first words to ask Catholics to pray for him, to bless him. Showing that he needs our support, our love and our prayers brought the humanity out in him.
Isn't that what we all need? For people to pray for us and wish us well as we make our way in this world? I'll be praying for him to lead with a sense of peace, calmness, openness, courage and optimism.
March 7, 2013
When I visited my friend, Sister Joan Chittester, last summer, she told me something that struck a chord in me so deeply that it still comes to mind all these months later.
She said she's surprised by how many women tell her that they want what she has. Now, keep this is mind: Sister Joan is a Benedictine nun. She doesn't have much in the way of material possessions. But what she does have, these women tell her, is a sisterhood. As the only daughter in a family of four brothers, I know what they mean.
I spent time with Sister Joan and saw it with my own eyes: that’s truly what they have. What does that kind of sisterhood look like? It's a community where women respect each other's views, voices and choices. A community where women support each other's lives and honor each other's experiences. That's what women tell Sister Joan they want.
I thought of this recently when I saw the initial wave of criticism surrounding my friend Sheryl Sandberg's forthcoming book, Lean In.
February 28, 2013
Over the last few days, I had some precious alone time with my son, Christopher.
He's the youngest of our four children and, as is common with the youngest children in large families, he isn't always able to get a word in around the older kids.
This week, the focus was on Christopher. We went on a bike ride together, talked at night, and laughed for hours watching his favorite Comedy Central channel.
We've always been close but we bonded in a different way -- we bonded around his interests -- and it felt good. We had so much fun that we made a plan to watch something every night before bed that makes us laugh out loud.
Bonding with loved ones is a great gift that feeds your spirit. It refreshes you and reminds you of what's ultimately important in life.
Working families that are stressed to the max need time in their lives to bond. People who work together all day need time to connect in meaningful ways.
I read an article last weekend about how smart companies and leaders are practicing mindfulness in the workplace to calm and focus their employees -- to help them be in the present moment with each other and come to a shared mission.
February 21, 2013
This morning, I woke up. I mean that literally (Thank God!) but also figuratively.
I woke up to the idea that there was no one other than me who could give me permission to live my one wild and precious life.
There is no one other than me who could give me permission to use my voice, make my world and fully become myself.
We spend so much of our lives asking for permission -- from our parents, our partners and, yes, even our children.
We seek permission from our bosses and our coworkers, from books and experts.
We go everywhere for permission except to the one person who can actually grant it: ourselves.
So today, this weekend and beyond, I challenge you to give yourself a permission slip for just one thing you want to do but haven't, until now, given yourself the license.
You have a permission slip and it's signed by you. How will you use it?
February 14, 2013
The other morning, I woke up to a lovely note from my friend.
It read: "You have the courage and the strength within to live a balanced life of love, purpose and meaning..."
What a goal -- a balanced life of love, purpose and meaning!
I've loved our Week of Love special series, but why only a week out of the year? What if our entire lives were focused from the inside out on love, purpose, meaning and balance?
We would, I know, be kinder, better people. Our kids would be less anxious and stressed. We would see the value in our own lives and we would put it out into the world.
There is meaning in all of our lives. Each of us has a purpose in this world and each of us deserves to love and to be loved.
Yet so many people live on the brink, struggling to make it with no one to love them or tell them they matter.
Let's make every week a week of love. And while you are at it, drop a friend or a family member a note today like the one I received. Tell them what they mean to you. Tell them what you love about them. Tell them that you believe in them.
It might give them the encouragement they needed to pursue the life they had only ever imagined.
February 7, 2013
Every day, each of us is given the opportunity to look at our lives anew.
Every day, each of us has the opportunity to put down and let go of old stories, old judgments, old habits, old scores and old forms of anger and get to the heart of the matter.
And the heart of the matter is love -- love for our own imperfect selves and the imperfect selves around us. Every day, each of us can get up and commit to a life based on that kind of love.
Not the crazy, passionate and dramatic love that consumes, but the steady and mindful love that sustains us, heals us and inspires us to live.
So, don't freak out if you still haven't found a romantic date for next Thursday night. Think of it as a rare chance to just sit in the love.
Trust me: in the long run it will do more than a box of chocolates. Okay, okay...it will do a lot but maybe not more than chocolate. I got carried away there.
January 31, 2013
Last week, I wrote about the power of caring and issued a call to care.
I believe the simple act of caring -- for ourselves and for others -- can transform our lives and change the world. It can melt the hardest of hearts and knock down the tallest of walls.
It has certainly done that for me.
I've learned that listening can also do that. Sometimes life can force us to make a full stop -- stop all the talking, stop all the doing...just stop. When you stop, you are forced to listen closely, to pay attention and to really hear what's going on around you.
It's amazing what happens when you just stop and listen. You can hear your own heart beat. Your can hear your own inner voice guiding the way. You can hear your family and friends and feel their true love and genuine concern.
Listening, like caring, can transform our lives.
Today, pretend for five minutes that you can't talk and just practice listening. You might be transformed by what you hear.
Share your story, report your life: Has life ever presented you with an opportunity to stop and listen? What did you learn from listening?
January 24, 2013
Every night before we eat dinner, whoever is at the table must say what they are gratfeul for. I like to fill my table with family and friends -- the more the merrier.
It's always a blessing when they come over and it's always uplifting to hear what each of them are grateful for.
Last night, my friend Michael came to dinner as did my friend Sheryl. Together, we talked about life, love and the inauguration. Yes, in that order.
Michael spoke about how deeply touched he and his partner were by President Obama's speech and his emphasis on equality and the right for all of us to love who we want to love.
We all felt gratfeul to live in this country at this time.
Then Michael said, "When I put my son down to sleep that night he said, "Dad, I think Obama cares about me."
Michael said it brought tears to his eyes that a child so young could come up with such a statement from watching the inauguration.
Care is my favorite four-letter word.
January 17, 2013
I've been thinking a lot lately about power and powerlessness -- the connection between the two and the divide between them.
We live in a power-oriented world overly concerned with who has what job, how much they get paid and how much power comes with the title.
But if I've learned anything in my life, I've learned that real power doesn't come from any job or any amount of money. Real power comes only from within.
The most powerful people I've met are quiet, steady and solid. They have an inner fortitude that can't be bought or swayed. It's awe inspiring. And it's usually hard earned.
In this new year, I wish for each of you to find that kind of power. Don't look outside yourself this year. Look in. Invite silence into your life.
Discover your true power and then use it for good -- for yourself and for others.
Share your story, report your life: What life experiences have given you an inner power? How do you use that power in your life and in the lives of others?
January 10, 2013
It's a new year and the question before each of us is this: What will we do with this gift of time and life? How will we spend it?
Next year at this time, what will we look back on and feel good about? That's what I'm thinking about right now.
This year, I want to live a life of joy and meaning. I want to be kind to myself and open to the stories of others. I want to ignite my life and inspire myself to do good in my world and the world at large.
I want to live with kindness, love, respect and compassion for myself and others. That is, I believe, what all of us need...and what the world needs more of. Each of us can start that today.
Share your story, report your life: this year, how will you make the most of the time and life you've been given?
December 20, 2012
As the days wind down to Christmas and the new year, I wish for each of you in our community the gift of connection this holiday season.
Don't forget to pause during the craziness of the holidays. Pause with your family and friends. Try to bring your whole heart and whole mind to the moments you share with them and be truly present.
Let's also pause and reflect on our blessings and gifts, the ones that truly matter -- the love we give and receive, the sense of belonging we feel and foster in others, and the opportunities we have to learn from and share our lives with those around us.
Over the coming days, try to reach out to someone who is alone. Invite them into your heart, into your circle or into your home.
I am grateful to all of you who have been a part of this community in 2012. Your presence has indeed been a present.
God bless you and Merry Christmas.
December 18, 2012
I appeared on the TODAY Show this morning to talk about loss and grief in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
There are millions of people who woke up today with their own private grief and who are living through some kind of painful and personal loss -- whether it's the loss of a loved one, the loss of a livelihood or the loss of an entire way of life.
Isn't it true that we're all grieving in some way or another?
That's why I wrote yesterday that "compassion, empathy, gentleness, love and presence" is the most valuable gift we can give this holiday season.
When we are living with loss, we need time and a safe place to process our grief and share what we're going through.
And I've noticed that MariaShriver.com has become that place for many people. I am deeply moved by the conversations that we're able to have here and I'm proud of this community of Architects of Change.
December 17, 2012
I went to church yesterday morning and our pastor spoke about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
We prayed for the families as a church community and I reflected on all the pain and terrible loss of life.
I came home to see this story about Robbie Parker, a father of one of the victims, who reached across the river of grief and said he was thinking of the suspect's family who are also grieving.
I wept for his pain and was humbled by his words. His goodness in the midst of debilitating grief blew me away.
We all struggle when we lose someone we love, particularly when it's sudden and unexpected like the tragedy in Connecticut.
You are in shock. You are numb. And reality takes a long time to kick in.
Compassion, empathy, gentleness, love and presence -- it's what people who are grieving need most of all.
In fact, it's what people who are simply living need most of all.
December 13, 2012
I became a mother for the first time 23 years ago today. Katherine's birth changed my life.
I've learned so much about life through mothering. I've also learned that you don't have to give birth to mother.
So many people have stepped forward to mother me at different times in my life -- female friends, male friends, my brothers, my children and, obviously, my own mother.
My friend Theo is one such person. She sent me this great idea yesterday to help us keep track of all the blessings in our lives:
Get a large mason jar. Starting on January 1st, every time something good happens to you, something that makes you happy or something that you are grateful for, write it on a scrap of paper and put in the jar. At the end of the year, read them! It will remind you of how blessed you are!
I'm going to start this project today with gratitude for the opportunity I've been given to be a mother and for those who have mothered me in big and small ways along my journey.
December 6, 2012
A new year looms on the horizon, but a new you can start today.
Every day we have the opportunity to grow, to learn and to share. Every day we can put down an old story that no longer serves us or our families and step into a new story.
That's much scarier than resolving to go back to the gym to lose 10 pounds. But if we don't evolve, don't grow, don't learn and don't change, we die.
We can't be Architects of Change unless we challenge the old within us and outside us -- unless we allow for change to flow through our lives. It will make room for the new.
Why wait for the new year to come when a new you can start now?
November 29, 2012
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer
I love this quotation. So often it is another human being who sees something in us that we didn't see in ourselves or that we had forgotten.
That's what happened to me. And for that I'm deeply grateful. It means so much when someone says to you: I believe in you. You can do this.
It means the world when someone says to you: Yes, you are worthy. You are good. You matter. You are someone.
Say that to someone you love today. It will move them. It will encourage them. It will lighten their load. And it will rekindle the spark within them. Trust me: they will be so very grateful.
Light the flame for someone else today. Be an igniter. You can do it.
In gratitude and with love,
November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving...a day for being thankful and a day for giving. I'm thankful for so much today: my family, my health and this community.
My friends give me the loving gift of friendship all year long. Many have stepped forward and shared their life experiences and life lessons with all of us here on MariaShriver.com.
They are true leaders, as is everyone in this community of Architects of Change. Remember that game we used to play as children -- Follow the Leader?
Well, I believe that all of us have it in us to do both: follow and lead. We can sometimes learn from and follow others; and, at other times, it's necessary to live and lead from the front.
I'm grateful when I have opportunities to do both. This week, I'm following the lead of my minister by giving food and clothes to the homeless.
I'm following the lead of my friend Sandra by stepping up and out in my life. And I'm following the lead of my friend Clay by sharing myself openly with others.
November 15, 2012
I woke up recently to an inspirational note from my nephew and godson, Tim.
He works with a wonderful organization called The Future Project and I couldn't help but notice his title: Dream Director. How great is that!?
He works with students every day to put their passions into action -- to help them accomplish something they didn't think was possible.
Since he's a bona fide dream director, I asked him if he had any secrets to share.
He wrote: "What's one thing that you've been wanting to start/create/begin but haven't found the time or space or permission to take the first step on? That's where it all begins!"
That's a brilliant question -- and one we should all be asking ourselves on a more regular basis.
What have we been waiting for? Who do we need permission from before we can start?
What part of our dream can we initiate right this moment?
November 8, 2012
I celebrated my birthday on Election Day. I truly felt blessed.
Blessed to feel the love of my family and friends. Blessed to feel the freedom that comes, ironically, from standing in line waiting to vote. Blessed to live in the United States of America.
I made a couple wishes when I blew out the candles on my homemade cake. One was for me and the other was for us as a country.
Now that the election is over, I so hope that we can all put down our labels -- our Ds and our Rs -- and start talking about our shared experiences and what it will take for us to come together around a collective vision for our nation.
I bet if everyone had a birthday this week we would all wish for the same things: a job to do, a safe place to call home, and peace with our ourselves, our families and our friends.
Let's put the past where it belongs and let's all step into a new moment right here, right now.
November 2, 2012
My friend, Andrea Jaeger, sent me an email this morning asking for help and I thought it was worth sharing with this amazing community of Architects of Change.
After her retirement from professional tennis (she was one of the best players in the world), Andrea dedicated her life to public service and started the Little Star Foundation to help children in need, primarily children with cancer.
Andrea became an Anglican Dominican nun in 2006 and now she's referred to as "Sister Andrea".
Sister Andrea is on the ground in New York City right now and is looking for support to continue to deliver meals and supplies to families in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
November 1, 2012
This week has been full of reminders of the fragility of life and the courage each of us need as we navigate our lives in these challenging and uncertain times.
Whether we are faced with Hurricane Sandy, conflicts in other parts of the world or even conflicts in our own lives, it's going to take guts and grit to face the unknown and uncertainty and get to a place I refer to as "The Open Field" -- a place out beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, out beyond expectation or judgment where there are new possibilities of living, learning and loving.
And we can get there with the help of trusted guides -- women and men with the courage, the wisdom and the generosity to use their lives and their experiences to shine a reassuring light on the path ahead.
As Hurricane Sandy showed us: we are in this thing together. And I hope we act like it more and more every day.
My friend says to me daily, "Live as if…" What better guidance do we need than that?
October 18, 2012
All of us know how much words matter -- how they can be used for good, to elevate our minds and our spirits...or used to defame and destroy, to create hurt, hatred and humiliation.
This week, I had the great privilege of presenting an award to my friend, Rob Lowe, at an event honoring his commitment to creating a more tolerant world. I am especially appreciative of the work he does for my brother's organization, Best Buddies.
Best Buddies is particularly sensitive to the force of language as it works to change the way the public views and treats and talks about people with intellectual disabilities.
This weekend, I'm traveling to our nation's capital to participate in the Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, DC. Best Buddies events have come to resemble family reunions -- my children, my brothers, my nieces and nephews all strap on helmets and ride for the cause. It's just wonderful.
But the truth is: everyone feels like family at a Best Buddies event. The thousands of passionate people coming together and devoting their time to making the world a more compassionate place are, in fact, a beautiful family.
I hope some of this same family spirit can be passed on as we near the final stretch of this important election. We would do well to remind ourselves of the power of words and that we are ultimately one American family.
October 11, 2012
I was talking to a friend last night who shared with me that she has felt "stuck" for many years.
She's a smart, educated and successful woman, and yet she finds herself wondering what her life is truly about and what her mission is.
If you've spent any time on MariaShriver.com, you'd know that she is definitely not alone in that feeling.
But our talk got me thinking: what if we all knew that the way we are living is a beacon of light to another person? Would that change how we viewed our lives?
Everywhere I go, I meet what I like to call "women of I" -- women of inspiration, initiative, ideas, impact and influence.
They are living examples of how to move forward in life with grace, elegance, passion and compassion. Trust me: you are one of those women to another woman.
All of us can get unstuck right here, right now, if we see ourselves as being capable of creating impact.
Today, tell one of your girlfriends how they have inspired you, impacted you or influenced you.
October 4, 2012
I loved watching the debate last night with my friends and family. There's obviously much to learn and much to discuss in the coming days.
At the same time, we have to be careful about the constant chatter that is coming at us which tells us what to think and what conclusions to make.
It's important to know what you feel is right and what you think is best, and try not to get swayed and confused by all the outside chatter.
During this political season -- and beyond in your daily life -- try to create a quiet place inside yourself where you can have a conversation with yourself and get clear about what you think and how you feel.
That way, you can tune into your own thoughts, feelings and values and tune out all the noise.
It's never been harder to do this. But in the end, the conversation you have with yourself about your life -- who you want in it, who you want to spend time with and who you want to vote for -- it all belongs to you.
September 20, 2012
I sat down with Leeza Gibbons recently for her Emmy-nominated program, My Generation, to discuss an issue we are both deeply passionate about -- Alzheimer's disease and its devastating impact on families.
This is an important moment in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. I believe we are entering an extraordinary era of hope. Finally, our country has a National Alzheimer's Plan.
Science is ready to face this epidemic, and our medical researchers see a clear path to prevention and treatment.
Now we must challenge ourselves, our government and our corporations to adequately fund this effort and give our scientists and researchers the resources to end this mind-blowing disease.
We need to place defeating Alzheimer's at the top of our nation's To-Do List.
September 13, 2012
Last weekend, when I was riding my bike along PCH for the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, I looked to the right and saw a sharp, steep cliff. I looked to the left and saw traffic speeding by.
If I turned right, I'd ride off the road. If I steered my bike out into the road, I would get hit by a car. If I looked back, I'd fall off the bike.
At that moment, I had one option: focus forward. And that left me with a exhilarating sense of freedom.
Since I was inspired -- and I love playing with words -- I spent the entire trip home writing down words that stood for the areas of my life that mattered most to me, the words that would focus me and guide me forward to a full and fulfilled life.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized all of my words started with the letter 'f'.
What makes your life full and fulfilled?
August 30, 2012
In her speech before the Republican National Convention, Ann Romney said, "I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy."
That's a true statement. Women in particular are facing a set of modern realities and challenges in their evolving roles as breadwinners and caregivers.
Everything about the way we live and work in this country has been changing and our society's cornerstone institutions have simply not caught up.
I hope this awareness leads to a thoughtful national conversation, during this campaign and beyond, about the best ways to support the needs of women and families.
Yesterday, I took to Twitter to find out what women thought our political leaders could do to help make life better or more practical for their families.
Take a look at some of the responses below and join the conversation in the comments section.
August 7, 2012
When we're busy and stressed out -- rushing around and reacting to the hectic nature of modern life -- the everyday moments of awe often slip by us unnoticed.
Life is so very precious and short. Every day we have on this earth is a miraculous gift. And yet this stress and anxiety is affecting our ability to appreciate the small moments of our lives that make up a life.
We're all looking for a balanced, meaningful and satisfying life, and I've been thinking that the best way to experience this is to look for awe in the seemingly minor moments -- to make the minor moments matter more.
The last couple of months have been filled with huge, awe-inspiring moments. Just in the last month, we safely landed a vehicle on the surface of Mars and discovered the "God particle".
An athlete with prosthetic legs ran in the Olympics. World and Olympic records have been falling every day and Michael Phelps was crowned the greatest Olympian of all time. For the first time, women outnumbered men on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
Without question, these major milestones have lifted our collective spirits. But what about the moments of awe in our individuals lives that don't get registered in history books but can be recorded in our hearts?
July 21, 2012
Today is a pause moment if there ever was one. Such a terrible tragedy in Colorado.
It's a time to pause and pray for the lives lost and the families shattered.
It's a time to pause and remind each other of how important love is. Express it today to anyone you love. There are no guarantees of tomorrow.
It's also a time to pause and treat those you know and those you don't with care and gentleness and compassion. There is so much pain within people.
Pause and count your blessings today. I'm celebrating the birth weekend of my daughter. I feel blessed to have this time with her.
God bless you.
July 2, 2012
With Fourth of July celebrations just around the corner, I've been thinking about freedom and what make me feel free.
The times when I feel most free are also the times when I feel most alive.
I feel free when I do something unexpected, even to me. I feel free when I dance. I feel free when I pray. I feel free when I laugh.
What does freedom mean to you? What makes you feel free? When was the last time you felt free? What did that feel like?
Join the conversation: Can you capture what freedom means to you in a few lines in the comments section below? How about capturing what freedom looks like or feels like in a photo? If you send me your photo with a short note of explanation, I'll include them on this Pinterest Board.
Happy Independence Day!
June 21, 2012
I've been thinking about all the patterns I've built up in my life, and I've begun to break them down and question them.
As I find myself living out a pattern, I think: Why am I doing this? Why should I be doing that? Does this pattern move me forward or hold me back?
Do I really want to do it or have I just gotten myself into a pattern of doing this or thinking that because it's what I thought people expected of me -- or it's what I expected of myself?
As I'm sure you know, identifying and then breaking patterns in our lives is hard. Really hard, actually. We fall into them because we don't take the time (we don't have the time) to pause and self-reflect.
To break them, we have to dig down deep, find our courage, step outside of ourselves, and then move what feels like a mountain.
May 25, 2012
In December of 2010, Sandra Day O'Connor and I co-authored an OpEd in the Washington Post - Our new national goal: Defeating Alzheimer's in 10 years - that called on our country's leaders to make fighting Alzheimer's a national priority by setting a deadline for defeating this devastating disease.
That call to action was heard and our country has responded. We now have our first National Alzheimer's Plan. Recently announced by the Department of Health and Human Services, the plan commits the United States to stopping Alzheimer's by 2025.
This is an important moment in our fight against Alzheimer’s. We are entering an extraordinary era of hope -- hope for a world without Alzheimer's.
To mark this moment and spur momentum as our leaders work to implement the plan, Sandra Day O'Connor and I teamed up on a new column for USAToday.com, A race against time to stop Alzheimer's.
May 12, 2012
Remarks delivered on Friday, May 11, 2012 at University of Southern California's Annenberg School Commencement Ceremony
Good morning, Annenberg graduates -- and congratulations! You’ve made it through one of the most prestigious universities in the world. You are accomplished -- and, yes, you are blessed.
Blessed to be stepping out into the world with your degrees in journalism, PR, and Communication -- right at the moment when it seems like everything in the world is about communication.
We’re communicating like never before -- across borders and time zones -- on platforms, devices, computers, tablets, phones, apps, games, you name it.
Communicating 24/7-- wired and wirelessly -- talking, texting, and tweeting -- trending and friending -- to the other side of the room and the other side of the planet -- spitting out the old, in order to consume the new.
Every minute you’re awake, you’re reaching out beyond yourself -- waaay out beyond. It feels like the entire universe is an extension of your own nervous system.
You communicate instantly, automatically, and effortlessly. For you...communicating is like breathing.
And today, you’re rarin’ to go. Rarin’ to out into the “real” world -- to get a job and transform the world of communication yet again. It’s a race to be next, to be first, to be new. Sorta scary, isn’t it.
I get that -- because when I close my eyes, it feels like just yesterday that I sat where you are, and I remember exactly how I felt.
April 26, 2012
Fawzia Koofi is Afghanistan's first female speaker of Parliament and a noted activist for women and children’s rights. She is currently a leading candidate for Afghanistan's presidential elections in 2014.
The deep love that she has for her country -- and the personal responsibility she feels for making life better for her fellow citizens -- pours out of every word of her essay. She is the very definition of an Architect of Change.
When I was growing up, my grandmother would always ask my brothers, cousins and myself: If you were president, what would you do?
Once we would answer, she would go on to the next grandchild. And so on. Eventually, she would be satisfied with our answers and we could go play!
The truth is: it's a question all of us can ask ourselves. The presidential office is open to all natural-born citizens of United States. Many of us choose not to even consider it, but I think it's an interesting question to ask ourselves in this election year.
If you were president, what would you do? What would you stand for and focus on? What problems would you try to fix? What would your platform be?
Think and reflect. Go beyond party. Go beyond the obvious. Narrow it down to three things and share your best ideas below.
Then, go out and take on those problems anyway!
Not all of us will run for president, but all of us can run for our lives!
April 19, 2012
Here at MariaShriver.com, we are convening the world's greatest hearts and minds to help all of us navigate our lives to what I refer to as The Open Field -- a place out beyond right and wrong, beyond judgment, beyond expectations, beyond our fears and our comfort zones, and beyond the labels that limit us.
I was recently joined by my great friend Dan Mulhern for a fascinating conversation on leadership.
Dan is an expert on "everyday leadership" and he has agreed to be one of our "Guides" on better leadership -- at home, at work and in our communities.
Being an everyday leader, being an Architect of Change, starts from within. So, I asked Dan: What are three things that anyone can implement today to put them on the path to leading?
April 4, 2012
Now that the Republican primary campaign seems to be winding down, I've been thinking about our current political discourse and how little it reflects the actual needs and modern realities of American women and families.
I spoke recently at a Harvard Kennedy School "Forum on the Road" event here in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating bi-partisan conversation and we had a huge turnout.
One of the messages I tried to convey was the importance of moving beyond the divisive political discourse that so many of us see on television and hear on the radio, so we can get to what really matters, to what can make the lives of Americans fundamentally better.
For the last few months, women have been at the forefront of the political discourse for all the wrong reasons (see: contraception debate).
Yet our country is in the midst of a cultural and societal upheaval that is impacting all facets of women's lives.
March 23, 2012
Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking at the launch event for the California Arts Council's "Create a State" Arts Plate campaign here in Los Angeles.
California is second-to-last in in the United States in arts education funding per capita, and the Arts Plate is the primary source of California's public arts funding.
Our goal is to get one million Arts Plates on the road, which will generate $40 million annually for arts education and local arts programs for children, schools and communities.
Having a chance to mingle with so many artistic thinkers (including the legendary architect Frank Gehry!) inspired me and got me thinking.
February 18, 2012
I invite you to tune in tonight (2/18) for an Alzheimer's special titled, Glen Campbell Fights Alzheimer's.
Hosted by Shepard Smith, the hourlong special airs at 10pm EST / 7pm PST on Fox News. It will also re-air next Sunday, February 26 at 9pm EST / 6pm PST.
The piece will focus on the public figures who, through their living example and advocacy work, have raised much needed awareness of Alzheimer's Disease.
As I was preparing for the interview, it dawned on me: this will be my first appearance on Fox News. I am thrilled that Fox News is taking on Alzheimer's and I was honored that they asked me to participate. If we are going to defeat this devastating disease, we all need to come together, move beyond political definitions, discuss it openly, and navigate a new path to end it.
February 13, 2012
Rumi is one of my favorite poets and philosophers. Reading his words always inspires me to move beyond my comfort zone, beyond my fears, and beyond my understanding.
I came across this thought-provoking message recently and thought it was worth sharing this week for Valentine's Day. I find it to be such a true and profound insight.
I think all of us, at some point in our lives, build up barriers in response to (and to protect ourselves from) being disappointed, hurt, rejected or excluded. These internal barriers become a part of us over time and we can forget they are even there.
They typically stay in place much longer than we need them and they can hold us back from letting the fullness of love into our lives.
January 1, 2012
Happy New Year to all you Architects of Change. I hope your holidays were a time of joy, gratitude and awe.
A dear friend sent me the following "Message from the Hopi Elders" on the last day of this year. It's one of my favorites and I wanted to share it with you. It hits home every time I read it. In fact, I have a framed copy of it in my office next to Mary Oliver's wonderful poem, The Journey.
December 7, 2011
I listened to President Obama's speech about what's at stake for our country in this "make or break moment" and it got me thinking...
What's at stake at this moment for you and your family?
We have a crisis in this country. We have a poverty of the soul, a poverty of the spirit, and a poverty of the pocketbook.
Is there anything that can bring us together, any issue we can all gather around?
After all, we are the United States of America.
November 21, 2011
The holiday season has arrived. And I must say, Thanksgiving is my personal favorite. Why? That's simple: it revolves around food, family, fun and great conversations!
I used to look forward to going home to Washington, DC to be with my parents. The football games, the walks in the park, the laughter and, yes, even some of our more high-pitched political discussions -- I treasured it all.
For me, the holidays are about slowing down, being with my family and friends, and hearing what they are thinking about and reflecting on.
November 4, 2011
My friend sent me a hilarious email this morning about a mishap she had operating what she referred to as "heavy machinery" in her yard (See picture above).
The original email was sent to her children, but when she forwarded it to me, she noted that if she ever wrote a book about raising boys, this experience will fall in the chapter titled, It Sucks When They Leave Because the Moms Have to Learn How to Operate the Heavy Machinery.
September 23, 2011
This article was originally featured at The Huffington Post. It's being re-published here for MariaShriver.com readers.
My mother was a warrior. No, not someone who carried a sword and went into hostilities to harm, but rather a warrior for good, and for the well-being of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide.
My mother's battlefield was the Special Olympics organization she founded in 1968. Her weapons of choice were compassion, an enormous heart, a sharp intellect and a competitive spirit. She used her full arsenal of talents to fight for those who were not viewed by society to be capable, to be fully human, to be deserving of the opportunity to play, to compete, and to contribute to their community worldwide.
This Saturday, September 24, over 100 countries will celebrate the second annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Day. Athletes, families and fans from around the world will play unified -- people with and without disabilities playing sports together -- to teach the world how to live unified.
September 14, 2011
Q&A with Caroline Kennedy on "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy"
In 1964, just six months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy sat down with historian Arthur Schlessinger, Jr. and recorded more than eight hours of recollections, insights, observations and lessons about her life with the President, all to preserve his legacy. The tapes of those sessions were then sealed and stored at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.
This never-before-heard conversation and historical record -- captured in an illustrated book and 8-CD set -- is being released today by Caroline Kennedy and the Kennedy family to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy's Inauguration.
In this Q&A with Caroline Kennedy, one of the few interviews she granted, she recalls her mother's intellectual curiosity and love of reading, discusses her mother's initial apprehension about becoming First Lady, and marvels at how far women have come.
August 31, 2011
I've been thinking lately about the idea of living a balanced life. Everybody I talk to seems to be struggling in their lives with this mythical thing called balance.
August 22, 2011
Last night, I hosted a "Team Maria" fundraiser for Best Buddies, an organization my brother Anthony founded in 1989 to create friendship, employment and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Seeing my family, friends and colleagues at this beautiful event put a smile on my face. I was happy to be working with so many staunch advocates to further a great cause.
And it was beyond wonderful just having the "team" back together.
It got me thinking about the power of being part of a team.
A friend recently gave me a card with a picture of a group of friends on the cover. The card read: "Call it a tribe, a clan, a network; whatever it is, you need one."
That's true, isn't it? It is a fundamental human desire to feel as if we belong -- and are included -- with people of like minds and like hearts.
Is being being part of a tribe or a team important to you?
August 8, 2011
During the last week, the front pages of the New York Times featured a series of gut-wrenching headlines and arresting images all in such a rapid succession.
July 16, 2011
Reflecting back on my week, the highlight was meeting Wilfred, a parking attendant in an office building here in Los Angeles.
July 15, 2011
If someone gives you a chance to interview Gloria Steinem, you take it. The word "legend" is probably too often used, but it hits the description bullseye in Gloria's case.
July 8, 2011
"Mrs. Ford was a courageous pioneer, a groundbreaking First Lady, and a forceful advocate for anyone suffering from addiction or breast cancer. America fought her struggles with her and learned alongside her. She was brave, outspoken and kind. As a journalist, I had the opportunity to interview her several times and she was just fascinating. She was a wonderful woman who stood up for any human being struggling in the shadows of their personal pain. One of my highlights as First Lady of California was to honor her with a Minerva Award in 2005. My heart goes out to her entire family. Her daughter Susan is a dear friend of mine and continues to carry on Mrs. Ford's work in such a powerful way."
- Maria Shriver
June 25, 2011
At our Special Olympics Board Meeting this morning, we continued exploring the idea of a Dignity Revolution that is focused on uniting and inspiring people in communities all around the world to move us in a more open, inclusive and tolerant direction.
June 24, 2011
It's wonderful being here in Athens for the Special Olympics World Summer Games. There is an incredibly strong spirit of unity here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's Opening Ceremony and the Parade of Athletes, 7000 strong. My brother, Tim, talks often about launching a "Dignity Revolution" throughout the world and you can definitely feel that in the air.
My friend, Special Olympian and fellow Special Olympics Board Member, Eddie Barbanell, wrote me a beautiful note before I traveled to Athens that made me feel so good. He said that he knew I was going through a rough time but he wanted me to know that I "will never be left out".
June 2, 2011
That was the theme of last year’s Women’s Conference and I think that message is as relevant today as it was then.
May 9, 2011
CNN's John Blake analyzed "What 'Situation Room Photo' reveals about us" from many cultural angles, but I was struck most by what the photo might say about the evolving model of masculinity in America.
April 12, 2011
I would love to hear from you on this issue. I filmed this short video after being interviewed by Larry King for his upcoming special on Alzheimer's.
March 15, 2011
Back in early February, as guest editor of the special April poetry edition of O – The Oprah Magazine, I got together with the O editorial staff at the OWN Network offices in Los Angeles.
I invite you to join me and watch these behind-the-scenes videos of our meeting.
January 31, 2011
Poetry can help us through hard times and bring us closer to our joy. Poetry can be prayerful and somber or irreverent and playful, but what runs through all poetry is the search for meaning and understanding that connects us together. While a poem may bring us deep personal meaning, it always seems to get more meaningful when we share it with others, and that is why O, The Oprah Magazine and I are asking readers to submit their cherished poems to www.oprah.com/poetry.
December 17, 2010
On the heels of the passage of the National Alzheimer's Project Act, the Washington Post published this OpEd written by me and Sandra Day O'Connor calling on the nation to set the goal of defeating Alzheimer's within the next decade:
"Every American president must take on a defining challenge to mobilize the American spirit and advance the American story. The too-brief presidency of John F. Kennedy is remembered for a commitment to land a man on the moon within a decade. And this we did. Ronald Reagan declared that a resolute America would "transcend" communism. Less than a year after he left office, the Berlin Wall fell without a shot being fired.
December 13, 2010
This year, you still have time to rethink how you prepare for and celebrate the holidays. A festive home and thoroughly celebrated holiday (with lots of time to connect with friends and family) don’t require a lot of work or money. With these 12 tips, you can add warmth and style to help live your holidays to the fullest.
December 7, 2010
I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, Elizabeth Edwards. My heart goes out to her loving family. Elizabeth was a mighty warrior, and I've long admired her courage, her compassion and her personal quest for truth. She was a public servant, a dedicated mother, a tireless advocate and a loyal friend. She showed up to speak at The Women's Conference every time I asked, and our audience was always moved by the open and honest way she would share the struggles she faced along her journey. I hope her children know their mother was an inspiration to women everywhere -- a truly great woman.
Elizabeth devoted herself to helping others, working tirelessly to further important social causes such as the welfare of children, breast cancer awareness and healthcare reform. She was also a committed mother, accomplished attorney and published author. She inspired countless women with her two best-selling books, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers and Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities.
November 3, 2010
IT’S TIME – the theme of this year's Women's Conference – means different things to each of us. For me, IT'S TIME… to move on and embark on a whole new journey.
The job of First Lady has transformed me from the outside in. Today, I think of myself first and foremost as a woman – standing on her own two feet – trying to live a life that's both authentic and meaningful. These last seven years have helped me come into my own, to find my own way, to recognize and grow into my own voice. At long last, I realize I don’t have to try to fill anyone else's shoes. I have to fill my own shoes.
Txt TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 to @SavetheChildren to help them respond to tornado in Oklahoma & other US disasters. Std rates apply.