Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: The Gift of a New Beginning
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Guess what Tuesday is?
Yep, it’s Election Day. But it’s also my birthday! Yippee!
Every year as my birthday approaches, I like to take stock of my life. I like to drill down and assess where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going.
I ask myself, “Am I in connection with those I love? Am I spending time with them? Do they feel supported by me? Do they feel my love?”
I also take stock of my work. I ask, “Do I feel like it’s bringing me meaning? Do I want to get up every day and dive into it? Does it satisfy my curiosity? Am I learning and growing? Do I feel like I have a mission larger than myself and that I am giving my all to achieving it?”
Then I ask, “Am I in connection with God?” Truthfully, I find myself relying a lot on this relationship, especially as life moves forward.
Being in conversation with God helps when I feel things are changing (which they often are) or when I feel
like change happening is outside of my control (which is often). Being in conversation with God helps when I’m trying to center myself. It helps me realize that, at the end of the day, being centered is my responsibility and that getting there will help me walk forward into the unknown. And, it also always helps me when I find myself comparing my life to others, or when I’m about to have a pity party for myself.
At the moment, God and I actually have a pretty thing going, which is good. That said, I must admit that I’m pressing him on how so many good people could be struggling in poverty. I’m also asking how so many people’s lives could be so desperate and so desolate that they would walk miles and miles across countries, carrying their babies, just to come to our country.
All I know is that there, but for the grace of God, go I and go you.
I also check this time of year to see if I’ve progressed in my own inner development. Have I made strides in accepting myself for who I am and where I am? Do I have compassion for myself and others? Have I made my health the priority it should be? (I’ve gotta do better here.)
The truth is, I am a work in progress. Always have been and, I realize now, I always will be. But what I do know is that as I embark on a new year of life, I am immensely grateful. So very grateful.
I’m grateful to God for the gift of a new year of life. This last year, I lost three people close to me. Two were younger than me. They weren’t given the gift of life that I’m being given, so I know I’m blessed and oh so lucky to be celebrating a birthday this year.
My daughter said to me the other day, “Mommy I just think this is going to be your year. I can just feel it.”
I threw my head back and laughed. I said, “Gee, I hope you are right, sweetheart. I so hope you are right.”
But then I thought, wait a minute, Maria, this past year was pretty great already. So was the year before, and so on.
Even the years that have been challenging were “my years.” They were my years of challenge that gave way to my growth. My experiences with loss have taught me lessons in strength. My years of age have brought me wisdom. My children growing up and leaving the house has been heart-wrenching at times, but it has also given me freedom. Freedom to do more. Freedom to pay less attention to what others think. Freedom to reconnect with my younger self.
So, as I head into this new year of life, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I know my children are good, happy, healthy and moving forward in their respective lives. I realize now that none of us are without challenges and that none of us are without struggles or fears.
The truth is, all of us can choose to look at any year of life and see it as “our year.” That’s why I’m going to go into this new year of life with the belief that my daughter is right. It is going to be my best year yet.
I’m going to challenge myself to try new things (because doing so is good for my brain!). I’m going to eat better. I’m going to laugh more, take chances, pursue new experiences and different adventures. I’m going to continue to work hard because doing so brings me purpose. I’m going to continue to use my voice in ways that I choose. I’m going to aim to dream BIG. (I was struck this past week when Stacey Abrams commented that she had been dreaming small in the past and realized she needed to shift. Her words got to me and reminded me that I need to dream big, too. We all do.)
I’m also going to get better at letting go. I really have got to get better at letting go. After all, in order to jump into something new, you’ve got to let go of the old stuff. (I’ll need help with that one.)
That’s what I’m hoping for myself and for you, too. Just because it’s not your birthday doesn’t mean it can’t be your year as well. It doesn’t mean you can’t look within and then look out. It doesn’t mean you can’t step into gratitude and see your challenges as gifts.
Life is ours to seize. It’s ours to shape. It’s ours to write. So, join me in your best year yet. And, of course, don’t forget to vote this Tuesday! Voting might just make your best year yet start on that day – my birthday.
It is, as all things are, up to you.
Dear God, please help me remember that my life, like this life you’ve built for us all, is a work in progress. There is so much to appreciate. There is so much to learn. There is so much to do. Never let me take this gift you’ve given me for granted. Amen.
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Drumroll, please… Also in honor of my birthday, I am so excited to tell you that on December 31, I’ll be releasing “I’ve Been Thinking… The Journal.” This is a companion to my book that is filled with writing inspirations that I hope will help get you thinking and writing about your own path to a meaningful life. The journal is available for pre-order now, so click the link below to take a closer look. I can’t wait for you to see it!
VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
Jack Kornfield Explains How the Teachings of Dharma Can Benefit Us All in This Current Political Climate
With the mid-term elections upon us, we are all dealing with the stress of national division. Buddhist teacher and SP columnist Jack Kornfield explains why we can all benefit from the teachings of dharma, regardless of your political affiliation, because the practice “welcomes everyone and encourages all to awaken together.”
Leading Women’s Health Experts Share Critical Information You Need to Know
I was honored to be joined by some of the nation’s leading experts on women’s health and cognitive health this past week at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement‘s summit with Genworth Financial. Watch my informative conversation with Dr. Lisa Mosconi, Dr. Sara Gottfried and Dr. E Ayn Welleford. It’s filled with facts and advice that will make you think and change your outlook on personal health.
Caregiving: How Alzheimer’s Impacts the Whole Family
This week on TODAY, in recognition of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, I met with a dedicated mother and daughter who struggle daily with caring for their patriarch who suffers from the disease. Their moving story is one we all need to hear.
Bishop Michael Curry Underscores the Power of Loving Your Neighbor
Architect of Change Bishop Michael Curry delivered the impassioned sermon at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Now in his new book, “The Power of Love,” he uplifts and inspires us with his powerful words of wisdom. In this excerpt, Bishop Curry implores us all to love our neighbor, no matter our differences, because “love calls for us to be humanitarian.”
Women’s Leadership Ambassadors Tabby Biddle & Elisa Parker Remind Us Why Sisterhood Is Our Greatest Strength
I love that Architects of Change Tabby Biddle and Elisa Parker met at my Women’s Conference in 2010 and have since made it their mission to amplify women’s voices. As we approach the midterms, Tabby and Elisa remind us why we must “show up for her; show up for yourself.”
NEWS CURATED…FOR YOU
1. Oprah and Maria Urge You to Get Out and Vote: I loved making this important video with my dear friend Oprah Winfrey. Please watch and exercise your right to vote on Tuesday! WATCH VIDEO ABOVE
2. Shriver Report Snapshot Poll: Americans Believe Female Candidates Will Improve the Value and Ethics of the Country: Our brand-new poll, released by The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Genworth, shows that Americans believe the record number of female candidates could bring positive change to issues affecting their families, including caregiving and Alzheimer’s.
3. Pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger Wants Us to Vote for Leaders Who Will Protect Us: In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post this week, “Sully” Sullenberger says, “We saved 155 lives on the Hudson. Now let’s vote for leaders who’ll protect us all.”
4. Here’s What Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Can Teach America’s Leaders: We can all learn from the incredible unity-building techniques of Red Sox team manager Alex Cora. This insightful piece explores “ways in which Cora faces an environment just as hostile as our elected officials in Washington.”
5. How Your Emotions Get Out the Vote: This interesting piece from Greater Good Magazine reveals that research suggests that instilling emotions like gratitude and civic pride may help increase voter turnout.
6. The Best Way to Fight Hate: In the aftermath of recent hate crimes and political attacks, author and presidential historian Nancy Gibbs says it is up to us to fight hate with engagement.
7. Research Reveals Extended Screen Time For Kids Affects Their Mental Health: This is disturbing information. According to a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, young people who spend more than seven hours a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day.
9. Police Officer Prevents Man From Committing Suicide With a Hug: This moving video illustrates the power of compassion, empathy & love. WATCH VIDEO BELOW
BOOKS I’VE BEEN READING
The Power of Love: Sermons, Reflections and Wisdom to Uplift and Inspire” by Bishop Michael Curry: In this inspirational and illuminating book, you can read the text of the celebrated 2018 royal wedding sermon, plus four other sermons touching on themes of love, commitment, and social justice.
“Food for Thought: Recipes for Ultimate Mind and Body Health” by Cristina Ferrare: With her simple, creative recipes, you can explore everything from the importance of a nutritious breakfast to the surprising ways that the shape of a food can give us clues about the part of our body it will nourish.The book will be released Dec. 4th.
“Maverick and Me” Board Book Edition by Katherine Schwarzenegger: As a proud mom, I’m excited to announce that my daughter Katherine’s children’s book “Maverick and Me” was released this week in a board book edition. It makes the perfect gift for any child (and animal lover) in your life. I love this book, I love its message and, of course, I love her. Get it on and
RECIPES TO SHARE FOR YOUR SUNDAY DINNER
I love this yummy and brain/body healthy recipe for Turkey Meatballs from my dear friend Architect of Change Cristina Ferrare. It’s the perfect meal for a Sunday Dinner gathering. You can preview the recipe on our website today, but also find it in Cristina’s new book “Food for Thought: Recipes for Ultimate Mind and Body Health,” out Dec. 4th.
We hope you’ll keep sending along photos of your family dinners inspired by The Sunday Paper. E-mail us here and we’ll share them in upcoming editions of The Sunday Paper.
A SUNDAY REFLECTION FOR YOU
This morning, when so much noise is swirling about us in these final days before the election, I thought this reflection from Saint Teresa of Calcutta was worth sharing this Sunday. It reminds us that in order to get in touch with ourselves and with God (whomever that may be for you), then we first need to get quiet.
THE SUNDAY PAPER PROUDLY SUPPORTS…
Greg O’Brien: ‘There Is No Firewall in Alzheimer’s”
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