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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: This Is What Strong Leadership Looks Like

“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”  — Simone de Beauvoir

In my time in Abu Dhabi for the Special Olympics World Games, I was struck by a few things.

1) How vast the world is and how small we all are in it;

2) How diverse the world is and how little we know about each other’s cultures, religions and customs;

3) How similar we actually are, regardless of the color of our skin or the God to whom we pray; and,

4) How much we all need inspiration and examples of courage and dignity in our lives.

These things have the power to lift us all up. They should give us hope that we can find common ground and that we are each capable of being the inspiration that we seek.

Speaking of inspiration and making our world a better place, I was also struck this week by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s powerful display of strong and compassionate leadership.

I was so moved as I watched her hug the family members of the Christchurch victims. She held these grieving families in her arms, while simultaneously speaking out strongly against gun violence and steadfastly refusing to utter the terrorist’s name. I just love that she said, “Speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we, in New Zealand, will give him nothing–not even his name.”

That is what strong leadership looks like. It’s compassionate. It’s loving. It’s in the moment. It’s humane. It’s steadfast. It’s powerful. I love that all these qualities were displayed by this woman. She led her country forward at a terrible moment and, in doing so, she has shown the world how it can and should be done.

I think this is an important moment, especially for those who have doubted a woman’s ability to lead a country during a crisis. I’ve often heard things like, “A woman wouldn’t be strong enough. She wouldn’t appear strong enough. A woman wouldn’t make you feel safe and/or protected.”

Prime Minister Ardern put all those concerns to rest, in my mind. She showed the world how to grieve, how to show up for those who are grieving, and how to show up for those who need direction and hope. She also showed us that, under strong leadership, a country can act swiftly and decisively.

Examples of strength under pressure—elegant, compassionate, loving strength—were all around me at the Special Olympics World Games.

I saw courage and strength in the faces of the determined athletes, their coaches and their parents. I saw courage and strength on the faces of the New Zealand Special Olympics athletes, who gathered to stand beside us at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi just days after the shooting. These athletes were far away from home, yet here, they felt held and loved by their Special Olympics family and their United Arab Emirates hosts. Never underestimate how powerful it is to be held during grief, even if you are a world away from home.

Yes, the world is vast, but it’s also so small. And yet, even still, we are each capable of moving the world forward with our humanity.

So as we move forward, may we all take a page from Prime Minister Ardern and lead with love, gentleness, compassion and strength. May we each condemn and reject violence like she did and may we not utter the names of those who cause violence with their deeds and their words.

So many people are trying to gain notoriety by doing unspeakable things and acting in unspeakable ways. Let’s not speak their names. Let’s not give them the notoriety they so desperately desire.

Let’s starve these people of what they desire. Let’s spend the precious time we have here speaking the names of those who are trying to make our world better, not talking about those who are cowards and who bully, demean or create acts of violence.

It’s a big world out there, but each of us can break through if we rise above and behave in an elegant, compassionate and strong manner. That’s what moving humanity forward looks like. And, moving humanity forward is what breaks through, even if you are a world away.


Dear God, please help me to always show love and compassion to those around me. In today’s world, what we need most are love, compassion, gentleness and strength—from ourselves and from others. Amen.

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Maria and Father James Martin Discuss the State of the Catholic Church and How It Might Evolve in Today’s World

I recently had a very thought-provoking conversation with Fr. James Martin, SJ, American Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of America Magazine, for my podcast “Meaningful Conversations.” Father Martin’s views aren’t always embraced by all, but I have always valued the ways that he stands up for women and the LGBT community. Together, our conversation explores some important ways the church can move forward in today’s troubled times.  and 

Nely Galan Reveals Why You Should Show Up, Take Risks and Believe in Yourself

As a self-made media mogul, SP columnist Nely Galan knows what it takes to succeed. In this inspiring piece, Nely illustrates the rise and success of Oscar-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio (“ROMA”). She says, “ has become so fascinating to women because she reminds us never to give up and to always show up.” 

Author Serene Jones Helps Us Find Divine Inspiration in a Divided World

Architect of Change Serene Jones, the first female president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is bringing theology into modern times with her book “Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World.” Through personal stories, Rev. Dr. Jones offers insight for living a more honest, grace-filled life in an era of increasing division. 


After Her Husband’s Traumatic Brain Injury, Author Abby Maslin Transformed Her Life and Love Anew

After her husband T.C. suffered a traumatic brain injury following an assault, Abby Maslin feared that life as she knew it was over. In her book. Love You Hard: A Memoir of Marriage, Brain Injury, and Reinventing Love,” Abby explores what it means to love beyond language, beyond abilities, and into the place that reveals who we really are. 

Learn How to Hack Your Mind For Better Health: The Science of Habit Change

Judson Brewer MD is a psychiatrist and renowned expert in mindfulness training for addictions. Our friends at 1440 recently spoke with Dr. Brewer about the process of understanding your mind in order to attain “self-mastery.” 

We are creatures of habit—often unhelpful ones like constantly checking social media, excessive drinking, worrying, or getting caught up in behaviors that disconnect us from ourselves and others. Is there a key to conquering the cravings we know are unhealthy for us? Step out of your daily routine and learn to Hack Your Mind for Better Health at 1440 Multiversity from April 12 – 14, 2019 with Judson Brewer.


1. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Receives International Praise for Response to Mosque Shootings: As I state in my essay, I was moved this week by the strong and intelligent manner in which Nez Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern handled the aftermath of the mosque shooting last week. So was the rest of the world. 

2. The FDA Has Approved the First Drug for Postpartum Depression: So many women suffer in silence from postpartum depression. Now there’s hope. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug specifically for the treatment of this condition. 

3. Treating Toxic Stress in Kids Is a Top Priority for California’s First Surgeon General: I love that Architect of Change Dr. Nadine Burke, California’s new surgeon general, has been a leading advocate in pushing the state to expand screenings for abuse and extreme stress in children.

4. Finland Continues to Top Global Happiness Index for Second: The World Happiness Report, produced by the U.N Sustainable Development Solutions Network, has announced that Finland has topped an index of the happiest nations for the second consecutive year. The research is based on factors including economic wealth, life expectancy, social support, freedom to make life choices and levels of government corruption. 

5. Five Ways to Talk to Your Kids So They Feel Loved: I love this piece from Greater Good Magazine that offers advice on how to encourage your kids with nurturing messages.

6. Yippee Moment of the Week! This video is the epitome of a “yippee moment.” Watch how Special Olympics athlete Ibrahim Al Hammadi celebrates his victorious deadlift. Love his pure joy! 


The Choices You Make Throughout Your Life May Determine Your Risk of Developing Dementia

Dr. Marie Pasinski, a staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that the way we live our lives can either positively or negative affect our chances of developing dementia. The good news is that the risk factors are potentially modifiable or even reversible. 

THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT is a global movement of game changers, groundbreakers, and cultivators of hope. We’re working to wipe out Alzheimer’s and change the future for all minds


We wanted to share a fresh springtime recipe with your for your lunch, brunch or Sunday Dinner. This Olive Oil Pizza Pizza with Lox and Arugula is from Elana Horwich’s new cookbook Meal and a Spiel: How to Be a Badass in the Kitchen” and is the perfect meal to share with loved ones. Enjoy! 


I was inspired by Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow’s closing speech at Peking University this week who spoke of how his parents came to the U.S. as refugees. He ended his remarks with the quote below from Abdurehim Ötkür, one of China’s greatest modern poets. It reminds us all to “dialogue” meaningfully.

SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World 

Visit the shop on to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!


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