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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: What Are You Great At?

“It is the ability to choose which makes us human.”  — Madeleine L’Engle

The other night at my Sunday dinner, my friend Chelsea asked me if I had read the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown.

When I told her no, she said: “If anyone needs to read that book, it’s you!” By the next morning, the book had arrived at my front door with an inscription to “get reading!”

I love when friends suggest books or articles to read because I love to learn. I am constantly searching for ways to be a better, more evolved human being, as well as a more focused and effective leader at work.

Chelsea told me that “Essentialism” resonated with her on many levels, but that there was one point in particular that really stayed with her. It was the author’s message that if we want to rise from “good to great” in our work and our lives, then we must identify what we’re most passionate about and apply the bulk of our effort and energy there. If we get focused and pick the things that matter most to you, then it will empower you to say “yes” to opportunities that align with your priorities and say “no” to everything else.

“What are two areas you want to be great in?” Chelsea asked me and others at dinner last Sunday. “I want to be a great skier and a great writer. Maria, what about you?”

Good God, I thought. I haven’t even read the book yet. I’m passionate about so many things. How could I possibly pick just two?

After Chelsea left, I found myself mulling over her question. You see, the truth is that my focus, my passions and my priorities have changed as I have changed over the years. In my 20s, I wanted to be a great journalist and a great girlfriend. In my 30s, I wanted to be a great mother and a great wife. In my 40s, I wanted to be a great mother and a great First Lady for the state of California and for the people I served. In my 50s, I found myself stretched thin with many roles: mother, wife, First Lady, daughter, caregiver to two aging parents, etc.

Now, I’m in the sixth decade of my life and, ironically, I feel younger, lighter, more alive, and more focused than I have felt in decades. There is also so much that I’m doing and still want to do.

I’ve always believed that age is simply a number on the page. I know people younger than me who act older in every way. I also know people who are older and have twice the energy and stamina that I do. (Speaking of which, I’m always inspired when I see individuals older than myself running for president. That takes more energy, more drive, more stamina, and more focus than almost anything.)

I always tell my kids that their ambitions, their goals and their priorities will change and evolve over their lifetime. It’s not only necessary, but it’s healthy, I say. Who wants to be the same person at 60 that they were at 30? I wish we would stop putting an age after people’s names (our political leaders included) and instead ask “What do you value? Where are you focusing your energy?”

Now, one week after my Sunday dinner, I’m still contemplating my friend’s question. What are one or two things that I want to focus my life on today?

I have to admit that the idea of focusing on just two things feels, well, limiting. Being a great mother is still one of my main priorities. So, too, are being a journalist, a leader and an advocate for women’s health through my nonprofit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.

But as I’ve started to read the book “Essentialism,” I’m coming to learn that the lesson is not to eliminate the things you care about from your life. It’s simply to get laser-focused on why they matter to you so that when the world presents you a whirlwind of distractions and other people’s priorities, you can get clear on your goals and gracefully say “no” to everything that would get in the way of them. Setting boundaries and saying “no” is never easy, but we owe it to ourselves to do both if we want to be the architects of our own lives.

I believe that focusing more on what truly matters will help me be more effective in all areas of my life. Now, the question to myself is, “What do I choose?”

I ask the same question to you. “What are the two things you want to be great at? Do you know? Are there other things in your life that are getting in the way of your goals? If so, how can you get focused?”

I’ve been thinking for some time now that I need to do less, so I know that focusing on this question is a good thing. It’s just not the easiest thing to do!

Thanks, Chelsea! Thanks a lot. (P.S. for more from her, see below.)


Dear God, please help me honor the gifts you’ve granted me and the precious time you’ve given me here on this Earth. Help me to make the most of both and cherish them fully. Amen.

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On My Podcast “Meaningful Conversations,” Chelsea Handler Opens Up About Grief and the Power of Humor in Healing

My friend Chelsea Handler doesn’t mince words. And in this conversation on my podcast “Meaningful Conversations,” she reveals how the loss of her brother has influenced her life and her comedy. She also talks about learning to grow and evolve and how she has become more open to change.  

Widower of ‘You May Want to Marry My Husband’ Writer and Daughter Have Found New Joy and Purpose

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jason Rosenthal– who became a viral sensation after his wife, Amy Krouse, wrote a personal ad for him in the New York Times just days before her death–and his daughter, Paris. I spoke to them both for The TODAY Show about their new book “Dear Boy,” which is a children’s companion book to Amy’s “Dear Girl.”

Learn more about identity and the ways you can support cultivating a healthier planet and personal life with Dr. Dan Siegel, Jack Kornfield, Reverend Ed Bacon, and more, at their Timeless Wisdom, Timely Action Gathering April 26-28, 2019 in Marina del Rey, CA.

Mystic Mirabai Starr Explains How Feminine Values Can Help Build a Better Society for All

Architect of Change Mirabai Starr, author of “Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics,” writes an exclusive piece for The Sunday Paper this morning about the feminine values of cooperation and emotional connection and how “championing one another’s efforts to build a better society and supporting one another’s projects sustain and protect our planet.

Melinda Gates Is On a Mission to Show Us How Empowering Women Can Change the World

We are honored to be featuring an exclusive Q & A from philanthropist and Architect of Change Melinda Gates, author of the new book “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World”. Melinda says women’s rights and society’s health and wealth rise together, which is why “empowering women is one of the highest-leverage investments you can make in human beings.” 

Lynn Twist Wants to Help You Find Peace with Money and Use It in Your Life for Good

“Sufficiency is the exquisite experience of enough, the exquisite experience of being met by the universe with exactly what you need over and over and over again. And I assert that that is already the case in every single person’s life.” – Lynne Twist

For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger, and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. From working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, as well as guiding the philanthropy of some of the world’s wealthiest families, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of people’s relationship with money.  of Lynne’s interview with our friends at 1440 Multiversity.




1. Progressive Group Asks 2020 Presidential Candidates to Pledge to Play Nice and Support the Nominee: With so many candidates in the 2020 race so far, a group called Indivisible is hoping to get the 20 candidates in the Democratic presidential race to sign a pledge promising a constructive primary that culminates with all participants coming together to support the eventual nominee.  And above, watch Joe Biden’s first interview since announcing his campaign on “The View” on Friday. 

2. A New Poll Finds That Americans Are Among the Most Stressed People in the World: This isn’t too surprising. According to an annual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 people around the world, American reported feeling stress, anger, and worry at the highest levels in a decade.

3. 25 Years After Participating in Genocide in Rwanda, Their Neighbors Welcomed Them Home: This is a thought-provoking read from The New York Times, which chronicles the lives of those who participated in one of the world’s most atrocious instances of mass violence and how they are now being welcomed back home. The story teaches us about the human capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation. 

4. A New Report Says Millennials Are Not as Healthy as People Think: I thought this was eye-opening news. Though often credited with driving the wellness market, millennials are in worse health than their elders in Generation X used to be, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

5. Reusable Straws Are The Next Must-Have Accessory: My daughter Christina sent me this great piece from Refinery29. I love that the new “it” items this year are sustainable goods. 

6. World Health Organization Says Babies Should Not Be Exposed to Electronic Screens: A new report from the World Health Organization says that children in their first, or even second year of life, should not be exposed to electronic screens. 

7. Americans Are Sitting at Record Rates and That’s Dangerous: This is a disturbing, yet not too surprising, study published in JAMA that reports prolonged sitting is bad for our health. According to one of the researchers, “sitting too long is linked to chronic diseases that can lead to early death.”

8. Has America’s Obsession With Long Hours Widened The Gender Gap: Mounting evidence has led experts to believe that a major cause in the widening salary gender gap is the increase in jobs requiring long, inflexible work hours.

9. Yippee! Moment of the Week: I love this story, which highlights the kindness we’re all capable of expressing. Three young men from Alabama spotted an elderly woman eating alone at a local restaurant and decided to join her. It was an experience none of them would ever forget. 


Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Director: ‘We Can Look Forward to a World Without Alzheimer’s’

In his latest book with co-author Jamie Tyrone, the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Director Dr. Marwan Sabbagh says we may be moving toward a model in which Alzheimer’s is treatable. What’s more, he believes “we can now begin to strategize about a future without Alzheimer’s disease.” 

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


Why Sunday Dinners Matter: We believe that Sunday Dinners matter! Why? Because they are an opportunity to put down our phones and communicate face-to-face with one another. It is where meaningful conversations begin, and that moves humanity forward.

Recipe For Your Sunday Dinner: This recipe for Melanzane Alla Parmigiana is from actress Tembi Locke’s book “From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home.”  

This Week’s Dinner Conversation Starter: What are two areas you want to be great in? How have your goals changed over the years?


I love any opportunity to share the work of my late, dear friend Mary Oliver. This beautiful piece delights in the bird-song of the thrush. It reminds us to be grateful for the arrival of springtime — a time of rebirth, renewal and looking forward.

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!


Do you have feedback on The Sunday Paper? Do you have ideas for content or changemakers that we should feature in an upcoming edition? If so, connect with us below.



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