Maria’s Sunday Paper: The Power of New Beginnings
“Your soul senses the world that awaits you.”
That’s the last line of a poem by one of my favorite poets, John O’ Donahue. It’s called “New Beginnings,” and I just love the image that it conveys. A world awaits you and your soul.
Several years ago, I printed out the poem, put it in my wallet, and promptly forgot about it. Then last Sunday as I was sitting in a parking lot, I rediscovered it.
The crumpled piece of paper caught my eye as I was rummaging through my wallet trying to find one of those crazy punch cards for juice that my son makes me buy.
“What’s that?” I thought to myself as I spotted the wrinkled paper.
I unfolded it and found the poem. There, sitting in my car in a CVS parking lot, I read it once again. Tears streamed down my face.
I cried not just because the poem was — and is — so beautiful. I cried because it is so true. I cried because its words came back to me at just the right moment.
I love how the universe does that to you, and for you. You think of someone and then out of the blue, they call. You see a young prince on TV tell his bride how amazing she looks and how lucky he is, and then you believe in love all over again. You hear a preacher extoll the truth about love in our world, and then you see the world (and your role in it) with new eyes. You meet a Gold Star mother and you think about sacrifice, service and loss in new ways.
The truth is, every moment of every day offers us all the chance to begin anew. To rewrite our story. To step into a new beginning.
For the past three months, I’ve been out on the road with my book, “I’ve Been Thinking…” (Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make it such a success.) As I’ve traveled across the country, I’ve shared my observations about the people I’ve met along the way. What they’re feeling. What they’re thinking. What they’re talking about.
But, what I haven’t really shared is what this experience has brought up in me personally. I haven’t truly shared how exciting, humbling and thrilling it is to put out a book and have it be such a success, and then juxtapose that high against the feelings of coming home to a quiet, empty house. I mean, I love the family dog, but he’s not good at responding to my stories from the road.
I’m not sharing this with you to garner pity in any way. I’m just stating the truth. It’s a truth that got me thinking.
Last week — before I found myself sitting in that parking lot and before I watched the royal wedding — I had this gnawing feeling in my gut. “I’m blessed, I’m lucky, I’m grateful, but…”
And so, I went home and looked at the goals that I had written out for myself this year.
In the top spot was, “make my book a success.” Check.
Then, it was to expand The Sunday Paper’s “paper route.” In other words, to increase subscriptions and to launch an ambassador program to engage our community in a more meaningful way. Check again. Thank you so much.
Next, it was to make the Netflix documentary I produced with my daughter Christina, “Take Your Pills,” a success. Check check.
And so the list continued…
Make sure all my kids are on solid footing. Pray that they have a circle of friends who love them for who they are and that support them across the board. Check.
Connect with my brothers, sisters-in-law and their kids. Check.
Make sure my own friends feel seen and supported. Check.
Launch Move For Minds 2018 and make it bigger, better and more impactful than the year before. (I know I’ll be able to check this off my list this upcoming weekend, as we kick off with an event in New York City, then head to Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’m deeply grateful to have a partner like Equinox Sports Clubs, which will spend the entire month of June helping us spread the important message about brain health. I’m also grateful to all of our other partners, and to the movers and shakers who will be joining us on the road, sharing their wisdom and expertise and helping us move the needle on women and Alzheimer’s.)
I’m excited for what’s to come, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far this year. But, as I sat there reviewing my list of goals for 2018 and taking it in, what horrified me was what I found at the bottom of my piece of paper. There, in the last place on the list, was…drum roll…”make time for me.”
Make time for me was in last place! Ugh. ugh. ugh. No wonder I’ve been talking to the dog!
So, rediscovering a poem entitled “New Beginnings” was the perfect find for me at this moment in time. It’s time, I thought, for me to move myself to the top of my list. It’s time to begin the year anew — right here, in the middle of the year.
Let’s face it. Many of us have to begin anew at different times in our lives. Sometimes we have to do it many times over. Tina Lawson told me a few weeks ago, “Forget about plan B. I’m in the middle of the alphabet.”
We laughed and I nodded in agreement. I’ve gone through plans B, C, D, E, and F, and now I’ve lost count of where I’m at. I just feel like it’s time to begin anew again.
Truthfully, I’m not altogether sure what that means. It just means that this Memorial Day weekend, during this unofficial start of summer, I’m going to be approaching my life anew.
All of our writers and Architects of Change featured in today’s Sunday Paper have also had to begin anew. I’m sure many of you have, too. (And, if you haven’t thought about it, maybe after reading this, you will.)
Sometimes tragic loss causes you to begin anew. Other times, it’s an illness or the loss of a job. Sometimes it’s the end of a marriage or your children leaving. Sometimes it’s just your own choice.
New beginnings are sometimes scary, overwhelming and confusing. But, they can also be exhilarating, exciting and hopeful. They can lead to new endings and new experiences.
New beginnings can invigorate old relationships and add momentum to an unfulfilled dream. In short, they can redirect whatever needs resurrecting, even if that’s you.
How do you begin anew? How do you find hope when the plan for your life falls out from beneath you? How do you adjust when your life changes in an instant?
Take a moment this morning and listen to Elizabeth Smart, who I interviewed this past week. Take the time to read Rivka Bent’s story about becoming a Gold Star mother. Read my friend Tony Thomopoulos’ moving piece about seeing himself anew in the role of male caregiver.
The truth is, every day offers us the hope of a new beginning. Sometimes you find that hope in a poem. Sometimes you find it in a film or a song. Sometimes it happens when other things on your to-do list come to their natural conclusion. Sometimes you are sitting alone in a parking lot and you say to yourself, “I want to approach my life differently,” and so you begin…
John O’ Donahue’s poem (which we feature in our “Sunday Reflection” section today) ends like this:
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back
Learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For the soul senses the world that awaits you
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what the world has waiting for me……
“I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life” has now been on The New York Times Bestsellers list for three months straight. Wow! If you haven’t read it yet, consider it for your summer reading list. Or, for the graduate in your life!
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WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN THINKING
I’ve been thinking about the individuals featured below and how their views on the world rise above the noise…
GOLD STAR MOM SHARES HER JOURNEY TO FIND HOPE AFTER LOSING HER ONLY SON
Architect of Change Rivka Bent lost her only son, a Marine veteran named Cole, after a long battle with brain cancer. I was so moved by her continuing strength and courage following Cole’s death, that I asked her to share her story with Sunday Paper readers.
ELIZABETH SMART INSPIRES HOPE AND HEALING THROUGH HER REMARKABLE PERSONAL STORY
It was such a pleasure to sit down with Architect of Change Elizabeth Smart, a true survivor, advocate and author of the new book “Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up.” Find out how courage, faith and love helped her heal in the years following the horrific kidnapping and abuse that she endured as a teenager.
PROJECT SANCTUARY HELPS MILITARY FAMILIES START ANEW AFTER VETERANS RETURN HOME
Last week on TODAY, I reported on Project Sanctuary, an organization committed to helping military families deal with issues like post-traumatic stress. The non-profit offers six-day retreats across the country for military families to heal together.
CRISTINA FERRARE OFFERS ‘FOOD FOR THOUGHT’ AND A MIND-HEALTHY RECIPE
It’s always a joy when my dear friend and Architect of Change Cristina Ferrare stops by with yummy mind-healthy recipes! This week, she shared her recipe for blueberry cobbler and talked to me about her new book, “Food for Thought,” which you can pre-order now on Amazon.
TONY THOMOPOULOS SHARES HIS MOVING STORY AS A CAREGIVER TO HIS WIFE, CRISTINA FERRARE
As many Sunday Paper readers may already know, Cristina suffered from a rare form of blood cancer not too long ago. Thanks to her fortitude, along with the love and support of her devoted husband, film and TV executive Tony Thomopoulos, Cristina was able to battle her way back to health and vitality. In this exclusive essay, Tony shares with Sunday Paper readers the lessons he learned while acting as caregiver during this difficult time.
PURPLE TABLE MAKES IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER’S OR OTHER IMPAIRMENTS TO DINE OUT WITH THEIR FAMILIES
This week, we honorJenifer Apazidis, founder of Purple Tables Reservations, as our Architect of Change of the Week. Jenifer, whose mother died from Alzheimer’s in 2013, conceived the idea of making dining experiences less stressful for those suffering from either cognitive or physical impairments. Purple Table Reservations allows someone with a disability to enjoy a meal with tailored service.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
Because the media was dominated this week by several unfolding political stories, you may have missed the other news that rose “above the noise.” Below we share a few stories that caught our eye and got us thinking…
1. 12-Year-Old Boy Wants to Honor All Veterans With ‘Flowers and Flags’: I’m so impressed with the devotion this young man has for the men and women who defend our country. Preston Sharp, from Redding, California, has started a national effort to place flowers and flags on veterans’ graves.
2. Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Primary in Bid to Become First Black Female Governor in U.S.: This is very exciting news. Stacey Abrams won the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary last Tuesday and is in the running to become the nation’s first black female governor.
3. Irish Vote to Repeal Ban on Abortion:
4. How Women Can Learn to Trust the Medical System When Doctors Dismiss Their Health Issues: Gender bias in the medical profession is nothing new. This interesting piece discusses how female patients can empower themselves.
5. The Health Risks of Loneliness: I’ve said this many times: always reach out to friends and relatives, especially in times of need. Multiple studies indicate that social isolation is a major risk factor for mortality, illness, and injury.
6. Maryland School Offers Group Therapy For Trouble Kids: I believe all schools should offer programs like this. Cresthaven Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., offers its students training in how to manage emotions, handle stress and improve interpersonal relationships.
7. How a Morning Routine Can Help Eliminate Anxiety at Work: This is an interesting read on how routines can help us circumvent mental distress. Brain-imaging studies show that the part of our brain that controls decision-making also controls anxiety. For some people, those two functions are at odds, and sticking to a ritual can help overcome that internal squabble.
8. Pope Tells Gay Man “God…Loves You Like That”: Let’s get our move on and our judgment off. Pope Francis recently told a gay survivor of clerical sexual abuse, “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”
As I mentioned in my essay, this moving poem by John O’Donohue has had such an impact on me lately. It reminds us why it’s important to take risks in order to move forward with our lives.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR BRAIN HEALTH, TUNE IN FOR THESE INFORMATIVE AND INSPIRING CONVERSATIONS
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This initiative of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement tours the nation this June for a series of events that raise awareness of the importance of brain health and raise funds for important women-based Alzheimer’s research.
A-List voices, including Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Dr. Lisa Mosconi, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Dale Bredesen, Bob Roth, Marcia Gay Harden and more, will be sharing their latest research, offering prevention tools and signing their best-selling books.
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