Maria’s Sunday Paper: What I’m Thinking Ahead of This Fourth of July
Maria’s Sunday Paper: What I’m Thinking Ahead of This Fourth of July
The other morning when I sat down to meditate, my mind was bouncing all over the place and I struggled to access a place of calm.
One second, I was thinking about my children. The next, I was thinking about the children who have been separated from their parents at the border. I could feel myself feeling their fear and anxiety and I shuddered at the thought of what they must be going through.
Then, I found myself thinking about the terror inside the newsroom in Annapolis. I felt terror inside me as I thought about how unsafe everyone seems to feel these days. In fact, just the other day, I cautioned my kids not to get into a fight with someone on the road (or anywhere else for that matter). I cautioned them that everyone has so much rage and anger these days that you have to be careful in every circumstance. You just never know.
We really do live in “you never know” times. Parents send their kids off to school and hold their breath. Journalists go to work and hold their breath as they pursue the truth. Many people hold their breath now as they watch the turnover in the Supreme Court. Students who are graduating from high school and college hold their breath as they head out into an uncertain job market. Boomers hold their breath hoping that they won’t get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, cancer or some other horrendous disease.
When I think about all of this, I get overwhelmed. That’s when I have to stop and remind myself to take a deep, long breath. I remind myself that these negative images are only a small part of what’s going on.
I remind myself of what I do know and believe to be true. I believe that we still live in a great nation — one that we are all so lucky to call home. I believe that we live in what I like to call “A Purple Nation” — one where it’s not red vs. blue, but where red and blue mix together to give us the majestic and brilliant color purple. Purple may be my favorite color, but it’s also a color of independence, unity and freedom.
I believe we have more in common than we realize. I think the two political parties drive us apart and make us live in a state of distrust and judgment, but I believe that if we all sat still every morning for just 10 minutes, then we would calm our minds and our central nervous systems and realize that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I believe that if we all took a moment to take off our blinders and widen our gazes, then we would be able to look into people’s hearts, listen to their life stories, and realize that we have so much in common. I believe that we would discover that our family, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow parents, and our office mates are all seeking the same sense of belonging that we are. We would realize that we’re all seeking the same sense of freedom and safety. We would realize that we all have the same desire to do well for ourselves, for our families, and for our country.
Don’t call me naive or tell me I’m in denial. Call me observant and tell me, “Yes, Maria, I see this, too.”
The vast majority of us are good, kind, compassionate, law-abiding citizens who love our country and would stop to help our neighbor. I can see this when my mind and my heart aren’t racing. I can see this when I take a step back and don’t listen to the voices telling me that the sky is falling down.
When I widen my gaze, I see hardworking individuals everywhere who put others before themselves. They work in our hospitals, in our fire stations, in our schools, and in our community centers. They volunteer for our military and for non-profits all across the country. They build houses and playgrounds. They serve in churches, on hotlines, in shelters and in nursing homes.
I see young entrepreneurs trying to solve our most pressing social ills with innovative and socially conscious businesses. Their hopes, their desires, and their determination give me hope. I meet with them all the time and I never ask them what political party they belong to. I ask them what their dreams are, what they want to change, and where they get their hope. Their answers always inspire me.
I also see so many hard-working people who are trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and who don’t give up. I see people coming together from all walks of life – crossing religious divides, gender divides, and racial divides – to use their skills and their smarts to make life better for others.
Everywhere around us, people are working together. They are listening to one another, trying to understand one another, and trying to make a difference. When I think about all of this, I feel a sense of hope and calm wash over me. “Maria,” I say to myself, “all is well.”
There is so much hope! There are so many good people! People who are working to achieve the American dream, which is still very much alive and attainable. If you don’t believe me, think about what’s been created in recent years alone. We are a nation of people that conceived of Amazon, Uber and the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” just to name a few great things. We are creative, conscious, collaborative and caring people. We are big dreamers and on-the-ground doers.
So, as we look ahead to our nation’s birthday on Wednesday, know this. We are blessed to live in a country where we are free. We have a free press. We are free to practice any religion. We are free to gather, to organize, and to marry anyone we want. We are free to wander off the beaten path, or to jump into the fray. We are free to shout and use our voices, or to just calmly go about our days. And, if you feel like any of your freedoms are under attack, then remember that you have the freedom to vote, to fight for what you believe in, to push for change, and to make a difference.
Let’s remember that when we stay in our goodness, we can see the goodness in others. When we help our neighbors, we can know that we are actually doing the Lord’s work. And, when we use our voices in a calm, confident, certain and clear way, we can know that we are doing what our forefathers and our foremothers fought for us to do.
As Americans, we are what everyone wants to be. Free. So, take a deep breath, look around and within, and celebrate that freedom. Celebrate it today. Celebrate it this week. And celebrate it each and every day.
Wave the flag this week. Wear your red, white and blue. But also consider wearing a little purple, too. It just might remind you – and others – that you believe in unity. I hope you can see that it’s possible. It’s right there in front of you. Just open your eyes.
“I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life:” A book of reflections for those seeking wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and inspiration on the road to a meaningful life. [ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY]
WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN THINKING
The Architects of Change below will inspire you and make you think.
ENTREPRENEUR CRISTINA CARLINO OFFERS HER THOUGHTS ON HOW WE, AS A NATION, CAN COME TOGETHER
My friend and Architect of Change Cristina Carlino, founder of the famed beauty brand Philosophy, is tired of a country that’s rife with political divide. In this exclusive essay for The Sunday Paper, Cristina proposes a few ideas for improving our politics that she thinks we can all agree upon. [READ MORE]
PARKLAND SURVIVORS DAVID AND LAUREN HOGG REVEAL THE STORY BEHIND THE CREATION OF THEIR #NEVERAGAIN MOVEMENT
I always said we’d hear a lot more from David Hogg, the Parkland school shooting survivor and teen journalist who became an outspoken leader of the #NeverAgain movement. In this excerpt from the new book #NEVERAGAIN — which he co-wrote with his younger sister, Lauren — David reveals why now is the time for his generation to stand up for positive change. [READ MORE]
SUNDAY PAPER COLUMNIST PATTI PETERSON EXPLORES WHY WE MUST TAKE CHARGE OF OUR OWN HAPPINESSNS
In this soul-searching piece, my dear friend and Sunday Paper columnist Patti Peterson explores why we can’t rely on others for our personal joy. [READ MORE]
HOW HORMONE REPLACEMENT IN YOUR 40s COULD PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S
There’s a reason women are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s than men, and estrogen may play a role. In this special report for TODAY, I speak to Architect of Change Dr. Lisa Mosconi about the steps women can take in their 40s to help reduce their risk for dementia decades later. [WATCH HERE]
AFTER SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, TEENAGER DEVELOPS LIFE-SAVING APPS TO HELP OTHERS WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
This week, we honor the Amanda Southworth as our Architect of Change of the Week. Once overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, Amanda saw no end to her misery. What changed her life was an introduction to technology through a sixth-grade robotics course. She went on to develop a love for coding and created her first app, AnxietyHelper, in 2015. It provides information, resources, and tools for kids suffering from mental health issues like she did. [READ AMANDA’S STORY HERE]
STEVE WALDMAN HAS MADE IT HIS MISSION TO BRING QUALITY JOURNALISM TO UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES IN AMERICA
This week, we honor Steve Waldman, founder of Report for America, as our Architect of Change of the Week. Waldman believes that many parts of our country are underserved when it comes to quality local news coverage. Pulling the best elements of AmeriCorps, Teach for America, the Peace Corps and the nation’s best nonprofit news organizations, Report for America is designed to harness the talent of emerging journalists to creatively serve local news organizations. [READ HIS STORY HERE]
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
News stories that have us thinking…
1. Idaho Man Quits Job to Build Beds For Kids in Need: This is what makes America great. Luke Mickelson founded a nonprofit business, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, that builds and delivers beds to children who sleep on the floor. [WATCH VIDEO ABOVE]
2. Political Parties May Be ‘Blowing Up’ Across the Globe, But There is Hope: This opinion piece by The New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman is an interesting read. Friedman notes that, despite political parties in disarray all across the world, passionate people are leading projects in which “business, labor, educators, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and mayors are all working together to build more adaptive local citizens and companies, and setting aside traditional party affiliations to do so.” [READ MORE]
3. ‘Curing Alzheimer’s Unites During One of the Most Divisive Times in Our Country’: This essay by Forbes contributor Robin Seaton Jefferson is worth reading. Alzheimer’s does unite because it’s common across so many families. But together, we can wipe it out. [READ MORE]
4. There’s a Science to Happy Relationships: This is something to which we should all pay attention. Growing research into relationships is finding science-based guidance into the habits of the healthiest, happiest couples. [READ MORE]
5. Male and Female Brains May Be More Alike Than We Think: This is an ongoing scientific debate that I’ve always been fascinated by. According to Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, “There is absolutely no difference between male and female brains.” [READ MORE]
6. Psychologist Incorporates ‘Superhero Therapy’ Into Practice, and It Works: I love this idea of reframing personal flaws or weaknesses as superpowers. According to this clinical psychologist, “I started incorporating superheroes and other pop culture characters and examples into evidence-based therapy to help my clients to become superheroes in real life.” [READ MORE]
7. The Polio Virus Could Help Treat Brain Cancer: This is a fascinating new study. According to a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists report that they are targeting brain tumors using the polio virus. [READ MORE]
8. Minnesota Pitcher Strikes Out Best Friend, Then Consoles Him: This touching story illustrates that good citizenship and sportsmanship is all around us. After striking out his best friend during a baseball game, pitcher Ty Koehn went to console him rather than run onto the field to celebrate. [WATCH BELOW]
I love this reflection by spiritual leader Ram Dass. In this insightful quote, he reminds us that arriving at our own sense of freedom allows us to help others with theirs.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SOMETHING TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND
SPECIAL OLYMPICS USA GAMES: Today, the Special Olympics’ USA Games kick off in Seattle. The opening ceremony will be broadcast on ABC at 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT today. The games will then be broadcast each night this week on ESPN2. It’s an incredibly special year for the Special Olympics, which celebrates its 50-year anniversary this month. I hope you will tune in and watch these incredibly inspiring athletes.
THE MARIA SHRIVER COLLECTION: THREE TIMES GOOD… GOOD FOR YOU, GOOD FOR YOUR MIND, & GOOD FOR THE WORLD
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com 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!
BECOME A SUNDAY PAPER AMBASSADOR
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THE SUNDAY PAPER PROUDLY SUPPORTS THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
The Sunday Paper elevates the voices and ideas of those who are seeking to make a difference and move humanity forward. To that end, we proudly support the work of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, which is making a difference by fighting Alzheimer’s and working to change the future for all minds. [LEARN MORE HERE] for Minds
READ MORE ABOUT WHAT I'VE BEEN THINKING
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