Maria’s Sunday Paper: My One Intention This New Year

Last year around New Year’s, my kids and I stood around a fire. One by one, we threw into the fire what we wanted to burn from the past year. We also voiced our intentions for our lives moving forward.

We did it again this year, but this time, I had just one intention that I wanted to set. That was to live and lead from a place of love. That’s it. Every other intention I’ve made in the past pales in comparison.

Trust me, leading from a place of love is going to be way harder than losing 10 pounds (which can be done, but it always comes back — at least for me). It’s going to be way harder than silencing the critical voice in my head (although I did make progress on that last year, so I’m proud of myself for that). It’s also going to be way harder than giving up sugar (well, that is pretty hard, so maybe I’ll save that one for Lent).

Yes, leading from a place of love is going to be my toughest intention yet because it means I’m going to have to show love to people who don’t show it to me. It means I’m going to have to show it to people who I don’t agree with, who I don’t care for, and who don’t show it to those that I do care about. It also means I’m going to have to find it deep within myself when my first reaction might be anything but loving.

In fact, as I write this, I’m not even sure I’m up for it. But, over and over, this comes up for me as what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to do what has been really hard for me to do, and I’m supposed to do it with ease. I’m supposed to show love to people who push my buttons. I’m supposed to show love to people who’ve hurt me. I’m supposed to show love to people who spew anything but love out into the world. And, I’m definitely supposed to show love to myself. Even when I don’t feel I measure up. Even when I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Even when I doubt my own lovability.

Executing my intention is going to be hard. In fact, it’s already been hard. This is just week one, and the other day, I read a tweet that really pushed my buttons. It was the one from our president, comparing the size of his nuclear button to that of Kim Jong-Un’s.

I had to stop myself from going ballistic about the potential ramifications of this statement. In fact, my initial reaction was anything but loving, but then I stepped back, took a deep breath, and took time to read the words of the Pope. He got me back on track to thinking about the issues of the day in a more powerful and positive way. His words also challenged me to think about ways that I can be more a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

The love the Pope feels for humanity — especially those struggling on the margins — calmed me down. It helped me gain perspective and got me out of my head and into my heart.

The truth is, it’s easy to respond from an angry place. It’s way easier to lose your mind in our current discourse than it is to step back, take a beat and keep your mind and wits about yourself. It’s way easier to respond from a small space than from a big space. But, the people I admire and seek to emulate are those whose purpose and passion move us forward in a loving and uniting way, not those who do so in a divisive, fiery, or furious way.

Just because you are not screaming doesn’t mean you are not outraged. Just because you are not weighing in on every issue doesn’t mean you are not engaged. In fact, if I am truly enraged with our national discourse… If I’m truly angry at the tone I’m hearing around me, on television, social media and elsewhere… then I must react from a place in my heart that is positive and productive. To act the same way only compounds the problem. I must show love and compassion for our world, not fire and fury.

So, how will I lead with love in this new year? Well, I’ll take a beat whenever something pushes my buttons. I’ll continue my daily meditative practice and set my intention to lead with love each morning. I’ll take a walk around the block, if it’s really bad. I’ll surround myself as much as possible with people who share my values and who want to build a more compassionate, collaborative and caring society. I’ll work to better understand those who are different than me and connect with their hopes, fears, and journeys. That’s the beginning of finding common ground. I’ll also remind myself and my children that judgments are never loving. Gossip is destructive. Shaming someone helps none of us. And, fighting for a better future benefits all of us.

I’ll remind myself daily of the power of love and do everything I can to show it to others. Only it can heal. Only it can transform. Only it can make you full.

“How will you know if you’re successful?” asked a friend.

I’ll feel it.

Wish me luck.


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P.S. For more of what “I’ve Been Thinking,” I hope you’ll check out my upcoming book, “I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” It’s available for pre-order now. I was inspired to write it thanks to all of the positive feedback I receive from you, readers of The Sunday Paper, each week. So, thank you. I love being in community with you.



As I mentioned in my essay, attaining my goal to live and lead from a place of love will be a daily challenge. I know so many of us struggle to find our purpose and stay committed to what we want to achieve. That’s why I’m so happy that author and mentor Nicola Salter offers her guide this morning on how to do just that.


My friend Matt Riemann, a leading expert in personalized health, has designed an exclusive “reboot” to help you, our Sunday Paper readers, start the year off right. Each week this month, we will focus on a different area where we can improve our holistic health. This week, we focus on the mind and how to relax, reduce stress, and become more empowered. 


If you’re thinking about changing the way you eat this year, you’ll love my interview with “Clean Protein” cookbook author Kathy Freston. Kathy shares her personal journey to eating a plant-based diet and explains how doing so has changed her life.


I love Jack Kornfield’s views on everything. His words always inspire us, and this week is no exception. Today, he challenges you to see that in order to live our lives in wholeness, we must allow ourselves to look deeply at the sorrow that exists in the world around us. 


As I’ve often said in the past, being mindful is as much a crucial part of self-care as eating well and exercise. This week on TODAY, I explore why mindfulness allows us to find clarity in the chaos of everyday life.


THIS MOM’S UNIQUE TREATMENT PROGRAM SPREADS LOVE TO THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST:   This week, we honor Lori Erion as our Architect of Change of the Week. Lori has taken her family’s powerful personal journey with addiction and used it to educate, empower and embrace other American families struggling with the same issues. 


While the mainstream news has been focused on “fire and fury” this week, we want to share with you uplifting stories of passion and purpose this morning. These are the stories that have us feeling hopeful about what’s ahead.

1. THE POPE: FORGET LIFE’S ‘USELESS BAGGAGE’ IN 2018: During his New Year’s Day Mass on Monday, Pope Francis delivered a powerful message about the world we should be working to build together this year. 

2. A ‘SHARK TANK’ FOR A BETTER WORLD: To further the Pope’s message of peace and hope, the Vatican has been working with Silicon Valley venture capitalists to develop its own version of “Shark Tank” with the goal to help humanity take better care of our people and planet. 

3. WOODIE GUTHRIE’S 1942 NEW YEAR’S GOALS PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE: The simplicity of the late American songwriter’s resolutions will make you smile.

4. THIS ELDERLY WOMAN’S NOTE TO HER NEIGHBOR WILL TOUCH YOUR HEART: It’s becoming all too commonplace that the elderly feel the pain of isolation, which is why this story touched me so deeply. 

5. ‘TIME’S UP’ TAKES OVER THE GOLDEN GLOBES: Tonight’s award ceremony will feature a red carpet like none before, as many of the stars in attendance have pledged to wear all black as a sign of solidarity for the industry’s new Time’s Up initiative fighting sexual harassment and assault.

6. HODA KOTB NAMED NEW CO-ANCHOR OF TODAY: I had to take a moment in today’s Sunday Paper to express how thrilled I am by this news. Hoda is a kind and talented woman who I’m blessed to call a great friend. What a way to ring in 2018!

7. BILL GATES BRINGS MESSAGE OF OPTIMISM TO TIME MAGAZINE: This week, Gates became the first-ever guest editor of the news magazine. He used the opportunity to ask those he respects to write about what is making them feel optimistic about our world today.


I found this poem from American author and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox to be beautifully appropriate for my first Sunday Paper of 2018. I hope it lights up your spirit this morning.



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