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This Is What Happens When You Open Your Eyes

Yep, he’s at it again.

Pope Francis that is. That man has a way of getting above the noise and it’s not just because he’s the Pope. Pope Benedict rarely got my attention, but this guy… well, he’s different.

This week, Pope Francis spoke up about climate change. He directed his message at all of us and sounded an alarm that if we don’t review the choices we’re making about Mother Earth, then there will be hell to pay.

Okay, he didn’t actually say “hell,” but that was the gist. He warned that “history will judge us for our decisions” and that we “will go down” if humans fail to curb climate change. But, it was this line from his speech that really stopped me in my tracks: “When you don’t want to see … you don’t see.”

Bam. Think about that.

What do you not want to see right now? Is there something in your relationship you refuse to acknowledge? Is there something in our political world that you refuse to see? Is there something inside you that is holding you back? Are you scared or angry about something that is gnawing at you, yet you refuse to believe it?

Think about it.

All of us, at different times in our lives, have been blind to something around us or within us. I know I have been. I’ve been blind to things I should have seen and didn’t.

But today, I find myself more attuned and more aware. I see things today that I might not have seen in the past—mainly because I’ve worked to become more self-aware. I’ve worked at getting out of my head and into my heart.

When you open your heart—like, really open it—then your eyes will magically follow, and you will begin to see your whole wide world in a whole new way.

When you’re out of your head and in your heart, you can’t deny stuff. You can’t not feel. You can’t not see. Sure, when you open your heart, you might feel some painful stuff, but you can also feel moved. You can also feel inspired.

The images and stories I’ve seen and heard this week—stories of generosity, compassion and service—have been inspiring. I’ve seen stories of human triumph and perseverance. I’ve seen, heard and listened to individuals who have stepped forward to make our world better for all of us.

Now, I know this has also been a devastating week for many of our fellow citizens. That goes for those affected by the hurricanes, as well those living through the wildfires in the west. I can’t imagine being displaced from my home and losing everything. I see what people are going through and—to the best of my ability—I feel it, and I feel for them. I’ve been so shaken this week by the stories of the elderly who were left stranded after Hurricane Irma, as well as the news that eight residents of one nursing home died in the aftermath. This just exposes how much this population needs our love and attention. It’s a reminder to society that we have to prioritize their care, particularly in times of need.

Throughout all of this, I must say that I have been moved by all of the stories of people who are stepping up to help. Who are putting their own needs aside and rising to the occasion to help their fellow neighbors. The people I spoke to Tuesday night as I worked the phones for the telethon “Hand-in-Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” were a touching reminder that love is all around us and people are eager to help. In fact, I fielded so many calls from Canadians who wanted to give, even though this didn’t happen in their country. It’s amazing, and I’m grateful to them for their generosity. (The telethon raised more than $44 million and counting. You can still give here.)

Maybe those who are stepping up to help are doing so because they know that we’re all one step away from being in our neighbor’s shoes. Or at least, I hope that’s the case. My friend Jan, who lives with her husband and four small children in Florida, told me how humbling it was to be in the midst of the hurricane and how it changed the way she sees just about everything. Like Jan, I see how fragile life can be. How meaningless all of our “stuff” is. How important it is to open our eyes to our fellow neighbors, to our individual choices, and to our common home.

Thank you, Pope Francis, for the poke, the slap, and the nudge. If you’re still one of those people who doesn’t want to see… get out of your head and into your heart. You will be amazed at what you might see.

P.S. Something all Architects of Change seem to have in common is that they see things that others don’t: a problem, a solution, or a new way of doing things. Then, they devote their lives to getting the rest of us to open our eyes and embrace, or at least acknowledge, their vision. It’s amazing what can happen when we’re willing to open our hearts and our minds to see things differently. How might you be doing that in your own life? I encourage you to tell me.

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As we talk about caring for one another, it’s certainly worth discussing the single-payer health care proposal that Sen. Bernie Sanders put forth this week, which has the support of 16 top Democrats and more than 500,00 Americans who signed on as “citizen supporters.” Health care is one of our nation’s most important issues—and it continues to be an area where politicians can’t find common ground. In my opinion, when an issue is this divisive, it’s always worth hearing the alternative ideas being proposed and exploring what good might come out of them.



Speaking of health, Victoria Jackson is an incredible mother who is on a mission to advocate and help fund much-needed medical breakthroughs. After her daughter was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, Victoria used that as a call to action. She’s a reminder to me that we often have to take matters into our own hands if we want to see a change in our world. Watch our Architects of Change conversation from this week to learn more.   


This week, I was also moved (and brought to tears) by another Architect of Change: Sally Quinn, a veteran Washington Post reporter and the wife of the late Ben Bradlee, the paper’s legendary former executive editor. In her new book Finding Magic, Sally bravely opens her heart and shares what it was like to gradually lose the love of her life to dementia. It’s a touching tale of true love—one that helped me see the personal effects of this disease in a whole new light.   



I believe that we’re all Architects of Change and that we can all seek to make a difference, but I was also reminded this week that we should each define what that means to us in our own way. Maybe it means only doing small acts, and that’s okay. The other day, my friend Hoda Kotb shared with me one Canadian mom’s essay entitled “What If All I Want Is a Mediocre Life?” While I don’t relate to everything she has to say, I do think the points she makes are worth discussing.  


I also had the honor this week to sit down with Billie Jean King, our Architect of Change of the Week and definitely one of the greatest Architects of Change of our time. Billie Jean is a female trailblazer who continues to inspire and empower millions of women everywhere to be fearless and go after what they want to achieve. I’m fortunate to count her as a friend and grateful that she sat down with me on Friday for an Architects of Change Live conversation. Her wisdom is profound and worth a listen.


One person who has really had me thinking about being calm and present is Architect of Change Sri Prem Baba, a spiritual leader from Brazil who is on a mission to awaken love and inspire us to lead a life of compassion. I was blessed to meet with him this week and am grateful today to be able to share an exclusive essay that he wrote for you, our Sunday Paper readers. You can read his essay here.



“My First Coloring Book Is On Sale Now!”

I’m so excited that Color Your Mind” is now a national bestseller! If you know someone with Alzheimer’s or another brain-related challenge, or if you know someone who is a caregiver, I hope you’ll consider gifting them with a copy. It’s designed with love.

Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.

From now until September 30, purchase three Rivet Revolution bracelets and receive a 4th bracelet for free (a Women Alzheimer’s Movement Revolution Band) to spread the word about how Alzheimer’s affects women. Give the WAM bracelet to a woman in your life who you want to hear this message. A portion of proceeds benefit the Women Alzheimer’s Movement.



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