What I Learned During My Spiritual Break
Good Sunday morning to you!
I’m writing this as I would write a note to a friend who I haven’t spoken to in awhile. I’m back from my self-imposed spiritual break and wanted to check in. How are you? How is your world? How are you feeling on this day about our larger world?
I know I don’t have to ask that question of Mother Earth. She feels as angry as she’s ever been. But, I hope those living directly in her path feel supported by the outpouring of love, unity and assistance that is coming their way.
At a time like this, it almost feels mundane for me to talk about my time away this past month. But, The Sunday Paper is dedicated to trying to provide a sanctuary and a moment of reprieve from the storms that surround us — be they climate-related, political, or otherwise. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll bring you up to date on my last few weeks.
My time away in August was wonderful and productive. Before I left, I wrote down a list of intentions for my break. I wanted to step back from the noise of our world so that I could reflect, reconnect and approach my life and work with a renewed sense of passion and purpose.
There were so many times along the way that I wanted to jump back into the world of social media to comment on this or that (North Korea, Charlottesville, Heather Heyer and her inspiring mom, Houston and Hurricane Harvey, etc…) So many times that I wanted to drive my car back into the office so that I could feel plugged in, connected and purposeful. But, I didn’t.
I had challenged myself to take time. Time away from the virtual world. Time to focus on my family—immediate and extended. I challenged myself to have at least one deep meaningful conversation with each of my four brothers. (Gotta give me credit: Trying to get grown men to have deep, meaningful conversations is no easy task. I did it with all four, and then we had a group conversation.) I also did the same with each of my four children. (The conversation I had with my son as I moved him back to college and into a frat house was eye-opening.)
I challenged myself to begin each day in silence—which allowed me to focus more on the love in my life…not the lack of love in my life. That enabled me to focus more on the joy in my life and less on the struggles. It also helped me focus on my good health (fretting less about small issues like my frozen shoulder and instead feeling grateful that I don’t have a debilitating disease!). It also helped me focus more on my relationship with God and my faith in myself.
Since I had already applied the lessons of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to clearing out my physical space, I figured I would apply it to my internal space as well. I looked within and asked myself if the feelings I was holding inside were really bringing me joy.
What did I learn? Well, during this period of reflection, I realized that I was carrying some beliefs that no longer served me and, for sure, weren’t bringing me joy. I also looked hard at some opinions that I came to discover weren’t my own. Then, in Kondo style, I trashed them. Yup, I put those beliefs and/or opinions in a folder and got them out of my mental space.
I cleared out the self-defeating language, negative beliefs and harsh judgments that had been my companions for too long. They pushed me for a long time, but they no longer served me. Lo and behold, when I cleared them all away, I found my joy. I also strengthened my relationship with my faith and with my God. I threw out old beliefs that made me think of God as a punishing, mean, and shaming power. I replaced them with the image and belief of a non-judgmental, forgiving, caring, and loving God—one who accepts me and others as we are and who guides us to a better place.
I also challenged myself to go through my days with a different perspective about work and its larger-than-life role in my life. These intentions may not have brought about any dramatic changes that are visible to someone else’s eye, but they did bring about small ones that I can feel, and that’s big to me. I learned that I could step away from social media for awhile and, lo and behold, it would keep going on without me. That’s important to remember the next time you think you have to stop whatever you’re doing and comment online. You don’t.
As I watched the news in our world unfold (OMG), there were so many moments that reminded me how blessed I am. That, in turn, reminded me of the importance of reaching out to be of service. It also reiterated to me that small acts done privately can often bring more joy than the larger, more public moves.
I know that in the past if I had three weeks off, I would have planned some big trip. But going nowhere allowed me to go everywhere that my mind and my thoughts wanted to take me. Now that I’m back, I feel I have a better and more hopeful perspective.
I know I’m here (as I believe we all are) to be of service. For me, that’s in the women and Alzheimer’s space through the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. It’s also wherever else I can be of assistance, like now with the hurricane relief efforts. (Please join me Tuesday night for Hand In Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. I’ll be answering phones, along with others, for the telethon that’s airing at 8pm ET on multiple networks, including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, HBO and Bravo.)
I also believe that I am here to be a light in the world, as I believe we all are. I also believe that we’re here to use our voices, our hearts and our minds to Move Humanity Forward—personally professionally, and politically. That’s exactly what I intend to do, and I hope you’ll join me.
I also invite you to share with me what you’ve been up to lately. To paraphrase my friend Mary Oliver, I ask you: What have you been doing with your one wild and precious life?
P.S. I’m so proud of my daughter Katherine, whose new children’s book Maverick and Me hit stores this week. Being the journalist that I am, of course, I wanted to interview her. Watch our conversation to hear more about pet adoption, her message to kids and adults, and her role as an ambassador for the ASPCA.
P.P.S. A big shout out and thanks to those involved in this year’s Team Maria and the annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle! The ride is in memory of my parents, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver, and benefits the organization that my brother Anthony, who resides in Miami, founded to enhance the lives of those with intellectual and physical disabilities. It raises millions so that more of these individuals can get jobs and friends—two things we all need. Thank you to those who participated for all that you do!
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NEWS AND VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
NEWS TO OPEN YOUR HEART
I’ve always believed in the power of one and in the unity of our great country. That’s why I love this One America Appeal campaign – which is a joint appeal by all five living former American Presidents to encourage their fellow citizens to support hurricane recovery. It’s a reminder that we need to drop our party lines, our state lines, our judgments, and work together as One America. Yes, we are.
VIEWS FOR YOUR DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION
In addition to the hurricanes, there was other major news this week. With President Trump announcing his plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, millions of these lives now hang in the balance as well. Many think they know who these people are, but I’ve had several conversations this week and realized there’s a real lack of understanding. The NY Times did a nice job putting together this interactive portrait featuring the life stories of 100+ of these individuals. I think it’s worth us all taking a moment to read them and try to better understand.
NEWS FOR YOUR MIND
God willing, we’re all going to be here for awhile. So, if you’re thinking about how to age well, then you’re going to want to watch this TODAY piece I did this week about a reported “longevity pill.” It’s about a common medication that one doctor hopes could be the key to eliminating certain age-related diseases and leading to a longer life.
NEWS TO MAKE YOU THINK
One thing is for sure: we’ll be hearing a lot next week about what Hillary Clinton has been thinking when she releases her new post-election memoir “What Happened.” So many people have weighed in with their opinions on this past election. Now, we get to hear from her directly. Excerpts released so far have certainly been food for thought, including her jabs at Bernie Sanders, who she criticizes for causing “lasting damage” to the Democratic Party. I know I’ll be curious to hear more.
ARCHITECTS OF CHANGE OF THE WEEK:
This week, we shine our Architects of Change of the Week spotlight on all of the first responders who are serving in Houston, Florida, the Caribbean and elsewhere right now. Some have gotten attention in the news, but so many have been unsung heroes doing incredible work to rescue our fellow citizens and get their families to safety. Many are quickly pivoting from Houston and now headed to Florida. Thank you for all that you are doing. May we all find a way to support your efforts during this time.
Monday marks the 16th anniversary of September 11, a day that is forever stamped in so many of our minds. Today, we share with you a video of Architect of Change Billy Collins, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate in 2001 and wrote a beautiful poem remembering those who had fallen. May we remember today, and may we look ahead to how we can continue to come together as a country.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP FOR YOUR MIND
“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.
“We Want to Make Our Kids Proud. We Want to Give Back.”
The women of Rivet Revolution have also been touched by Alzheimer’s. Through their passion for jewelry-making, they are using their work to ignite conversations and raise awareness. These “WAM Revolution Bands” benefit women-based research.