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Maria’s Sunday Paper: What Breaks Your Heart?

The other day, I had the chance to speak with Architect of Change Dr. Tererai Trent about her new book, “The Awakened Woman.” In addition to being an author, Tererai is an internationally renowned scholar and humanitarian whose voice and incredible life story have inspired millions, myself included. (You can watch our conversation below in today’s Sunday Paper.)

After Tererai and I finished our Architects of Change interview, she turned to me and asked a very simple, but profound question.

“Maria,” she said, looking me dead in the eye. “What breaks your heart?”

I stared at her for a bit, knowing that this was a big question to be asked. I knew this was not a question for my mind to answer. This was one for my heart and soul.

“What does your heart ache for?” Tererai asked, expanding upon her initial question. “What do you envision for the world, and for yourself?”

Over the years, I have interviewed many Architects of Change. I was also raised by two formidable Architects of Change. All of these individuals, in their own way, have asked themselves this kind of question — a question that has led them to their life’s purpose. But, no one I’ve met has ever posed it to me quite the way that Tererai did.

What breaks your heart? What does your soul long for? And, how is that connected to how you are living your life now?

I love this question because it’s made me think about my passion and purpose in a whole new way. I wanted to share it with you today because I believe this is a question that applies to all of us. And, I also believe that the answer lies deep within each and every one of us.

I deeply believe that each of us is here to move humanity forward. I deeply believe that each and every one of us longs to be of service to others, and also to live our lives in a way that matters.

“What breaks your heart?” is about the best question I’ve ever heard to help you get closer to your soul’s longing and closer to your life’s passion and purpose. But, I think before you can even answer that question, you must first acknowledge that your heart is broken, or has been broken.

I think we often think heartbreak is the result of lost love. Of course, it can be, but heartbreak also happens when what you value isn’t valued by society, by your community, or by others.

For example, what broke my mother’s heart was the way that society treated those with intellectual disabilities, and so she created the Special Olympics. One of the things that broke my father’s heart was poverty — financial poverty and spiritual poverty — and so he created the War on Poverty. My daughter’s heart breaks when animals are abused and left by the side of the road, and so she wrote a book about it, “Maverick and Me.” My other daughter’s heart breaks when she witnesses how indifferent and insensitive people are to those struggling with mental health, and so she’s made it her work to write articles that promote understanding of these issues. And so it goes…

There are several things that break my heart today. It’s broken by the fact that we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s. It’s broken by the injustice so many of our fellow Americans face as they work so hard, yet still live paycheck to paycheck. It’s broken by the state of our criminal justice system and the way it treats many Americans. It’s broken listening to the young women of the USA gymnastics team speak out against the abuse they endured for far too long. (We honor them today as our Architects of Change of the Week for their bravery, their boldness, and their resolve to keep fighting.)

But, what really breaks my heart right now is how divided we are as a nation. How mean we are to one another. How critical we are of one another. How judgmental we are of each other and how angry we are at each other. Also, how lonely we all seem to be.

Yet, what moves me is the deep belief that we are all longing for the same things. We are all longing to be accepted, to be seen and understood, and to be invited into the space that unites us.

This space, I believe, is a big open field filled with dreamers and explorers. It’s filled with teachers and doctors, with mothers and fathers, and with the young and the old.

What breaks my heart is also what simultaneously fills and fuels my heart. It is a deep belief that we are more alike than we are different. It is the belief that we long to be more united than separate. It is the belief that we ache and break and want to put the pieces back together again, and that we want to do it together.

I’m not saying the anger that many of us feel today is not justified. But, let’s parlay our anger into action and allow it to fuel our purpose. I envision all of us with broken hearts coming together to heal and get to work, mending the crack in our divide. After all, the “United” part of America is what truly makes us great.

This is what breaks my heart, but what breaks yours? I’d love to know.

As we gear up for the release of my new book I’VE BEEN THINKING on February 27, I’m extremely excited to announce the opportunity for you to join my book launch team and help spread the word. As a member of the team, you’ll get early access to a digital review copy, the ability to join the team’s private Facebook group and more! Just go here for details and to sign up. As always, thank you for your support. I am so grateful to be in community with you.



This week I traveled to Ojai, CA, to interview my dear friend, Architect of Change Martha Beck. Martha discussed with me her concept of “wayfinding” which is her way of describing the process of finding your purpose. In our discussion, Martha explained that in order to discover your purpose amidst the noise of life around you, you must find time to “sink into the stillness of yourself.” 


Dr. Tererai Trent is a changemaker personified. Named by Oprah as one of her “All-Time Favorite Guests,” Tererai has a remarkable life journey that will uplift and inspire you. After growing up in a rural area of Africa where women couldn’t go to school, Tererai persevered against the odds. Today, she is one of the most internationally recognized voices for women’s empowerment and education. 


It was a pleasure chatting with meditation expert Light Watkins this week. Through his years of practice and teaching, Light has devised simple, yet powerful, techniques for creating a meditative state. Here, he talks about his new book, “Bliss More,” and tells us how we can all find joy within ourselves, as well as a meaningful connection to others, through meditation.


In this final installment from our New Year’s “Health Reboot” series from our friends at ph.360, leading personalized health expert Matt Riemann explains how to take everything we’ve learned about mind-body-spirit and keeping improving ourselves, day after day. 


THE WOMEN OF THE USA GYMNASTICS TEAM: This week, we are proud to honor Rachael Denhollander and her fellow teammates from the USA Gymnastics team as our Architects of Change of the Week. Denhollander was the first woman to speak out publicly against Larry Nassar, the team doctor who has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls. Her voice and those of her teammates were instrumental in bringing Nassar to justice, and that’s why we want to celebrate these brave women for boldly speaking up. 


1. Ruth Bader Ginsberg Shares Her #MeToo Moment: The 84-year-old Supreme Court justice addressed gender equality and her own experiences while attending the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of “RBG,” a documentary about her life.

2. UK Institutes a “Minister of Loneliness” to Address a Growing Problem: This is an issue that we all need to wake up to. England’s Prime Minister Theresa May announced this week that she was creating a “Minister of Loneliness” position, citing that more than 9 million people experience loneliness in the UK.

3. Why “It Takes a Village” to Support Mental Health: I couldn’t agree more and that’s why I was so glad to see the Wall Street Journal take on this important issue. This piece explores how to build your own support community.

4. America’s First Solar-Powered Town: This is such a great story about a retirement community in Florida that is completely and uniquely powered by solar energy. Even their shuttles are driverless!

5. Yale Offers Its Most Popular Class Ever…on “Happiness”: I am thrilled that this amazing opportunity is available to students attending Yale University. Nearly a quarter of the school’s undergraduates have enrolled in a course called Psychology and the Good Life, which teaches them how to lead happy and more fulfilling lives. 

6. This 66-Year-Old Man Found New Purpose by Signing Up For 7 Marathons in 7 Countries: I love reading stories about older adults discovering new passions in life. That’s why I wanted to share this piece about a 66-year-old man who is about to push the limits of his physicality. 

7. The Pope Responds to Threat of “Fake News”: I’m so in with the Pope’s sentiments this week, as is the Sunday Paper. In his message for the World Communications Day, Pope Frances invited “everyone to promote a journalism of peace, a journalism created by people for people.” 


This week, we share Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s address at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In his powerful message, Trudeau called on international governments and business leaders to adapt to social change and address inequality in the workforce. 

Have you heard a speech in your community or online that you think we should share? Write to us.


I love that author Eileen Rockefeller has published a new book of poetry called “Space Between.” In the book, Eileen explores her relationships with people, nature, and spirit. Her poem that we share today spoke to me as both a parent and daughter. I hope it moves you as well.



Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.

We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also order our newest product, the “Maria” candle – the same scent used in her office and home. Visit the shop on to learn more.