I’ve Been Thinking by Maria Shriver 11-12-17

I’VE BEEN THINKING
The other day, I was sitting at lunch with my kids as they started to discuss the Texas shooting. They wondered why the news had moved on from this story so quickly.

My son said, “Wow, that Texas story was wild. Why aren’t more people talking about that? Isn’t it weird that it just came and went?”

I thought about that. Stories used to stop us all cold in our tracks. Now, they just seem to come and go. Moments that used to bring a collective sense of grief—a collective sense of oneness—now seem to come and go without landing.

I told my children what it used to be like when a big story like Columbine would dominate the news and our national conversation for weeks. We would come together to converse, to wonder, to express outrage or pain. Now, it seems that when a tragedy like the one in Las Vegas happens, we move on. When a tragedy like the one in Texas happens, we scroll by. And so it goes.

The stories of those who lost their lives in Texas still sit in my mind. The young mother who gave her life to protect her kids. The young daughter of the pastor whose bright future was gone in a moment. The shock, the trauma, and the grief: it still exists for those who were in that church, or who were at that Vegas concert, or who lived in the path of the hurricanes and fires. For them, this news doesn’t just come and go. It stays.

As we roll towards the holidays, my hope is that we can somehow slow down our scrolling and swiping and focus our attention on these monumental moments that are happening all around us. I hope we can also take a moment to embrace the magnificent chance at life that each and every one of us gets. Remember, life isn’t a guarantee for any of us. If you are blessed to celebrate a new year of life, it behooves you to think about owning it and making it matter. Why? Because you are one of the lucky ones.

May we all slow down and reflect on how life is unfolding around us. May we take a moment to think and wonder about stories of tragedies and sadness. May we consider what they mean, who was affected, and how we can work to move forward and hopefully one day prevent these things from happening. 
At the same time, may we also stop and celebrate the moments of inspiring change and acceptance that are happening all around us. May we stop and celebrate individuals who are seizing their moment and doing what they can to make a difference and move humanity forward. Individuals like Danica Roem, whose election to the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday made her the first openly transgender woman to take state office. Or, Vito Perillo, a 93-year-old World War 2 veteran who had never run for office before, but on Tuesday, became the mayor of Tinton Falls, NJ. “I like for people to see that as old as I am, you can still do and accomplish things,” Perillo told his local NBC affiliate. I mean, wow. How amazing is that?

Life really is just a series of moments. A day is made up of 1440 minutes, each a moment to make our own. How many moments are in a life? None of us know.

Today, take a moment. Take one of those 1440 minutes to remember the lives behind the numbers, as well as the life that is still yours to embrace. Doing so is not only good for your own soul. It’s also good for the foundation of our collective community. 

Tick tock. What are you going to do with your day?

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I’ve Been Thinking 7-16-17

This was written by Maria Shriver. I copied it from her Sunday paper morning email.  Maria is such an inspiring woman to me. Her mother was even more inspiring. This is what Maria wrote this morning. Wow!  I was so touched because I want to be the woman seen as “A Lot”. Her mother was a force to be reckoned with, however she moved mountains and made a huge impact on the lives of many throughout the world. That’s what I want to do. As women we have the strength to do anything!!

I’VE BEEN THINKING

Every week here at The Sunday Paper, we try to get above the noise of the week and offer positive perspectives to get you thinking, dreaming and talking about something you may not have considered before.

To that end, this issue is dedicated to awesome and inspiring Great Dames. No, not great danes. 🙂 Great DAMES. Yes, Dames.

Why?

I wanted to write about Dames this week because my mother—one helluva Dame herself—was honored at ESPN’s ESPY Awards Wednesday night for her relentless work on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. (Great Dame Michelle Obama presented the award.)

What a night it was. I was moved, motivated, inspired, deeply touched, and prouder than a peacock. I was proud that my mother got the recognition she deserved, and proud that she worked her whole life pushing boundaries right through and into her 80s.

I remember her telling me when she was 85 or so, “You know, Maria, there is no excuse not to work nonstop until you are at least 80.”

“At 80,” she said, “I had some issues here and there (lol, that’s an understatement, but she continued), but I didn’t give in. I just kept working. There is so much to do.”

My mother didn’t understand retirement. She didn’t understand slowing down to smell the roses. It just wasn’t her forte.

Changing the world was her forte. Her approach to life and work made me think about how many other Great Dames there are out there who are still breaking boundaries and changing perceptions about women, longevity and relevance. (Of course, there are plenty of men who are doing the same, but I’ll feature them in another issue. I have several to write about, so no worries.)

I call my mom a Dame ‘cause she wasn’t your average lady or woman. Trust me, I was very aware of this at a very early age. 

She smoked cigars. She wore pants. She hung out with men. She played football. She tried to dunk you in water polo well into her 80s. She was a first class sailor, no matter the weather. She was just a first-class competitor in every way. There wasn’t a sport she didn’t try to master. There wasn’t a man she didn’t try to beat (or a kid for that matter, this one included).

She rarely wore makeup, rarely brushed her hair, never went shopping and never, ever got a filler or a facial. But, when she walked into a room—any room—every eye was on her.

Why? Because she was an original. The real deal.

My mother was wicked smart, fun, challenging, and fearless. She was intimidating, for sure, but she was authentically herself. In today’s world, you would call her fierce. A force of nature. People often remarked that she was “a lot.”
The women in this issue of The Sunday Paper are cut from the same cloth and the same mold as my mother (although they brush their hair, wear beautiful clothes, etc.).

They are all still at it. They own the room when they walk in. They are personally inspiring to me because age doesn’t slow them down.

Which brings me back to my mother. This past weekend, I was at a friend’s wedding and got to talking to a gentleman who wanted to offer some “helpful” advice to me as to how I might improve my social life. He mentioned that I hang around my kids and their friends a lot, and speculated that that, and my work, might be intimidating to some people.

Then he said to me (or his vodka said to me…vodka usually speaks truth, in case you’re wondering): “You know, Maria, you are still very attractive (gee, thanks), you’re intellectually dynamic, but let’s be honest…you’re a lot.”

I wanted to argue with him, but then I stopped myself because I instantly thought of my mother, who everyone said was “a lot.” I also remembered a friend telling me about a wedding he went to where the mother of the bride stood up and toasted her new son-in-law, saying that her daughter was “a lot,” just like her, and that only really extraordinary men and people could handle those who were forces of nature. She then raised her glass to her new son-in-law, her own husband and to all of those secure enough to be in partnership with forces of nature.

So, this Sunday Paper is dedicated to all those who are proud enough to own that moniker, and to all those who accept that force as it is and let it rip. Just like my father let my mother roar. He knew a force of nature when he saw it, and how proud he was to be the one to celebrate it.

Just like I’m proud to celebrate all the forces of nature highlighted here, a.k.a. Architects of Change. 

So, the next time someone is brave enough to call you a force of nature, or says “you’re a lot,” remember my mother. Remember her fight on behalf of those with special needs.

Remember that everyone said those with intellectual disabilities couldn’t compete, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t hold down a job, couldn’t marry, couldn’t live at home, couldn’t speak, couldn’t dream, couldn’t be included, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t…
Remember this truth. She proved everyone wrong, she did things her way, and she embraced the force within and changed the world outside.

Be a force, ‘cause that’s what it takes to change the world.

P.S. And don’t worry if you forget to brush your hair or if you hang out a lot with your kids. Just blame it on the vodka! And, if you want to see a force of nature in action, watch the video of my mother’s ESPY award below.

http://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/19974723?utm_source=Maria+Shriver%27s+Sunday+Paper&utm_campaign=bdb137a096-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_36fd564d86-bdb137a096-118906693