As I watched the many funerals this past week in Orlando and listened to what family members said about those they loved and lost, I thought about their grief, their loss, their trauma and I also thought about how they will each individually and collectively move on.
When you are in the midst of grief it’s almost impossible to think about “moving on.” In fact, it feels almost disrespectful to do so. But slowly people, even well-intentioned ones, will start saying, “You know, you really should move on. It’s the only way to heal. It’s the only way forward.”
It’s another one of those expressions people toss around that is way harder to do than to say. When a loved one dies, when a chapter closes, when a job ends, when a campaign ends, a kid moves away…We are all told to just “move on.”
[3 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Try]
My mother used to say, “Move along, move along, just hurry up and move along.” It was, I think, her way of not dwelling, not getting stuck. I’m sure it was also her way of staying one step ahead of all those emotions we are all trying to keep under control and under wraps.
I get it. But I, for one, don’t like it when someone tells me to move on (or by the way to relax, or to not eat this or that, or to just stop worrying… maybe I just don’t like it when someone tells me what to do!).
Of course I smile when someone tells me to move on regarding all sorts of things, but inside I’m screaming back, ‘Hello! I would if I could but I can’t so stop telling me to.’
Breathe Maria, breathe.
The truth is moving on comes with time and everyone has their own pace. Rushing moving on isn’t healthy, it’s not fair and it’s not kind.
[Love Can’t Replace Hate…Only Self-Respect Can]
So, If you haven’t moved on from the loss of someone you love, it’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. If you haven’t moved on from that job you loved and lost, that’s ok too. If you haven’t moved on from that fight with your best friend, take your time, it’s okay. You will. Because sometimes moving on is actually the exact wrong thing to do, as Representative John Lewis and other Democratic members of The House demonstrated this past week. The Senate told them to “move on” but instead they said no way and they sat down. They said, after all the deaths by guns lately, moving on is the wrong thing to do. We need changes and we’re not moving until we get them. And then across the ocean, the British said the exact opposite when they voted to move on from the European Union. It was a move felt round the world.
So this week as I’m thinking about all of these people my message — first and foremost to the families and friends of the Orlando victims, and to anyone getting over something in their lives — is this: take your time. Move on when you are ready and move on only when YOU want to.
[Read More of Maria’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ Essays]
Because you will eventually move on and you will move forward. You will find your way. One day, without even realizing it, you will notice that you feel a little lighter, you’re thinking will be a little brighter. You will see your life and the endless possibilities of it in a new, clearer way. Things will just open up. Light will come in and you will wake up. Without even realizing it, you will have moved on in exactly the right way for you.
From Maria Shriver's - Sunday Paper- June 19th 2016
Focusing on Love
Some weeks it’s hard to know exactly what to think.
Ones heart and mind can bounce from anger to grief to confusion to sadness to hope all at once leaving you somewhat at a loss as to what to say, think or write. What can one say after reading the stories that have come out of Orlando? Stories of horror are mixed in with stories of heroism, gratitude and love. What can one say when one sees the images of thousands gathering to pay their respects in Orlando and all over the world? Standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, with women, men, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons.
Witnessing the outpouring of love and courage we saw this week gives me so much hope. But that has been juxtaposed against other images, stories and dialogue from those whose sole purpose seems to be to incite fear and hate. It’s hard not to settle into despair and/or anger. It’s hard not to just scream or stay in a place of rage.
But today, on Father’s Day, I’m choosing to focus on the love. I’m choosing to focus on the stories of heroism, compassion and kindness that I’m reading about. The stories that make me proud to be an American. On this day I’ve been thinking about the role of fathers. This week our President, a father himself, spoke calmly to ease our fears and reassure our nation –– at that moment he was Commander-in-Chief, Consoler-in-Chief and Father-in-Chief.
A quote from my father from almost 50 years ago that, sadly, was the perfect response to this week.
Father’s Day obviously makes me think of my own father, whose words from a speech in 1968 were still incredibly resonant this week. My father, like so many fathers, was not only smart, driven and passionate, he was also loving. So, today, I’m focusing on the love that fathers can –– and do -– show to their children and families every day. Fathers and fatherhood are so important in each of our lives. Fathers are needed everyday and everywhere. They raise children who become women and men who can affect our world in so many ways. Children need their love, their strength, their compassion, their time, their acceptance and the safety they can provide with an embrace, a look, a conversation.
I’ll say it again: Fathering is needed everyday and everywhere. On this day, I want to say happy Father’s Day to everyone who is blessed to be a father. Your role is so crucial, so impactful, so important for those you’re a father to and those who witness how you father.
As we have seen this week, life is so fragile. At times like this we all look for reassurance, we look for safety and security, but that, I have learned, is an illusion.
What isn’t ever an illusion is love. Love is what we can count on. Love is what heals fear. Love is what calms anxious hearts, bodies and minds. Love is a gift each of us have to offer to our fellow human beings. Those who are our children and those who aren’t. Those who are gay or straight. Those who practice one religion or another. When it feels like we have nothing to give or there’s nothing we can do, we each have the ability to offer our love to another.
And so on this Father’s Day, I say to Fathers everywhere: I hope you feel loved, appreciated and accepted. I hope today you can push through whatever walls, whatever fears you may have and express the love you have to give to those around you who so desperately seek it.
In this week, at this time, when it’s hard to know exactly what to think…don’t think, don’t doubt, just feel. Feel the love. Let it in. Let it heal. That’s what love can do, that’s what love does.
Happy Father’s Day.
From Maria Shriver's - Sunday Paper- June 12th 2016
The Power of Making History
I grew up hearing 'If your mother had been a man she would have been President.' My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, grew up among men who ran for President and was married to a man, my father, Sargent Shriver, who also sought our nation's highest office. But she never ran. I have no doubt in my mind that had she had the chance, if she had thought it was something a woman could do, she would have run, won and made a hell of a leader.
I grew up believing that history was not just something you read about in books, it was something to be made in one's lifetime.
Watching Hillary Clinton make history this week was one of those moments I know I will remember forever. I was happy that in her historic moment she reminded the world of all the women who had gone before her and used their voices, their hearts and their minds to instigate change. She rightfully acknowledged that she stood on their shoulders, but she, herself, also worked tirelessly for decades to make the history that she did this past week happen.
Regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of what you think about politicians in general, it was moving and inspiring to see a woman endure, persevere and triumph like she did to become the first woman in history to become the nominee of a major political party.
Let's face it, the change business is not easy. It takes drive, energy, tremendous will and passionate desire. It takes guts, toughness, vision and determination. Very few individuals, male or female, will ever make the kind of history that Hilary Clinton did. It was History with a capital H.
But I've come to believe that each of us can make history in our own ways. Each of us has the opportunity to take a shot at writing our legacies, and just because it might not be on the scale of someone running for President, doesn't mean it doesn't have importance, meaning or value. A young woman or young man who becomes the first in their family to graduate high school or college makes history in, and for, their family. Someone who starts a business that gives others a job may be making historic change in another person's life. The scientist who toils in a lab for years to discover a cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or cancer will make history. A women who walks away from an abusive marriage to save herself and/or her children makes history. Her story and her courage will become part of her family's legend. The young woman in the Stanford rape case that used her voice to speak out for every woman who has been sexually abused made history in her life, her family's lives and the lives of countless women who have felt silenced or shamed after a sexual assault.
The list goes on and on.
Each of us have a shot. A shot to make history in our own lives and with our lives. I doubt the women at Seneca Falls knew that so many years later they would get a shout out heard around the world. They didn't do what they did for that reason, they did what they did for others. They did what they did so that so many years later a women they never knew could stand up and say "Look how far we have come."
That's the best kind of history to make. And it's something each of us has the power to do. Make history in your world...you never know who might end up changing the world because of you.
From Maria Shriver's - Sunday Paper- June 5th 2016
The Power of Letting Go
I've been thinking a lot lately about letting go: about how easy it is to say and how hard it is to actually do.
It's hard to let go. To let go of things. To let go of attachments. To let go of beliefs that no longer serve you. To let go of old stories. To let go of people. To let go of the way things were. And it's especially hard to let go of children.
It's ironic to me that parenting asks you to be all in all the time. To give love unconditionally. To be totally present and then it tells you -- or makes you -- let go. Just like that; you are asked to let go. It's the cycle -- or circle -- of life. You give your all and if you do your children are supposed to feel loved, secure and independent. Independent enough to go off and live their own lives. And you the parent are supposed to be totally fine with that. You are supposed to wave goodbye with a big smile on your face and feel like you did good.
Letting go is tough for me. I'm doing it, but I admit I don't like it. No, I don't like it at all. That's my honest feeling and truth. I went to Bed Bath & Beyond again this week (I have now have four dorm rooms and three apartments under my belt). I've been there so many times the manager greeted me cheerfully with jokes of, "Is this it? Is this the last time? The last one?" I smiled as my eyes welled up with tears. My daughter rolled her eyes and told me to "Relax" (FYI I hate being told to relax). She told me, "Just be happy." She reminds me daily that this isn't about me, it's about letting my kids do their own thing. It is, she says, the way it's supposed to be.
But I don't like things the way they are supposed to be. No Architect Of Change does. We challenge what is and imagine what can be. But we also have the courage to move forward.
So as I watched my youngest child graduate from high school and walk across the stage out into adulthood, I admit I knew the time had come for me to let go. I knew I had no choice but to do so.
'Let go Maria,' I said to myself. 'Let go.'
I know I can and will do it. I have faith. Faith in myself and in my kids. I know this new era of life is going to be more unscripted. More wide open. That's both scary and exhilarating. The days will no longer revolve around school schedules. The days will become mine to imagine, mine to create.
That also means no more hiding, no more saying 'I can't go here,' 'I can't do this,' because of my kids. I'm free now. Omg!
So as Christopher heads off to college I know in my heart I can step back because I know he's got it!! And I know in my heart I do as well.
Let go...Let's go!
P.S.: I know I'm talking about letting go. This is Phase One. The big "Let Go" with a capital LG will be when I drop Christopher off at college and come home. Brace yourself.
Maria Shriver is igniting Architects of Change and we are excited to share with you her Sunday's Paper, as your dose of Monday Motivation.
For more information on Maria Shriver's work: www.mariashriver.com