Maria Shriver speaks to crowd at Lynn University

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By: Diane Feen Contributing Writer

When you think of Maria Shriver the words Kennedy, celebrity, TV reporter and former wife of a bodybuilder turned governor come to mind.

But when Shriver showed up at Lynn University in Boca Raton she was just Maria – mother, meditator, healthcare advocate, friend and single woman.

And that was a good thing.

She didn’t talk about her great life or about the celebrities she knows. Instead she spoke about her life, her loves and the sage-like lessons she’s learned on her earthly journey.

But unlike the public persona of a Kennedy, it was anything but an easy charmed life.

“My parents said that everyone should start changing the world at the age of five or six. As kids we were drafted to work for the special Olympics because my parents saw it as an extension of Jesus’s work in the world.”

Her parents – Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver – did not consider peacefulness and mindfulness to be sacrosanct. Instead they were always in a hurry. But not to shop at the mall or have parties. They were in a hurry to create programs like The Special Olympics, the Peace Corps, Head start and others.

Their daughter Maria was also in a hurry. She followed the success driven superhighway her parents paved in front of her eyes. “About eight or nine years ago someone said to me, ‘where are you going?’”

That’s when Shriver began to relish a slower more deliberate pace. She was looking for inspiration online when she came across Barb Schmidt’s Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life website and began to read about mediation and spirituality.

Though Schmidt has a platform that many subscribe to, Shriver wanted everyone to know that they too can make a difference. “Everyone in this room has a platform and a voice to inspire others. Now is the time to have your voice heard – the world needs that.”

Shriver also spoke about redefining the notion of success. “Success is having friends who have your back to go through the ups and downs of life with. It is not about having a fancy extraordinary life. I feel successful when I have dinner with friends or go for a bike ride.”

Part of her success included learning to meditate. Shriver talked about how she couldn’t sit still after her divorce. But with her TM teacher’s patience she learned to meditate and now does it twice a day – 20 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night.

“Meditation helped me like myself better and come from a better place. We all have mental health issues. Everyone has a mind and it drives everyone crazy.”

Say what? This statuesque Goddess of good karma has problems? The woman with a Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards, the former first lady of California, TV anchor, bestselling author and Alzheimer’s advocate has thoughts that get in her way of a sunny day?

If was a relief to know that this woman of broadcast brilliance and breeding (with the historical reference point) was like us. Perhaps she is, but one can’t help but wonder how the daughter of Eunice and Sargent Shriver could be like us.

She is concerned about the loneliness epidemic and goes to senior centers to visit the elderly. Though Shriver seems to walk with a golden aura wrapped around her, she seemed well aware of key spiritual values. “Kindness is an underrated value. It really takes inner strength to be kind in a mean world.”

Shriver is also contemplating the bigger issues of the new age. One being the concept of love. “We need to expand our vision of love. It’s not just about two people in romantic love. It’s about how the world makes you feel – accepted and understood – that’s love.”

The 700 people (mostly women) who came to hear Shriver seemed to love what they were hearing. “It’s OK to say, ‘I need help.’ Everyone goes to an exercise coach, but people are afraid to talk about their marital or mental health coach – and that’s more important.”

The woman who has worked in the field of journalism for 42 years confessed she loves her career so much she’s never worked a day in her life. “It’s my passion and it brings me joy. Journalism can be a force for good but it’s an incredible responsibility. Good journalism informs and inspires you.”

Good people do too. When asked what she wants in the coming year, Shriver said: “I hope to go on a date and be part of a more caring, kind and compassionate world. If you have a vision of it, you can go there.”

For information on upcoming events go to: peacefulmindpeacefullife.org or call 561-955-7227. The evening was sponsored by Barb Schmidt, Elaine Wold and Christine E. Lynn.