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October 22, 2008

Maria Shriver at the Women's Conference Luncheon Session

Img_0776 "What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life and what's keeping you from doing it?"

Maria Shriver just asked us this question during the luncheon session at the Women's Conference.  No need to think too hard about it!  She told us the answer we all know in our heart of hearts.

"Fear.  Fear keeps us from realizing that we have any power in the first place."

Maria's talking about how courageous it was for Billie Jean King to come out as the first openly gay female athlete 27 years ago.  Wow, can you imagine doing that back then.  Go, Billie Jean!   

Each of us is afraid of something in our lives.  For some of you it may be a fear of public speaking that consumes you and keeps you from getting up and letting your beliefs known.  Maybe you're afraid to ask for a promotion.  Maybe you're afraid to leave that job you really hate and go off to do that job you really love.  You feel you're a failure and you don't deserve to feel happy.

Maybe you're afraid to tell secrets so you keep yourself paralyzed with guilt, shame or remorse.  Maybe you're made mistakes in your marriage or as a parent.  (That's me!  I know I beat myself up all the time over something I haven't done right with my kids!)

I love when Maria talks about how she has a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt about every day doing one thing that scares you.  And that means beyond changing diaper or figuring out what's for dinner.

She says she now knows that the way she used to operate wasn't courage because she wasn't fearful.  Now she nows that if you aren't afraid, you don't need courage.

"I hate to admit it, but I was terrified of my oldest daughter Katherine going to college."  Moms, you can feel Maria because I know when my kids go to college, I am also going to have that fear of letting them go.   

Maria refers to her book, Just Who Will You Be -- says it bared her soul.  She was terrified before it came out of what people would think of her.  And a huge one was the Presidential Primary Season.  Says she was really passionate about electing a woman.  "I truly admire Hillary Clinton and have for years... Then I found myself listening to Barack Obama.  His language moved me."  She loved the way he talked about "we" and brought about unity. 

Says she was torn with her, "Head and history on one side and my heart on the other." 

She's talking about how afraid she was to come out publicly to endorse Obama.  One, Arnold was about to endorse McCain and his team would be mad at her and she didn't want to seem like just another Kennedy jumping on the Obama bandwagon.

Her daughter asked her what she was afraid of and she felt like the only way to get the guts was, "To show up, stand up and say what I believe." 

The audience is laughing over Maria sharing the back and forth she had with Oprah about speaking at the event. Her thoughts in her head at that moment, "You're being disloyal to women, you didn't let the Governor's Office know, the Clinton's are going to be mad at you."

Wow, she actually thought she could escape out the door before anybody noticed!  LOL

"I endorsed not just Obama but my own gut and my own right to change my mind."

Now she's talking about the experience of getting the call about her Uncle Ted Kennedy's illness.  "This time I didn't run.  I called up my uncle and told him how much I loved him.... And then I gave it over to God."  Wow, how emotional.  The crowd cheers when she says that her uncle is doing well.

So sad, she's sharing how she found out that Tim Russert had died.  Says he was like a big brother to her.  "I could feel my sense of security and stability cracking and I stood there shaking."  When she arrived at the Kennedy Center she saw the lineup of speakers she felt sick. 

Amazing how such a powerful woman as Maria Shriver feels self-conscious about her voice!  Says there was every single political bigwig, every important journalist, the Clintons who might have still been mad at her!

Each one was more eloquent than the one before and she says she wanted to die.  She had to remind herself that Tim would say, "You did good kid! That was great kid!  Thank you for being you!  I love you you're the best."  So, she told herself don't compare yourself to Tom Brokaw. 

She did some "acting as if"  She stood up and gave her speech.  Oh my goodness, she is making me cry talking about how she saw Tim Russert's number in her cell phone speed dial and so instead of deleting it, she called it.  Gosh, I'm totally crying and everybody else around is as well.  She told him if he was picking up the messages, she loved him. 

Sharing how she's been so afraid to lose her mother, but she's had to face it because her mother has had several more strokes this year.  It's helped her feel all the fear she's pushed down her whole entire life.  She's turned a reporters instinct onto herself.

Why has she always felt lost?  Why has she felt like she comes up short?  Great how she's asking what role her family, her marriage, her jobs and she herself have played in these feelings.  These are really important questions for us all to ask ourselves and explore.

LOL, she's sharing how when she went to visit her mom, the nurse said, "There's not a competition in the ICU."  As her parents grow older and more frail, she wonders if that's going to be her.

Sharing what she wrote in her journal about her mom.  She had a priest come over and they said prayers for the sick and she got in bed with her mother at the age of 52 for the first time ever in her entire life. 

OK, I'm totally crying again.  Maria's saying how she held her mom's hand and her mom said, "All I do is wait and wait and wait for you.  You come and then you leave again.  When you leave, please call me and don't forget about me." 

Seriously, there is not a dry eye in here.  Everybody is sobbing. 

Maria says she's learned that listening is love and now she's sharing a poem they wrote together at the hospital in Boston.  -- I feel like I need to pick up the phone and call my mom now! Where's my tissue before the mascara runs all over my cheeks!

Maria says the tenderness and closeness between her and her mother could never have happened before because they were both running too hard. 

She says she hopes she can learn to silence her inner critic.  "For so many years I was wrong about fear.  Feeling fear isn't weakness.  It's the beginning of strength."

She closes with a beautiful poem and asks that we have the courage to live and pass it on!

Total standing ovation for a good minute.  People are cheering like crazy!  Go Maria!

This is an original Los Angeles Moms Blog post.  When she's not wiping tears off her cheeks, Liz D. blogs at Los Angelista.

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