Life and Living

Adventures in Boundaryland!

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You know how sometimes you look around your house and realize that your house is full of homeless orphaned drug addicts and you’ve gone broke paying for your brother-in-law’s best friend’s new car and you’re still feeling sore from donating your kidney to someone you saw on the news? Don’t you hate it when that happens?

DON’T WORRY, I’M JOKING!!! The paragraph above is a huge exaggeration of something that really does happen to compassionate people. Sometimes, we want so much to help everyone that we drop our personal boundaries very low—so low that our efforts to care for others [...]

Why It’s Okay to Change Up Family Traditions

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This article was first published in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper

Holiday traditions have always made my heart beat a little faster—not with excitement, but with stress. Growing up as the seventh of eight children, I spent every December struggling to find gifts and make treats for everyone in the family. Things got easier when I started my own small, nuclear family. But our numbers are growing, and in recent years I’d begun to feel a touch of the old anxiety. Still, I was a bit shocked when someone suggested that we switch up our traditions by assigning each [...]

The Holiday Hurricane: Finding Shelter

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December is a month of intense psychological ambivalence. On one hand, there’s a lot to love about songs and sweets, parties and presents. On the other hand, the holidays present us with a host of stressors. I’m not just talking about vague malaise. This season forces our brains to face challenges that, at any time of year, can push them into confusion, anxiety, even panic.

Understanding what our brains undergo during this month can help us deal with the season more easily. So here’s some information that may help you weather the hurricane of mental pressures you’ll almost certainly encounter [...]

Gratitude and the Life Abundant

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So here I am, getting ready to celebrate the holidays in Pennsylvania, of all places. After a rush of magic convinced me to buy a ranch in California, I never thought I would move again. Why did I?

First, because as we all know, God finds our plans hilarious. Second, because the river of mystery that moves us through life doesn’t stop moving. I’ll tell you the whole story sometime, but for now, I want to talk about how to stay in the center of that river. It has everything to do with Thanksgiving, with gratitude, [...]

Why Voting Should Be Part of Our Daily Lives

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This article was first published in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper

 

Every time I vote, as I hope we all did last Tuesday, I get a little misty-eyed. For most of history, most people haven’t had voting rights. Feudal systems, slavery, dictatorships, colonialism—so many structures suppressed so many people for so long. When my father was born, American women still didn’t have this basic right. I’m so grateful to everyone who has fought to let my voice be heard.

That said, I sometimes fret that my one little vote may be too little, too late, to change the world in [...]

Everything is Changing, All the Time

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I once heard a Zen monk say that all our suffering comes from resisting one simple fact: everything is changing, all the time.

Think about your life situation in this moment: the good and the bad, and the ugly. Whoops! Now it’s different. While you were thinking, everything around you got a few seconds older.

What we think of as “my life,” stable and solid, is in fact a flowing river. The banks may look the same, but the water is always, always, always changing.

I was stunned when something told me, “Move to the woods in [...]

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