One of the perks in contributing to a collaborative blog such as Silicon Valley Moms Blog is getting to meet a few famous people here and there. Last night, I got to meet Maria Shriver during a private book signing with other Silicon Valley Moms Blog contributors at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.
Yes, Maria Shriver of many titles – the First Lady of California, the award-winning journalist, the NBC news anchor, the Kennedy, the mother. Last night, she was simply Maria. And as we all had the chance to read her latest book, “Just Who Will You Be?” we were very intrigued by a woman who grew up among a renowned family, managed a high-profile career while raising four children and being married to a rather famous actor-turned-politician who is running the state with the 6th largest economy in the world.
Her book is based on a speech she gave at her nephew’s high school graduation. As most graduation speeches are often inspirational and humorous, hers did not disappoint. If I were sitting in that audience of family and friends of the students, I would have been laughing non-stop, hanging on every word, anticipating the next joke. I’m always amazed at people who are able to deliver an inspirational message while making you laugh at the images their words conjure in your mind one minute and then motivating you to delve within yourself for a moment of self reflection the next.
And you know what? How wonderful she (and her publishers) decided to share that speech with the rest of us. Adding even more personal anecdotes around that graduation speech for the book gave me a more complete vision of what’s been going on inside her own person. She wrote about something we all face throughout our lives – crossroads, curve balls – whatever you want to call it and who you become in working through these challenges. And she wrote it in such an engaging, eloquent manner…no wonder she’s so famous! Ha ha ha No seriously. She wrote it in such a way that it made me consider that important question Just Who Will You Be? and what it means to me in my life right now. It made me think of the future and how I could encourage my girls as they get older, to look inside themselves and find the passions that will carry them through the rest of their lives and help them find inner joy.
Listening to her speak last night, I saw a connection between Maria the person and the thoughts she laid out in her book. She is real. I was impressed with the fact that her other books all related to someone or something in her life. She mentioned that they are designed to initiate dialogue. The topics are ones that have touched her personally and she felt the need to help others understand and to encourage them to talk about them. I bought three of them before I left. “What is Heaven?” is a book she wrote to help her children understand death and dying. “What’s Wrong With Timmy?” is a book about understanding and accepting children with intellectual disabilities. The third book was, “And One More Thing Before You Go…” because she had a friend who found herself in the “empty nest” stage of her life. Her friend’s daughter was heading off to college and she articulated the advice many mothers would love to give to their daughters before they go. The title alone peaked my interest and resonated with me.
I have to say that I didn’t know much about Maria Shriver before last night’s event except that she was part of the famous Kennedy clan, a journalist and married to Arnold. After last night (and after reading her book), I’m feeling a bit of a connection with her as a mother and as a person. It’s not often that you get to glimpse the real person behind a famous name and I thank Silicon Valley Moms Blog for that opportunity.