Written By: Michelle Emmick
“Wow, Maria Shriver!”
This was the response from everyone with whom I shared that THE Maria Shriver was our next cover feature—a more than warranted response. Because Maria is a wow; she’s more than a wow—she’s a superwoman.
Maria Shriver is a Peabody and Emmy award-winning journalist, bestselling author, producer, former first lady of California, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), mother of four, philanthropist, and, oh yeah, she’s a member of the Kennedy family—as close as it gets to royalty in the US. Most recently, at the age of 65, Maria added entrepreneur to her list of accomplishments, founding the brain health and wellness brand MOSH. I mean, seriously, someone get this woman a giant S to wear on her chest.
When Ask Us Beauty selected the Better with Age theme for this issue, we thought about who the best representative of that mantra would be. It had to be someone who is a champion of aging, someone whose personal journey is honest and reflective, someone who isn’t afraid to walk the path of reinvention, someone who radiates beauty inside and out.
Enter superwoman herself, Maria Shriver, who, among all her accolades and achievements, has unreservedly gotten better with age.
“I can’t remember anything in my thirties or forties. I was rushing through my life,” says Maria. “Sometimes I talk to people, and they say, ‘Remember when we did this?’ But I don’t remember. I just ran through life because I was so intent on, ‘I want to get an anchor job; I want to be an anchor of a morning show; I want to win a Peabody; I want to win an Emmy.’ I was in this place of a to-do list. The beauty is now I’m on this path where I know that’s not what life is about. I know life is about this conversation we’re having right now. I know life is about the experience—the dinners I have with my daughters and my sons and the people and partners I work with. I know the power of presence that comes with age.”
According to Maria in her New York Times bestselling book, I’ve Been Thinking, ‘presence’ is a gift you give yourself by being present in your own life.
“We spend a lot of our lives not in it. By that, I mean we’re thinking about the future, we’re thinking about the past, we’re thinking about our to-do’s. We’re thinking about all the things that went wrong—things that threw us off our path. And because of that, we miss a large part of our lives. I spend a lot of my days now trying to notice things that I didn’t notice when I was rushing through my life. I make a practice of breathing, of meditation of gratitude, in the morning and the evening. I look around; I try to slow myself down, all in an effort to be present in remembering the day, remembering the moment, remembering the experiences so that I’m actually in my life as opposed to not being in it.”
This wise mindset comes from years of experience—the kind of experience that’s only acquired with age. “It comes from having your heart broken. It comes from being disappointed. It comes from realizing that what I thought life was all about was wrong. It’s about being present.”
Maria’s wisdom has also come to include approaching health and beauty gracefully, with an emphasis on caring for what’s on the inside—especially the brain. As the founder of WAM and a Strategic Advisor on Women’s Health and Alzheimer’s at Cleveland Clinic, Maria has dedicated much of her time to searching for answers about brain health. With a career in journalism spanning four decades, she’s an expert at asking the hard questions and sharing the information she gathers. “I’m always researching to understand more on women’s health, and I want to share what I learn. That doesn’t always come easy because when I talk about the brain, I’m asking people to invest and believe in beauty they can’t see,” Maria shared.
What many people don’t know (myself included, until recently) is that a new brain develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds, two-thirds of which belong to women. “Alzheimer’s, dementia, and brain degeneration is something that can happen to all of us,” Maria told us. “And what we do in our twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties impacts how we live in our sixties, seventies, and eighties. Nobody told me that. I had to discover that on my own, which is why I’m trying to shout it from the rooftop, so that people your age, my kids’ ages, and everyone will be able to live with a different trajectory than perhaps my generation.”
In her quest to promote healthy living, Maria partnered with her son Patrick to create MOSH, a protein bar made for the brain—aka ‘brain bars.’
“My son and I, and a group of scrappy other people, are working to build a brain brand company that will eventually include other products. We started with a protein bar because I’m a protein bar fanatic. I always have them in my travel bags, in my handbags, and in my car. So many of the bars that I was eating gave me a headache or a stomach ache. As I did more and more research on brain health and bars on the market, I realized that there wasn’t any bar out there focused on that or that had the ingredients that MOSH does. I thought we could use this bar to also talk about research, to talk about Alzheimer’s, to talk about the importance of brain health, and then give back to research,” said Maria.
Maria shared that when her son moved in [with her] during COVID, he recognized her passion and recommended she take the leap and invest in herself and her idea. “He gave me the courage and the kick in the pants that I needed. He let me think, ‘You know, you’re not too old. You can do this!’”
As a lifelong learner, Maria is having fun with the process and feels like she’s aging backward. “It’s been extraordinary,” she said. “I’m working with individuals in their twenties. I’m learning acronyms I’ve never heard of before. I’m learning about supply chains and flavor profiles and all kinds of things that I never even knew existed. I’m learning how hard it is to make a protein bar that has a shelf life that does what you say it does.”
Maria’s long-term vision for the brand is to expand on its give-back initiatives for research. “I want to build this company so that you can go down the aisle and see products and say, ‘I know that’s the brain brand, and I know that those products and that company are putting out what’s good for my brain health.’”
And while a MOSH bar is not going to prevent Alzheimer’s, Maria is passionate about the brain-healthy lifestyle it supports. After all, everything we do, from how we sleep to how we connect to the work we do, all starts with the brain. That’s why keeping our brains in shape is just as important as keeping our bodies in shape. “I’m trying to advocate for an overall brain-healthy lifestyle. MOSH is a vehicle for me to talk about these things.”
What sets MOSH apart, in addition to its taste and brain health benefits, are the people working with the brand. Having built countless relationships over the years, the Maria Shriver name comes with a rolodex of top researchers, doctors, advocates, and activists, all interested in helping. “I’m constantly trying to work with people who have the same mission and have the same activism and advocacy that I do,” Maria shared.
Maria and her team also deliver content promoting a brain-healthy lifestyle through their newsletter, The MOSH Pit. “I’ve met great people in the last 20 years as I’ve been doing this work. I know a lot more about the brain, about women’s health, and about a brain-healthy lifestyle because of my work.”
And through her work and experience, Maria knows that when it comes to aging, she is living the best version of herself. “I like myself better today than I ever did before. I feel like I know myself better. I understand myself better. I’ve done a lot of work to understand myself. I’m a big proponent of therapy and the importance of really understanding yourself, your triggers, and the blocks that you, and you alone, have created or why they came about. You have the power and the responsibility to alter them,” she explained.
As Maria reflected on how she’s become better with age, she practically glowed with the grace and wisdom of a woman who, for all intents and purposes, is the epitome of success.
“I’m behind the, ‘Let’s deal with all of that’ stage. Raising children is behind me. I took care of two parents as a caregiver; that’s behind me. I’m not married, and so, for the first time, I have myself to focus on. I look forward to what’s next. I love the work that I’m doing. I have an ambitiously small media company. I produce documentaries. I have a digital platform [The Sunday Paper] that really excites me. I work with people I admire and respect. I do MOSH. I have built the world’s first Women’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Center with the Cleveland Clinic in Vegas, and I’ve now partnered Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement with the Cleveland Clinic. My advocacy has a home, and my mission there is clear. My mission is clear with MOSH, and I feel like we’ve built a team that will help us grow and who understands the path we’re on—the same with my media company, Shriver Media. My children are extraordinary, and I’m so grateful. I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m blessed, and I’ve worked hard to get here. It hasn’t been easy, but I like where I find myself today: better with age.”
And that, Ask Us Beauty readers, is how a superwoman closes an interview.
How do you define beauty?
I define beauty by my energy. I used to define it strictly by how I looked, and now I define it by how I make people feel and how I feel. It’s how I walk in the world, the energy I put out, and the energy I bring to my relationships. It’s not the same when I walk in the room now as it was when I was 25. I walk into the room now with a different energy, but, I think, equally sexy, equally beautiful.
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