member_40649292This fall, we asked locals to nominate Hunterdon County’s biggest Movers & Shakers. With dozens of amazing stories, our accomplished judges had their work cut out for them when it came to narrowing down the Top 10 Movers & Shakers of 2014!

With the official results in, we’re going to be taking a closer look at each winner and sharing their incredible stories.

Next up, meet Maria Plass, Founder, CEO, & Producer of the What Matters Most Show. This Frenchtown resident has dedicated the past 4 years of her life to creating, enhancing and promoting the show which has a global mission of inspiring people to create positive change in their lives. In under 2 years, Maria has developed relationships with over 40 TV Stations achieving a national viewership potential of nearly 6 million views.

Hunterdon Happening: What motivates you every morning?

Maria Plass: Living in the country is a wonderful thing and I have this great porch and expansive garden that I have a ‘love hate relationship with’.  I love planting.  I hate weeding.  Knowing that this colorful garden awaits me is a huge motivator to me.  Sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee on my veranda, listening to nature or the silence of the moment is a great precursor to starting my day.  Being in the moment with stillness and meditating on the journey of life’s lessons.  Who could ask for more?!

What also motivates me to wake up every morning is my family. I love spending time with my grandkids and daughter and son-in-law. I get a kick out of all their personalities. I also find my work with What Matters Most very motivating

Hunterdon Happening: What would you say is your idea of a perfect day?

Maria Plass: Every day!  Are you kidding?  Every day is another opportunity to get it ‘right’ or at least ‘better’. Every day is an opportunity to grow, learn and become more ‘whole’.  Even those ‘gosh darn this is ridiculous’ days are great opportunities to learn from and move forward in life.  A perfect day is every day that you can sit back, breathe and say thank you, ‘I am alive’!

Hunterdon Happening: Who inspires you?

Maria Plass: I don’t have any one person that I could say has been my ‘great’ inspiration.  People that inspire me are those that have managed to overcome life’s challenges and follow their passion.  That’s what inspired me to create the show What Matters Most!  Reading stories of people that have overcome odds that seem impossible to survive, physical challenges, or injustice to me are the ‘courageous warriors’ that are my inspiration to follow my dream, undaunted and fearless.  A purpose-driven life to me is inspiring!

Hunterdon Happening: How did you decide to go into your business/profession?

Maria Plass: Now that’s an easy question.  To sum it up in one word that would be ‘discontentment’.  I worked many years in a corporate environment, achieving the well-perceived American Dream.  Every day was a horror for me.  I never fit in and struggled with dissatisfaction that I justified by my very generous paycheck.  The tribulations of remaining grew over time and eventually took it’s toll on my health.   Also, during that timeframe, my place of employment was going through a very tumultuous time.  In a nutshell, I was ‘let go’.  So the beast I perceived as my enemy became my savior.

The creation of Experience Nirvana and What Matters Most is a completely organic, creative process that twists and turns at every opportunity.  To this day, it is the most challenging and yet liberating experience in my 50+ years.  I finally feel alive!

Hunterdon Happening: Which achievement are you most proud of?

Maria Plass: My gorgeous daughter, Kristen Lambert is what I am most proud of.  As you endeavor through the parenting process, you never really know if you’re doing it right until years down the road.  You read the books, watch the videos, and confer with more experienced parents in the hopes that you are ‘doing it right’ whatever ‘it’ happens to be.  Yes, there were lots of tears but also lots of laughter.  We went through horrible, sad times together with only each’s comfort to sustain.  We went on wonderful, crazy adventures together, giggled together and eventually learned from each other.  She has turned out to be a beautiful person both inside and out.  She is a role-model mother, wife and best friend to me.  I am proud and blessed to call her my daughter!

Hunterdon Happening: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Maria Plass: Truth be told, my BIGGEST challenge has been stepping outside of my comfort zone and creating  What Matters Most.  It was for me answering the call of‘Why am I here’?  What is my purpose in life? When I took the leap I had no prior knowledge of how to start a film production company, or where to begin. …

Hunterdon Happening: What is the biggest accomplishment that you’d like to achieve over the next 5 years?

Maria Plass: Call me simple, but I’m not projecting that far into the future.  My current goal is to syndicate my production on national TV and would love it to be on Oprah’s Network.  Beyond that, we are working on developing a network devoted to creating and sharing programs that inspire people make positive changes in their lives.  One stop for everything that ‘feeds your soul’.  There’s a lot of great content and stories out there, but it’s so scattered and difficult to locate.  I plan on launching HOPE (Healing On Planet Earth) Network TV within the next 3 years so please stay tuned.

Hunterdon Happening: How do you think your friends & coworkers would describe you?

Maria Plass: Oh my gosh, I would say a little eccentric, very creative, totally wacky, silly, smart, unexpected, honest and kind.

However, Edwina and Brialle, my Experience Nirvana team, disagree with me,  These were their adjectives: warm, jubilant, helpful, non-judgemental, loving, inspired, hard worker, full of life.

Hunterdon Happening: Where’s your favorite place to go in Hunterdon County?

Maria Plass: I love, love, love my quaint little town of Frenchtown.  It’s a heart-warming community that I have watched blossom over the past 25 years.  And yet, it has managed to maintain a quaintness of days gone by with its interesting, eclectic shops and restaurants.   During a casual stroll down the block, you can encounter a diversification of experiences from bohemian clothing, fine French dining, imports from around the world and transient bikers journeying the countryside.  The Delaware beckons you to relax, unwind and take a stroll the towpath, maybe a picnic or just watch the sunset.

Hunterdon Happening: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself ten years ago, what advice would you give?

Maria Plass: Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Everything is small ☺  If I were to reflect on any circumstance that seemed monumental in the moment, today it always seems trivial or insignificant.  Misunderstanding, disagreements, bad decisions, mistakes, whatever never seem to be what they were in the present.  So that tells me that in the words of England Dan & John Ford Coley, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”.

Hunterdon Happening: Check out one of Maria’s recent episodes below:

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