It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor reporting on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. She creates socially conscious television, books, films and digital media with the...
Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor reporting on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. She creates socially conscious television, books, films and digital media with the purpose of informing, inspiring and igniting hearts and minds in a discussion that produce positive impact in the world.
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What We Truly Need

marias10.19
"To lose patience is to lose the battle."
—Mahatma Gandhi


I've Been Thinking...

I'm a journalist and my beat is life. I’ve always been a curious person, because I want to discover how one can build a life of meaning, joy, purpose, and love. I’m curious how we are meant to survive all that life throws our way without losing hope, joy, and ourselves along the way. I'm curious how we can build lives that stand on solid ground and that are capable of responding to the moment, whatever that may be.

 

I think about this a lot. I think about building my own meaningful life, one that is spiritual, purpose-driven, connected, loving, and joyful. A life that makes me feel full, happy, and hopeful about myself, my loved ones, and my country. I apply those same values to this publication. Its focus is on helping guide you to a place where you feel safe, seen, and supported on your path. Its focus is on making sense of all that is going on around us with an eye to the future. It’s about now and about what’s to come.

 

Every week when I sit down to write, I think about that. I think about what is going on in our world and how to make sense of it in a way that makes sense. I think about you reading what I write and how I want it to bring value to you. I want it to make a difference.

 

Sometimes I don’t know what to write. I sit and nothing comes up for me, or too much comes up at once. Usually when I’m unsure what to write, I walk or I talk to someone. And then, for some reason known only to God, I find my theme.

 

This week’s theme comes from a conversation with my friend David.

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Thank Your Mind

mariaS10.12 Maria Shirver's Sunday Paper
"When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary."  —Fred Rogers

I've Been Thinking...

Today is World Mental Health Day. Before you read further, I'd ask that you take a moment to check in with yourself this morning.

Check in with your mind. Sit with how you feel for a bit and don't judge. Think about all your mind does for you. Think about all it keeps track of for you. If you are like me, you probably drive it too hard. You probably put too much on its plate. You more than likely berate it for not being what you think it should be.

Pause.

The truth is, your mind is extraordinary and uniquely your own. Sure, it may drive you nuts at times (I feel you). You may wish it were different—maybe smarter, quicker, or better at retaining everything you want to remember. Maybe, like me, you wish your mind were less dark. I get that. But remember: your mind is yours and yours alone. Today, my wish is that you honor your mind's beauty. Honor its unique abilities, its perseverance, how extraordinary it is, and all it does for you. 

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We Have to Get Louder

mariaS10.4
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
—Booker T. Washington


My friend Steve sent me an article the other day that I couldn’t get out of my mind or my heart. It didn't make me just pause and think for a moment. It made me do a full stop in my tracks. 

The piece I'm talking about came out in early September, but it still resonates a month later. (You can read it here). One of the lines that really struck me was this: “We're going to need more good people becoming louder about what is and isn’t within the bounds of civilized society. We are going to have to name what is unacceptable and demand decency and safety for all of us.”

I couldn’t agree more. Dignity, decency, and safety have got to be the mission of each and every one of us, and we have to get louder about proclaiming that to be the case. There is no doubt in my mind that everywhere we look, we are up against rage, hate, division, and fear. We are up against our fellow citizens behaving in a way that I never thought was possible in the public arena. We are up against public officials who lie, demean, and are trying to ruin the very fabric of our democracy.

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When We Believe

mariaS9.29
"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it."
J. M. Barrie

I've Been Thinking...

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who studies politics for a living. Networks, podcasts, and political junkies seek him out for his judgment. My friend and I were both bemoaning the state of politics and the state of our discourse and divide today when he said something that really hit home. 

“We need a Ted Lasso in our political world,” he said. 

Amen to that. I love the TV show Ted Lasso, and I recommend you give it a watch if you haven’t yet. (It’s on Apple TV+ and won the Emmy for best comedy this year.) I love Ted Lasso not only because I watch it with my son Christopher, who turned me onto it last year. I love it for the reason so many other people do: because it’s a show that inspires, makes you feel good, and offers a sense of hope.

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Dear Maria . . .

mariaS9.21.2_20210920-125435_1 Maria Shriver - Sunday Paper
the friction
inside your mind
will keep overflowing
into your relationships
 
until you process
your emotional history
and understand how it shapes
your ego, perception, and reactions

—yung pueblo


I've Been Thinking...


I got a letter the other day, and I was so excited when I saw my name on the envelope. I knew right away that it was a handwritten note.

I love getting handwritten notes in the mail (and I must say, I don’t get many these days). They really stand out amongst the stack of bills, mailers, and other junk that we all get. You just know a handwritten envelope when you see it. You know that it's something personal, and that it's probably from someone you care about, or who cares about you.

At first, I thought the envelope was from one of my brothers or cousins, as they do still write handwritten notes. (My kids do too, but they don't mail them.) But then I opened it and realized it was a note from me to me! Can you believe that?! Allow me to explain how it happened. 

When I went on retreat this past August, I was encouraged by the retreat leaders to write a note reminding myself of how proud I was of the deep work I did at the inner bootcamp. My note said, "Maria, I’m so proud of you for all the hard work you've done. I hope you remember how you felt at this retreat, standing in your light and feeling strong, powerful, tender, and whole."

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It's Time

mariaS9.14.21 Maria Shriver's - The Sunday Paper
There’s something about deep wounding that can be a pathway to deep, deep love.
It’s a very beautiful thing when the wound becomes the doorway."
—Henry Shukman

I've Been Thinking...

Dear friend,

How are you? I’d truly love to know.

How was your August? Did it go by slowly or was it way too rushed? Did you travel or stay home? Did you gather with friends or spend time alone?

Have you immersed yourself in the news of Afghanistan? Have you read the stories of the brave soldiers who gave their lives? Do you live in an area ravaged by Hurricane Ida or the fires and need support? (See below for ways to help.) Did the Texas ruling make you angry? Has the Delta variant got you isolating again? Have the ongoing vaccine and mask wars left you discouraged? (I’m happily vaccinated, and I see wearing my mask as a public service.)

However you feel at this moment, try to pace yourself and breathe. There is a lot going on in our world at large, and that’s probably true in your personal life as well. My hope is to always meet you where you are. I hope my words each Sunday help you feel seen, supported, hopeful, and less alone on your journey to what I call The Open Field.

As for me, I find myself feeling a whole range of emotions about our country and about life right now. But I am in a good place overall. I’m in a place of self-compassion, self-love, and self-acceptance.

These days, I greet myself in the mirror with words of gratitude and appreciation, not with a self-critical voice like I used to do. I’m calm, at ease, and at peace, which is huge for me. This is all despite my deep concern about Texas, the California recall, and about our country’s deep division, which I have a real desire to help heal.

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Let's Take A Break

mshriver.81
“A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when to grit and when to quit."
—Adam Grant

I've Been Thinking...

Happy August!

Can you believe that it’s August already?! Wow, wow, wow. Or as a friend used to say, damn, damn, damn! 

Also, August 1 was National Sisters Day, so I want to begin by honoring all the sisters out there. I have four wonderful brothers, but no sisters, and it’s something I always wanted growing up. To me, sisters always seemed to have a built-in best friend. I know that’s a simplistic view, but nonetheless that’s how I felt. That’s why I was so glad when I had two daughters. I was happy they would have each other to navigate the twists and turns of life.

I know there were many times along the way, especially when they were younger, when neither of them liked having a sister so close in age. But today, thank God, my girls are super close. They are each other’s best friend. It doesn’t mean that they see eye-to-eye on everything and everyone (and I’ve learned along the way to not get in between them), but they are committed to each other. They are protective of each other and they are there for each other in good times and tough times. So in honor of National Sisters Day, I asked them to answer some questions about their journey through sisterhood. If you have a sister, I hope their journey might help inspire yours!

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Bet On Yourself

mshriver7.26
“I dwell in Possibility, a fairer House than Prose..."  —Emily Dickinson


I've Been Thinking...

“OMG, your past is speaking to you. What a validation of your truth!”

That’s what my friend Nadine said after reading my column in The Sunday Paper last week. In it, I wrote about the concept of leaving and about my parting words with Winnie, a woman who cared for my brothers as we were growing up.

 "You knew your truth all along,” Nadine continued. “You knew what it was, and yet you didn’t believe yourself. You sought outside validation. Perhaps now you will trust yourself!”

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Leaving Well

leaving
“Today is the day you rid yourself of anything that distracts from your best life."  
—Joshua Becker



I've Been Thinking...

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about leaving. I don’t mean leaving on vacation (although I am looking forward to my annual August break). I’ve actually been thinking more deeply and broadly about the different ways we all leave a piece of ourselves behind each and every day. 

We leave jobs or careers that no longer bring us joy. We leave relationships that don’t work for us anymore. We leave religious or political affiliations that no longer stand for what we believe. This week, under President Biden’s direction, the U.S. announced plans to leave Afghanistan. Former President Bush said it was a mistake, but Biden said it was the right move. Meanwhile, Texas legislators dramatically up and left the state capitol while the legislature was in session to protest voting rights suppression.

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Our Inner Worlds

inner world
"Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming." 
—Alice Walker

I've Been Thinking...


“Happy inner Independence day, Maria!” my friend Tom said to me last Sunday.

Hmm, I thought to myself. Now that’s different. The concept definitely got me thinking, though. It got me thinking about my inner freedom, and my struggle to find it and feel it.

Over the years, I’ve learned that so much of what we are seeking from the outside world is actually an inside job. Freedom, peace, joy, kindness, recognition, worth, and love are just a few examples. 

This revelation came to me later in life since I did not grow up with this message. Quite the contrary, in fact. From the earliest age, it was drilled into me that my purpose was to better the outside world. Plain and simple. “That’s why you’re here,” I was told, “and that’s that!"

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Dear America

flag
"We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."
—William Faulkner

I've Been Thinking...

Happy Fourth of July, dear America! It’s your birthday! Happy, happy birthday to you!

Lucky are those of us who live within your shores and get to call you home. You get another turn around the sun, and I, for one, am grateful you are still here and still standing.

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The Great Wait

lake-fiery-sunset
"Have patience with all things. But, first of all with yourself."
—Saint Francis de Sales

I've Been Thinking...

"States are now fully open!" the news blared this week. "Offices are now asking workers to come back. Travelers are rushing to travel. Restaurants are overbooked.” 

Meanwhile, other reports blasted: "Airlines are having to cancel hundreds of flights due to a pilot shortage. Retail workers are quitting at record numbers, leaving shoppers angry and unattended. Police departments are unable to fill job vacancies despite a new pandemic of gun violence. Summer getaways are overbooked due to overwhelming demand."

Wow. Everywhere you turn lately, it seems like people are ready to get things back to "normal." Everything is open or opening, and people are feeling impatient. They want to get going. I get it. They want to get back to traveling. They want to get whatever it is that they want, and they want to get it now. 

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Confessions Of A Former Busy Addict

workaddict
“You are the sky. Everything else — it's just the weather.”  —Pema Chödrön


I've Been Thinking...

“Busy is back,” the news blared. “Mask mandates are over. Airports are jammed.

Planes are packed. Billionaires are going to space. People are partying like it’s the ‘20s.”

Wow. As I heard all that this week, I could feel my anxiety rise.

Then the next story blared, “Vaccination rates are plummeting. People are stressed about returning to work. Some are refusing to even return at all.”

“We are,” the anchor said, “in uncharted territory.”

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Let's Get Angry

firewoman
“Anger is often an exuberant expression. It is the force that injects energy, intensity, and urgency into battles that must be intense and urgent if they are to be won.”
 —Rebecca Traister

I've Been Thinking...

A couple of years ago, I did a story for TODAY on author Lisa Taddeo and her best-selling book Three Women. The book was an instant best-seller and launched a nationwide conversation about women and desire. In fact, it’s fair to say that it blew the lid off a topic that was once taboo.

Now Lisa is back with a new book called Animal. This time she is writing about another taboo subject: women and anger. I, for one, couldn’t be happier to be jumping into this conversation because it’s one that needs to be had! That’s right. Women and anger deserve their own conversation, and we need permission to have it out in the open without fear of judgment or outrage.

Just like women want and need to talk about desire, we also want and need to talk about anger (or at least I do). I don’t say that just because there is a lot to be angry about these days (an assault on voting rights, a continued debate on who gets to decide what we can or cannot do with women’s bodies, gun reform, and a lack of support for child care, elder care, and family leave—to name a few). There is a lot to be angry about that’s never really been spoken about: a woman’s role in the church, women’s fight for equal pay, and the status (or lack thereof) of women around the world.

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The Moment Is Now

tulips
“Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it.”
 —Florence Nightingale

 

I've Been Thinking...

I Don't Want to Live a Small Life
by Mary Oliver
 
I don’t want to live a small life. Open your eyes,
open your hands. I have just come
from the berry fields, the sun
 
kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind-winged clouds
following along thinking perhaps I might
 
feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift
 
I will bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do
 
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.

 

The other day, I came across the above poem from my great friend and mentor, the late Mary Oliver. Its opening lines made me stop and think.

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Step Into Your Power

lotus-flower
“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”
 —Misty Copeland


I've Been Thinking...

As this past week came to an end, I found myself thinking a lot about Liz Cheney. I found myself thinking about her brave stand and the fear it generated within her party. I also thought about what it takes to make a stand in one’s life and the consequences that inevitably result from such a bold move.

Much was made on the news about the Congresswoman being stripped of her leadership position and her power in Washington D.C. and within her own party. But that’s not what I saw. In fact, I saw the opposite story unfold.

I saw a woman step into her power and step into her leadership. I saw a woman speak her mind. And when she was told that the party was going to come after her in her own state, she said bring it on. There is a lesson here for all of us.

When you take a stand against the so-called powers that be—at work or at home—well, they aren’t going to like it at all. There is going to be pushback. There is going to be pressure. There is going to be intimidation.

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I'll Meet You in the Middle

middle
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
 —Edith Wharton


I've Been Thinking...

Happy May! 

Can you believe it’s already May? The speed at which life is moving this year feels both rapid and slow at the same time. I, for one, am trying my darndest to hold that paradox. I don’t want others to aggressively push me head-on into a post-vaccinated world. I want to take my time to sit with the changes that are unfolding and listen.

I listened attentively this week to President Biden detail his sweeping historic plan to put our country back on track. It’s a huge agenda that includes tackling child poverty, racism, gun reform, police reform, climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and our own polarization. Biden ended his speech by reminding us that he needs all of us to play our part in saving our democracy, protecting our democracy, and showing the world we can all come together to do so. It’s time for us to take notice and get moving. I’m ready.

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What Is Enough?

enough
“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step.
We will fail when we fail to try.” 
 —Rosa Parks

I've Been Thinking...

I’ve found myself thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of “enough.” What is enough? When do you know you’ve had enough? When do you finally feel that you are enough? When is enough enough?

I’ve thought to myself, have we as a country finally seen enough gun violence to actually do something about it, or does more have to happen? Have we seen enough about mental health to declare it a national emergency? What about climate change? Have we experienced enough racism, sexism, and ageism to say we’ve had enough, or do we need to experience more for things to finally change?

Is a man seen kneeling on another man's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds enough to enrage you and push you to want deep, systemic change? Is it enough to push you to become active and fight for that change in our society and in our world? If so, will you now vote differently? Talk differently? Spend your money differently? See the world through different eyes? How will your actions signal that you’ve had enough?

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The Work Of Our Lives

openfield
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
—Maya Angelou

I've Been Thinking...

Good morning. Good day. Good evening. No matter what time you read this essay, my hope is that you find yourself in a good place to take it in.

I know that’s not an easy ask for most of us, especially now. I know there are so many things that go into feeling “good" or even just "good enough.” I know that for me, it’s hard to feel good if something feels off in my life. It’s especially hard if something is off with someone I love, or if anyone in my family or friend group is upset or struggling. After all, relationships are so important to our overall well-being and to our sense of self, our sense of community, and our sense of belonging. 

But this week, it wasn’t my personal relationships that brought me down or left me feeling off-kilter. It was the images in my news feed. It was the image of the U.S. Capitol police officer's family. It was the image of Alex Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, with his hands up as he was gunned down by Chicago police that left me aghast. It was the scenes in the courtroom and on the streets of Minneapolis. It was a white man aggressively confronting a Black man in his neighborhood, telling him he didn’t belong and to get the hell out. It was the news of eight people gunned down in Indianapolis.

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Stay The Course

staythecourese
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
—Audre Lorde

I've Been Thinking...

This week, The Open Field will publish its second book. It’s called The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by my friend Martha Beck.

I’m beyond excited and beyond humbled to be the home base for Martha’s newest offering. As I told her and my brother Timothy (who wrote The Call to Unite), if you had told me a year ago, two years, or five years ago that The Open Field would be publishing books (with Viking/Penguin) that truly matter with purpose and intention, and that the first two offerings would be from two writers and thinkers who I love and admire, I would have said that it was an impossible dream.

I tell this to you today in case you, too, have a dream that feels impossible. I tell this to you today to inspire you forward, to encourage you to stay the course, to believe in God’s timing, and to assure you that dreams can, in fact, come true.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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