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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One Soul At A Time

mlkcover.104328 "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've Been Thinking...

Over the last week, I wrote this essay several different times in several different ways. None of them felt quite right.

One essay felt too angry. Another felt too pollyannaish. One felt simplistic at a time when the world feels anything but. I’ve felt so many different emotions lately that it’s been hard to know what to think. At times I’ve felt like I’m living on an upside-down emotional rollercoaster as I watch the news unfold.

Then along came my youngest son who asked me to step away from the news and watch the new Pixar movie Soul with him. He and I watch all the Pixar films together. I even used to take him out of school to go to the theater when one came out, so of course I said sure. 

In hindsight, it felt like it was exactly the film I needed to see this week as I watched Americans debate the heart and soul of our country, while also preparing to inaugurate a man who ran on a platform to repair the soul of our nation.

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Meet Me In The Open Field

openfield
"It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." —Sir Edmund Hillary 

I've Been Thinking...


My friends, this first week of the new year took my breath away. I’m sure it took your breath away as well.

I could not believe my eyes as I watched lawless rioters smash windows and fight police as they broke into the U.S. Capitol. I could not believe my eyes as I watched a rioter break into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and sit with his feet up on her desk. The images that came tumbling out of D.C. on Wednesday enraged me. They shocked me, disturbed me, and took me aback.

I was, however, heartened by President-Elect Biden’s comments that this is not who we are. I really believe in my heart that he’s right. What we witnessed on Wednesday is not who we are as a nation. I don’t even believe it represents most of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump. That said, I do believe Trump is to blame for the outrageous behavior that unfolded. The responsibility sits squarely with him, as well as with those who have used their platforms to incite, to lie, and to cause disruption. Words matter—I can’t stress that enough. Lives were needlessly lost. This was a tragedy and a disgrace.

Thank God his time is almost up. I cannot wait. It cannot come soon enough.

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You Are A Gift

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"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." —Marcel Proust

I've Been Thinking...

Can you believe that Christmas is this week?! Can you believe that New Year’s is around the corner? I’m amazed that we’ve reached the end of this year. 

As I think about this week and this year, as well as the new year ahead, I can’t help but be in awe of everything. I can’t help but be humbled. I can’t help but be grateful that I am here. 

So many heroes got us to this week. So many people stepped out of their comfort zones to save others, to feed others, and to help others this year. It’s been truly breathtaking. And yet, I know so many who were with us this time last year are no longer here. I know there is so much grief and so much loss. I’m so sorry if you find yourself feeling this kind of desolation and grief. I’m sorry that COVID has taken so many lives and so many livelihoods. 

COVID has felt like a level 5 tornado. It has wreaked havoc and caused so much destruction—physical, mental, financial, and spiritual destruction. It has ripped up families, relationships, and careers to the point where I think we are all now standing in some kind of rubble. As I write that line, my eyes well with tears. I can feel my heart cracking. I can feel it beating, but I can feel its cracks too.

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What Really Matters

writing-a-letter "The most important thing is to enjoy your life. To be happy is all that matters." —Audrey Hepburn

On this day 31 years ago, I became a mother for the first time. Happy birthday, my sweet Katherine! You have become an amazing young woman and, now, a loving mama as well. I love you to the moon and back.

I love celebrating my children. I love celebrating friends on their special days. I think it matters when you celebrate a person. It matters when you know their favorite meal, their favorite TV show, their favorite song, their favorite dessert, etc. It matters when you take the time to let them know what you love about them, what you see in them, and why their presence on this Earth matters to you. 

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on all of our lives, and it has made it harder to celebrate the people and things we love. That is why I think it’s more important than ever to celebrate those we love no matter the day—their birthday or otherwise. Celebrating someone doesn’t have to involve a big party or material gifts. What it should involve is an intention to celebrate them and share everything you appreciate about them. 

Tonight, I’ll do that with my daughter, but I also want to do that more in the coming days with others I care deeply about. After all, there is no time like the present to celebrate those you care about and who have left a footprint on your heart. 

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One Day

gingerbread-house
Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.” ―Elie Wiesel

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I was listening to the news and was struck that I kept hearing the phrase “on day one" over and over.

“On day one,” the pundits said, “the Biden/Harris team will be ready to go.” “They are picking people who will be ready on day one.” “On day one, these people will know exactly what to do.”

That, of course, got me thinking. Hmm, is that really true? Do I really want someone to make big decisions on day one? Do I want someone to walk in the door and tell me, “Listen, here’s how it’s going to go. Here’s what’s going to change. This is what you need to know and do.” Or do I want someone to walk in on day one, sit down, gather people around, and start the hard work of listening and rebuilding trust?

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You Never Know

MariaMantel.125337
"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is Thank You, it will be enough." —Meister Eckhart


I've Been Thinking...

How are you doing?

Let’s pause together this morning. Let's put our hands over our hearts, close our eyes, and breathe. Was the holiday a lot? Was it not enough? Did people come? Are they leaving now? Did you travel? Was it stressful? Did you Zoom? Was it weird? Was it surprisingly okay? Was it all of the above and more?

Whatever it was, it’s behind you. You are here. We are here together. Let’s hold space for one another. The so-called holiday season is upon us and we are going to need each other. We are going to need each other to be kind. We are going to need each other to be understanding because things are going to be different.

I know you might be saying to yourself, “Here we go with different again. I don’t want any more different. I miss things the way they were.” I get it. I feel you. I understand. But as I wrote last week, we have to focus on the way things are now and the way they will be. You have to take care of yourself and prepare yourself.

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Still Standing

Mariatree2.131641
"The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us." —James E. Faust


I've Been Thinking...

I awoke at dawn on Friday. The early morning, like my home, was dark and quiet.

I looked out my kitchen window as I brewed my coffee. I always look at the same tree in my backyard whenever I’m feeling off balance or out of sorts. It has been an inspiration for me as long as I’ve lived in my home.

When there were wildfires in California earlier this fall, I looked out at my tree in what felt like slow motion. Several of its beautiful branches came crashing to the ground. I was told it was just too hot outside and that the branches buckled under the weight of the heat. I held my breath as I watched them fall. I thought the entire tree might fall before my very eyes. I was already mentally preparing for what I would do without it.

I tell this story because, in some way, I think many of us are holding our breath right now waiting for something to fall. We are preparing for things to keep changing, or to live without something we love.

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Let It Go

letitgo

I've Been Thinking...

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about life when he said to me: “Maria, if you want something new, you are going to have to first get rid of the old. It’s the only way to make room.”

Damn, I thought. Ain’t that the truth?

One of my big New Year’s resolutions for 2020 was to clear out the old in every area of my life. I had made a promise to myself that this would be the year I would take a hard look at how I was living my life: my beliefs, my attachments, and all my stuff. I started sorting through things from my office, things from my time as First Lady of California, things from my parents, things from my kids (do yourself a favor and do not save all of your kids’ school things like I did), and so many other things that had found their way into storage when life got the best of me. In fact, I was already in the thick of shredding, digitizing, donating, selling, and clearing out old stuff when my friend’s comment triggered me.

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My Birthday Wish

birthdaywish
"I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”
 —Georgia O'Keeffe

I've Been Thinking...

Well, well, well. Here we are at the dawn of a new era. A new beginning.

I am looking forward with eyes wide open. Heart wide open. And I’m not just saying this because I’m embarking on a new year of life, which I am after my birthday on Friday. Now, so too is our country. We are embarking on a new path forward. I feel honored and blessed to be embracing this historic moment. I embrace it knowing full well that not everyone feels the way I feel, thinks the way I think, or sees what I see. I accept that. I accept that there may be people reading this who do not even accept that we are entering a new era. It is what it is.

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Our Shared Future

windyroadahead
I've Been Thinking...


I read a news story the other day that really tugged at my mind and my heart.

When I first saw it, I was sitting in my office. It popped up in my news feed and I quickly scanned it then immediately got distracted by my work and moved on.

That night, while I was sitting alone on my couch, the same story popped up on my television. This time I let it sink in. The story was about seniors across the country dying from isolation and loneliness. As one death certificate stated, they are dying from a “failure to thrive.” What in the name of God is happening to our country and to us? I thought. I turned off the TV and just sat there staring at the wall, alone with my thoughts.

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It's Time For The Tender Warrior

back-view-of-young-woman-meditating-in-lotus-pose-in-desert-picture-id974763392 "Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery." -Victor Hugo

I've Been Thinking...

Not too long ago, a friend suggested I write down the definition, values, and characteristics of the “divine feminine.” He said it would be a “good exercise” for me moving forward. 

“Mhmm, OK,” I thought.

I sat down to give it a try and ended up staring at the paper for a long time. I wrote something and erased it, and I tried again and again. Nothing really felt right to me.

Then last Sunday in this newsletter, I wrote my essay about courage and tenderness. The response I got was overwhelming, from both men and women.

“That is what we need!” people wrote to me. “That’s who I want to be!” My friend Elizabeth suggested I even curate a new conference called “Courage and Tenderness: The New Hero’s Journey.” Others wrote that they had never contemplated tenderness in the public space, but that they were open to it, even hungry for it. (An old video of Joe Biden resurfaced this week that visualized what I’m talking about.)

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Try A Little Tenderness

little-girl-visits-grandparents-through-window-picture-id1221463264 "There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart." -Jane Austen

I've Been Thinking...

Earlier this week, I thought I was going to write this Sunday about the long lines people have been standing in to vote. Then I thought I was going to write about Amy Coney Barrett’s testimony in front of the Senate. Then I watched the dueling town halls on Thursday night and thought, “OK, I’ll write about that.” (As usual, a lot happened this week, and there was a lot to think about.) But then Pope Francis got me. He always gets me.

This week, the Pope wrote: “Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women.”

Tenderness and courage in the same sentence. I love that! I know you can get the news of the week anywhere, so instead, I want to focus on these words. Embodying them could really benefit us in the coming weeks.

If ever there was a time for courageous men and women to step forward, it is now. But how we step forward is the key. We are inundated with examples of people stepping forward with rage, anger, and the intention to rile us up, confuse us, gaslight us, and scare us. It’s a lot, but when the Pope suggested stepping out with tenderness, I took a deep breath. It was a breath of relief. It made me feel like, “OK, we’ve got this. We can do this. Here is the path. Here are my directions.”

Now, I didn’t grow up with tenderness. I didn’t hear the courageous people around me even speak the word. But I have felt tenderness in my life and I know that it can be life-changing. Bestowing tenderness on an individual allows a person to feel seen. It allows them to soften and feel their worth. 

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Let's Take A Break

sunset-kayaking-in-lake-of-the-isles-minneapolis-minnesota-picture-id513678968
"There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still." -Franklin D. Roosevelt


I've Been Thinking...

Hi there. How are you feeling today? Take a minute to check in with yourself. Are you doing OK?

There’s a lot going on in our country and in the world, so if your answer is “no,” I totally get that. The news is coming at us at such a dizzying pace that it’s really challenging to keep up with it all, much less know what to make of it. At least that’s how I’m feeling. So my thought for this Sunday is “let’s take a break from it all.”

People are tired and exhausted. Tired from trying to keep it all together. Exhausted from trying to figure out how to pivot, how to redirect, how to home school, how to shift a business model, how to care for everyone and act like it’s no big deal.

We all know the election is around the corner. In fact, millions of people have already voted, including me! We know the importance of voting. We know that elections are often decided by the smallest of numbers. We know that regardless of the noise out there, that mail-in voting is dependable and accurate. We know. We know. We know.

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This Is About Us

aboutus

I've Been Thinking...

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling down. I mean, really down.

The presidential debate, which was anything but presidential, knocked me back. It was hard to watch. It was maddening, frustrating, irritating, depressing, and downright unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it (and I’ve seen a lot).

Friday morning, I found myself simply staring at the tree in my backyard. I always look to my tree for strength and inspiration. I look to it to reassure me that despite whatever is going on in my world or the world at large, it’s going to be OK.

The news that the president has Covid-19 knocked me back too, but unfortunately it didn’t surprise me. I wish I could say that I didn’t see this coming, but it’s one of the few things this year I actually did see coming. I mean, if people can get Covid from being in large, unmasked crowds, from not wearing masks, and from going about their business as usual, well, then why wouldn’t the president and his entourage get it? Why would they be the exception?

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Sacred Territory

sun-rays-in-a-dark-misty-forest-osnabruck-gemany-picture-id1179385633 “You are not the voice in your mind, but the one who is aware of it.” -Eckhart Tolle

I've Been Thinking...

I want to go slow this morning. I want to ease my way into your heart and mind.

After all, entry into those spaces is sacred. I know that. It always has been. But, now it’s really sacred, and it’s something I take seriously.

It’s scary out there, right? It’s scary, and it’s noisy as hell. There is so much trying to make its way into your mind, and very little of it benefits you personally (please see my interview with the director of the new film "The Social Dilemma" below about this very issue). It is challenging to navigate all of the information and/or misinformation coming your way. If you aren’t vigilant, it can make you feel, well... crazy.

Speaking of crazy, I don’t use that word lightly. Anyone who has felt crazy in their life, or who has been made to feel like they are losing their mind, knows how triggering it can be to be told you’re crazy, or that you don’t know what you are talking about, or that what you are saying or seeing isn’t true. That said, we are in crazy-making times. Perhaps you feel crazy like I do when people insist the pandemic is a hoax despite the fact that more than 200,000 Americans have lost their lives. It’s crazy-making that a young woman can be killed in her home and no one is held responsible for her death. It’s crazy-making when the President of the United States floats the idea that he might not leave the White House, even if he loses. What?? 

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We Can't Go Quiet

statue-of-lady-justice-and-supreme-court-building-picture-id1140704130 This is a seminal moment for each of us to dig in and dig deep.
"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."  -Ruth Bader Ginsburg


I've Been Thinking...

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I can’t come up with one particular reason why, however I can come up with about 100 different things that keep me up at night staring at the ceiling.

This weekend, it was the passing of one of my heroes, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her death brought me to tears for so many reasons. I admired her. I was deeply grateful to her. I depended on her. I depended on her being here. I depended on her voice, her judgment, and her guidance in the public square. Her death left me feeling down, really down. I even felt a wave of despair come over me. So much has happened in 2020, and yet Ginsburg’s passing is one of the biggest and most consequential news stories of this year. 

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What Are You Fighting For?

11111cover.112442 "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

I've Been Thinking...

Dear friends, 

How are you? I really want to know.

How are you feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually on this Sunday? Are you feeling optimistic about September and about the fall? Or are you Zoomed out and stressed out by all the politics, social unrest, and COVID-19?

Take a moment to check in with yourself. Put your hand over your heart. There is no hurry or right answer here. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are. That’s how I try to start each day, assuring myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. 

Today, I am back in your inbox after my August break. I am so grateful to be here again! Thank you for making me and The Sunday Paper a part of your weekend routine. If I’m being totally honest, I thought twice about returning this month, particularly when it comes to social media. The distance I’ve had allowed me to look anew at all the noise and wonder whether I’m adding to it. 

The mission of this newsletter is to rise above the noise, clutter, and mayhem. It is to lift up the voices of those trying to move us forward in a passionate and purposeful way. The more I thought about that mission over these last few weeks, the easier it became to return to this forum. My hope is that the inspiring voices we elevate in The Sunday Paper will elevate and reassure you. I hope they will remind you that you are where you are supposed to be, and that you and your voice are so needed at this time.

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Have A Day

stepping-stones-picture-id472467680 Have A Day

"Sometimes the longest journey we make is the sixteen inches from our heads to our hearts."

-Elena Avila

I've Been Thinking...

On Thursday I woke up to an earthquake. My first thoughts were, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This on top of everything else? What is up with this year?!”

I looked at my phone and my kids had texted asking, “Mommy, are you awake? Did you feel that? What’s our plan?” Thankfully, we were all OK, but I thought the same thing. What is our plan?

Plans and 2020 just don’t seem to be on the same page, do they? Earlier this week, I posted a quote on social media that addressed people’s sadness and gave them permission not to feel pressured to have a "good day," but to simply "have a day"... free of plans, to do's, and expectations. I said it’s OK not to expect to have a "good day." It’s also OK not to be great, or even OK. After all, we are living in unprecedented times, right? 

The overwhelming response to the quote took me aback. It made me realize yet again that so many of us need a break and some relief, even if it’s simply being told you don’t have to have a great day and that you are allowed to simply “have a day.”

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There's No Handbook For Life

There's No Handbook For Life There's No Handbook For Life

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love."

-Mother Teresa

I've Been Thinking...

Something interesting happened to me the other day. Just after I had spent the better part of an hour talking about all the things I missed due to the pandemic, I stumbled upon an article talking about all the good things that people felt had happened to them during this time. It reminded me that perspective is everything.
 

The key is being able to hold the yin and yang. If I were writing a handbook for life (and I’m not), it would include a lot that no one told me about. It would talk about how life demands that you be good—really good—at juggling and balancing the paradoxes of life. You must if you want to be a survivor or a happy warrior.

Just when you think, “OK, I’ve got things figured out,” life throws you on the ground. Just when the country reopens and you think, “OK, maybe things are going to get better," the cases surge and the nation experiences its highest numbers to date. Just when you pick yourself up and dust yourself off from one of life’s curveballs, bam! You find yourself on your knees again, learning yet another life lesson.

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And The Answer Is . . .

And The Answer Is . . . And The Answer Is . . .
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."  -Unknown

I've Been Thinking...


One of my favorite quotes speaks to the importance of being kind to everyone, since everyone is fighting some kind of battle whether we know it or not.


I thought a lot about that this week because it felt like every conversation I had with others was about some personal struggle. One of my oldest and closest friends quietly told me that she finally called her doctor and asked for medication to help manage her depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which have gotten the best of her during this lockdown. Another friend told me that he was relieved to finally attend a small in-person AA meeting. In that gathering, he said several people spoke about the increased rate of suicide during lockdown and how challenging it’s been for all of them to stay sober during this isolating time.


Another friend spoke to me this week about the exact same thing and asked me why the media isn’t covering the devastating mental health toll of Covid-19. The impact of unemployment. The loss of health care. The rise in suicide, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The loss of human connection.


“Maria these are Covid collateral stories,” my friend said to me. “You must shine a light on all of this.”

“Agreed,” I said.


So, here are some stats I want to shine a light on: A new study from Everytown for Gun Safety finds that the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 could cause about 20 more lives lost per day by suicide, this year alone. According to Census Bureau data, a third of Americans are feeling severe anxiety right now and a quarter of Americans are showing signs of depression. And a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of 56% of adults. Think about those sobering statistics.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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