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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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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A Whole New Normal

cherry-blossom
“Love can only be found where we are. Love is 'nearer than near.' Are you looking for the Holy One? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours."
 —Kabir


I've Been Thinking...

Happy Passover! Happy Palm Sunday! I hope you are smiling wherever you are!

This morning, I am smiling as I look ahead to Holy Week. I am looking forward to it because it feels like an opportunity to reset. Regardless of your religion, this is a moment for everyone to reflect and renew. Both feel more important now than ever. 

The other day, I read a quote from Prince Harry that stayed with me all week long. Writing about his mother’s death and how it affected him as a child, he said: “I didn’t want to believe or accept it, and it left a huge hole inside of me.”

Prince Harry wrote those words in a foreword to a new picture book aimed at helping children cope with losing a loved one to COVID-19. His words resonated with me deeply because grief has left a huge hole inside of me, too. It’s a hole that I’ve tried to fill up over the years with going, doing, and accomplishing things. I’ve always been hoping to get ahead of grief so that I didn’t have to deal with it.

Grief is like that. It’s there, and you want to deal with it, but you know you have to carry on so you try to push past it.

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Your Precious Marble Day

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“If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun."
 —Katharine Hepburn


I've Been Thinking...

Happy Spring, friends! How are you doing today? How are you feeling with all the talk about getting back to so-called normal?

Are you feeling good? Are you relieved? Are you anxious? Or are you just not having any of it? No matter how you feel, I understand. It’s a lot to take in and process. I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels like we were just talking about double masking. Now planes are filled to the max again, restaurants and gyms are reopening. And, depending on where you live, people can (and are) walking around totally unmasked!

It’s enough to give even the calmest among us post-pandemic anxiety, so breathe. That’s where you and your voice come in. That’s where our first story in the Views Above the Noise section below will really help you move forward.

Over the past few days, I’ve spoken to people from all walks of life—different age groups, different states, people on the frontlines of the pandemic, and also those who have lost their jobs—and I’ve got to say, not one person has said, “I’m going back to the way things were.” They all say, “I want to move forward, but I want to move forward differently. I want to live with more intention.” Every one of them has had a different experience, but all of them have been impacted by the pandemic and have felt the need to take stock of their life and reset. Many aren't sure what the new normal is, but they feel blessed to still be here, and they want to move forward with a new focus, a new mindset, and a new sense of purpose and intention. Me too.

That brings me to two conversations I had this week that I think will help us all do exactly that. One was about having accountability partners in your life, and the other was about a jar of marbles (yup, a jar of marbles). Both got me thinking.

My first conversation was one about where you turn for advice. My friend asked me this: Do you have at least five people to whom you can turn for sound advice? Do you have people who will tell you the truth, who will call you out when the situation warrants it, and who will keep you moving forward? 

As my friend and I discussed this, they then told me to “take those five people and smoosh them together. Then you will have you!” 

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The Call to Unite

The Call to Unite
“What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.”
 —Edward Kennedy

 

I've Been Thinking...

This week, there was a lot to think about. There was a lot to talk about, a lot to feel, and a lot to reflect upon as we approach the one-year anniversary of lockdown.

Can you believe that one year has passed? Can you believe that more than 500,000 people have lost their lives to a disease that few of us had even heard of a year ago? Can you believe how much has changed? 

I think it’s fair to say that none of us are the same people we were before Covid shut down our worlds. Lives have been lost and/or dramatically altered. Jobs have disappeared, identities have been reimagined, and priorities have shifted dramatically. It’s as if we are all looking at our lives through new eyes.

What do you see today when you look out? What do you feel about your life and your future? Have you found a silver lining? Does being asked to look for one tick you off? Did you love your life before and hate it now, or is it the other way around? Did Covid force you to stop? Have you had to dig your way up and out? Are you taken aback at where you have found yourself? Do you feel uncertain and alone when you look forward?

I don't know about you, but very little in my life feels the same as it did one year ago. I don't look at the world the same way, nor do I look at my life the same way. And I know I'm not alone. That’s why I’m grateful that the new book The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening by my brother Tim Shriver and my friend Tom Rosshirt is coming out this Tuesday. It's the first from my new publishing imprint The Open Field! Yippee! Hooray! 

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We All Need Help Sometimes

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“As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
 —Audrey Hepburn


I've Been Thinking...

Last week in The Sunday Paper, my friend Peggy wrote about "mental clutter." She wrote about false egos, false thoughts, focusing on the soul's attention, and so much more.

But there was one thing in particular in her piece that stayed with me long after I read it. It was about how the false thoughts we tell ourselves—ones like “I’m alone” or "I have to do everything by myself and for myself"—create resentment, urgency, and clutter in our minds.

Peggy's suggestion was to allow your soul to speak. Allow it to tell you things like, "I can rely on others."

As I read that line, I could feel tears well up in my eyes. Asking for help and allowing yourself to rely on others is uncomfortable for many of us. In fact, many women my age were raised with the mantra of "you don't need help" and "you certainly don’t need a man to help you, so show that you can do it yourself. In fact, you must prove you can do it yourself."

I remember my father offering to help my mother carry her bag. She would always respond, "I can do it myself!" Many of my memories are of my mother trying to prove she could do whatever it was by herself. But the truth is, doing everything on her own wasn’t the truth of her life. She built a worldwide social justice mission with the help of millions of volunteers. She had help in every area of her life, but somehow there was shame around the idea that a woman like herself—someone who helped achieve a big world vision—might also need help in her everyday life as well.

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Choose You

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“The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life... the resurrection of the world begins.

 —Joan Chittister



I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I found myself sitting around with nothing to do (remember that I gave up busyness for Lent). Then something profound happened.

I found myself getting into a really long, deep, meaningful conversation with someone. It was the kind of conversation that takes its time. The kind that you could only get into if you have nothing else pulling at you. The kind that stays with you and makes you think a lot about life, relationships, and yourself—both how you see yourself and how the world sees you.

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Sitting In Silence

downtheroad
“It's your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
 —Rumi


I've Been Thinking...

This week was one of those weeks where I bounced back and forth about what to say to you this morning. Writing is like that. 

Some weeks nothing comes to mind, no matter how hard I struggle to find the words. Other weeks, my writing just flows and flows. But even then, sometimes the wrong words flow out. Or sometimes the world changes on a dime and so does my message. When that happens, that's when you have to take a moment to get quiet. I mean really quiet. You have to get below the noise, which is not easy. You have to try and go below your own surface. This was one of those weeks for me.

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Rest In Love

heartrock
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  — Maya Angelou

I've Been Thinking...

 

Did hearing " Happy Valentine's Day"  make you smile, or did it make you weep? Were you looking forward to the day, or were you mad that you aren’t where you want to be when it comes to love? If your answer is the latter, let’s take a walk (not a real one, of course, although I’d love that). Let’s take a moment to simply connect and be. 

After all, that’s what love is really all about. It's about being wholly yourself with another human and feeling loved for who you are. It’s not about a fancy dinner, a piece of jewelry, flowers, sex, or chocolates. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great, but they don’t define love on their own.

Love is deep. It’s varied. It’s complex and yet also simple. It’s romantic but also platonic. It can fill your heart up, and it can break it into a thousand little pieces. 

I’ve learned a lot about love over the years—what it is and isn’t—and much of what I’ve learned has come from a painful place. That said, it’s all helped me get to a more loving space in my life. 

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Live In The Light

MariaShriver.164323 “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart

I've Been Thinking...


I heard from a lot of people about my essay last Sunday. Many of you wrote me to share the lies you have told yourselves over the years and how, like me, you are ready to release them and move forward. Bravo to you.

Several friends wrote to tell me that my column was so deep that they had to read it several times. That made me happy. Others told me they gave it to friends, adult children, and partners to talk about, which was great to hear as well. But it was my friend Tom's response that made me stop and smile the most. His was so unique that I figured I would share it with you this morning. 

Tom is a beautiful writer. He’s also a deep thinker and a spiritual teacher. Now, he wouldn’t say he’s a spiritual teacher; he would say he’s a student. But good students are also good teachers, and that’s what Tom is to me. He always generously shares what he’s learned along his path to the open field.

Here is what he wrote to me:

Maria! I have completed my exercise in finding a lie in my head and questioning it and laughing at it. My lie came to me minutes after I sent you my last email, and I burst out laughing as soon as I said it. It is… I need to keep getting better. 

I want to find and punish the sadistic and tyrannical bastar* that put that lie in my head, because it invited me into a life of subtle self-loathing!

I thought of it many times yesterday and today, and laughed each time. But I didn’t really get into loud laughter until this morning when I made it the subject of my practice of asking myself Byron Katie’s four questions of self-inquiry:

Is it true?

Can I absolutely know it’s true?

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What Moves Your Life?

Pacific Sunrise
"Having abandoned the flimsy fantasy of certainty, I decided to wander."
—Kameelah Janan Rasheed


I've Been Thinking...

So many people I speak to lately tell me they feel like wanderers. They say they feel like their lives aren’t moving in one particular direction. Some say they feel like they are in transition, while others say everything feels up in the air for them. Some say they finally feel open to things they never were before. I’ve heard some version of this message from people at all stages of life, no matter the age.

To them I say, “Same here.” I, too, have abandoned the fantasy of certitude. 

COVID-19 has robbed everyone of certainty. I was certain that my government would take care of COVID quickly and effectively. I was certain that it would distribute vaccines in an efficient manner. I was certain that there would be people to help me navigate my way forward in this mess. Nothing has been like I thought it would be. That’s why letting go of the fantasy—letting go of what I thought was true—is the best way forward. It’s the truth of where we find ourselves.

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Words Matter

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"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." —Helen Keller

I've Been Thinking...

I love words. I love how certain words make me feel. I love how they can be strung together to create stories and images. I love how certain words remind me of special people in my life and how they make me feel.

My takeaway from Wednesday’s presidential inauguration was this: Words matter. Tone matters. Temperament matters. Excellence shines. Manners never go out of style. Hope is there even when you can’t see it. And, no matter how old you are, a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” can bring you to tears.

It’s worth pausing to realize that history isn’t just stuffed in old books. It’s unfolding before our very eyes. It’s revealing itself in real time and in real ways. Thank God I’m alive because I’ve felt so lost the last few years and now I feel like I’m found. That’s how I felt Thursday morning after America began her new chapter.

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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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