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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Bet On Yourself

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“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

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"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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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

group-of-marbles-on-the-sidewalk
“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

alpine-meadow
“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

Sea2.142500

“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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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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