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.

On this Sunday morning, my eyes are wide open. My mind is clear. My heart feels full. I feel loved by my family and friends. I feel deeply grateful for them, and for all of you for welcoming me into your private space. I return to this column after my August break with gratitude. I return feeling like I’m standing at the door of a “new beginning.”

When I entered my August break this year, I had clear goals. I wanted to get off the treadmill and take stock of what I’m doing and why. I wanted to be able to think about everything differently so that I could get grounded, centered, and focused. I wanted to drop the theme of struggle and aloneness that dominated my thinking. I wanted to streamline and simplify. I wanted to believe in the process, breathe in nature, and allow myself to be gracious about getting help. I wanted to, as Rumi said, break down whatever was standing between me and letting love in.

I enrolled in a process designed for people who are “serious about change.” I went alone without devices to do some serious transformative work. I was ready. It’s been a while since my marriage ended, my parents passed, and all my kids left home. I had some stuff I wanted to understand and work through.

My time doing that was hard. It was deeply emotional and deeply transformative. I reflected on all the negative patterns adopted from my parents. I reflected on my unbalanced relationship with work and my unbalanced relationship with play and joy. I spent time in silence beating back the messages from my dark side, and sitting with my beautiful and spiritual self.

I took a hard look at how hard I’ve treated myself over the years and did my best to let it all go. I did a deep excavation, and the result was a sense of freedom I’ve never felt before. A sense of relief and a feeling of deep pride in myself.

In my time left here on Earth, I want to be kinder to myself and to others. I want to go slower, be more present, rest when needed, and focus on being a light in the world. I want to stay in my light and do my best to light the way forward for others.

Interestingly, I also came to realize that I no longer feel “at home” in the places I once mistook for home. The divisiveness and anger of contemporary politics no longer speaks to me. The news business of constant breaking stories, negativity, and gotcha headlines doesn’t either. I’m not sure I even have a word for “the business” I find myself in today.

I’ve always identified with the term journalist, and I still do. Perhaps that’s because I’m a writer and storyteller at heart. I believe stories can both inform and inspire. When they are well-told, they can ignite people into action and inspire a new way forward.

That’s always been the purpose of The Sunday Paper : to connect you with your spiritual self and to provide you with a space of grace where you can find community and proceed forward at your own pace.

For me, the voices we publish every week do just that. They light the way forward. They inspire, teach, aspire, and hold a light up so that we can find the hope to continue forward.

People have often asked me how I would categorize The Sunday Paper, and the truth is that it doesn’t fit into any one specific category. It’s got informative news pieces alongside inspiring voices. It’s got spirituality, heart, and soul. It shines a light on those making a difference, and even has recipes so people from all walks of life can gather and engage in meaningful conversations!

It’s in an “out beyond” category, which is where I find myself these days as well. I’m out beyond raising small children. I’m out beyond a marriage. I’m out beyond being a caregiver for my parents. I’m out beyond being young (but I certainly don’t feel old). I’m out beyond so many of the commitments that used to structure my life. I’m in an out-beyond place that defies description, and that’s both thrilling and scary.

But this I know for sure: none of us fit squarely into a box, even though society wants to peg you or box you in. I’ve never been one thing, and I doubt you are either. I’ve decided to embrace this indescribable space. I am a multitude of things with a curiosity that spans categories. I aspire to engage in a language of politics that’s aspirational, one that’s about service, love, dignity, strength, hope, and unity.

I aspire to be an open-hearted and open-minded writer/journalist that can both inform and inspire. I see my journalism as an extension of my service, an extension of my calling. I call upon myself to be an advocate for the eradication of Alzheimer’s and someone who uses their voice to bring equity to women’s health.

I’m interested in all kinds of people. I’m curious about their paths in life, which is why this paper/newsletter reflects that curiosity. In this fourth quarter of my life, I have no plans to quell that curiosity. Quite the opposite, actually.

As I told you before, I’m starting MOSH, an exciting new brain wellness company. I couldn’t be more excited about its launch and the fact that I’m partnering with my son Patrick. We’ve assembled a smart, scrappy, dedicated team who believe in its mission and see themselves as lights in this space! 

During my August break, I became acutely aware that my time ahead is way shorter than the time behind me. That’s sobering. With less time on my side now, I know I want to be smarter and more intentional about the way I work and the way I live. So moving forward, I’m going to try to “give myself some freedom” when it comes to this column.

There might be times when I don’t write every week. The Sunday Paper will still come to your inbox, but I’m going to attempt to write this column when the spirit moves me. After all, I’ve been writing every week for a really, really long time. I want to get back to writing from a place of joy instead of having to meet a self-imposed weekly deadline.

My hope is to also create more space in my life for my new grandchild. (By the way, Happy Grandparents Day to all my fellow grandparents!) I want to make more room for creativity and my endless curiosity. I want to create space for joy, love, spontaneity, and all kinds of new potential partnerships and opportunities.

I want to be open to it all, especially to new partnerships. One of the things I realized on my break was that I miss being in community with people like you. (We are hoping to add a community aspect to the paper very soon.) I also miss being in partnership, and I want to try and change that wherever I can. I want to try being open to things I’ve never thought of (like moving to Texas to take on their backward/dark politics... I’m only half kidding...).

I want to be open to people I haven’t met. I want to broaden my circle. I refuse to believe that my best days are behind me and that I’m destined to grow old alone!

Thank God I no longer believe the tape that played in my head these past many years, the one that said, “You are too intimidating. You are too much. You have too much baggage. Your standards are too high. No one can deal with you or manage you.” I told myself those things time and again and in doing so, I just left myself sad, lonely, and isolated.

The truth is, no one needs to be managed. No one is too broken, too complicated, or too much. Everyone (and I mean everyone) needs and longs to be “seen” for themselves and loved for themselves… not for the family they come from or who they used to be married to. We all deserve to be accepted for who we are and loved for who we are at this moment in time. I know this deep in my heart.

Today, I know I am a light. I know I am loved. I know I am lovable! So are you. Nothing else comes close to that knowing and the joy that that knowing brings.

In this month of September, my wish for you is the same as it is for me: to feel seen, safe, supported, and loved beyond your wildest imagination. To have work and/or a cause that brings you meaning, purpose, and joy. To be open and not afraid of what’s to come, even if you have no idea what’s to come (which I don’t). That’s the promise of The Open Field, that you will be met there regardless of what you’ve done, who you are, who you aren’t, or how old you are.

Our world is desperately in need of people who are lights and who have the courage and strength to heal themselves and others. It needs people who use their voices to raise others up, not tear them down. We owe this to those who lost their lives fighting for our country. We owe this to those risking their lives in hospitals and fighting fires and floods right now.

I believe we owe it to our fellow citizens to be brave enough to be the lights that ignite a new way forward and that speak a more inclusive, compassionate language. It’s so time. It’s so needed. Let’s be the lights our country needs. We are strong enough, brave enough, and courageous enough.

Thank you for welcoming me back into your heart and mind.

Love,
Maria

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Dear God, please give me the courage and strength to heal myself and light a new way forward in my life and in the world at large. Please also help me feel seen, safe, supported, and loved beyond my wildest imagination. Amen.

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