Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Finding the “Why” in Your Life
“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” — Anne Lamott
Earlier this week, I had dinner with my friends Martha and Ro. They used to live just a short drive away from me in California, but they recently moved back to the East Coast.
It’s always great to catch up with them when I’m in New York, and this week was no exception. Like always, we had a deep, meaningful conversation about all the important stuff in life: family, love, loss, health, politics, changing careers, etc. We also talked about the world at large and the unknown path we feel like we’re walking along these days.
This dinner was my favorite kind because it was fun, funny, light, deep, and thought-provoking at the same time. (The only thing I didn’t like was that no one seems to want to order carbs anymore.)
Later that evening, I went back to my hotel and found myself really thinking about a question that Martha and Ro had asked me. It was one of those questions that’s good for all of us to ask ourselves at different points throughout our lives.
“Why do you do what you do?” they asked.
Their words made me stop and think. Why do I do the things that I do?
In my 20s, I would have replied that I was working hard because I wanted to succeed as a journalist, make money and rise to the top of my career. (My ego was partly driving that answer, if I’m being honest.) In my 30s, I would have said that I was working to maintain my journalism career while also learning how to parent my children at the same time. That was the focus of my 40s as well.
Then in my 50s, I became First Lady of California and I became motivated to serve my state. In fact, my 50s were all about outward service. Service to my state. Service to my country. Service to my family. Service to my parents, both who were ailing.
Most women I speak to — of all ages and backgrounds — say that they can relate to that feeling of being “in service” to someone or something else. That could mean their children, their elderly parents, their jobs, their local schools, various non-profits, etc. They’re so busy serving everyone else, in fact, that they forget to take care of themselves. Then when they do finally try to take care of themselves, they often find that they are dismissed by a health care industry that has a gender bias and is woefully uninformed about women’s health. (See my eye-opening Today Show stories about these topics below.)
This brings me back to the question of why “I do what I do” these days. Well, I do what I do now because it brings meaning to my life. Meaning is a big driver for me.
I keep reporting for NBC and doing advocacy work for my nonprofit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement because I hope that my voice can help others. I also really want to move the needle forward on women’s health and Alzheimer’s.
I also create this Sunday Paper newsletter and my “Meaningful Conversations” podcast each week because I like to be in community with like-minded individuals who share my mission of moving humanity forward. I love lifting up voices that are thought-provoking, informative and inspiring and hearing what they have to say.
I love what I do because I love to keep evolving and growing. I also love my work because it reminds that there is a community of good people out there. It’s a community that’s much larger than the group of people who are out there making noise and trying to divide us.
That community of good people includes you, the readers of The Sunday Paper. This newsletter is my “offering” each week and it’s also my effort to build a community of people who want to make a difference in the world. If you are one of our readers or ambassadors, then I know you see yourself as an Architect of Change. I love that.
Ultimately, I do what I do because I can’t not do it. My work and my mission just mean too much to me. I’m really happy that I was able to answer Martha and Ro’s question with such clarity this week because I don’t know if I could have done that a few years ago.
The truth is, today it’s my heart and my desire that drive my choices. There is no structured path to so-called “success” like there was when I started my career. There is no big job or title that I’m working toward like I was when I was younger.
Over the years, I’ve experienced failure and I’ve felt shame and rejection. But these things don’t bother me the way they once did. I used to worry they would break me, but in a funny way, they have actually freed me. At this point in my life, I now feel like I get to make up my own rules. I get to carve my own path. How amazing is that?
I know that women my age can sometimes feel invisible in society, and it’s for good reason. Society does many things to make us feel this way. But I don’t subscribe to the belief that we’re invisible. I’m more visible to myself now than I have ever been in my entire life.
I have a lot that I’m doing now, and I have a lot that I still want to do. No one is going to slow me down or tell me I can’t. These days, I’m relying on faith and instinct to move me forward. I’m also guided by my belief that what I need is also what others need: connection, meaning and community.
There are so many reasons why we do what we do, and for each of us, the answer is deeply personal.
Do you know why you do what you do? Is the answer in your ego, or does it come from the destruction of your ego? Does it come from a place of righteousness, hubris and greed, or does it come from a true and pure place? Perhaps it comes from a place you may not even know exists until you stumble, fail and have to rise again.
I understand that many people are just doing what they can to juggle their families, careers, bills and healthcare, etc.. A lot of what we do each day is just about getting by. They’re just trying to get by and what they do is out of necessity. I get that. We all have full lives that require a juggling act. But don’t think that you don’t deserve to dig within and add something to your life that feels light and brings meaning.
This morning, pause and really think about how you would answer that question for yourself. If you find that you don’t know, then now might be a good time to re-evaluate what you are doing and try something brand new.
Yes, brand new. After all, there is only one you. This life of yours is yours alone. It doesn’t belong to anyone else, even though it can sometimes feel that way. This is your one wild and precious life, as my dear friend, the late Mary Oliver, once said. You deserve to ask yourself what YOU want and what motivates you. You deserve to do that thing that fills you up with light, joy and possibility.
Any time you find yourself forgetting this truth, I encourage you to ask yourself this question as well: “Who has to be happy doing what you do?”
You. You alone.
So this morning, start there. Start within. Search for your answer to that big life question that Martha and Ro posed to me, and then go live your truth.
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INSPIRING VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
Dr. Sara Gottfried Explains Why Women Today Are Facing a Major Health Crisis
In this must-read piece by SP columnist Dr. Sara Gottfried, Sara explains why women in today’s society are facing a major health crisis. She says the solution to female empowerment is to leverage our biology.
Christina Schwarzenegger Speaks to Researcher About the Impact Exercise Can Have on Cancer Treatment
Can exercise while undergoing cancer treatment affect the outcome or quality of life? My daughter and Sunday Paper editor-at-large Christina Schwarzenegger recently spoke with researcher Kerry Courneya for Goop to find some surprising answers.
In Her Latest Book, Activist Eve Ensler Explores How to Free Yourself from Deep Pain and Move Forward
Sexually and physically abused by her father, best-selling author Eve Ensler (creator of “The Vagina Monologues”) had hoped for an apology she never received before his death. In her latest book “The Apology,” Ensler has written, from her father’s point of view, the words she longed to hear in an attempt to free herself from the pain of her past and transform her life moving forward.
Illustrator Mari Andrew Will Inspire You to Turn Your Vulnerable Feelings into Creativity
“Creativity takes me out of the moment and into another time.” – Mari Andrew
Mari Andrew is a writer, illustrator, and speaker best known for her creative daily posts on Instagram. What started out as making one drawing a day for a year as a way to express herself in a time of grief, has inspired over a million devoted fans. Mari’s first book, Am I There Yet?—a collection of essays and illustrations—debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in 2018. Our friends at 1440 Multiversity recently spoke with Mari about creativity and what it takes to show up as your full self—both in life and in art.
On My Podcast, Meditation Teacher Sharon Salzberg Encourages You to Stay Focused on Your Purpose, Even When You Don’t Feel Valued
I always enjoy speaking with Architect of Change and SP columnist Sharon Salzberg, best-selling author and meditation teacher. In this interview for my podcast “Meaningful Conversations,” we discover what inspires Sharon and how meditation led her to move past childhood trauma. and
This Week on Today: Is Gender Bias Affecting Medical Treatment For Women?
On the Today Show this week, I report on an eye-opening new study that examines how gender bias is impacting women’s health care. I also share information about vital medical tests you should know about and what to do if you feel you’re being misdiagnosed.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. News You May Have Missed: Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Delivers Strong Message About Climate Change: I never thought I’d see or hear this, but I’m glad I did! Last week, Nye joined talk-show host John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” to offer up a fiery public service announcement.
2. News You Can Use: Here’s How We Should Be Talking About Fertility: This piece from Refinery29 ties in so beautifully with my Today Show pieces this Women’s Health Week. It introduces “The Fertility Spectrum — a collection of surveys, interviews, and essays that allows us to see fertility through fresh eyes.
3. Religion Report: Nun Writes About Same-Sex Marriage, ‘We Are All Children of God’: Sr. Mary Berchmans, president emerita of Washington’s prestigious Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, caused quite a stir after publishing a letter in the school’s alumnae magazine stating that the 220-year-old Catholic girls academy will start to publish announcements of same-sex unions.
4. Your Mental Health: The Key to Life-Long Happiness? Friendship: I cannot emphasize this enough. According to a 75-year-long study on human happiness started at Harvard University, the key to happiness is good relationships.
5. Social and Emotional Learning: Researchers Studied Kindergartners’ Behavior and Followed Up 19 Years Later. This Is What They Found: This information is so important for the development of our children. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, social-emotional skills taught in school have an enormously beneficial impact on how their adult lives take shape.
THE SUNDAY PAPER IS A PROUD PARTNER OF THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
Why Self-Care Must Be the Prerequisite When a Family Member Is Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
Dr. E. Ayn Welleford, MSG, PhD–associate professor & gerontologist at Virginia Commonwealth University–says we must be “fit for duty” before becoming a caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Her advice? “I would encourage us all to begin at the beginning, with ourselves.”
THE SUNDAY DINNER CLUB
The Sunday Dinner Club: As you know, I love to have deep, meaningful conversations around my kitchen table. I love to eat, laugh, listen and learn. We here at The Sunday Paper want to encourage you to have these kinds of gatherings around your table as well (on any night of the week that works for you). You can invite a group of friends to your table or just one person. The point is to gather and engage in conversations that leave you feeling seen, heard, valued, connected and full in every way. Each week, we’ll share a recipe, a conversation starter, and a prayer to get you going.
The Ingredients of a Meaningful Dinner: 1) Set an intention. 2) Say Grace. 3) Serve healthy food. 4) Start talking. 5) Be open-minded and listen.
A Recipe For Your Dinner: This recipe for Broiled Salmon with Bourbon Glaze is from our recipe content partners at A Couple Cooks.
This Week’s Conversation Starter: What inspires you to do what you do in life?
Meaningful Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the wisdom that comes with age. Thank you for all the joys, the heartbreaks, the successes and the failures that have shaped me into who I am today. Life isn’t always easy, but I love that you have granted me the gift of always growing and evolving. Amen.
A SUNDAY REFLECTION
I love this inspiring poem by Tyler Knott Gregson. He reminds us to take advantage of the many adventures life can bring to us. So get out there and explore!
SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!
PRAISE FOR THE SUNDAY PAPER
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