Maria’s Sunday Paper: I’ve Been Thinking…
The other day, I told my friend Elizabeth what I was thinking. She responded in the best way possible.
“You are,” she said, “right on time.”
Her words landed and made me feel grateful and joyful. Here I am exactly, where I’m supposed to be.
This week, my new book “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful LIfe” arrives in bookstores everywhere. Right on time. The fact that there’s a book at all is a testament to you, the readers of The Sunday Paper. Many of you suggested that I curate my “I’ve Been Thinking” columns and bind them together into a book. Voila, here it is!
This book couldn’t have come out last year or the year before. I wasn’t ready then. But, now I am. Thank you.
Today, I’m knee-deep in gratitude to those who have helped me, sustained me, and supported me along this journey we call life. I like where I am. As Hafiz says, I like that I am in a place that God circled on a map just for me.
I feel lucky to be in this place that will continue to move with me, and I with it. I want to keep growing, evolving and learning. I want to become wiser, humbler and smarter. I want to get more courageous and more vulnerable.
I now understand that I’m part introvert and part extrovert. I’m part warrior and part nurturer. I relish my privacy and yet, I also understand that I can use my public voice for good. I know I’m a series of contradictions, and I hope you are, too.
On this Sunday, I stand and kneel on solid ground. I share with you an excerpt from my new book below, as well as essays from a few of my other favorite voices. The women we feature below my column today wrote exclusive essays for The Sunday Paper about what they’ve been thinking as well.
I want my book — and this Sunday Paper — to always help you realize that your own thoughts are worthy. I want them to be something that helps you decide what a meaningful life looks like for you. Let my thoughts, and the thoughts of the others we share today, get you thinking about how to live, love and move humanity forward for yourself.
“I’VE BEEN THINKING…”
I’ve been thinking about how to live a meaningful life for pretty much all of my life.
You see, I grew up in a family where people did really big things. They ran for President. They started programs that changed people’s lives. They gave speeches that moved the world. And they never ever gave up trying to make our planet a better place.
Having come from all that, I’ve thought a lot about how I could create my own space, forge my own path, come up with my own thoughts and beliefs, find my own purpose and mission.
Of course, the quest for a meaningful life is not mine alone. In fact, I believe that every single one of us is here on this earth for a reason. I believe it is our life’s work to figure out who we are, what we think, what our gifts are, and how we can make a difference in this world.
Figuring that out takes time and thought. A meaningful life doesn’t mean a perfect life. It means making mistakes. It means getting up and trying again and again. It requires strength, faith, hope, and love.
It hasn’t always been easy to figure out what I, Maria, believe. Thinking and writing have helped me get there.
My hope is that my words will help you chart your path to your own meaningful life. I hope the thoughts expressed here will give you material to meditate on—inspiring you to think, write, and reflect on what makes life meaningful to you.
Because, let’s face it: Life is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. At times we feel totally in charge of the journey and love the ride. At other times we feel completely overwhelmed and want to get off. Throughout our lives, we’re by turns strong, then weak. We’re quite sure we know what we’re doing, and then we’re utterly and totally lost. We feel elated, and then depressed. We act powerfully, then feel like victims. We’re buoyed by courage, then scared out of our wits. We feel a part of a community, and then we feel totally alone. We take pride in our accomplishments, then we want to crumble with shame over our mistakes.
I have felt all of this. And what helps me get through it is my faith, my family, my friends, and my writing.
My writing comes from a place deep in my heart and my mind. Friends and family have often joked that I think too much and I should relax. But for now, thinking and then writing about my life and the world around me helps me to get clear and find peace.
This book is meant to ignite your own reflections and to help you reach your own clarity. My thoughts may not be your own thoughts, but they may get you to thinking. Some prayers that settle my soul may not do the same for you, but others may. While I use the word “God” to describe a force larger than myself, I know not everybody does. I’m just sharing with you what has helped me navigate my own life. As they say, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
My book has but one purpose: to get you to thinking about what constitutes a meaningful life for you. Just you. Because there is only one you, and you only have one life. Here’s to making it beautiful and meaningful.
P.S. I’m setting off this week for a tour to celebrate my new book. Join us on the road! Check out the dates below and look up the venues online for ticket details. Also, be sure to stay tuned to The Sunday Paper for updates to the list.
VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
MARTHA BECK EXPLAINS WHY INTEGRITY IS THE SINGLE QUALITY MOST NECESSARY FOR HAPPINESS
I love that Architect of Change Martha Beck suggests that we all go on an “integrity cleanse.” After years of her own self-reflection, Martha has come to view integrity as the single quality most necessary for happiness. She believes that when we tell even the whitest of lies, “we suffer and falter. We can’t think as clearly, our relationships weaken, our moods go sour, and our health deteriorates.” Find out how to move yourself forward by reading her words today.
KELLY CORRIGAN REDEFINES ‘AWESOME’ AS AN APPRECIATION OF THE LIFE AROUND US
Architect of Change Kelly Corrigan‘s essay today was inspired by an experience she had with her daughter. Through her personal story, Kelly reminds us all that the beauty of birth and life is what’s truly “awesome” in our world.
ELIZABETH LESSER ASSURES US THAT ‘ALL SHALL BE WELL’
Especially during these emotionally trying times, I knew I could count on Architect of Change Elizabeth Lesser to give us an uplifting message of hope. In her essay, ‘All Shall Be Well,’ Elizabeth offers a historical perspective: that we have evolved as a species and that right now, all over the world, millions of people are making innovative progress toward good.
ANGIE JOHNSEY EXPLAINS HOW WE CAN EACH DO OUR PART TO CHANGE THE WORLD BY CAREFULLY CHOOSING OUR WORDS
Architect of Change Angie Johnsey reminds us of the power of our words today. In her powerful essay, she explains that by practicing and embracing an exercise of oneness on a daily basis, we will always choose the right words to come together in unity.
CHANGEMAKERS MOVING HUMANITY FORWARD
UCLA Volunteers Provide Safe Shelter For Fellow Students Who Are Homeless: I continue to be inspired by the strength and integrity of today’s youth, which is why we are featuring Students 4 Students (S4S) as our Architects of Change of the Week. Founded in 2015, S4S offers a safe, supportive environment for fellow college students experiencing homelessness by fostering a collaborative effort between universities, community-based organizations, and service providers.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. ‘Black Panther’ Actress Hopes Her Character Inspires More Girls To Pursue STEM: “Black Panther” is such a great movie with meaningful messages on so many fronts. Actress Letitia Wright, who plays the brilliant teenage scientist Princess Shuri, spoke this week about what she hopes her character and the film can do to inspire girls who watch it.
2. Intuitive Young Doctor Discovers Cause of Woman’s Mysterious Illness: I love that a smart, young internist, only in her second year of training, was able to discover the cause of a 68-year-old Alabama woman’s years-long battle with a mysterious and debilitating illness. What an incredible story.
3. Study Suggests Psychiatric Illnesses Share Similar Gene Activity: This is a fascinating study just published in the journal, Science. After studying over 800 human brains, researchers have found that that certain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and alcoholism appear to share similar patterns of gene activity.
4. School Teacher Has Unique Strategy to Find and Help Troubled Kids: This teacher is a prime example of an amazing teacher going above and beyond the call of duty. By stressing to her students the importance of friendship and community, this teacher engages her class in an exercise each week that helps her identify kids who might be struggling to connect with others.
5. A Chicago Man Is Surprised by An Overwhelming Response to His Social Media Request For Volunteers: I never tire of hearing powerful stories like this. After a Chicago man put out a request via Twitter for volunteers to help him shovel the front yards of his elderly neighbors, he was shocked to find 120 people ready to help.
6. Man Tests Experimental Treatment to Battle His Alzheimer’s: I love this man’s story of determination to overcome this mentally crippling disease. Time Magazine reports on Peter Wooding, happily married to wife JoAnn for over 50 years, who is willing to try an experimental drug to hopefully beat his Alzheimer’s.
VOICES ABOVE THE NOISE
Today, we honor just a few of the many powerful voices from Parkland, FL, who spoke up and spoke out this week with strength and conviction.
SURVIVORS OF PARKLAND, FLORIDA SHOOTING: Speaking your truth takes courage. Also, being thrust into the limelight is never easy. That’s why I admire these student survivors of the Parkland, FL, school shooting, who addressed their local lawmakers this week about the need for gun control. These Architects of Change are taking this moment to moves us all forward. I want them to know that we are with them, we have their backs. You got this!
VOICES ABOVE THE NOISE
FATHER OF SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM: I’m so sorry for this man’s unspeakable loss and admire his conviction. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of 17 victims in last week’s school shooting, stood up before President Trump to demand action. I want to tell him, “You are right. We cannot forget about it. I get that you are pissed. You have every right. You have our support.”
This week’s Sunday Reflection comes from the epilogue of my new book. I believe we all have within us a passion and purpose to move humanity forward in some way. How do we discover what that is? By continuing to ask ourselves three simple questions.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP OUR STORE: SEE OUR COLLECTION
Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also order our newest product, the “Maria” candle – the same scent used in her office and home. Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to learn more.