I love to read and these days find myself drawn to books that are inspirational, cause me to think or look at life a little differently than I normally do, or tell a true story about how someone overcame an issue that I, myself, might be struggling with.
When I was perusing Amazon a few weeks ago to find my next great read, I came across I've Been Thinking by Maria Shriver. I have not read any of her other books, but there was something about the description of the book that made me hit "add to cart."
The book is divided into chapters that are, at most, two or three pages in length, and conclude with a little prayer. If you're not religious you can skip them. I'm totally not religious, and was planning on skipping them, but as I got into the book, I didn't mind them at all.
Maria takes a good hard look at life — as is evidenced by the book's subtitle: "Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life" — and chapters vary from "The Power Of Letting Go" and "The Power of Thank You" to discourses on motherhood, dealing with a empty nest, getting older, perfectionism, and much more.
From the outside you see a successful Kennedy clan member who married well, had a successful career, and a beautiful family. But upon closer look — and her own admission — you get to know a woman who was fearful of motherhood, is scared to be alone, struggles with her kids growing up and moving out, and seeks her life's purpose. In her own words she describes coming from a family who were MAJOR political leaders from the President of the United States to Senators to those who founded the Special Olympics. Having the expectation of doing great things in life is a hard thing to live up to as both a child and an adult.
Yet as she talked about various stages in her life — career, raising a family, relationships, and more, she shared a story about her brother Bobby's encounter with a doorman in Morocco that made me take pause. Her brother was getting impatient as the doorman was trying to hail him a cab and the doorman remarked about how Americans are always running around. "You're so busy, you leave no time to live. Make your time yours." Wise words to stop and think on.
I never had much of an opinion of Maria one way or the other, but this book is definitely raw and intimate and honest. While she doesn't mention any of her feelings about the breakup of her marriage to Arnold, she does talk about her fears in being alone, worries about aging, praise for those who deal with grief including Prince Harry who struggled for years with the death and aftermath of Princess Diana's passing, and her own commitment to helping find a cure for Alzheimer's — which my own mother died from as well. The statistics were scary as she recounted how many more women are diagnosed with the dreaded disease than men.
In this current time of political upheaval, I was surprised to learn that Maria, a member of the Kennedy clan who are die-hard Democrats, re-evaluated her party affiliations and registered as an Independent a few years back.
But perhaps most interesting of all were her "Sixty Life Lessons For My Birthday."
Grab a cup of coffee and your favorite chocolate, cuddle up with a good cozy throw, and spend some time reading I've Been Thinking. If you want to order a copy for yourself, you can do it right here.