NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

ON the Road to Calm

November 24, 2019

“Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”

- Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers -

I have heard from several friends this month about how the sharing of old stories can lessen their weight upon our bodies and psyches, and with awareness and staying close to all the feelings that arise, be transformed into a deep and powerful compassion for others and for ourselves. 

Maybe it was because I watched the new movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” last night . . . for whatever reason, I woke up in the hour just before dawn, the time of day called la madraguda in the Spanish language, knowing that the poem I...

July 27, 2019

let go of your hold

to your former selves

allow the river to carry you

this new trust

is the undercurrent

holding up your bones

float

- AKU_MATU* -

Four months have passed since I’ve written a blog. I found myself having nothing to write, as I took the March blog’s quote to heart and let the river of life carry me, trusting that my bones would be held and that I would indeed float.

I can’t say the last four months were easy. The turbulence was strong, and from what I’ve heard from friends and can sense in the air and in others’ eyes, I don’t imagine it’s been so calm for many of you either. 

Yet allowing myself to trust that tu...

February 19, 2019

on morning walk wind 

nips at ears, whispering of 

snow, a broken branch -

Last week I attended a program called 500 Years of Haiku at Upaya Zen Center. Natalie Goldberg and Clark Strand were teaching, two important mentors in my writing life through their respective books, Writing Down the Bones and Seeds From a Birch Tree. I was craving quiet and inspiration. New to group meditation, I was surprised by the silence of seventy people within one room, the way it opened up a river of quiet that I gladly let sweep me down its soft current. There was bowing on entering and leaving the zendo, also before sitting dow...

April 29, 2018

“Perhaps God made the world round so we would not see too far ahead."

- Isak Dinesen -

It is 5:50 am. My sleeping husband, the dogs snoring in their beds outside, and the silhouettes of the mesquite trees are bathed in a glimmering silver light of the full moon. Roosters are crowing in the distance, and I am wide awake, remembering an image of a clock where the word NOW replaces the numerals.

I am [surprisingly] more present with each moment than ever before as we prepare to hand over our home of eight years to its new owner. Our personal possessions are in a pile of boxes in the garage, a radical "lightening of our load...

March 31, 2018

“We think of time as passing, but to inhabit time implies to know it as breath and awareness.”

Katherine Thanas* -

For days it’s been insanely crowded in San Miguel de Allende, a town that draws thousands of people during Semana Santa (Easter week). This year Passover falls on the same day as Good Friday. So yesterday was not the best time, though necessary, to go shopping for some forgotten ingredients for my family’s special dinner.

The parking lot was full, aisles crowded, and checkout lines long. I’d read the Zen quote the night before. Suddenly remembering it, I stepped away from the entrance, and with deliberatio...

November 29, 2017

It is hard to remember what fulfills and nurtures us alongside the challenges and moods that disrupt our day. We can view all that comes our way with curiosity while comprehending what is, and isn’t, out of our control. Or we can push and shove against the reality of the moment, with anger and a why-me stance digging us deeper into a hole going nowhere.

“Savage and beautiful country” is how writer Diane Ackerman has described life. Poet Ben Okri portrays life lived as, “ . . . gently / with fire.” The Dalai Lama writes of our days as “whatever happens to us, whatever occurs—the arising of something and b...

June 24, 2017

“When aims differ, trails do too.

These overlapping and crisscrossing trails,

created by countless living beings

pursuing their own ends,

form the planet’s warp and woof.” 

—Robert Moor, On Trails.

As my husband and I readied for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe, we were urged more than once to get lost. Along with our long-time friends and traveling companions, we did just that, though not intentionally at first. The urge to follow Google Maps’ directions was strong, and it did come in handy when heading for an airport or driving in Italy (utterly useless though in the hedgerow-edged lanes of Devon). Yet during our d...

July 26, 2016

This blog is dedicated to the future.

“When we express something, express ourselves as to what we stand for, not what we stand against. For example, Mother Teresa said she would not march against war; however she would march for peace. Such a simple shift.”  - from the Foundation for Inspired Learning.

It’s the end of July and another month has passed, the news still heartbreaking, the energy irratic. Looking through some of my writing notes I found this undated scribble: “I’ve been plugged into a socket that isn’t my own.” An ah-ha moment on a scrap of paper (I see now how 'unplugged' I was much of last month) has been...

March 23, 2016

 

“A mystic is anyone who has the gnawing suspicion that the apparent discord, brokenness, contradictions and discontinuities

that assault us everyday might conceal a hidden unity.”

– Lawrence Kushner*

 

Stories, in the form of long-held beliefs, thoughts and behaviors, have fascinated me for many years, and lately I’ve been watching how some of my own stories have faded away like smoke disappearing on the wind, and how others seem to have a half-life similar to nuclear material. The last few weeks I’ve been touched and inspired by mind-stretching information about the extent of our cultural stories, an interview about t...

January 20, 2016

 

 

Six friends have died in the last ten months. In the stark realization of no more hugs or laughs or conversation between us, histories and future plans suddenly come to a stop, friendships and love irretrievably gone—a sense of disbelief has lingered beside the grief. I thought I could write about this, how loss constricts everything in its path, and how if we’re lucky, over time we are opened up to a life that, although so very different and completely changed, is irrevocably worthy of inhabiting and loving again.

 

Yet as these words come out, the immensity of the subject makes me go inward, and into the past. Loss,...

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