NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

ON the Road to Calm

April 13, 2016

We humans are fragile, and incredibly strong. We can grab onto familiar yet flimsy habits oh-so easily, and leap almost simultaneously into the unknown spaces of adaptability and resilience as if we were superheroes. Perhaps nowhere does this play out more in daily life than when our health is compromised. 

I am sitting in a room on the sixth floor of the University of Washington Medical Center. In his hospital bed next to me is my husband, sleeping. Two days ago he had a long-awaited shoulder replacement surgery, and between the anesthesia, shock of surgery, medications, the painful exertion of a 5x/day exercise...

February 23, 2016

 

Like so much in life, momentum is paradoxical, containing contradictions that challenge, confuse, and sometimes freeze us in our tracks. Synonyms for momentum include: impetus, drive, thrust, energy, motion, velocity, force and push. At the end of December, right before my birthday, several insights and opportunities melded together and produced a momentum that had force, drive and thrust behind it, like the straight lines moving off the page on the left side of my friend Mary van de Weil’s painting.

 

It was a velocity that moved me to apply for a teaching position that in the end I did not get, yet in the aftermath o...

October 26, 2015

Today I am celebrating nine years of Calm. Over the last six months, these nine years of coaching, writing, workshops, and embodying calm into my own life have been gathered, sifted, tempered and loved, resulting today in the unveiling of my new website.

 

Much has been tossed aside over the years, and what always steps to the forefront is Calm. To glimpse the significance of this, know that I once had a turbulent brain, a turbulence that kept me in a reactive, habitual state of either silence or crisis — states of being in the world that were puzzling at the least and sometimes hilarious— yet painfully limiting in real...

September 13, 2015

 The new moon can be a time of renewed commitment, a time for fine-tuning and discernment after inevitable changes that take place in the short space of a month. Today on this new moon — or when spirit moves you — find a quiet, inviting place and make yourself comfortable.
 
Breathe. Deeply. Honor the rhythm of your breath. As you inhale feel the entire inner space of your wondrous body being refreshed. Sense the freedom of release as you exhale.
 
Breathe. Feel yourself rooted in Mother Earth like a flourishing vine planted in rich soil, sustained by rain and sunlight.

 

Breathe. Stay with your rhythm. Notice the tangl...

August 27, 2015

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A friend wrote a few weeks ago saying she couldn't sense any equilibrium coming her way. I wrote back that maybe right now life felt more like dancing the flamenco on the deck of a ship in a storm. She agreed wholeheartedly.

 

As I glimpse news stories, overhear snatches of conversation, and reel about in my everyday existence, there appears to be a more intense than usual pairing of contradictions going on — Trump and Sanders vying for the presidential nomination of their respective parties, several months of heavy rains and then weeks of devastating heat, a friend or family member suddenly ill as another fri...

November 10, 2014

I call them mom-isms, my mother’s newly found perspectives that speak of Buddhist equanimity with a dash of slapstick humor. She offered up her latest this morning: “If something is bothering me, I look out the window at the mountains and just picture the worry floating away over the mountains like a feather…I don’t want to be one of those grumpy old women.”

 

She has Alzheimer’s now. She has been a Presbyterian, Catholic and Southern Baptist at different times in her life, and humor doesn’t figure highly in my own memories of her, so these bits of wisdom are a precious gift. In her very decline, we are both emerging an...

December 10, 2013

 

It’s that “into the cave” time of year. I’m wearing sweaters and scarves, the mesquite leaves are turning silver, the holidays are here and another birthday is coming up. I wrote the following poem three years ago, and took a month off from blogs and social media, to re-emerge in January. I’m doing the same this year. Until then, wishing everyone a wondrous Winter Solstice and 2014!

 

Note to Self in Winter

 

To become bear-like / in these winter months / to slow down to a soft snore / to lumber willingly / into my cave / to embrace rest and darkness / so I may rejuvenate and emerge / ravenous / to begin again. -ngs

August 7, 2013

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” -Juan Ramón Jiménez, Spanish poet

 

A week ago we woke up, ready to go home. On the three-day drive back I had plenty of time to remember the highlights of this six-week, 6,000 mile road trip. Every one contained an element of surprise, flexibility, the inevitability of change, and the smile that comes from knowing no matter what, I had a choice in how to perceive absolutely everything. Needless to say I learned a lot about myself, one being that I tend to attract tiny miracles, like walking across a flooded [shallow] arroyo barefoot [my flip-flops sank in the mud],...

March 15, 2013

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue…the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now…live along some distant day into the answer.” 

 

I knew Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote would be the doorway into this blog post when a friend quoted  ”…try to love the questions themselves…” with a look of half-baked acceptance on her face. Four days later, another friend spoke with the same uncertainty about taking a “next” step. Friend number two used the words “...coming out of the abyss.”

 

Bot...

May 5, 2012

As I prepare to leave for the Spacious in Spain women’s retreat my friend Stephanie and I have been nurturing for over a year, the pace of creating something out of nothing is on my mind. How we both held its proverbial hand as it wobbled along in the early stages, and then zoom!—off it went into the world as if sprung fully realized in an instant.

 

Eight women will be joining us for this retreat, while five cancelled at different moments along the way, all for their very personal and good reasons.

 

Did our faith get shaky? More than a bit, especially when we were one short of the minimum number of women needed, and in...

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