NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

ON the Road to Calm

January 25, 2019

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance…" 

- William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), 

from his book The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.

A friend wrote a...

December 1, 2018

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.

When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

- Ansel Adams -

Six months ago, I found myself driving a Ford truck with a camper trailer named Imagine2 hitched to the back. It was the beginning of an intentional adventure-sabbatical dreamed up by my husband and myself, a journey we named On the Road to Calm.

After thousands of miles, beauty beyond belief, melt-downs also beyond belief, and friendships rekindled, I've come to a rest stop—the clarity that I've been irrevocably changed by these months on the road.

Other than this blog, tak...

June 25, 2018

"We shape our dwellings and afterward, our dwellings shape us."

- Winston Churchill - 

Ah! What weight and meaning we give to our homes. The months of planning and conversing about our five-month adventure on the road and the actual realities are bumping heads after only three weeks in our sweet little camper. We didn’t expect to be so side-swiped by this surprising feeling of homelessness— an untethered free-fall from the habits and familiarities of our old life into a great void of possibility (or nothingness, depending on the day).

Even though the possibilities have been calling us for a long while—while our old...

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...

January 21, 2018

As dark and crazy as the world currently is, something bright resides beneath the darkness—and it’s the light of a single awakening human soul, multiplied by tens of thousands, in many cities, towns and countries.” – Mark Borax.

I used the above quote to begin a blog five years ago. The first draft of A Ritual to Read to Each Other, William Stafford's* poem about staying awake during times of deep darkness, is dated June 23,1953 (pictured above**). The subject of darkness and light as metaphors about time is a timeless subject—be it geological, religious, political, philosophical, cultural, cosmological, quantum, or pe...

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...

July 31, 2017

“Oh you need to say yes a lot!” ­

– Naomi Shihab Nye. 

An idea can take hold of our lives and not let go, even if we have no clue how to manifest it, even if it seems to disappear for long chunks of time, or an old belief nags us with its whispered No. In the midst of finally listening to the idea and doing something about it, extreme emotions and physical aches can become the norm, and contrary to logic, this idea becomes the very inspiration that gets us up in the morning (often in la madrugada—the dark before the dawn).

Or at least that is what has happened to me over the last year, as old memories and stories jo...

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...

May 15, 2017

"Rather than the need to heroically save the whole world, the real work of humanity at this time may be

to awaken the unique spark and inner resiliency

of genius within each person."

- Michael Meade

I was sitting in my orange desk chair adding a few paragraphs to The Book of Calm before one more editing deadline closed, the door opened to a warm spring day, the breeze adding freshness to the air and my somewhat foggy brain. A loud caw-caw-caw suddenly filled the room and drew me outside. A large crow balanced on the tip of a twenty-foot bamboo stalk, squawking at me for a good half-minute before it flew off of its swayi...

January 30, 2017

Querencia comes from the Spanish verb “querer” — to desire.

           

Querencia speaks of a safe place, where I gather strength, and therefore become stronger. Where suddenly remembering my true character in the midst of noise and confusion, I speak and act from that knowing. 

Querencia is the palpable, bone-tingling sense of "I'm home" that envelopes me in places as diverse as sitting at my dining room table, walking barefoot at the edge of the ocean, and hearing cello music in any form. It is also sometimes interpreted as "nest" — a place of retreat and reju...

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