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...

September 21, 2019

“We must risk delight . . . We must have the stubbornness

 to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” 

- Jack Gilbert, from Refusing Heaven -

My mother Elinor Davis Erni passed away September 3rd, seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Only days before she died, my sister described our mother in these poignant words —"She remains fragile, tenacious and courageous.”

Alzheimer’s is a wicked disease. My mother faded over these past years from a funny, smart, beautiful woman whose outlook was invariably sunny, to a soul whose body and mind had abandoned her, bit by excruciating bi...

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...

October 29, 2018

“It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.”

- Mary Oliver -

Sadness has been the air I’ve been breathing this last week. My step-mother-in-law’s sudden passing, a friend’s sudden heart attack with a long recovery, the incomprehensible killings of the eleven elderly members of The Tree of Life Synagogue. 

When the weight of loss and grief, both personal and universal, becomes so heavy as to fog my vision and perspective, I turn to poetry, to nature, to quiet—in search of a moment that echoes Mary Oliver’s plea to wake up to the contradictory nature of living now in our fractured wo...

September 30, 2018

When my friend Cinda handed me this shell, she said, "This is a reminder for you to stay open to possibilities."

How had she known I needed to hear those words?

Now the shell is fastened to the tiny kitchen counter in our camper. It holds small items that need a place before we head out the next morning—a ring or watch, loose coins, a scribbled address for a new outing.

It also holds Cinda's blessing—that daily, no matter what, possibility surrounds us as we step out into the world—that this adventure is more a journey of faith and trust than anything else.

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August 30, 2017

" . . . Be kind, but be fierce. 

You are needed now more than ever before . . ."

—Winston Churchill. 

I am not feeling particularly calm today, and so I am using the "Yes, and..." awareness practice from The Book of Calm

"YES, I am feeling extremely jaggedy today, AND I am grateful for everyone and everything in my life—near and far, wide-open to both the beauty and turmoil around me."

Once admitted to myself, I can sense the conflicting energies within. I remember that beneficial actions are an antidote to such unease and confusion. My action today has been to be vulnerable, courageous, and awake to how connec...

March 2, 2017

I am short on words today after handing in The Book of Calm manuscript to my publisher this week, and am sharing others' words to express what I have been thinking and feeling during February (and here it is, March). They are wise words, thoughts to ponder and consider, to compassionately embody during these paradoxically turbulent and grace-filled times.  

First is a line from the movie Arrival, spoken by the main character Louise:

"Despite knowing the journey, and where it leads, I embrace every moment of it."

Second is a poem by Mark Nepo from his new book, The Way Under the Way:

Things No One Asks About

...

December 2, 2016

Here it is, the first day of the last month of 2016. November disappeared while I finished the first draft of my book while attempting to navigate the sea changes happening in the world.

After five months, the manuscript is with the editor. My body is refusing to sit longer than ten minutes in a chair. I am taking a month off from social media and writing, and enjoying the connections with family and friends and the beauty around me. This blog is a November/December letter dedicated to calling in our wiser and larger selves even, and especially, in the midst of seeming chaos. 

In the spirit of Pema Chodron’s a...

August 29, 2016

Flowers as they are / in the lotus pond: / My offering to the spirits. - Basho Matsuo.

I write, learn, and hopefully grow wiser from what I call "open doorways"—experiences, words, images, or dreams that show up in daily life and give me a glimpse of something that makes me re-imagine or remember what is important. One such doorway appeared two weeks ago when I left on a trip to visit family and friends. 

"The roar of the lotus." This is the phrase I suddenly saw in my mind's eye years ago in a meditation. The phrase has come to me often and without warning through the years, and always it sings of a place whe...

April 25, 2016

A word has been flying in and out of my awareness these last two weeks.

Soft.

As in soft eyes. It’s a phrase I’ve been saying to my husband when his eyes scrunch up in painful determination as he exercises his newly reconstructed shoulder. My friend Cinda’s new horse just arrived from Spain, and she’s been talking about how he has soft eyes, an indication of the intelligence and steadiness he embodies and that she intuited when she first saw him halfway across the world.

Soft as in the underside of the ridged leaves of the hostas plants in the lower yard of our friends’ home where we are staying, the breeze that comes th...

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