ON the Road to Calm

September 26, 2016

I have been deep into the writing of my non-fiction book, a mid-November deadline lurking at the edge of things. Time has been speaking to me. Some days hours are spent at the computer, words flowing, my mind able to dance among the moving narrative that more often than not sways away from the outline and toward its own internal rhythm. 

Other days, like yesterday, I came to my desk late afternoon after a slow start to the day, the flow surprising me with its energy. Today, errands and a pile of “must-do-by-this-date” sort of details have eaten up the hours, leaving me frustrated and bereft of inspiration. Th...

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...

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...

June 29, 2016

"To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest." - Pema Chödrön

Traveling for the last four weeks has been a kaleidoscope of people, events and places— laced with family and friend reunions; spending precious time with my indomitable mother immersed in her increasing frailty, her laughter, and make-the-most-of-it attitude; a remarkably beautiful wedding filled with love and authenticity; and experiencing the diversity of nature from desert to ocean. It’s also meant we’ve been in a car for over 2,500 miles (one-way so far), and a spontaneous 2,000 mile round-trip detour...

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...

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...

December 29, 2015

 “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

 

At the beach last week I was struck by how glad I was to be in the company of ocean, palm trees, clouds, sunrises, and sunsets. My bones relished the heat and humidity. I marveled at the way pelicans flew in such graceful formation, swooping low over the crests of waves looking for the next meal, the persistence with which the egrets fished the tide pools, the treasures of multi-colored rocks like jewels offered up from geologic depths.

 

I was also reading the eye-open...

July 12, 2015

 

“Everything’s there for me, but me.” This was the intriguing opening statement* by a client during a recent coaching session. Being able to express the fact of personal absence was an eye-opening leap of clarity for this person.

 

The words made me realize how often we go about our lives missing in action—not being present—oblivious to the very people and circumstances around us that are beacons, guides, wake-up calls, unheralded bringers of gifts, insight and wisdom.
The following poem speaks to this curious predicament of presence. Written by the esteemed poet David Wagoner, it is aptly named “Los...

November 25, 2013

 

Today’s blog speaks to the upcoming holidays and a bit of perspective for finding calm in the midst of family (or at least a bit more than years past).

 

This waterfall of thoughts around family started over a week ago when I saw Michael Caine’s latest movie, Last Love. Without giving away the plot, just know it is about family and that heartbreaking stubbornness we humans carry around events and people dear to us.

 

From my own explorations and experiences, including what I’ve been honored to witness in my coaching practice, a good part of this stubborn behavior comes from how our brains create language and thus, our in...

October 31, 2013

“…the way this bird swoops from an alcove out into the light, the way no one notices but a small child who stops and points—it all reminds me of the day we met. Something flew out of you and I was stunned that something in me flew out to meet it…” -Mark Nepo

 

These days I am falling in love over and over again by taking dance lessons with my husband. This has required that I allow him to be the ‘leader’ no matter what (!), that I wear high-heeled shoes when flip-flops and flat soles are my norm, and most of all, this constant letting go of a fearful “not knowing” as I’m led around the dance floor—oftentimes backwards a...

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NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE