ON the Road to Calm

June 29, 2020

“the more I wear this story 

of myself, the more 

it grows thin, ravels, 

a sweater filled with holes—

I fall through them.”

- Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer –

For John O. and Rosemerry

It’s oddly reliable how inspiration comes my way—poems, quotes, memories, and friends appear and nudge some part of me awake. Reading Rosemerry’s words I was struck by how they described the momentum of my life right now. 

I’ve been falling through the holes as we pack up to leave for the summer, a leaving shadowed by the smoke from the Bighorn Fire seen out our front door, still burning after twenty-three days, the pandemic shape-shiftin...

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 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...

September 5, 2014

 

When choosing becomes imminent—be it a seemingly large or small choice—quietly sitting for a while with all of the options allows the finer truth of things to come through. It is in this waiting, this stillness, that the artful nature of making choices appears. 

 

Many years ago I read a true account* of a woman who could no longer function in her daily life because she could not make any choices. Leaving behind any option was unbearable for her, rendering even the tiniest decision impossible. One day, her doctor read her Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” She came out of her frozen frame of mind soon after hear...

July 18, 2013

I’ve been playing.

 

Being around children helps. At the pool with family, I joyfully attempted (and failed) to swim along the bottom of the pool like the kids. One morning I was persuaded to dance—and laugh—my way through three numbers on the Xbox game “Just Dance Kids 2.”  At a birthday party I wolfed down a big piece of chocolate birthday cake with guiltless pleasure, just like the the nine-year olds all around me.

 

Free of any schedule and not being hooked intravenously to the internet helps too—nothing is pulling at us. When my husband wanted to take a silly picture, I didn’t hesitate to hang like a monkey from a pu...

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...

January 14, 2013

Last week I experienced something astounding. For the first time, sinking as deeply into awareness as possible, I headed into the safe harbor of stillness in the middle of an emotional storm.

 

I quietly watched the whirling emotions and thoughts, saying “hello and good-bye” to each of the fuming, seemingly endless “should haves” and “if onlys” that populated this particularly painful episode of self-deprecation. I managed this even as I drove into town to do errands, while walking through the streets and interacting with shopkeepers, even in the brightness of an unexpected meeting with friends.

 

What happened over the d...

October 19, 2012

 

At some point a few days ago my thoughts turned negative, judgmental, and deafening in my head. The word hate became the verb of choice. I hated the bright blue sky and the heat. I hated all my clothes. I was bored, and hated the boredom. All the while a taunting voice whispered a well-worn list of my inadequacies. I wanted gray skies and cold rain, along with new shoes and distraction. Thankfully the noise was limited to my surroundings and environment, not toward the dear ones around me.

 

Following the thread of unrest to its source led only to the tiniest awareness. Fact #1: My thoughts were stuck on negative. Fact...

September 9, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I define calm as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” —Brené Brown

 

I showed this quote to someone the other day. Their response? “Yeah, that’s all well and good. But I can’t do that.”

 

Yep. It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to create the clarity of full-vision perspective and shake myself out of reactive, mindless behavior. I read Brené Brown’s quote and remembered the time some years back when I locked myself out of an apartment and regressed into hysteria for many minutes. Finally accessing my ability to respond, I rang the other apartment doorbells until...

August 23, 2012

"Begrudge time and it will turn its back / on you like a dead secret.
But bathe, kiss, enter, bow. Immerse / yourself in the time you have and time / will carry you softly and clearly…"
 — Mark Nepo, from his poem Rethinking Time
 

This post is coming to you a week later than intended because I have been riding a traveling wave of time. Launched from airports in Mexico City, Denver, and Orange County into a jam-packed visit with family and friends, the past and present have melded into a kaleidoscope of old memories and new encounters, while email and phones have become peripheral to sensory experience:

Hugging my moth...

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". . . as necessary for

today as breath . . ."

The Gift of In-the-Moment Connections

July 22, 2020

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NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE