NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

ON the Road to Calm

December 17, 2017

"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."

- Mark Twain

During the week of Thanksgiving, words were set aside in order to reconnect to my artist self. I spent sixteen hours in a Photoshop workshop called "Bird Woman" learning techniques to collage photographs, and transformed my human self into an Eagle Woman. It was both a creative stretching and a spiritual quest toward becoming larger than my habitual thoughts—to visually empower myself in ways I'd ignored or didn't know existed until a book insisted on being written, and an eagle's face beckoned....

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...

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...

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...

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...

April 6, 2015

In their collaborative novel "Sunlight and Shadow*, authors Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl write: “It struck her as miraculous that there was unlimited power and freedom in choosing what one thinks…

I woke at 4:15 a.m. this morning, this waking up in the 3 to 4:30 a.m. pre-dawn darkness a rather exhausting new habit. Looking out the window I saw the beginnings of the lunar eclipse and knowing I wouldn’t be going back to sleep any time soon, I took my pillows, a sleeping bag and my dog Mancha outside and arranged us all on a lounge chair to watch the moon melt from full to infinitesimal.


Not expecting anything other than...

March 16, 2015

It’s a rare weekend of constant rain in the desert. I’m a pluviophile, a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. The steady beat of the rain on the metal overhang outside my window has, much to my surprise, temporarily suspended a weeks-long focus on gathering tax information, and poetry has taken its place. Specifically, a poem I wrote many years ago about a day at Miramar Beach in Santa Barbara, California where I witnessed a young boy at play. Just as it rose up to speak to me today, it would now like to speak to you…

 

Afternoon at Miramar

 

First memory of that day was a flash of blu...

October 5, 2014

Why am I here?

What do I want?

What will make me happy?

 

This question of our individual purpose is a Big Question, a question we first hear within our own dreams and fantasies as children. Then the adults ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question that we hold within us throughout our lives, sometimes resulting in solid answers, often resulting in even more questions that can leave us frustrated or inspired, and always standing in the land of the unknown.

 

How do I fit more family time (or exercise, spirituality, classes, do-nothing time, find a new job, etc.) into this hamster wheel of a life? How...

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],...

June 23, 2013

“Place is an environment claimed by emotion.” -Anonymous

 

On the summer solstice I drove through the borderlands of southwest Texas, long stretches of fenced and gated land where natural gas pipelines and storage facilities shared the landscape with low willowy green trees and the purple-flowering Texas Ranger bush. Some unseen water source suddenly fed pecan groves and alfalfa fields, then disappeared, the flat acreage fading into sagebrush and blooming yuccas, the unnerving surprise of a long bridge with insanely low guardrails spanning the empty air above the Pecos River gorge.

Glimpses of smaller, mysterious can...

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