ON the Road to Calm

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],...

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...

May 5, 2012

As I prepare to leave for the Spacious in Spain women’s retreat my friend Stephanie and I have been nurturing for over a year, the pace of creating something out of nothing is on my mind. How we both held its proverbial hand as it wobbled along in the early stages, and then zoom!—off it went into the world as if sprung fully realized in an instant.

 

Eight women will be joining us for this retreat, while five cancelled at different moments along the way, all for their very personal and good reasons.

 

Did our faith get shaky? More than a bit, especially when we were one short of the minimum number of women needed, and in...

February 23, 2012

 Due to the present workload, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off until further notice.

— Sign in Hobo’s Café in North Palm Beach, FL

 

On the day I saw this sign my sister, mother, and I were in the middle of the fourth day of packing up mom for a move from Florida to Colorado—four days of intense cleaning, clearing, and making time-sensitive arrangements. The end wasn’t anywhere in sight—we had four more days to go.

 

Emotions were raw, and exhaustion reigned. Despite the workload and the situation, there was an overriding urgency and concentration that kept us all rooted in the moment, however grimy o...

May 29, 2011

 

A paradox is not a conflict within reality. It is a conflict between reality and your feelings of what reality should be like.

— Richard Feynman, Nobel prize-winning physicist.

 

This photograph is one I took several years ago in Bhutan; it is of a large painted mural in the Punakha monastery. In the Bhutanese tradition, these four animals, called The Four Harmonious Brothers, represent friendship and cooperation.

 

In the spirit of these four creatures and the concept they embody, today I’d like to dedicate this post to the people who have lost loved ones, friends, neighbors, their homes, possessions, and parts of thei...

November 28, 2010


It is on a threshold, at the edge, where we are most able to alter our understanding of the world, and of our own lives in it.

— Gregory Orr *

Walking down a forest path on Whidbey Island in mid-November, I glanced up and saw this maple leaf pierced through by a thin twig, barely moving with the misty breeze. The path was thickly strewn with alder leaves, evergreen needles, and small pieces of branches coated with moss, evidence of a windstorm two nights before. The silence was palpable and deeply soothing. How this particular leaf had come to be suspended high above the others was a stunning picture of pure chance. It...

June 22, 2010


On April 28th I wrote a post titled Embracing Edginess. In it I quoted Pema Chodron from her book, Practicing Peace in Times of War:

 

If you want there to be peace—anything from peace of mind to peace on earth—here is the condensed instruction: stay with the initial tightening and don’t spin off. Keep it simple.

 

I’ve been practicing her wise words, especially the phrase …don’t spin off. So much so, in fact, that I skipped my last “blog-writing date” with myself—and consequently broke my date with you, my readers—because I was suddenly bombarded with synchronistic and fascinating items that deepened Pema Chodron’s word...

May 29, 2010

 

I’ve been living out of a suitcase this month, visiting family and friends and shivering my way through Nevada, California and Idaho. Winter seems to be nudging spring aside even though June is only days away. Last night it snowed a half inch; clouds are threatening to bring more today. Reunions with old friends, meeting new friends, and deeper family connections have kept me warm despite the weather. Experiencing so much interaction with different people in different places, I’ve noticed most everyone is dealing with the vagaries and vicissitudes of life, pushed and pulled into situations that vary from the merely c...

April 29, 2010

I just received wonderful news. A cyst was removed, and the final pathology report declares it is benign. One would think I’d be shouting with relief and gratitude, dancing light-heartedly in the streets, welcoming the peace and calmness after months of worry. But no. I’m grumpy. Even with my dog. True, it’s been a most revealing and tiring three months since I found the cyst. Yes, I had minor surgery and there is such a thing as recovery time. Yet this feels somehow edgier and deeper than what’s been happening recently.

 

Then I remember something Pema Chodron wrote in her amazing book, Practicing Peace in Times of Wa...

April 3, 2009

 

I often travel in the spring to see family and friends. The season’s spirit of renewal pulls me—I drop by an old friend’s house after years of being away; her hug is the same—bountiful and real. I take in the synchronicity of quick meetings, long dinners, and reel in the beauty of the world renewing itself one more time.

 

This season also contains a memory of difficult times when someone promised, “This too shall pass.” It all does—the season, the insights, the hard times, the conversations—like the warm sunlight between rain clouds. Yet it all comes back in new forms…the ongoing seasonal cycle, an inspired conversati...

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NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE