ON the Road to Calm

January 26, 2020

“Photography is the art of observation.

It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” 

- Elliott Erwitt -

Driving down the twisting road on Mt. Lemmon, we stopped at an overlook. The huge mountain-ringed valley where Tucson nestles was in full spring bloom, a chartreuse yellow blanket flowing over the washes, hills, and flatlands.

I pointed to the northeastern-most corner of the valley and declared, “That is where I want to live.” Barry looked at me. “Really?”

The next day I drove around by myself, writing down street names. I wrote our realtor and gave her the boundaries...

July 27, 2019

let go of your hold 

to your former selves 

allow the river to carry you 

this new trust 

is the undercurrent 

holding up your bones 

float 

- AKU_MATU* -

Four months have passed since I’ve written a blog. I found myself having nothing to write, as I took the March blog’s quote to heart and let the river of life carry me, trusting that my bones would be held and that I would indeed float.

I can’t say the last four months were easy. The turbulence was strong, and from what I’ve heard from friends and can sense in the air and in others’ eyes, I don’t imagine it’s been so calm for many of you either. 

Yet allowing myself to trust...

March 25, 2019

let go of your hold

to your former selves

allow the river to carry you

this new trust

is the undercurrent

holding up your bones

float

- AKU_MATU* -

Since last month's blog we've traveled a big circle from Colorado to Arizona to California and back again, heading for the southern deserts to escape cold weather and meet up with friends. Soaking up the warmth for a few days, two days of big rain and the sight of the Tucson valley ringed by snow-topped mountains surprised our heat-seeking bodies. With the return of the sun the deserts erupted into brilliant spring blooms cascading down hillsides and blanketing valley floors....

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.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •...

August 19, 2018

"We owe the world our real presence."

- Michael Meade -

August 1st. July had come and gone while preparing the truck and camper for the camping leg of our adventure.

Driving from western Colorado and across Utah the skies were filled with smoke, the usual desert colors muted to eerie tones of gray. It was 100 degrees outside, with strong gusty winds. The descent over the winding steep pass down into the Great Salt Lake basin made my body tighten with anxiety—speed and heights are not my friends. Then we hit rush hour traffic in Salt Lake City.

We were on the road to calm, and we'd made a wrong turn. 

Finally the traff...

May 30, 2018

When asked to speak about something of which he was certain, Albert Einstein replied,

“Something is moving.”

We're on the road somewhere, at the beginning of a months-long sabbatical, and I'm pondering how fast things change, how everything has been moving and transforming as the last of our bags were packed, the last errands done, neat lists became unreadable, and we've zigzagged in and out of six time zones in the last five days. As I went through the last folders on my desk, Einstein's quote and Anna Akhmatova's poem I Will Not Die an Unlived Life fell into my hands, perfect reflections of w...

November 29, 2017

It is hard to remember what fulfills and nurtures us alongside the challenges and moods that disrupt our day. We can view all that comes our way with curiosity while comprehending what is, and isn’t, out of our control. Or we can push and shove against the reality of the moment, with anger and a why-me stance digging us deeper into a hole going nowhere.

“Savage and beautiful country” is how writer Diane Ackerman has described life. Poet Ben Okri portrays life lived as, “ . . . gently / with fire.” The Dalai Lama writes of our days as “whatever happens to us, whatever occurs—the arising of something and b...

October 19, 2017

“Ambiguous losses are a particular type of loss that lack definition and lack closure . . .

hope lingers on, and it’s really hard to live in hope that is not met . . .

Humans don’t do uncertainty well.”

– Kelly Maxwell Haer, PhD.*

Similar to this moment in history, I grew up during the unsettled fifties, sixties and early seventies during years of nuclear threat, self-interested political leadership, ongoing war, social unrest, and the early years of environmental warnings. Within my own family, the silent unraveling of my parents’ marriage in my teen years, and my father’s sudden suicide when I was nineteen left me with...

September 19, 2017

After a substantial expenditure of energy—during times of crisis, a creative push, a pivotal choice needing to be made, a day gone suddenly topsy-turvy or just too busy, or the draining constancy of “things out of our control”—it’s easy to fall into any number of physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual states of depletion. Just as easily we can exhaust ourselves further by thinking this ‘feeling depleted’ is somehow wrong.

Which is what I’ve been doing to myself since The Book of Calm went to the printers almost two weeks ago. My concentration has gone subterranean, and inspiration is a barely glimpsed ghost of i...

July 31, 2017

“Oh you need to say yes a lot!” ­

– Naomi Shihab Nye. 

An idea can take hold of our lives and not let go, even if we have no clue how to manifest it, even if it seems to disappear for long chunks of time, or an old belief nags us with its whispered No. In the midst of finally listening to the idea and doing something about it, extreme emotions and physical aches can become the norm, and contrary to logic, this idea becomes the very inspiration that gets us up in the morning (often in la madrugada—the dark before the dawn).

Or at least that is what has happened to me over the last year, as old memories and stories jo...

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today as breath . . ."

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NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE