NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

A Celebration of Calm

October 26, 2015

 

Today I am celebrating nine years of Calm. Over the last six months, these nine years of coaching, writing, workshops, and embodying calm into my own life have been gathered, sifted, tempered and loved, resulting today in the unveiling of my new website.

 

Much has been tossed aside over the years, and what always steps to the forefront is Calm. To glimpse the significance of this, know that I once had a turbulent brain, a turbulence that kept me in a reactive, habitual state of either silence or crisis — states of being in the world that were puzzling at the least and sometimes hilarious— yet painfully limiting in reality.

 

In its generous company, I’ve found that Calm is not limiting. Nor is it passive. It is a firmly rooted, dynamic partnership of awareness and presence—a collective awareness of thought, sensing, language, and action—a solidity of presence that stems from the wisdom and power within clarity, compassion, and choice.

 

I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s book The Sound of Paper: Starting from Scratch, a 315-page book filled with short essays about the creative process. I am particularly struck by the one titled “Trust.” She speaks of Joseph Campbell’s idea that each of our lives contains the “tracery of destiny.” At the bottom of the second page I read, “We need only meet life; not combat it.” She ends the essay with the line: “We are as we were intended to be.”

 

These three illuminations have simmered in my mind over the last few days, leading me to a poem I wrote a few years ago about a vivid memory from childhood called “Some Things Never Change”—

 

There is nothing, nothing as good as the chocolate rum candies sold at the corner gas station ten long blocks from my house. I'm not allowed to go there by myself but I do—I shout ‘goin' for a bike ride’ and I’m half-way down the block before Mom can say no—coins jangling in my shorts pocket, pedaling slow and kind of swervy, then round the corner fast and straight and I’m out of sight.

 

Freedom whoops and a craving breaks out like sweat—a hunger for something I can't name—though lets itself be known in the dark brown beautiful shapes of twelve quarter-sized drops of chocolate, flat on the bottom, slightly plump as they rise to a curlicue swirl on top.

 

Nickels and dimes clink down the slot and the package plops out. I have this routine—no candy at the gas station—not even one. I wait and pedal all the way back where the asphalt ends and the dirt begins, then race for the tallest cottonwood tree that grows along the streambed and in the whispery shade nestled into chair-like roots, I grab at the white silky seed puffs that float down from the branches while a chocolate rum drop melts in my mouth—melts—I never chew.

 

Just me and the tree's rough bark poking through my thin summer top embroidered with purple flowers that match my purple shorts, the tasseled rubber of one handlebar imbedded in the dust. A pleasure large and entirely mine—defiance, risk and sweetness—clouds full of afternoon rain rumbling through green leaves.

 

Defiance. Risk. Sweetness. I still don’t abide by arbitrary rules and am not a follower, a tendency from my younger years that has served me well. I’ve been a late bloomer to embrace risk, yet am becoming increasingly comfortable in its soft grip. If Calm was a cake recipe, it would be the ‘Spice Cake with Pepper and Strawberry Preserves’ of my childhood, handed down from my maternal grandmother and unfortunately lost—the almost unbearable risk of adding lots of pepper to an otherwise proven combination of spice and sugar, the defiance of the norm that resulted in a dessert unlike any I’ve tasted since.

 

I hope to meet you in these pages that like signposts along an unknown road, will lead to increasing Calm among us all. I am most grateful for your readership and support as I’ve unconsciously grown into that “tracery of destiny” and ended up here, exactly as I was intended to be.

 

This post is dedicated to:

 

Therese Wells, my friend and internet wizardess with the patience of a saint, who has created a simply elegant website out of emails, a couple of long breakfast get-togethers, and her spot-on vision of how to convey who I am and what I do.

 

And to my clients, workshop participants, and readers over the last nine years — it is because of you that I know I’m on the right road.

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