Pioneering Spirits

The Spirit That Counts

When we were young, we approached the holidays with anticipation because we “knew” they contained magic. We believed in a world of open-ended possibilities.

But then we grew up, and we moved further and further away from such things and, sadly, from our natural, spiritual, way of being. As adults, too often we allow the expectations of others (parents, religious leaders, teachers, family, friends) to be placed upon us, along with the associated guilt, if we do not live up to them. For many, the holidays have become nothing more than pressure-filled weeks chocked full of check lists and coping mechanisms. And now, deep down, we feel that we have lost something and we don’t know what it is. [Read More…]

Kindly Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

Nicholas as a babyWith shopping, cooking, decorating, organizing, scheduling, mailing, and the balancing of familial personalities, holidays are not always as joyful as they are stressful. While the rest of us will be running around like chickens…or turkeys…with our heads cut off, my son will be awaiting the arrival of the red-suited man with the jolly laugh. I remember doing the same as a hopeful young boy.

I can remember the glory of Christmas Eve when I was a kid. The house was filled with green and red anticipation. Unmistakable seasonal aromas hung in the air in and around our cozy kitchen. My mom made pans upon pans of butterballs,date cookies and egg biscuits each in their own sugary powder or glaze. I’m not saying that family drama wasn’t going on around us, only that I cannot remember it from my blissfully ignorant rearview mirror. [Read More…]

Third Daughter

Apple GirlShe is my fourth child and my third daughter. She holds a special place in the order of the family.  She is my last child. The others are grown or grown enough to be out of the house. She is the child I long to be closer to. She is the child who pushes me away and the child who needs me the most.

In 1981, I gave birth to my son. I was 23 years old and single. In 1995, I married and at 48, in the prime of mid-life motherhood, I traveled to China to bring home my third daughter. Mei Mei means little sister in Mandarin. I traveled with my two older daughters, also adopted from China. We were a fearless bunch maneuvering our way through Hefei, the city where my third daughter is from; all speaking Chinese together and attracting a crowd wherever we went. [Read More…]

The Wilderness of Motherhood

wildernessA pregnancy test is like a Rorscach: one’s inner world gets tossed back at her in sharp relief. I stared at mine and felt the weight of my childhood and the hope of a different future in a dizzying twist of emotions.

My own mother had become pregnant with me in 1968, when she was single and an as yet undiagnosed schizophrenic. Exhibiting a striking combination of paranoia and common sense, she moved herself and me a few hundred miles away from her dysfunctional relations and embarked on the next 13 years of our life together. [Read More…]

Losses and Gifts in Midlife

Aging as a Spiritual PracticeSince the 2012 publication of my book Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser, I have been leading workshops and working with groups to explore how to negotiate the path of aging in today’s complex and hyper-busy world.  Among baby boomers one of the challenges is being caught in middle between two other generations: children and aging parents.  If the children span the ages from young school-age to adult, two generations expand to three!

Recent studies show that 35% of young adults in their 20s still living with parents—with more still relying on their parents for financial and emotional support.  In addition, our parents’ generation is living longer than any in history—into their 80s, 90s, and even beyond. [Read More…]

Cyma Shapiro Interviews the Authors of The Mother’s Wisdom Deck

motherswisdomdeck125Q: Good Day, Niki. Thanks much for our time together. As a creator of Mothering with Soul, you have a unique, purposeful message. Tell me a little more about yourself, your collaborators, and your combined mission.

A: Thanks for having us, Cyma. It is an honor to connect with other midlife moms. As I was sharing with you, The Mother’s Wisdom Deck and Mothering with Soul largely grew out of our desire to marry our pre-motherhood life experiences and spiritual growth with the path of motherhood. Co-author Elizabeth Marglin (44), illustrator Jenny Kostecki-Shaw (38) and I (40) have each spent a lot of time traveling, studying with wisdom teachers around the globe, and contributing to the world as professional women.

Speaking for myself, I was totally unprepared for the changes that motherhood would bring. When I became pregnant, I was in the midst of a project to document the wisdom of indigenous elder women and thought that I would be able to continue my work with a baby on my back. My son had other plans. I can laugh now at my naïveté, but moreover I am grateful for how motherhood has enriched my life in ways that I never could have planned. Motherhood is about surrendering to something greater than myself and seeing what wants to unfold. The Mother’s Wisdom Deck supports that process of letting go and tuning in. [Read More…]

Mush Brain Ramblings (A Commentary on New Older Motherhood)

sticks and stonesThe whole issue of my age as a mother has never really bothered me. It is a miracle that I have Hope in my world and that both of us are healthy, happy and having such a wonderful time getting to know each other.

I don’t think of myself as an ‘old mother,’ simply as a mother. And, as such, I strive to be the best mother I can be.  Nothing more complex – just doing my best for an amazing little girl and doing all I can to ensure that she has a secure and happy life. I think that’s as much as any mother can do and generally what most mothers – old, young or in-between aim for. [Read More…]

Cyma Shapiro Interviews Suzanne Braun Levine, Author of You Gotta Have Girlfriends

img-youve-gotta-have-girlfriends_113600756248Q:  On the heels of your last book How We Love Now: Women Talk About Intimacy After Fifty,  what compelled you to write this new book?

With each book about women of my generation Inventing the Rest of Our Lives, Fifty Is the New Fifty, How We Love Now I talked to more women, did more research, and learned more about the exciting new stage of life we are exploring.  Every interview, no matter how wide-ranging, eventually got to the subject of girlfriends. “I couldn’t have done it without my girlfriends!” was the phrase I heard over and over again. I realized that I needed to write a book that focused on that life-enhancing subject. Hence, my just-out e-book You Gotta Have Girlfriends: A Post-Fifty Posse is Good for Your Health. [Read More…]

Listen and Be Heard

my life is my messageWomen – nurturers – are the most resilient beings in the Universe. Yet, no matter if you are in an aesthetically pleasing state, at the top of your career, happily mothering, or within the most profoundly loving relationship, you may tell yourself otherwise.  Most likely, you tell yourself that you could be more or do more.

I know this because I shared this affliction. Raised to believe that I was never enough, I strove every day to be more than enough.  It was not until my knees met the earth of my temporary dwelling place – a damp and musty basement – that I experienced an awakening. An old soul with cells full of trauma, I came to this place in wonder. Had my time expired? We all have these moments, if only we move out of the mind. If only we pause to notice our own heart beating… or breaking… and if only we listen. [Read More…]

101 Affirmations for Children

I compiled a list of affirmations for children, recently, from a wish to help mine with self-mastery and positive programming.  As adults, many of our limiting thought patterns can be attributed to childhood conditioning or having unconsciously adopted negative societal beliefs. While we look for ways to help realign ourselves, how about starting with a better way forward in our children? [Read More…]

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