Happy Everything!

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These rolled sponge cake and butter cream Yule Log Bûches are a French holiday tradition and a form of folk art, decorated with toy saws, holly leaves, chalets, deer, tiny presents, birds, evergreens, skiing Santas and more, each pâtisserie with its own special touches, flavors and colors…in this display alone, I see coconut, lemon, strawberry and raspberry versions, other shops offer chocolate, moka, vanilla…

Happy Christmas Eve and Hanukkah from Paris, everyone!

Let the light be reborn in all of us and the world…

xxxxx Aliss

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Fontainebleau Solstice

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Horizon, Tour Denecourt, Fontainebleau, December 2016

This may be too long for minds used to soundbites, but if you have the patience, it’s worth your time and concentration:

“Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail…

…Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.

One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. One by one also I number all those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements, with affinities of the heart, of scientific research and of thought. And again one by one… I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go; above all, those who in office, laboratory and factory, through their vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of earthly reality and who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.

This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering…

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.

This bread, our toil, is of itself, I know, but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain, is no more, I know, than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depths of this formless mass you have implanted — and this I am sure of, for I sense it — a desire, irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike:

‘Lord, make us one.’ “

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Mass on the World

Thank you Marion Woodman for your beautiful reading in “Rolling Away the Stone”

xxxxx Aliss

 

My Interview with Gail Straub @ The Trump Antidote: Methodology for Resilient Resistance

(Some people have had a problem with the links on this page. Please excuse the inconvenience. They should be working now. Don’t hesitate to contact me!)

A New Era of Creative Change

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My interview with Gail Straub, co-founder and Executive Director of Empowerment Institute and the Imagine Global Initiative for the Empowerment of Women

The election aftermath: existential disorientation, radical creativity, fierce unstoppable action, the Beloved Community, grass roots activism, climate change, compassionate engagement, her article “John Lennon Lends Me His Glasses,”… and where we go from here.

www.thetrumpantidote.com/interview

Gail Straub: John Lennon Lends Me His Glasses

www.empowermentinstitute.net

www.imagineprogram.net

Stillness and Dancing…

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“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets

Thank you Marion Woodman for introducing me to these lines in your lecture, “Rolling Away the Stone.”

I believe we can fly

dsc03091Lightening up for the holidays with shopping therapy, explored a new space opening in my off-the-beaten-track barrio. I’m torn between wanting to keep it all to myself or sharing it with the world… It’s Vill’Up in the 19th arrondissement, Metro Porte de la Villette or Correntin-Cariou. Brand new, with friendly faces offering samples of chocolates, frozen yoghurt, and mince pies, there are well-known chains (Marks and Spencer!!! Cultura, Sephora, Bensimon) and specialty shops I haven’t seen before, with unusual gifts, gourmet foods, spas, clothing for women, men, and children… plus restaurants, cinemas, and two new attractions: I Fly (pictured above, reserve in advance via their website!) and YOO MOOV (Virtual Reality Outer Space Experience? Will know more when it opens later this week)…

Laid out on three floors with a spectacular view over the park and Canal de l’Ourcq, it’s both welcoming and mind-expanding. Watching delighted kids and adults learning to fly with a coach in the glass air-tunnel tube, I remembered a story about the 60’s, during the Viet Nam War, when a large crowd of “Yippies” led by activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin vowed to exorcise and levitate the Pentagon with psychic energy as a non-violent gesture to end the war.

On October 21, 1967, 100,000 protesters formed a human chain with the intent of “chanting ancient Aramaic exorcism rites while standing in a circle around the building, (so) they could get it to rise into the air, turn orange and vibrate until all evil emissions had fled. The war would end forthwith.” For a hilarious account of the festivities, see:

http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/the-day-they-levitated-the-pentagon/

Inspite of this, and contributions from Allen Ginsberg, the Fugs, Benjamin Spock, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and others, the massive structure did not lift 300 feet off the ground, or even 3 as was hoped, but the widely mediatized event, described by Norman Mailer in his Pulitzer Prize winning non fiction novel Armies of the Night, fed a ground swell that eventually brought peace and paved the way for non-violent movements of the 80’s and 90’s (WAM, ACT UP).

So I’m wondering…what can we do to levitate the heavy-handed, mean-spirited bullies of our time? Maybe start by learning to fly, bring that lightness into our beings and project it outward until they lift off?dsc03092Meanwhile, gorgeous handmade traditional crafts, jewelry, lighting, ceramics, furniture, linens, cards, Christmas decorations at Storie:dsc03093dsc03094Sensual women’s fashions and edgy jewelry at Nina Kendoza (waterfall and cascading plants in window at back of shop, go see):dsc03095International cuisine, coffee shops with news stand, open late…dsc03096Frozen yogurt to sample, served with a big smile, and Flying Tiger gift shop in background:dsc03097Gourmet chocolates, mustards, olive oils, vinegars, at Le Comptoir de Mathilde:dsc03098One of a kind gifts and decor items from new designers at Boutique Éphémère:dsc03099And endless fun:

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xxxxxx Aliss

Winter Lights

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Thank you everyone for checking in. I haven’t been blogging much recently because I’ve been working on a series of interviews for another publication and getting ready for the holidays. My first interview will be up this week. Looking forward to sharing with you.

Meanwhile, I need to update non-Parisians on the refugee story I started last summer. An NGO called France Terre d’Asile opened not far away from where I live and thousands of migrants gathered in the streets of our neighborhood, “camping” on the sidewalks at busy intersections and under the Metro, so they could stand in line and apply for asylum status in France. Friends who distributed food and water said there were two main groups, one from Afghanistan and one from Eritrea (not Syria as we all thought at first). They were mainly young men, a few women and children. It was heart-rending to see tiny baby clothes drying on makeshift clothes lines in the sweltering city heat.

Starting in late July, the city and the regional government sent air conditioned buses, social workers, and police to evacuate the camps. We didn’t know where people were being taken but they seemed to be treated with respect the first time (I was a bystander). Word had it there were residences made available out of town, but the migrants didn’t want to be there, they wanted to be here. As they kept coming back, I saw fewer and fewer social workers and more police checking ID’s and loading the refugees onto buses about once a month. It got tense. Honestly I felt terrible for both “sides.” The city set up portapotties and faucets where they could, but the public health issues were off the charts. A journalist friend told me there had been a cholera outbreak in a nearby area, refuse and human waste were all over the sidewalks here.

One day I struck up a conversation with a sanitation worker over on the canal and he said he and his crew were understaffed and overwhelmed by the job, he was a life-long liberal voter but if he lived in America would vote for Trump. It made my blood run cold because we have presidential elections coming here in the Spring. On another walk, I watched a crew hosing down an area near Metro Stalingrad. I was 50 feet away and the odor was so strong I had to back way way off, so I can’t imagine what it was like for anyone involved. There were heart-warming moments: almost very afternoon young volunteers with a paperboard organized French classes for groups of refugees sitting on a grassy incline near the Rotonde. (see my previous posts)

Among my friends, opinion was divided. A photographer friend distributed food and documented the monthly evacuations, criticizing the police for not folding up the migrants’ tents and being rough. Others couldn’t bear watching the refugees sleeping on cold ground night after night and thought any place in France would be better than a slab of  concrete amid Parisian diesel fumes.

Finally about two weeks ago, the city not only evacuated the two groups, but put up barriers and posted small police vans to keep migrants from setting up camp again. Articles in the press showed brand new placement centers being opened in the 18th arrondissement and south suburbs. (I have to check on the local NGO, not sure if it’s still in the  same place or not…)

So, as the holidays begin, all our streets and shops are festively decorated once again like a picture postcard.

In all sincerity, I have to say it’s a relief not to see hundreds of tents every time I go out and (as a woman) the bands of young guys from Afghanistan wandering around made me nervous. When I dared say this to a male friend from another quartier he joked that I probably wouldn’t have minded thousands of young girls from Sweden camping here… Sorry, I know my politically incorrect paranoia is showing…

It’s unbearable seeing refugees on the news but having them on our street corner brought the wars home…Over the years, we’ve been collecting supplies for the new arrivals, but the numbers keep growing. A human rights lawyer friend said 70 per day in Paris alone…

I hope to interview a young French actress who has a very creative humanitarian project with people from the former “Jungle” camp in Calais, and other activists…

Sending love and light to all… xxxxx Aliss