Paris Lockdown: Fallow Time/Dreamtime

Australian Artist Regina Karadada/Wandjinas

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Day 47-ish?

Confinement sleep roller coaster? Out like a light, then bizarre vivid dreams? You’re not the only one.

My latest crazy crop:

(Any ressemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental)

-Bought a penthouse with a swimming pool, fitness room, luxurious dining room with chandeliers.  Excited until I looked up at the sliding roofing and saw rusted iron fittings that needed a lot of (expensive) work.

-Having an affair with a friend’s husband (not!) stole all her jewellery (not!).

-In a new apartment with a window garden. Picked up a plant that was part cactus and part caterpillar, very alive and affectionate. It showed me where it wanted to be, a larger planter, more earth more space.

-Moving and all my possessions in a large red trunk that had to be transported up a steep hill. Husband drove off in a van without me, leaving me only a rickety bike.

-Hired to play the lead in a musical, but had only 24 hours to learn all songs and text before run through with producers.

-Went to China, staying in a Chinese hotel and eating local food. Noticed some bumps in my nose. Doctor examined me and said it was some kind of larvae. He showed me horrifying pictures of how it would develop: living creatures with fat bodies and appendages of all colours. No known cure. All of a sudden he put his mouth over my face and breathed antibodies into my lungs. Blew my nose and it was full of green stuff. I was all better.

Just writing this down is exhausting and disorienting.

Sometimes I feel like those poor chronobiology guinea pigs living in caves for months in the name of science. Deprived of sunlight, their circadian rhythms slide into oblivion.

Trying to stay on track with work, homeschooling, volunteering, communicating with distant family, but fewer deadlines, fewer interruptions, reprieve from transportation hassles and disrupted sleep put me in a fallow state, like the city parks that used to be packed with people, now returned to their own natural cycles. Between jolts of stress about the future, deeper resources are resetting and replenishing inside me. My mind and body are quieter, like the city streets with no traffic, where you can suddenly hear birdsong and human voices.

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(Buttes Chaumont, freed from people, April 2020)

Beyond my current dream circus, there are other dimensions of dreaming. The word Dreamtime echoes in my thoughts.

“The Dreamtime is a commonly used term for describing important features of Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and existence. It is not generally well understood by non-indigenous people.

The Australian aborigines believed that the land they occupied was once not in existence like it is today. It was free from form or life, vacuous – empty.

….the land, mountains, hills, rivers, plants, lifeforms both animal and human and sky above were formed by the actions of mysterious and supernatural spirits.

During the Dreamtime the creators made men women and animals…gave them their totems and their Dreaming…declared the laws of the land and how people were to behave to one another, the customs of food supply and distribution, the rituals of initiation, the ceremonies of death which are required to be performed so that the spirit of the dead travels peacefully to his or her spirit-place, and the laws of marriage….

Aboriginal people understood the Dreamtime as a beginning that never ended. They held the belief that the Dreamtime is a period on a continuum of past, present and future.”

More information and an energizing dip into in the realm of these people and their art:

https://www.aboriginal-art-australia.com/aboriginal-art-library/aboriginal-dreamtime/

What if confinement fallow moments are our Dreamtime?

Can we be the ancestors dreaming a better future into being?

 

Climate activist and social change visionary David Gershon believes humanity can use this unique moment in history as a chrysalis to create Peace On Earth in 2030:

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http://peace2030.earth

 

Entrepreneurial Soul Coach Rha Goddess calls the pandemic a Sacred Pause. Check out her FB live with best selling author and Green Pioneer Queen Afua about healing ourselves and the world:

Can we be Cathedral Thinkers?

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(Rose window, Notre Dame de Paris)

“The concept of Cathedral Thinking stretches back through the centuries to medieval times, when architects, stonemasons and artisans laid plans and began construction of the soaring, cavernous structures that served as places of worship, community gathering spaces and safe havens.

Since then, the concept has been applied to space exploration, city planning and other long-term goals that require decades of foresight and planning so future generations can enjoy their full realization.”

Listen to Ian Sansom interview Dr. Simon Beard as he “meets the people daring to dream beyond their own lifespans and wonders how he might go about doing so himself. As he explores contemporary cathedral projects with the potential to shape the future of science, technology and environmental protection, Ian asks what we can learn from the original medieval cathedral thinkers and if cathedral projects are all voyages of discovery into uncharted territory.”

https://www.cser.ac.uk/news/radio-4-cathedral-thinkers/

Let there be dreaming…

xxxxx Aliss

 

Paris Lockdown: Turn on Your Inner TV

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“Private Moon” Leonid Tishkov, Grand Palais expo La Lune, June 2019

Week 5 

Monday evening, April 13th, when President Macron announced another month of confinement, I felt both relieved and  challenged. Relieved because there’s a potential date to look forward to and challenged because I have to keep playing confinement sheriff to my teenager (whose friends seem to be escaping restrictions and parental control in ways I can only guess at). Not to mention the many questions: how to stay healthy, how to manage as a family in close quarters, how to uplift isolated family members from a distance? And what happens after confinement?

We’re all stretching beyond old habits to fill this time as productively as we can, inspired by the essential people keeping us alive. As we try to stay busy, are there open spaces in our new routines to pick up signals from inside? Whatever you call it, intuition? inner wisdom? consciousness? It comes in different forms like remembering a conversation or noticing a book, coming across a forgotten note on a post-it, following a hunch to call or email someone…connections to our next steps and maybe even a path to reimagine our world?

In spare moments, visualization and guided meditations can hone this access to our deeper selves and help us learn to trust it. I started researching and exploring it a while back when I felt completely stuck. It helped me so much, I wanted to share it with people I mentor and coach.

Here’s a mini workshop I put together for kids and teens so they could use this tool to expand their creativity, self confidence, and problem solving skills. It works well with adults, too renewing our playfulness and innocent imagining. If you’re a parent, listen with your kids.

The first part is a short introduction, “What is Visualisation?”

The second part is a guided meditation, “Turn on Your Inner TV”

Thank you to American bansuri flute virtuoso Steve Gorn for permission to use his gorgeous “Luminous Ragas”

https://stevegorn.com

And to Russian artist Leonid Tiskov for permission to use my photo of his magical “Private Moon” (Grand Palais’ 2019 “La Lune” expo). For more about his art:

https://leonidtishkov.com

Now or for future reference…

xxxxxx Aliss

Paris Lockdown: Today I sponsored a goat

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Day 18 (I think?)

In my last post I mentioned that a neighbor was hospitalized with COVID-19, on a ventilator and recovering. He passed away suddenly on Friday and all of us in the building are grieving. To respect the family’s privacy I won’t give details, but he wasn’t elderly, was the breadwinner and pillar of his family, devoted father, always smiling.

Of course we must stay positive and focused, on our gratitude for every day blessings and on dreams for the future.

So today, I sponsored a goat. Her name is Larmes de Joie (Tears of Joy) and she lives in La Drome Provençale, a department (state) of southern France halfway between Lyon and the Riviera. It’s in the valley of the Rhone river, foothills of the Alps. (Geography buffs please chime in?)

We’ve been supporting our local essential shop owners and workers as best we can, but feel helpless in the face of hardships endured by farmers and fishermen in France and everywhere, losing their markets, their helpers and workers… so many tragedies.

When I saw a post by Larmes de Joie’s owner on Facebook and all the pictures of her and her herd sisters on their website, it was love at first sight. Sponsorship is not cheap, but you get 2k (5 lbs!) of cheeses delivered to your door, some fresh to eat right away and some that can keep for a long time. Raw milk goat cheese is so essential to France’s lifestyle, culture and endangered microbiome that I decided to go for it. The goat farmer, Claudia, has given me permission to share her website:

https://les-fromages-de-chevre.mywizi.com

Her story is very inspiring:

https://les-fromages-de-chevre.mywizi.com/notre-histoire.html

More coming, translated in English…

xxxxx Aliss

 

Paris Lockdown: Grief and Grace

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This bouquet is still beautiful more than two weeks after I bought it at Fioretti 18 avenue Secretan, Paris 19, specialist in fresh, sustainable local flowers. I hope the shop survives confinement.

Day 14 (I think)

The virus has struck closer to home. A neighbor across our courtyard is hospitalized and on a ventilator. From what we’ve heard, he’s recovering, but this means the virus is in our building. More seriously,  a new family friend has just lost his dad. I’m sad for our friend, even more so because I had planned to visit his dad at his retirement home and didn’t get there in time because of COVID-19 confinement. He was an elderly Russian gentleman I was looking forward to meeting for two reasons. First, I have a soft spot for elderly Russian emigrés because talking to them is how I learned their difficult, beautiful language. Second, my own mom is in a retirement home across the ocean and I wish more people could visit her. I’m always looking for ways to focus on the bright side, but this death crystalizes my grief about COVID-19 and other things from the past few months, too many to list. Everyone has their own. A meme from @_happyasamother on Instagram  :

Itsokaytogrieve

And thank you to Renée Vizzard Worthington, our friend who is Program Officer at the Meridian International Center, for sharing “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,”  an article by Scott Berinato, colleague of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross:

“…we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Perhaps acknowledging our sadness as it arises can open a path to grace? In my understanding, grace is akin to a miracle, something unexpectedly wonderful that defies normal logic.

In psychological terms, this can come as a shift in our relationships and health when we release mistaken beliefs about ourselves and unconscious projections on others we hold responsible for our problems. Grace can come in conversations with open-minded listeners, cathartic art, travel, retreats, rituals, vision quests, mantras, prayer, poetry and other experiences that change our perspective.

In the Judéo-Christian tradition, grace is the child of compassion and forgiveness, freeing us from Karma, the maze of outcomes determined by past events.

Here are two meditations to help make the leap from grief to grace.

The first is a gem from Sylvia Boorstein, self-described Jewish Buddhist, therapist and grandmother. It’s short but very sweet:

http://onbeing.org/blog/sylvia-boorstein-a-lovingkindness-meditation/

The second, a Service of Light and Breath, comes from Rev. Michelle Wahila, a young pastor here in Paris, whose inclusive wedding ministry, Ruffled by Grace, and body-positivity workshops have been put-on hold by the COVID-19 restrictions. It offers a way to hold grief and hope through deep breathing and Judeo-Christian ritual.

http://ruffledbygrace.com/a-service-of-light-breath/?fbclid=IwAR3_34wJ4noBJ_ZXQZ2FJIMZVsbuUF6DeYHzZ1C7Z3bV2gOLtIbERKX7I4s

Last but not least, a view of grief from the Islamic world, the poetry of Sufi mystic Rumi:

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.

God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flower bed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.

Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, “Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines.” Then the phantasm goes away.
You’re back in the room.
I don’t want to make any one fearful.
Hear what’s behind what I say.

Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There’s the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I’m only talking about them,

as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.

Translated by Coleman Barks

xxxxx Aliss

Paris Lockdown: Resilience

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My world has become both smaller and larger, close ups magnify: butterfly on wild strawberry and magnolia leaves in my courtyard

Day 6 (I think):

Fear keeps rearing its ugly head. Worst case scenarios like “What if I never see my loved ones across the Atlantic again?”

Making a list of end-of-the-world situations our first-world grandparents, parents and we have come through over the past century: WWI, “Spanish” flu, Great Depression, WWII, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korean and Viet Nam wars, May 1968, Cuban Missile Crisis, Oil Crisis, Chernobyl, 9-11 Gulf Wars and Recession, Financial Crisis of 2008,…Pandemic?

Am I leaving anything out?

Fortunately French artist Catherine Jonville relayed this on her feed: *

(my translation)

From French radio station France Inter published on March 16 2020 at 6:57pm

“Boris Cyrulnik: After the coronavirus, there will be deep changes, that’s the way things work. 

 
The neuropsychiatrist was interviewed by Ali Rebeihi in the program Grand bien vous fasse, devoted to the epidemic. He explained how our society can survive this crisis and become resilient.

 

 
“We have to adapt to an invisible agressor. Humanity only evolves through crisis. After this crisis, the family and the couple will once again become havens of peace.
 

Crises are part of the human condition. There have been ice ages where we had to adapt by hunting more. And during the periods of global warming we had to farm more. We have already faced many epidemics which have triggered cultural revolutions, great adaptations.

 

 

Right now with quarantine and confinement we must focus on inner exploration. 

 

Along with reading, cooking will become more important whereas before we snacked on industrial food. We’ll listen more to the radio and music. We’ll adapt by retreating into ourselves, we’ll rediscover the values of our grandparents.

 

For those who worry about their jobs, their family, their children, I say we must worry about taking protective measures. If we follow them, uncertainty will decrease. If we adapt to confinement, there will be fewer reasons to worry.
 

When the epidemic is over, we will see that we have dusted off old values which will serve to develop a new way of living together. 

 
Every time there’s a natural catastrophe, there’s a cultural shift. After the trauma, we have to discover new rules, new ways of living together.
 
In the Middle Ages, people hadn’t understood that they had to quarantine. Infected people spread the bacillus everywhere. And in Europe, two years after the plague of 1348, half the population had disappeared. When the epidemic was over, social values had changed completely. People discovered the art of homemaking. Before that art was essentially religious. Suddenly there were stilllife paintings of game and fruit, carpets under the tables. 
 
Above all, the production relationships had completely changed. Before the epidemic, most people were considered as serfs and sold with the land. Afterwards, so many had died that the survivors who agreed to work were no longer serfs. They had to be paid for their work. Production relationships and the hierarchy of values had been completely transformed.”
Boris Cyrulnik is an psychiatrist, behavioural scientist and author, best known in France for developing the concept of resilience in psychology. He knows his subject from the inside, having survived as a Jewish child during the Nazi Occupation of France, as his parents perished in concentration camps.
For more about his life and works see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Cyrulnik
*For more about Catherine and her art, see:
https://www.catherinejonville.fr/?fbclid=IwAR0fGjI2Dbxz7MCFV_QanKQAwXsgB1balPggfSIMWlhOanfsAiuG8KgKoYs 

Focusing on gratitude, connecting, going outside, moving my body, cultivating beauty, and releasing expectations of “normal” (see previous post)

Wishing you  resilience!

xxxxx Aliss

 

You, Darkness

adventFlame on a December morning:

You, Darkness

Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated from the German by Robert Bly

You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything:
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! —
powers and people —

and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.

 

Still, Look Up

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(Glass walkway and trampoline under the dome at Galeries Lafayette, this week)

Horrendous world news… What to do? Vote, donate, vote with our spending, listen, support any way we can and keep looking up… From all the brain research I’ve read, literally directing your eyes upward stimulates the frontal cortex, center of creative imagination and projecting ourselves into the future. MRI tracking shows that when this area is activated, the brain functions as a whole, harmonizing the fight or flight and emotional areas, with the inventive part. So this is what we need to design a different world.

xxxxx Aliss

Saving Mount Greylock

DSC02872When I despair about news of the environment, I think of visiting Mount Greylock, in western Massachusetts, and seeing pictures of its transformation from industrial wasteland to green paradise, all the more amazing because this was launched by a group of businessmen:

“Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet (1,063 m). Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams (near its border with Williamstown) in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting Berkshire Hills to the east. The mountain is known for its expansive views encompassing five states and the only taigaboreal forest in the state….

By the late 19th century, clearcutting logging practices had stripped much of the mountain for local industries that produced wood products, paper and charcoal. Along with this came devastating forest fires and landslides. Following a fire on the summit,[29] a group of local businessmen concerned about the mountain incorporated the Greylock Park Association (GPA) on July 20, 1885,[30][31] and purchased 400 acres (1.6 km2) on the summit. The GPA also undertook long-needed repairs to the Notch Road so that carriages could access the top. Aside from shares to fund its operation, the GPA charged a 25-cent toll for the carriage road and a 10-cent fee to ascend the iron observation tower (built 1889).[23] These fees are equivalent to $9.53 in present-day dollars.[32] …..

Additional support came from the Massachusetts Forestry Association’s initiative to advocate for the establishment of a state park system, and to make the case point, fight inappropriate development of the state’s highest peak, Mount Greylock. The principal argument for making the mountain a public reservation was to protect the Hoosic and Housatonic River watersheds from erosion due to recent trends of deforestation (particularly noted on the Adams side). Another concern was to preserve it for the public rather than private and exclusive enjoyment. On June 20, 1898 Mount Greylock State Reservation was created, with the stipulation that the state add to the original land (to ultimately total 10,000 acres (40 km2)). With this acquisition the first public land in Massachusetts for the purpose of forest preservation was created, later to become the state park system….”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Greylock

Worth the pilgrimage, all the more because the location has now been immortalized in the writings of J.K. Rowling as the site of a North American wizardry school…

To be continued xxxxx Aliss