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: 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

 

Notre Dame

Reposted from March 2017Point zero*

Embedded in the cobblestones in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is this marker, the starting point of all main roads leading to French cities and the endpoint used for measuring their distances, the very heart of the country. DSC03304The cathedral itself is a visual encyclopedia of French culture and history.DSC03305

Beside the main altar stands a 14th century statue of the Mother. No matter what tradition you come from, she is the incarnation of compassion enfolding soul,  reminding me of Kwan Yin, (Guanyin) the Buddhist bodhisatva, sometimes compared to Mary.

I’m grateful to have this sanctuary nearby, to sit in silence, in candlelight, sending and receiving love through this portal, always, but especially in times like the ones we are living.

To be continued xxxxx Aliss

*Photo: Jean-Jacques Breton, Paris à vos pieds, editions Parisgramme, Paris 2013, p. 106. (Scan and color-adjustments, Aliss Terrell)

Pool of Thought

IMG_1125This oasis was unexpectedly entrusted to my sole care this week. Ice cold turquoise water, partially shaded morning and evening, full sun at midday.

My job: cover it at night, scoop out unfortunate bees, dragonflies, the occasional frog, ants, spiders, debris…and swim between T-storms.

First time ever to have a pool all to myself. 

No need to do laps…just play in the water, any stroke or combination of moves that feels good, watching clouds and flowers mirror in ripples across the surface along with endless random mental reflections.

This is when answers to lingering questions bubble up from my deep…how to dance within certain tricky social circumstances, a better way to phrase that sentence in my writing, a thank you note to send, wishes, intuitions about future stages of my life… Unscheduled, unstructured moments are when I receive what I can only describe as signals. As if my being needed an opening in my chatter with the world to synthesize and report back, the way information sometimes comes in dreams…

To be continued

xxxxxx Aliss