How to be your own Valentine (and outsmart winter blues)


So, as planned,  I made Christmas last until the end of January. Then decorations were put away, tree recycled,  pictures sorted, cards sent, presents played with, playlists turned off, virus waned, work and life went on along with the darkest winter in three decades, heavy, gray, damp. Jealous of NY weather, I grumbled, “This is it, I’m done, have to move to a place where I can see snow”.. and presto-change-o, Lumos Maxima! This week we had the biggest Paris snowfall in 30+ years, 10 inches in 24 hours… Suddenly lightness and brightness instead of gloom.DSC04122.JPG

Later in the week, the sun was even shining on the snowy roofs and city gardens.

Of course it wasn’t all fun. People were slipping on icy pavements, or stuck in cars and transportation. (Not to mention the homeless and refugees living on the streets.) Thirteen beautiful trees keeled over in our Buttes Chaumont park up the hill.

In any case, a big life lesson. Everything can change in a few hours…

But, we’re not “out of the woods” yet. Spring doesn’t arrive for another 7 weeks and knowing this part of the world, we could definitely enter a depressing weather tunnel again. So here are some strategies to outsmart the end of winter:

  • Be your own Valentine! Create an atmosphere of “anything can happen” expectancy. Make a list of things you love to receive and enjoy–hugs, flowers, pretty chocolates, massages, pedicures, compliments, cards and postcards, dinner invitations, high tea invitations, party invitations, concert/theater/museum tickets, hearing a favorite song, “I love you” texts in your inbox, trip to the pool, a walk in a beautiful landscape, vacation plans, flattering pix of yourself, happy pix of you with people you love, smiles, fun movies… Whatever your heart desires. Write each one on a piece of paper, fold up and put in a jar or box by your computer, labeled “Open Me.” Then open one a day until Valentine’s Day (and beyond) and give these things to yourself within 24 hours, or at least schedule it. (I guarantee you won’t remember the entire list and you’ll get a spontaneous lift.)
  • Even better! Turn the energy around. Be everyone’s Valentine! Give yourself all of the above and invite a special person or people to join you. Giving is receiving, right?  You’ll get a love boomerang!
  • Music! How to create a magic holiday updraft? Back in the 60’s, French otolaryngologist Alfred Tomatis discovered that Mozart violin concertos stimulate the cerebral cortex, creativity, optimism, and calm efficiency. Researchers theorize that it’s about inducing beta waves in the brain. Who knows. Try it and see. Another good bet: the complete works of the Beatles in chronological order, Irish bands Kila and Solas, Bretons Alan Stivell and Dan Ar Braz will get your blood moving (let me know if you suddenly start repainting and remodeling your apartment single-handedly). You can experiment with light transe-inducing gamelan, dance to “Happy” by Pharrel and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, float to Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé, or maybe your taste runs to Macklemore, whatever, have fun, see what works!!
  • Have a crepe party! La Chandeleur was earlier in the week and Mardi Gras falls on February 13th, two occasions to make dinner pancakes! Organic hard apple and pear ciders are prominently displayed on grocery store shelves, buck wheat crepes grilled in big skillets with your choice of cheese, mushrooms, ham, egg yolk, sautéd onions or shallots, sour cream… plus green salad on the side, is very festive, you’ll see.*
  • Take advantage of these weeks to make other winter recipes that are easy to burn off in cold weather. Some new faves: Reblochon fondue in roasted potimaron pumpkins, wild mushroom fricassee (thank you Sylvia Sabes) 🙂 Leftovers from both of these can be turned into soups and fabulous mini mushroom croissants… Pumpkin fonduDSC04062
  • Details coming… (Thank you Z Worthington for the fondue picture)

*Got these dates mixed up at first but now they’re correct 🙂

To be continued xxxxx Aliss





Not blogging as much as I’d like because getting back into music… Just released this reggae,  about transforming scary energy, feels timely, swings. The cover is a photo I took of street art in NYC. Check it out on i-tunes, Amazon, Deezer… To be continued xxxxx Aliss

Sanity Savers 13: Real Music (updated 30/3)

Omar Sosa (Cuban pianist), Seckou Keita (Sengalese Kora), Gustavo Ovalles (Venezuelan percussionist), Meiko Miyazaki (Japanese Koto), and Ana Carla Maza (South American cellist, singer), recent concert at Café de la Danse…DSC03309

Perfect concerts are very rare. If you want to experience one, catch this ensemble on tour to promote Sosa and Keita’s latest collaboration, Transparent Water. Would you call it World Jazz? There seem to be different guest stars depending on the evening, bringing unique influences and styles. On March 16th, the line-up was Afro-Cuban, Asian, Afro-Arabic, and Latin American, beginning with Ana Carla Maza’s spirited singing in English, Spanish, and French, accompanying herself on electric cello. Her version of Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Javanaise” was a show-stopper. She was followed by the three men, who were later joined  by the Japanese virtuoso. Everything was gorgeous and surprising: sound quality, lighting, variety and intricacy of instruments, non-verbal communication between musicians, their delight in each other’s skill and playfulness, vocal solos, and harmonies. It all blended together in a pulsating sensual caress. Especially fascinating: the huge Kora looked like an extraterrestrial antelope’s head with dozens of strings stretching from its horns down its back and the Koto like a giant sea-creature carcass with many ivory bridges supporting its thread-like “bones.” Among the percussionist’s accessories was a wooden tube that released a subtle curtain of water and sparkling  treble notes into a miked bassin.  Enjoy! xxxxx Aliss





Horizon Therapy/Back to School (updated Sept 4)

Atlantic Coast near Deauville, August 31, 2016DSC02927


From the Online Etymological Dictionary site:

horizon (n.) Look up horizon at Dictionary.comlate 14c., orisoun, from Old French orizon (14c., Modern French horizon), earlier orizonte (13c.), from Latin horizontem (nominative horizon), from Greek horizon (kyklos) “bounding (circle),” from horizein “bound, limit, divide, separate,” from horos “boundary, landmark, marking stones.” The h- was restored in English 17c. in imitation of Latin. Old English used eaggemearc (“eye-mark”) for “limit of view, horizon.” The apparent horizon is distinguished from the celestial or astronomical horizon.


horizon ‎(plural horizons)

  1. The horizontal line that appears to separate the Earth from the sky.
    A tall building was visible on the horizon.
  2. The range or limit of one’s knowledgeexperience or interest.
    Some students take a gap year after finishing high school to broaden their horizons.
  3. (geology) A specific layer of soil or strata
  4. (archaeology, US) A cultural sub-period or level within a more encompassing time period.
(line separating Earth and sky): skysillskyline


So what is on the horizon as we start a new school year? The next level we want to reach? The limit we want to  transcend? Our intention for our next circle around the sun? Personal? Professional? Global?

As I sift through answers, I remember a song I heard kids singing at Wayfinder Experience bardic circle campfires:

There are many versions, lyrics adapted from a Chinese proverb and put to music by Sharon Durrant…

When there is light in the soul

There is beauty in the person

When there is beauty in the person

There is harmony in the home

When there is harmony in the home

There is honor in the nation

When there is honor in the nation

There is peace in the world


To the light in our souls   xxxxx Aliss


Dreaming on the Sky


Looking up, projecting inner visions on the sky, our infinite screen, opens imagination.  What do we want to take with us into the New Year?  What do we want to leave behind?  What bridges do we want to cross?  What do we love so much that we can’t not do it?  When we put our hearts fully into a dream, it changes us and our “reality.” Most people hate the word commitment, but here’s another way to look at it:

“As long as we are not committed, doubt reigns, the ability to withdraw remains and inefficiency always prevails. Concerning all acts of initiative and creativity, there is an elementary truth,the ignorance of which has countless consequences and aborts splendid projects. At the moment we fully commit, Providence also goes into motion. To help us, all sorts of things take shape, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. An entire chain of events, of situations and decisions create in our favor all manner of unplanned incidents, meetings, and material support that we would never have dreamed of encountering on our path…Everything you can do or dream of doing, you can venture. Audacity contains genius, power, and magic.”  Goethe, The Power of Commitment

Let’s throw our big dreams for ourselves and the world into the sky: health, happiness, creativity, abundance. No dream too big to come true.

Happy New Year! xxxx Aliss



Love Forever True

DSC02401I’m inspired by these two creatures living on the canal around the corner from my building. Year in year out I see them swimming together, cob and pen, raising their cygnets, feeding, flying over the water.

If there’s one thing I wish everyone for the New Year, it’s love.

xxxx Aliss



Yet In Thy Dark Street Shineth


Joyeuses Fêtes=Merry Christmas and Happy New Year=Happy Holidays

The waters of life continue to flow in tears of sorrow and tears of joy. My friend Marilyn lost her young daughter this week and yet in darkness she was a source of light, giving thanks for the years they had together and allowing her child’s life to give life to others. Thank you to everyone in distant countries holding her in their thoughts. I believe the love we send out is never lost and maybe even saves the world. As we start another trip around our sun, our moon reflecting its light, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and home. Wishing you all radiance….