Music…writing…lions, butterflies, healing and immortality…

Stock photo of a Monarch….Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 14.58.59

Music is my aeroplane, writing is my time machine…no, writing keeps me sane? Maybe all of the above…The story of my life, especially right now…

Those of you who check in from time to time have noticed I completely let this poor blog flatline over the last few weeks. Life is what happens when you’ve scheduled something else, and/or hell is paved with good intentions?

There I was early June, barreling along, getting stuff done, moving mountains and then Pow! A big disturbance in the force, that phone call you never want to get, one of my favorite people had passed away in her sleep, which is the best way to go that anyone could ask for, but a horrible shock for me, especially because I had just finalized plans to see her over the summer.Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 18.12.16

(My heart has been heavy since June 13th when this person left our lives, my sweet, funny, smart Aunt Barbie, my second Mom, inspiring mother, homemaker, health professional, business woman, story teller, hostess, fashion plate, decorator, traveler… No one can ever replace her and I can’t bear to say goodbye….)

This was two days before I was supposed to hop on a Eurostar for London to see some English music buddies and sign publishing contracts for a song we wrote and recorded together. While there I planned to take my son to see The Lion King, a required part of our family curriculum. When he suddenly came down with a flu bug and couldn’t travel, cancelling seemed like the best option… Yes, but MUSIC!

So went anyway. Put away sadness, put on a good face, and it was the perfect thing to do: move forward with a new song (more about that soon) that I can build a set around to get back on stage after a very long maternity leave, and brainstorm with my buds about sound, arrangements, the new Protools, gigs, etc.

… And the London cast of The Lion King gave new meaning to the word catharsis. (If you haven’t seen the stage version directed by Julie Taymor, you have no idea what you’re missing.) The Circle of Life and They Live in Me as interpreted by Brown Lindiwe Mkize as Rafiki were exactly what I needed.

DSC04365aIt felt like tears were coming up from my heart, through my eyes, and running down my face, in a loop of sadness and gratitude that the person I missed so much will always be in my life and our family. http://www.thelionking.co.uk/cast/

The next day, I sped back to Paris energized to sing and play a new song live at the Fête de la Musique as a guest of my favorite funk band, the Doodads.

At the top of my To Do list was journaling, going over my calendar where I scribble daily highlights and revelations, and then, when I have time, elaborate in my this-aint-no-bullet-journal-journal:IMG_1052

I had almost 3 weeks to catch up on while juggling other things, so it took many hours of pen to paper, off and on over several days until I was cross eyed and writers-cramped. Late at night when I was almost caught up I channel-flipped onto National  Geographic’s “One Strange Rock, Season 1, episode 10, Home.” http://onestrangerock.com/episodes/  Why now, why this episode?

It’s about Peggy Whitson, the distinguished, record-breaking female astronaut from Iowa. Her transformation from farm girl into Space Explorer is compared to the metamorphosis of Monarch caterpillars who liquefy in their chrysalises and emerge to migrate thousands of miles, all the way from our midwest and other far flung destinations, to Mexico, where they arrive every year on the Day of the Dead and are celebrated by local people as the souls of departed loved ones. Eye-popping Mexican make up and costumes included a full-body butterfly suit with enormous orange and black wings.

The next morning, when I journaled about this, it hit me: my aunt’s travel business was Monarch Travel and Cruises, and her logo was a monarch butterfly! OK, maybe just coincidence, but stunning, like a wink from the great beyond, a beautiful metaphor for a soul connections, to make me smile.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says writing by hand connects us to our deepest selves. Right now I don’t have time to write every morning as she suggests, but my journaling marathons open up what’s under the surface, dip into my inner well, renew and inspire me, keep me sane, allow me to time travel forward and backward, connect the dots…

This one allowed me to resurrect this blog, no small thing…

xxxxxx Aliss

 

 

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Oh My Blog!

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(What we all want, right? To be welcome, to belong…This place makes me feel that…)

 Long time no post but I’m back!

Here’s the deal, all the blog energy got sucked out of my brain by unforeseen other stuff:

Finishing and publishing 4th interview for the Trump Antidote, child’s wisdom teeth removal surgery and complications, endless new administrative BS to renew son’s passport at foreign embassy that shall not be named for fear of bureaucratic reprisals, said son got his hair bleached (resulting in 2nd degree burns to the scalp), planning an author event for an esteemed writer friend who then cancelled… Mother’s Day prep (transatlantic flower order, sending card, calling), shopping for presents and dinner party for a dear friend’s birthday, overnight family escapade to the Picardy countryside, annual appointment with vet for cat vaccinations, organizing a camp out for Boy Scouts in June, managing my new Instagram account…

Lucky me! Got invited to the theater twice (El Cid, The Mercy Seat) plus 2 concerts (Lucy Dacus, Jazz Manouche ensemble) had coffees, tea, lunches and dinners with various friends I don’t see often enough who were suddenly available… Russian visitors, US visitors, planning trip to London to copyright a song co-written with English musician friends, reservations for marathon trip to NY this summer…

Thank God work schedule was light but time to make more appointments… Home-schooling (Yes, me! Who would have ever thought? But that’s another story all together…) Made annual doctor appointments, found new dentist

Rehearsed and sang briefly at a charity fundraiser for the Emmaüs homeless shelter in the 17th.

Trying to walk and do yoga regularly, meditate, keep up voice exercizes, put together a set of my songs, some covers, and accompany myself on the guitar... Learning some new stuff to sing with US musician friends at Fête de la Musique

Mainly… I made a commitment to myself on February 20th to finish revising my coming-of-age-memoir manuscript in 90 days, meaning by May 20. This was inspired by Marie Forleo’s webinar “How to get anything you want in 90 days” and the Oprah Deepak meditation experiences…

Went to my canal-side writing nook (pictured above) diligently at every opportunity…

Was off to a running start until all the above mayhem and Spring Break broke my stride, then May 1st, May 8th, May 17th and May 21st French holiday weekends made it hard to get back in the rhythm… Made amazing headway, but still have to go though it one more time, plus finishing touches and formatting. Let’s say I finished a new draft

I’ll have to ask  Marie F what she advises as a back up when you miss your deadline? Maybe I over-committed, set a too-ambitious goal?

I will keep you posted… so to speak… Meanwhile, highly recommend:

http://www.marieforleo.com

“LEARN HOW TO GET ANYTHING YOU WANT.

In this fantastic (and free) audio training you’ll learn three simple strategies that’ll give you the courage and confidence to create a business and life you love.”

To be continued!!!

xxxxxx Aliss

PS!!!! That’s not all! I just remembered I also replaced all my plants that got killed by frost during the winter and took a first-aid/CPR refresher!! Yikes!!!

Happiness Recipes: a musical massage! (25/3/18)

For guaranteed fun and uplift try Gamelan! If you’re in the Paris area, it’s easy, keep reading. If not, it’s easy, too, scroll down for link to online version  🙂  (Photo: Javanese gamelan at Cité de la Musique, Paris 19)DSC04180

This is really a cool thing to do, alone, with friends or family. If you’ve never heard of it before, gamelan is an ensemble of 30+ elements, native to Indonesia, mainly composed of percussion instruments such as gongs, metallophones or drums. Sometimes there are string insturments such as rebab, celempung (kind of cithare), and woodwinds like the selung, a sort of bamboo flute. Gamelan plays an important role in Indonesian society. Every village or wealthy family owns one. Each is blessed and respected. Playing is not reserved for an elite, all social categories can participate. Gamelan is played on many occasions, religious or official ceremonies and holidays, and is often accompanied with other art forms: dance, song, and shadow theater. (Photo: gamelan workshop, Cité de la Musique, Paris 19)DSC04185

Shadow theater shows (Wayang Kulit) take place all over Indonesia. They can last all night. A dalang (storyteller and puppeteer) uses hand decorated leather marionnettes behind a scrim to illustrate epic tales from the Ramayana that relate the good and evil deeds of mankind in relationship with the supernatural realm. DSC04186

Gamelan uses fewer notes than the western chromatic scales– one with 5 notes (selendro) and one with 7 notes (pelog). Virtuosity results not from individual solos but from coordination between all the players, who don’t learn alone at home, but always in a group. The 30+ piece ensemble is considered as a single instrument. There is no sheet music as such. The learning process is oral. Instead of naming the notes, numbers are used to indicate which gongs and which metal bars to strike with special mallets. Gamelan uses repetitive cycles that overlap to form sound mandalas! (The dragon below is part of a Balinese gamelan at La Villette, Paris 19)DSC04181

If you are in Paris, sign up for the next gamelan workshop:

http://philharmoniedeparis.fr/fr/activite/atelier-du-week-end/18745-gamelan-de-java?date=1528632000

If you are not in Paris, or just want to explore, click on this link to see 5 gamelans from different regions (Java, Bali, Sunda). You can play them using the buttons on the panel at left:

http://pad.philharmoniedeparis.fr/gamelan.aspx

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and see how the cycles form sound mandalas!Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 21.15.18

The workshop leader at the Cité de la Musique is very nice and well versed in gamelan culture. He demonstrates the techniques and gets everyone in the groove. Can’t recommend it highly enough! A musical voyage away from our western habits into a shared experience of soothing, almost transe-inducing, musical relaxation and massage.

Enjoy! xxxxx Aliss

Text about Gamelan adapted and translated from CNED, Éducation Musicale, 4/e, 2018