Looking up…(update 15/6/17)


Art on the canal… Many NLP (neurolinguistic programming) courses teach that when a person looks up to their left they’re making pictures and when they look up to their right they’re remembering pictures… This is controversial but MRI scans seem to show that imagining activates the neo-cortex (frontal lobe and most recently evolved area of the brain). According to these studies, vizualizing a best-case scenario activates all parts of the brain (frontal-visual, mammalian-emotional and reptilian-survival) in synergy, and there seems to be a loop effect–looking up stimulates positive image-making… so why not try it and “see”? To be continued xxxxx Aliss

Stayin’ Alive


This July Paris is opening it’s first “Live Water” swimming area on the canal in my neighborhood, the result of decades of work by city governments and local activists who’ve brought the river water that feeds the canal back to life. Particularly relevant as summer returns and I’m coming back to life myself after terror episodes and two exhausting presidential elections…also  inspiring and galvanizing, as Trump withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Accords. Many of us are dedicated to keeping the planet alive and imagining a better future. He can’t stop us! xxxxx Aliss

Paris Pulse (updated Sept 9)


August 25th: Olive tree and cedar, Pavillon du Lac café, Buttes Chaumont, looking down towards the lake, yesterday morning, Paris 19th…

Emerging from jet lag, picking up the pulse, listening to people, remembering questions from a US friend…How are we living with terrorist threats, what’s going on with the burkini thing?

August 27th: It’s taken longer than I expected to compose this in my thoughts, partly due to jet lag slomo, but also because of the emotional charge on these questions:

How are we reacting to the terrorist threats here? The consensus is that more incidents are coming and we’re doing our best to prevent what we can and prepare for what we can’t prevent. There are soldiers patrolling the streets. I don’t see them every time I go out, but when I do, I thank them. Never thought I’d see the day. But no, there are no soldiers in my 12 year-old son’s school, and still no metal detectors. He and I took a mass-emergency first aid class at our town hall this spring (see March posts). I hope I’ll never have to use what I learned. If I do, I hope I can stay focused enough to save lives, including ours. One million fewer people have visited France since January than usually come. This summer alone tourist expenditures are a billion euros less than in previous years. On the other hand, 89% of French households maintained their vacation plans and now that August is coming to an end, I feel the life force returning to Paris. There’s a lovely buzz of people in my neighborhood, walking, filling sidewalk cafés. Reality check: France is still 3 times safer than the US!


In fact, I had fears about going home this summer, based on headlines from the past year. Once there, I was fine. Front pages have to be kept in perspective. Which brings me to the second question, “What’s going on with this burkini thing?”

As I tried to explain stateside, the bans were local ordinances in seaside towns still traumatized by July 14th, and would be overturned by the judicial branch in due course. This is exactly what happened yesterday, faster than I expected, when the Conseil d’État (State Council, like an administrative supreme court) ruled the bans illegal. Around the globe, people were absolutely convinced the bans emanated from the French government because they read “French Burkini Ban…” in the media. I was blown away by the intensity of their moral outrage. As someone who goes to the beach in a shirt, hat, and sunglasses, I would never tell anyone else what they can or can’t wear. Have to say I did find burkini timing a bit odd, only weeks after the attack in Nice. Could it really be completely by coincidence, totally without an agenda?  I’m struck by the fact that the most virulent statements in the controversy seem to come from people who’ve never lived in France, don’t speak French, have no inkling of cultural history or daily reality here. There’s much more to say, about France as a “secular” country, pros and cons…

For a good summary:


Meanwhile, the words echoing in my head are “context,” “compassion,” and “humility.” Can we try to see that there are always multiple perspectives? Talking about all this has made me humble.  OK, so I speak a few languages and have traveled. What about all the countries I’ve never been to, all the languages I do not speak, the cultural histories and daily realities I’ve never experienced? So…I’m going to try to keep this in mind at all times in the onslaught of headlines, sound bites, and social media flare ups… Keep talking to as many real human beings from different areas of the globe as I can, to get their inside take on local and world events, think before I react….

To be continued….

xxxxx  Aliss

Meanwhile in Paris

10333405_10152648423348899_8170936228487363108_oA memory from August 15th, 2014: “Paris, City of the Goddess… This morning in our courtyard I could hear bells ringing everywhere for a long time, the way it must have been before cars, watches, and smart phones, when the streets echoed with human voices and bells tolled the time. The city is almost empty and today is Assumption Day. You don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian to feel the feminine energy here. Notre Dame stands in the very center, where geobiologists say Telluric Currents meet and people have been drawn to worship from time immemorial. Traditionally all distances in France were measured from Notre Dame. When you were out in the provinces, the old road signs used to read ‘Paris Notre Dame xxx km.’ There are shrines to Mary everywhere with ex-votoes at the entrances and on the walls saying, ‘Thank you, Mary’ or ‘Thank you, Mother’ and sometimes details about the events of her intercession. Whatever your beliefs, these places seem like portals to another dimension where you can release your fears and pain if you are willing to trust that somehow they can be transformed through grace beyond human understanding…I thought this was all superstition until I moved to Paris. The Goddess of La République, called ‘Marianne,’ seems to be replacing Mary in some contexts. Her statue stands on one of the major squares of the city and in all the Mairies, or town halls, presiding over civil ceremonies of all kinds. If she allows us to imagine a higher power of justice and gives birth to compassion and hope, then is she Mary’s  secular sister… or daughter?”
 xxxxx Aliss

C’est La Life

Paris Plages, Bassin de la Villette, July 2016: sky, water, sun, greenery, people….momentary escape from machines and newsDSC02820

Thoughts on summer and the fabric we weave with our minds:

Spike in temperature, mini heat wave, living on top floor, challenge of trying to keep things cool. Close shutters, pull heat shades, live in the dark like Provençal houses. Unplug everything that isn’t necessary, but Wifi, computer, refrigerator, fans and portable AC still in use, all churning out calories like there’s no tomorrow. Machines to keep us and our food cool, machines to keep those machines cool, machines somewhere to make energy for those machines, and machines to cool the machines that make the energy? Multiply this times millions? Blame vehicle pollution, agricultural methane or our own machine addiction for global warming? Haven’t figured out a solution.

Spike in fear and anxiety from terrorist attacks, refugee camp around the corner (1200 adults and children being evacuated as I write this), US presidential campaign and nation-wide psychodrama…Taking mindfulness class, listening to sages, walking, breathing to keep calm. What part can we play? Meditating on rosé wine with ice cubes, laughing with friends around welcoming tables, vision of almost invisible golden threads linking us to loved ones everywhere when we smile, sing, pray, tell stories, listen, flowing into a glowing fabric, like an aura, joining the earth’s magnetic field, a shield of health to heal the breaks in so many places and keep u son track to the best possible scenario…

Mind over terror?

To be continued xxxxx Aliss