Sunday, 21 March 2021

C'est printemps!

 Happy Spring!!!

In Groundhog Year.  









Sunday, 28 February 2021

Changing Your Life

Feb 28, 2001 My little dog Lucy and I left NYC to move to Paris. 

Changing Your Life

I am asked quite frequently why I moved my life over to the other side of the Atlantic. I am always at a loss as to how I can answer this question holding on to the sincerity and spontaneity that was there at the beginning.  It is now 20 years.

“I wanted to change my life.” Then the inquirer waits for the other shoe to drop. How do you convey that it could take hours and then some to cover it, that this question is complex and that there would be so many shoes dropping on them.... if they really wanted to know.


I am a yoga teacher, 20 years now in Paris.

Years of offering Teacher Trainings at the Centre de Yoga du Marais in Paris allows me to say this introductory phrase which I never tire of,

Fasten your seat belts, because what you have wanted to manifest is being put into operation. Just as in the expression, ‘be careful what you wish for because you will get it.’

With the power of the teachings and the strength and knowledge of the teachers transmitting them, a shift happens. One takes a Teacher Training to first dive deeper into his or her own practice, the rest of the story unfolds with Grace. If you are meant to teach, you will teach. If it is meant to be, you will discover Grace in the most unexpected and then yes, truly obvious ways.

2000

I had been a fairly regular yoga student for 6 years, my teachers were asking me as they had previously before the dawn of this new year, 2000, would I like to take the Teacher Training, my answer is always the same. Yoga is what I do for me, I teach so many things, I come to the mat to learn, to receive, to put my antenna up, to be one with me for 90 minutes. 

Then something else happened.  One of the Wall Street executives that takes German language lessons from me offers me something. Tom is one of the handful of most dedicated German students at Dresdner Bank.  His exact words were, "I realize that you outside contractors get no bonuses, I know how small business work, my job is their financing, and I know what it takes to keep one afloat. We on this end have bonuses of embarrassing sizes. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable with what I would like to offer you from my bonus, but since it is more than I would have ever expected and since you are a source of my well-being in this job, I would like to share some of this bonus with you.”

It did feel awkward to me, kind of reckless, worthy of careful consideration, mostly I weighed the consequences on his feelings if I refused.

I accepted with a shyness but hearty dose of gratitude and thought the best thing to do with generosity is pay it forward, I looked at the check, it was the exact amount of the Yoga Teacher Training, I enrolled.

My teachers were wonderful and are dear friends to this day. I was so nervous teaching my final class. Friends came to support me and take the class. It was June and much of the nervousness and excitement was enmeshed in the fact that I was getting ready for my third annual trip to Paris with a stop at my mom’s in Germany and a visit to Michele in Trieste on the way. I was leaving New York for at least a month and again, my friends stepped in to care for Lucy for me.

Leaving her always broke my heart. I hated the handoff. She had seen the suitcase before and snuggled in anticipating another plane trip which she loved. But on departure day, when the leash was handed off to my friend and she knew for sure that she was not coming with me, she pulled against her collar toward me.  W hen my friends walked away, she dug in her 4 paws and said if I’m leaving her, you will have to drag my nails the whole way. I hated that, her role was to be by my side. We always knew our pact.

Of course I was always back for her and forever hope that deep down dogs know that. I came back with the news that I found an apartment in Paris for us. I put a deposit on a place, a tiny flat like the fellas and I used to find in flyers, peruse and fantasize about. The guys, Steve and Ed backed out but I decided to do this on my own, fasten your seatbelts. If you want it, it will present itself to you. I loved the little place, it was only the third apartment I saw and when the agent opened the door of the top floor apartment and I saw the sky windows in 2 rooms, yes, 2 rooms, with a door between them, I said, Yes! - accepting the asking price.   I had my checkbook and they took a check drawn from an American bank.

The details I would work out later. Something was moving me forward.

I came back to New York mid-July, I was in love with my Italian boyfriend, I had an apartment in Paris, France just won the World Cup, the mood was jubilant!

I had only graduated from an Intensive Yoga Study, YTT 6 weeks before, life was speeding up even faster.

Once my offer was approved, my father told me from Australia that he would help me with financing the balance, I said I would pay back every penny, I had renters interested in the flat and I would start the bedrock of my imminent move to France. The future came in on fiery heels.

My renters backed out at the last minute.

My dad said after my first payment to him, that he wanted to give me the rest of the apartment. 

Michele was coming to visit me in New York.

My Wall street job did not renew my contract for 2001. All this happened in a week.

Finally, the push that moved me abroad sooner than I ever anticipated, the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

We are the body politic so life is political, if you are a citizen in a governed society, you are political by definition. There is no such thing as being apolitical. This election bruised me. I saw division in my country like I never experienced before.  The systemic injustice of our electoral college. How one citizen one vote doesn't work out.

Florida. Falling chads. Re-districting, re-counts, refusals to recount and the coup de grace, the Supreme Court steps in after 6 weeks of confusion and chaos to call the election, the Supreme Court chose our next president, not We the People. I was angry, fed-up, emotionally exhausted and ready to leave. Immediately after Election Tuesday, I applied for permission to come to France to ultimately ask for a longue séjour. At the French Consulate on Park Avenue, my fonctionaire told me he was getting ready to retire and this was his last tour. I said I want to retire, too, he said I was too young.

‑‑What else do you have?  

‑‑Political asylum.

--Take a number. You have no idea how many applications I am getting now from the tri-State area.

--I’m a dancer, I have taught tap dance workshops in Paris.

--OK 

That was it, that was my entrée.

I filed, I waited, I decided regardless of the outcome, I was leaving anyway and I would go by tourist visa length to tourist visa length.  Thankfully I always had my mom in Germany to go to.   I needn’t have fretted because on February 14th, my visa was approved. I had pre-booked my flight for Feb 28, and now I could go with visa in hand, I was on my way.

Lucy and I moved into our little apartment in the Marais, a deux-pièce on March 1, 2001.


I want to take notice of things. 

NYC The final years and the ever growing list of reasons I want to move.

I loved returning home to Germany to see my mom and visit my friends in Stuttgart.  I was comfortable in Europe.

When I got myself over to London to visit three NY friends who had left the city for a while, I was enchanted walking the streets and neighborhoods, all day long well into the evening but most of all, I loved Paris.

When I auditioned for Maguy Marin on a brief trip to Paris in 1988, I stayed in a gritty area near Place de la République, danced in some grimy studios at Place de Clichy, walked the sublime boulevards, discovered tiny neighborhoods with even tinier streets and I knew I was going to return. I didn’t get a contract to dance in Paris, but at the time I had a nice contract in Stuttgart and shelved this idea for sometime in my future. I stayed in Germany another 2 years before returning to NY.

By the late 90’s I was restless, Lucy and I were running, all over the place, she quite the regular at my side, at rehearsals, in dance classes, more on this later.  She was actually cast once in a regional theater production of Camelot as Mordred’s flea-bitten dog.  She scratched her fleas on cue-a complete accident, the audience roared, the actors completely upstaged. As it were, Lucy really did have fleas. I was too busy to notice. Too busy to notice as well that 40 was around the corner.  Always running, but really living my life.  It was full, and yet not, New York can do that to you.  One never feels like one has quite measured up.  It's in the granite, in the bedrock, you have to be strong to stay here, you will be tested, you are being compared to others all of the time, but it ups your game continuously.  As a dancer I really didn't want to be good anywhere else.  My musician friends feel at their best here.  I don't know a single New Yorker who doesn't work really hard to stay here.

Running a loop around Central Park I saw a sign-up sheet for Fred’s Team, a fund raising initiative for cancer research to benefit the work at Sloan Kettering. The runner was required to raise 3000USD to be on the team which would run the marathon in Paris. Fred’s Team would take care of the rest, flight, hotels, marathon registration, etc.  At last, I thought, running around to do good. This surely fills a hole.  Fred’s Team was named after Fred Lebow who fought valiantly against leukemia. He was determined to use running as a means to fight the disease. Lebow was treated at Sloan Kettering, but eventually lost the fight in 1994 to a brain tumor.

I started to share the news of  Fred's Team with friends and colleagues.  Two of my closest friends signed up and they in turn incentivized other friends as well.. It was a chain of goodwill that eventually circled around my friend Steve’s niece who was diagnosed, as a toddler, with leukemia. The care she got at Sloan Kettering saved her life.  We raised the money among family, friends and colleagues, we trained, our sights on the first Sunday in April.  The Paris Marathon.

Lucy could not go to Paris with me, friends who loved caring for her once again stepped in to help me. My friend Judith’s daughter asked her family --since Michelle needs to travel so much, maybe she will just give her to us? Was I taking notice of things?

Edmund, Steve and I ran the Paris Marathon together, it was 1998. It has to be the most beautiful city marathon in the world. How can it not be? You begin down the cobble stones of the Champs Elysees, it is April, you run down rue de Rivoli and circle the Place de la Bastille filled with cheerleaders handing out fresh oranges, live music and more cobblestones, you run the whole Bois de Vincennes come out to circle the Bastille again, run along the Seine through the upscale neighborhood of Passy until the final stretch through the Bois de Boulogne and finish at the Arc de Triomphe. The city is beneath your footsteps. I was smitten.  I can fall just as hard for a place as a lover.  This relationship is now serious.

My friends/teammates bring up this crazy idea, “’Look how affordable this city is compared to New York, look at the prices of small apartments?  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a place to come to?” Our remaining days in Paris we can hardly move, we finished, got our medal, but we can barely walk. We sit in cafes dreaming about a little pied de terre. My pals and I look at the absolute possibility of it becoming true if we go in it together, à trois.

Back in NY my heart is already over there and now I want to figure this out.

 


I want to live a happy life.

I want to listen to what you just said.

I want to take notice of things.

Have animals teach me,

Have children reach me....

This little poem goes on, and I don't know who to attribute it to and I don't remember the rest of it.  It was taped to my door since high school, I grew up in San Diego, the little poem followed me to UCLA and then when I moved to NYC it got lost somewhere and I don’t know the source, just that these opening lines are etched in me.   I continue to add lines as life goes on, grows more complex, richer and deeper. 

Following the 1998 marathon and almost 40 I just didn't want to audition anymore, wondering if there would be a next show for me?  What would my life look like if it were not centered around auditioning for someone else's ideas? What kind of work do I want to do, what is meaningful to me? I asked these questions of my colleagues and friends and said what if we were to create something that simply came from what we always wanted to do, something not imposed upon us because we need to pay the bills, or perform something that does not speak to our sensibilities or even ethics?

We created a show called Wishes and Dreams. It was an innocent time and we had a wonderful time being who we were together. It was a cast of friends from past shows, our version of the “Gypsies”, the time honored fashion in musical theater when singers, hoofers, actors and dancers were on call and would happily jump in to fill a cast.

This community loves the rehearsal process even more than the show and this time is so special to me, we had a fabulous time together.

 

1999 can best be described as a frenzy of projection. Y2K, what will happen when the computers don’t roll over to 00? Planes will crash in the sky. The markets will collapse, what will happen to the banking industry? The  doomsayers were out in full force. It was nuts. My boyfriend at the time broke up with me because he said he had to devote his energies to safe-guarding the firewall at work.

Of course he did.

As things got more tumultuous, I went quiet and deeper inside. I want to live a simple life, I want to leave here, have a tiny apartment in Paris with Lucy, be where I feel simple.  

Among my friends in NYC was a large French family of eight. They had been relocated to the U.S. from Paris, a corporate transfer, a long stay.  My friend and three of her six children were in my tap classes.  They thought it charming and amusing how I would want to leave this fabulous boisterous city, give up what I have and have worked so long for to move to Paris. Be that as it may, if I needed a place to stay while I am working this all out, they would like to help me. When I am in Paris I can stay with the children’s grandparents.   I stayed with the Michelins for a couple of weeks one summer, spent an Easter holiday with the whole family, went back the following summer to seriously look at apartments and see what it would be like to live over there. I taught tap workshops and mostly volunteered to sub for classes to help get my foot in the door as a dancer and dance teacher.  I was taking this in earnest, my friends whose idea this was in the first place were intrigued, but it was clear that I was going to be doing this on my own

Back to NY from my little workshop in Paris, “It’s Michele here, I am a friend of Dino’s and he kindly gave me your number, would you like to have a coffee with me?”  Nice voice, friendly Italian accent.  Dino, I met through one of my running friends, he was Michele's cousin.  Dino's voice didn't sound like Michele's.  Michele's voice did something . Yes, a coffee would be very nice.

That’s how it started, conversation, a walk, a feeling of contentment, it was just a meeting, this was nice and he was going to go back on a plane to Trieste and September will come and life goes on.

But Michele didn't entirely leave, we stayed on each other’s minds. He got an email address, we wrote so many letters, shared our stories long distance, he sent faxes with cute drawings from the machine in his dad’s office. Something was up, This was special, we loved to write letters.  What did they mean?  Since he was in theater and smart, well read and kind, I was sure he was probably gay.  I loved not knowing and having a very special friend.

Michele worked on his theater projects, I worked on my next one, Stepping Over a Century, a creative reaction to the mania over the impending close of the year, the decade, the century, no, the millennium, which is not really beginning at 00, but 01,right?  But who is counting, who cares?   It’s a race for ratings on 24-hour news channels and the media has roped everyone in on the hysteria. For the New Year, my friend Michelle and I go to the local mountains to ski and get away from the noise. I followed the new year, new decade, new century, dawning from New Zealand all the way to California, around the world on TV. It was beautiful. I thought of Michele.


 

  2001  (to be continued)  Romance and Realism


Some notes:



Mom took the train in from Germany to see me and watch Lucy because Michele invited me down to meet him while he was managing a production in Milan. It was March 19, it was his birthday.  Over dinner at the Galleria at the Duomo, he gave me a ring.

  



On the anniversary of my YTT, I received the news that I could take over the whole tap program at the well-known Centre de Danse du Marais, I would begin the children’s program in the rentreé in September. I had my Michele, an apartment, a job I came here to do. A beautiful summer to spend in Italy with my fiancé.  Life looked pretty rosey.

 

 

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Yoga Therapy and relief for prolonged symptoms due to Covid-19

 

😊  Yoga Therapy and relief for prolonged symptoms due to Covid.  

Keep up you wonderful practice my students because it reduces inflammation.  If you get Covid, your symptoms may not be so severe.

Very good article here:

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-therapy-types-of-yoga/yoga-helps-heal-covid-19-long-haul-syndrome/


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Introduction

A letter. June 25, 2010

 Lucy and I, we'll always have Paris...and New York.

La petite cocker-americaine died this morning in my arms, near our home, in Paris,

"Where good Americans go to die", Oscar Wilde.

 You are tired, you want to go. I hear you and understand.  This heart-achingly painful moment I felt coming when you turned your back to me.   You couldn't look at me and faced the corner, you never did that, and I knew how hard that must have been for you, my sweet Lucy who would never ever want to leave my side.  Then you had the seizure and I held you into the wee hours until your body calmed enough so that you could go to sleep. I never wanted to see you suffer, my little one, I would do anything for you not to suffer.   I wanted to be with you in the end and I hoped you would give me a sign.  You did, and this day came.  I trundled you in my arms even though it was over 80 degrees.  You hated the heat so much but you were so dazed that you didn't feel it, but you looked at me and when I cradled you down rue Turbigo to Dr. Krieger's office, I felt you trusted me and I had to be strong.   You chose the summer, a beautiful June day and unseasonably warm for Paris.  I know summer is not your favorite time of year.   It's so hard for you to breathe.  It was a jaw dropping beautiful day and I had to do the hardest thing I would ever have to do.

Your doctor is teary-eyed, too, he says we made the right decision. Your eyes are so beautiful they still gaze deep into my heart. Even after your last little sigh as the last breath left your lungs, your eyes stayed so bright and shiny.  You know we stay connected long after the last breath.

Dr. Krieger said," les meilleurs amies" to his colleague who will be taking over the practice from this week.  Our Dr. Krieger was by our side for 9 years, skillfully taking care of your good health, your happy life in Paris and saving your life not just a few times after you got into chocolate, what was up with you and chocolate? I don't want to cry because your soul needs to be set free, you need to know that I will be OK.  Thank you, my dear devoted sweet dog for more than 16 years with you. 

After a life that you feel has meant more than everything to you, you physically feel a chunk of your body gone, never to return, you understandably can barely breathe.

Dr. Krieger, Dr. Jaquet let me have all the time I needed to stay with Lucy, they trimmed some of her fur for me, which I never would have thought of.  Then, leaving the room is the next hardest thing but there is paperwork to fill out, after which I walked/ran didn't matter where, all over Paris to not be still.  Still hurt too much.  I kept looking up, I wanted to see a Lucy-shaped cloud.  Paris looked even more painfully beautiful that day.  I had never noticed the degree of ornamentation on the upper floors of the buildings, all the iconic and varied shapes of the tin roofs.  I had never looked up that much in my adopted home.  I was, for the most part, looking where I was going or down at Lucy.

Cafes, how can I sit in a cafe, anymore, she was always with me.  Eat bananas?  Listen to music?  Jump on my bike with the empty basket in front?  I feel so lonely.

 March 1, 2001 CDG  Dog Kennel, Three Suitcases.  Lucy and I moved to Paris.   



Feb 5, 2021 Dusting off the memories on Lucy's adoption day.


 

The Paris Years.

Paris Contrarities 

March 2001

 

You do feel Parisian walking along with your smart-looking dog.  Only here a few days and I am being asked directions all the time.  I have a dog, I must know what I am doing here, and certainly where I am.  Once outside, Lucy always has the look of knowing exactly what she is doing.  She is dragging me along behind the leash, we're starting another adventure and she is only complaining when she is left behind in the apartment.   The American neighbor across the courtyard who just moved into the building as well, is telling me my dog is crying and barking when I am not there.  She is still sneaky, she waits a good half hour to make sure I am not doubling back and then starts the concert.  We need some time to settle in.  Complaint number two coming at me in the neighborhood, is the worry I will not pick up her poop.  Me, a New Yorker who wouldn’t even dream of not picking up.  I am an easy target, non-threatening, have cute little blonde dog, and when she squats the nervous poop police appear out of nowhere, I notice they don't go after the Goths and the glabrous who have set up camp on the corner of rue au Maire and Beaubourg, their large street-dog breeds have left mountains of rust-colored mush which streaks all over the sidewalks, curbs and into the road.  But, no I am the one they are after, the only one in 2001 as far as I can see that picks up after her dog.  Before I can safely brandish the plastic pick-up bag from my pocket, a city construction worker yells at me for letting my dog just poop, as it were.   He had recently appeared from a manhole and being eye-level to this organic site is probably one of the hundreds of reasons he hates his job.  Four weeks into my move here I find the courage and my voice to reproach, and sustain an assault that doesn't stop, yelling, je suis la seule a Paris qui ramasse!  

 

We were passing in front of a bakery, Lucy had to go, again.   I was completely out of ramasse stuff, I left her at the curb went into the bakery to ask for one of the tiny filmy bags hanging at the cash register.  Non, they are for customers.  “Je dois ramasser what my dog has left in front of your door and I have nothing, I am sorry."  Non, vous êtes obligée de ramasser!   Failing to convince her of the absence of her logic and with her howling at my back as I left, I left the cadeau.  I was having a really bad day, and needed obviously to build a better vocabulary.   I still didn't have the furniture I ordered months before, a cell phone nor could I open a bank account.  I did have electricity and heat and could cook and while I was sick,  I could make it downstairs to the yummy Chinese eateries, they were keeping me alive.  Between deluges of water coming from the sky raining hard on my sky windows, I would run out to the pay phone and call the U.S. Italy, Australia anyone who would listen to me and vent how impossibly hard it was to get anything done here.  We would take walks down to the Seine and watch the river overflowing its banks, the cars that were left parked on the quais floating in the river and the water marks rising up the beech and chestnut trees lining the banks.  The skies were merciless.  Aha, this is also Paris.

 

Another great word I had to figure out, mordre.  Sounds like mort, doesn’t mean that.  Il mord votre chien?  I thought this was the funniest thing.  The French do have a sense of humor.  How can my dog be dead, she is right there smiling at you.  I would smile and wink, like ok, I get the joke, moving on.  If they insisted, I would say, non, bien-sûr!  Also a weird reply to does your dog bite?

 

***********

 

Lucy was allowed into "our" bakery and she was allowed to put her paws up on the counter and say good morning to Cathie.  I announced that fall and each subsequent year, when it was her birthday and she got her sugary chouquette.  After a while you are awarded the great distinction of an habituée, a regular.  It is very important in Paris to establish relationship.  Once you are in, the nice pieces of fruit/vegetables, bread are chosen for you.  Your well-being is asked about, your dog’s, too.  And if I had a 20 minute story, they would listen to it and let the line wait behind me.  I am an habituée.  Of course I don’t abuse that because as the hyped up New Yorker who moved to France and wanted her sandwich yesterday, I used to be in that line with a look of disbelief on my face.  Really?  I have to wait through all of these stories before I get my sandwich?

 

Paris doesn't really offer any great green runs inside the péripherique, but there is a fabulous dog run around the border of the Jardins des Tuileries.  Across the street, on the rue de Rivoli, is Angelina's, an equally fabulous tourist haunt famous for its chocolat chaud and atmosphère de la belle époque.  It’s a salon du thé, created in 1903 by Antoine Rumpelmayer.  One has to go there just because of the founders name.  I am German-American, Rumpelmayer, great name.

 

One fall day Lucy and I had a hot chocolate date there with a friend.  I had gotten quite nonchalant about having general access to all eateries with my dog, but I was surprised when the maitre d'hôte advanced my friend and me to the front of the que after gushing over Lucy's furry paws and brought a champagne bucket full of fresh water for her to the table.   Everyone adored the labrador like heaves of water being gulped down and we settled in.  I noticed Lucy just about finished the bucket and didn't notice until we were leaving her eyes brimming with oh my dear god, please forgive me as she let loose a river on the wonderful red runner that reaches into the restaurant.  She peed for a minute, we couldn't stop it and she just looked mortified, eyes rolled up to the red crescents, head humbly down, wanting the floor to open up right there.  There weren't enough napkins, tablecloths, tea towels to fix this thing up and I stood helpless.  The reception area rushed over and apologized- to her and let me go with a smile and a c'est normale.  My friend said, if it would have been a small child making a scene at the restaurant, we would have been engulfed with glares.  She decided she only wanted to go to the nicest places with a dog, you get a better table, too.

 





Sunday, 31 January 2021

Meditation Sunday this evening 18h30

 Plus a small change in our schedule:


lundi 18h30-18h45
mardi 08h00-09h15
mercredi 18h30-19h45
jeudi 18h30-19h45
vendredi 08h00-09h15
samedi 10h00-11h15

All classes continue for now live on video from the center.



Monday, 4 January 2021

Bonne Année! 2021

We are here, what will we do with this year?

What have we learned?

Dear Students and Friends,

Much of what we learned is we need community.



Centre de Yoga du Marais is strong, it has your support and love, and just like you knows that

when there are waves, get out the surfboard and learn how to ride.

Love and light,

Michelle

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Jupiter and Saturn lined up

 



Light + hope= Joy

May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy hope and light. 2021