"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in Maoshing Ni (5)


A Few Things I've Learned from Living in France, In No Particular Order





  1. To wear skirts again.

  2. Fifteen ways to wear a scarf.
  3. To embrace cold weather.
  4. To pay attention to seasons for various foods.

  5. To commiserate with French women on the terrible spatial organization of most large markets in Paris, and the remodel hasn’t changed a thing.
  6. To weigh vegetables and put little stickers on them before going to the cash register.

  7. To walk and walk and walk.
  8. And to sit in cafes, enjoying the theater all around you.

  9. To live (quite easily) without a car.
  10. That when your melancholic man says there is only one thing that prevents his happiness and it is having to drive everywhere, and that if he lived in Paris and could ditch the car, all would be well, you should believe him.

  11. That when you tell him you cannot live without your entire library, and that giving away 2/3rds of it will simply mean that you’ll have to replace it all after you move, he should believe you.

  12. To say goodbye to Marley, and accept that no other cat will do.
  13. That your greatest fear about living in another country, losing touch with family and friends, is easily solved by airplanes, phone calls, e-mail and Facebook.
  14. That having international friends is a good idea.

  15. That the street art scene is the most alive visual art in France now, and perhaps in most of the western world.
  16. That it is possible to understand a French washing machine by living with it for three years, consulting a plumber twice, and having a Darty technician come to your home and explain that two soap tablets in the tray are appropriate for a regular wash, but only one can be used for a delicate cycle, and must be placed, not in the tray, but in the machine, and then the water will not leak all over the floor.
  17. There is no cure for the French dryer sounding like a jet airplane taking off.

  18. There is no cure for the French love of bureaucracy.
  19. It takes a year to stop sampling all 365 French cheeses before you can respect your arteries and get a grip.
  20. You can laugh at your doctor when she laughs at you for suggesting that sugar might be bad for your health. After all, she is French.

  21. You can finally listen to your L.A. healer, Dr. Mao, and substitute green tea for coffee and still write.
  22. You can write through grief, you can keep working in spite of losing the woman with whom you are closest on earth, your sister, Jane.

  23. Socialism is fantastic for mothers and families and anyone who is vulnerable (let’s just say, most of us), but it’s not good for entrepreneurs.
  24. But the French are right, you need to take weekends off and you need to, regularly, get out of town.
  25. There are cultures where literature is so important that you can hear it discussed by writers and critics every night on TV if you want.

  26. Ancient is beautiful, and living in a modern city in harmony with the beauty of the distant past increases the power of a place.
  27. Paris is our city, but the U.S. is our country. We can see our own country more clearly from afar, its craziness (guns, greed, hubris and politics), but also its beauty (energy, resourcefulness, freedom of expression, warmth).





Bonne AnnĂ©e du Serpent, tout le monde!


Paris ushered in the Year of the Serpent Sunday, which was fine with us, because it was the occasion for a parade. As we keep saying, we love a parade. We probably go to six a year here, even if we don't report on all of our outings.





Things are looking up; the Year of the Serpent should be a far better year for the worldwide economy. Our favorite savant, Dr. Maoshing Ni of the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a 36th generation acupuncturist, offers his take on the new year on his website.





Parisians from all different communities love their parades. It gives them an excuse to get out, in any weather, and watch their neighbors perform, and to watch their neighbors watch each other. This is a prime people-watching city.






Ethnic parades here are not at all exclusive. There's always at least one Brazilian drumming and dancing contingent in every défilé, and the Colombians are party animals, too.



Brazilian drummer


Colombian dancer






And, of course parades bring out the best children's faces.






Young dancer surprised by the monkey trickster god, Hanuman


If you've come this far and are disappointed that we covered a parade in black and white, here's last year's Dragon parade, in color. Kansas, meet Oz.






A great green dragon lies to the West, watching over the town. I look up at her ruffled spine, the green and gold of her flanks, and see her dragon breath drifting down from above. It looks like the mist above Chinese mountain peaks.

But no, it’s smoke from the Colorado fires, beyond the Rocky Mountains at the edge of town.

I’m standing outside the Whole Foods Market on Pearl Street in Boulder. What has brought me here, so far from Richard and our Paris home?

Love and health. Health and love.

On July 4, 2012, great news came from physicists at CERN in Geneva about the Higgs boson particle: the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. It is responsible for life on earth, human beings, the stars—everything in the universe, and the forces that work between them. Without this miracle, we would have no weight, would be ricocheting around at the speed of light.



This energy field that physicists have been predicting since 1964 can be seen from other perspectives, too. The perspective of love, for instance. The power of love to transform someone’s health, for instance, my sister, Jane’s.


Here are a few of the elements in Jane’s energy field:

Her daughter, Rachel, helping her to get to medical appointments and being vigilantly protective of her health.

Her daughter, Bayu, flying in from Wellington, New Zealand for a month and planning to return this fall when she has completed her art and design studies.

Her mother and four siblings ready to help in whatever ways we can.



A caring, expert Western medical team.

A brilliant acupuncturist and sage, Dr. Maoshing Ni, prescribing Chinese herbal teas and Eastern healing.

A gifted local acupuncturist.

A friend, Liza, flying in for several days.

Friends in Boulder and beyond.


Friend, Susan, connecting Jane to a healing group who are meditating on her health.

Jane’s own excellent health habits: yoga, walking and eating well.

A town where, for an entire month, I didn’t encounter a single surly or obstructive attitude (although the motorcyclist who honked at me as I fumbled for my ringing phone while driving was entirely justified).


A town that’s so wholesome—5,430 feet high (great for the lungs and heart), with clean air, open protected space, cycling, hiking, mountain climbing, free yoga classes, healthy food, people drunk on endorphins—that it might be the healthiest town in the U. S.

A town where the restaurant food is astonishingly good: the scallops and truffles at Riffs, the paella at the Mediterranean, the chicken salad at Brasserie Ten Ten, the vegetable omelette at Tangerine, the Coquilles St.-Jacques at Arugula, the vegetable tempura and beer at Hapa Sushi Grill, the guacamole and enchiladas Veracruz at Cantina Laredo. I haven’t had a bad meal yet. Even the gourmet cheeseburger at Salt the Bistro I ate with Rachel and Brandon (the first such meal I’ve had in some twenty years, making me feel like a real American again) was delicious.



Jane seems healthier by the day, surrounded as she is by an energy field of healing and love.

All this in a larger context that’s frightening: the fires in Colorado were so extreme this year that half the fire fighters in the nation were brought in to fight them. They have resulted in the loss of 346 homes, 32,000 people evacuated from their homes, and are the most destructive in Colorado history. When I last checked on July 13, they were still not contained.

A map of weather conditions across the U. S. showed an alarming degree of heat, dryness, high winds and out-of-control fires in western states.



We know there is an energy field all around us which affects us and which we affect.

Can we extend this force of love and healing beyond our families and friends, and offer it to the whole planet?


How can we do this?





Happy Dragon New Year!


As we've mentioned before, Paris Play loves a parade.

So does Paris.



This week's parade, on a bone-chilling zero degree Sunday, was in honor of Chinese New Year, in one of Paris' two Chinatowns, the one in the thirteenth arrondissement. (The other is in the tenth, in Belleville.)

It had the requisite din of firecrackers and drums, brightly colored lions (one on a cell phone--look close) and dragons, precision kung fu squadrons, fragrant incense, and hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators, including a Dali aficionado. Most of THEM had cameras, ranging from cell phones to huge video rigs, which makes an attempted parade more like a slow costumed crawl through a rugby scrum.



While police kept order accompanying the first few contingents, and polite Parisians stayed behind the barricades, the rest of us moved in after the police disappeared for close-ups of anything that was painted yellow or red. By day's end, the yellowest part of the parade was our bruises from battling for the best camera angles.



But we LOVE parades, particularly one heralding a new year that promises positive change. Here's a forecast for the Year of the Dragon from our favorite living Chinese sage and medical practitioner, Dr. Maoshing Ni of Santa Monica's Tao of Wellness.



















Roots and Branches


It is fascinating to see how, in moving to another continent, the web of relationships and rituals in my life continues in certain respects, and in others is broken. I could never have predicted how my most treasured relationships would grow deeper, the thread between us stronger, in spite of the distance between us.

Yet in another sense, what I assumed would continue unbroken--certain rituals of daily activity, created over the years and made effortless by repetition--must be recreated here in Paris as if they’d never existed.

The web of relationships continues in Paris. Here I see an acupuncturist, Helen Divov, who was recommended by Dr. Maoshing Ni, my acupuncturist in Los Angeles. Dr. Mao and Helen were trained together some years ago in Los Angeles. After practicing there, Helen fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to Paris.

In our last session, I told her how hard I’m finding it to recreate certain habits here that were second nature a few months ago in the U.S. For instance, stretching in the morning. Lifting weights. Avoiding certain foods that I’ve found are best for me to avoid. Fitting in errands. Getting enough sleep.

It was the same way for her, she said, during her first year in Paris. Her eating habits changed, and her exercise rituals were no longer in place.

Helen sees patients in a small, lovely courtyard apartment in Paris, then spends the weekends at her home in the country. She’s a devoted gardener, and told me a story of how, gardening one day, she noticed that a tree she'd replanted a year earlier had not put out leaves or flowers.

Then, suddenly, during the second year, it was full of green and flowers too. 

She realized that the first year a tree is giving all of its energy into putting down roots. Then it can reach out and up with its branches and leaves. And she saw that it was the same with human beings. In our first year in a new place, most of our energy is invisibly putting down new roots; then we can return to all the ways we’ve found to support our own blossoming.