Change in my blog’ structure, video of my partner and me, my book, Tassajara and Autsit retreats

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Some of the challenges I encounter in translating my posts are as follows: the blogging platform I use does not directly allow me to type French accents (or I have not found how to do this), and so I type my French translation first in Word, then I copy and paste it in the blogging platform, inserting the pictures at the correct place. After this first pass comes the many edits needed to completely correct the initial translation.  I often find an error myself when I reread my post several days later, or French friends whose help I enlisted tell me about them.  French grammar is one aspect of these edits. Then I often find that I have translated a sentence too literally according to its American-English wording.

Thus I have decided that in addition to the many books I read in English, I ought to read some in French. However I do not have the money to buy books and there are very few French books to be found in my little town’s public library. To be fair, this library is a great resource in all other areas; I simply could not have done without it when I was so ill that just dragging myself there was so very difficult. The staff there was often beautifully supportive, and in many other ways than pertaining to books! Fortunately for me, a Parisian friend has come to my help: She sent me a link which allows me to read online French books whose authors have been dead for more than 70 years. Thus I immediately found myself poring over one of the first classic French book I read as a child, and I find I am still moved by it!  My mother also has told me she would mail me some French books for my approaching birthday; being also a voracious reader she has too many of them.

A few months ago, my partner and I were filmed by a crew of AASCEND(.org) members and a 15-minute-long video emerged.  It is called “Autism in France”, as in it my partner Greg and I talk (in English) about the experiences we had when we visited four autism organizations in France during our visit there in the spring of 2014.  We had already presented the material content at an AASCEND meeting last year upon our return. The video can be viewed at

G & Al's Utube video pic

Over a month ago, my book (yes, the one I want to promote by writing this blog!) was accepted by a publisher.  It is yet early and I do not have much more information about it, but I promise to keep you informed.  All I can say so far is that about twenty literary agents to whom I sent email enquiry letters in the past 6 months turned me down, and the 3nd proposal I “snail- mailed” out to a publisher was accepted.  Also, the publisher told me that I would have to do most of the PR (Public Relations), so I ask that you my friend help me with this if you can.  I am sure you can all sense how exciting this is.

Last month I participated in a five-day retreat at Tassajara. Many of you may know that Tassajara is a major Northern California Zen monastery renowned for its beautiful natural environment and hot springs as well as its rigorous Zen practice. During the summer season it is open to the public, with delicious food prepared by the yearly residents.  Most Zen students in Northern California have gone to Tassajara: A visit there has become kind of the mark of an honest engagement in zen practice…and yet in the fifteen years since I began  practice, I had not been there!  It caused me much pain that my often invisible disability made it impossible.  However as I recover my strength, a dear friend who knew what a dream it was for me, helped me financially.  Another necessary support was that the retreat I joined was led by a former teacher of mine, one who had witnessed firsthand some of my illness and its accompanying behaviors six and seven years ago. She also was a former abbess of the Tassajara monastery and had led the same retreat for the past ten years.  She knew me well enough to be able to communicate my needs to the Tassajara staff.

Despite my love for Zen practice, the awesome beauty of the environment, the supportive resident staff and the awesome twenty (or so) people who participated in the same week-long retreat as me, the retreat clearly showed me my disability.  3 times during the five days I found myself in a painful position, once when after a sleepless first night I fainted in the crowded zendo (meditation hall), another time when a painful migraine was triggered by the potent fragrance one of our group’s member wore, and finally when I found myself asked to carry a heavy tray from the rushed, bright and overwhelming kitchen.


Lastly, a week ago my partner and I organized a four-day meditation retreat for people on the autism spectrum.  This was the third Autsit retreat we have organized at a cabin in South Lake Tahoe, and beautiful pictures of it (and of the past retreats) can be found at  The cabin can accommodate only a little group, and this time around we were only five.  But the sitting meditation schedule was more intense than in the past (each of the two full days comprised five 30 minutes periods), and this pervaded the atmosphere of all other activities, like the beautiful cooking of meals (and doing the dishes!) that we all took turns at.

FLL Al's crossing

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