April 6, 2014
I’m in the basement of a popular Starbucks location here near the Metro St. Paul, in Paris. Yes, it took a month before I did the North American ‘thang’ and visited the familiar. I have to say that I missed, juste un petit, the consistent marketing, the familiarity and the peace in being able to sit down for how ever long I want without feeling like I have to keep ordering or leave. (No gold card presence here at all – for you Starbucks devotees)
Where a Grande Americano (by the way, it tastes different than in North America) is 3.35 Euros…I justified the expense in exchange for soliciting a comfy workspace and using Wi-Fi (called wee-fee), while enjoying a hot beverage.
It won’t be the norm, but for today, c’est parfait!
In my first blog I want to share a little about my ‘first chapter’ (a.k.a first month-ish) since moving to Paris.
I believe my current French experience began at Naples Airport, March 9, 2014, at the Air France check-in counter. After spending a month in Italy, and only really reusing the same 30 Italian words over and over again, I attempted to speak French (which almost eluded me) and without even knowing it, would start a sentence in French and half way through change to Italian/Napolitano. Say What!!? I couldn’t believe my ears! And after a delightful conversation with the agent who asked about my flute on the side of my backpack, what Vancouver was like, why I was going to Paris, I spent the remaining moments before customs with my family, who kindly drove me to the airport, and you got it, continued to speak something resembling Italian. I thought the day would never come where I would subconsciously speak ‘my way Italian’. It was my cousin Giovanna who, with enormous patience, helped me build confidence in ‘my way Italian’. Currently, Giovanna and I use Viber now, and so my education in Italian and Google translate continues!
My new life in Paris started off with a bang, a good one! After Louise and her husband kindly picked me up from the airport, and after we caught up a little, Louise and I went a ‘repete’, where she and some friends jam together, and I braved a couple of songs delicately and shyly. The following day, gorgeous weather and all, I unpacked a little, enjoyed their cute garden outside and soaked in the fact that I am in France, yes, I’m here – it’s not a ‘will happen’, it happened, I’m here, let the pinching myself begin!
The next day, Tuesday, I got my SIM card sorted, purchased some metro tickets to get me started, and by 5pm, I was in the area where I was to volunteer for Mastin Kipp and his ‘Enter the Heart Tour – Event’ from 6-11pm.
The evening began with a long and beautiful Kundalini Yoga class, in a room filled with expats and bilingual locals (the event was in English) where we then segued to Mastin’s fun coaching-honesty talk (with some pretty incredible tweet-able awesome moments), until ‘my moment’. Long story short, I was the THE ‘volunteer’, where I had a one-on-one experience with Mastin, in front of everyone. I am thankful for the feedback he provided like: being called out on my ‘counselling-like’ verbiage instead of using and saying ‘real’ words to describe or express, emotions and feelings. Merci for all his genuine feedback and support
Soon after discussing some personal issues, he facilitated a heart exercise that was very beautiful, and as I still sat in front ‘of the class’, answering the questions outloud, others were reflecting inwardly, answering their own respective questions about what their hearts were telling them. I could feel the tangible, emotionally charged air pulsating, but I also felt this overwhelming peace at the same time. What he was teaching was how to connect and listen to our hearts for responses or answers to questions. When is the last time you let your heart give the answer to a question instead of your head?
But what brought my experience to a rushing surprisingly heartfelt, super deliciously rich moment was experiencing an enormous group hug, where I was the guest of honour. In that moment, I soon became tearful, and could have down right exploded in sobbing; but I was able to let it flow naturally and bank a little for later. It really is beyond words and beyond expression to attempt to describe that moment, the beauty of it – except for gratitude. In that moment, and for hours later, I had to check in with myself numerous times to really process what had actually happened. I volunteered for the event to welcome and assist, and really, I ended up volunteering my vulnerability and openness with a group of strangers – my second day in Paris.
As we wrapped up and prepared to leave, I was fortunate to receive some contact information for a dozen or so fabulous women – a huge and unexpected blessing from that event. In fact, about 8 or 10 of us had a lovely dinner out at a great restaurant in the Marais where we all chatted and connected. We are an awesome TDL Paris tribe, and I’m so grateful to know and get to know these women!
Two days after the event marked the next pivotal moment. (Don’t worry; this blog is not a day-to-day account). Aside from meeting, chatting, and hanging out with a new friend of a friend (now a friend) for 9 hours, enjoying a wonderful first meeting– my immune system crashed and a super bug/pollution/allergy related meteorite of an illness took over (Some visible/audible symptoms and some invisible, but deeply felt).
I had no idea at the time, that it would take over 3 ½ weeks, to return to something resembling and FEELING like the girl who woke up one day in November 2013 and said: “What if…(I moved to France), who sold or gave away almost all her ‘stuff’ before hopping on a plane – One Way! That girl had plans – and as soon as I got sick, there were no more ‘checked boxes’ on the to-do list to be had for a while – but c’est la vie!
Only last Monday did the job search truly begin; I felt stronger and well enough to put myself out there (and my new resumes and cover letters were in a better place just days before).
The same day I sent out some resumes, I received call-backs from one hotel spa and one by a company that manages 20+ five star hotel spas for free-lance practitioners. The catch – needing to become an ‘auto-entrepreneur’. Not a bad idea, but feeling slightly overwhelmed by this deviation in my grand plan, not to mention additional French bureaucracy, I had to ponder. I have decided to pursue this avenue, but it’s going to take some time as super supportive friends help me navigate the ins and outs of this new employment stream.
In the meantime, I decided to apply to some language schools and will continue to challenge myself in thinking creatively and outside the box in my search.
I was fortunate to have a telephone conversation just this past Friday with a coach who runs programs for people who are unemployed. He is French, but used to live in Canada and the UK and is a wealth of knowledge. He said many times that he completely understands how overwhelming it is to move to this country and jumping through numerous hoops, dealing quirkiness and bureaucracy (I don’t think quirkiness and bureaucracy belong in the same sentence either!). He gave me a list of things to take care of (aside from finding work) and I will be embarking on these things, this week.
I’ve been navigating a lot of unexpected, mixed emotions for whatever reasons – which are not important. On a ‘not-feeling-so-hot’ day’ a friend of mine from Vancouver reminded me that I’m living the dream – I am, but at the time, I was struggling with reconciling the dream with circumstances that are truthfully, temporary. That is comforting thought and belief, and an important fact to remember when in the ‘thick’ of your own ‘stuff’.
For years now, I have and will continue to serve as ‘The Go To Girl’ of solicited and unsolicited advice, to and for others about any life challenges – no matter the real-looking-illusions and/or self-limited belief thoughts and systems. And moving overseas has presented new opportunities (I originally wrote, ‘challenges’, ha!) to continue to walk my talk. It’s an opportunity on a new scale to see my potential and to check-in with myself more deeply where ‘still in progress’ signs, are currently posted. So, I’m practicing, stumbling, and rising to the philosophies I practice, and without a doubt am grateful for the abundant support from people, whether they realize it or not. The power of genuine and un-conditional love (true connection with another or others) is undoubtedly, a ‘knock-out’, powerful elixir of anyone’s rise. I’m SO grateful to have a wonderful group of super-supportive people in my world. I feel incredibly blessed!
Yes, since arriving, I have hit places within me where I wondered how I did this when I was 18/19 years old…really? – was I in denial, or do I have some pretty incredible selective memory? But while I navigate this new chapter, I promise myself to continue to walk this new chapter bravely, and practice receiving the goodness, miracles and blessings everyday, while I see my highest intentions unfold.
What I know for sure is that I’m meant to be here. Paris feels good – it feels like home. It also doesn’t hurt that the weather has been incredible since the day I got here. Paris, France, and Europe, in general, is a hot spot for my soul and I’m looking forward to all the adventures in creating, experiencing love and joy, having fun and being the change I want to see in the world.
Lastly, I do want to be real and express that I miss Vancouver’s air quality, my ‘clan’, and the abundant nature that BC and the North West has to offer. It’s a blessing and I hope that eventhough Vancouverites (and others in surrounding areas) are notorious for complaining about the weather, or the state of province or country, from whatever issue(s) your passionate soapbox boasts – that you will pause often to be grateful for all that is, even for the rain.
So, Go to it, go for it, and go live it! (New Allison-ism)
Your go to girl!