I am moving to France: The reality is setting in.

When I was in “obtaining visa” mode obtaining the visa is all I though about. I needed to obtain the visa, so as a result my thoughts were not as much on moving to France but on  collecting documents, saving money and learning French. Although I am still focusing on saving money and especially learning French, now that I have this work visa my thoughts have been changing.

Slowly, very slowly actually, the reality is setting in. The initial excitement came when I made the decision, but back then it was still a dream. Now it is not a dream and it is the reality and I am feeling a more dulled version of that excitement. Holy Moly! I really want to go do not get me wrong, it is just that sometimes I am a nervous freakazoid and the reality of the fear that I need to overcome in the next few months is what is causing that dulling effect.

These fears include:

  • The fear of flying
  • The fear of not having enough money
  • The fear of failing while I am there
  • The fear of not being accepted

Basically, when I review this list, these are basic fears a lot of human beings have to deal with.

What makes this situation a little perverse is that I am excited at the same time. And not just excited to go to France, but excited to overcome these fears before I go! I am excited because I am afraid. If you ever watch “How I Met Your Mother” you will know that the infamous character Barney likes to use the phrase “Challenge Accepted!” whenever someone makes a mere mention of a possibly impossible feat. When I look at that list above, I take on that same attitude: Challenge Accepted!

The only action plan so far is to chant and to avoid or brush off any comments suggesting I will fail, or any TV shoes (les emissions) that deal with crashing airplanes (When discover channel’s “Mayday” is on sometimes it seduces me in, but I will stay strong).

I am moving to France! Exciting!!!

And I Continue This Blog

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not been posting. Mainly because of my recent lack of ability to concentrate and partly because of some extremely busy periods doing “life”.

Tomorrow is my appointment with the consulate. I didn’t realize how quickly this date would come upon me but it is here in less than 24 hours!! I am so nervous that I do not want to write too much about it until after the fact. All I can say is that I really hope I am approved.

On to another subject, I almost quit the blog. I had to ask my boyfriend yesterday his opinion on me leaving this blog. He told me not to give up to fast, and he is right. I need to at least give this a chance first. It is definitely not that I have writer’s block. I have plenty of very interesting topics to write about. I really just think the nerves that have been lingering within me lately have been feeding me a slow whisper of “You cannot do it, only bad things will happen, don’t even try, take a break, forget about it.” But writing today is bringing back the love I have.

And speaking of my boyfriend (Was I speaking of him?), he will be heading home to France this coming Saturday. I am sad. The work permit papers never ended up coming through and the wait was simply too long, he needs to obtain a job, and I understand. And more than understanding I support him and I am happy for him. The relief in his body I feel when I am with him is relieving for me too and finally he can see all his friends and family. The three months we will be apart will not be too bad. Of course I am going to miss him like crazy. I absolutely love being with him and spending time with him and not being with him for these few months will be an interesting change. And really awesome couples I know in my own life and in history have also had to take large, large amounts of time away from their other half and it is so encouraging. I cannot wait to see him in September, fresh, relaxed, renewed and ready to see Mon Homme with the attitude of “I did it! We did it! What a great reward being here in France with you!”

Ok, this is the post for today. Thanks for reading and next time I post, it will be with the grandest news ever!

My Mini Quebec Adventure (part 1)

I am in Quebec City for a mini French adventure. I left the bustling, busy GTA and began my journey with Mon Homme on Sunday. It was a spur of the moment decision for both of us but the desire to come here had been hanging around for a couple of months. Why not? This is an excellent opportunity for me to practice my French and eat real French (Canadian) baguettes and croissants.

Is Quebec City real a francophone city?

Yes! I actually could not believe this myself. Quebec is the only francophone province in Canada (with the exception of a part of New Brunswick), but even so, the number of anglophone inhabitants is enormous. I was expecting to arrive here and have trouble finding people (such as restaurant servers, hotel concierges, tourist guides and so on) to speak French with. I have traveled to the province of Quebec before, stayed in Montreal and also Quebec City itself (eons ago). When I had attempted to speak French then, and the people realized I was anglophone, they would automatically switch over to English.

Well this trip is slightly different. I have my French Homme with me and I have asked him to only speak French. When people approach us or we need to speak with them, they will automatically begin the conversation in French and this time, instead of me using my broken French to try to communicate, Mon Homme steps in and voila, the francophone conversation is sparked. I stand there, absorbing as much information as possible and add in a “oui” (yes) or ‘merci” (thank you) here and there. The thing I find most fascinating about all this is that I can actually understand! And answer and ask questions back! The waitress asks me, in French, what I would like to order, and I asked back in French, “Do you have fruit?” (Est-ce que vous avez des fruits?). She answers back with a “Non, bla bla bla bla bla bla petite dejeuner” (No, ……….breakfast) I didn’t catch the whole sentence. But I definitely know that it means we only serve it at breakfast and I proceed to order the French onion soup. Awesome, I mastered my first French conversation! My months and money investing into private French lessons is completely paying off, and this confidence was well needed. Thank you Quebec City!

If you want to travel to Quebec City and do not know French, do not worry, most people will speak to you in English. Try to know a few phrases though because it seems obvious to my bf and I, that when we speak in French, all the Quebecois’ faces light up and we are treated better.

Is the food in Quebec divine?

The food in Quebec City is divine! Most of it is authentically French and from what we have had, it is all just simply wonderful. There are not chain restaurants in the old city and when you sit down at a French restaurant, expect the freshest food!

I guess, because this is a very large tourist hot spot, the prices are quite high. We have yet to find a cheap French restaurant alternative. With little or no alcohol, the average bill for a lunch or dinner we have had it $35-$40. But this is generally choosing the lower costing items on the menu.

Before I go on I must tell you about the latte from heaven that I had (Cafe au lait en francais). Starbucks lattes go from around $3.20 and up. What is the outcome of paying that price? The same boring drink, every single time, mass produced, a long line up, a headache from the smells of over processed foods being grilled and an average taste. For the same price here in Quebec, I had a latte, plus grande (bigger), made with the richest espresso I have ever tasted, served with the flare of adding latte art to top the drink off, and what tasted like the freshest milk ever. We ended up ordering two! Starbucks has lost my business.

Corner convenience stores also sell baguettes and cheese and wine and everything divine. To save some money today we will grocery shop for breakfast and lunch.

Accommodations

We are staying in a two star hotel, I found for an extremely great price on Expedia.ca. I honestly was not expecting much. The pictures online were not that awesome, although the place did look clean and the location was extremely ideal. Seeing that the reviews were mainly good, I decided to book. My main focus, of course, is getting to France, so I simply do not want to splurge on a last-minute four-day trip.

We walked in, Mon Homme spoke French and the woman we dealt with was wonderful. She signed us in, gave us the key and even listened to our conversation and provided us with the internet password without us even asking. On top of this, before we headed up stairs, she asked us if we knew the city or had a map. We didn’t, so she gave us an awesome map and directions on how to get to the old city (less than 10 minute walk away!). So far, so good!

We unlock the door to our room and to our delight, it was and still is, charming, way more than we could have asked for. The room in spotless, it comes with a fridge and cable TV (with every channel). The bathroom is spotless and well equipped. The bed is comfy and has a giant, bright white duvet to add to the awesomeness. Well worth the price (which was not much).

Getting around the city on a budget

The first thing we decided to do was go shopping. There are plenty of cute shops and we had to check them out. Upon exiting the first show store, I already had a new pair of shoes in hand (or on my feet this time!). I simply couldn’t resist the French flare the shoes had. They were perfect for style and comfort! A girl has got to invest in a pair every so often to keep her sanity!

The weather here this week is terrible so indoors has been the theme. We checked out some awesome art galleries, featuring Inuit sculpted art and another gallery with abstract painting. This of course, was free (gratuit).

We were hiding out, from the cold in the bottom level of the Chateau Frontenac where there is a strip of stores to be seen. After following the corridor (and checking out the stores) we arrived at a crowded area with a woman in costume at a desk. Castle tours were happening! We had to check it out and for $20 for two people, we would be entertained for an hour. Three words for you: DON’T DO IT! It was boring, we were led through a couple of hallways and given the boring (yes boring!) historical facts. We didn’t get to see the awesome suites, the swimming pool or anything that would, as Mon Homme says, “Make us dream”.

We then proceeded to the tourist information office across the street to see where the nightlife is in the city. Not only where we told where the nightlife is (too tired to check it out yesterday), but the kind gentleman also told us all the free museums we could attend and how to take the local bus to get to the waterfalls. Awesome! Today, we have a busy (low-cost) day ahead of us!

With all this said and done, if you have the chance, GO! This city is fun, funky and quite easy to navigate, I might add. My eagerness to hop on the airplane to arrive at my real destination has and is growing with every step on these Quebec streets. Now I know for sure, I MUST go to France! The real deal lays across the ocean, no anglophones chiming into the French conversation, no choice but to order my food in France, espresso and baguettes and food that I can only imagine, and a zest that I’m sure cannot be compared to this small Canadian city. My confidence is up and I cannot wait.

Until I write again, thanks for reading!

Useful links:  for travel to Quebec City check out these two websites: Quebec Region and Bonjour Quebec

Travel Anxiety Turns Into Excitement

Traveling can bring on great anxiety. This can be true for any trip, even if the trip will only last one week long.

I remember very clearly the stress my parents would always have a week before going on vacation. By the end of that week, they really proved the need for the vacation! I, myself, have traveled too and I always have that pre-trip anxiety. My mind jumps to all of the worse case scenarios: What if I forget something, what if I get stopped at the border, I don’t want to be late for the flight, did I print all the right documents? What if the airplane has a problem, what if I hate the place I am going…and more. Each thought glimpses through my mind for a few split seconds before I get distracted by another fleeting thought. Now imagine planning to go away for an entire year! This trip has the potential of bringing me great anxiety.

Tangent: Manifestation

I am choosing to go on a little tangent now, I want to talk about my little obsession with manifestation. New age pop culture has infested my mind with the idea of manifestation. I looked this word up to explain it to my FB (French boyfriend) but the dictionary definition proved unsatisfactory.

The dictionary says, “Manifest (verb): 1) to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly: He manifested his approval with a hearty laugh. 2) to prove; put beyond doubt or question: The evidence manifests the guilt of the defendant. 3) to record in a ship’s manifest. (Thank you dictionary.com)

I am clearly not talking about recording a ship’s manifest. Making something clear and evident to the eye seems more accurate. I am talking about physically manifesting a situation. Thinking and feeling something so often that it comes true (literally making something evident). Creating from nothing! In the negative terms, this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Shakespeare's version of self-fulfilling prophecy in Macbeth

So, on top of all the normal anxiety I was having for the trip, I was also worried about being worried, afraid that I could physically manifest all of my worries. Until my FB said something that really changed my thinking. “If you are afraid of manifesting, why don’t you just manifest what you want instead, like a great flight and an easy travel.” It is so true! If  (and that is a strong if) I can manifest scenarios with my thoughts and feelings, than I might as well manifest good things. Positive thinking, in simpler words.

Anxiety is the same as excitement!

I have struggled with anxiety for a while and what really changed my perspective on the anxiety is when I was told that anxiety and excitement are located in the same part of the brain (do not quote me on this, I have no clue if it is true). The body’s physical response to these two feelings is identical: sweating, fast heart rate, etc. And what is so great about this little fact tidbit is that when I simply choose to switch that one negative traveling thought into a happier one, my body’s reaction is instantaneous. I feel excited!

I love feeling excited!

The idea of having to go through this challenge is now starting to really excite me. The idea of flying 30,000 feet over the Earth’s surface (going so fast!) is kind of cool. And going through the whole experience of settling for a year in a new country seems like it will be satisfying not impossible!

If my thoughts can really manifest something from nothing, than I will have a flight on the clearest day of the year, with no turbulence, arriving an hour early. I will have a job within the first two months in France, the French will love me, the visa will be handed to me no problem and all will be well.



Faith

Such a broad topic for so many people. What is faith? For me its belief. Belief that I can accomplish every goal and dream I have and it will happen in the best way, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Most people take faith in something outside of themselves. I choose to take faith in life itself, and more specifically these words “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo“. I have faith that when I chant those words morning and night, that amazing things will happen and I will never be left stuck.

I am Buddhist. Not that that makes a difference in who I am. It is just my cup of tea (the tea being the faith). I practice Buddhism with the SGI, a lay Buddhist organization that follows Nichiren Daishonin‘s teachings on the Lotus Sutra. There is such history behind the Lotus Sutra and the meaning behind those words that I will not go into detail about right now.

I believe that by chanting Nam-Myo-Renge-Kyo in front of my inscribed Gohonzon (a scroll that has many Sanskrit characters on it) that I will be able to unlock my unlimited potential and achieve ANYTHING. I believe that I can be happy, no matter what my circumstances are and more importantly, that I can change my circumstances!

Chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo produces tangible, actual proof in the lives of millions of people. And because of the faith I have in my practice, I am not afraid of what will happen in France. I have faith.

I was told not to count on getting a job in France, but you see, that kind of thinking is unacceptable to me. I will get a job in France. Not only for me, but to give hope to all others in the same situation and to give inspiration to my readers. I will do it for everyone’s happiness. I am not saying it will be easy but it will happen. I know that because of the law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Chanting these words gives me the life force to make the impossible, possible.

It may take me studying french for hours upon hours a day, plus hours of chanting plus handing out 15 resumes a day. It might take more. It might take patience and it may take putting up with a lot of things that I don’t want to,  but the point is, I am going to France to work. Bottom line.

And to prove the power of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (as encouraged by all the members) I will write a list of the qualities I want in a job when I go there and I will not stop chanting until I have it. I will report on this again when I am actually in France looking.

My French job will:

-Be at a bakery of some sort
-Be enough pay to pay rent, groceries, transportation, cellphone, credit cards, and OSAP payment and a little extra
-I will have a boss who really is passionate about teaching me the art
-35-40 hours per week
-Close to my place (walking distance)

One thing I really love about the SGI is that it is in 192 countries (including France)! The community is so close, so I know when I go to France, the organization will already be aware of my arrival. I will immediately have a resource to meet people and share my life with.

Stress, Really?

Do I really have stress?Am I really too frustrated with my current to-do list that I hold tension in my body?

I am moving to France in just a few short months. I am going to experience something that most people only dream of doing but never take action towards. I am going to add something magnificent to my “life experience” list. This is the way I see the situation at least. Now, since I see the situation in the perspective, one would think that I would be brimming with gratitude and ready to explode in excitement. But no, I choose to feel stressed.

Choose. This is the word I choose to use. I read a while back that stress is a choice. It is a perspective. It causes tension in our bodies and brings crappy moods to our days. The antidote it seems would be nothing other than letting go. Letting go of the control I attempt to hold over every last detail of this trip brings on total relief. Instead of feeling stress I am beginning to feel relieved that it is coming soon. I am feeling relieved that I can’t control what happens when I arrive. My controlling the situation will only bring me more situations within my limited view of myself, my capabilities and my life. But part of this trip, you see, is to realize that life, MY LIFE TO BE EXACT, has unlimited potential. Screw limitation and control. Those two qualities will absolutely, guarantee to bring more limited situations that I can control. Because that is the point of control, right? To keep myself confined to a certain square footage of mind space in order to not allow anything “scary” in. And within me trying to DO this and DO that in THIS way and in THAT way, while making sure it is done perfectly, while focusing on my job, my finances, my boyfriend (who also happens to be stressed out right now), I really just have to stop and realize that this illusion of control I am holding so tightly is just that, an illusion. I am not in control at all. It will happen how it happens, so why not let it happen in ANY way possible, instead of just the way I think would be best.

And with that, I am letting go. I am releasing the built, stuck tension and letting my unlimited possibilities shine! I will get the best job, not the job I think I will get, when I arrive in France. I will learn the language in my own way, not in the way in which I control my learning, and I will go. Kicking and screaming I will go, or relaxed and excited I will go.

So you see, I believe stress is a perspective.

 

And let the miracles begin…

Something amazing happened! In my last post I wrote about my little financial obstacle that just happened. Well, the solution has been found.

Yesterday morning I decided that instead of waiting around feeling sorry for myself, I needed to do something. I would get a second job. Yes it would be hard, yes I may not really enjoy it (although that would be a choice depending on the attitude I take), but yes I needed one and I would do it!

I live in a small village incorporated into a larger town. The boutique I work at is in this village and so are many other little stores, shops, restaurants and bars. The owner of the clothing store I work in is head of the council for this town so I told him when I came into work, “I need a second job.” I asked him if he knew anyone in town who he could recommend me too and the response I received was far greater than anything I could have asked for! He said he didn’t want to share me and that he will help me get this extra money I need, by the date I need it, in exchange for some extra work and helping out whenever its needed! And of course I agreed that this is an awesome option!

Hopefully there will be more good news to come soon!