Friday, December 25, 2009

One month in Lyon!

It’s been a month today that my four Cat Babies and I arrived in Lyon. It’s been a month of beauty, wonderful new experiences, great ‘new’ friends, fantastic food, learning about wine in France, the cheese, the chocolate, and so much more... plus some difficulties and challenges.

Lyon is a beautiful ‘town’! I find it hard to think of it as a city. It is really not that big and with it being so easy and quick to get from one place to another with the public transport, it truly feels rather small. My favorite areas are vieux Lyon, la colline de Fourvière with it’s magnificent basilica, and the areas on the banks of the two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône. Walking through the cobble stone streets of Lyon, popping in and out of interesting little shops, sipping coffee in cosy little restaurants, enjoying lunch or dinner in one of the traditional restaurants, of which many are owned by a husband and wife team, are just some of the many pleasures here. The restaurant owners are often eager to tell you their story, and when you go back to the same restaurant a second, third... time, you are treated like ‘old friends’.

The markets here offer an extraordinary experience! This morning I went to St Jean Cathedral for the Christmas Mass... more about that another time. Anyway, afterwards I went for a walk on the right-bank of the Saône and I stumbled upon a flower market. It was amazing! I can’t believe that one can find such a variety of beautiful flowers even in winter.

Before I left South Africa, I wondered what I would do with regard to vegetables in France... being vegetarian and it being winter over here. Pas de souci! One finds the freshest’, ‘tastiest’, most beautiful looking vegetables partout: at the markets, in the super markets, in small vegetable shops around every corner...

Now to tell you a little about the chocolateries and boulangeries/ pâtisseries. Oh my goodness this is terrible... they are everywhere and the one offers more beautiful looking and more tempting, edible works of art than the other. That is what they are... edible works of art! But the tastes...! Can’t describe this, sorry... you won’t understand, you have to taste it to believe it!

Now to try and tell you about the challenges of settling in in France. Well it works more or less like this: You need a French bank account to rent a permanent apartment, for which you have to sign a rental contract for three years. It doesn’t help to have an international euro account, it needs to be a French bank account. You also need three months of electricity bills with your name and address on them and proof that you have regularly paid the rent of your previous accommodation for at least three months and in certain instances even for longer. Or you have to find someone who will undertake (sign a contract) that they will pay your rent if you don’t. This person is called a guarantor and this person in turn has to proof that he/she can pay his/her own rent, as well as yours.   Obviously if you’ve just moved here none of the above is possible. 

So, with regard to accommodation, over to plan B. Rent a furnished apartment for which it is only possible to sign a rental contract for at the longest, three months, because of tax implications for the owner.

About opening a bank account, As I’ve said you need three months of electricity bills with your name and address on them and proof that you have regularly paid the rent of your previous accommodation for at least three months... I’ve been trying for three weeks now opening an account and still without success. The bank sent a letter via la Poste delivered by the facteur, to my temporary address. I had to sign a carte that I’ve received this letter, which the facteur kept to return to the bank. This was supposed to proof that I really had a place to stay in Lyon. When I went to confirm that the account was activated and to fetch my carte bleu, I was told that before they finally activate my account, they first want to see my carte de sejour. Mmmm! For my carte de sejour I need a permanent address!!!!! Which I can’t get now because... well, as I've explained above...

I’m in the process of organising my carte de sejour at the Préfecture in Lyon, for which they decided that my temporary address will do, but my birth certificate won’t work. They need a different one from the one I have.  This I had to request from the South African Embassy in Paris and will take, I've been told, at least 14 weeks to arrive, because it has to be requested from the Department of Internal Affairs in South Africa. In addition I have to have my birth certificate, the unacceptable one, and my divorce certificate translated into French by an accredited translator. All of this was in addition to a list of documents I needed that was given to me upon my first visit to the Préfecture.  It goes without saying that I took all these documents with upon my second visit. Yet, the previous person I spoke to forgot to tell me about the birth certificate and the divorce certificate that had to translated.  I was number 197 in the queue and there were 52 people before me. Luckily you can leave and return later, which I did. I went to have lunch on the island (Presqu'ile) and discovered yet another very pleasant little restaurant owned by an Italian couple! 

All of this I have to tell you happens within an atmosphere of ‘over’-competence, rather than ‘in’competence! Each person I spoke to within all of the above processes had been very friendly, most ‘helpful’, very serious, very eloquent and rather diligent!

I’m proud to say that all of the above had to be negotiated in French!

In conclusion: thanks to the owners of the first apartment I rented in rue Moncey, until two days ago, I found solutions to some of the challenges. I became good friends with Roger et Dominique Micallef. They are wonderfully kind and interesting people. Through them I met so many other people and learnt a lot about how things function here in France. They were Angel sent!

On 19 January I’ll be moving into a very nice apartment in a really pleasant and interesting area. It’s close to all forms of transport, lots of little restaurants, interesting shops, including a big music shop, boulangeries, chocolateries, etc. This apartment belongs to a friend of Roger and Dominique. I really look forward moving there. Time-wise, everything worked out perfectly, because my shipment should arrive just about 20 January.

With regard to cultural activities and opportunities, I will write about these another time. I can already write a very comprehensive book just with regard to what I experienced within one month and just in Lyon... the rest of France awaits. With the transport being so efficient it is very easy to attend events also in other towns and cities. There are some amazing concerts, exhibitions and shows coming up. The one thing I’ve learnt very quickly here though is that you have to book well in advance! ... this pertains even to the smaller concerts and shows!

I am really happy in France... in Lyon! This feels even more like home than I have anticipated!

Joyeux Noël à tous!

Mikki
Please remember that my old e-mail address doesn’t work anymore. My new address is mikkiflute@gmail.com

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Live Your Dreams!

It couldn't be more true... "A dream is a wish your heart makes"!  You remember?  Snow White...?

Since March this year (2009) I have been planning and working towards moving to Lyon, France.  Everything is falling into place and my four beautiful Persians and me will fly to France and our 'new' life in November.

Speaking French and living in France formed part of my dreams for a long time.  Now I can speak French pretty well, not perfect though, and soon I'll be living in France...  for an extended period... perhaps forever, who knows?  Dreams evolve...

I have often been asked:  "How come you are so lucky to live your dreams?"  I don't think I am particularly lucky, or more special than other people, or more intelligent, or any other adjectival description.  I made a decision to be happy and to live my dreams!  Anyone can do it!  It is truly as easy as that:  make a decision about your reality, about your life and it will happen!

I hear you say:  "My circumstances don't allow it...", or "I don't have enough time...", or "I don't have enough money...", and a thousand other excuses.  That is exactly what they are:  excuses.

When I started planning and working towards realising my dream to move to France, my financial situation didn't look positive at all.  Through meditation I went into my inner space in order to discover 'what my heart wished'.  I asked for Guidance with regard to what my life purpose is at this point in my life... where and how could I serve best?  Through intuition and thoughts I knew exactly what to do.  During the past months I was guided in miraculous ways...

You see once you are clear about the life you want for yourself, what it is exactly what your heart wishes on all levels of your life, emotionally, spiritually, financially, with regard to relationships..., you start to create your own reality.  Opportunities start coming your way, the right people cross your path, and because of this your financial, and other situations start changing...  Once you start experiencing change and 'success'... there is no turning back!  You are living your dreams!

This process is not static, though.  It is evolutionary... your dreams will and should change.  Just go into your inner space often... and you will know what is right for you at this particular moment.  This is an internal process, it is not determined by external circumstances.

Why am I writing this?  Because just as the writings of other people helped me on my path to live my dreams, so I hope that though my writing I can help and encourage you to live your dreams and create your reality.

Just another story about my life and how I took charge of my own reality...  I am a flutist.  I am passionate about music, many different styles, and I absolutely love playing my flute.  I love entertaining people... to make people happy through my music just gives me so much pleasure!In the early years of my career (I was classically trained), though, I did not get much pleasure from performing for audiences.  I was very nervous and every concert was like a survival challenge.  I couldn't quite work this out.  I always loved playing the flute and before a concert I could imagine how wonderful it was going to be to entertain the audience.  It never materialised that way, though.  I was always disappointed after a concert.  These concerts were all very formal, recital type formats...  typical classical music concerts where the players and audience are quite serious... and quiet, and applauding at just the right moments...  Nothing wrong with these types of concerts!  They were just not my musical reality!

I went into my inner space and discovered how I should entertain audiences.  There should be different elements:  music (a fusion of different styles), poetry, visual arts, dancing...  Suddenly I had so many ideas... there was a universe of sounds, colours, musical styles, literature, stories, images, and different integrations of all these to explore.  Over the years I have coordinated and presented so many 'magical' concerts/shows, I have played with wonderful musicians, worked with talented visual artists, narrators, actors, dancers...  Part of discovering my reality was also that I discovered I love presenting concerts/shows in intimate settings where one can truly communicate with the audience.

My message to you:  start living your dreams today, this very moment... create your own reality!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Handing over my Flute Studio...

I have been running a performing and teaching flute studio in Pretoria, South Africa for the past 10 years plus.  My Studio developed into quite an empire in Pretoria... or dare I claim, in South Africa(?)  I'm not saying this because I think I'm so wonderful or talented or... The Universe just allowed some wonderfully talented musicians, students and enthusiastic music lovers to cross my path. This resulted in some extraordinary concerts, happy audiences, inspired students, and so on.

At the end of November this year, my four beautiful Persian cats and me will be leaving South Africa for Lyon, France.  This is a long-time dream coming true.  For as long as I can remember I yearned to speak French and live in France.  Well, I now have a fairly good command of the language, chapeau à l'Alliance Française de Prétoria, and I will soon be living in France!

What to do about my Studio was a great concern when I decided to move to France.  My students are very close to my heart and I considered many options and possible teachers to take over this very important task of facilitating their musical paths and assisting them in exploring and developing their musical talents.  I assured my students that they needn't be concerned because the right person would appear.  I have to admit, though, that as time moved on I became slightly concerned, because the right person did not appear...

Then one day a dear friend who is also a flute player/teacher phoned to ask if I could recommend a good attorney to take care of a personal matter for her.  As I was on my way to my attorney that particular day, I offered to introduce her to him.  We met at his office and over a cup of coffee, in the course of our conversation she jokingly said that perhaps she should take over my Studio.  Neither of us regarded this as a serious option at the time.  The possibility of her taking over my Studio kept recurring in my thoughts, though... and it appears, in her thoughts too.  Well to make a long story short, Bobby van der Watt will be taking over Mikki's Flute Studio!  I couldn't be happier, and it appears neither could some of my students...  I have already introduced her to my adult students in a workshop situation and she fitted right in, or they just suited her... which ever way.  Tomorrow my younger students and their 'new' teacher are coming over for tea and I'm confident that all will go well...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love...

Everything is about love... Love is all there is...