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Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!

It may have been a record-breaking crowd upstairs at Le Café de la Mairie yesterday with a count of 45+ who came to hear me speak under the theme of “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” One faithful reader came all the way from Tours just to hear it…very flattering.

It was a presentation that I gave to the members of the Women’s International club (WIC) last September that was well received. When James Navé, our speaker for Parler Paris Après Midi changed his talk from March to November, it was an opportunity for me to speak…for the very first time since 2003 that I’ve hosted the event!

With more depth and insight then when I first gave this presentation, the first half was devoted to the ‘incredible’ journey of going from newcomer to divorcee to doing anything to survive to amassing a portfolio of properties to running a full service real estate business.

(It’s a story that will be partially told in the memoir I am writing, but which is more centered around the “viager” property that took five years to own and prepare for rental only to be shut down by the city rental regulations and ultimately sold. Next week I’ll be in Nice for the sole purpose of devoting time to those writing those pages, so Parler Paris will be republishing a couple of our past, but best issues, in place of current missives.)

Dorothy not in Kansas

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

Napoleonic Code

System D

half full half empty


head heart


Expectations Hopes

In the course of the adventure in France to jump the economic hurdles and survive the cultural differences, there were many points of ‘wisdom’ gained along the way. This is what was shared with the attendees — the 10 secrets of surviving in France (à la moi):

1. Get the Power of Now! Read Eckhart Tolle’s insightful philosophies. Live in the present, accept the past for what it was (you can’t change it) and plan for the future, but realize the future is totally illusory and doesn’t exist. This will eliminate fear from your life (which is debilitating) and it will enable you to focus — really focus on the present and what is truly important. If you can grasp this concept, you can change your life for the better forever.

2. Understand the fundamental cultural difference between France and your native culture: NAPOLEONIC CODE: “Everything which is not allowed is forbidden.” ENGLISH LAW: “Everything which is not forbidden is allowed.” The legal system in Anglo Saxon countries is based on what is forbidden while the legal system in France is based on what’s allowed. This is the basis for all cultural differences. It means that English law engenders open-minded out-of-the-box thinking, while Napoleonic code is about following the rules and thinking within the box. If you can think the way the French think, or understand how differently you think than they do, you can avoid making some of the biggest mistakes.

3. Employ “System D”: System D refers to a manner of responding to challenges that requires one to have the ability to think fast, to adapt, and to improvise when getting a job done, like MacGyver who solves complex problems by making things out of ordinary objects, along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife. Do not be afraid to exercise “System D.” The letter D refers back to “débrouille” – to manage, make it work – to do “whatever works.” Ask any French person if they know what this means and you’ll discover this is their motto for getting anything accomplished by getting ‘around’ the rules.

4. Take professional advice. Don’t try to do everything on your own just to save the money. In the long run, it will cost you more. Trust in professionals who have education and experience. One woman was proud to say how she had managed to get her visa without an attorney, but then confessed it was her husband who was more organized and that her situation was very straightforward. That is not true for everyone, so don’t be fooled into thinking you know it all.
5. Think positively. Don’t let the negative French viewpoint steer you in the wrong direction. The glass is not half empty. The glass is half full. Believe you can do it. Believe you can do anything. When you hear “C’est impossible.” Respond with, “No, c’est plus que possible!” And believe it, then prove it.
6. Synchronicity: “Acausal meaningful coincidences (a phrase coined by Carl Jung)! Pay attention to the signposts…remember that the synchronistic events are a beacon to lighting your path. Follow it. It’s yours. Once you begin to recognize them, you’ll see more and more of them and that will let you know that you’re in the right place at the right time.

7. Use both your head and your heart. Do what you like doing and are good at doing, without thinking of the money…that will come if you are good at what you do and love it. Too often clients come to us wanting a good investment in Paris property and all they care about is making the ‘numbers’ work. Truth is that better investments can be had in other ways, but this is a lifestyle change that is enriching and that most never regret making, even if the ‘numbers’ don’t work.
8. Remove your ego from the situation. You don’t have to always be right. When you take the ego out, and let others have their egos, you actually empower yourself. “There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right. Being right is identification with a mental position — a perspective, an opinion, a judgement, a story. For you to be right, of course, you need someone else to be wrong, as so the ego loves to make wrong in order to be right.” Eckhart Tolle
9. Never have expectations, high nor low. An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. Change this for hope. Hope for something, but never expect it – and you will never have disappointments. Just take this word (expectation) out of your vocabulary, period. You’ll be surprised how much happier, more content and fulfilled you will be.
10. Give, and it will be given to you. Be generous. Give as much as you can, without considering the reward, and you will receive in kind. Generosity is not about money — it’s the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish. Is that not how you’d like to be treated by others?

Of course, these secrets apply to acclimating to just about any climate anywhere in the world. If you start with just Number One (The Power of Now), the rest will easily follow.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - by Patricia Laplante Collins

Adrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group

(by Patricia Laplante Collins)

Respond to Adrian


P.S. Be sure to read more about the afternoon by visiting Parler Paris Après Midi. Since I was speaking and not taking photos, there are virtually no photos of me speaking. If any of you who attended have any, I’d be very grateful if you would email them to me at [email protected]! Thank you in advance.


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