The Dream Life of Michael Pereira

_DSC7528Last year, along the expat path in Paris, I met one of the most positive and inspiring people I’ve come to call my friend. Right away I was attracted to his unique, vibrant energy and was intrigued to hear his story. And could some of his positivity rub off on me, please? (Often it does.) His name is Michael Pereira, though I choose to call him ‘Miracle Michael’, for reasons you’ll soon understand. He is truly living his dream in Paris, dancing and singing his way to the top, having created his own stage on which to perform. What’s more, Michael has close ties to spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson who I’m a great fan of. (We both recently heard her speak in Paris.) But this tale is about Michael.

How did I come to live my dream in Paris?  It’s a long story….well, not really.   I was once a real New Yorker.  You know one of “those” New Yorkers.  I would even go a step further…I was a Manhattanite.  Yes, one of those snobs that thought living in Brooklyn was akin to living in Minnesota or if someone asked me to go see them in Queens I would say, “Do I need my passport?”  I was going to live in Manhattan forever.  However 8 Years ago I had the opportunity to visit Paris and the city enraptured me.  From that point on, I visited Paris every year at least once a year.  During one of these visits as I was packing to return to my beloved Manhattan and I heard this little whisper that said, “Don’t go.”  I was baffled by this voice.  I let it go and returned to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.  Shortly after returning from that trip, I started becoming obsessed with Paris.  Searching the Internet everyday for what was going on there…apartments…festivals…new restaurants and so on.   I kept returning to Paris and every time I was there I would have this same feeling/voice saying “Stay, don’t go back to NYC.”

That whisper you keep hearing is the universe trying to get your attention. – Oprah Winfrey

I have a secret to tell, I am a meditator.  So one day in my meditation, I asked what does this thought mean “don’t go?”  What I received or heard or felt (however you want to say it) was this, “There in something in Paris that you must learn and you can only learn it there.”  Pardonez-moi?  I was puzzled but I didn’t question it.  After this, I became more obsessed with this city and was determined to live there for at least 6 months.  At that time, it was not a possibility however 2 years ago the world presented me the opportunity to live in Paris for 3 months.  I leap at the chance and was as happy as a pig in mud.  I arrived to Paris and I was living in a Chateauneuf-du-Pape dream filled with baguettes, croissants, and macaroons.  After being in Paris for as little less than a month, I made the crazy decision to stay.


When you learn, teach.  When you get, give – Maya Angelou

My next thought was  “what will I do for work?”  I know! I would teach dance.  I was a Broadway dancer and had already taught all over the USA.  So I thought, this is a no-brainer.  I will start a class and it will be packed.  I was fortunate to already have set up some classes at 2 of Paris’ most famous dance studios.  I was sure that they would be sold-out.  Aaaah American arrogance.  On the day of my 1st class at the Centre de Danse du Marais I had the grand total of zero students.  LE OUCH!  I brushed it off and decided that it was a gift from the universe as it was my birthday and now I could go meet a new friend for a drink.  The next day came and I had 1 student, the next 0, the next 1, then 2, then for the rest of the month it would vary from 2 to 6 students.  I was disappointed but not discouraged.  I had met an American Expat and she said that she would recommend me as an English teacher at a high level school in Paris and that would help make money too.  Ok, so I thought, “”I will survive.”  I had been surviving in NYC, so now I will do the same in Paris.  No big deal.

But I did have my moments of fear.  “What happens if I fail?”  “What will happen if I can’t pay my rent?”  Oh la la!  I am lucky to have a strong support system lead by my Godmom.  She said, “If you are happy you will have no choice that to succeed.”  I trust her, so I decided “Ok Michael, onward.”  I started teaching English and I continued to teach dance where I could.  At first as a substitute when other teachers couldn’t teach and then Studio Harmonic would offer me a week here or there during vacation times.  Little by little, my classes started filling up.  10 people, 15 people.  WOW!  I was thrilled.   Then one day, I had this crazy idea that I should start a ½ day workshop on a Sunday.  I would offer a taste of American style musical theatre training.  The director of the studio wasn’t into it as they had never done anything like this but she said let’s try.  Well, it sold out in one week.  Et voila, that was the real start of Broadway In Paris.


Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. – A Course in Miracles

You know, I never thought in a million years that I would be living a dream life but here I am.  I believe something powerful happens to a person when failure isn’t an option.  I had to succeed.  I had to pay my rent.   I never wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a star.  A big fat Broadway star with my name above the title.  Now, that never happened, I had some very rough times in NYC.  I had some really wonderful and glamorous times too but a lot of rough ones.  New York, I tell people, is like a wild animal.  You tame it and ride it or it will throw you off itself and eat you alive.  Weirdly enough, I was loosing strength and scared that NYC might bite me.  I digress; I started teaching in the States to help pay the bills when I wasn’t performing.  But little by little, I started loving it.  I loved sharing the knowledge that I acquired.  I was always a seeker of knowledge and still am.  In the performing arts I want to sing better, have deeper emotions, dance faster and bigger, etc.  So along the way, I learned from some of the best.  I also applied this desire for knowledge to life spiritually and emotionally.  I started combining these to things and saw that it was working.

If a train doesn’t stop at your station, then it’s not your train. – Marianne Williamson

When I started teaching in Paris, I just continued doing what I did in the states.  Being me.  Helping my students fulfill their potential.  Seeing them in their greatest light.  Infusing every situation with love.  Uplifting people.  Teaching them a different way of looking at things.  Creating a safe space.  I am a deeply spiritual guy and I firmly believe that miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.  So I try to fill everything I do with love.  It seems to be working miracles for me.  I am so grateful that this City of Light decided open it’s arms to me and shine its light on me.

Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others. – Marianne Williamson

At this time, I am really excited to start my expanding my teaching to more and different classes at Studio Harmonic, including Broadway Jazz, Tap and Ballet expanding my private voice studio and song interpretation workshops, continuing my teaching in the Studio International’s musical theatre program and my jazz concerts.  I have also been invited to teach workshops outside of Paris and I have a few other surprises up my sleeve.  Plus, coming my jazz concerts.  I really love doing those.  I take Broadway songs and do them in a jazz style.

I am ready for more miracles in the City of Light.


Thank you for sharing your story, Michael. You can find his inspiring words on his blog, Michael’s Year of Miracles, and learn more about his dancing classes on his website Broadway In Paris. I’ll need to dust off my tap dancing shoes one day and join the fun… He also sings Broadway show tunes at local Paris venues including Club Rayé.

Be sure to follow Broadway in Paris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and also follow the adventures of Michael himself on Twitter and Instagram. He’s certain to inspire a miracle or two in your own life.


The Dream Life of Nichole Robertson

Nichole Robertson is one of those women I look at and wonder, how does she do it all? (And so well!) Excel at a career in New York’s high-paced advertising world, manage a continual state of wedded bliss, raise two young sons… all the while living the dream of Paris, photographing this city by capturing it’s essence unlike anyone else. Recently she was featured on Martha Stewart, but there was more I wanted to know. And so I asked her how Paris became a reality.

My husband and I decided to move to Paris on a whim one night after a few glasses of wine. By all measures it seemed crazy – we had two toddler boys, wonderful friends, a network of business contacts – but something nagged us. Was this the life we were supposed to be living?

We hadn’t yet bought a house (we were living in the NYC suburbs) and we both were self-employed with flexible work arrangements. Nothing was holding us down, and our desire to shake up our lives outweighed any practical considerations.

So we stored or sold most of our things, and did it. I didn’t really overthink it, and looking back, I’m humored by the cavalier manner in which we did it. It was exhilarating and scary and wonderful.

As we adjusted to our new neighborhood, everything was a challenge in the best possible way. While I could sleepwalk my way through a workday with a client in NYC or at Whole Foods or Target, simply buying milk or navigating the post office presented challenges. I had about as much French as an 18 month old and the same wide eyes.

Being out of my comfort zone was good for me. It allowed me to slow down and notice things I may have otherwise overlooked. Even though I’m a writer, I had little interest in writing about my experiences in Paris, it was all visual. I carried my camera with me everywhere. I snapped photos of everything that caught my eye (I even have photos of trash cans!), simply because it was new. New to me, and that’s all that mattered.

That was three years ago, and what started out as simple snapshots of my life in Paris turned into a three-year project, a side business and a book. I’m still floored by that, and wonder why my life took this turn. I guess good things happen when you follow your bliss.

To experience more of Nichole’s bliss, step into the world of Little Brown Pen where she often captures Paris in Color, her book releasing on April 18th! My favorites being red and gray, or perhaps the elegance of white… You can also follow her visions of Paris via Facebook and Twitter.

soul of New York

Anyone who knows me, is well aware that New York City resides deeply within my heart. Much like a first love that will forever be revered. Several months ago, via my blogging journey, I met a fellow New Yorker with a similar sentiment towards the city that doesn’t sleep. Phil Vasquez is a writer and filmmaker from Canada, inspired by classic and foreign films and American and French popular music songbooks, everything from Cole Porter to Charles Aznavour. He has resided for many years in NYC and soon… Paris. I quickly discovered that Phil possesses a unique sensitivity and depth that was revealed in his short film, Song of Relations, a beautiful tribute to the soul of old New York City.

Nested in nests of water bays. Superb, rich.
Hemm’d thick all round with sail ships and steam ships.
An island, 16 miles long, solid founded.
Numberless crowded streets. High growths of iron. Slender, strong, light.
Splendidly uprising toward clear skies.
The countless masts. The white shore steamers. The lighters. The ferry-boats.
The downtown streets. The houses of business of the ship merchants and money brokers.
The river streets.
City of hurried and sparkling waters, city of spires and masts.
City nested in bays. My city.
– Walt Whitman

I look forward to following Phil’s journey from New York to Paris, a city he and his wife plan to call home, where he will absorb the culture and no doubt make authentic French films with an American independent production style. And where his unique vision will continue.

To view his film and learn more about this writer & filmmaker in the making:

Also be sure to join Phil Vasquez on facebook and connect on twitter.


The Dream Life of Anne Ditmeyer

Very often expats living in Paris ask ‘how can I live here legally?’. Not always an easy answer. I am lucky to hold an EU passport, but those who aren’t as fortunate need to obtain a study or work visa, marry a Frenchman, or avoid the system and keep a very low profile. I don’t recommend the latter. There’s one such girl I have come to know who has been tested to the limit. And won. I praise Anne’s ability to live her dream life in Paris, pursue her passion for graphic design and communications and rise far above the slew of French bureaucracy attempting to block her path.

I’m not sure that living in 12m2 (that’s 129 sf) and on an extreme budget – at the age of 30 – are what one would typically consider the dream life, but I really can’t complain. My love affair with Paris has gone on for 10 years now. Although an on-and-off relationship, it has involved a semester as a study abroad student (arriving 2 days before 9/11), an academic year working as an English teaching assistant in a French high school, and most recently a Masters in Global Communications from the American University of Paris.

Another thing most people would not consider part of the “dream life” is paperwork. I’ve been lucky enough to have a flexible schedule here, because quite frankly I don’t know how I’d do it otherwise, as more often than not paperwork feels like a full-time job. It’s all part of the love-hate dynamic present in any relationship, I suppose. I go into every transaction with very low expectations – and a sense of humor – and this tactic has worked wonders for me. In fact, it is the most mundane moments of living in Paris that I love most.

During the month of August, while nearly all of France is on holiday, I found my limits for France being tested. After 2 years of being a student, my time was coming to get real. I was hoping trip home to the US earlier in the summer would give me answers, and it did – that I wasn’t ready to give up France just yet. Had I know what lied ahead of me, I probably would have had a different answer.

It took three trips to the Préfecture de Police for me to figure out even how to go about getting a visa to stay in France. This is a country that likes to categorize people, and unfortunately, I – by the nature of my work and being a foreigner – don’t fit into any of their boxes. At one location alone the woman had to ask three different people where to send me for my visa, as I kept perplexing them. Finally I found the place, was given the proper forms and an appointment to return 4 weeks later.

What lay ahead is something I’ve now tried to erase from my memory. Basically, it involved writing a 20-50 page busines plan in French (mine was 50) and collecting a boatload of rather obscure documents (many of which did not yet exist for me as I’m so new in their “auto-entrepreneur” system). To put this in perspective, as new to my freelance business I was working nearly full-time and picked up new clients during the month. So doing this paperwork was like a full-time job on top of an already full load. I had finished my Master’s thesis in March and this experience was far more painful than that. And believe it or not, writing a business plan from scratch, in French, was easier than collecting all the documents. (The documents involved such fun things as finding and paying 50 Euros to have my birth certificate translated into French, and spending 2 hours at the Tax Center – no, there was no line in August – as two women racked their brains as to how to give me a document that would work).

On the fateful morning of August 23rd, I went to the Préfecture. I recognized the woman helping me from a previous visit, and figured I was screwed and hopeless as I recalled our prior interaction. But there was a guardian angel sitting on my shoulder that day, as I was able to submit my complete dossier and successfully left with a temporary extension and the official visa in the works. After the stress of the month, I don’t think even now I have fully realized what I have accomplished. It really felt like “mission impossible” but I did it, I survived, and I didn’t even have to marry a Frenchman to live the dream life…

Congratulations Anne! You have certainly earned your key to the city. As for a Frenchman, who knows what the city of love has in store for you.

After successfully receiving her visa to stay in France, Anne spends her days working as a freelance graphic designer and communications consultant. Check out her impressive site! Anne is also a contributing editor for the popular blog, Design*Sponge, and Anne’s former 10m2 apartment is inside the pages of Grace Bonney’s new book “Design*Sponge at Home.” Anne’s blog, Prêt à Voyager, looks at the intersection of travel and design. Her “Unglamorous Paris” series explores the less than perfect sides of living in Paris. Keep an eye out for this design aficionado!


I am a Francophile. An expat. A dreamer. A traveler. A seeker of that and those which inspire me. Above all else, I am grateful. In just under two years I have not simply found, but created a life in Paris. Not a city that easily embraces outsiders. And so us outsiders found a way in. By sharing our stories and thoughts via the world of blogging. A passion for some, therapeutic for others. I am equally excited to share stories that inspire me via my own blog, as in The Dream Life series, as well as to share my life via others.

Today I am honored to be featured on fellow Francophile and friend Lindsey’s fabulous Paris blog, Lost in Cheeseland. A series very aptly titled Franco File Friday. This gal never ceases to amaze. (Fellow Frenchies, have you tried her cookies yet?)

Other recent and honorary features include design savvy Anne from Prêt à Voyager. She shared my travels on her ingenius Boarding Pass series and my neighborhood of the Marais in her Tour de France. Doubly honored! I’ve also appeared on the lovely (and romantic might I add) Susan’s blog Fleurishing, in her Proust Q&A series.

I cannot neglect to mention my HiP Paris dining adventures as of late, with fellow Paris bloggers at the haute Petrelle. Many more foodie explorations to come!

As I have done in the past and will continue to do, I share the love as year two approaches, life in Paris evolves, I feel even more gratitude, and the language of blogging continues to unite.

The Dream Life of Chloe Lodge

When I first met Chloe Lodge, I sensed a curiosity in her gaze, and a warmth in her demeanor. When I found out she was studying to become a photographer, my interest grew. (Having worked as a Print Producer in the advertising world for over a decade, I grew to know and admire many visual thinkers, and have developed a love for photography.) With undeniable fervor, Chloe told me about the Masters Programme she was completing in Paris, and her final project, documenting ‘Expat Women in a Foreign Land’: Paris. (And would I want to participate? Bien Sur!) So, how did Chloe arrive to pursue her dreams, in Paris? Her path is a unique and well-traveled one.

It still surprises me, how quickly life can change. If a year ago, someone said to me that I would be at the beginning of a new career in photography, having studied in Paris and been exhibited at the Rencontres dʼArles I would never have believed them. I am delighted to say this is exactly what has happened.

Photography has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. When asked as a child ʻwhat do you want to become?ʼ for me, aged 7, my answer was always ʻI want to be a National Geographic Photographer.ʼ At fifteen I showed my photographs to my art teacher who said ʻthese are nice pictures but they are holiday snaps. To be a photographer you have to make the everyday appear extra-ordinary and more interesting than its perception.ʼ I had little, or no idea what she meant and felt discouraged.

After a brief spell at Art College studying sculpture, I achieved a BA Honours degree in Art History. Not having a clue what to do with a qualification such as this I fell into the city life of London, initially working in Event Management, then momentarily for the big boys at Goldman Sachs on Fleet Street. However, the creative Chloe gasped for breath inside everyday, so when a slightly unusual opportunity presented itself to me, I grabbed it with both hands. Working alongside Bear Grylls was a fascinating and all-encompassing job. Regardless, my role was one I could tweak and mould how I wanted. It was about organisation, PR, event management and with a little design thrown in. During a particularly intense period manning the 24-hour UK base of Bearʼs 2003 Trans-Atlantic Arctic Expedition I realised that it was about time I stopped sitting behind a desk organising adventures for others and see the world for myself.

My London flat went on the market, and I booked myself a round-the-world ticket. I planned on three months away but ended up being away almost three years. In that time I travelled across Russia, Mongolia and China on the Trans-Siberian, I spent four months backpacking in South-East Asia and finally ʻsettledʼ in New Zealand for almost two and a half years.

The back streets of Valletta, Malta. May 2011

The age of digital photography was upon us and, small compact in hand, I rediscovered my love of photography – capturing the beauty in the everyday. The landscape, culture and texture of life in the ʻLand of the Long White Cloudʼ awoke the softly doozing hunger for the photographic image from inside me. Whilst down-under, I not only fell in love with my photography again, I fell in love with the very wonderful James.

This was almost five years ago, and for reasons unknown to us, we then ended up in England. The dream of any little girl came true and James proposed. It was a double whammy because he also agreed to my fantasy of a small, intimate wedding on an Italian hillside, then the intense organisation began. It was all going to plan, until devastation hit. It was a Saturday afternoon, exactly three months to the day before our wedding, that I received the phone call. My dear and much-loved Mum, had died overnight in her sleep. Aged just 58, it was sudden, unexpected and shattered my world from the core.

Unwillingly but essentially I had to shift the wedding plans to funeral plans, desperately trying to ingest the utter shock of what had happened. We had to decide quickly whether to go ahead with our Italian wedding plans, or not. We decided whenever we were to get married after that she wouldnʼt physically be there: getting ready on the day, smiling at me with pride as I said my vows, laughing with me every step of the way. But she had been part of the planning THIS day, so we had to move forward.

Springtime in Paris, the Eiffel Tower. March 2011

Is it possible for light come from the darkness of utter tragedy? Sitting in the shade of a palm tree on our honeymoon, a realisation slowly dawned on me that I might now have the opportunity to follow that childhood dream of mine. I could go back to school to study photography. After much research and a swift application, I received a confirmation from a school in Paris to study Professional Photography starting September 2010.

Still fragile and in shock from the previous six months, I wondered if it was the right timing for me. Being in my mid-thirties, it felt like it was ʻnow or neverʼ. I had visited Paris as an art student, spending many happy hours in the Louvre and Musee DʼOrsay, and knew Iʼd always loved it as a city and so, swallowed hard and took the plunge.

As I began my studies I felt that the studio was where I wanted to be, ʻmakingʼ pictures and not ʻtakingʼ them. However, as my first semester journey of personal and creative exploration ventured on I began feeling more and more that the outside world is where I wanted to be. My interest has always been in people, within the context of their lives. Understanding how things change and evolve for them over time. I consider myself a social observer and a story teller, and it’s for this reason documentary and portrait photography is the area in which I love to work. Photography is not purely the creative action of taking a picture, it’s about people and their stories, their lives.

Kasia Dietz, from the portrait series 'Modern Women at Home in a Foreign Land' April, 2011

Ten challenging, soul-searching but fantastic months later, I have achieved a National Diploma with Honours, and finished the Masters Programme. Following our final diploma show in May, two out of 68 students were selected to be part of the 26 year celebration exhibition of our school at the Rencontres dʼArles… and my work was one of them. It was a complete surprise, but a fantastic honour so soon after graduating. The same exhibition will be shown in November, during Paris Photo Month, at the Speos Gallery, Paris. A city at the nucleus of the photography world. It feels like the beginning of something very wonderful… itʼs not the start of a new chapter, itʼs the start of a whole new book. A book I have always dreamt of starting, and now I am.

The Residence of the US Ambassador to France, Paris. April 2011 (selected for Rencontres d'Arles)

Congratulations and best of luck to you Chloe, as your ‘dream life’ of visual story telling continues!

Chloe Lodge Photography, will be exhibited at the Speos Gallery, 75011 Paris from November 8th – December 31st 2011. You can also follow Chloe Lodge on facebook as her life soon takes her from Paris to Asia. (Once the traveler always the traveler!)

ʻModern Women at Home in a Foreign Landʼ captures todayʼs Anglophone women making lives for themselves in a country where the culture, language and tradition is often very different to their own. Each following their own dream, in so many different ways. Her self- published book is available for viewing via

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