"Une petiote" is a synonym for "little girl" in French + childhood story

French word for "goal" or "aim" and thoughts about writing

Flowers far from France...

le but (bewt)

    : goal, aim

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Yesterday morning a great big soupir stopped me in my tracks and had me asking why? Why do I do what I do? What am I aiming for? Am I on the right track?

I called Mom last night and caught her ironing. Le repassage? I asked her the same question that I had asked myself that very morning: Mom, are you doing what you love? I already knew the answer, for my dear Mom would love nothing more than to paint and to pursue people (on the street, at the café, via Facebook, here, in my comments box). She loves Art and Others. Tout simplement. Yet she is inside... ironing.... She hasn't picked up a paint brush in eight months, hasn't chased down an unsuspecting stranger in weeks. Instead, she irons her husband's shirts, which are coming apart at the seams.

And what about me? Am I doing what I love? I love Writing and Characters. (Well, I love characters and I think I love writing... ) I think I want to paint people via words....

This morning I wrote a story about mon enfance. Unlike many writers, I had a very happy childhood. I would now like that same carefree feeling to fly forth in my work: no rules, no regulations, only trust, play, and discovery day after day. Yes, this is what I love!

Et encore...

My wish is that my words and my photos will lighten hearts... while growing my own. I hope these missives will help to connect people, collapse cultural barriers, and cause more laughing and rejoicing. At the very least, I hope these journal entries will help us not to take ourselves too seriously, after all we are, deep down, more alike than we are different, you and me.

If I can give back even a chouïa of the knowledge and espérance that I receive from the readers who respond to these "every other day epistles," then perhaps my growing heart qui bat will signal I am, after all, sur le bon chemin, or on the right track.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day. They help connect people and help to share ideas. Thanks for leaving a comment today. If you have never left a comment, don't be shy. You might simply say "Bonjour from (name your city)!" Merci for commenting.

"The Adoration": Smokey and Braise with Uncle Jacques. (Photo taken in January.  Smokey is two months "bigger" now. Leave Smokey or Braise (or Jacques) a message.

French Vocabulary & Audio File:
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Thus the aim of art is almost divine: to bring to life again if it is writing history, to create if it is writing poetry. Le but de l’art est presque divin : ressusciter, s’il fait de l’histoire; créer, s’il fait de la poésie. Victor Hugo

le soupir = sigh
le repassage = ironing
tout simplement = quite simply
mon enfance = my childhood
un chouïa
= a tiny bit
l'espérance (f) = hope
et encore = what is more
qui bat (battre) = that beats
sur le bon chemin = on the right track

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You haven't shown up in my inbox yet since France hasn't changed clocks yet. So I thought I'd hop straight on over to FWAD and see if you had posted yet. Quelle bonne chance! Here you are. I think the fact that I couldn't get started with my Wednesday without first checking with you says that you are on the right track. That doesn't mean the direction of the track couldn't change unexpectedly, but you are on a good path now. Thank you for the sunshine in your photo. The Midwest is seriously missing it (you'd think we're living in Oregon or something, what with the gray).

Donna Schramek

Even though I may not always have the time to read the entire article, I always look for your photos. You are both so photogenic.


Kristin, your brighten my day, even though I always long to be back in France after reading your posts. And, I LOVE your mother!

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

That's funny. I often see that same "soupir" over where I live. I guess my comment would be that as long as you have enthusiasm towards something - then you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. One of my favorite quotes is:

"Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." ~Samuel Ullman

Patricia Lynn

I love reading your blog! It's filled with lighthearted kindness, and your stories and photographs are wonderful.


At a cross road in my life, I understand your questions completely but please let me offer an observation (or two). Your first questions were "Why do I do what I do? What am I aiming for? Am I on the right track?" It seems to me that these questions are some that belong as part of your plan - like a business plan. What is it you want to accomplish, what will you do to try to get there and how do you measure the success of those efforts, did you achieve your goals, are you on the right track? These types of questions, it seems to me create the framework around your work, and that can fall in to multiple categories - writing/earning from the blog, photography/publishing a book of photographs, writing a children's story, writing a memoire, etc. And, I believe you are the only one who can define the “what” and “how” of what do you.
Goal: "To have my words and my photos lighten hearts."
 You need only read the 50-70 comments you receive on average every day to see that not only have your words and photos lighten hearts but your life but example has as well.
Goal: "To help to connect people, collapse cultural barriers, and cause more laughing and rejoicing."
 Kristin you crossed the 25,000 reader mark this week (congratulations by the way), which is proof positive that you are connecting and the geographic diversity indicates that you are certainly crossing cultures; collapsing cultural barriers is a really tall order. And as I read the comments, I can hear the laughter and joy you have brought to your readers.
Goal: "To help us not to take ourselves too seriously.” By example, you lead in this category by dancing in your living room, bravely trying new things like video cooking classes, and/or sharing your trepidations and successes about speaking in public.
Goal: "To give back even a chouïa of the knowledge and espérance that I receive from the readers". 
Kristin on some days your little blog becomes a real forum, where your readers are not only interacting with you but with one another, sharing suggestions, knowledge and encouragement - it's truly unique in my experience to date.
So the answer, I expect you'll hear from most if not all of us, is that your heart is most certainly "sur le bon chemin". Your "business plan" has brought you to where you are today but, as with all plans, they should be re-evaluated given experience, successes and failures, and refined for where you want to go next. We're all looking forward to those chapters is this wonderful life you share with us.
Allow me to continue however, as you posed a question to your mother that seems to be resonating in you too, "are you doing what you love?" From my vantage point, it appears that you do. The love you have for not only what you do but for your husband, your children, your farm, your animals, your friends, your parents, your uncles, your adopted country, the country of your birth, and for learning is very apparent to us all, and we love that you share it all with us - that is a gift at which not many could succeed.
And finally, I personally want to tell you what an inspiration you have been to me. I would never have braved the world of blogging if it had not been for you. Despite encouragement and prodding from family and friends for years to "write, you're good at it", I never found a venue that seemed to feel right ... and then I stumbled across your blog and began reading. I've used your blog as a model and you have no idea how much I've learned about Typepad from you! But most importantly, your bravery to take the steps toward doing what you want to do have inspired me to do the same. For this I am so grateful to you.
You're a success in my book, now just tweak “les buts” and hopefully we'll see where that takes you next.

Nancy L.

Five words...."Your stories brighten my life". C'est tout! Carry On!
xoNancy L.


I think that sort of questioning starts for women around age 40 - I was too busy before that to even wonder what I was doing! Now at much older age and perhaps a bit wiser, I still ask the questions though. I am a bit like you in that I like to write and take photos to brighten others lives. But we all need to take time off from doing "what we like" to recharge. And if your Mom is ironing perhaps she is getting strength for the future. Iron is a strong element!
There is a scene in Steve Martins' movie about family life where his mother-in-law says "Life is like a roller coaster, just hold on and enjoy the ups and downs!" That's about all any of us can do!

Annette Heath

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I love the picture of Uncle Jacques and I am indeed envious of him as he pets and adores the two beautiful Goldens. I had 5 French uncles who have all passed away and I miss them so much: Gerard, Alphonse, Louis, Theophile (my Father, one of the six) Eugene Raoul, and Robert. Your wonderful writings and pictures bring so many memories, some so dear and others a bit sad. Merci Kristin


Querida Kristi,
Mission accomplished!!! I do feel you are in the right track since you always transport me to where you are (physically or emotionally) and always touch my heart.

I can only see you getting even better on what you are already doing and loving it even more... also sure, as Julie said, direction may change unexpectedly but... isn’t life like that?!

My “compass” to know if I am on the right track or not is Inner Peace... when I don’t feel it I know I need to make some changes or see and accept other opportunities.

I admire you for having the ability to open your mind and heart to all of us in such beautiful, simple and honest way.

I do feel connected :)

Andrea @ Austin, TX

p.s. Love Jules too!

Lisa Kennedy - Montclair, NJ

Happy St. Patrick's Day to Smokey, Braise and Jacques! What a lovely photo. It truly captures the love and devotion these three quite obviously share. Sweet characters all.

Amy S

Bonjour from Florida!

I would really like to take my family back to France. What would I really like to do? Stay over the summer while they are still young enough to learn the language. I wonder if they have summer camps for kids? Something that's not $5000 a week! :)

ann ceraldi

Bonjour from South Carolina! I just returned from taking my nine year old twin girls to Paris. We are all in love with France, and can't wait to return. Love your column--am learning lots of new words, considering investing in Rosetta Stone. And to Amy S. above me--if you find that affordable summer camp, let me know!


Kristen: I no longer read FWAD for the french lesson, but for the experience you deliver everytime I read your blog. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Johanna DeMay

Bonjour Cherie,

Such a wistful post from you today! Look at your children, at your home, and at the community you have created through your art... clearly you are on the right path. Your words and images bring so much pleasure to so many. These moments of doubt and souci are tout simplement, a part of living, and a part of the creative process.

So here is a big hug from one who loves to meet you here three times a week. You have done wonders, and will do many more!

Johanna DeMay
Albuquerque, NM

Judy Bell

They (the dogs) are clearly smiling! Simply wonderful. (Jacques, too.)


Kristin - I've been speaking French with my husband for 28 years, and today I learned a new word from your column "choiua." You're doing a very courageous job - showing the world that life in France is lovely at time and not-so-lovely at times - just like a lot of other places - and when the ironing piles up, remember how lucky we are to have a pile of clothes, an iron that works, and a place to press out the wrinkles! Janet

Bill in St. Paul

I have found that when I consider "am I doing what I want to be doing" there are considerations beyond what I want that have to be factored in. For example, I'd love to spend a summer just driving around, photographing France, but do I want to be away from my grandchildren for a whole summer when we can be playing together outside. No, not really. So we have to make adjustments to our own (perhaps, selfish) dreams. My dear belle-fille has talked about going to France when our granddaughters are old enough to have some appreciation for the journey, so maybe that's the solution - spend a month in France with the family visiting for part of the time. Just more things to consider...

I love the picture of Jacques and the dogs, but I'm curious about what looks like a picture propped up on the wine bottles in the wine rack - that's an odd place for a picture to be "hung".


Hiya Smokey and Braise,
Aren't you glad it's getting so nice out! I'm off chasing birds and bees (you'd think I'd know better, I've been stung in the "gueule" several times)
Woofily yours,


You are "sur le bon chemin" bring so much fun and joy to people and that is a good thing. Jules....I do not like le repassage.
Great picture of Uncle Jacques and the dogs!


Hey there, you
Kristin, it must be nearing spring!! I am thinking this is why you are getting an itch, want to branch out, try something new, go down a different path, are reconsidering this one. Perfectly normal, have no fear. I recently heard an artist speak who talked about the busy-ness of business, about how it's good to have your fingers in a few carefully chosen pots, and to always be thinking ahead (like you're already doing). But, in my opinion, sometimes you just need a little break from the "doing" to reflect on what comes next. (Too bad the bills just keep coming in the mail!!) So long as it, whatever that may be, feels right (write??!!) in your heart, then you are naturally on the "correct" path. Go forth, bon courage, and it will all piece together, become something new and even more wonderful, when you least expect it.


You are definitely on the right track!

Susan  from Oregon

Bonjour ! Ironing is not so bad -- it helped me during my culture shock because it is something that has a beginning, middle and end -- you can clearly see your progress as the garment becomes smooth and crisp; also you can see the laundry basket empty and display all the finished items on hangers. When I arrived from the US to my husband's tiny Paris apartment there was barely any room for me -- not to mention my shoes, his shirts, my coats.... Shock of living in a small space was tough for me ..... The seemingly mindless act of ironing was soothing, productive and calmed me. I could not believe how much le cintre (a hanger) cost in Paris and by chance found a strange clothing store/tailor who always had a box of bundled, used hangers for sale -- six for an euro. Now we are in a slightly larger but still impossibly small apartment -- avec mon grand chien noir au Oregon -- Luca the Lucky Laborador/Great Dane rescue dog. I still iron. At lunch the other day with my husband's colleagues from work , one person remarked on the nicely ironed shirts their old confirmed bachelor friend now wears in his new married man status. (Old shirts, new look.) Everyone confessed an aversion to ironing. I scored a victory -- not in ironing but I actually understood the conversation. Repasser et repassage -- bridge to my new life in France.

Christine in Salt Lake City

We love you Kristin! And of course we love French Word a Day!


Kristin, What Claudia said goes for me. You have brightened many a gray day with les bons souvenirs of my former home. You have challenged my heart with your (and Jules') thirst for life and its most basic joys. As a result, I've spent much more time this winter hanging out with my son (ice fishing, ping-pong) and just cuddling with Toby (our mixed breed, rescued puppy). Most of all, your word smithing has brought innumerable smiles to my face. I just love to read a well-turned of the great benefits of being literate. Your writing is superb. Please keep it up.


Many of us feel the same way, the economy is quite tough right now. Oh for happier/less stressful times. Hopefully they are right around the corner and soon we will all be in better spirits---and not ironing! Your photos and writing definitely brighten the days here.

Joan Linneman

Bonjour de Joan a Kankakee IL

Herm Meyer

Salut Kristin et Jacques
Woof! Woof! Smokey et Braise

Great photo!

À bientôt

Phoenix, AZ


Kristin, I love French Word A Day! Think of the community you have created - people from all over the world - how great is that??? Keep up the good work!


Bruce Chatwin asked a related question with the title, 'What Am I Doing Here?'


Smokey R Dokey: You are becoming more famous than Lassie and you are much more handsome. Jean from S'port


Bonjour Kristin,
I have no doubt que vous etes sur le bon chemin, you make us all fee better, and remind us to take things lightly...yes lightly! I love repassage, something soothing in the sound of a passing iron, the smell of steam, the perfection .... have never had enough room anywhere I lived to do it with pleasure! The pups are delightful..big kisses to them both!



Thank you, Kristin, and BONJOUR from Astoria, Oregon!

Kristin Espinasse

Salut Bill et ami(e), Thanks for these lovely thoughts... Im reading comments now and just got to Bills question about the painting hanging on the wine rack. It is (indeed an odd place to be hanging out...) but this oil painting by my mom is a favorite. Truth is, I still have a phobia of putting holes in the placo-plastre walls that Jacques (pictures) built for us.... I have got to learn to weild a couple of those crochets or hook things and a hammer. Too afraid to make a mistake! I guess thats what touch up paint is for?

Bill Goff

Salut Jacques et les annimaux aussi!

Jacques, vous devez etre un bon ami des chiens. Evidement, les chiens vous adorent! J'aime tellement les photos de la belle France, specialement les photos de Provence. Comme je voudrais y retourner un de ces jours. J'habite ici a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, au nord-est des Etats Unis.

bonne continuation avec le site internet, Kristen. Je l'aime beaucoup.

bien amicalement,

Bill Goff
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

kathleen wishart

Dear Kristin,
I save your e-mail for last to read because it is always my favorite!! Just like that last perfect bite of dessert that you work your way around to fully savour at the end!!!
Merci!.......Kathleen Wishart


I find your blog very enjoyable. Thanks for all you write, it is always interesting and often picturesque.
A French lover of Provence exiled in Isère !


Horray - you did it! I wasn't sure if you were going to be able to squeeze in time for Karen's newsletter. You did it, woo hoooo! I'm proud of you. Aren't YOU proud of you??? I'm glad you wrote about Jules. Reminds me I need to talk to her . . . don't forget to just be, quietly, and smell the roses and all the joy you have created in your own life. But also the joy you have brought to so many others. Bisous, Robin

Auntie Barb

Dearest Smokey and Braise,

I love you!

Your fan, Auntie Barb

Ophelia Paine

Dear Kristin -- Have been thinking similar thoughts. Maybe it's spring.... or even the moody, cloudy days we're having in Tennessee. Your writing is a joy..truly... I only hope you find it so. Do you know Mary Oliver's poem "The Wild Geese"? You might like it.

Hope to visit and buy some wine in May.

Jim Herlan

Chère Kristin,

Just a couple of language questions. Did you mean to put "sigh" for the definition of "soupir"? I read "sign" in my copy, and I don't think that's correct. Also, I believe the verb "battir" is irregular, so that one would write "...le coeur qui bat" rather than "batte." I don't mean to be picky, but thought I'd check with you.

Amicalement, Jim Herlan

Kip in Palm Springs, CA

Dear Kristi,

I am so proud of you for what you have accomplished over the years...who would have thought it as you toiled over your first computer so long ago? You have brought happiness and learning to thousands of adoring people around the globe with your unique writing and photos. Please tell your audience (AGAIN) to say where they are from.

Kip in Palm Springs, California

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

I think there is truth to what Ophelia said out springtime causing us to reflect about our lives and looking ahead. In the autumn, I am equally reflective but mostly looking back. The change of seasons with the change of light and colors inspires reflection and creativity. The path you have taken, Kristin, has allowed you to learn more about yourself and to build a wonderful community.


Bonjour de Hutchinson, Minnesota. Vos chiens sont adorables!



From New Orleans, the weather is PERFECT! Cool, dry and sunny! (For Kristin's Dad)
Dear Kristin,
If you're not on the right track for you, you surely are for me! Your French Word-A-Day relaxes my soul and brighten's my day. French Word A Day transports me to another world and makes me so content. Thank you for that--you will probably be responsible for extending my life!


Hello Jim Herlan,

Sorry, there isn't a verb "battir"
but there is a verb "bâtir" and a verb "battre"

1) bâtir = to build, 2nd group verb
root: bât + IR
To conjugate the PRESENT of the Indicative:
--> Root + endings is, is, it
--> Root + endings issons, issez, issent
- je bâtis
- tu bâtis
- il, elle, on bâtit
- nous bâtissons
- vous bâtissez
- ils bâtissent

2) battre = to beat - 3rd group verb
root: batt + RE
To conjugate the PRESENT of the Indicative:
--> (root "minus one t") + endings s, s,
for the 3rd person singular, leave it as it is, with only "t" at the end.

--> (Root "with its double t”) + endings ons, ez, ent
- je bats
- tu bats
- il/elle/on bat
- nous battons
- vous battez
- ils/elles battent

Hope it helps a few people, struggling with French verbs.

Kristin was talking about ... le coeur qui bat ...

Wendy Lane

BONJOUR from Broussard, Louisiana!! Yes(oops, je desole, OUI!!!) I too, LOVE "all things French". I've been enjoying your "visit", for about two months now. And feel we have sooooo very much in common, although, I fall short of your Beautiful French life a bit....back to the point, OUI,I feel Blessed to be enjoying what I do. I have a "French Treasures Shop" named BONJOUR in Broussard, LA. My husband's British parents moved to France about 25 years ago, and we, in turn, bought a "ruin" about 10 years ago. I feel as though I connected to my core when I first visited France (we bought our place that first summer!). Most of us here in south Louisiana have heritage lines that tie us to that beautiful country, and I felt as though I could here the music of the French language(much of the same dialect) I would hear at my grandparents weekend bar-b-ques. Our home is in Brittany, and as it happens, that is where my French ancestors came from!

We are Blessed to be able to spend our summers in the cool countryside, escaping the sub tropical heat of Louisiana summers. My "belle mere" introduced me to "Braderies" that first summer and immediately I was hooked. We've furnished our renovated barn/pig sty into a a "Country French" dream. We've had friends visit each summer and they too, all fall madly in love with EVERY aspect of France.

"BONJOUR" started with my passion for "Braderies" and is a petite piece of France here in south Louisiana. The exterior is painted yellow and "Bretagne Bleu", customers are greeted in French and offered "Cafe Francais" to sip on as they listen to "la musique Francaise" and they discover all of the French treasures offered. So, OUI, I am getting to "share" my passion each day with delightful customers who mirror the same passion and share thier stories of France. MERCI BEAUCOUP MON DIEU for this Blessing, and Merci Kristen for "sharing your PASSION" with us!!!!

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, you sound a bit "down" today. It is easy to be down, especially as one gets older, and sees more years behind one than before. Some days/months/years are mainly to be survived, and "What do I want?" is a rhetorical question, irrelevant because what one wants is in the background, overshadowed by what one must do, like it or not. But please don't underestimate yourself. Not only do most adults wonder about lots of things, it seems you are "succeeding" more than many. I've admired your ability to adapt to a new culture without losing your own, your learning to cook and do many other things French, your wonderful family, the blog, the photography, etc. Nothing I've done compares. When you have a wondering-if-I'm-on-the-right-track kind of day, think of things such as the people who attended Jean-Marc's wine-tastings because you told us about them, just to give one example.

In an old "Peanuts" cartoon, Lucy says that she doesn't want any "downs," she just wants "Ups, ups, and ups!" Sorry, but life isn't like that. But as shadow helps us appreciate the sunlight, less-than-ideal days help us value the good ones.

You ARE on the right track.

Sunny and in the 60s in University Park, MD.

Julie Joachims

Bonjour Kristin! Jacgues too. It is beautiful day here in Oregon,and I am just going to open the windows to enjoy it.
You are on the right path I believe, especially for all of us!

Julie from Portland

Sue Sansom

Bonjour Kristen! Merci beaucoup for the small touches of French living. The 10 days we spent in Paris were the most exciting of my life and we will be returning some day, hopefully to spend a month or more!!

Auvoir! Suzi


Bonjour Smokey et Braise,
Je voudrais jouer avec vous, mais j'habit aux Etats Unis. J'e un an et mon nom is 'Charlie"(come le roi Anglais Charles II)

Vivianne Leclaire - Liquid French Blog

You give such joy to me and to so many others. Thank you. Merci.

Susan Strick

goals are good, but are we choosing our goals based on our most authentic inner longings? external forces can exert a lot of pressure on our goal-choosing. i'd love to hear how different balances of inner and outer forces have affected goals and experiences for this lovely circle of people!

Peter Bull

Oh dear, that started out like a way too early mid life crisis from which I am pleased to see you recovered immediately. Please continue to let us into the lives of you and your your family, which of course, includes dogs, and making us determined to return one day to Provence.

A lovely sunny day here in Richmond, BC., part of greater Vancouver. If you watched the Olympics in February please tune into the Paralympics which continue until Sunday. If you thought the Olympics were inspiring, these folks are awesome

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

From my view, your wish has come whole-heartedly true, with wings that lighten and brighten so many lives...what a beautiful "track" you are on!

Jules, you've been missed, sending good thoughts and blessings your way.

Lots of Love!


Kristen, You are a fine writer and as a literary agent I can tell you that vous êtes sur le bon chemin. You paint la bonne vie avec votre mots, beautifully. Keep going and keep writing - we look forward to your mots tous les jours!

Fred Caswell

Approaching 83 and still asking the same question -- with time and abilities relentlessly disappearing!

My dear wife has a favorite saying -- "Generosity is Joy." I do believe that there is no greater gift than love, clearly illustrated by the photo of Jacques, Braise, and Smokey. Kristi, I feel sure that your readers have grown in giving love through your love to your family, friends and readers. Like the others, I am blessed to share the gift of love with you.

Fred Caswell

The French film, Entre Les Murs, winner of La Palme d'Or, gripping, revealing, disturbing, and totally realistic -- it changed my essence! Please see it if you can.


Merci pour cette post - vous est sur le bon chemin, bien sur! This is such a brilliant way to teach and enjoy a language - perhaps one day we will all be weaving in and out of international words and sentences and phrases without self-consciousness. One universal language :)
Happy St Patrick's Day!

Sandra Vann

Chere Kristin,
C'est sure that you are on the good path, and I want so much to be on the "right path of life' too, particularly at this stage at 53. Writing and painting and doing more photography...maybe retreats in France for women...I know we will meet one day. It was unfortunate for us that when we were last in your beautiful region, it was amidst harvest time and you were swamped with cooking and company! We would love to help with the harvest one year soon also.
We are still searching for our own stone home in France and your wonderful FWAD stories you so kindly share, continue to inspire our hearts, feed our minds, and nourish my soul to pursue it's true destiny....which I have always known, means living part of the year at least in our beloved France.
To you and your family, parents, dogs and life, to dreams coming true...Ours is to save enough $ soon to return and finally buy that little petite maison. Follow your heart and your passions as you do....I am trying to do the same.
Thinking beyond "jobs" really to what my heart and soul long to be doing, while making a living somehow! Merci beaucoup.
Sandy V. in Boulder, CO

Vicki - Another Hapless Traveller

Your most recent post also "stopped me in my tracks and had me asking why? Why do I do what I do? What am I aiming for? Am I on the right track?" I am an Australian. I love living here, it is a great place to be but it is so isolated, so far away from Europe, so far away from France. Your regular blogs allow me to become a part of your French life - albeit virtually. So in response to your question..."are you on the right track?" Absolutely. Thank you for sharing your musings with us all - wherever we live.

Jean O'Keeffe

Kristen, merci for ta verite!! I really connected avec toi aujourd'hui parce que je sens la meme chose. It's hard to know whether all the hard work I do is really paying off and getting me where I want to go. (being a French teacher) My confidence is not high as my spoken French is still halting and I don't have a lot of patience with myself to be on the journey and take it as it comes, instead of trying to rush and get there quickly. Peut-etre c'est la vie. Nous souhaitons que tous soit plus facile qu'il est et it faut etre patiente. Je n'en suis pas sur. Merci pour ecouter. Bonne chance! Jean(ne) from Lacey, Washington

Pat Cargill

Chere Kristin...the Vernal Equinox occurs this weekend...the Earth and Sky and Seas are pulsating with the Great Questions of Life. Nature abides in all the tumultous ups and downs. Walk out into the vines, or rest under a tree; swing wide open your arms to embrace the sky and let your feelings be healed and held in the Absoluteness of Nature. Chere amie, je te pense, tourjours. Mille mercis pour toi et le blog FWaD.

50's cloudy, sunny in Roanoke, Va. Vite! le Printemps.


Hello kristin,

Looking in detail at your vital question: “Why do I do what I do”?... I can see lots of 'because' coming up! Here are just a few:

---> You do what you do, because you love writing (the dream that materialised in France and gradually came true). You've developed the art of photography, as a natural complement. You are very talented and you love what you are doing. You enjoy sketching some members of your family, friends, people you exchanged a few words with, as much as you enjoy presenting a few interesting details of your daily life in France and life of your dear ones -- all that with your own signature, your love for people, and your sense of humour, greatly appreciated...
---> You also do what you do because you have a natural way of sharing what's around you in your life in Provence, with lots of people who have a strong romantic feeling for France - more recently, with people who also adore dogs - and all this is done via your personal “art” of writing and the choice of pictures you take with “art”.
---> You stick to the format “French Word-a-day” because you want to incorporate the French language thanks to a few words connected with each “story”. There will always be people who will get the benefit of that sort of help.
You added a special “Comments” section (in Summer 2008 I think?) because you needed to 'feel your audience', to listen to them, learn from them, communicate with them and connecting them, ... even providing them the possibility of helping each other!
Congratulations and deep appreciation!

Montimarie Horton

Chere Kristin,

Merci beaucoup pour tout ce que tu fais pour la communaute Francancophone/Anglophone.
Your comments bring sunshine to my life and anyone who has moved anywhere does experience cultural differences to some degree or another. Sometimes, I ask myself the same question: Am I doing what I set out to do? But the answer comes in small doses and sometimes really big ones (but not all the time). Just remember, don't think too hard. I think that we (word-people) get too wrapped up in thinking that we forget what is going on around us. I love to analyze and think and have fun, but I can still feel my sister's elbow, "Hey! Look-out there!"
Thanks so much for sharing your funny episodes and family life with us. I hope to be able to visit you sometime.


Kristin, what about your 'wish'? Shall we have a rating? using 'stars' with a maximum of 5 for each point you expressed? (hope it doesn't look too much like the feedback in e-bay...)
---> I wish... 'my words and my photos will lighten hearts'...
*****You have already got 5 stars out of 5!
---> I wish... 'these missives will help to connect people, collapse cultural barriers, and cause more laughing and rejoicing'
*****Unanimously, 5 out of 5... with a bonus of at least 5 extra stars!
---> I wish... 'these journal entries will help us not to take ourselves too seriously'. Difficult to get any definite rating here because this point depends not only on your 'entries' but on how seriously the readers take themselves, whatever your 'journal entries' are.

What about your 'growing heart qui bat' ?...
I think that by now, your heart should have received a strong 'signal' from your readers. Can you hear its joyful beat confirming openly you are indeed “sur le bon chemin”?
The trouble is we too often take good things for granted. Do we all realise all the time it takes you to produce, to give and to share what you are doing for us ? all that in addition to the time you need to fulfill your daily responsibilities towards your husband and children - “sans oublier” Braise & Smokey - and bearing in mind “Domaine Rouge-Bleu” isn't just an ordinary property). From time to time, the creative energy (which is time consuming) must make you feel tired...
I hope that most of your readers, so much in love with France, would register for your weekly “Cinéma Vérité” to see all the photos you also share with us - colourful, quaint, charming, unexpected, always welcome and inspiring. Their financial contribution would be 200% paid back via the great pleasure given by each of these photos - not mentioning the joy of commenting!


Hello Kristi!
I asked myself when I read this post if 'I am doing what I love'-the answer is no-BUT-I love what I'm doing. Also I often make opportunities to do things I love doing.

Betty tells me Jules and I are a lot alike in many ways, so my hunch is that she may have been inside with ironing while her mind was wandering the country side of France, or thinking of a new painting...

I 'paint' mostly with a camera-and love it! And have long been inspired by Jules' 'Tango 62' I am going to try doing some water colors (I'm still building courage there).

Because of your photographs I'm able to glimps a world I would other wise never know and with your talent with words you paint for me amazing portrait's of people, places and experiences I would otherwise never *know* or *see*.

Your writing has always been like paintings to me. Thanks you!!


Especially lovely thoughts, Kristin. merci for your work today and every day.


Bonjour from New York City. I wish I could have met your husband, but alas, he was too far away. Your beauty shines through your writing.



Lillian Kennedy

Bonjour from Boulder, CO
What a delightful post. This is the first time I have seen your writing. How can I subscribe? A bientot, Lillian

jan greene

Kristin-Look at the amazing responses! Notice that you are at the very center of a rather large community. So many of your goals are indeed accomplished. The peace the dogs have in that great photo can be a guide! Such simple bliss, uncomplicated and in the joyous present moment. Keep up the good work! jan


Karen, thank you for the choice of that subtle quote!

Janet, I enjoyed your view regarding ironing.
'when the ironing piles up, remember how lucky we are to have a pile of clothes, an iron that works, and a place to press out the wrinkles!'
So thoughtful and so true. I 'will' remember.

Susan from Oregon, how wise to remind us that 'mindless acts' like ironing can be 'soothing, productive and calming'. Your joy of seeing the garments smooth and crisp on a hanger is a bit like the joy of getting ideas out of your head and transforming them into well chosen words carefully written down on a beautiful page. You are a perfectionist!

Oh! dear 'Uncle Jack',
Quelle photo magnifique! On sent un lien très fort entre vous et les deux chiens. Le sens d'adoration mutuelle est intensément beau. Smokey comprend et partage l'expression de votre regard - et vice versa. Quant au regard de Braise, quelle grande tendresse pour vous.
You are amazing!

Jules, it was so nice to hear from you today, via Kristin, and to catch you... ironing! I understand ironing shirts isn't for you as exciting as painting, but, who can spend 100% of their time, all through their life, with doing only what they like best or are best at? Doing something for the one you love, doing anything with care and love for anyone is a reward in itself.
You must be so happy to follow the unfolding of FWAD and Cinéma Vérité (we know how proud you are of Kristin's achievements!). You don't appear so often these days, but we know you're there.
Lots of love,
and wishing you a great day!

Posted by: Newforest |

Karen in Towson, Md. USA


It occurred to me today that maybe when we reach a certain level in our careers (for lack of a better word) that we find it hard to figure out how to continue to drive ourselves --- to what end if the feat has been accomplished? You say to yourself "OK, this is what I've been working towards for years and now I'm here. Now what?"

You've made fantastic strides and met some high marks recently with your journalistic talents. Your product of humanistic journalism and photography is well honed and is obviously what you love. It doesn't, however, define you. We all have so many God-given gifts yet to be explored and I wish you luck in whatever you choose to pursue next.

I think you're doing the right thing in branching out with little offshoots of the same idea. I'm sure the answers will come to you with time but remember it's all about the journey. For now, as hard as it may be for a humble person like yourself, ENJOY your accomplishments and bask in the feeling you should so rightly deserve to feel.

Newforest: thank you so much for our lessons today. I can't begin to tell you how helpful they are and how they bring Kristin's blog full circle. Thank you, thank you.

Jules: thank you for being such a huge part of who Kristin is. Your hearts and souls are obviously closely connected. How fortunate you are to share that connection.



Just a note to say - you demonstrate each time you write your blog and take those beautiful photographs, it creates special memories with style and grace. wonderful stories... So much love in that picture between the dogs and Uncle Jacques. Hope smokey is not chewing so much? maybe he has some deficiency in some nutrient? That was the case for my grey hound --


Marshall Brass


I believe that there is a typo in the vocab for "but"........un soupir is a "sigh", not a "sign".

Secondly, can Kristin or a reader help me understand the difference between the two nouns for "hope"....i.e., ESPERANCE and ESPOIR.

Thank you.


Hello Karen,
You mentioned -> "branching out with little offshoots of the same idea"... this is something I had in mind but couldn't quite express well enough and omitted.
In practical terms, I guess you mean -> writing 'a story for children' (as mentioned by Kristin after her talk in Paris)... and maybe -> more stories for children, ... and who knows? one day, writing a novel? (which may reduce other activities). As you rightly said, it's all about 'the journey'...

Beverly from West Hartford, CT USA

Merci, Kristin, for your lovely thoughts. Your beautiful missive touched my heart.

Jennifer in OR

I just had to respond to the very first Julie who commented today, "you'd think we're living in Oregon or something, what with the gray." -- NOT if you live in Central Oregon, where we have 300 days of sunshine a year (as much as Arizona!). :-) :-)


To Marshall Brass,

1) In the Vocab List, I can clearly see 'sigh' for "soupir", which is right.

2)About "l'espérance" & "l'espoir" (= hope), I'll try to explain:
---> “l'espérance” is the feeling you have when you see a strong probability of obtaining what you want.
- The object of your feeling is also called your “espérance”.

---> "l'espoir" is more the fact you are confidently waiting for something you wish.
- The object your wish is also called your “espoir”.

As they are both related to waiting with confidence for something you want/wish, the 2 words are sometimes used in the same way, with no real difference. In general, the word “espoir” is more often used than “espérance”.
“L'espérance” being a word that belongs to the world of feelings, it is used in poetry.

---> "L'espérance" is also a Christian virtue, one of the 3 "vertus théologales". The 3 virtues are:
- la foi = Faith
- l'espérance (fem) = Hope (waiting for the grace of God and eternal life)
- la charité (fem) = Charity
So, in a religious meaning, you use the word “espérance”, not "espoir"

---> L'espérance (not l'espoir) is a term used in Statistics. "L'espérance mathématique" is the equivalent of "the expected value" ('mathematical expectation'). I am not able to explain, so, if you are curious, here is a link in French:
and a link in English:

Judy Knudson

Chere Kristen,
J'adore your column! I look forward to every entry, even print them out. (
Also have your books) I don't think you have any idea of the scope of your impact--MERCI BEAUCOUP for what you do! The eloquence in some of the comments today speaks for many of us.
I love your dog photos--we have a wonderful 14 year old Golden who keeps us smiling!

Kristine, Dallas


I have so much to say and really no way to say it. So I will just say thank you. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

Please know your purpose is of value to many.


Great photo of Jacques and the dogs! I love how my dogs look at me as if they're in love with me. Can't beat the adoration of a pooch!

joie  carmel,ca

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you: figure out what you have to say.
Barbara Kingsolver

Kristin Espinasse

Dear Joie and friends, wonderful Babara Kingsolver quote. Thank you for this and for every word that each of you have shared. I dont know what to say so I will keep this simple: merci! Off to work on todays story with a smile on my face and friends in my heart. I feel certain now that I am sur bon chemin!



Très heureuse de lire que les doutes sont effacés, balayés, et remplacés par la certitude apaisante de savoir que tu es sur le bon chemin. La route peut être longue et sinueuse, couverte d'ornières ou de gros pavés, et les nuages peuvent cacher l'horizon. Repose-toi de temps en temps sur les talus, entre les chapitres de ton histoire, pour reprendre ton souffle et retrouver ton sourire...
La pause terminée, reprends la route de ton inspiration, le coeur rempli de notre amitié et de l'amour de tes proches, les yeux attentifs à l'entourage mais le regard fixé vers l'horizon. Quant à ton imagination, laisse-la conduire ta main vers la création de chapitres nouveaux.

Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, your words are simply beautiful! Because they have a berce-ing effect, I think it is safe to say your words ROCK! :-)

Bob Irwin

Thanks for the beautiful words you paint for us. As I have worked for Air Liquide for almost 20 years, a little French vocabulary and culture insight go along way. Smokey and Braise are lovely.


bonjour from long island ny. leaving for france in one week as a high school chaperone for the french club trip! 4 days paris and 4 days south.

Christine Dashper

HI Kristin, I am bit late I know, but I just wanted to add that FWAD is something I enjoy and look forward to every week.

It's good to ask the questions you ask, frustrating sometimes, but good all the same.

Keep doing what makes your heart sing.

The photo of Jacques and the 'pups' is just lovely.



Bonjour Kristin from Florida
I've been reading and loving your blog for years. I have all of your books as well. I have a house in Vaison la Romaine and hope to have the opportunity to meet you this July when we are there. Your blog is always uplifting. I was first moved to comment when Blaise ran away; just love Smokey.

Mary Wilson

Bonjour Kristin from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I have just discovered your blog, and now I will look forward to reading it every day. I'm trying to learn some conversational French for our trip to Paris in May. Thanks for making it fun.

Mary W.

Barbara Michels

Bonjour from Hernando, Florida, a small town on the nature coast of the Gulf of Mexico. I am 64 years old and taking French lessons to give me something to encourage the brain cells and because I love the language and France, especially your part of Provence. I look forward to each of your posts and have saved each for my continued learning. Keep up the good are doing what you love..taking others to another place.

Diana Harestad

Bonjour Kristin,

You are not only doing what you love but you are achieving your goals if that means bringing people together and making them happy. I read your column every day and have been doing so for years. I wish that I had your gift for writing but I want you to know that reading your column is one of my favorite parts of each day and such a bright spot in my life. I love hearing about your family - all of them - and I adore the pictures of your dogs as well. I love hearing about your mother and what she is doing. Seems you come by your inspirational nature quite naturally. One of my dreams is to meet you one day and talk with you in person. My goal is to make it before my 70th birthday - in about five years! Thank you so much for making your wonderful stories, French expressions and photographs grace my days so often!

Amicalement, Diana


Bonjour Kristin,

Your stories bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face toujours! Keep doing what you love!

Mille Merci!!

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