"a sa guise" - a wonderful expression, but what does it mean?
What does "retour du bonheur" mean and what does this have to do with the word "muguet"?

How to say "chills" (from emotion) in French?

Librairie (c) Kristin Espinasse
A black-and-white photo for a change and some frissons in today's edition. (Picture taken five years ago in Brignoles)

le frisson (frih-sohn)

    : shiver; shudder, thrill

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Je me demande si, comme moi, elle ressent des frissons en écoutant cette chanson?
I wonder whether, like me, she has chills listening to this song. 

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

As I drive my daughter to her friend's to stay the week, I try to put aside any feelings of sadness or annoyance or frustration. Just what am I feeling as she sits beside me--dans un monde à elle?

At once plugged in and tuned out, she is hearing the music but not hearing me. Not that I am talking.

No, I don't want to start nagging or manipulating. I don't want to say "Why do you put on earphones when you get into the car?" (nag) or "If only you would make an effort..."

Je prends sur moi. I cannot control my daughter but I can control my feelings. As I let go, I look over to the young lady beside me.

Her wheat-colored hair is now shoulder-length. I notice how the new cut, a "carré", makes her look 18... four years older. She is not wearing too much make-up. She does look lovely. She is a lovely young lady—even with earphones and wires sticking out of her ears.

I look past Jackie to the fluorescent yellow field that is speeding beside her, beyond the window. The colza is in bloom! 

"Look!" I say, unable to control excitement. 

"Quoi?" comes the deadpan response.

Too late. We've driven past the magnificent blooming field. Tant pis.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?"


I feel my daughter's irritation and my own prickly feelings are back.

It is a two-hour drive from our house in the Vaucluse to the friend's house in the Le Gard. I am borrowing my husband's car so that I can "profiter" from the GPS... only the onboard navigator does not seem to be working. Instead of a bold line indicating the chemin, there are many bold lines indicating many chemins. I begin to voice my frustration.

"Follow the road signs," Jackie suggests.

I know her down-to-earth suggestion is a reasonable one, but I've suddenly lost faith in non-technology. 

My daughter takes off her earphones and connects her iPod to the stereo unit (how she's found the connection is beyond me. I still can't figure out where the station dial is—make that the button. Everything seems to have a button in this pushy new world). 

"Ça t'embête?" Jackie asks. No, it doesn't bother me that she wants to connect her mp to the dashboard. At least we can listen to the music together—the added advantage being that I now have a live navigator:

"Follow that sign..." Jackie says.


"Straight on now..."

"Merci, ma fille!"I say, in my best impression of John Wayne-comes-to-France: May-YER-see-maah-FEE-YUH!

My girl laughs and the life inside of her is my joy... for a precious second. She returns to her technical world, lavishing all of her attention to one of two metal-and-wire devices: her iPod or her mobile phone, where she is busy texting friends.

When the song "One Cup of Coffee" comes on, I enjoy belting it out:

One cup of coffee, then I'll go...
One cup of coffee, then I'll go...

My daughter perks up. "Do you like Reggae?" 

"It's not my favorite, but I don't mind a little of it."

Jackie laughs, only, once again our connection short-circuits... one of us is back to texting, the other is looking out the window wondering what this world is coming to? And where, amidst all of these wires and wireless connections will we meet again, my daughter and I?

 "Tiens, you'll like this one," Jackie offers, unexpectedly.

As I hear the familiar lyrics, goosebumps begin to rise... Suddenly my skin is electrified. The first four words are delivered so slowly—yet my emotions burst open:

I would only be in your way
So I'll go, but I know
I'll think of you every step of the way

I begin to wonder what the French word is for these goosebumps and whether my daughter is feeling them too? Does she understand the words, wishes that I wish for her?

I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love

"Là, elle va se gaver." Jackie warns me that Whitney is about to drive it home...

And I will always love you
I will always love you

Jackie and I listen to eternal truth as delivered by the late Whitney Houston, whose words transcend the virtual or technical world, they are on our skin and somewhere beneath, or within.

I have an urge to know whether or not my daughter is feeling these truths, as I am feeling them (I've got to know: does she feel goosebumps too?), only I do not want to bore her with sentimentality. I've got to let go, to live and let live—to let the generation gap do its thing as it did for the generations before me. We are just an ordinary mother and daughter facing an ordinary gap... 

...and yet, something extraordinary is about to bridge that gap.... a universal truth—one that it is encapsulated inside each and every goosebump, or frisson. Only, in order for her to know that truth—she's got to feel it.

And just as grace would have it, I am spared of questioning my daughter... for her next remark is proof that Love is the universal truth governing every lively cell in her body:

"Maman," Jackie looks over at me."Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi?"


Little Angel (c) Kristin Espinasse

                         When she was little... and I was big in her eyes.

dans un monde à elle = in a world of her own

je prends sur moi = I'll get a grip on myself

un carré = blunt cut, a bob

quoi? = what?

tant pis = too bad

qu'est-ce que c'est? = what is it?

profiter = to take advantage of

le chemin = road, way

ça t'embête? = does this bother you?

merci, ma fille = thanks, my girl

tiens = here

là, elle va se gaver = there, she's going to give it her all

Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi? = Mom, do you have goosebumps too?


   A daughter's love (c) Kristin Espinasse

How to say cherished in French? (photo, above, taken several years later)

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Gina C.

J'ai eu des frissons en lisant ta post. It was very powerful and beautiful. Merci!

Sandy Maberly

Beautiful sentiment, Kristi, and like Gina, J'avais aussi des frissons et aussi un peu d'eau dans les yeux! Years from now perhaps Jackie will reread these posts, which will give her goosebumps once again!


Thank you for this delightful glimpse into a parent's evolving relationship with their teenager Kristin! It has struck a chord with me because last night I posted a story along the same lines about my 15 year old son Max on my blog...!
What a journey huh? No matter what culture we live in.


What a blessed moment. Always to be remembered and cherished. My daughter and I, also, had some precious connected time together this week--blessings.

Bill Facker

Thank you, Kristin, for this touching and masterfully crafted posting. Superb!

Mark Hanson

Nous utilizons ce mot en Anglais, don't we!
Frisson - a thrill; a shudder
- a brief moment of intense emotional
Thanks again for sharing your wonderful family photos!
Love love love black & white photography.
Great way to start my day and work week!Bonne journee tout le monde! Mark

Sandy Vann

Tres belle...merci. How sweet and memorable.


Very moving, very powerful, very touching. Loved today's vignette.....Mother/daughter relationships: always fraught with something. Boys are so much easier!! What a wonderful "reward" you got from your beautiful daughter with her words indicating she has similar emotionality to you - I bet you were hugging yourself inside all day long, Kristi!

Eileen deCamp

Love this Kristin!!!

Bill in St. Paul

I love that picture of you and Jackie when she was a young girl. We're back from Languedoc and noticed in Toulouse that everybody under 30 is "plugged in", either to their iPod or cell phone - kind of sad in that it shuts off the human contact.

Julie Farrar

Les frissons when reading your story. Such sentimentality in the powerful kind of way. And what a universal tale of all mothers and daughters. It's hard to make you believe that you'll survive this period when you're in the midst of it, but you will. That Dolly Parton song sends chills down my spine, no matter who's singing it.

sarah au maroc

merci d'avoir partagé ce moment avec nous. moi, j'ai trois petits enfants et je peux imaginer un petit peu... c'est dur de les laisser grandir.

Kathy Shearer

Lovely story and picture, Kristin. That special connection is rare now, but in a few years there will be many more such moments between you & Jackie. Ah, the colza! Such beauty. And the plugged-in problem I recall from a road-trip in the US west many years ago. We had to alert our young son to look up from his Tetris game to see wildlife in Yellowstone. Almost threw that Game Boy out the window!

Pat Cargill



What a beautiful way you have with words. I felt transported back to when my daughter was that age. Nothing to be plugged into then, but still "tuned out". I remember wondering if it would always be that way. Am happy to say NO. She is 36 now and one of my best friends. The one I can always count on. Merci.


The colza and poppies blooming together..ah très jolie! Your photo of young Jackie and you brings back memories of the way my daughters would look at me ... before they reached puberty. Letting go is très difficile, mais hopefully, one day she comes back not only as a daughter but also a friend. Today my older daughter turns 43, a wonderful person and friend..

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

What a touching moment. I have des frissons aussi. Tears as I think of my own mother and how much I miss her. Hope your busy week is fu for all.

Pennie in Canada

Tres belle!! It brings back memories of my daughter and I. Now I have granddaughters, Claire 7, and Emily 5, and I am big in their lives. Such love! Where does the time go. Cherish each day for what it brings. Thank you Kristin, for a beautiful post.

Deborah Auclair

Never under estimate the love she feels for you....and never under estimate all the love, struggle and sacrifice you have given to and for her.

She sees it, she feels......the goosebumps are the proof.

Jane Hoppe

lovely story

Audrey Wilson

Be assured . Eventually they become best friends. My two are & they have experienced the same with their daughters too.
The GPSs have minds of their own methinks. Ours once tried to take us up a cart track whilst we were towing a caravan (trailer for you Americans !) Fortuantely I had a map as well & told it no way were we going up there !!
Do other people talk to their sat navs,I wonder??!


Kristi Darling,

Well, Yes! - I am filled with emotion and tears at this very moment. As a mother of two very talented and beautiful daughters I have found I must always walk the line regarding my attentions. When Heidi and Kristi were young I learned how important it was that each received the exactamo proof of my devotion. Somewhere along the way all of my good intentions fell beside the pathway as life interviened. I remember as a young mother sitting before the Christmas tree and looking back at my girls, their eyes were on each others pile of presents, calculating who was on top of this game of life. And so it goes - on and on. I am amazed at how the three of us have mellowed in the past 50 years...Heidi will be 50 on her next birthday! She still looks 17 to me and probably always will as the years slip by.

All of this to say I had an encounter with Heidi yesterday afternoon. Heidi's entire life has changed dramatically in the past year after many many years of upheavel - but yesterday as I answered the phone, right after hearing the first few notes of Heidi's voice I was filled with the same emotion and tears Kristi has just shared in her amazing story above. All of the lyrics were in the mist of her words to me, hidden below the message of the moment...I could hear the melody ring through - "I will always love you." Heidi may have not said these words in the moment but they rang through loud and clear as she opened her heart to me and shared her place in time.

You must understand - Heidi is not Kristi - this took me years to catch on to, I guess I am one of those lost in the forest looking for the trees.

I just wanted to share this moment - also I guess you have all figured out when I comment to Kristi I am also speaking to all of our loved friends here in the comment box - that is why I forget who I am addressing as I ramble on with my thoughts. I guess you already know who I am, who am I to think you are seeing the highest version of myself when I break through the fear of commenting on Kristi's blog.

Kristi Darling - this story from your heart is a true classic...and should be shared far and wide....I hope all of your friends will send it on to some great magazines for consideration....for a "Mother's Day edition if not this year then maybe next.

We are all so very blessed by God - all of us in this moment as we celebrate that we are loved. To all of my friends out there:





aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh, I LOVE this story!! lovelovelove, patti


Masterful writing, Kristin. Sort of a "stream of consciousness." Quite effective here, mixing spoken and unspoken thoughts with dialog. Capturing a parents feelings as a child matures into independence. I imagine a person not yet a parent could feel some of the multiple layers of emotions you express here.


Great thoughts. I view these moments as practice for when they really go, being 'gone' while physically with us.


This brought tears to my eyes. With a soon-to-be 18-year-old (a senior in high school), a 12yo, and a 7yo--all with their buttons and cords and gadgets, like lifelines...I get it. I cherish those moments of connection--not the internet variety! Although we've been able to bond over techie moments, too, like when my teenager will send me a YouTube video clip she knows will make me laugh, or my "tween" plays her current favorite song for me (and sings along), or my little boy wants to show off the latest skills he's learned to get past the next level of whatever game he's playing. They're not the kinds of bonding moments I anticipated when they were babies, but I'll take them!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Loved this Kristin! Such bittersweet moments we all go thru when our little kids become young adults. Sort of sad, sort of mellow, sort of happy all rolled into one big emotion.

I also loved your mom's comments and views on life. You are so lucky to have her in your life.

Stay well!

Gordon Lyman

So many interconnected nuances in your beautiful writing here, Kristin, and then in the comments from your admiring appreciative readers.
And how ironic that the two-edged sword of technology and "wired-ness" frustrates you with one sharp edge even while it allows you to boost the marvelous power of your written words with photos connecting past and present, JM's recording conveying the very sound of some of your words to us scattered across the world, then the effect of departed singer WH's recorded words and music to pull you, your daughter, and even us out here into a shared feeling.
And somehow Kristin you orchestrated all these electrons to sing together.
Merci beaucoup.

Lynn Tilson

Hi Kristin, Beautiful Black and white photo - you are evolving into a first class photographer. You are and inspiration to me on many levels. You are beautiful and your daughter as well ! I think of you every day ! Love, Lynn

suzanne dunaway

I'm reading "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult, and the relationship between daughter and mother is as poignant as yours with your daughter. I wish I had paid more attention to my amazing mother. I wish I had loved her more, told her more often how brilliantly she influenced my life--and, I wish I had been seen for who I am by her more often, too. Your daughter must certainly esteem you in so many ways. Perhaps she's worried she will not live up to her famous mom....
but then, she'll live up to herself and that's all that matters.

Jim from Carlsbad, Ca.

Beautiful comment, Jules, and beautiful post, Kristin. thank you both!

Leslie NYC

This and the How to Mourn a Cat made me cry and cry. You've really opened my heart.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

Lots of emotion today and c'est une bonne chose (that’s a good thing).

As for chills . . . Not in Phoenix! We had our first 100 degree day yesterday and looking for 102 today.

À la prochaine


Our dear Kristi,
Between your beautifully written words,and the gorgeous pictures,today's post not only gave us goosebumps (aussi!), but wrapped our hearts in smiles and filled our eyes with tears.
So wonderful!
Love, Natalia XO

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA


Thank you for posting this story once again. I remember loving it the first time so it was a sweet surprise. I had many beautiful moments with my Mom, like this one between you and Jackie. I miss her so much but I'm so grateful she was a part of my life for 26 years.

Thank you for sharing all of your "love stories". As the Beatles said, "All you need is love...."

Jules-here's some love right back at you! :)

Hugs to you, Carolyn

Joan Linneman

I love singing "oldies" in the car, or at least I used to, until my son who was about 15 at the time said, "Mom, you know why they wrote that song?" "No... why?," I said I, falling into his trap. My son said, "So they could sing it themselves!" I still sing in the car sometimes, but only when I can sing it "myself" now...
Joan L.

ann sorocki

my daughters, who are now getting ready to be middle-aged themselves, still give me "les frisson"! They are each enchanting, wondrous & beautiful women! I so enjoy being with them; they never cease to amaze me!!! Thank you for sharing always. Ann Sorocki, New Bern, NC

Augusta Elmwood

That was a great "rerun". My 2 daughters (now middle-aged gals)and I have a very good relationship. I know that you and your bébé will too, as the years go by. Thanks, Kristin. P.S. Hope you are enjoying your visitors.

Marianne Rankin

When I was a youngster, my father had strict rules about the car. Although he approved of reading, we weren't allowed to read, because he said it was hard on the eyes in a moving vehicle. We were encouraged to look at the scenery on trips, and learned how to read maps because there were no GPS's. An activity that was encouraged was word games, which involved everyone. Times have surely changed.

Joan, I sing in the car when I'm alone. I especially enjoy choral works, such as from "The Messiah," but have sung along with almost everything, from hymns to regular CDs, although I don't have any by Whitney Houston.

Kristin, you have managed to maintain contact with Jackie in spite of technology! That's no mean feat.

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

You are still big in Jackie's eyes for you are a wonderful, understanding mother. It's just that she really is in a world all of her own like all teenagers. I wish I could have been more like you when my children were teenagers. Thank you for sharing this special and touching time with Jackie.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

Beautiful...simply beautiful.

Mara in Wisconsin

YES--it was a wonderful story the first time, and still is. My musical theater major gets in the car for the 3.5 hour drive home from college and stuffs Broadway cast recordings in the CD player. She knows all the lyrics to shows I've never even heard of. Then came the day she put in Jersey Boys, and finally I knew more than she did! But sharing music is the best--and talking in the car is somehow so much easier--even now that there are cell phones to interrupt.


Awww...sweet, Kristin :-) So hard when they're growing up. They seem so distant, and then like Jackie, they let you in.


Nancy in Washington

Wow! I am going through the same issues with my 14 year old daughter - wanting to wear her headphones, short answers, etc. But we do connect with music at times - and she is maturing - and it does all seem a little easier than when she was 13. Your post really got me, though, because my 9 year old daughter was watching Whitney Houston sing that very song on a YouTube video when I came into the kitchen this afternoon - and of course, I got goosebumps. "Mom, I love that song!," she said today, with enthusiasm. I had introduced the song to my musical daughters earlier this year to show them Whitney Houston's talent. What a great coincidence to have this song touch me twice today - I'll have to share it again with my oldest tomorrow!


ditto Gina C's comment! such a good post And great pictures of the two of you!
I used to go to La Gard when I was at the Universite de Toulon. when you drive back to pick up Jackie, you should stop by the campus and see that "pool" we talked about.

Wells Edmundson

Christmas Eve and I've called home to say "Send Erin to the front door, I've put on my Santa Suit!" At 5 years old she answers the doorbell...looking out of the glass storm door she spots the last 3 inches of my partially covered shoes..."Mom come to the front door, it's dad dressed in a Santa Suit!" I was totally busted, but I still feel the 'frissons' after all these years. Loved your story.


I love the story and can relate. I love the pictures, Jackie is and always has been truly beautiful. And, I see where you get your writing talents from. I loved your mother's post. I hope she writes more.

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