Paris Climate Talks & how to "glaner" before Global Warming
Tiens bon! How to say "Hang in There" in French

La Joie de L'Ame. Where to Find The Soul's Joy

More photos from my time with Susan, here at Instagram

TODAYS WORDS:  La Joie de L'Ame

    : the soul's joy


ECOUTEZ / LISTEN to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French words:
Download Joie-de-ame or Download wav

    La joie de l'âme est dans l'action.
    The soul's joy lies in doing.

by Kristin Espinasse

Un hommage à L'Amitié / A Tribute to Friendship

IT all began at the train station in St Cyr-sur-Mer, where I was meeting my best friend who was coming to stay the night. Passing through la salle d'attente, I noticed a box of free books, and one in particular caught my eye. A perfectly kept volume by André Maurois, author of An Art of Living. Flipping through, my eyes caught on a quote:

    The soul's joy lies in doing.
    La joie de l'ame est dans l'action.

Landing on that page was serendipitous! I sensed that quote (by Shakespeare? Shelley?) would make the next 24 hours with my meilleure amie even more meaningful. Tucking the book under my arm I hurried toward the platform where the TGV was arriving. 

As the train whirled past, windows rushing by, I glimpsed rich, strawberry blond hair and that familiar smile of Susan's - and gave chase until I caught up with the slowing carriage. 

(Now, at the rate in which I am writing this--is "narrative" a rate?--we will never finish the story in time for you to feel refreshed from the read. So I must now give chase to any poetic aspirations and get right to the point: Thank you, Rouge-Bleu!

Rouge-bleu kristi susan
With my best friend, Susan a.k.a. Rouge-Bleu at her first harvest at Rouge-Bleu, our former winery.

Susan,  I must first thank you for allowing our "best-friend code name" to be borrowed for the vineyard my family began 8 years ago. It must have been strange for you to see the friendly term we use for each other now used on logos and boxes and bottles of wine! But when Jean-Marc was searching for vineyard name, he found much inspiration in our friendship moniker "Rouge-Bleu," symbolic in so many ways.

Now, I'd like to thank you, Rouge-Bleu, for the unforgettable birthday getaway you treated me to, this weekend in Amsterdam! Staying at The Sofitel Legend Le Grand was like visiting Heaven for a day. Plush white robes in the bathroom, down-feathered beds, our own expresso machine and... heated toilet seats!! (does The Promised Land have those?). I believe the next time I have a chance to experience such comfort will be, effectivement, in Paradise!  

Busy pushing all those buttons on that fancy contraption, I overheard you calling me from the next room. "Ready, Rouge-Bleu? The driver is on his way." It was time to quit testing the curious buttons and leave that heated throne in time for the city visit you'd thoughtfully planned. And I wouldn't have to leave the warmth for long, for I went from my heated throne to a heated sedan--and the chance to see Amsterdam from the comfort of a private car!

This comfort was much appreciated, given how cold things looked outside the sedan's tinted windows, where the Dutch--bundled from head to toe--walked or biked along the canals. What a chance, this chilly time of year, to see the city via a driving tour. Our guide was named John and he was, as the French say, au top!

With John at the wheel we glided past the coffee houses, the Red Light District and the city's architectural treasures and curiosities (including the Nemo museum, a building that looks like a sinking ship). After two hours we were delivered to the front of the Anne Frank house. Seeing the line going far down the block it seemed we would wait an hour to get in... when Susan produced two passes. And, illico presto! we were inside the building, a part of which is famously known as The Hiding Place. Walking through the dark, tiny rooms where 8 people desperately hid, was an upsetting contrast to the luxury we would soon return to. How are we to act from here on out? What are we to do? 

Walking beside my best friend as we made our way down the ice-cold streets, now sans taxi, I began to sense an answer. It came partly from all the consideration Susan has shown me  throughout our friendship - and part of it came from the quote I'd stumbled across at the opening of this story: We are to keep doing. La joie de l'âme est dans l'action.  

At the end of our 24 hours together, I thanked Rouge-Bleu for the chance to get away from the daily grind here at our farm. I was hesitant to return home to my lazy ways, but I now had a thought to focus on: keep doing!  These two words will mean different things to different people. I thank my best friend for her example. 

On the ride back to the airport, we had little time to catch our flight, but Susan asked the driver to make a special stop. "I need to do this," Susan said. I'll be right back. And I watched her hurry up a cold, wet alley to snap some photos in front of a Christian youth hostel. "My sister used to work here," Susan explained. "Seeing these will make her happy."

And that is what that quote means to me: Keep doing. For your efforts will bring others happiness. Indeed, The soul's joy lies in doing!   


To leave a comment, click here



 In addition to being the godmother of our son, Max, Susan is the owner of Critics Choice Vacations. One of her greatest joys is to help others realize their travel dreams. Please keep my dear "Rouge-Bleu" in mind if you need assistance with your travel plans. The following link will take you to Susan website:

Susan's phone: 480-831-9076
email: [email protected]



The author I  mentioned in the opening of today's story was André Maurois. Here is one of his books. See the reviews and let me know if you enjoyed his book, An Art of Living

Thank you very much for sharing these posts. I will put up more photos from Amsterdam over here. And Susan will have more in her newsletter. Contact her to be added to her mailing: 

email: [email protected]


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. Zelle®, an easy way to donate and there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Vicky from Athens

A heated toilet seat!!! For years I've said that the only thing I hate about winter is a frigid toilet seat. And I've threatened to buy a heated one. Well, 3 years ago I received one for Christmas and I have to tell you it is fabulous! You, too, can be the proud owner of a heated toilet seat for about $100. Go ahead and indulge yourself - you won't regret it!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks,  Vicky :-)  Wish I had thought of it before!


I spent a few days in Amsterdam in August. What a wonderful city! You were lucky to get advance passes for the Anne Frank house, as were my friends who visited a week or so ago. I think it's much easier this time of year. There were no advance passes to be had when I tried before my visit to Amsterdam and none at the tourist offices once I got there.

By the way, I think you mean youth hostel, unless Susan did, indeed, find a hostile youth!

Kristin Espinasse

Oh,  thank you, Passante! I need to fix that hostile youth!  Also,  next time you need passes, please check with Susan. She has good contacts!


What a wonderful treat from your friend, Kristin! I need to look into those heated toilet seats.


Hi Kristin,

How fun to spend a great time with your friend in Amsterdam! Such a lovely city! I remember our first visit to Amsterdam to specifically visit the Anne Frank House. Tara was then in 4th grade and had just read The Diary of Anne Frank. It was amazing and also sad to see where this family stayed hidden for so long, only to be turned in when the war was almost over.

Kristin Espinasse

Yes!  Especially good for those in Canada ;-)

Kristin Espinasse

Eileen, it is a moving experience to stand within those rooms,  while reading Annes words which are selectively featured on the walls,  especially moving are her words about freedom.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Great friendship experience for you and Susan!

There are good ships
There are wood ships
The ships that sail the sea
But the best ships are friendships
And they will always be!

Kristin Espinasse

Herm, thanks for these delightful words on friendship!

Petrina in Brittany

Loving that Herm - thanks!

Sheryl in Denver

Good friends are so very precious. And the giving goes both ways. Love is such an easy gift to give, so be generous! Lead with love - the rest will be easy. (One note - don't forget to give us the translations of the various French words peppered into your stories. I can guess what they mean or look them up, but it helps when I can see it as I read it in a sentence. Merci!)

Kristin Espinasse

Sheryl,  Thank you for the reminder to include the definitions. I have fallen off the vocabulary wagon!  Also,  I like your suggestion to lead with love,  and how the rest will be easy.


Our dear Kristi,
Today's post is absolutely beautiful and absolutely no better way to end the Thanksgiving season and begin the celebration of Christmas.
Family and friendship give life its meaning.
And also to Herm,for his words on friendship!
Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  sweet Natalia.

Cynthia P. Lewis

Dear Kristin ,

You give meaning to the word "dear" and I am certain all who know you will agree!
The telling of your lovely visit with your best friend is heartwarming and makes me think of friends I had many years ago whom I still cherish and the friends I am fortunate enough to have today. To have a best friend is "the icing on the cake". I have known Jean for fifty years and she couldn't be a better best friend. Susan and Jean are our treasures.

Best wishes,

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Lovely sentiment. Lovely post. With all going on in the world these days, it is a joy to read about the joys of connecting via heart and soul. The joys of being. The joys of doing.

Birthday getaway?

May your heart be light and your health be strong. Happy Birthday!

Chris Allin

Precious relationships truly feed the soul. From husband to children to parents and best friend. Different times and seasons, but all are forever~

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Cynthia. There was so much more to say about Susan,  and I have left most of what I wanted to share out -  to keep the post from running on. Happy to see the main point came through.

Kristin Espinasse

So true,  Chris!  💛😘

Chris Allin

And sisters too...they are friends forever~

phyllis morton

Keep doing. This is making me cry. My husband of 66 years died 8 weeks ago today, and 'doing' is very hard for me right now. I started yesterday by going to the weekly training at the DMA where I am a docent. Grief hits in different ways, I shall keep doing, thanks.

Kristin Espinasse

Dear Phyllis, Please accept these late condolences after the passing of your dear husband. Sixty-six years together - I hope one day you will come visit us and share your marriage wisdom. For now, I send love and comforting wishes your way. Keep doing. You are an angel - a bright spot in so many peoples lives. Keep shining. Love, Kristi

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

How wonderful to get to spend a luxurious day in Amsterdam. Wish I had run into you.

I can't help but wonder if that Christian Youth Hostel she shot is one I snapped a photo of the first time I saw it because I was so amused with its location in the heart of the Red Light District. ;)

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Julia,  I didnt pay attention to the address,  but I saw no signs of the Red Light District near this Christian Youth Hostel =-)


Dear Phyllis,
My husband died 11 weeks ago, after 50 years together. I think I understand what you are going through. It is very difficult to lose your life partner, your love, the laughter. I am very proud of you getting out there and going to the training. I know what that means! I'm busy taking care of my daughter and her husband. She is going to have our first and only grandchild next week. My husband was so looking forward to meeting him. It is bitter-sweet to say the least. But, I am very excited. They are going to name the baby after 'Grandpa,' Christopher James. He would have been so proud. This day's post of Kristi's was poignant and a follow-up to a friend's advice, I just need to keep 'showing up.' 'Doing' day by day. Best of luck to you. I'm with you! Judi Miller

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)