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To come to a decision. On Turning the Page of our vineyard dream


Four years ago, I thought we had finally put down our anchor--that our grandkids would eat these figs that Smokey and I were  harvesting here in the Land of Milk and Honey. Jean-Marc can better give you the reasons for wanting to move. Until then, today's letter answers some of those questions you may be having.

TODAY'S WORD: parvenir à une décision

    : to come to a decision

ECOUTEZ - Listen to me pronounce today's word: Download Parvenir-decision

On n'est pas encore parvenu à une décision finale.
We have not yet come to a final decision.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse

Ever since Jean-Marc admitted that he no longer had the energy to farm and that he wanted to sell our vineyard and turn the page--and ever since my first reaction (Non!!!) I have been struck by the number of coincidences in favor of a move.

First, our children's response. "This place is too big for you, Mom. You don't want to live all alone up in this secluded area. And Papa is tired..."

Their last point is the only reason I would consider moving. The other points can be argued: our home is 180 square meters, or 1800 square feet. That's not too big, is it? As far as being alone in a secluded area--I'm too busy learning about permaculture--or natural gardening--to notice the downside of too much land. I may also have been too busy to notice how behind I've fallen on weeding. When I look out over the wild garden and see how unruly everything has become...a greater realization comes to mind. Apart from several technical decisions to do with planting the vines, Jean-Marc and I now know what went wrong with our property and our home: we spread ourselves too thin. We never got the help we needed. And we are not in our 30s anymore.

Imagine two middle-aged people stepping out of their hillside farmhouse each morning. Jean-Marc heads down to the vines, spends hours watering amidst the heatwave. I grab my broom and begin emptying the house of so much trekked in dirt. Looking up, I get distracted by the spiderwebs (which somehow make their way back inside each week) until I see an overflowing bowl of kitchen scraps, pick them up and take them up to the orchard and vegetable garden, behind our mas....

There at the base of the forest, my eyes dart left and right, making sure a family of sangliers, or wild pigs with sharp horns, isn't noshing on our saffron ready to charge at me for surprising them all. Coast is clear. I begin to pull weeds, harvesting berries as I go for a "breakfast on the run". I've forgotten my pruning shears, way back at the house, so make a mental note to cut down the overgrown fennel--until I see a tree that desperately needs watering. But Jean-Marc has the main hose....

Off I go to another project, hanging out the laundry. I trek back down the hill, stopping inside the house and trekking in more dirt. Filling the laundry basket, I head back out to the line, and hang it all to dry. My eyes sweep over "Kristi's vineyard," planted on the terrace below my clothesline, by Jean-Marc and Max's friends two years ago. The ground is parched and several vines have shriveled up. I hurry to the house, grab a 10-liter watering can and return to the lower terrace to dart from one thirsty vine to the next. The sweaty effort is a drop in the bucket.

This brings us to our faulty planning and to biting off more than we could ever chew. If we were to start over again, I would have grown my own garden organically--from the front porch outwards. Instead, I have peppers down in Kristi's vineyard, blueberries  over by the new deck, and--continuing up to the forest behind the house--a sprawl of other plants and pollinators--everything from avocado trees to honey bees (the hives, located higher up in the forest, are Jean-Marc's project).

My multi-level garden (sounds glorious but imagine a parched hillside) and our old farmhouse keep me busy with spurts of ineffective efforts, in spite of trying different schedules ("water and care for the front yard in the morning--and the back yard in the evening. And, for the farmhouse, thoroughly clean one room each day"). This all looks good on paper until things get into the way (or I get lazy).

A car with German license plates is slowly pulling up our driveway, attracted by the giant sign down by the side of the road ("Wine. Olive oil. Honey. CLOSED"). I already know the question: "Can we buy some honey?" (or wine or olive oil). And my answer still hasn't changed, We're not ready yet. On a bad day I want to scream: Can't you read the sign. FERME. CLOSED! Instead I smile, and watch as the car tries to back out of our driveway, zigzagging back and forth, running over the prickly pear cactus and taking a few branches of lilac with it. A familiar scene that is, when all is said and done, comical to see.
By now the illiterate visitors have mowed down the poor cactus and the lilac is but a shadow of what it once was. More help. Better planning. 30-year-old bodies. What else will it take to change Jean-Marc's mind and convince him to stay here ("The Land of Milk and Honey," as I called it when we moved here four years ago)? I'm no longer sure that convincing my husband is the answer. As for turning the page, Circumstance seems to be doing that for us.

The-original-farmhouse (2)

First photo taken before the previous owner restored the mas, or farmhouse. Second photo taken at a wine-tasting here last year, when the lilac was in bloom.

RELATED POSTS: Click on the titles to read the posts

Is Jean-Marc Single? Can I Buy Your Home?

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of our Vineyard dream. (Story here).

Moving to Mexico: To Fly with One's Own Wings. (Story here).

The Previous Move Which Brought us Here to The Sea near Bandol....

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After 26 years in Paris, raising my daughter in an apartment I have worked so hard on, I too am making a decision. Amazing how all signs start pointing. I wonder where you are thinking of going, My dream was Avignon but not sure anymore....first I have to sell.
Wishing you new adventures....

Stephanie Sabourin

Wow, I understand the getting older and too much work part, but from what you have said of your husband, I wonder if he can be happy without a vineyard. Or would you move to an already established vineyard? I always appreciate your honesty. It is easy for us readers to look at your home and your life and think it seems perfect, but your honesty always reminds us that that there are two sides to everything and that we all need to be content with what we God gives us and not long for what others have. I pray God gives you wisdom as you continue to make your decision,

Roni Beth Tower

I was 52 and my children grown when events conspired into a massive life change.Twenty years ago I could never have imagined my glorious life today! My story is in a memoir, Miracle at Midlife: A Transatlantic Romance, that will be published October 25th. I hope it will inspire you both to live with courage and joy and, best of all, integrity! Roni Beth Tower www.miracleatmidlife.com

Candy (now in France)

A leap of faith is just that - jump over the obstacles and see where it takes you. That's what I have done. At this point I am still thrilled that I followed my dream, but I'm enough of a realist to know that dreams can change and what seems grand today may seem too large tomorrow. You are blessed with a wonderful family (and extended family) who supports you and your dreams. You and J-M will be fine no matter where the next chapter takes you. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Bisous!


Wow, I'm so sad to read of your struggle with your property!! I am about to move from Australia to the Aude region of France and am very glad we have bought a town house with a small garden as that will be more than enough for us in our 50s!!!


Faced as a new beginning, and you are too young to approach it otherwise, this will be yet another glorious opportunity. A challenge of the best sort. Wherever you land you will land on your feet, put down roots and cultivate a new life together. Bonne chance! Ronni

Cindy McDonald

"As for turning the page...circumstances seem to be doing that for us." Chère Kristi you are in my thoughts and prayers. Circumstances are making decisions for many of us. Whatever the next chapter, it will surely be an adventure. xoxo Cindy

Marie-Louise LaFond

I think life leads us where we need to be led. If we will submit and follow. When we bought our bed and breakfast, many circumstances colluded to make it possible. When it was time to move on 11 years later, we observed things coming together and followed. We now live across the street from one of our daughters and their 3little ones. Just be reflective and open to the universe and you will end up in the right place. Recall his depression earlier. He will find that which satisfies him. I believe this with all my heart.


What a beautiful home you brought back to life. You have the advantage of being prepared to acknowledge those aspects of your life which did not live up to your dreams. I have confidence that you will find a way which incorporates those things that you love, if you wish it.A knowledge and love of wine, for example, can be everything from a memory to a hobby to many different rewarding jobs.You have your writing, your wonderful photos, your style and gift for hospitality. Take a break, then take a decision. You have a couple of wonderful perceptive young adult children on your side also.

karen wilson

I am so sorry that you are leaving your house and vineyards after all the love and care you have given them. But I am sure you are making the right decision. We bought our town house after seeing my parents gradually become isolated and unable to cope with their garden and the drive into town to shop, then slipped into old age and it became too late to change the course of their lives. Although I do sometimes miss living in the countryside, that is balanced by the joys of having time to paint, do yoga, see friends, go walking, lock up, and go and see family. Once you take the leap, I am sure life will present you with ideas and paths will open up for you to try out and take! Come and stay in my studio in Lorgues a few nights and see how it feels to live in a village! We bought it as a temporary measure, having sold our house with its huge garden. Then found we loved living in town, so bought a town house, something we never dreamt we would do. Anyway, sending you all the very best of wishes and bon courage Kristin!

Danielle Wierengo

OUFFF, such a lot of work!! How do you manage to keep on writing and letting me live vicariously from far away with all that is on your plate?! I am truly wishing you and Jean Marc much good energy in making your decisions. Thank you for all that you give to many! Take very good care.


Everything will work out. Take your time. You'll know,

Angela Bell

Many of us have had to make decisions like this at some point in our adult lives. The deliberation and limbo, for me, are the most painful aspect of such a major life change. Once you are in motion, you will both feel better. The kids, too. They always understand more than you think (as they point out). God will bless and keep you on the next exciting phase of your journey. Bon courage! Love, Angela and Bill


When we moved from our hometown and a house of thirty five years a friend said to me
"changes keep you young" I kept her quote in my heart to get me through and found
it to be so true.

Karen W (Parkton, Md)

You love the solitude and the water just not so much work. I get that!! I hope you figure it all out and find the answer that brings you the contentment you deserve. No grandkids yet! - so there's still time to put your mark on another place or cut back on this lovely mas! All the best, always!

Nyla Witmore

You, in your next venture will, once again, BLOOM where you are planted. I am convinced.
Always looking forward....you are in my thoughts.

All the messages you will receive are not mere platitudes...
Many who are older than you have been through this many times and we know that making (not delaying) the right decision is what makes the brow unwrinkle,

Also, say a "goodbye" as leave each room for the last time...thank it for all the vivid memories that pop into your head...turn .....and feel the house thanking YOU and Jean-Marc for giving it all the love you had when you had the energy to do it. With each house you have LIVED YOUR LIFE'S LESSONS. Much ❤️ and admiration !!!!!!!!!!

Josephine G.

Thoughts of change.....more seeds that have been planted and need "water and time". They will grow and lead you in one direction or another.
Know that you are not alone in this process. As you can see, many of your readers, myself included, are tending to the "garden of change".
Bon Courage and Bonne Chance!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

I, too, am considering a move, and understand the conflict. Roots and history on one side. Property maintenance, health and different desires on the other. Then how to make all things mesh and flow forward. And that is also a difficult part, using all the energy to look forward and not back. My heart goes out to you. Offering prayers up for all of you when I offer them up for my different, but similar, situation. xo

Kate Lindsay

My heart goes out to you both as you make your decisions. My husband & I are in the same situation living in South Africa & planning to move to the UK to run a B&B - an exciting challenge! I wish you all of the very best but please don't stop your blog, I enjoy reading about your adventures!

Micki Simms

Dear Kristi,

I have so much empathy for your struggles with a major life-altering decision, especially when it is the end of a dream. I'm sure this is at the heart of Jean-Marc's depression and angst; the struggle with giving up what he loves and knows for the reality of what the body can accommodate at this stage and the acceptance of that loss is soul-searing. It comes to all of us but it's so difficult. Having spoken with a friend yesterday who is dealing with the same issue, it is fresh on my mind. Bob is feeling his age too much to continue in the business he and Julie have built together; he has no reliable help and the past two brutal Houston summers have taken a toll as have the rudeness of customers he strives so hard to please. They grapple with what the next stage of life will look like for them after some difficult past years for reasons of health and economic issues in our area.

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers as you move boldly forward into uncharted waters, but waters that will likely prove life-saving and restorative. A small herb garden in a 10x10 raised bed in a metropolitan area works beautifully. :)

Amicalement toujours,



I too love your honesty.I love it.And yes I believe everything will work out for you:)

Jeanne Asakura

You have made one decision and are now in the midst of making another one. A difficult time to be sure. I think that once you know where your next adventure will take you you will become energized and prepare for the tasks ahead. Dreams don't always turn out like we picture them and I am sure JM's decision was hard fought. You are an amazing loving couple who will find your next bliss and remember the past few years as one step in that direction. Your legions love you, Kristi, and are cheering you on from the sidelines. Don't forget to take us with you!!!


Depression is awful, but it comes and goes; it must be managed. I have run a seven day a week business since I started it in 1979.
I had many times of anxiety and depression where I just wanted to sell and walk away. But, I didn't, and it has given me a very interesting life. I did hire the people I needed which allowed the business to grow and become successful. Someone told me when I started that I was not making a job for myself; I was running a business and if I was too busy scrubbing the floors, cooking, or selling wine, I would not be able to see what needed to be done. Why don't you add a little more automatic watering each year and hire pickers.


Thank you for this post. Your sharing will help you through this difficult time. Accepting the need for change is not easy, but you will find the strength. Best always to you & J-M.


Sometimes, when we face reality and make a decision about our lives,it lifts a heavy weight from our shoulders. I certainly wish you and Jean Marc the very best in whatever you do in the future! May you find relief from any feelings of guilt and depression. May your next adventures be filled with love and joy!

Trudy Ramirez

Whatever you and Jean Marc decide to do, it will be okay. You've had a challenging but wonderful four years there, and it might be time for a new season. I can only imagine the decision is an emotional one, with many components. And, I'm sure you're considering all of your options. At some point in the near future, you will know. And, leaving isn't a failure, if that's what you chose to do. As much as you both might love your home, without additional help, it will be a continuing struggle. The knowing will come. ❤️

Marie La Salle

Life marches to the rhythm of "I must begin again."

Bruce Stebner

A year ago we sold our large home and garden for a smaller house with a city lot to clear the path for me to teach painting in France more often. All my clients and friends here asked how we could possibly give up our wonderful home and garden. My response came impulsively: "The dreams of your forties become the nightmares of your sixties." We're at least a decade apart, but it sounds like the same story. Live in the moment and you'll have no regrets.

Kim Rebecca

Appreciate your honesty so much. I too am facing dramatic changes in my life. I'm reminded of all clichés like there is no constant in life but change. It is true. The unknown is scary. Sometimes I have to look at my own shortcomings and that is hard. I am facing a lot of financial hardships because of decisions and priorities I made earlier in life. But it does not benefit me to look back. I'm finding inspiration from all the comments here. No one lives a life free of adversity... many blessings are also in the mix. I want it to be easy but as most agree here, sometimes it is not. From a book I read many years ago there was a student/mentor scenario presented... the mentor tells the student 'sometimes you must be in the dark' and the student asked 'how long?' and the spiritual mentor replied 'until you can see in the dark'... I'm glad I remembered that today. Best to you and yours; follow your inner voices and don't compare your 'insides' to someone else's 'outsides'. Blessings to you.

Judi Dunn

....Dear Kristi and JM...Gerry and I are both 75 and have had so many life adventures which took us all around the world , with two kids. We ..made 18 moves in 55 years of marriage.. that is a lot by anyones measure. Each move was step up the professional ladder for him . He went first, secured our place, and I did the move and 'mop up'. Each place, like Hong Kong, with a 4 yearly and a 16 year old, was very challenging to say the least! East coast, West Coast,
Hawaii and Alaska..Paris, France, .... each one new and each one an exciting adventure. I learned to 'bloom where I was planted' and would not change a minute of our lives together. Our final move was to Tallahassee, for his 'retirement job' which lasted 6 years, and allowed us to return to France for a month every two years! the kids seemed to thrive along the way. We think we were born nomads! So many good friends all over the world and so many great memories. We have been lucky in life as well, I beat breast cancer 9 years ago and happily plod along nowadays with a 30% heart. I believe in attitude 24/7! Anything else is self defeating. You two built a great life together there and another life will find you and you will move along to another place and time.. Have faith in yourselves and a little bit of luck and all will be fine... Life is nothing if not one adventure after another.. Carpe Diem, and may God Bless both of
you in million ways... bisons, Judi Dunn.. now in Menerbes, France and loving every single second of it!

Diane Heinecke

Dear, dear Kristin
Your account sounds so much like our eldest daughter, now age 42.. She and her husband have a knack for finding houses that they are attracted to, for many different reasons. They pour their hearts and souls into the project, working on transforming the structure and surroundings into something beautiful. When they realize they bit off more than they can chew, at first they feel they've let themselves down, but they move on, sell, and...yes, find another project. To me it shows their creativity, persistence, and idealism. And that's how I feel about you and Jean Marc. Life is to be enjoyed, so maybe you can scale down your dreams and find something on a smaller scale. Best wishes to you both. I think the before and after pictures of your "mas" are phenomenal!! You are a great team. Sending cyberhugs from Georgia in the U.S.A.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

To realize a dream is truly a gift. When that happens, I am convinced it becomes a part of who we are...forever. And as life circumstances change we may need to move on from that dream, savoring it while looking forward to another newness in our lives.

So much beauty emerged from your mas; the regeneration of the olive trees, the creation of the grapevine fields, sweet honey, gardens offering sustenance and glorious color. Yet behind it all, the burden of heavy toiling became evident. The hard part is knowing when to let go.

Reminded of the Serenity Prayer, I am wishing you and Jean-Marc serenity, courage and wisdom....


Go for it Kristi! Your beautiful mas was perhaps "of a time." You gave it life. Whenever I've faced these decisions that have to do with major transitions, I always think of Gail Sheehy's book "Passages" that I read years ago. Her theory is that we go through developmental stages all through our lives. It's not just the "terrible twos" or the "tween" years, we humans are constantly evolving, reassessing. And she thinks that about every 5 years we face big questions about our lives. That would put you right in the time frame.

My brother has an expression: "Those who dare, win." And you and J M have a track record of winning.

mary tindukasiri

Change. Forward movement = life, inspiration, connection. Never doubt what your heart is telling you. xoxo Mary


I can understand how one would become depressed when faced with a seemingly insurmountable task complicated by external forces such as weather. Too much for anyone. There are so many wonderful properties all over southern France, and perhaps if you began looking at them, your imagination might take off in another direction. New purpose: new excitement and planning! Closer to Aix for example...It will all work out, and you may look back and say "we had some wonderful times in the farmhouse, but this is just so much better for all of us." Somehow things do work out for the best in the long run of things.


We moved from our home to a sailboat! The adventure continues, and the change brings new friends, and a fresh way of thinking!
Live your dream! Bless you both!

Betty Gleason

I have often wondered why you did not have more free help in your adventure. Perhaps university or technical students earning credit for real life experience, and paying for the privilege. J-M and you have so much experience to share.
Or perhaps the dream has changed as they sometimes do.


Kristi, as many of the others have said, change can be good, and you, Jean-Marc and your family have been working hard to realize your dream of creating the perfect home, vineyard, and garden. To quote your words, "As for turning the page, Circumstance seems to be doing that for us." I sense (of course, my senses might be completely off) that you and Jean-Marc have already made a decision in your hearts, and although the prospect of a change of lifestyle may seem scary, remember that changes do not have to be permanent. If a change of lifestyle doesn't work out, there will always be other paths from which to choose. Life is filled with adventures that we may or may not be excited about, but I know one thing: When we surf along with the waves, without trying to fight the current, the experience might be thrilling, but it's also much calmer and more enjoyable. I will continue to keep you and Jean-Marc in my thoughts.

Nancy Carter

Every new beginning starts with an ending. Your new beginning is out there waiting for you and you WILL find it. Take care of yourselves and each other. That's all that really matters...


When faced with many tasks since the death of my husband last year before Thanksgiving,I too well understand maneuvering between projects that lead one away from the plan. Also, does one move or stay. In my eighties with a fairly large house and yard, I have arrived at a realization that a bit of depression has hit. I am with Jules during her corner turning after John's death. In some ways the new challenges we face force us into decision making we want to avoid.
Run don't walk, to the new beginning. Love to your family.


Kristin, you mention that you have been struck by a number of coincidences. I remember hearing that a coincidence is a miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous. I like that. So go where He leads. There are many, many parts of this old world that are "the land of milk and honey!" Bloom where you are planted, as someone has said. I do have to say, for what it's worth, that you both look very young. You still have other dreams ahead of you. Like a garden right out your front porch!

Peggy Bradley

Yes, we understand. We didn't move to the "farm" that we dreamed of, but our large house and garden look a wee bit tired these days. We did find what to go toward as opposed to what we are leaving. Give that approach a try and I believe you will be fine.

Cheryl in STL

Joie de vivre is hard to come by when every day life tires you out. No matter how much you love a place when it wears you down the love starts to leave. It seems to me that you already know in your heart that it's time. God leads through all of the circumstances in our lives and He's there for you now. The right place for the next part of your life will be one that will bring the joie de vivre back into your lives.

Jill Switzenberg

Have faith. Everything happens for a reason. You will find your way through this I'm sure, and all of your readers will be with you, cheering you on, no matter what. Be gentle with yourself. Doors close, other doors open. Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way.


Hi Kristi, from reading the other comments several of us are in the "same boat" so to speak. I have had the privilege of meeting you and your family and visiting your wonderful place. Is it possible to sell part of your property, keeping the part that makes you happy and would be more manageable? Lots of decisions are necessary as we "age"and finding what is right for you will take some time. Best of luck to you, Jean Marc, Max, and Jackie. Remember how much your readers care about you.


Simplify! Unburden yourselves! There is something about a child going off to school that changes everything. And it is a natural progression in life❤️ My husband and I had a beautiful garden that was time-consuming and extremely satisfying. Then, ultimately became too much and we weren't willing to hire someone to keep it up. Empty nesters need change too🤗Bon chance👏🏻


Hi Kristi, I can feel the turbulence all the way over here in Washington! Never fear, you two will come to a good decision, one that works for you both and leads you into whatever lies ahead. I think it's interesting that with all the things that become easier with the passing years, there are still new curves to be navigated and new challenges that we don't expect and can't anticipate. Maybe that just keeps things interesting. Whatever comes next, I'm sure you and Jean-Marc will figure it out, make a beautiful life from it, and continue to find happiness--just not always where you expect it! Take care of yourselves and each other, and please keep us posted.

Frederick Caswell

Aging is such a thief of strength, ambition/motivation, learning, and interest in many of life's challenges/opportunities; approaching age 90 it is easy to understand your situation. You and Jean-Marc can create many of the best of your years together following your passions and looking forward to becoming grandparents while travelling to endless places in your readings and geographic excursions, meeting interesting people, family, and friends. Whatever you decide, do not forget that you are loved by so many.

Linda D.

I so appreciate your honesty, Kristi. All the life lived in that house - the joys and the frustrations, the many adventures and visitors, the chaos of balancing family and self and a business, the beauty created and nurtured - this is all part of you, Jean-Marc and the kids forevermore. You bring it with you, wherever and whatever comes next. What a wonderful example to your children and to us - to reach, to try, to adapt. You guys are my heroes. I hope your next adventure brings you joy and satisfaction! Bon chance!

Sue Lennox

We all lived your life vicariously while sitting in our chairs sipping tea or coffee. We were part of your family. But we sensed the fatigue and the heat and the fact that it was no longer fun. We rooted for Mas des Brun, but it was not us putting in the heavy labor and worry. So, time for something new!

Please keep us in your lives, whatever is your next step. Much love and good wishes to you both.


I certainly understand the impact of age and what one can manage/enjoy. My husband is from a farming family where the younger generation (now all above 50 years of age) do not want to farm. Here in the States, they rent the fields to others to operate/take care of and those folks collect most of the profits but the owners do get a percentage of the take. Some of the renters do this working for/from several farms. Could you do that? As for the gardening, could you both then just turn your attention to this side of things? Not meaning to belittle the effects of aging as we are both in our mid-late sixties. I am retired, but I am just now experiencing the other side of not working....needing something worthwhile to do (while not a full time job). Best of luck in what you finally decide.


With all you have experienced and learned your next step should be fabulous!


Dear Kristi. I have been reading your blog for many years now, following silently along -- grateful for your spirit, your art with words, your photos. Reading today's blog has me in tears. Not from sorrow as much as from praise and grief -- for all the life you live and all that you and Jean-Marc give. Just know that you have many supporters out there who care.

Diane Young

Chere Kristi,
Pray and take it one day at a time. There's something about the '50's - you still can do some things but really not as well as ten years ago. we moved to a new house in our 50's and never regretted it, but it sounded insane. We had paid off our first house - why on earth did we want to start over with a new mortgage? That was 29 years ago and I still love where I live now, especially since I have a few neighbors from back then. Living where you do is very demanding and you have to decide - Is it worth it? We all wish the best for you and Jean-Marc.

Kathleen from Connecticut

As I was reading your blog, I said that isn't too much work, but then I realized that In between all of that gardening and laundry, etc. you have your writing and wine tastings and harvesting with many hands on board and making meals for all of them. It is a lot of work and I know that you put heart and soul into it - nothing less. Then JM is working in the vines, keeping them growing and the bees happy. What seems like a completely idyllic life is a very stressful life.
You will figure out your next episode in your lives. Listen to your inner being, to what God is telling you, to what your soul and spirit is saying and the JM and his concerns, ideas and wishes.
I am trying to get my husband to slow down, to sell our apartment house ( office building) and to work from home. He is 80 and has back, knees and leg problems and is always hurting, but he is so stubborn. The apartment building is for sale and we he had nibbles but no bites. I do the gardening, lawn mowing and general upkeep of the yard - one acre. I do the cooking and we share the dishes and laundry. I am retired, 68 and volunteer for several organizations. My feeling is that if you stay active, you stay young and so does your body, although sometimes I over do it.
You are both young, but you sound a bit burnt out and need a change. You will figure out the right move. You both have done so much. The wine is the best, your blog is super and I haven't tried the honey or olive oil, but I am sure that they are also superb. You have your causes, no GMOs and organic farming and wines. That takes more effort.
Bon chance to both of you.



Kristy, Reading the thoughts of fellow readers encourages me to write and say a hearty 'amen'. You have touched hearts around the world with your transparency, joy of life, and willingness to support your family in all ways. Whatever you and Jean-Marc decide, you know that your paper and pen friends will stay beside you and will strive to be the wind beneath your wings.


Oh my goodness, your description of keeping your vineyard and house going has me exhausted just reading it! In my 60's now and a bit farther down the path of letting some dreams go and giving new ones space to appear, I can advocate for simplicity. It is a great gift to let go of some of the weights. I'm wishing you and Jean-Marc patience and clear thinking as you proceed. The decisions are not easy, but there's much to be learned and enjoy as the path unfolds.


Our dear Kristi,
Your words today are so beautifully written that you have just touched our heartstrings and wrapped us in hugs.
When we were facing a similar decision some years ago,a dear friend gave me an excellent metaphor:when you feel the ocean is too far,stop going to the ocean.I say metaphor because we weren't going to the ocean but trying to manage a lovely park like property with an orchard that had become too much for us.
As much as we tried to focus on the positive aspects and our blessings of having had this place,our hearts(and bodies) told us it was time to start thinking of other options.
God shows us the way by closed doors as well as open ones.Perhaps He is already speaking to you,readying you for the next chapters of your lives.
You and your dear family are always in my prayers.
Natalia. xo

Juli P


Thanks for the wonderful tomato tart recipe. I gave it a try with our first harvest of tomatoes and it was so good. Hang in there as life often takes turns that we are not ready for but ultimately they work out for the best.

Roseann Milano

I hear you Kristi-

Time to think. And to that end I can suggest a very helpful downsizing book by C.J. Ware called Rightsizing your Life. It's on Amazon.

It was helpful for me when I was tossing that idea around in my head and I was only one person who had to decide. This book helps couples make the decision and whatever the decision it' will galvanize your method. It is VERY useful to read.

Jeanne Govert

I am sorry to hear of your leaving of the vineyard as this was my husband's dream only he had it too late, being 71 now, he enjoyed when I told him of your work. But I more than understand and am proud that you know when to quit. I look forward to the next chapter of your life and I know you will be sharing it with us here.
Thanks for all the past stories. More to come!

Sheila in wine country Oregon

Hahaha ... I understand, totally. Good for you for taking care of yourselves. We downsized to an 1100 sq ft house with a postage stamp yard. The big house with acreage is behind us and I haven't looked back. Farming was a period in your lives and now you can look forward to doing something else ... take time to dream it into reality. Best wishes for a happy future! We'll be here, waiting to read/see the next chapter.


My family LOVED the tomato tart recipe! Thank you for sharing!!! Good luck to you and your family - things always work out!

Elaine Wilson

Kristi and Jean-Marc,

I know that you both have thought and thought about your options. When God closes a window, He opens a door.
But....If resources are an obstacle (money) then there are lots of "crowd sourcing sites" now on the internet. This could provide funds for irrigation and manual helpers.
How about creating a coop org. so that members can ultimately share in the profits and share in work commitments. There could also be a B&B option. I'm sure that you have received business guidance and if the "usual, conservative" methods don't work, perhaps the newest, creative sources would help!

However, if you are both simply too tired at this moment (depression does that) then perhaps it might help to share my experience: I am now 76 years old and at the age of 60, I realized that I no longer wanted to be at the losing end of economic cycles and crashes. I am an Artist and Mentor Teacher and both are impacted and first to be cut when economic conditions tank. Sooo at the age of 60 (yes, Sixty!!) I had saved money and took a year 'off' to study landscape design and sustainable gardening (very few knew "sustainable" then!) I'll cut to the chase.....I was very Successful and was grateful that I could use my artistic gifts and my passion for plants, soil and environmental protection to EARN MONEY. I was very successful as a business and did lots of business 'networking'. I'm not a type A personality so I didn't want to create an empire, which was possible. In any event, I am now retired (I maintained one favorite client. The rest were sad to see me retire.) Dreams may change form. I found that the gifts that I was born with did no need to suffer the chopping block of defeat. Whatever you both choose,old dreams don't die-- when allowed to, they simply take new forms.

Deborah P

Oh Kristi, such a beautiful house you made there, and I've felt that I've been vicariously living that life from my US suburban home. But some days I can barely handle my little 10 ft.X 10 ft. garden plot and the bushes and pots around my house, so I truly sympathize with your plight. With three grown children long out of the nest, and having had to move our parents out of their own homes when they stayed too long, we're thinking about our next move reluctantly. But it will give more freedom to travel and come back to places like the south of France. I'm sure wherever you end up, you will continue to have adventures and write beautiful stories with photos to match. Bonne chance!!


Kristi and Jean Marc, you have each other. Wherever you both are will be home. You have each other. If you move to a studio apartment you will have your lover with you. My husband passed away three years ago and I moved to a smaller townhouse. It is my house but without him, I am having a great difficulty making it my HOME. Now, I wish we had downsized together. We would have had more time for each other. You are indeed fortunate to have this decision practically made for you. Abraham Lincoln once said, "People are as happy as they make their minds to be." I'm trying. I really am. You can do it. You have your lover beside you.


-selling some land?
-permitting the addition of a couple sweet cottages? (a loooog list of takers, right here)
-advertise "live/work" positions
-interns for work/study?

Listing the positives and negatives on paper helps me make decisions!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Yes, somethin's gotta give! As this powerful panoply of caring and supportive comments proves, dear Kristi, we are with you and Jean-Marc on whatever path you next choose to explore. Again and again, I've relied on faith to carry on through unimaginable changes, heeding signs such as you're noticing. There is no such thing as 'failure,' only shifting realities. Truth is, All Shall be Well, All Shall be Well, All Manner of Thing Shall be Well, as St Julian of Norwich assures us still.
In '09, I renovated my sizeable old house of 33 years, expecting to be there all my days, puttering in the large garden I'd created. But by '13, it had all become too much and I felt trapped and desolate ... till I undertook a major move. Friends were astonished, some even protested. My dear old place itself 'let' me go, and it is being re-purposed by the new owners. The house is gone, and I am happy in my new digs in a new city.
Feeling stuck is no fun, ever, but whatever you decide to do will burnish your well-being. So great how waves of admiration and affection zoom your way from so many caring readers; we're united! The bond we feel with you and your family is one reality that change cannot touch.


Halfway around the world I feel you.
I too have the exact, yes I mean the exact feelings as you about our property.
Hearing you say it aloud makes me think I should face the facts and remember what a friend said to me before a prior move, "yes you live in a great place and wherever you land next will be good- you're not going to live somewhere bad"

But I'm still holding on because of the peace I find in the afternoon in my lounge chair with my two dogs by my side,a good book, sipping a mocha to get enough energy to complete the evening chores.

Maybe the answer is budget for that bit of extra help that will make it doable or is it move and start again on a smaller scale-but where?

Or is this thinking about changes just what life is and will always be-
A constant adjustment to changes that occur because you wake up each day.

Bonne chance in your decision- I for one will be following you to see where you land.

Robert Wildau

So sorry for the agonies you and JM must have endured in arriving at this decision. I have worried about how hard he, and you, seemed to have had to work to keep the whole project moving forward. (Possibly a trigger for his recent bout of depression?) Fortunately you are still young enough to be able to do many adventurous things just short of clearing and planting whole vineyards with the strength of your own backs. I know you will find that new undertaking soon, and only hope it will be as aesthetically and artistically pleasing as this one has been. And that you may have enough more spare time to be able to come and visit us in Aix/Luynes.
All the best. Robe-aire

Lin Powell

Sometimes life helps us with making a hard decision. It might not be the plan you had expected, but it might turn out to be the best plan. It is not always easy to let go of the dream, but sometimes there is a new dream waiting just outside of your sight and you just don't realize it yet. I am sure whatever direction you end up going, it will be good. You both work hard to make things work and this will not be an exception. I know the answer is out there for you...something smaller? something totally new and exciting? something that is totally unexpected? Starting a new story can be taunting at first, but like reading a new book, once you are into the story you end up being excited to turn the pages and find the direction of the new adventure. With the kids leaving home and growing independent, your lives are naturally changing. Embrace the changes. You will be fine. All the best in this next phase of your life.


My husband is nearly 80 and I am just a little younger. We are both active within physical limits and can look back on a life of many changes involving much decision-making. I have read a lot of comments about following your heart and I have something very practical to add to that. Pencil and paper! individually make lists of wishes, wants, pros and cons, what you each see yourself doing for the next ten years. Then hand them to each other for reading and consideration. Write notes and questions about each others lists. Wait a few days and then schedule a day to spend together discussing, dealing with the dreams and teasing out the realities of finances, locations, responsibilities, capabilities etc to set a plan for no more than 10 years ahead, could be 5. Being realistic is not giving up on dreams but it is a hedge against disappointment.

Andrea Hughes

Kristin, You have already received so much excellent advice that I really don't need to add more! I just want to wish you and your family the best as you search for your continuing path through life.

John P Senetto

Hello Kristin,

Do you guy's have a mortgage on the house? If you do, and you must work to pay it off, then Jean Marc need's to man up. If he's just tired and has no real health issues he need's to KEEP WORKING!
If there's no REAL need to sell and move other that being tired of his vineyard than you guy's need to iron this out! Don't overextend your financial position in order to appear that your part of the 1% crowd. Buckle down and work the vineyard and stop all the unnecessary trips that may be causing a financial burden.

If otherwise, this option is not feasible, then you must sell and move on, it's just that simple.

May God Bless you and your family.
John P Senetto

Cynthia Lewis

From all of the wonderful letters written to you and Jean-Marc today about making changes in life, you can see that it happens to almost everyone during their lives. Whatever you two decide, with the support of of your family, friends and a multitude of folks (readers) who think of you as family, you will make the right decision. You have my sincere admiration and best wishes.

joie in Carmel

I am not sure you have seen the dedicated work both of these people have put into the place. It is not for lack effort for either of them. JM has taken on a job I believe at a wine shop to help the income. Kristi blog advertisers bring in some money. They have two kids in university at this point. When more money is leaving the house than is coming in it makes for difficult times. Just because someone has a dream does not necessarily mean that all of it will come true. You are not in their shoes.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Oh, I need one of those. Maybe the lovely sounding book, too.

joie in Carmel

OK...I feel better now that I replied to John P, above! What was I going to say? Decisions are sometimes difficult, but all of life is made up of decisions, whether it be the big one you two are facing right now, or the seemingly small ones as what to fix or dinner. Life is all about choices. I think in the end, the choice you want to make is the one that will benefit the whole family for the years to come. You want to be able to say, "yes, we have had a good life with a few bumps in the road, but a good one." You may decide to stay, knowing that there will be hard work and that changes will have to be made. And you may decide to leave and find a smaller parcel of "the land of milk and honey". But either way you need to embrace the changes, because either way there will be changes...and that is OK. Enjoy what you have now, and if you don't enjoy it, change it. You will make the right choice. Remember "When it rains, look for rainbows, when it's dark, look for stars." hugs to you both, and Smokey.

Joanne Ablan

Bonjour Kristi,
A mon avis on doit parler aux enfants plus souvent! The family that grows together, stays together. It will only be by talking and reflecting and then talking and reflecting some more that a really good transition will happen. At least that is my thought. You and
Jean Marc are no longer a couple; you are part of a family which includes young adults who love you. You might want to investigate
the possibility of tenant farmers for the vines if that allows you to keep the home and garden and pass it along to the children. Just
a thought. Whatever you decide it will be "right" because it will be made lovingly.
Bon chance,

Lee Isbell

Kristi, I am awed by the wonderful advice and the love expressed by your readers. Between your own hearts and the good advice, you and Jean-Marc will make the decision that is right for you. If grape fields are not in your future, they will remain in your memories. There is just the right spot in the South where you can live new dreams without unnecessary burdens in your life.


Kristi, "Make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes"
I have found many places in life to apply this -after hearing it 40 years ago.
It is a gift to know when to quit a thing that is robbing you of your best life!
J-M has done so much, and you have supported him.
From -starting/operating/producing two vineyards, renovating two farmhouses, raising two children into great young adults -to sharing/documenting almost every day of this on your daily-thrice-twice-then weekly, blog! WE KNOW you have done amazing things, things that many could not do!
So "change-needed" is 'in the air'. So when Everyone is "okay"- especially J-M, then move forward. TELL each other, and celebrate(!) WHAT a good job Has Been Done!
(MEN- everywhere- need to know that they CAN redirect their dreams, and lay down the weight with no regret!)
God is so bigger than any earthly circumstance. I am sure He is using your current circumstances to take you to a better place. So, dream the next dream, WHATEVER IT IS!!!
Prayers and love are surrounding you.
"make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes".
You WILL be okay.

Jean-Marc Espinasse

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You Dear Kristi's Readers, for your sweet, meaningful and wise comments.
I will soon post the reasons which have lead me considerate such an important decision
With Love,

Mary-Audrey Mellor

I see Sue Lennox replied in a comment. She put me on to your informative, touching letters which I have so enjoyed. We were both American Red Cross nurses and worked disasters out of Scottsdale where we live with our families

I am now 83 and so understand what you are going through though in different types of decisions. All I can say is this too shall pass. I firmly believe that we are guided in life and that you and Jean Marc will find joy in wherever you are for you are devoted to each and supported by a loving family.. May God Bless you. Fondly , Mary-Audrey

Susan Carter

Changes & the decisions regarding them can be difficult but you must always do what is best for you & Jean-Marc. I will keep you in my prayers as you move forward & know you will find the answers you seek.


Such an encouraging post! Congrats for beating cancer and live well!

Thank you from Olympia, WA

Jim Alsip

The hard part is over---you have made the decision and now the planning for your next adventure can been. Where ever the next step leads you I'm confident that the two of you will find happiness and success. In any case, Kristin, you must continue to share your thoughts and photographs with your loving audience and the Chief Grape will find pleasure in some satisfying endeavor. Cheers to you both!
P.S. Any thoughts of AZ in your future?

Kate and Bill

Keep on writing, Kristi. You are always honest, always fresh and vivid in your descriptions, whether state of mind or heart or, as in this case, the day-to-day busyness that bedevils you and, I would guess, most of your readers. Just keep on gardening! That is always restorative.


Go forward & enjoy the next passage in your life.....Do not look back
except to say to each other- " job well done ".....and together move
to your next adventure... Life is all about the next stop along the way

Richard Mahoney

Thank you for this thought provoking essay. Good luck with your decisions.


I am reminded of this quote: “When I go out for a walk, there is so much that makes me happy to be alive. Breathing. Not thinking. Observing. I am grateful beyond measure to be part of it all. There are trees. Glorious and consoling. Changing with the seasons. Reminders that all things change. And change again.” Maria Kalman

Angela Sargent

Dear Kristi, This is just another stage in your lives. It's good to change although none of us recognise it as that at the time.
Be brave and enjoy the change.
Whatever you do, if you consider carefully....as you do.....life and faith will lead you.
Angela xx


Kristi, we are all getting older, and I certainly appreciate exactly what you are saying. Whatever you decide will be the right thing for you and your family at this time. Breathe deeply and pray -- all is well. x/o Julia


I love transformation stories that win!! :-)


No words of wisdom, life just gives us a new day; if we are lucky. Just relax and enjoy the journey. Be thankful you have a new day to look forward too.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

I can so relate to your story. Only you and Jean Marc can make your decision and always remember that God is holding you in the palm of his hands. Sometimes circumstances will be a big part of what decision you make. You have to ask yourselves what is important in your lives now and how much work do you want to be doing as you both get older. Do you want to be a slave to your property? We have been asking ourselves the same question. Do you have the means to hire garden/vineyard help? Downsizing is looking better and better to us! :-).....Maybe having a smaller garden/yard, a smaller house, more time to spend with our families and traveling....etc. I'm thinking of you and Jean Marc as you begin a new chapter in your lives.


Dear Kristi:I have so enjoyed and marveled at so much love and devotion you and Jean Marc gave to each endeavor and I am certain your next move will be the same. Just know I want to follow you into the next chapters with love and prayer. Vivian

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

I love the picture of you and Smokey! As you know, Kristi, I find myself in a similar place. I am facing big decisions and health issues which have verified the necessity of such decisions. A common thread is that I am no longer in my forties. I don't have the energy I had ten years ago. I believe no matter where we end up, we'll find something to love there too. Thank you for sharing your story. I found such a bounty of wisdom in your devoted readers' comments!

Yes, the tomato tart was delicious!

Sharon in N.C.

Oh yes! I so know where you are coming from. We have tried something similar in our late 60's and it is too much. I hope you can stay in the area or even in your house if you want. Is it possible to rent the "farm" portion to a younger sole and let them do the work for a percentage of the harvest? At least until you can decide what you want to do next.


Kristi and Jean-Marc - I who am new to your blog am astounded at how many people from far and wide who have never met you care so very much and understand so well aspects of your situation. I hope you can both take some strength from this support and esteem. You touch our hearts. Bonne chance.


"Go with the flow" because life is about the journey, not the destination. A new horizon and measured challenge may be just the right thing for Jean-Marc's wellbeing (and yours as well) . Leaving your ferme - a lifestyle not just a job, must be an exceptionally difficult decision to make. I am near retirement age and would love to leave my job, but I am to risk adverse so I stay to the detriment of my own happiness and health, which then impacts upon those whom I love ...... if only I could practice what I preach! Bonne chance.

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