Jean-Marc's open letter
Miam! Courge Marron Soup (Butternut Squash and Chestnut soup) & We're going to Spain!

Mudita: The Secret to Happiness in France...and Denver, Portland, Bozeman?

Petite Amie 2

We all need more mudita! Mudita is the benevolent and altruistic joy that delights in the happiness and success of others. It is a sacred joy that finds its pleasure in the well-being of another rather than by feeding envious thoughts and jealousies concerning the other. To illustrate "mudita," we often give the example of parents, who delight in the progress and happiness of their children. (Photo from our marriage. I know, you've seen it many times!) I think marriage vows should include "mudita," don't you? Comments link at the end of this post.


"Mudita" cela veut dire "une joie sympathique, une joie bienveillante et altruiste qui se réjouit du bonheur et des succès des autres. C'est une joie sacrée qui trouve son délice dans le bien-être de son prochain plutôt que de nourrir des pensées envieuses et jalouses à son égard. On donne traditionnellement l'exemple des parents qui se réjouissent des progrès et du bonheur de leur petit enfants pour illustrer ce qu'est Muditā." -Wikipedia

(Dear Reader, for today's sound file, you are stuck with me and my big American Jean-Marc is absent today! Here we go... listen to the definition (printed above): Download Mudita

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


    by Kristi Espinasse

Thursday,  following his open letter  about what could possibly drive us to abandon our dream-in-the-making, Jean-Marc and I read the blog comments.  We read them silently. We read them aloud to each other.  We read them over the phone to my father,  my aunt,  my mother. I whispered them to my dog, Are you up for this,  Smokey? Will you be OK in cargo,  headed to America.....

Though heartened by the enormous support, I knew all of the encouragement would only convince Jean-Marc to take that leap--a move I am still resisting, much like I resist party invitations. But isn't that just it? Isn't it time to open up and share life with others? I could stay in this isolated garden,  write from a perch in my bedroom,  and hibernate forever as a bear (so as not to say recluse)!

Speaking of bears, they frighten me and are beginning to serve as a filter as we note down possible towns to live in (I don't want to live in Bear Country. At the same time,  bear country has all of the qualities I am looking for in a place to settle down! Will we ever settle down?  On and on the mind goes during this potentially (we still could stay...) uprooting time, as we allow both excitement and fear to take over - - and when it does,  we each retreat to a different room and find our peace,  our internal compass. If only it would reveal the direction, NOW!

That afternoon, after being moved by an outpouring of support,  the house was quiet but for a crackling fire in the living room. I went to look for my husband of 22 years and found him sitting on his grandfather's couch,  one he had had reupholstered in burgundy velvet (the color of his future wine?) before we moved to the Côtes du Rhone. Here we are now in St Cyr-sur-Mer. Ten years and two vineyards later we are on the verge of a major life decision--leaving our authentic dream in which Jean-Marc would build a vineyard from the ground up...up into the hills over looking the sea of Bandol....

I would have the French farmhouse of my dreams--while another passion grew even beyond that: a wild French garden! This rambling garden (in which just this morning I pulled 6 earth-clad carrots) would offer more than quaint architecture, it would strengthen the foundation in my soul. So why do I keep mourning the loss of my garden when it is right there inside of me? Capable of growing wherever I go? I can plant it in a plastic cup and set it on the shelf of an Airbnb (in Portland? Will we go there?) or dig up a back yard of a home for sale (in Denver???).

Walking through our farmhouse the other day, looking for Jean-Marc,  I found him there in front of the fireplace. He had a big bright look on his face as he stared at his computer. I wondered,  What is he looking at? As I turned to see the screen I saw it -  a giant Map of the States.  And there,  seated before the giant map ,  I now saw a young man, young as I was when I once sat before a giant map...of France.

Gazing at my husband, whose head tilted thoughtfully before the map, all of my self pity began to melt away. And I thought, After 24 years of living my dream in France,  isn't it his turn now to have his own experience in a foreign land? Looking at Jean-Marc I could almost see a cowboy hat and chaps on the young man who sat considering the vast Map of America. A young man who had felt so very old only days ago.

And it occurred to me that instead of fear and regret I could now find my joy... in allowing Jean-Marc to pursue his own. And that by observing his delight in each new world discovery,  I might be delighted too. 




If We Left France Where Could We Move? Click here

Is Jean-Marc Single? Can I Buy Your Home?  Click here to read

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

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety