Il devait en être ainsi: Meant to be (predestined) in French: A Chance Encounter with some Ceyrestens
Trouvaille: Surprise in the garden & a funny adage for not worrying what others think about you

Voir La Vie en Rose: Mom’s Secret to Facing Challenges

Mom always said to take a new road each day, which is how I discovered this secret square in La Ciotat. Growing up, Jules also taught me to see things that are not as though they are. More in today’s missive “La Vie en Rose”.

Expat in France (or anywhere outside the US) and need to file your taxes?
Good news: you have an automatic extension through June 17. I am using Expatfile again this year to complete mine quickly and easily, and highly recommend it. Click here.

Jean-Marc returns home soon, in time to begin his Provence Wine Tours. Contact him to reserve a date at [email protected]


: to see the positive side of things

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The weather report was wrong. Fortunately, it wasn't pouring down rain, but there were other traveling ennuis when we drove Mom to the hospital for her eye condition. Coming out of Marseille's Prado Carénage tunnel, my daughter blared her horn. “Mais ils conduisent comme des fous!" she gasped, as the car to our right cut over, causing us to swerve.  “You would have never been able to drive here, Mom!”

“Don’t say that, Jackie! It’s discouraging. I'm sure I could’ve driven. I memorized the map all week," I remarked, from the copilot seat. Currently, we were arriving at "that building with the arched windows" and it was just as Google depicted it.  "Turn left at the BMW dealership Jackie!" There it was, exactly as the online photo in Google Maps indicated. 

“You’re a great driver, Jackie!” Jules cheered from the back. You'd never know from her words that Mom was uneasy. By focusing on the positive, she was now a voyager on an exciting ride, instead of petrified. Listening to our passenger, I’m reminded of a title Mom kept on the bookshelf when my sister and I were growing up. Florence Scovel Schinn’s Your Word is Your Wand was eventually replaced by The Holy Bible which we call "The Living Word." I find the French translation fascinating: The Word, which is considered alive and active appears as "Le Verbe" in certain editions. "In the beginning was The Word...Au commencement était le Verbe..." (Jean 1:1)

Words and vision have always been important to Mom. One of the first lessons Mom taught my sister and me was to see things that are not as though they are. Though it was hard for me to see all the D’s on my report card as A’s, or to view my crooked teeth as straight, Mom’s scripture-based wisdom proved itself in the end--with the help of long hours of study and braces. (Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera!)

But back to our narrative in which Mom’s faith-filled eyes are, ironically, suffering from inflammation…

The doctor's assistant had already warned me that the European Hospital was in a bad part of Marseille (I guess BMW thinks as positively as Mom...). Outside our car windows, I saw boarded-up businesses and an automobile repair shop covered in graffiti, a lone pair of jeans dangling on a clothesline above. But from Mom's perspective, you’d think we were in a charming French village and not the gritty city. "I love it here. I've always loved Marseille!

"Mom, hold on to my arm!" I urged after Jackie pulled in front of L'Hôpital Européen to drop us off. “What a beautiful hospital!” Jules enthused. Looking around, I saw patients walking with mobile IV drip bags, others in wheelchairs, and some with canes. All looked pale, but to Mom, they were nearly sunkissed.

Mom winked at the giant security guard at the entrance. Meanwhile, I saw the agent de protection differently and began to envision a band of thugs hurrying past us on their way to ER following another règlement de compte.

“Did you see those handsome men pushing the wheelchairs?” Mom said, pointing to the aides-soignants. “When I check in next month I’ll have them race me down the halls and across the street for a glass of wine at that darling café!" To Mom, even the nearby commerces (including les pompes funèbres, or funeral parlor) appeared otherly. 

Having cleared security, now on our way to the first appointment in section C1 of the hospital, Mom’s enthusiasm ramped up, perhaps along with her anxiety. “This place looks like a resort!” This sunny outlook was beginning to affect me and I could now begin to see the clean, modern lines of the great hall which reminded me of a shopping mall. In fact, we were very close to the popular Les Terrasses du Port shopping center, where Jackie had gone after dropping us off. Why not see this place as a little extension of that? Therefore, Mom and I were only in one of the “department stores.” 

In the hospital’s ophthalmology unit, I pulled a number from the ticket dispenser, ushered Mom to a seat, and began rifling through my bag for administrative forms, for Mom's American passport, her prescriptions, all the while translating any instructions to Mom, in English or to the healthcare workers, in French. While Mom found each étape amusing, I sweated them all. The receptionist called our number and fell instantly under Mom’s charm, and I sighed a breath of relief (Ouf! Mom’s insurance card, set to expire in 4 days, had passed inspection). 

We were in the second waiting room when Mom’s doctor appeared with a bottle of eye drops to dilate her eyes. “Enlevez votre chapeau, s'il vous plaît," the doctor said, to which Mom removed her well-worn Panama hat—but not without a little reluctance. Her trademark chapeau is a little like her shield. I held my breath, wondering, would all of her positivity disappear now?

When next I looked over, Mom was smiling demurely. I could see she was smitten by the doctor! It was at this point that I knew Mom would get through this current trial. If there’s one thing in the world that trumps positive thinking, it’s love! 

And I knew, by the grace from above, I’d get through it too, no matter how many times I stumble as a caregiver.

Standing outside on the gritty curb, waiting for Jackie to pick us up, Mom was filled with gratitude, even as the Mistral threatened to carry off her hat. As she held on tight to her Panama and to me, she beamed. "I'm so proud of you," she said. "I'll bet these doctors are impressed with how organized you were!"

Well, I wouldn’t go that far! But then... Il faut voir les choses qui ne sont pas comme si elles l'étaient


To leave a comment or to offer a correction, click here. Thanks in advance! 

La Vie en Rose t-shirt Sainte Ceciile les Vignes
In theme with today's word "voir la vie en rose", here's a picture from the archives. Jean-Marc, resting at Mas des Brun. His t-shirt is a play on words: "La Vie en Rosé" from Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes.


Today’s sound file may be difficult to hear, but you’ll enjoy the birds in the background. Jean-Marc recorded it for me in New Zealand, and sent it along with this note:

Found some internet to send you this 
It's beautiful and very wild here 
Will be with you in a week now ❤️

Click here to listen to the French vocabulary

voir la vie en rose = to see life through rose-tinted glasses
l'ennui = problem, aggravating factor
Mais ils conduisent comme des fous! = But they drive like crazy people!
le Verbe (Parole de Dieu) = The Word (Word of God)
L'Hôpital Européen = The European Hospital
Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera! = God helps those who help themselves
le règlement de compte = settling of scores
l'agent de protection = security guard
l'aide-soignant, aide-soignante = orderly, porter, nurse's aide
le commerce = business
les pompes funèbres = funeral parlor
une étape = one step (or part) of a process or journey
ouf! = phew!
Enlevez votre chapeau, s'il vous plaît = take off your hat, please
Voir les choses qui ne sont pas comme si elles l'étaient = See things that are not as though they are

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Kristi Jules Jackie car ride

My daughter Jackie, right, is driving (the photo is flipped around) Our expressions tell a story: The nerve-racking ride home from the hospital and a treat at the end: Jackie stopped at McDonald’s drive-thru to get her grandmother a sundae.  

Happy birthday to Ana. As Grandma Jules says, We're so lucky to have you! (Pictured with Max and Loca.)

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alice Shupe

I love that "the Word" is often translated " le Verbe" as God's Word is indeed living and active! That is what enables us to see the world through eyes of faith, strengthening us for each new challenge. Your mom's positive attitude is an encouragement for all of us to see the beauty, the good, the best in others and our situations. Que Dieu vous bénisse tous.

Marilyn Whalley

So heartening that you can be of such good cheer at nerve wracking times. I do hope Jules’ procedure went well. Mazzie


Kristi, if I may offer a small suggestion: une etape is more than a step, it's more a step along a journey whereas a step would be un pas.


Thank you for sharing a beautiful day of a family working together with love. As always - love your picture.

Kristin Espinasse

Laura, Thank you for your helpful note. I will add this to the vocabulary section.


What a wise woman Jules is!! Our attitude is about the only thing in our life that we can control. Our attitude determines the outlook we have on the world and the direction our lives take. It steers our determination, emotions and reactions. In times of illness, it influences how we will respond to treatment. It can be contagious - glad she has passed it on to you. A gift to treasure 😍


You are most fortunate, Kristi to have a mother who, amidst her own struggles, prioritizes the challenges of her daughter and her granddaughter. I hope you tell her that your readers see her as she really is—an example for others who are aging. Joanne


Our dear Kristi ,
My gosh, you three ladies are modern day Three Musketeers! Your faith, your devotion to each other, and your always upbeat attidude are nothing short of an inspiration for the rest of us to try to follow.
Thank you this most wonderful post today.
The only thing I could possibly add to your beautiful words is a quote by Henri
Matisse:" Il y a toujours les fleurs pour ceux que veulent les voir"(" there are always flowers for those who want to see them)"
Arms tight around all of you
Natalia. Xo
Arms tight


Your post this week is a reminder to all of us of how dependent we are and how thankful we should be for so many people who care for our loved ones, the guards, the aides, the doctors and nurses. In helping with visits, doctor appointments for my 92 yr old mother-in-law, I've also gained such an appreciation for my sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. My mother was 71 when she died, so I didn't "have to" be available for her in the same way that we need to be for my mother-in-law, but it really is a gift and lesson in patience for the whole family.
Jules is lucky to have you all.

Sarah LaBelle

Putting Jules’ view of life into that quote from Henri Matisse is great. It is a new quote for me, and one to keep.

barbara michels

The three of you make a lovely bouquet of roses.

Karen in Northport, NY

Hey Jules...❤

Sue J.

You packed a lot in your post -- from le Verbe (that was surprising!) to your Mom's delightful world-view to Jackie's driving you like Mario Andretti in Marseille. A LOT! Keep up the great writing, Kristi. Prayers for Jules' eyes.


Three generations of gorgeous women! And a wonderful outlook on life, Jules leading the band! Wishing all the best to Jules and any procedures that might be needed. Kristin, you are one lucky cookie, with a mother like Jules, and a daughter like Jackie. And, in turn, they are indeed lucky to have you! A good attitude is like a gift from Heaven!

Carole Fitzgerald

I love Jules Positivity , who wouldn,t love her Good luck to her xxx


I’m wishing Jules all the best with her eyes and staying positive. I think many of us could use that outlook. All the best to all of you!

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