The Vas-y Effect. You know this secret to happiness and success...

Bicycle paris hearts
A random photo from Paris. You can never see enough hearts! Keep looking for them, and enjoy the following pick-me-up message.

TODAY'S WORD:  "Vas-y!"

    : go for it!

FRENCH SOUND FILE: Click below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce all 12 French terms in this post. Then scroll down to the vocabulary section to check your French comprehension.

Click here to listen to the French vocabulary


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"The Vas-y Effect"

Coucou and a warm bonjour to anyone reading. I am sitting here trying to calm my mind and figure out where to begin today. So far I have woken up, enjoyed some reading/devotional time, and gone for a walk with my husband). Returning home, I picked up the house (that sounds funny doesn't it? How much does a house weigh?), had a boring bowl of flocons d'avoine and now sit quietly in front of my laptop, trying to stave off panic and doubt. 

There are a dozen directions in which I could go from here (finish an article, begin a chapter, compose this week's blog post...). I could even call it a day--ça suffit pour aujourd'hui!--crawl under the covers and give up on my dreams. Abandonner. But if I am still typing it is because a still small voice whispers: Vas-y!

(Now those are two brilliant words in French: Vas-y! "Go ahead!" as in put one foot in front of the other and move forward.)

Meantime la peur, l'angoisse, le doute--for my work, for my family, for the holidays--it all threatens to steal this moment of concentration. And they say this moment is all we have. The future is made up of moments just like this one. We never reach that happy/balanced/focused place. We must uncover it here and now. Doing so involves risk. The risk of trying. Trying involves effort. And effort involves la volonté or will. Are we willing? At the very least are we able...

...to do what we need to do right now to be at peace, to find release, to be free...?

There is no denying we are capable. But do we want to? Yes, we want to move forward (but aren't we going in circles now? We spend so much time going round and round that the initial effort we so resisted would be done by now)! So it's discipline then? Discipline is the key to happiness??

Yes! Discipline does lead to happiness in my experience!

Well, thank you for listening to all that. I needed a personal pep talk this morning. And now my daughter has returned from some errands and says she has something to show me. I go downstairs and see a bounty of groceries. "I know you have la crève and it is not easy to cook... so I got choucroute for lunch...and there's plenty for dinner! And there are kiwis and crêpes and hot chocolate and..."

And I will end on that happy note! I do believe we are rewarded when we take the first steps towards our dreams/goals/or nagging to-dos. Trust the process, I tell myself, again and again. Now, off you go, dear reader, to face the moment. Vas-y! Vas-y!

***
Hearts and Smokey
While looking for "hearts" in my photo archives, I found this sweet soul, Smokey.

*The "devotional" I mentioned in the story, and highly recommend is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

vas-y! = go for it
coucou = hi there
bonjour = hello
les flocons d'avoine = oatmeal
ça suffit pour aujourd'hui = let's call it a day
abandonner = to give up
la peur = fear
l'angoisse = anxiety
le doute = uncertainty, doubt
la volonté = will (to do something)
avoir la crève = to have a bad cold
la choucroute = sauerkraut

Heart leaf
Enjoy your day and keep looking for the hearts in it. See you next week! For more calming thoughts, read Desiderata again in French and in English.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Rien qu'aujourd'hui (Only for Today): A "How To" for difficult times

Poppies and our wild gardenDuring 10 challenging years at two vineyards (before moving to this peaceful, postage-stamp garden where our wine memoir is underway), I kept a copy of today's mind-centering thoughts in my purse. In uncertain times, such words may be helpful to you, to your family, or to your friends.

ONLY FOR TODAY...
RIEN QU'AUJOURD'HUI

Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’essaierai de vivre ma journée sans chercher à résoudre le problème de toute ma vie.

Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je prendrai le plus grand soin de me comporter et d’agir de manière courtoise ; je ne critiquerai personne et je ne prétendrai corriger ou régenter qui que ce soit, excepté moi-même.

Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one. Aujourd’hui je serai heureux, rien qu’aujourd’hui, sur la certitude d’avoir été créé pour le bonheur, non seulement dans l’autre monde, mais également dans celui-ci.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je me plierai aux circonstances, sans prétendre que celles-ci cèdent à tous mes désirs.

Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul. Rien qu’aujourd’hui je consacrerai dix minutes à une bonne lecture en me rappelant que, comme la nourriture est nécessaire à la vie du corps , de même la bonne lecture est nécessaire à la vie de l’âme.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je ferai une bonne action et je n’en parlerai à personne.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’accomplirai au moins une chose que je n’ai pas du tout envie de faire, et si on m’offense, je ne le manifesterai pas.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’établirai un programme détaillé de ma journée. Je ne m’en acquitterai peut-être pas entièrement, mais je le rédigerai. Et je me garderai de deux calamités: la hâte et l’indécision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je croirai fermement – même si les circonstances attestent le contraire – que la Providence de Dieu s’occupe de moi comme si rien d’autre n’existait au monde.

Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je n’aurai aucune crainte. Et tout particulièrement, je n’aurai pas peur d’apprécier ce qui est beau et de croire à la bonté. Je suis en mesure de faire le bien pendant douze heures, ce qui ne saurait me décourager, comme si je me croyais obligé de le faire toute ma vie durant.

Note: My copy (the one in my purse) of "Just For Today" was a gift from A.A. The original text is from Le décalogue de la sérénité de saint Jean XXIII 

Jean-marc heidi doug kristi
New York, 2008. Jean-Marc, my sister Heidi, Doug, Kristi. Thank you very much for your words of sympathy following my brother-in-law, Doug's, passing.

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
This image (taken here in La Ciotat) always brings a peaceful feeling. Enjoy, take good care, and à bientôt.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Desiderata Poem in French and English: Lifechanging Words

Jackie-in-marseilles

Our 16-year-old set out, yesterday, on a 24-hr voyage. Alone, she flew from Nice to London, then London to Dallas, and on to Denver. Unsure of what to say to my daughter before she left, I slipped the following poem into her travel bag. Photo taken at the Vieux Port in Marseilles, on break from her internship at a couturier's. 



 "D E S I D E R A T A" by Max Ehrmann

Allez tranquillement parmi le vacarme et la hâte
Go placidly amid the noise and haste

Et souvenez-vous de la paix qui peut exister dans le silence
Remember what peace there may be in silence

Sans aliénation, vivre autant que possible en bons termes avec toutes personnes
As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons

Dîtes doucement et clairement votre vérité; et écoutez les autres, même le simple d'esprit et l'ignorant, ils ont eux aussi leur histoire.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Évitez les individus bruyants et agressifs, ils sont une vexation pour l'esprit.
Avoid loud and agressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

Ne vous comparez avec personne : vous risqueriez de devenir vain ou vaniteux.
If you compare yourselves with others, you may become vain and bitter.

Il y a toujours plus grand et plus petit que vous.
For there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

P1100599

                                           "Trampoline" photo of Jackie taken in 2011

Jouissez de vos projets aussi bien que de vos accomplissements.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Soyez toujours intéressé à votre carrière, si modeste soit-elle
Keep interested in your own career, however humble

C'est un véritable atout dans les prospérités changeantes du temps
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Soyez prudent dans vos affaires car le monde est plein de ruses
Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery

Mais ne soyez pas aveugle en ce qui concerne la vertu qui existe ;
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

Plusieurs individus recherchent les grands idéaux ;
Many persons strive for high ideals;

Et partout la vie est remplie d'héroïsme.
And everywhere life is full of heroism

Soyez vous-même. Surtout n'affectez pas l'amitié.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.

Non plus ne soyez cynique en amour
Neither be cynical about love

Car il est en face de toute stérilité et de tout désenchantement aussi éternel que l'herbe
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass

Jackie-bike

Prenez avec bonté le conseil des années,
Take kindly to the counsel of the years

En renonçant avec grâce à votre jeunesse.
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth

Fortifiez une puissance d'esprit pour vous protéger en cas de malheur
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune

Mais ne vous chagrinez pas avec vos chimères.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings

De nombreuses peurs naissent de la fatigue et de la solitude.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness

Au delà d'une discipline saine, soyez doux avec vous-même
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself

IMG_5496
                               Jackie, 7 years old.

Vous êtes un enfant de l'univers, pas moins que les arbres et les étoiles;
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

Vous avez le droit d'etre ici.
You have a right to be here.

Et qu'il vous soit clair ou non, l'univers se déroule sans doute comme il le devrait
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

La Ciotat 8.16.03 047

                                  With my daughter, 5 years-old then...

Soyez en paix avec Dieu, quelle que soit votre conception de lui
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be

Quels que soient vos travaux et vos rêves,
Whatever your labors and aspirations

Gardez, dans le désarroi bruyant de la vie, la paix de votre âme.
In the noisy confusion of life, keep at peace with your soul

Avec toutes ses perfidies, ses besognes fastidieuses et ses rêves brisés,
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams

Le monde est pourtant beau ;
It is still a beautiful world;

Prenez attention.
Be cheerful.

Tâchez d'être heureux.
Strive to be happy.

 

Almond-blossoms

 

Jackie riding a donkey in Southwest France

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


sourire

Mamy In The Window (c) Kristin Espinasse

Smiles and good wishes for all today. Isn't that what's needed? The following French poem was spotted in the neighboring village of Rasteau. Some "happy nester" had taped it to their front porch window.... Thank you, Newforest, for translating the text. (When you have read the poem, you might come back and visit the Mamie in the window above: click here...) 

***

"Le sourire" (smile)... we have visited this attractive word before (here and here)... so I searched for a synonym (in English we have "a grin" (a big smile that shows your teeth) and "a beam" (a wide, happy smile)... but all I could find in French was "une grimace" (which didn't seem like a match to me!) So sourire it is and sourire it will be! Enjoy the following poem and remember to put on a smile ce weekend.

"Un Sourire"
"A Smile"

(Note: listen to the Jean-Marc read this text: mp3 or wave

Un sourire ne coûte rien et produit beaucoup,
A smile does not cost anything but produces so much*,

Il enrichit ceux qui* le reçoivent,
It enriches the person who receives it

Sans appauvrir ceux qui le donnent.
without impoverishing the one who gives it.

Il ne dure qu'un instant,
It lasts only a few moments,

Mais son souvenir* est parfois éternel.
But its memory may sometimes last for ever.

Personne n'est assez pauvre pour ne pas le mériter.
Nobody is poor enough not to deserve it.

Il crée le bonheur au foyer, soutient les affaires,
It creates happiness at home and sustains businesses,

Il est le signe sensible de l'amitié.
It is the visible sign of friendship.

Un sourire donne du repos à l'être* fatigué.
A smile brings rest to the weary soul.

Il ne peut ni s'acheter, ni se prêter, ni se voler,
It cannot be bought, nor can it be loaned or even stolen,

Car c'est une chose qui n'a de valeur
For it is something which has value

Qu'à partir du moment où il se donne.
Only from the very moment it is given.

Et si quelquefois vous rencontrez une personne
And if sometimes you meet someone

Qui ne sait plus avoir le sourire...
Who no longer knows how to smile...

DSC_0020
                         (Left: Smokey's Dad, "Sam", sans sourire...)

Soyez généreux, donnez-lui le vôtre!
Be generous, give him yours!

Car nul n'a autant besoin d'un sourire...
As no one is more desperate for a smile...

Que celui qui ne peut en donner aux autres. 
Than the one who is unable to give a smile to others.

 *poem by Raoul Follereau (1902-1977), who established World Leprosy day and who, throughout his life, shared his compassion for victims of leprosy--as well as for victims of poverty, indifference, and injustice.

Le Coin Commentaires
Join us now, in the community corner. Respond to today's message, offer a correction, or ask each other questions about French or France--this is your chance! Click here to leave a note

 And don't miss this lovely poem, by William Weber. You might offer your translation in French...

Newforest notes:

* (but produces) so much* - or: 'but produces a great deal'

* “ceux qui” = 'the people who', but I left it singular: the one who)

* "l'être" = the human being – here, I translated by -> 'the soul'

* "son souvenir est parfois éternel". I could have said: 'its memory may be eternal' but I decided to repeat the verb to last, so here is my choice: its presence may sometimes last for ever.

Merci encore, Newforest, for translating Raoul Follereau's "Sourire" poem.

 

Thank you for sending your in your wishes, in response to the "seisme" post (here). Here is a "word cloud"... made entirely from your messages of support (to view messages, or to add your own, click here) : 

 

Capture plein écran 18032011 065107

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


haut les coeurs!

"Heart in Burgundy" (c) Kristin Espinasse
Current events have us wearing our hearts on our former façades... and it's a good thing, n'est-ce pas?

haut les coeurs (oh lay ker)

    : lift up your spirit, take heart, be brave! have courage!


Thank you, Carolyn Foote Edelmann, for today's French expression: Carolyn writes, in response to Monday's seisme post:

Small thought - watching their dignity and fortitude, I think [the Japanese] may not want to be called 'victims'.

My Provencal neighbors had a phrase which sounded to me like "o, liqueurs!" - but was, in fact, HAUT LES COEURS! - [High the hearts]... I love it that this word, in France, implies "to infuse with courage".

Thank you for linking those of us who love France with a country I am taught to love (having lived through Pearl Harbor) as I never thought I would, watching their fortitude in the face of the impossible.

 

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

Universal Love

I am rooting through the medicine chest, looking for the small blue box that contains my mouth guard. I haven't worn the protective shield in over a month, but I need it now. Teeth grinding is up, along with that ticky tremblement just beneath my eyelid. Twitching and grinding - it is the body's way of responding to those things that are out of its control: like our dog's destructive behavior, like Japan, like Mother Nature.

I grab the small blue box and pry it open... when something flies past me... landing with a TING!  I bend over, narrowing my eyes, ignoring the annoying tremblement de la paupière. 

I see a heart lying there, on the floor... t'was a heart that had fallen out of that toothbox...

Suddenly it all comes rushing back to me...

I see myself back in Mexico, packing my bags. I see my mom reaching to hug me. I hear her voice: "I've put a little surprise in your toothbox... open it up when you are on the plane."

I'm on the airplane now... reaching into my backpack for the blue box. I open it up and there, beside the plastic tooth guard, is the tarnished locket-heart.

I hear Mom's explanation when I call her that evening to thank her.

"It was a gift," she says.  And she tells me the story of the bus ride, when the Mexican "street man" stepped on board. 

Listening to the poor passenger who had taken the seat behind her, Mom sympathized, pointing to her own losses: she took off her hat and pointed out her thinning white hair. Then she pounded on her chest, pointing out her missing breasts!

When she put her hand on her hip, the man could not possibly know about the once broken bone. Mom didn't have the Spanish words to tell him.

And so, without translation, the odd couple on the bus shared their rotten luck, without drama, without fuss. And when Mom stood to get off the bus, so, too, the Mexican man stood up.

Humblement, the street man reached into his frayed pocket and pulled out the little tarnished heart-locket. He closed Mom's hand over the gift, before sending her off with a mutual heart-lift. 

***

Standing there in the bathroom looking down at the treasure in the palm of my hand... I feel the quiet peace that has swept in all around me. The world outside the bathroom door might be in a state of chaos. But I no longer feel swept up in it, shaken or tossed. 

 

 Le Coin Commentaires
To comment on today's word or photo--or to ask our cozy community a question--click here to access the comments box. Corrections to French/English text most welcome.

  

  July2005 039

Mum's the word! Jackie (pictured sans maquillage, age 7) thanks you for your feedback on her story! She's written three more articles... one of which is très "edgy". (She doesn't seem to have a problem with self-censorship, as her mother does!) I warn her that posting the story might get her kicked out of school. Her roll-of-the-eyes response? "Et alors, la liberté d'expression? What about freedom of speech?" 

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. Paypal or credit card
3. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety