entretenir de grands espoirs

Are you seeing the broken glass... or the pretty watermelon building in the back? Do you practice positive or stinking thinking?

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entretenir de grands espoirs

    : to have high hopes

Audio File: listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's expression and these words:
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 J'entretiens de grands espoirs! I have high hopes!

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

Say this: "j'entretiens de grands espoirs!" (I have high hopes!) Now say it again, this time with gusto: J'entretiens de grands espoirs!!!

I say this lately, avec ou sans gusto. No matter how green or Gallic the grass is just outside my window, no matter how peaceful the Provençale prairie beyond, I fight a "negative thought" battle all the @*$!#& day long.   

It is a battle of the mind and it takes a heaping helping of "high apple pie" mentality to fight it. Speaking of apple pie, I've put on weight lately....

(And there they go again, the brain "bad guys" that would have me focusing not on others, but on my thighs. That is how they keep us stuck, in a muck, ever convinced we're out of luck.)

Though my mother taught me to identify negative thinking, my thoughts have a mind of their own and, drone drone drone, on they march relentlessly. I think they're out to get me.

And so I write. Funny (sometimes laughable) stories. It helps to keep those unruly thoughts focused by filling up page after blank page, ordering the thoughts lest they find the time to order me.

"Keep a watchman at the gate," Mom always says. I like to imagine an armed soldier, my very own "brainguard" (stronger even than a bodyguard!). As the defeating thoughts approach, my brainguard raises an arm, level with its shoulder. The upright palm at the end of that arm is almost touching the face of the intruder, so close that the intruder could read the wrinkled life line upon it. But the thought intruders are too dumb to be palm readers.

"Halte! L
et me see your papers!" my brainguard barks at the unwelcome thoughts. Because the thought impostors are
by nature (after all, they can think of nothing better to do than to amuse themselves via so much taunting and fearful thought flaunting), they've forgotten to falsify their passports. In fact, they forgot their passports altogether!

Easy as that, my brainguard sends them on their way. But the thought impostors only get as far as the bridge before, piddle brains that they are, they forget why they've headed off. And so they turn back for another attack.

Sometimes my brainguard falls asleep at the gate and I have to come up with other ways to stave off the savages. One of my new favorite weapons is singing. Just sing louder than the voices in your head.

Personally, I fancy the rubber tree song:

...just what makes that little ol' ant think he can move that rubber-tree plant...

After all, we've got to have high hopes if we are to continue to believe in the good that is out there, high apple pie hopes with dollops and dollops of determination.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

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Smokey and Soeurs (c) Kristin Espinasse
  Hang in there! (Smokey and the
soeurettes at 6 weeks...)

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Gail Bowen

I know what you mean about those negative thoughts. I just finished a brilliant book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes called 'Women who run with wolves'. She advises reasoning with negative thoughts. If one is "You never complete anything", respond "I sometimes don't complete projects, but I did complete tasks x, y and z". I think this is better than rejecting thoughts entirely - learn from them if they're useful.

I love your blog. It cheers me up & helps my French :-)


My brainguard pretends to be an expert in judo. She claimed to have a black belt, but she was lying. Sigh........

Merci pour vos mots.


I ride a funny roller-coaster if I'm not careful...up up up...down, down, down. Writing helps me find the middle path.

Mary C

My friends calls these "thought attacks" especially when they get you in the middle of the night.

Bill in St. Paul

My negative thoughts usually arrive 5-10 minutes before I get up in the morning and because I can't seem to "defeat" them causes me to give up and get up - always on work days, however. Love the pictures of Smokey and sibs as puppies.

Sue Klein

J'entretiens de grands espoirs de parler bien en francais ....
Is that positive or negative? One never can be sure.
(my keyboard is american...)

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

True. The one thing you do have control of in life is your attitude. Although there are some days when even putting your lips together to whistle a tune takes outrageous strength of attitude.

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

Thanks for putting in the link to The Secret Door to Success. I like how it states, "There is indeed, a wilderness to pass through before your Promised Land is reached." Somewhere in that statement you should throw in a few mistral winds, too.


Sometimes those negative thoughts just mean you are too physically tired. Love your blog.


J'entretiens de grands espoirs! -

that one day I will know why French has these willy-nilly mixes of singular and plural!
It is "de grands espoirs" and not "des" - and there is a rule for this, of course, one the thousands ...

Love this post. It is the seesaw effect - now you see the horizon and now you don't. But it is definitely there, receding as we approach it, beckoning to follow. What would life be without hope? So on we go - and follow your wonderful blog! Thank you so much for your wonderful posts.

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

Me, again. (thinking out loud here)

I was thinking about how beneficial it must be to be able to write stories about the daily bad/sad/quirky (and maybe even the negative thoughts). It has to help ward off the demons to stand back and look at each scenario or tackle each obstacle as if it's all part of an ongoing and unfolding comedy. - IF the attitude is right to we can potentially remain.... a"MUSED".


Something wonderful is about to happen.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

The "ant and the rubber tree plant" transported me back to my childhood when that song was popular one summer we spent in Laguna Beach. Our family sang that song on our evening strolls. Maybe keeping negative thoughts at bay requires channeling our "inner child." Thanks for bringing back those memories when anything seemed possible by having "high hopes," Kristin.


Hi Kristin-- On a personal note- have you had your thyroid checked lately? At your age, weight gain and mild depression can be a symptom of hypothyroidism. A TSH blood test by your doctor will tell you if it is off-- it should be between .5 and 3.0. I suffered similar symptoms until my doc did the test and my TSH level was 13... as soon as they put me on thyroid medication the negative thoughts started to lift. Hope this helps!


Hi Kristin - if it helps at all to know that you are not alone, know that (down to the mysterious 40th birthday weight gain). I enjoyed your post very much today. I am going to think my own high hopes today for both of us!


Hi Kristin!

Thanks for the photo and your question:
---> Are you seeing the broken glass... or the pretty watermelon building in the back?

To be honest with you, I saw both. The pretty watermelon colour doesn't prevent me from seeing the broken glass … I keep looking at both.
I can also see the paint of the first building looking a bit miserable and in need of care and attention, and at the same time, I cannot miss the bright blue sky of 'high hopes' in the top right corner. I cannot detach one detail and miss all the others.
However, I may, deliberately decide to embellish one detail by changing the mood of my eyes and the chain of my thoughts (if that makes sense to you) – such a procedure allows me to see 'beyond' the simple reality that pleases or displeases me at one particular time, opening up a world with brighter light.

Keep your eyes hooked on the horizon -your 'Land of Hope and Glory' lies just beyond it- while keeping your feet firmly rooted into the ground. It helps!

Linda R.

Good morning - aside from personal email from children in faraway places and friends, your photos and words are the best part of my time spent at the computer.

Today's entry brings another person's encouragement to mind: (what a lot of letters for such a good message)
Christine Kane's acronym SWSWSWSW - Some Will (like what you've said/done/written), Some Won't, So What?!, Someone is Waiting (for just those exact words/deed/gift that you have courageously given) - keep up those high hopes!

p.s. I never could see the broken glass in the photo - time to get my eyes checked I suppose. : )


Hi Kristen,

I see other people have mentioned possible physical problems to you, so I want to chime in and tell you that this took me back about 20 years when I too started having the demon thoughts and emotions. I also started waking up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. This came and went for six years with varying degrees of intensity. My problem was age related and I learned that many women go through this. If you like I can tell you the things I did to help myself, but I don't want to offer advice unsolicited. I hope you have a good day and demon thoughts take a really long break.

Jacqui McCargar

Packing, packing, packing.....As I look around the quasi-emptiness and stacks of moving boxes in my house, I have to keep reminding myself that when one door closes another opens.
Two weeks to go and I find that now I am stalling when packing things that I like to look at on a daily basis, things that remind me of France and that put a smile on my face, memories of good times. I don't want to pack those away!
Hang in there Kristi, put the errant thoughts in a box and close the lid!
Hope to see you in September :)

Ken Boyd

I love todays post .
" my thoughts have a mind of their own " is a line I will use today
with your permission .
Pets [ Cats in my case ] work, gardening , sex, all are determined
agents of stupid thought destruction.
Every day we are alive is a day to celebrate , trite but true .


J'entretiens des grands espoirs qu'un de ces jours, je me retrouverai en France avec mon mari et nos filles!!!!
What a GREAT story today, Kristin. Merci mille fois!

Herm Meyer

Salut Kristin,

This is not an original thought, but life’s highway will have it’s speed bumps and detours. They add excitement to the trip and satisfaction upon arriving at your destination.

A couple “thinking outside of the box type” questions:

Is the glass broken or does the person inside have a different way of opening the window to enjoy fresh air and aromas of summer?

Do a couple of extra pounds make you too fat or too short?

À bientôt


Robin Katsaros

Kristi Babes,
You are JUST what the doctor ordered!! (or maybe that was 'doctor' Jules who ordered it LOL ....) Waking up at about 3:10am every morning with words and thoughts disturbing my sleep, worrying about my 'homework'. I'm making headway but it's tough going. It's so good to hear your positive thoughts. See you Sunday, xo me

Johanna DeMay

Bonjour Kristin,

Sing out! Singing makes you breathe deeply, which is the core of Yoga practice, a path to serenity. And like it or not, the voice carries our emotions. So use it, and set yourself free. Whether you are so happy you feel about to burst, or so sad that you just want to curl up in a ball somewhere out of sight, or anywhere in between, singing will release your emotions, fill your lungs, steady your heartbeat, and bring you back to a place of peace.

As for negative thoughts, they are just symptoms of anxiety. We all have them. They do not mean we are somehow less worthy or less brave or less virtuous. They just mean we're human. We all find ways to deal with them and keep moving forward. So keep singing and writing and sharing your world with us.

And do have your thyroid function checked. My daughter had the same issue in her early thirties; the medications brought her metabolism back into balance, and her life along with it!


Barry doughty

Keyboards are NOT American !!! They are composed in our native tongue ENGLISH...

Pay attention to what Elena said ...she's making a lot of sense

Your writing is a wonderful way to vent and I enjoy it..... it helps me also...keep on , keeping on !



High hopes, high hopes... I didn't know the song of the ant and the rubber tree. I found the lyrics on the internet and now, when I re-read the ending of this newsletter, I get the right image and see all the connections! Great!

In 'Idylls IV, written by the Greek bucolic poet Theocritus, 3rd century BC, Corydon says to his fellow herdsman: 'Be comforted. Good luck comes with another morn; while there’s life there’s hope; rain one day, shine the next' ---> which is the origin of the old French proverb:
“Tant qu'il y a de la vie, il y a de l'espoir”...

However, high hopes may feel unreachable, and may create a lack of certitude in our mind. Uncertainty may generate plenty of negative thoughts. They stand on the enemy side and are an integral part of the destruction game. We all have to keep chasing them, in our own way, lift up our spirit, work hard and do our best, look up for a bit of luck, for things to brighten up, for that change we've been dreaming about. Negative thoughts attack our confidence, widen the gap between us and our hopes and make us tired - so, more vulnerable to further attacks. Vicious circle!

Kristin, you describe your negative thoughts in such an amusing and animated way!... You take us to your own battlefield in bright daylight! These negative thoughts have become fictitious characters, marching out to 'get you' in such a 'picturesque' manner! (a mini story in its own right). The whole scene of the attack, up to the bridge, led by your determined 'brainguard' (who can sometimes fall asleep ...) is brilliantly funny.

May your brainguard/soul keep its strong determination and may your high hopes & wishes turn, eventually, into bright reality (as long as you are not 'asking for the moon', of course).

PS ... still thinking about your fictitious funny old goat wearing espadrilles...

joie  carmel,ca

I see no broken glass. Does that make me a pollyanna? I don't think so. One has to find the balance and sometimes the the scale dips a little to one side. When the negative thoughts cloud the mind just try real hard to remember how lucky you really are. What a good life you are able to live. You are not in poverty, or in a developing country, you have your health and a wonderful family (including Smokey and Braise) go out and smell the flowers.
At a time like this do something decadent entirely for yourself. You do not need to be so hard on yourself. Take a look at how many of us read your blog and take something away from it.
Physically, have you ever seen the masters of art paint a thin woman? I doubt it is a thyroid problem....but, could be that "pre-menapausal syndrome".

Herm Meyer in Phoenix, AZ

Hi Kristin and Newforest,

I wonder about the “espadrille-shoed chèvre” also. Here is something else that needs to be considered: Is it a billy goat or a nanny goat . . . un bouc ou une chèvre? You know how the French are about gender! Also, if there are both children and baby goats in the "Kristin" story, will the kids be able to go out and play with the kids?

How about a goatee? Hmmmm . . . un espadrille-shoed chèvre avec une barbiche! I think we need some sketches.



Hi Kristen,

This quote was recited at the end of a yoga class I took yesterday. When I opened up your email today I thought back to this quote. It is a nice visual for your message I think.

Thoughts are boomerangs,
returning with precision to their source.
Choose wisely which ones you throw.

~ Author Unknown ~

Maria Cochrane

Hi Kristen- the key is to feed your mind with that you can recognize the lies that society AND Satan would have you believe.
Memorizing and meditating on scripture help me. Then I can say with all the force of Almighty God, I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
My verb for the summer is REMEMBER - what God has done in my life, what He promises and what His character is like. That helps fight the lies.
I, too, echo the remarks of your other readers. I love your essays and pictures. And I learn a lot of French. I usually save the phrases to a Word file for me called : New French Words for Maria


Thank you all for the excellent ideas and info. I'll be rereading these messages for the joy and pleasure in it (and for the thoughtful tips and advice, too!).

I wanted to reassure those of you who sent in notes of concern (about depression, etc): no worries. I'm just writing about the highs and lows that we all feel and it is always interesting to learn about how each of us handles things. I learn so much in reading your "take" ("takes"?) on life!

In writing a more personal post there is always the risk of worrying people, which I hope never to do!) I think Karen said it best, when guessed (about why I write):

"It has to help ward off the demons to stand back and look at each scenario or tackle each obstacle as if it's all part of an ongoing and unfolding comedy. - IF the attitude is right to we can potentially remain.... a"MUSED"."

Actually, I had meant to write about the topic of "attitude" (and the need to continually adjust it). But I got off track from the get-go! I'll try to remember to write about attitude in the near future :-)

Thank you all for reading! I hope (yes "hope") to continue to share what's really on my mind... I appreciate your doing the same.

P.S.: sorry not to have answered individually. I am just back from the orthodontists' (for both kids...), then dinner to make (ç y est!), then a few chores... nothing you probably aren't busy doing yourselves :-)

ken boyd

After looking once again, I spotted the broken glass, dont worry
about it , I'm a Glass Artist .... I can fix it . [ although the amber color must go, it's so 70's ]
Ken Boyd
Napa Valley

Diana Butler

I always love your blog with its lovely
pictures and clever ideas. It's like reading a letter from a close friend. Today's thoughts were very good. Combating
negativity, is something I do every day by
talking to myself etc. but it's good to know
that I'm not the only one out there tackling
that problem.

I studied French for a long time and have
kept from losing it by joining francophile groups for conversation and other activities. I think you're very smart and
talented to manage a home and still write
books, and do this blog every day. Losing
weight is very hard for most people, especially when you live in a country that
has wonderful food, but you can do it (just
persuade yourself that you don't like those


What a powerful message! I have been having a lot of negative thoughts concerning French and the state of Tennessee. First, they announced that the Univ. of TN would no longer offer French. They favor Chinese as the more useful language for this day and time. Then the local Memphis paper had an article entitled "Is French fini?". Again, Chinese. So I chose to register at our local university for a French class (while it was still offered) and was told it would take a bit because I was evdently so old my records were "down in the basement", probably molding away. Anyway, my real concern is that the educational system seems to want to nudge the language of culture right off the life raft. Is that happening everywhere?


Loved the blog-yet again! I have been a big believer in possitive thinking for a very long time!! When I have negative thoughts I try to turn them around to be something possitive. And life is to short to look at the broken galss when there is such an amazing building to be seen :)


Kristin-One word, Premenopausal-there-ask your Doc. about this time in a life. The weight gain is not hard to deal with a Zumba dance and fitness class. This is a time when exercise helps with menopause. Also perhapes you have too much on your plate and need to slow down.Have your vision checked too-this is also granny glasses time-June at Superstition


bonjour! Je suis American et j'aprend francaise maintenant. Vous etes une grand aide. Remercie!! J'achete un livre dans Amazon a aide vous. Remercie!

Diane W. Young

Our Dean (Episcopal) said in a homily recently that demons" are not little red creatures perched on our shoulders but negative thoughts, so we need to "exorcise" them with positive thoughts. I know the more I think about the 5 pounds I've gained since last summer, the more cookies I eat. Time to fall in love with fruit instead. It's hard to be a writer and not have negative thoughts because you are very sensitive and tuned in. Your talent takes its toll sometimes.
When all else fails, call in Smokey, the most positive face in town!

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

One of my favorite photos of Smokey and the soeurettes, which brought a smile. That which we focus on becomes greater. Smiling, being grateful and present, keeps the light on inside. With that said, there are dark days where a smile and grateful heart seem a thousand miles away, grateful they are few. Like weather, this too shall pass and resistance makes it so much worse. Perhaps I was in need of a nap, or a walk in the woods or a trip to connect with the outside world.

I love that you share so candidly, Kristi. Your readers comments are the icing on the cake. Enjoyed so many of the suggestions and comments about this post. As I type, a hummingbird is feasting at the honeysuckle outside my window. Merrily, is but a dream.


J'entretiens de grands espoirs, grands amours, grands amis, et belles lettres.
Keep writing, Kristin, you are very talented.


Hi, Kristin.
I love your writings. Cheer up-- I know how up and down we can become, especially as we get "a but" older. Not sure if you are a spirtual woman, but some of your allusions suggest that you are a believer. I echo the blogger who stated that Satan really would try to bring you down and cloud your vision. You are a talented and very blessed person1 When I get especially blue, I quote the Scripyures, or read 2Timothy, or count my blessings inan alphabetical order! Keep writing, and I'll say a little prayer for you!

Ginny Davis

I love your blog, and the photos are always great.
I get mine at work so am not able to obtain outside accesses so when you don't write how to pronounce - which is great - I miss it. Like today.
Love the dogs !

dawn webber

"Blogger Espinasse"! You are on the right track. Thank you for taking the risk. It was worth it!

Your long time fan,


pat sala

salud Kristin!!! your blog on "self image" or the lack thereof is timely and very inspiring...thank you .............Patz Sala

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