Semence: Sowing seeds for a French flower garden
Sacoche - how to say satchel or briefcase (or "man purse") in French

c'est déjà pas mal

Block party in French (c) Kristin Espinasse
"A path of one's own." Our daughter Jackie in 2005, in Queyras. Keep marching toward your dream, My Girl, and don't forget to enjoy the sights along the way! More about our recent pep talk in today's story column. Forward it to a struggling student. (Note: the sign reads "block party".)

A few seats are still available at the Washington DC wine dinner with Jean-Marc on March 20th -- click here for more information.

A word and an expression for you today, as I couldn't choose between the two:

c'est déjà pas mal

    : not bad at all, nothing to sneeze at; it's a good start

The second entry, the term pep talk, goes with today's story. Only I couldn't find a good French equivalent so I'm including these examples found on line (I ran out of time to translate them. If you'd like to help, you can share your translation in the comments box, for all to enjoy).

Mon quart de travail a débuté par un pep talk, discours de motivation du superviseur à son équipe. --L'Actualité, Volume 25

La crise est trop profonde pour qu'un pep talk, un discours « motivateur » ou un cri de ralliement puisse agir efficacement. --Renaitre a la Spiritualite: Essai  By Richard Bergeron

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

"You were laughing in your sleep last night!" I said to my daughter, who is sharing my room while her father is away.

"I love it," I assured her. "Always laugh! Laugh and be positive as much as you can in life."

My suggestion wasn't fazing Jackie, who stared out the window wishing to skip school. "Can't I have just one day off?"

The kids always try to work me when their dad is out of town. Usually they succeed in getting one ditch day each, but as school gets more and more demanding I can't in good conscience give in. Besides, I promised Jean-Marc to keep both slackers on track.

As we drove the country road to school, passing the newly pruned olive trees, I noticed how the ground was covered here and there with pink blossoms. The almond trees were dropping their dainty coats. A new stage was unfolding.

I looked over at my daughter, "Just think. Your career is about to begin! This fall you will be enrolled in fashion studies. You are on your way!" I reached over and patted Jackie's leg.

"Ouai," her deadbeat response was one interminable sigh. I knew what was bothering my girl. She's told me many times before: "Et si je ne réussis pas?"

"Of course you will succeed!" I smiled at my passenger.

There she sat, in her army combat pants and bad girl sweatshirt (no words on the black shirt, just three hand gestures. I couldn't make out their meaning, but the symbols--including a fist--seemed to say Don't mess with me!). On the outside she looked tough but inside she was sucking her thumb. The insecure future loomed ahead of her.

Entering the school parking lot I recognized one of the pions whose job it is to welcome students.

"Je peux me baisser? Can I duck down?" Jackie pleaded to return home to bed.

I knew my daughter was tired, but I did not realize the extent of her spring fever. Now was a good time for a pep talk!

"Look, you need to get to class today. Listen to the lecture and that's half the work! Be kind to your future self--don't make her have to struggle tonight by trying to learn the material all on her own.

Jackie seemed to awaken to the suggestion. Maybe she was finally able to make the listen in class  less work at home connection.

"I could go to permanances and get my homework done..." she considered.

"Study hall... Great idea! You're future self will love you when she is relaxing in front of her favorite program tonight instead of falling to sleep on her math book!"

"But I'm too tired to go to school today!" Jackie said, falling back into her rut.

"Look, Choucou. It may not be obvious to you what all these classes are adding up to. But they are all paving the way to your future freedom! One day soon you will be exercising your dream job--if you will just keep showing up and opening your mind to the... possibilities." (I betted "possibilities" sounded better than "lessons", so I used it trusting Jackie's subconscious to make the switch!)

"Look at me," I chimed on, "I may not feel like working today, but I will go home now and write my column--never mind my lack of energy. This is how I practice my dream of writing for a living. Once I sit down to type the first few lines of my story, I'll get in the groove--and so will you. What's important is to begin!"

I continued with my pep talk, tossing in several points on the power of positive thinking, something, I admit to my daughter, that I still struggle with. "But we have to continually keep our thoughts up!" I cheered.

Kissing Jackie goodbye I quizzed her. "Do you understand what I am saying?" I smiled.

"I'm getting half of it," she admitted." Je retiens la moitié de ce que tu dis."

"Oh..." I said, feeling my spirits sink... until I remembered to take my own advice.

"Mais c'est déjà pas mal!" Yes, that's not bad at all!

To comment on this story, click here. To share your own stories of pep talks and school struggles and positive thinking or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps click here.  

French Vocabulary:
= yah
le pion
(la pionne) = monitor
la permanence = study hall
chouchou = sweetie 


 Yay! Just received an update from Valencia Siff (pictured left) who tells me that Chief Grape's winetasting in Virginia was a success. I'm teary-eyed seeing Valencia's touching message (thank you, V.! P.S. You are beautiful!). A few seats remain for the D.C. tasting. Please check this page with a link to reserve your seat. 

Colorado Provencal (c) Kristin Espinasse
From the photo archives: Colorado in Provence! This site in Rustrel, France, is known as Le Colorado Provençal. Posting it for all our Colorado friends. Naner naner!

Colorado Provencal (c) Kristin Espinasse
Around Rustrel, another lazy French village with crawling roses and sleepy benches. 

Thanks for forwarding this edition to a friend. 

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 (to this new address)
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