We have settled into a second attempt at retirement, this time in The Republic of Panamá. Even life in Panamá is now years old and has its own surprises. Read on.

This website www.petitjardin.com, just like us, has had a few reincarnations. Originally, it was created during the closing years of our professional lives in Chicago to support our Bed & Breakfast in France, Le Petit Jardin de l’Âme. After 12 years of life in France, we moved to Panama, and the underlying premise of life as a garden to be cultivated has grown with us. And so it is that le petit Jardin de l’âme, became Jardincito de Alma, and our little garden of the soul continues into another season.

The website’s new look reflects the years in Panama, 24 years of retirement, 45 years of marriage, and the garden is still a work in progress.


Petit Jardin is the abridged version of Le Petit Jardin de l‘Âme, Little Garden of the Soul. There are many “petit jardins”; restaurants, garden-centers, and quiet peaceful spots for reflection.  Yes, it might describe a place, a garden, but for Linda and for Val, it has come to describe a way of life; some growing, some trimming, some struggle, and some blooming.  

The website, Petit Jardin, began in 1999 to draw travelers’ attention to Le Petit Jardin de l’Âme, their new home and B&B in the south of France. But the seeds were planted years before.

In addition to their successful professional careers in Education, Health care, Psychology and Social Work, in the Episcopal Church, America’s corporate life, and Chicago real estate, they have enjoyed interior design and the renovation of old homes to create spaces of peace and harmony with modern conveniences, but without technical clutter; oases of tranquility for world-weary souls. Without realizing it, they had created such a space in the 1890’s Victorian home they renovated for their first B&B in Chicago; meant to be a sideline to busy professional lives. 

Thirty years ago, Val and Linda decided to retire early.  In 1993, after lots of research, and several trips to France, they purchased a ruin that needed renovation, in the lovely village of Florensac, near the Mediterranean, an hour from the Spanish border in the heart of the Languedoc wine producing area. This was not only a journey from urban, cosmopolitan Chicago to a rural village in a foreign country with a foreign language, but also a deliberate change to care for their souls. 

Living in France, it became clear that retirement can be a very long time. And so, research began to seek a new life in a new land. In 2012, they moved to Panama, now realizing that life is a garden, a work in progress. This “little garden” in Panama, an acre of neglected rainforest, became a palette for flowering tropical plants, dry-stone walls, and mountain streams. Le Petit Jardin de L’Âme, became Jardincito de Alma.

Each year, for 45-plus years, in the beginning of January, Val and Linda review the past year and set new goals for the next. Based on their experience in France, before the move to Panama, they made a conscience decision to reevaluate their choices after ten years. And so, in 2021 they uprooted themselves once again to come full circle; moving to Panama City with its urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle. And this time, chose to grow independent lifestyles, for this part of the journey.

Born in 1948, Val and Linda are among the Baby Boomer generation that has often pushed the cultural envelope, living life in new ways. Their early retirement at age 53 put them at the edge of many in that generation living out their own dreams of a good life in “The Third Age.  The adventure is a journey of many years, in many lands. Each time, they cultivate that little garden of the soul. 


“It is good for the soul
to be uprooted now and again;
transplanted, trimmed and pruned.
And in this, once in a lifetime adventure,
we create a little garden
that nourishes the soul;
le petit Jardin de l’âme,
Jardincito del Alma  ”


Le petit jardin de l’âme


Bright sun & Long shadows


Constellations at Twilight


- on linda’s mind -

Life is a journey. My journey has been and continues to be an amazing experience of growth and discovery through unlearning.

When we, fellow journeyers, were little ones, we were like sea sponges deeply absorbing into ourselves the expectations, assumptions, and messages from the world around us. Messages about how to walk, how/when to laugh—what was appropriate and what was not. Messages from family, church, school, TV, books, pets, plants, city, politicians…. Often, we didn’t understand those messages, but they left a powerful impression deep within. In our teens we began to challenge those messages when something within us resisted. We were assured by others that those messages were appropriate and so we put the intuitive soul messages from within ourselves into the background while we tried to sort the without and the within. When we became adults (18??!!), without our realizing it, we thought that our life work and guide was to honor those messages—or was it?

This blog is going to be occasional (sometimes amusing and sometimes heartbreaking) examples of my experience sorting out those preconceived messages and coming to know my own strong, beautiful, soul.

My life experiences may remind you of your own journey. I’ll be interested in hearing what you discover.

Who chooses?


- on val’s mind -

In the revision of this website for 2023, We wished to create space for our individual content rather than the entire site being a joint venture. Therefore, this site has set up separate pages for Val and for Linda to develop each as they like.

At first, I thought to use this space much as I have used the quarterly Newsletter from Panama. But I decided to keep the Newsletter as it is and use this space differently.

If you are not already on the Newsletter mailing list and would like to receive it send an email to mail@petitjardin.com and I can add you to the list.

I will use this space – On Val’s Mind – to post my reflections, musings, and wonderments from everyday experiences. I will post them periodically when the spirit is willing, and the opportunity arises. Maybe someday they will become a book of meditations, but for now they will be sporadic. So, come to this page often and perhaps you will find something new… possibly inspiring… and at times, maybe even amusing; Little adventures for your soul.


Candide – Make Our Garden Grow


Loving And Being Loved


Wisdom From Oz