Archive for 2015

12/28/15, Goodbye 2015, New Vistas up ahead

Posted on December 28, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope your Christmas, or Chanukah, holidays were wonderful. I had a really terrific time with all my kids, and got wonderful gifts I REALLY loved from them. But the best gift of all was being with them, and sharing family time. We were all so grateful to be together. And our holiday time is almost over. They leave tomorrow, and on Tuesday, I’ll be at my desk, back at work, working on books for the months ahead. So my holidays are drawing to a close. Each one of my kids gave me special gifts, but their presence at home was what I cherished most. One of my daughters gave me gorgeous evening shoes, with “I love you, Mommy” written in sequins in French, and a gold bracelet that says I love you, and a bunch of other lovely presents too. Two of my daughters gave me a beautiful little table from the l950’s, by a furniture designer whose work I love, it has an Asian scene on it, and I put it in the living room. Knowing how I love shoes, several of my daughters gave me shoes I’m crazy about. And another of my daughters gave me two great jade bracelets and a necklace. One of my older sons gave me a fantastic giant poster (about 5 feet high and 5 feet wide) with photographs of 9 antique typewriters, and the words “Mom” and “Love” and other words typed out. And my youngest son gave me a little journal I will cherish forever, where he wrote down his favorite memories with me, of things we’ve done together, and a ski trip we took together about 5 years ago, he wrote down all the things he loves about our relationship, what he admires in me, what he feels I’ve taught him, and the advice I’ve shared. it is an incredible gift of love, and said things any mother would give just about anything to hear. They were all incredibly generous and thoughtful, and we shared some wonderful meals and fun times together. We are all sad to see the holidays end as they pack to leave.
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12/21/15, Miracles

Posted on December 21, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re not totally frazzled, worn out, and unnerved by now, trying to get everything done and wrapped up before Christmas. It can be a frantic time of year, even for the most organized people, a happy time, or a sad one, depending on where we are in our lives at the moment. It will undeniably be a hard time this year for those who have suffered losses of loved ones in some of the violent and tragic events that have caught our attention around the world. For those people, these holidays won’t be easy. My family went through that when we lost my son Nick three months before Christmas several years ago. Christmas was tough, and we struggled to make it the best we could, reaching out to friends, staying close with our family, and trying to make sense of life, and not totally losing our sense of joy at a very hard time for us, despite such a huge loss.

We can’t ignore, and I can’t ignore, the hard public events that have happened in the past year, the unrest all around us, the uncertainties in our future, about safety, disturbing political situations, the economy in almost every country. We don’t live in easy times, and it presents a challenge to each of us, as to how we view it, what we do about it, what we tell our children, how we explain things that even we don’t understand, and that are almost impossible to understand, and in some ways the senseless violence that threatens us all in some form.

What I find is that in many cases, it is driving people back to our basic and original traditions—–rather than disrupting our lives and tearing them apart forever, it is bringing back and strengthening some of the things we hold most dear: love of family, simple values and traditions, the importance of our friends, some of the smallest things and gestures in our lives are suddenly infinitely more dear. In some cases, it is making people kinder and more compassionate, reaching out to others, cherishing their relatives and friends. It makes each moment we spend with our children dearer and more important. The risks in the world today make each day seem like a gift.

Each of us have our traditions surrounding the holidays, Christmas or Chanukah, or customs in other cultures to mark the end of the year, traditions involving gifts or food or friendship or religion, which bring us comfort and give us a solid foundation to stand on. I think that when the world is troubled, the simple basics become more important. Although it’s certainly fun to get a fabulous gift, the kind gesture of a friend, or some small token from someone you don’t know well, a thoughtful reaching out in some way, baking something, giving something meaningful, doing something kind and small, touches the heart deeply.

I read recently “If you want a miracle, be a miracle to someone”, we all have that opportunity every day, to reach out, to be kind, and to pay attention when someone seems in distress or needs a hand. I know myself that whenever I was having a hard time with something in my life, the smallest gesture sometimes even from a stranger, even a smile, becomes meaningful, and can change an entire day.

We don’t have to have lived through tragedy to face challenging times. We all get stressed and pushed, and a day can head in the wrong direction, or we could be coincidentally dealing with major issues in our lives during the holidays. Someone reaching out to you then can change everything, can turn the day around. And at a time when it is easy to feel overwhelmed, like at the holidays, what better time to take a minute to smile, or lend a hand, call someone you know and may not have talked to for a while, or embrace the people you know and are grateful for, to tell our children how much we love them, praise our coworkers or cherish a friend, those are sometimes the most precious gifts to all of us. We may not even realize that someone we know is having a hard time, and your kind gesture may change everything for them.

I love buying gifts for my children and friends, for employees and coworkers and people who have been kind and helpful to me during the year (and my January budget is usually a mess as a result, but it’s worth it), but we forget sometimes what a huge difference a tiny gesture can make. It’s hard to think of it at times, to remember, to take the time and act on it, when we are all busy and stressed, but being a miracle to someone seems like the essence of the holidays to me. Some of the gifts that have meant the most to me are the gestures I least expected, something someone made me, or did for me. I try to remind myself of that when I rush around, trying to get everything done: pick out Christmas trees, decorate them, entertain friends, or do special things with my children that they will enjoy and hopefully remember for years. This year it seems particularly important to embrace our traditions, establish new ones, to reach out with generosity and compassion, rather than turning inward in despair and fear.

It’s up to each of us to set the example, to be a beacon of love and warmth, to shine brightly, to cast light into the world, instead of darkness.

May your holidays shine brightly, may your hearts be warm, and may we each be a miracle to someone in some small way. Our lights combined will light up the world with love and hope. And from the bottom of my heart, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, I thank you for your kindness to me all year, for reading my books, for your letters and comments, for caring about me and my family. May our love for each other, all of us, light the world, just as you light up my days and warm my heart. May you and those you love be blessed and warm and safe during these holidays and always.

with all my love, Danielle

12/14/15, Peace

Posted on December 14, 2015

Hi Everyone,

Everybody is getting ready for the holidays in one form or another, and not to put a damper on the holiday spirit, after recent attacks and violence, it has added another layer of concern to our usual activities. Maybe because I live in France half the year, I’m more sensitive to it, but even in the US, there have been frequent and constant bouts of violence this year, sometimes politically inspired, and sometimes by a disturbed person who went unnoticed, or was thought to be harmless, until they go berserk in a public place and leave a tragedy in their wake.

It is soooo disturbing to read the news right now. It isn’t commonplace yet, and we’re all still shocked at the senselessness of it, but it feels like every day we’re hearing about these events. The tragic recent attacks in Paris, which left 130 dead and 350 severely injured, the heartbreaking attack in San Bernardino, which killed 14 and 18 injured. Another shooting in Michigan….one in Wisconsin. A man went berserk on a London subway and stabbed 3 people. How are we supposed to behave after that? What are we supposed to think? How do you protect yourself or your kids? Do we just act like nothing happened? Do we stay home? Avoid certain public situations? Or try not to think about it? How are we supposed to behave?? » read more »

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12/7/15, “Lucky”

Posted on December 7, 2015

Hi Everyone,

Busy writing again!! You keep me busy!! But there’s nothing I like doing more, so I am enjoying it thoroughly. Funnily enough, when I’m writing, I get new ideas for future books. And when I’m taking it easy and not writing, everything in my head goes quiet. So working seems to inspire me!!! And definitely agree with me.

I wanted to share the story of one of my bracelets with you. I wear a lot of bracelets on each wrist, many of which were given to me by my children, and all of which are sentimental to me, and I never take them off. People ask if they bother me, and I don’t even feel them, I’m so used to them. I haven’t taken them off in more than 20 years (when I had my last baby, the hospital insisted!!). They stay on my arms at all times, night and day!! Among them, I wear an ebony wood bangle bracelet on my left arm that I particularly love. It has 4 oval gold plaques on it with a saying that means a lot to me. Each plaque has a few words on it that forms a sentence, all put together. It says “You have to believe in luck in order to be lucky”. It’s in French, and a limited number of the bracelets were made by a French jeweler, Van Cleef and Arpels in 1970. I’ve seen it a few times in vintage stores, and always admired it. I love what it says!!! The original ones are expensive and hard to find, and a few years ago one of my daughters who works for a magazine told me that Van Cleef was going to issue a few more, in ebony and dark wood. I rushed to the store in Paris, and ordered one each for each of my daughters, and an extra for a friend, who had been trying to have a baby unsuccessfully for several years. I was SO EXCITED when the bracelets came, and gave them to my girls for Christmas, and to the friend. I put mine on immediately, and I don’t like to be superstitious, but I wear it EVERY day and I just love it, and think of it as my ‘lucky bracelet’. I ALWAYS wear it, and have since I got it…..and the friend I gave it to got pregnant the day she got hers, and has THE MOST ADORABLE little girl you’ve ever seen, who just turned two. The story definitely has a happy ending. So believe yourself lucky, and believe in luck, and you will be!!!

I wish you good luck and lots of love, Danielle

11/30/15, Shopping & Parenting, a Work in Progress Forever

Posted on November 30, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I’m busy writing. With a 6 book a year publishing schedule, I have LOTS of writing to do!!!

I had an interesting experience recently, when I went through New York to see my daughters there, we went shopping together, which is always fun for me. And also challenging!! With all 3 working in fashion, they have a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t and strong opinions about what I should wear—–and never wear!!! My perception of fashion is a little different than theirs, I’m older and can’t get away with every trend that comes along, but I also like a touch of humor sometimes, and don’t always want to wear serious Mom-clothes. Fashion needs to be fun too. Sometimes I regret those flights of fancy, and sometimes I really enjoy them. And sometimes I make some lulus of mistakes!!! And my daughters keep me in line. They’re a tough fashion committee to get by sometimes!!! As all daughters are, even if they don’t work in fashion. (You’re going out in THAT??? How many times have we all heard that from teen age daughters? And then they steal it from our closet and wear it themselves!!)

And I guess I wasn’t in a very serious mood the day we went shopping. At the first store we went to, I picked a big red and black checked purse that went with a few things I own. As the girls pointed out, I didn’t “need” it, but thought it would be fun. I got a resounding NO!! on that one, by all 3. I tried on a pair of navy blue patent leather lace up boots that I also thought would be fun. No again, and their verdict was that I looked like an 18th century school teacher. So with some regret, I said no to those. At the second store, they picked out a pair of beautiful sparkly black very high heeled evening shoes which they said I’d wear a lot, and I realized they were right, so I bought them and will probably wear them for years. They are very elegant and grown up, and I’ll probably wear them on Christmas Eve when we dress up for dinner. I also picked out a pair of platform flat shoes and got an instant No on those, and….tried on a pair of high heeled boots with flowers painted all over them that I thought were really fun. The committee voted those down too, but I tried them again and loved them, and bought them anyway. They may be right, and I may never wear them, but they looked happy and fun, so I gave myself a treat. And a moment of defiance of their sometimes stern fashion rules!! The boots are probably silly, but why not? » read more »

11/23/15, Thanksgiving

Posted on November 23, 2015

Hi Everyone,

Wow….how did it get to be the holidays so soon? It was January the last time I looked, and as it does every year, it whizzed by. One minute the year is beginning, you’re planning what you’ll do, and suddenly it’s spring and then summer, and then summer ends and it’s fall. A bunch of kids show up on Halloween, and Zap, it’s Thanksgiving. In five minutes it will be Christmas, you put the lights on the tree, admire it for a minute….then someone is singing Auld Lang Syne, and then you start all over again. So here we are, and here comes Thanksgiving.

To me, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and about friends. Although it is theoretically about family, it is a holiday to welcome friends who have nowhere else to go and might be alone, and to be thankful together. I always think about that phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It’s nice to be the place where people come, and to host it, and also nice to go to one’s friends if one is alone. And this is a good time of year for me to practice what I preach, and remember to be grateful for my family, my friends, (you my readers, and the people I work with), and the many blessings I have. I mean it, and it sounds good, but holidays also get hectic, life gets pressured and stressful, real life doesn’t stop on the holidays, and it’s easy to get worn out, stressed out, and sometimes even upset, and forget to be grateful. Sometimes the problems seem bigger than the blessings.

People in families worry about family battles and family members they don’t get along with. People without families are sad because they’re alone. People who are cooking the turkey and feel like they’re cooking for an army feel put upon (“Why do I always have to do it?”), People who have no turkey, no family, few friends and maybe nowhere to go feel deprived. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Very few people have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, where the turkey is golden, the kids all behave, and the relatives are well behaved and adorable. People are stressed and short tempered over the holidays. There’s a lot to do and take care of.

No one’s holidays are perfect or very few. Sometimes big things are wrong, or only small ones. We remember those who are no longer with us and miss them more acutely.

My older children who are married usually go to their in laws, although one of my older married children will be with us this year, which is rare. My five younger children are coming home, but they have busy lives and stressful jobs, it’s a hassle to come home from far away, their lives aren’t perfect either, but we will be grateful to be together. Gratitude will be very important for all of us, to remember that we are lucky to have each other, no matter what our situations are at the moment. I’m very grateful that my kids are coming home for the holiday. And I know it will be busy and crazy, we will miss my son Nick who is no longer with us, and I’ll just be happy to have my kids home.

And if it gets crazy or too hectic, or things don’t work out perfectly, or if there are hassles at the last minute, I’m going to take a deep breath, and remind myself of how blessed I am, how thankful I am, and how very, very many blessings I have in my life, starting with my kids. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed and wonderful, your relatives well behaved, your friends kind. And if it starts to get crazy, try to be grateful, even for a minute…..we all have something to be grateful for wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whatever our circumstances. I send you all my love, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

love, Danielle

11/16/15, Not Again

Posted on November 16, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I am speechless with grief over the violence in France. I have spent hours talking to friends and relatives in Paris. I am devastated to see the violence, the loss of life, the tragedy, the victims, the terror in Paris. My heart goes out to anyone who lost loved ones, who were injured, and all of those who are now shaken and afraid. It breaks my heart to see the city I love so much, my home, and innocent people, so savagely and senselessly attacked.
It brought to mind the words of General Charles de Gaulle, in June, 1940, the day after France fell and was occupied by the Germans. Posters appeared all over Paris with General de Gaulle’s message to believe in truth and honor, to fight for what is right, and to never, ever give up, and stand by all that we believe in, with faith and courage. It is a message that always brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. It is a love letter to France.

His final words in the message bring to mind the situation France, and the Parisians are in now:

“To All Frenchmen……I ask all Frenchmen, wherever they may be, to unite in action, in sacrifice, and in hope. Our country is in danger of death. Let us all fight to save it!!! Long Live France!!” General Charles de Gaulle (and in the original:….”je convie tous les Français, ou qu’ils se trouvent, a s’unir dans l’action, dans le sacrifice, et dans l’Esperance. Notre patrie est en peril de mort. Luttons tous pour la sauver!! Vive la France!!”)
I pray that peace may reign again in France quickly. God bless all our troubled nations, and keep us safe….

love, Danielle

11/9/15, Facebook Chat coming up Wednesday!!!

Posted on November 9, 2015

Hi Everyone,

busy week last week for me, and a VERY exciting announcement today by my publisher: Starting next month, they are going to publish 6 of my books in hardcover every year, and 6 books in paperback (of books that were previously in hardcover). This is in response to readers asking for More, More, MORE!!! It’s a fantastic challenge to meet and so exciting for me. Since I work on several books a month, I can give you six new books a year!!! I hope you love them!! I will be working hard for you, and can’t wait!!!

How are you?? Doing well, I hope. And doing some things you enjoy. I have a sign in my office that says “Do more of what YOU want to do.” It’s a good reminder. I’m a ‘dutiful’ person and do a lot of the things I think I should do—-and not always the fun things I’d enjoy doing. We have to remember to put fun in our lives too.

This past week has been a busy one, LOTS of writing (in outline, first draft and editing form), seeing some friends, planning for the holidays, some Christmas shopping (Now that IS fun!!! I love shopping for myself and others—-I can have a good time anywhere, even in a hardware store!!)

It was one of my 2 country/3 city weeks, visiting my children, traveling 6,000 miles to do it. That’s a lot of airplanes, I use the time to watch movies, sleep, and catch up on reading!!!

I had a request recently to contribute to a psychiatric book about bi polar illness. My son Nick suffered from it, so I was pleased to add what I had to say on the subject, from a parent’s point of view. Hopefully it will help some parents, trying to support their child meet their challenges.

AND I am REALLY looking forward to our Facebook Chat this week on Wednesday November 11, at 2pm Eastern time. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to answer you directly. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all the posts, but I type as fast as I can, so I answer as many as possible. It’s VERY exciting for me to be in direct contact with you. Forgive me if I don’t get to yours—–I really do my best to answer you. We receive about 2,000 posts in the time allotted, and typing really fast, I answer about 200. I am so grateful to you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts with me.

Holiday plans are shaping up. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and what I am ALWAYS grateful for is your loyalty to me and your kindness.

Have a great week, lots of love, Danielle

11/2/15, Halloween wrap up

Posted on November 2, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. I spent mine glued to my typewriter all week, writing till 4 am every night. I had to leave the house once for a few hours, but normally I don’t go out at all when I’m writing… I was a hard working writer for Halloween!!!

I had to share with you the aftermath of Halloween. We’ve always taken Halloween, and costumes, seriously in our family. When the kids were little, they would plan their costumes for months. Mermaids, witches, Star Wars characters (I was Princess Leia once!!!). And my children have gone on and on and on dressing up on Halloween long after they were children. One of their best ones was one of daughters as a Matador a few years ago, she looked fabulous. They’ve done TV characters, political figures and some truly crazy stuff, all in good fun!!!

This Halloween, one of my daughters was a race car driver, another was a skeleton and looked adorable. And my kids dress up their dogs too. One daughter’s Chihuahua wore a poncho and a sombrero this year, my son dressed his adorable dog up as a Hawaiian tourist in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, and another daughter’s Yorkie was Madonna this year—in a platinum blonde wig!!! My two little Chihuahuas were going to be ballerinas, but since I was working I didn’t dress them. Oops, I forgot!!!

But the real winner this year was my daughter Victoria, who dressed up for Halloween as—–Me!!! I laughed when I saw the picture because she picked up on my all my ‘quirks’. I wear lots and lots of bracelets on both arms, and she said she wore every bracelet she had. My daily ‘uniform’ when I’m working (that’s most of the time) is a black turtleneck sweater, jeans and loafers. I wear reading glasses—-and also distance glasses, and usually wind up with both sets of glasses on my head. I have very long hair, and almost always wear it pulled back in a ponytail, so she did (although I have red hair, and she’s blonde) I wear a necklace with a cross, so she wore that too. Victoria looked a whole lot prettier than I do in all of it…..she looked adorable, and while I was working, that photo popped up and I REALLY laughed—–and I had to share it with you!!

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I hope you had a TERRIFIC Halloween, whether you wore a costume or not!!! Take care!! Have a wonderful week.

love, Danielle

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10/26/15, Bloom Where You Are Planted

Posted on October 26, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, with lots of good things happening, or at the very least a peaceful one. I’ve had another crazy busy week, but am hoping for some quiet time this week to do some writing. My writing times are always a quiet refuge for me, and often a great escape from the headaches of ‘real life’, while I focus on the story I’m writing. But this was a go go go week for me, with a lot to do, and a lot of real life to deal with. Not unpleasant, just Busy!!! I had a friend come to visit for 4 days, which was a lot of fun. We had dinner with friends every night, to introduce her to new people, went to an art fair, visited a fascinating new building which was a wonder of architecture, and did some shopping (a girl can never have enough shoes, which is nearly impossible to explain to a man, “But you already have black shoes”—–yeah, whatever. Don’t even try to explain it to them). I did some Christmas shopping, which I always try to do early, to avoid the crush of shoppers in December. I had a wonderful visit with my God children, and tried to keep up with my work. And to add some spice (and worry) to my week, one of my children was on a business trip to Mexico this week, just when the hurricane was heading there, and I was seriously worried about her. She was just far enough away from the worst of it to be safe, but I watched the weather reports with great concern. (One of my daughters lost her home and almost everything she owned in Hurricane Sandy in New York 3 years ago, so the word ‘hurricane’ terrifies me). » read more »