Archive for 2017

6/26/17, Nobody until…..

Posted on June 26, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope your week is off to a great start!!!

I don’t know why, but I thought of a song the other day….a very old song, I think it was already an old song when I was a kid. But when I thought of it, the words really jarred me, “You’re Nobody until Somebody loves you”. As I thought about it, I thought what an unhealthy philosophy that is, and how damaging it can be. And I think we’ve probably all felt that way at some point. We’re in a slump, there’s no one in our life (romantically), and we feel like nothing and no one. I’ve had moments like that myself. But the song crossing my mind really reminded me to watch out for that pitfall!!! I used to take weekends off, and not work, when I was married. I spent every weekend doing things with my husband, and kids when they were young. I wouldn’t have dreamed of working all weekend!!! Now I’m not married, and my kids have grown up, so I work on most weekends. Okay, okay, ALL weekends. (It’s quiet then, and no one interrupts me while I write).

I go on vacation with my kids once a year, but I can’t imagine going on vacation alone. (It wouldn’t be much fun). And I don’t like going to restaurants or movies alone either (no one to talk to at a restaurant, or share popcorn with at the movie). I think sometimes we let the idea creep into our life that we don’t deserve fun times if someone isn’t madly in love with us. Being loved makes us feel so worthy and worthwhile, so deserving. I like working when I’m alone because it fills the time and distracts me and the days fly by—but I could go for a walk in the park, or a drive, or a museum, or an exhibit of something on my own—I don’t have to wait for someone to be in love with me to do that!!.

I don’t like the idea that we don’t feel deserving of something because we’re not currently in a romance, and when you think about it, how awful to feel like we’re ‘nobody’ until someone loves us. I’m not nobody. You’re Not Nobody!!! Mulling it over made me want to treat myself to something, to do something special, and treat myself—I don’t have to wait for someone else to do that, or to have permission to feel special.

We’re ALL special, and we’re ALL somebody—somebody special and different and important in the world. So treat yourself well, and do something nice for yourself today. I might just take the weekend off!!! I hope you have a GREAT week!! You deserve it!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Music, Relationships | 3 Comments

6/19/17, A Perfect Life

Posted on June 19, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope your life is running smoothly, and that you’re looking forward to summer plans that will be fun for you. I’m looking forward to a vacation with my children in July, and a long week end with them in August when they’ll all come home. The time with them is always precious—-and always feels too brief.

I’ve been dashing around a lot lately, writing, finishing some projects, trying to clear the decks a little to relax (not my strong suit) in the summer, and just keeping on top of all the unexpected things that crop up on a daily basis that we all deal with (disgruntled employees, kids with a problem to solve, things that break and have to be repaired, plans that change). I was running from one meeting to another the other day, when a little dish I have caught my eye. A Christmas or two ago, or maybe it was a birthday, my youngest son gave me a little dish with a saying on it “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful”. I loved it when I got it, and it resonated for me. I notice it occasionally, but the other day it really struck me again, for the profound wisdom of it. Recently, I answered a Q and A for a magazine where they asked me to describe myself (gorgeous, young, tall, fabulous figure, thin, wise, genius, charming, patient, adorable at all times, wonderful cook…..oh? what? is there a problem? you mean, that’s not me?? damn….). It was a short list, and I wrote “perfectionist”, which is, unfortunately, true.

All my life, I have striven to make everything in my life (and the life of those I love) perfect. Since the birth of my first child at nineteen, I have wanted to give my many children a perfect life, safe and secure, shielded from all problems, happy all the time, wise, sensible, making good decisions, with none of the heartbreaks or disappointments in life. And we all know that just can’t happen. They’ve lived through two (of my) divorces, one from their father, which was sad for us all. One of their siblings died when most of them were very young, a tragedy. And despite a wonderful life, they have experienced in their own lives, all the challenges that everyone faces of failed relationships, difficult jobs, losses, and the betrayal of friends. No matter how much I love them, I can’t make their life perfect, but wish I could. And even now, I do all I can to try to help them solve their problems, or avoid them, and make their life as smooth as possible. But their lives are not perfect, nor is mine. I work hard, very hard, to make my books as perfect as I can. I want my homes to look perfect—-when I return to either of my cities, I unpack the night I arrive, and by morning, I want it to look as though I never left (stupid, I know). I rarely go to bed at night before finishing all the work I had to do, and try to clear my desk. I write lists, by week and day, of all the things I ‘have’ to do, and once on the list, I think it’s set in stone. I can’t stand mess, in my life, in my house. I want my employees to behave, do their jobs well, and be happy in their jobs. I want things to look nice, and for life to be perfect—-good luck with that!! Perfection is elusive, and there is always something out of whack….a child whose life isn’t going well, a colleague (or boss) who creates a problem, something that falls through, the car breaks down, you crack a tooth, a vacation doesn’t go as planned, a flight gets cancelled….something comes up almost daily in all our lives that interferes with the smooth sailing of our lives, and we all think that when a relationship improves, or a romance begins, or ends, when our kids behave better, when a legal problem is solved, or we find the right home, or can sell the house we need to, or buy the one we dream of, or meet the right man or woman…..then life will be perfect And then, what do you know, just when we get it all on track, a new problem crops up, or a bunch of them. Perfection just isn’t going to happen. Life is messy. But just as unexpected problems land on us—-so do unexpected joys, blessings, and wonderful things do happen, even miracles sometimes.

That little dish with that profound message really is true. Life can be wonderful EVEN if it’s not perfect. It’s a great reminder for me, and maybe for you too. Life can really be wonderful, even if the airline misplaced your suitcase, your vacation plans fall through, the dog is sick, your partner is being a jerk this week, you didn’t get the raise you wanted, or the new apartment, or you haven’t met the man or woman of your dreams yet, or you had an argument with a child (oh? you too??)—–life is and can be really wonderful. Something great may happen to you today, the house may be a mess, or your desk, or even your life at times, but if you stop waiting for EVERYTHING to go right and all the problems to be solved, life really can be so wonderful!!! with so many things to be grateful for.

It’s a great reminder for me, not to chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (and the resolution of all problems, striving for perfection), and to look up and enjoy the rainbow overhead. And there are so many rainbows along with the problems!!! Life isn’t perfect, but it sure can be terrific.

That same son also gave me a dish that says “Cocoa is a plant, so chocolate is salad” (YESSS!!!) and another one that says: “Calories are little creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes tighter every night”. He’s such a smart boy!!!

I hope your life is wonderful today, and to hell with perfect. And for all you fathers, I hope that Father’s Day was great yesterday and that you had a lovely Father’s Day and were properly celebrated.

much love, Danielle

Filed Under Family | 3 Comments

6/12/17, One Love

Posted on June 12, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope things are going smoothly and happily for you.

I was so touched by something last week that I just wanted to share it with you, although I’m sure you know about it too.

After the recent terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, with many injuries and deaths—– Ms. Grande organized and performed at a benefit concert in Manchester on June 4th, the proceeds to benefit those injured at the original concert.  It was a star studded, and deeply moving evening with performances by Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Black Eyed Peas, and Robbie Williams, and other performers and bands. Fifty thousand people attended, and THIRTEEN million dollars were raised, from donations and ticket sales, with more still coming in. The response was overwhelming, and the cause so worthwhile. Ms. Grande has volunteered to pay for the funerals of those who died in the attack. The One Love Manchester concert was such a brave and heartwarming thing to do, appreciated by all.

I saw a video of the concert and in particular her final song, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Watching her perform, seeing her cry, seeing tears running down the faces of the people in the audience, it ripped my heart out and I just sat there and cried.

My niece was gravely injured in the terrorist attack in Brussels a year ago, but has survived, with incredible spirit and courage. So many others have been injured and have died in these horrifying senseless attacks. More attacks in London recently, after the carnage in Manchester. Another stabbing. New attacks in France only this week—-with a hammer, with machetes. The Bataclan attack, Nice last summer. When will it stop? Where is this taking us? How long will fear and terror and senseless destruction impact us and control us?

This has to stop. Somewhere Over the Rainbow has to be Now. The pain of lost loved ones and devastated lives HAS to stop. May One Love Manchester, and the loving gesture of Ariana Grande put balm on the wounds and get us back on the right path. Now. Kudos and my admiration to Ariana Grande, and once again my heartfelt sympathy to those who suffered injuries, or losses in Manchester, and all of the attacks.

with all my love, Danielle

PS reading your very touching comments to last week’s blog, about the foundation we established in my son’s honor:

I just want to tell Laura how very, very sorry I am about your nephew. You have my very deepest sympathy. And only a month later, you are probably still in shock about the loss. These tragic deaths by suicide are very hard to live with. I came to realize that, although we did absolutely everything we could to save Nick and help him, in the end, it was his decision and we couldn’t stop him. He once said to me “If I want to do this, Mom, you can’t stop me”. He was right, we couldn’t, we tried very hard. In some cases, you can turn the tides, but in other cases, you can’t. Try to know that you couldn’t change what happened, it wasn’t in your control, it was in his. You will always miss him, but in time, you will feel more peaceful about it. The loss is huge, but in time, you will laugh and smile when you think of him, remember silly things he did, and fun times you shared. Those we love and lose stay in our hearts forever. My deepest sympathy to you, love, Danielle

And to Keyla, who “feels so lost that nothing makes sense”, and asks what to do when you feel that way. The answer for each of us is different. For some it is medication which helps, for others its religion, for others talking to a friend, or a counselor or therapist. A friend may bring you comfort, or cuddling a pet, or a loved one may say things that resonate for you, or a 12 step group, a support group of some kind, or exercise, or going for a walk every day, or yoga. The answer is different for each of us. Try to reach out for what makes the most sense to you, and just as life seems worse at times, it also gets better. Hang on for that time, and try to find what feels best to you, and makes your life better again. love, Danielle

6/5/17, Foundation

Posted on June 5, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a nice holiday last week, and a good week after that. I got to do something that I do anywhere between two and four times a year, that is always rewarding, touching, and fascinating. When my son Nick died, I wanted to find something meaningful to do in his name. I also wrote a book about him, to honor him, and share my experience with other parents. Nick suffered from Bipolar Disorder, it became evident by the time he was 4 years old, although at the time, they did not diagnose the disease in young people until they were 18 or 20, and medicated and treated them only then. Today, they diagnose children as young as three years old, and begin therapy and treatment then, which is now believed to help the disease become more manageable. The longer it goes untreated, the more it has lasting effects on the brain. And although, there was plain evidence that he was bi-polar, and I was begging for help, he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 16, which was even considered early then. He was started on lithium immediately, and within a month, he said he felt normal for the first time in his life. It was wonderful to watch him thrive and flourish, it had been a hard road for him, and for us until then. Once treated, he had a rewarding career in music, was an avid student, and a charming, funny, bright talented person, who enjoyed many things about his life. Until he had treatment, things were pretty bleak, and we tried everything we could to help him. People who suffer from bi polar have severe ups and downs, deep paralyzing depressions, which alternate with euphoric highs. He tried getting off his medication, because he felt so ‘normal’ on it, and ultimately he attempted suicide four times, succeeded on the fourth try, and died at nineteen. It’s amazing how you can squeeze a whole person, their life history, and the course of an illness into one paragraph!! He was an absolutely remarkable, incredible boy, vastly loved by his family, and we miss him every day. But he also brought us immeasurable joy, he enjoyed big parts of his life, loved his music career, became successful at it—–and after his life, he has helped thousands of people through the foundation we set up in his name, not to provide individual help which we aren’t trained to do—but the Nick Traina Foundation funds organizations providing hands on treatment and therapy to mentally ill people. We also donate to organizations involved with the victims of child abuse, and other organizations engaged in suicide prevention. So many, many people have been helped in Nick’s name.

When I wrote the book about him, to share his life with others in similar situations, to help other parents, and sufferers of the disease—-I didn’t want to profit from the success of the book, so I assigned some of the proceeds to the foundation. The book, “His Bright Light” continues to fund the foundation, along with private donations.

Two to four times a year, the Board of the Foundation meets, and we go over grant requests from organizations in our area, who are working with and helping the mentally ill. We do on site visits to see the organizations in action and better understand what they do, and together the Board considers the requests, and decides who to give the foundation’s money to. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been doing it for 20 years now—it’s even harder to believe that my son Nick has been gone for that long, but he seems ever present in our lives, with the wonderful memories we have of him, the love we shared, and the work we do in his name.

So we met last week with a stack of grant requests—-we take them very seriously. There are three doctors on our board, two of them psychiatrists, and all of whom knew Nick. We have a lawyer, a finance man, one of my daughters, myself, and the foundation secretary, and we all put a lot of time and thought into who we give the grants to. And we contribute to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, to assist musicians who need our help, since Nick was a talented singer, lyricist, and musician. It is incredibly touching to read the material sent to us, and to learn more about the organizations we contribute to, all of them set up to assist the mentally ill, and people, often young people, who have suffered as Nick did. I wish we could give to all the organizations that apply, but we can’t, and we give to as many as we can. The Board Meetings are lively, dedicated, and serious, and we try to donate in the best possible ways we can.

So Nick has been responsible for some very good work, even after he left us. There have been free beds in youth shelters and some hospitals, treatment, therapy, hot lines for suicide prevention, emergency mobile units, and assistance to the mentally ill among the homeless, and a scholarship in his name. It always warms my heart to be at the board meetings, and know that Nick is responsible for helping literally thousands of people over the years. It’s a lovely way to honor, remember, and continue to cherish him.

Have a great week ahead!!

much love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Kids | 6 Comments

5/30/17, “The summer begins…”

Posted on May 30, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day, and had a long weekend!!!

Memorial Day is when we remember those fallen in combat and war, a serious holiday, but it is also the very beginning of summer. It’s not hot everywhere yet, but the weather is warmer, and for many people it’s their first weekend away, to mark the beginning of summer. Every year we scrubbed and cleaned and painted and organized our country house for the summer, and I helped my children do that two weeks ago. It’s fun to get everything ready for the summer. I spent the weekend writing, but I love knowing that summer is just around the corner and I’ll take some time off soon—not quite yet though. I took a few days off last week to read a book and enjoyed it, but I’m back at work now. So my summer hasn’t quite started yet, but I’m looking forward to it!!

I hope you got to enjoy the three day weekend. Children will be out of school soon, and parents will be busy keeping them entertained all summer, and I hope you’ll be able to take some vacation time this summer, to sleep late, go to the beach, or lie in a hammock and read. What a heavenly thought!!!

I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer, and hope you are too!!! I worked hard writing books all winter!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the victims of the attack at the concert in Manchester, England. So troubling and so heart breaking to think of young people being targeted for an attack like that, or anyone. So cruel. I hope we see the end of events like that soon. And my thoughts are with the victims, and their families, and the injured who will have a long road to recover. My prayers are with them. This is an unseen war, which explodes periodically, attacking the innocent, in this case, young people, teenagers and children. Our Memorial Day should include them too. May our troubled world come to a place of peace soon.

Have a terrific, peaceful, safe, happy week!!!

love, Danielle

5/22/17, Reese!!

Posted on May 22, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve had a fun, varied, busy one. A wonderful Mother’s Day with my kids a week ago, and busy days since then. I’m in a frenzy of spring cleaning, cleaning out closets, getting rid of clothes I don’t wear (some very entertaining—-and embarrassing—-fashion mistakes, where I manage to forget both my height (5 feet 1 and a half inches!!) and my age, or some trendy things I never should have bought.) When I clean out my closets, I give the best of what I find to my five daughters, give a choice piece now and then to a friend, and sometimes donate or sell the rest. Every May, I spend a couple days with one of my daughters cleaning and scrubbing and refreshing the country house that five of my children share, which they own now, and where we spent summers when they were growing up. The place is 160 years old, and its hard work keeping it in good order, but I always enjoy projects like that. A book takes me more than two years to write, sometimes three, from my first notes on the concept, to outline, first draft, to the many re-writes I do, before the book is finally printed and then published at last. It’s a long process of honing, cleaning, building, editing—–but you take a messy, or tired, or dusty house, or a pile of things to get rid of and repair, or clean out a closet, and presto magic, within hours or a few days, you see the shining results right before your eyes. It’s so gratifying to get results on a project with a rapid beginning and an end. So I’ve been busy with that, found time to read a book I enjoyed, while I take a little break from my own writing (I never read other books while I’m working on my own), went to a dance recital and a school play.

But the highlight of my week was a very special visit. A few weeks ago, while in New York, I went to a birthday party with two of my daughters. The birthday boy was a good friend, a talented young fashion journalist, who knows and has interviewed some major stars. His birthday party was a fun event, at a bar that was taken over for the event. And there was a wonderful mix of young, talented, writers, actors, artists, business people, and some very famous people who were exciting to meet. Among them, I was thrilled to meet Reese Witherspoon, and have always been a big fan of hers. I love her romantic comedies, and also this week, I ‘binge-watched’ her recent TV series “Big Little Lies” and LOVED it!!! It’s a terrific series of 7 episodes, which has been a big hit, with some great surprises in it, and some wonderful actors and actresses (Nicole Kidman) in the cast. Reese is both acting and producing now, with enormous talent at both. I loved chatting with her at the birthday party, and decided to be brave (I’m normally pretty shy, and don’t like to intrude on people), and emailed her after we met, and told her how much I enjoyed meeting her, and how much I enjoy her work. A lively, friendly email exchange ensued in the past few weeks, and we discovered that we were both going to be in the same city this week, and agreed to get together—–and we did!!! What a treat!! She’s a beautiful woman, incredibly bright, enterprising, creative, talented, and full of exciting ideas. She was busy in the midst of a trip, and I had no idea if she could only spare half an hour or more. We wound up spending three hours together, talked incessantly, about her work and mine. I would love to do a project with her, and we kicked around some ideas. We both talked a mile a minute, about life, our work, our families, our plans, and our wish list of what we want to do next. In the 90’s, a meeting at a dinner party led to my 21 TV movies, and it would be a dream come true if our meeting at that birthday party led to our working together one day. And if not, I am thrilled to just know her as a friend. The time we spent together was a gift. She is warm, lively, vivacious, gracious to everyone who approaches her, she is an absolutely delightful woman, and I loved every minute of the time we spent together. And it is soooo invigorating to talk to someone full of energy and ideas. The time flew by. I could have talked to her for another ten hours, and look forward to seeing her again!!

It’s not every day I get to meet a movie star, and get to spend hours with her, talking about our lives and work. I spend most of my time locked up in my office, writing my books—or with my kids, when I’m lucky enough to spend time with them. So meeting Reese Witherspoon was a great big fabulous treat, like a super duper fantastic chocolate cake with whipped cream on top!!! Spending time with her made it a very special week!!!

I hope you have a wonderful week!! I don’t see how this coming week can possibly be as exciting as the last one was for me—-unless I get to see Reese again—-and I hope I will soon!!! Have a great week!!!

love, Danielle

PS. In response to some of your questions at the end of last week’s blog.

The little book I mentioned, with the house story, of the woman who hated her house, and then made it beautiful and she came to love it once she embraced it: The book is called “Gratitude: Affirming the Good things in Life”, by Melody Beattie, published by Ballantine. It may be out of print, I’ve had it for a long time, but it’s a wonderful little book.

In response to your asking if I’ve written a sequel to one of my books—-No, I haven’t. I have never written a sequel to any of my books. I don’t like comparisons, where people may prefer the first book, and might be disappointed by the sequel, so I never write them. Or at least I haven’t yet.

And one of you referred to my ‘flip phone’, because I admitted to using a VERY old cell phone that I love—–mine PRE-dates the flip phone, and is a tiny little Nokia, that has fallen on the floor a million times and doesn’t break. It lights up when a call comes in, or when there’s a message on it. I just love that little phone. I’ve heard that Nokia is going to make a modern version that looks the same, and I don’t know if that’s true. It is definitely a dinosaur but a beloved one. My kids and friends make fun of it—-but I just love that little phone, and I’m sticking with it, as long as there is life in it!!! love, Danielle

5/15/17, Another House Story

Posted on May 15, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope that last week went well, and that Mother’s Day was a good day for you, even if you spent it in some unusual non-traditional way. There are so many ways to be a mother these days, and to have a mother. Some of the most loving mothers in my life have been women I was not related to, and have been wonderful mothers to me. I cherish those relationships.

I was so touched by the many, many responses to my blog (on April 10, I think, “Random Acts of Kindness)—-we all need to remember at times that miracles DO happen, and sometimes the littlest blessing can turn out to be a big one, and just what we needed.

It touches me too to hear of the challenges you’re facing. Children you have lost, which I’ve experienced too, as you know, relationships you’ve lost, men who have abandoned you, difficult family relationships, and job challenges, one lady wrote that she still has to work at 63, and another one wrote that she is still obliged to work at 75. I do believe that even if working is hard at times, I think it keeps us alive and engaged in life, and busy. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I weren’t working. Particularly with my children grown up now, I need the challenge of work, and I’m lucky that I love my work—most of the time!!!.(I have a magnet on my fridge that I love, it says “I’ve done the calculation and I’ll be able to retire 5 years after I die”. That’s true for a lot of us, particularly if we have a lot of responsibilities to others!!) I really admire (much) older people who are still working, I hope I can continue writing until I’m very, very old!!!

The challenges you mentioned in your responses to my blog are the things I write about, because they are the challenges we all face—-and the things that frighten, sadden, and discourage us at times, whether the loss of a loved one, or a disappointment of some kind. And I write about them because I’ve experienced them too, so I can relate to what you said.

Your responses remind me of another house story that impressed me when I read it. It didn’t happen to me, but to someone else, and it was written in a little book that I still keep in a suitcase I travel with, because it’s a good reminder when something gets me down, and it’s a true story, written by an inspirational writer. She wrote about needing a new home, and not being able to afford a nice one. She was able to buy a very small house, in terrible condition. She said that it was truly ugly, and once she was in it, she absolutely hated the house, everything was shabby or broken, and she didn’t have the money to fix it up. She said that every night for a year, she just sat in the ugly house and cried, hating it, and the fact that she couldn’t have anything better. After a year, she said that she got tired of crying about the house, and she saved up and bought some fabric and made curtains, but the rest of the house was still a mess, she then bought some tools, and fixed the woodwork in the kitchen, she lived alone, and had to learn how to do it (I think she’d gone through a bad divorce). She said her kitchen looked amazing after she worked on the woodwork. She was so busy, working on her house at night, she stopped crying, and started enjoying it, and little by little, her ugly little house got better and better. She said it took her a year, but at the end of it, she had come to love the place, and she loved the way it looked. She redid the floors, and regrouted the bathroom, and did it all herself, and painted all the rooms. She saved up to buy inexpensive second hand furniture and fixed that up too. After a while, she really enjoyed it, and eventually she planted a garden in the tiny backyard. And AFTER she worked her tail off on the house, and loved the way it looked, and it felt like a cozy home, something changed in her fortunes, she got a great opportunity and a better job, she sold the house, and was able to buy a much better one that she loved. But the lesson that hit me from her story was that, she had to embrace the ugly house first, and really work to improve it, and once she did, everything changed—not immediately, but in a reasonable time. I think it took her a year to fix up the house, and then everything got better after that.

We ALL find ourselves in situations we hate, a home we don’t really like, a job we hate (I had a number of those before I was able to write full time), a boss who makes our life a living hell—-and most of the time, those situations don’t improve by magic. Sometimes, often, we have to embrace the situation we’ve got, and work on improving it, and only then, when our attitude changes toward it, are we shifted to a much better place or situation—but first we have to do OUR part. The bad boss doesn’t just quit and make your life easier, and no one walks up to the front door and hands you the keys to a better house, or gives you a check to improve it. But once you do your part, the miracles start to happen.

That story has been a great reminder to me that we have to work on improving a situation, and not just sit and cry about it, and we can’t give up until we make the ‘ugly houses’ and situations in our lives more livable, and THEN the blessings and miracles happen. A friend may help you, or a lucky break, or some unexpected money, or someone may give you what you need—-but we have to do our part of the work too. I hadn’t thought about that little book in a while, and you reminded me of it when I read your responses to my blog, so I’m sharing it with you.

Have a terrific week—–an AMAZING week, not just a good one!!!

much love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Friends, homes | 3 Comments

5/8/17, Happy Mother’s Day

Posted on May 8, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week since I last wrote to you!! My favorite holiday is coming up this week, on Sunday, Mother’s Day. I always say I love it, because I get presents and don’t have to get a year older!! Definitely a plus!! And I think I have every Mother’s Day gift my kids ever gave me: I still use a slightly battered Kleenex box my kids decorated for me, all the usual soup can pen and pencil holders. Several decorated jewelry boxes. One of my sons made me a terrific table in woodshop when he was ten or eleven, which I still use in my office, for my computer when I send emails. He made it and painted it himself. I have drawings and paintings they made me, and ceramic hand prints they made in Kindergarten, and some ceramic fruits and vegetables that are so pretty I still have them in our family sitting room, mixed in with some antique Chinese ceramic objects (and they look great together!!). I have lots of needlepoint cushions the girls made for me, and some wonderful more sophisticated gifts they’ve given me as they got older. One of my favorites is an Italian sweater, black with gold and pearl letters on it that says “Mamma”—-I wear it every chance I get when I think I need to be identified as The Mom at a special occasion!!! So I have been utterly spoiled by my kids.

When I was married to their father, and the kids were younger, we made a BIG deal of mother’s day—but they still do, we have brunch together at home, and usually meet up again in the evening and go out to dinner. And I do it in two ‘sessions’ now, in two cities, so I can meet up with as many of them as possible, for those who live far away now. It’s a very, very special day for me.

I realize too that it’s not always an easy day. If your own mother is no longer around, it can be a hard day, or if the relationship with your mother is not an easy one (I’ve had that experience too). There have been some very important ‘adopted mothers’ in my life, growing up and as an adult, women who became extraordinary friends and role models for me, and whom I love and admire still to this day. Even if we don’t have a present mother, or an easy one, other sometimes older women can come into our lives and be an important force in our lives for love and support. And I’m very, very grateful to the women who did that for me and some who still do.

So whether you celebrate with your own mother, or a stand-in mother, or a favorite aunt, whether you are a mother yourself or not, it’s an important day to celebrate some of the relationships we have with other women who are important to us, or to be motherly ourselves for someone who needs us in that role, whether we are related by blood or not.

I hope this Mother’s Day will be wonderful for you, and that the special relationships in your lives that celebrate mothering in some way, will nurture you, or that you will be nurturing someone else.

Have a great day!!! And a wonderful week ahead, much love, Danielle

5/1/17, “Against All Odds”

Posted on May 1, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Today is a special day, for a couple of reasons. I hope you’ve had a good week with lots of good things happening. I always love May Day, it was a wonderful holiday when I was a little girl, and I still love it as an adult. As I’ve mentioned to you before, in France (where May Day is Labor Day), the custom is to give those you care about (friends, family, or loves) a sprig of lily of the valley. It’s my favorite flower and the smell is heavenly!! And in Paris, on every street corner, vendors are selling sprigs of lily of the valley for people to give to friends or loved ones. And when you get a little sprig of lily of the valley from someone, it is supposed to bring you luck!! I always give a dinner party on May 1st, with close friends, and give each of them a little vase of lily of the valley to take home with them.

May 1st is particularly special to me because it’s also my son Nick’s birthday. The day always reminds me of all the wonderful birthday parties we had for him. An almost life size cake, shaped like a whole person, of his favorite singer at the time: Prince. (He was also Prince for Halloween when he was 5 or 6—-he had very advanced taste in music for his age, and later became a musician, singer, and composer. When he dressed up as Prince, he wore a black wig, boots, and wore a lavender and red lame sparkly disco outfit of mine, from my younger days!! One year we had a cake that was a life size cake version of his favorite skateboard. We went all out for birthdays and holidays!! He LOVED his birthdays!! So although it is always bittersweet that he is no longer here, it’s the anniversary of a happy day, and I invite 10 or 12 of my closest friends, and I celebrate him in my heart, and it’s nice being with friends on that night.

Tomorrow is going to be a special day too. My newest Book, “Against All Odds”, is coming out tomorrow. It’s about a widowed woman, single Mom of four adult children in their 20’s and 30’s—-and the disastrous relationships they get into, thinking that they can “beat the odds”. It’s hard or even impossible to beat the odds (someone wins the lottery, but no one I know!!)—-if it looks like it’s going to be a disaster, more than likely it will be. It’s about each of the four children’s relationships, and how challenging it is for parents to watch their kids make dangerous choices—-and there’s nothing you can do about it. The situations they get into are very varied, and how they face their challenges is exciting. I hope you love it, and maybe you can relate to it as a parent. We’ve all been there in one form or another, watching our kids grow up!! Have a GREAT week!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Kids, Paris, Writing | 4 Comments

4/24/17, Cyberhell

Posted on April 24, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a terrific week. I’ve been busy, writing a lot, and am on the move again. I was saddened by the recent act of violence in France, and I hope that the French elections will happen peacefully.

I had an experience last week that was so frustrating I wanted to share it with you, as I think we all run into similar experiences now. One of my children needed some ongoing health maintenance care (nothing too serious, but worth doing), and I decided to contact both of the big highly respected university hospitals in San Francisco. Both offer top notch care and are respected well known institutions. I didn’t have a name of who to call, so decided to call the right department in each hospital, which seemed like a simple project, to gather information, and who might offer the most appropriate options for health care. It was not a life threatening situation, but important enough to me to warrant some research on the subject. And bluntly put, I ran into a wall. A call that should have taken maybe ten minutes to each hospital, took me SIX AND A HALF HOURS of constant calling and total frustration before I ever got to speak to a human at one hospital, and never got to one at all at the other. I went from one robot voice to the next, got shifted into dead end extensions, reached voice mails in some cases, pressed buttons, called new numbers, and it went on and on and on and on, until I finally reached a human at one of the two hospitals, and no one at the other. At the hospital where I got no human after all my calls, someone finally called me back the next day to tell me that my child had JUST missed the age cut off and they made no exceptions, that they were not accepting new patients anyway, but would call me back in six months, in October, to then put us on a wait list which was going to be at least six months long, but I MIGHT be able to get an appointment NEXT April, maybe, but maybe not until next July (NOT this July!!). So we’re talking about waiting 12 to 15 months before we could see a doctor. At the other hospital, when I finally reached a living person and not a recording or a robot after six and a half hours on the phone, they gave me great information, had someone call me back within the hour who was absolutely wonderful and we got an appointment for 3 days later. What a difference between the two, but I still had to spend almost seven hours on the phone, determined to fight my way through the maze of cyberhell to get the information we needed. I dropped everything I was doing that day to do it. What happens if you don’t have the time or patience, can’t spend 7 hours on the phone, don’t understand the messages or the system, or never get lucky enough to reach a human? What do people do? Forget it? Give up? Not get medical help when they need it? I don’t think my experience was unique. And what are you supposed to do with a 15 month wait to see a doctor?? It reminded me of when I was working on the streets with the homeless, would refer them for medical care, and they would sometimes be put on a wait list for 8 to 18 months, most of them would have been dead at the end of that time, and some were. I think it’s a terrible statement about how we have mis-used technology, to build an impenetrable wall around services we need, medical people we can’t reach, where we get fobbed off with waiting lists of more than a year, IF they even bother to call you back. What happens to people who don’t understand the messages, can’t make themselves understood to a robot, and just don’t have the tenacity or skills to get through? I became so determined I was not going to give up until I got someone. It also showed me the difference between the two institutions, one where they leapt in to help us once I reached them, the other where they simply didn’t care and fobbed us off for 15 months, or would have, except that we had missed the age limit by a few months. Then what?? You just live with the problem. In the era of high technology health care, with such enormous advancements in science and health and new information, what good does it do us if we can’t even reach health care providers, and get pushed off on a wait list for more than a year? I found the whole experience shocking. And I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to actually reach a human, who was nice, helpful, and gave us an appointment.

And if this is how we treat humans now at medical institutions, I can’t even think about what it is like trying to get your washing machine repaired or call a plumber. Everything is voice mail and robots now, press #1 for this and #5 for that, where you get nowhere and no one calls you back, or it disconnects, or shifts you entirely into the wrong service, and there is no one to explain it to. There is something VERY wrong with our systems if we have used technology to make life this complicated, and replaced human beings with machines that don’t “get it”. Whose life have we simplified with this?? Certainly not ours. I was so grateful for the help I got, and shocked at how hard it was to cut through the red tape in Cyberhell. What can we do about it? How can we change it? Is this how it’s going to be now? It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in years, and I think we all run into it now. Some of the old systems, which actually used humans, worked so much better!!!

Have a great week, and stay out of Cyberhell, if we can!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Uncategorized | 9 Comments