Archive for 2017

9/18/17, Sweet Nick

Posted on September 18, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re having a good week, as we all adjust to fall. I just finished a book and have hit the deck running into September, as I always do. We have two family birthdays in September, which provides some fun and levity. But this week is always a serious one for me, particularly so this year.

As most or all of you know my son Nick suffered from bi polar disease all his life. In those days, doctors absolutely refused to diagnose patients with bi polar disease as children. It was considered unthinkable to diagnose them before their early twenties. Today, it’s entirely different, children as young as 3 are diagnosed, treated and medicated. It’s thought now that not treating the disease as early as possible can cause irreversible changes in the brain that can’t be reversed later, due to lack of treatment early on. So doctors are quick to diagnose bi polar now. And I’m sure, as with anything, there may be some premature diagnoses, that turn out not to be accurate later. But on the whole, I think lives are changed, improved, and even saved by today’s early diagnoses. And maybe it’s better to early-medicate than not medicate at all until too late. It was clear to me by the time he was 4 that Nick had a serious disorder of some kind, and by the time he was seven, I was sure he was bi polar. I first suspected it when he was two. And no doctor agreed with me until he was 15, and he was first medicated at 16, which was considered shockingly early. The appropriate medication changed his life within weeks, and was definitely the right thing for him. Once on medication (lithium), he said he felt normal for the first time in his life. (Before that, when he was very young, doctors would explain his ‘off’ unusual behaviors by his near genius IQ, his too bright mind, and the fact that he was possibly spoiled, and had a famous mother. And yes, I probably did spoil him, but that didn’t account for his too exuberant, too bright, precocious behaviors. To most people, he just seemed like an extremely bright kid, but I thought there was more to it than that. He was too smart, too fast, too old for his age).

Despite his illness, Nick led an amazingly full life. As many bi polars are, he was brilliant, talented, charming, funny, incredibly endearing. I got a long letter a few months ago, from a girl who met him 21 years ago in a parking lot while he was on tour, and a half hour encounter and conversation with him, she claims, changed her life forever. She was a drugged out 15 year old at the time, and he tried to talk her out of doing drugs. He was what they called straight edge, although on the racy music scene, he did no drugs and didn’t drink at the time. She said his words came back to haunt her as she grew up, and she eventually gave up drugs, and has a solid life with two kids now, and decided to share the story with me. I’ve had many letters like that. He touched many people in his short life, and made a lasting impression.

In his short time, Nick performed (sang as lead singer, wrote music and lyrics) with two bands, one of which became relatively famous and is still around. There are CDs and videos of Nick performing with them. He toured the country, performing night after night, which wore him out, but he loved the tours, which were grueling. He had an incredible musical talent, and huge stage presence and personality. I think he would have been famous if he’d lived. And he was just a knock out person, and an incredible kid. He was ridiculously funny with a great sense of humor, a huge heart, he was compassionate. And very, very smart. He was bright and funny and talented and greatly loved. And 20 years ago this Wednesday, September 20th, he took his life at 19. He made three attempts before that, and finally succeeded on the fourth one, although we kept careful watch over him and he was never alone. But with that kind of determination, we couldn’t stop him from succeeding at suicide in the end. The weight of his illness was finally just too much for him.

Many, many, many people with bi polar manage the disease well, get good treatment, and lead full, productive lives, just as some people survive cancer. Nick just wasn’t destined to be one of them. That’s hard to accept, but it was true for him. Someone wrote a song about him after he died that said “If love could have kept him alive, he would have lived two hundred years.” He was loved by just about everyone who knew him, and incredibly so by his eight siblings, his father and me. But sometimes love isn’t enough. With bi polar every day was a battle, and a victory. When I read his journals after he died, I read with great sadness that he had begun talking about suicide with great determination at eleven. We were able to give him another 8 years. I wish it could have been more. We tried every kind of treatment. But I can say with certainty that in spite of his illness, he REALLY enjoyed much of his life, LOVED his music with a passion, did more than many people by the time they’re sixty, and accomplished a great deal in 19 short years.

This week is the anniversary of his death. Always a tough day for us as a family. We each have our special memories of him. He had a special relationship with each of us, and was very close to me. He was a great blessing in our lives, and a gift. I don’t think he was meant to live a long life, and I don’t think he could have done it. He put a huge amount of energy into surviving for nineteen years, and so did we, in helping him do it.

This year the anniversary is particularly poignant. It has been 20 years. It doesn’t seem possible, but it is. His younger siblings have grown up, have good lives, and his older ones, and he comes with us every day in our hearts. Sadly, his two best friends are gone now too, and also died very young, one also by suicide although unlike Nick, he showed no warning signs before, and the other tragically in a fire, saving his room mates, he helped them all get out, and got trapped himself and died a hero’s death. So Nick and his pals are up there somewhere now, up to mischief, I’m sure!!

We all think we could never survive the death of a child, and it’s certainly not an easy thing. We have tried to balance his death by a foundation in his name, to help the mentally ill, and have helped thousands of people in his name. I used to dread too when he would have been gone for a long time, when his life among us would seem so far away…. twenty years…. but it isn’t far away, he still seems right here with us, and stories of some of the really funny or outrageous things he did still surface all the time, and we end up laughing all over again. There was a lot of laughter in Nick’s life, and love, and joy. He was a gorgeous boy and a wonderful person. And is constantly and forever loved and missed.

I’ll spend the day quietly with some of my children, as I do every year. The anniversary of that date is a tough one, and doesn’t bring back happy memories, but then the happy memories flood in. Nick was all about joy! He constantly made us laugh and smile, and even now he still does. Sometimes I just grin or laugh out loud when I’m alone and remember something ridiculous he did. He did ridiculous so well!!!

As someone said so simply afterwards, “Too bright, too brief”. It was too brief, but he was a very, very bright star, and lives on in our hearts forever, shining brightly.  The brightest stars remain with us forever, and he surely will.  My love to all of you, I hope you have a peaceful week.

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Kids | 6 Comments

9/11/17, “In Memory”

Posted on September 11, 2017

 

Hi Everyone,
 

Wow…time seems to be flying too quickly, as always, and as I get back to serious writing in the fall, the date struck me a few days ago, and I was shocked to realize that today is not only the anniversary of September 11, but it is the SIXTEENTH anniversary of it. Sixteen years? Is that possible? I think it is one of the most striking moments of our history, one of two in my lifetime, the other being the assassination of John F. Kennedy when I was still a kid in school. Others have compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbour, when America was attacked on its own turf, and it catapulted us into World War II. I suppose the beginning of every war is that way, whether the First World War, or the Second. Fortunately 9/11 did not lead to a war but was certainly a life changing event for all of us.
 

As with the Kennedy assassination, I think all of us remember where we were when we heard about 9/11. I was in bed, asleep in California, around 6 am, some of my kids were still young then, so I had a nanny to help me with them. It was around 9 am in the East. And the nanny I had was a sweet woman, she was English, and had that very dry, crisp style that some English women have. She came into my bedroom and woke me up, and said in a strong official voice, “America is under attack. I thought you should know”. Thought I should know?? Was she kidding? But no one kids about something like that. I woke up instantly and sat up and asked what she meant by “under attack”. I had visions of New York being bombed. I had a daughter in New York at the time, and another one in Washington, DC. I turned on the TV, just in time to see the second tower go down. And I was finally able to reach my daughter in DC, and asked if she was okay. She sounded mystified, and had no idea what had happened. She lived relatively close to the Pentagon, and she looked out the window as we were talking, and couldn’t believe her eyes, as smoke poured out of the Pentagon, after the plane had crashed into it. I would have liked to bring both daughters in the East home to California, but there was no easy way to get them out, since the airports were closed, and stayed closed for many days.
 

My first thoughts were for my children’s safety, and it took hours to absorb what had happened in a broader sense. Watching the ongoing news on TV, and seeing the building collapse, it looked like a science fiction movie. It just couldn’t be real…..could it? The World Trade Center collapsing? That just wasn’t possible. I watched the news on TV all that day, and little by little it began to sink in. The image of people leaping from the building, some holding hands, is an image I will never forget. So many people affected, so many lives lost, so many dreams shattered on that day. 2,996 people killed, and more than 6,000 wounded. And so many stories of incredible bravery. It truly is a day none of us will ever forget, nor should we. And that incredible feeling of having been invaded, violated, attacked on our home turf. Where do you feel safe after that?
 

I spent the entire day watching TV with friends, and one of them said “This is going to change everything, our lives will never be the same again”. I thought that was an exaggerated statement, and couldn’t see what he meant. But with hindsight, I know now that he was 100% right. Travel has changed radically, and the rules at airports get more stringent every day. It’s a good thing, and ultimately protects us from another 9/11, but it’s a sad statement about our world, that some people have evil intentions and want to hurt the rest of us. (We have seen smaller versions of it in many countries, including our own for the past sixteen years). It has certainly made travel infinitely more complicated, all the safety measures we go through now, that didn’t exist before….and the concerns, the fears. My children always call me now before a flight, just to tell me that they love me, they started doing that after 9/11, and I always know that they’re not just saying I love you, they’re saying goodbye in case they never call again. What a terrible thought. And I call them before I fly too, for the same reason. We never discuss the reasoning behind the call, we just do it. But there is an instant when I last see them, before they fly somewhere, or I do, when we cling to each other for just an extra second or two, in case it’s our last chance to do so.
 

Like any act of terrorism or violence, 9/11 has marked us. The scars will always be there, for the families and survivors of the brave men and women who died there. We heal in time, but there is no question, an event of that magnitude is life changing in every possible way. Historically, personally, nationally, internationally. It was a terrible, terrible event.
 

I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging it—-without sending my deepest sympathy and tender compassion to those who lived through it, and the families and loved ones of those who didn’t. I hope nothing like it ever happens again. I’m sure we all hope that.  May our prayers be heard for a more peaceful world.
 

With deepest condolences, yet again 16 years later, and all my love, Danielle

Filed Under Current Events | 7 Comments

8/28/17, Early Bird

Posted on September 4, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Say goodbye to August….and summer. We did it!! Hopefully we all got a little vacation time, relaxed a little, and had some playtime. All in all, I had a good summer, even a very good summer this year, although a very busy one, and got two separate vacation weeks with my children, which made it a great summer for me.

And while leaping into September, and welcoming the fall (I love the weather, and the exciting feeling of starting fresh with new energy—I’ve felt that way since my school days)—–I also do a leap frog jump every year, thinking of the months ahead. True confessions: as I’ve told you before, I am one of those incredibly irritating people who start Christmas shopping in August. I know, it’s awful, and it drives people crazy. But the fall and winter months are my busiest writing time of the year, so I try to use any free time I have before that. And by August, I am itching to get started on Christmas. I did that two weeks ago. It also avoids my standing in long lines in stores in December, and no longer finding anything I want in the right sizes. So I am an early bird Christmas shopper. Very, very early. I started dragging shopping bags home a few weeks ago. And I have other bad habits related to Christmas (which I love!!). I rarely have time to shop, and I love shopping. Most of the time, I am socked away in my office, writing. So it’s really fun for me to get out and look around in the stores and shop. And when I do, watch out!!! First, I start seeing cute things for my kids and close friends that I hope they’ll love, and then a little something for me will catch my eye….hmmm…wow that red purse is cute!! Or a book, or a pair of shoes, or something for the house—-for my house!!! Uh oh!! The joke in the family about my Christmas shopping is “one for them, and one for me….okay, two for them, and one for me….uh oh….three for me, and one for them.”….at five for me, and two for them, I’m in trouble!! I start seeing so many fun things to buy for myself, and have to call myself to order, and focus on who I’m shopping for.

So, to confess all, I am up to my usual tricks. On my first Christmas shopping day two weeks ago, I was positively saintly. I found two things for one son, two things for another son (really fun stuff I hope they’ll love), and two things for one daughter….But on the second day, I started slipping. I jumped straight to finding one Christmas gift for three of my kids, and half a dozen things I loved for me: a pair of dressy pants, a fun purse, and two pairs of shoes. I know, that’s cheating. I came home with several shopping bags for me, and a skimpy catch for the day for everyone else. And of course, I felt guilty when I got home. So now, I’m trying to be good, and only buying Christmas gifts for the people on my list, and restraining myself. But I can tell you it won’t last. Something bright and fun will catch my eye (I bought a little red Chihuahua statue for my Paris office, and a little heart dish. I couldn’t resist!!), and I’ll be off and running again soon with the “3 for them, and 7 for me” system. Christmas shopping is just toooooo much fun!!!

So the Early bird is at it again. Christmas is starting at my house. The end result is that I feel ridiculously virtuous by November, when everyone is starting their Christmas shopping, and I’ve finished. But then of course, there are always the people I’ve forgotten on my list, and rush out to buy something for….so it’s Christmas in August at my house. While the rest of the world is wrestling with September, getting past Labor Day, and car pooling their kids to school, I’m Christmas shopping….it’s just toooo much fun!!! And the five for them, two for me system, or the reverse is just too tempting. The flesh is weak…mine sure is when it comes to Christmas shopping. So have a great week, and I’ll wait a few weeks before I wish you Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays.

love, Danielle

8/28/17, “Fight!”

Posted on August 28, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and life is going smoothly. I’ve been back at work and VERY busy writing, and revving up for September, right around the corner!!

I did something atypical for me and interesting this weekend. It’s a nice counterpoint and balance to the fashion shows I report to you from Paris!! (And possibly a relief for those who read my blog and don’t want to hear about fashion). Like a great many people, I watched the Conor McGregor/ Floyd Mayweather fight in Las Vegas—I saw it on TV, not in person. The seats apparently were selling for an absolute fortune, thousands of dollars, and I was told that some of the best seats sold for $40,000. From what I saw on TV, it was a star studded audience of famous people and celebrities, masses of enthusiasts and supporters, the hype beforehand was enormous, and the excitement in the fight location was palpable. It was a BIG event!!! I’ve only been to one actual prize fight in my life, because I knew the organizer, but it was small town, small scale, and a minor event. It looked messy more than glamourous or organized (and I didn’t enjoy it, or ever want to see a boxing match again). And as those of you who follow the sport know, Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement, at 40, for this fight, which was a HUGE money making event, with millions to be gained from it, for the promoters, and the fighters. It was a very big deal. Also, an unusual event because Conor McGregor is an experienced ‘cage fighter’ in the MMA, so not a traditional boxer. It was his first official boxing event, and he couldn’t use the variety of skills that he can in cage fighting.

The idea of watching two men beat each other up, as a ‘fun’ spectator sport has never appealed to me, and is certainly violent, but the attention around it was hard to resist, so I decided to watch it. At the one boxing event I went to years ago, I had a front row seat which was a lot closer to the action than I’d ever want to be. Sitting at home, watching it on TV, made it a much ‘cleaner’ event, gave me enough distance to be comfortable, and was a lot easier to watch. And I found it fascinating. One of the elements I found interesting was that Mayweather came out of retirement for the fight, and said it would be his last one, so a final victory and undefeated fight as the last one in his career heightened the tension around the fight. He had a perfect record of never having lost a fight which seemed remarkable. His opponent, Conor McGregor, who is Irish, is 29 years old, and has a long career ahead of him, to make up for it if he lost the fight to Mayweather. Mayweather is certainly a colorful persona, who wears flashy boxing outfits, and has lots to say, which makes it that much more fun to watch. (There’s a fashion element here after all!!). He entered the ring wearing a black and gold robe (his entire support team wore matching ones), black and gold shorts and matching shoes. McGregor wore less flashy white shorts, and was draped in the Irish flag when he walked in. And both men were obviously talented professionals. I was impressed by the main referee as well, when he reminded both fighters of the rules at the beginning, before the fight started. I was also startled, while watching the fight, by how little time they had between rounds, to recover and catch their breath in their corners, while their supporters ministered to them. (They applied ice bags to McGregor after each round).

Experience-wise, apparently McGregor was at a disadvantage, as apparently cage fighting only goes 5 rounds (and boxing events 12 rounds), so the concern was that he wouldn’t have the endurance to go twelve rounds—-and in fact he didn’t. After the 5th round, he looked seriously winded, and rapidly started to look worn out in subsequent rounds.

In the first three or four rounds, McGregor swung a lot at Mayweather, and landed a lot of punches, some of them not acceptable in boxing: several hard punches to the back of his opponent’s head. Mayweather let McGregor use up his energy and his best shots in the early rounds, and let him wear himself out, and as the fight progressed, Mayweather came to life, and his expertise and skill became apparent as he honed in on McGregor and began hitting hard. In the ninth round, it became clear that McGregor wouldn’t hold up much longer, and began to look dazed. And in the tenth round, Mayweather used all the strength, experience and skill that has won him a career of wins, and landed at least a dozen punches, that McGregor could no longer ward off and return, and when the fight became entirely one sided, with McGregor no longer able to defend himself, the referee ended it and declared it a victory for Mayweather with a TKO (Technical knockout, he wasn’t unconscious, or on the floor, but McGregor’s ability to fight was over. It would have been cruel, and potentially dangerous if the fight had continued past that point.) I thought that the referee ended the fight at exactly the right time, when it was no longer sport or entertainment, the victory was clearly Mayweather’s, and McGregor would surely have been in danger had it continued. I thought the referee did his job well.

What impressed me most, and I really liked, beyond the sport and the hype and the excitement in the room, and the spectacle of it, was the good sportsmanship instantly shown by BOTH fighters, immediately when the fight ended. There was no gloating, no malice, not even disappointment on McGregor’s part. For those first instants after the fight ended, the two men smiled at each other, hugged, talked, congratulated each other, and each immediately sung their opponent’s praises when mikes were pushed into their faces for comments. They had nothing but good things to say about each other. It was really a good fight, the audience got their money’s worth with ten rounds full of action, and an end to the fight which was reasonable and responsible. It’s always disappointing not to win, and McGregor must have felt some of that, but it didn’t show. He looked excited and happy to have been there at all, and the respect between the two men was impressive. In so many sports, you don’t see that kind of sportsmanship, and you see angry players, who stomp around, glare at each other, behave badly, and claim they were cheated out of their victory by someone, and can’t simply accept graciously that they lost. There was none of that here!!! And it was noteworthy that Mayweather was able to finish his career with a final victory making him undefeated for all 50 fights of his career, an extraordinary record.

So there was no official fashion show, gorgeous models were not heading down the runway, showing next year’s fashions, and there was no bride at the end of an haute couture show, no designers took a bow, as they do at the events I usually go to, but it was interesting and different for me to see it. It was a milestone event for both men, McGregor’s first official boxing match, against a formidable opponent, and a final win in Mayweather’s undefeated career. A great deal of money was made on all sides, all aspects of the sport were respected, the fans got to watch an action packed boxing match between two impressive pros, and Mayweather can go back into retirement with a final victory to his credit. And it’s back to fashion shows in Paris for me!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Current Events | 2 Comments

8/21/17, Lovely Weekend, and bittersweet.

Posted on August 21, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope these last days of summer are ending the summer gently for you, with some final fun times before Labor Day closes the summer season, and we head into the ‘full steam ahead’ of September.

I had a very special weekend last week, with ALL of my children, a rare occurrence that only happens about twice a year, on Christmas, and my birthday. I have never liked my birthdays. With a summer birthday, none of my friends were ever around for my birthday as a child, and my childhood birthdays were always somewhat disappointing because of it. For my sixth birthday, my parents sent me away to camp for two months, which I hated, and I’ve just never liked my birthdays. I much prefer celebrating everyone else’s. John, my husband of eighteen years, gave me some wonderful birthdays and birthday parties, and our children have followed his traditions. So I spend my birthday with all my children, every year, usually in seclusion at their country house. And that’s what we did this year, ALL of my children flew in from their various cities, and so did I. It always touches me how much effort they make. They flew in from New York and LA. A wonderful boy we love who lived with us for many years and became part of our family flew in too, and usually does. One of my children flew in from Colorado. They give up a weekend they could spend enjoying their summer closer to where they live, but instead they all come home like homing pigeons to celebrate me. They spend a week at our old country house, which is a very old ranch/farm (built in 1857), where we spent every summer when they were children. They own it now, and it touches me to see how beautifully they take care of it. I leave them to enjoy each other during the week, and join them for my birthday weekend, and they organize meals, and usually one outing to a restaurant. We’re a big group with all 8 of them, and their partners, and after living pretty quietly all year, except for the holidays we spend together, I love the noise, and hustle bustle of all of us living under one roof again and now as adults. We’re together for breakfast, then they go off on walks or to exercise, and we meet late in the morning at the pool, have a big lunch together, lie around all afternoon afterwards, and have big family dinners at night, with good food, wine (for them), and a lot of laughter, singing, talking. Sometimes we play games (dice, and board games, and Scrabble). It is such a happy time for me!!!

The house we share is filled with photographs of them as children everywhere, some with me and my husband, and just seeing those photographs brings back soooo many happy memories, of when they were little. I have to keep my mind set on the present and the future, not to look back with too much nostalgia at all those old happy moments, when they were children. There is a bittersweet quality to that, which I try to resist, and try not to get too sentimental over those days in the past, when we were all so happy together. It’s better to focus on the present, and how good they are to me now just by being there!!!

By the time I left at the end of the weekend, I was filled full up with new happy memories of the weekend with them, and then we went back to my house in the city and spent two more days together. My time with them really is a gift. And I can’t think of a happier way to spend my birthdays.

And at the end of the weekend, in the typical juxtaposition of real life, I had to attend a memorial service for a close friend of my late husband’s. And that really was bittersweet, seeing old friends gathered. Because I was married to men twenty years older than I, many of their friends are quite a bit older, and some have passed away. It was nice seeing many of them at the service I went to. And it was indeed a bittersweet moment, happy to see the friends again, and sad to have lost one of them.

Life. With all its gifts and beautiful moments, good people and happy experiences, tender memories, and losses, and new people we meet. I felt very blessed after my birthday weekend…it takes the sting out of getting another year older!!!

Have a terrific week!!

much love, Danielle

PS: The Icing on the Cake.
As though our lovely family weekend wasn’t enough to celebrate my birthday, the day after I wrote this blog, my children gave me a surprise birthday dinner with all of them, and 4 of my closest friends. It was fantastic, and so much fun. They absolutely stunned me with their surprise. It was a fantastic birthday this year, in every way, thanks to them, and I didn’t suspect for a minute they were giving me a surprise dinner too.
It was the best birthday I’ve ever had!!!
love, D.

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 29 Comments

8/14/17, Filling the Void

Posted on August 14, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all fine, and enjoying these last weeks of summer. By this point, midway in August, I always feel like it’s the countdown til the end of summer, and most of the time I’m ready for that to happen. Kids will be going back to school in a week or two, or leaving for college, most vacations are over, and we get our motors revved up, to pick up speed and head into fall. I’m definitely thinking that way, as I have a busy fall ahead for the next few months.

One of you who sent in a comment to the blog brought up a REALLY good point, two in fact, which I thought I’d address here. She mentioned that she lives far from her family, doesn’t have children of her own, and that it’s difficult maintaining friendships once friends have children, and become busy with parenting. She said it makes her feel like an outsider, because she doesn’t have kids of her own. And I can really understand that. Actually, it’s been a subject that has come up a lot recently with my children. The four oldest are married and have children now, and the four youngest aren’t and don’t have kids. With so many kids of my own, I get to see the problems which arise in each age group. And my four youngest have talked a lot recently about how hard it is for them to still connect with their friends who are married and starting to have babies. It has also made me aware of my own behaviours in the past. As most of you have figured out, I’m crazy about my kids and somewhat ‘obsessed’ with them. I realize now that for years and years, I would sit at dinner parties and must have bored my dinner partners to extinction with stories about how adorable my children were, and what cute things they did lately—which I found fascinating, and the person I sat next to most probably didn’t (Oh ughkkk….here comes that woman again who only talks about her kids. It was my favorite subject). I thought they were so cute, and they were, but I probably bored everyone to death (and maybe still do). And now I listen to other people’s stories about their kids, and most of the time, I could fall asleep with boredom about how cute they looked yesterday, how brilliant when they said “Daaa…” and how hysterically funny when they tried to comb their hair with a spoon. Uhhh yeah….but not THAT cute. And nowadays to make it worse, they whip out their phone and show you 785 photos taken just yesterday. I think MY kids are cute, but I have never been that enamored with other people’s children, whom I never thought were as cute as my own (and still don’t). People who have kids, particularly ‘new’ or very young kids, or babies, just don’t realize that people who don’t have children are just not that excited about hearing about the accomplishments of a 4 month old. (Let’s face it, eat, sleep, poop, smile occasionally, and for people who don’t have children, it’s just not that fascinating.) My children complain about it now, that their friends not only become gaga when they have kids, but they become inaccessible. They’re busy, they can hardly keep up, now they have their jobs AND a baby to deal with, they’re sleep deprived, not everyone can afford child care, so they drag the baby along to dinner, who may cry through an entire dinner, or make the evening a challenge. Once you start having children, it’s generally easier to hang out with other people having children, who are dealing with the same problems, and concerns, and time constraints.

So, what if you don’t have kids yet, and your friends do, and it makes you feel like an ‘outsider’, as the person who wrote to me said? For one thing, as new parents, people need to try and be a little bit aware and considerate, that your friends may not want to eat dinner with you at 4:30pm because it works with the baby’s schedule, may not necessarily enjoy an evening spent with your baby or 2 year old, and they still want some adult time with you, so they can talk, and not just play with the baby instead of have an adult conversation with you. I think new parents or any parents should ASK their friends if it’s okay to bring the baby/child, and not get all insulted when that doesn’t appeal.(Most people are not that keen on kids before they have their own. They ‘don’t get it’. And they don’t want their social interactions controlled by your nursing schedule, or the baby’s sleep needs. You have to remember, with people who don’t have kids, that they want to spend time with YOU, but maybe not with your baby or toddler, or even 5 year old. Try to get a sitter occasionally, so you can spend an evening with friends who don’t have kids, and may not want to spend an evening (or a weekend) with yours.

And for those who don’t have kids, I think we all need variety in our lives. And there are landmarks in life. A time will come for all young people when most, not all, of their friends will marry (or not) and start having kids. It’s a rite of passage and marks a new chapter in time, for those parents, and also for their friends who aren’t there yet (and may never want to be). If possible, it’s nice to have friends with partners, and single ones—-friends with kids, and friends without. It’s cozy sometimes to have a family evening with people—-and also fun to be out with single pals. You may want a ‘baby fix ‘ occasionally, and also to be with friends whose lives are still more similar to yours. Your friends with kids probably feel as left out as you do, remembering the good old days when they were free, had no responsibilities, and could go to a movie, or a bar, whenever they felt like it—-and could afford to. So for those of you who don’t have kids for now, and many of your friends do, try to have some single ones too, or who don’t have kids, so you can share the non-parental evenings you enjoy, and try to be patient with the ones who are tied down by kids now—-and they should be considerate about not forcing their children on you. But there is no question, their time is short with young kids, running to do everything, work, be a parent, and taking care of kids who just take up a lot of one’s time.

The other question the same person asked is once your kids grow up and leave home, how do you deal with the loneliness? Oh WOW!!! that is a big question, and a tall order, with a longggg answer. My whole life revolved around my kids for many, many years. I wrote at night when they were asleep, and eventually when they went to school, and the rest of the time, I was fully with them. They were my whole day, my life, and filled my life, usually in a good way, and sometimes in worrisome ways, when they had a problem or were sick. And as they left home, one by one, I felt a terrible void. I’m lucky to still have one daughter who lives at home, my youngest, but she is so busy and has such a full life that I barely see her, we kind of fly by each other in the hall, and most of the time when I’d love to have dinner with her, she’s busy. She’s in her 20’s, and having dinner with her mother is not her idea of fabulous entertainment. I didn’t want to spend time with my parents at her age either. I think the ’empty nest’ is a huge issue for most women, and even some fathers (most men seem to handle it better than women, and aren’t quite as devastated and bereft as we are). It is a huge gaping hole when your kids leave, and you suddenly realize that all those happy years of living with your children is behind you. And it whizzes by at jet speed. What did I do? I cried a lot, but I also tried to figure out what to do to fill some of the void. And I also made a big effort to see my kids whenever they could, and I still do. I fly around to see them every few weeks, but I’m lucky, I can take my work with me. Not everyone can, if you have a job that ties you to an office. My strongest suggestion to keep your life on the upswing is: get a job if you don’t have one. My work has always saved me from being seriously depressed, because it keeps me so busy. I started an art gallery when my kids started leaving for college, it was a fun, exciting project, and I loved it. The artists I represented became my children, and needed me. And art is one of my passions. But any kind of job will keep you busy. You need to fill the time you used to spend on them!! If you don’t need a job financially, do volunteer work in a field that interests you. Take up a hobby (I am terrible at that and don’t have any!! I either write or see my kids, no hobbies). Learn something: a language, cooking, photography, something. Take up a sport. My point is DO something. I don’t do well when I’m not busy, and my kids kept me so busy, that I get sad if I’m not busy. Get a dog. I now have 3, and I love them, ridiculous little Chihuahuas, but when I’m sad or feel lonely they cuddle up to me and make me laugh. Nothing will ever take the place of those happy years with your kids around full time—-but it’s also a chance to take care of yourself, to do things you haven’t had time to do for 20 years (like get a manicure or read a magazine, or a book!! Seriously), or paint your kitchen, or plant a garden, or see friends. I never had lunch with friends when my kids were young, no time. Now I do occasionally. You can travel (not my forte either, I don’t like to travel alone, and all my friends are married). But the key, I find, and it’s vital for me, is to keep myself busy. Writing fills my life wonderfully, but nothing replaces having kids still at home—-and I make a real effort to keep my time filled, or I would get really sad thinking about the kids no longer living at home. So that’s my advice. And work always does it for me!!! Once your kids leave, it’s much harder than most people give credit for. We all need to be needed, and suddenly no one needs you to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, don’t need to be picked up at school, or taken to soccer practice, or help with homework. It’s tough, but it IS survivable, if you keep busy!!! Do what YOU want to do. You have that opportunity now, it can be a really fun time in your life—indulge yourself, you gave to your kids for many many years, now give yourself some fun too!!

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 7 Comments

8/7/17, God Bless America!

Posted on August 7, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I’m still a little dazed from travelling, moving around a lot in the last few weeks, and a vacation with my kids, and now getting back to work. I’ve been doing re-writes (on books) all week. And I had a REALLY lovely experience I want to share with you.

One of my employees, a wonderful woman, became an American citizen this week, and I was honored to be invited to the ceremony. I’ve never been to one before, and I was thrilled to go. I knew it was an important moment for her. She is Italian, and grew up in England, and has been in the US for more than 30 years, with a green card, and decided to become a citizen. And the ceremony was beautifully organized, and very touching. It was held in really lovely theater from the 1930’s, there were 1,014 people naturalized, from 92 countries. And everything was perfectly planned from the moment we got there.

While we waited for the ceremony to start there were films of various beautiful parts of the US, and some wonderful film clips of Ellis Island, which is a fascinating place, which I’ve researched in the past for several books. The stories of immigrants there in the early days are very touching, and they have remarkable records, where you can find your ancestors in the ledgers of immigrants going back over 100 years. We were greeted by various Federal employees, a chorus sang, and there was a mounting sense of excitement as we waited for the new citizens to take the oath. It’s a long, long process for many, until they get to the final event. We saw a wonderful film clip from Madeleine Albright, the previous ambassador to the UN, and Secretary of State (under Clinton). who was apparently Czechoslovakian, and came to the US at eleven. She gave a very moving talk of what it meant to her then and now. There were a few more speeches, we sang the Star Spangled Banner, pledged allegiance to the flag, and then finally the oath was administered and 1,014 people became Americans. What touched me profoundly was how excited and thrilled they were, and how much it obviously meant to them. To those of us born here, we take our citizenship and freedoms for granted much of the time, and then you see how much it means to others, how they have struggled for it, and wished for it, it really makes you realize how precious those freedoms are, and what a gift.

After the ceremony, people milled around outside with a festive feeling and atmosphere, then a group of us went to lunch to celebrate with her. It was a fun day, and a very special moment I was proud to share!!

The other excitement of my week was official, but less patriotic, and a lot less fun—Upon renewal of a drivers’ license in California now, you have to take the written test, every five years. The booklet of questions to prepare you for it is 80 pages long, with sooo MUCH to remember. I passed, but was terrified I wouldn’t.

So I’m keeping busy and having fun. It was a very ‘official’ week for me!!! I hope you’re having a great summer!!!

lots of love, Danielle

7/31/17, Two weeks “off”?

Posted on July 31, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for not writing to you for the last two weeks. I don’t know if they qualify as “off”. The time has flown. It has actually been an insanely busy couple of months, and especially for the last two weeks. I barely got a minute to sit down, and answer a letter or write a blog, or keep up with returning phone calls. Five of my children visited me for 10 days, and we went away for 6 days of it, as we do every year. I had a lot of things to do in my house, I had a re-write to do on a book, I decided to weed some things out in my house and sold some furniture, and with one thing and another, I haven’t stopped for two weeks. The vacation with my children was really lovely, and I’m always grateful for the time we spend together. The time just whizzed by, and 6 days for a vacation just isn’t very long. By the time you get settled, wherever you go, it’s time to pack up and leave. They left a week ago, and I haven’t stopped since!!! I’m going to be seeing them again in August.

I also went to New York and saw 3 of my daughters there, and met up with friends from Paris, who had three of their children with them. We’ve had some good times and good meals out together. Now tomorrow it’s back to real life, and I have another re-write to do. I do many, many re writes before a book finally gets published. It takes a couple of years from when I write a book until it gets into your hands.

One nice thing happened this summer, aside from seeing my children which I always love—my three little dogs have finally gotten used to each other, and seem happy together now. It was a hard adjustment, the third dog really upset the apple cart, and REALLY upset one of my other dogs—but she’s grown up and is less of a puppy now, and the three are finally friends. It took nine months—-and when I added the second dog four years ago, it took six months for them to adapt and bond. But we are finally getting there now.

So it’s back to the grind for me now, time to get back to work. The vacation is over. Thank you for your patience!!! I’ll be hunkering down with the typewriter tonight and for the next several weeks!!!

lots of love, Danielle

7/17/17, “Gone Fishing”

Posted on July 17, 2017

Am taking a week’s vacation, which I only do about once a year. My apologies!!!….talk to you next week!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

7/10/17, Fabulous Again!!

Posted on July 10, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great Fourth of July, and did something really fun!!!

I didn’t get to celebrate the fourth, but I had a fun time going to the Chanel Haute Couture Fashion Show, with one of my daughters (who works in fashion herself, and had just put on a beautiful fashion show two days before.) As I’ve mentioned before, the stage setting at the Chanel shows are just AMAZING!! Not just the fashions. For one of his recent shows, they had a rocket ship center stage—a life size model of one, which was cleverly built to look like it was taking off. It was incredible. This time, they had built a replica of the Eiffel Tower inside the Grand Palais, where they hold their shows. And the top of it was enveloped in fog (smoke blowing at the top of it). I am always mesmerized by the scenery as much as the fashions. I can’t even imagine what goes into building those sets!!!

The show was very beautiful, and the clothes were just lovely—-for the fall/winter season. It’s always a special treat to go to their fashion shows, and I am always in awe of the genius and talent of the designer, Karl Lagerfeld, who is well into his 80’s now and still going strong, and a powerhouse and legend in fashion. It’s wonderful to see someone so full of talent, still creating, still innovative and still inspired—it’s inspiring just to see what he does. Time has not dimmed his talent or slowed down his creative genius!!!

Other than that, I have a new book that came out last week, “The Duchess”, it’s a historical novel set in the 19th century in England and Paris, about a young woman who, according to the laws of the times, inherits nothing when her father dies, and is turned away by her nasty half-brothers (Only men could inherit then, in England). From a privileged protected life, with an adoring father, she finds herself alone in the world, with no skills, no allies, no one to protect her. She goes to Paris, and through a series of unexpected events, she opens a brothel at the age of 20 or 21, and runs the most glittering, glamourous brothel in Paris, and finds herself at the center of power, surrounded by the most important men of the times. She eventually goes to America, and has a whole new life there, and the book is about how she turns adversity into a quite remarkable life, and what happens after that. It’s a different theme for me, and I hope you love it!!! A fun summer read for the beach or wherever you spend time this summer!!!

Have a great week!!
lots and lots of love, Danielle