Archive for 2018

7/16/18, On Vacation…

Posted on July 16, 2018

On vacation. See you next week, Love, Danielle

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7/9/18, Paris Fashion:Haute Couture

Posted on July 9, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Every prayer for success for the boys, their rescuers, families and the entire team in Thailand as the whole world watches and prays for them.

 

I hope you had a terrific week, and a wonderful, fun 4th of July!!

 

I enjoyed one of my favorite fun past times, and went to the Chanel Haute Couture fashion show last week. I love seeing the beautiful clothes on the runway, that are really an art form. Every stitch in a Haute Couture garment is hand done, not a machine stitch anywhere, and often spectacular embroideries. Beautiful models showing beautiful clothes. Chanel is my favorite show, either Haute Couture or ready to wear, and Haute Couture is the highest art form in fashion, and a dying art, because it’s so rare, and there are so few clients for it, and so few people left with the skills to make it. (The apprenticeship time to work on Haute Couture clothes is 12 years!!). And even as a spectator, and not a buyer, I thoroughly enjoy the experience and the spectacle. Karl Lagerfeld, in his late 80’s now is still the designer for Chanel and an absolute genius, and a power house of strength, energy, foresight, and creativity. It’s always an honor to see his collections, and to see him take a bow at the end of the show. The scenery is always spectacular at any Chanel show, this time the scene was set as though it was along the river Seine, where the booksellers are who sell old books. And the models strolled past the beautiful sets and the stage set booksellers.

 

The show was particularly fun for me, not just because of Karl Lagerfeld’s talent, but my youngest son and his girlfriend came to the show with me, and although he is not as involved in fashion as his sisters, or at all in fact, he really enjoyed the show, the stage set, the beautiful models and amazing clothes, as fifty or sixty models pounded past him on the runway in the spectacularly beautiful clothes. Invitations to the show are hard to come by, and I was very grateful that all three of us were invited, so I could go with them. I used to take my children to the fashion shows with me when they were little, because I thought it was such a beautiful art form, and three of my daughters wound up with careers in fashion. Maxx didn’t enjoy the shows as a very little boy, but he did enjoy it this time, with his girlfriend in awe of how beautiful the clothes were, and how exquisite the workmanship!!! Fashion at that level is really a kind of art, more than anything.

 

Other than that, I’ve been doing more mundane things, a bit of work, a lot of family visits, some good meals, time with friends, vacation with my kids, and just enjoying the summer. I’m looking forward to time with my kids, and I hope you have some fun vacation time planned this month too.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

7/2/18, Happy Fourth!!!

Posted on July 2, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope your summer is off to a great start, and that you’re getting ready for a festive, relaxing Fourth of July. It does bring back happy memories of the Fourth of July parties we gave when my kids were little, which eventually became barn dances with line dancing. It was lots of fun, the guests were all ages, old and young, with dozens of children running around, lots of yummy food, games for everyone to play. It was a real, old fashioned Fourth of July.

 

And I’m in the category of ‘Beware of what you wish for’ right now, in the midst of a heat wave. It’s sweltering, and was chilly only a week ago, but at least it feels like summer!!!  My summer has gotten off to a busy start, with 3 of my children visiting me for 2 weeks, and lots of running around with them. And four more arriving tomorrow, with friends, for another 2 weeks of my children visiting. They’ve been coming in shifts this year!!!  And between the two ‘shifts’, I just had a ‘grown up week’ to myself. As much as I adore my children, and am grateful for every moment I spend with them, it’s nice to have some grown up down time too. I had lunch with a friend almost every day, which is rare for me, since I work through lunch most of the time and don’t go out for lunch, but I indulged myself. I had lunch out every day, with leisurely opportunities to chat and catch up. I had dinner out once with a very interesting friend, a psychiatrist who is also a writer. And I had a group of women for dinner, whom I try to see once a month. We laugh a lot, and also talk about some serious things. I caught up on some reading, did a couple of writing projects, went shopping on Saturday, and am ready for the next group of visitors. The best thing about summer for me is spending time with my children, and although I love it when we’re all together, I also enjoy it when they come in smaller groups, which gives me time to focus on each one of them, and spend some individual time. We’re a big group when we get together!!!

 

Without getting involved in the political issues, my heart has ached recently for the children who have been separated from their parents, due to immigration issues. It always saddens me deeply when children become the victims of adult actions, and are in precarious situations. Children in jeopardy is something that is dear to my heart. As I understand it, there are 3,000 of those children, separated from their families, in limbo at the moment, while adults attempt to solve the situation. It breaks my heart when children pay the price for adult actions, whatever the reason. Childhood should be an innocent, protected time, in a perfect world, which is so often not true, starving in ravaged areas, or the victims of wars, living homeless on the streets in our own country, or even children of ‘good homes’, being abused by their parents. And often there is so little one can do to help and protect them. I hope that those 3,000 children are rapidly reunited with their families. Children are so often at the greatest risk, in every country, even ours, ravaged by poverty, disease, or neglected by irresponsible parents. Children are always at the mercy of the adults in their lives.

 

I hope you’re busy making summer plans, and will get some vacation this summer. My vacation is the time I spend with my kids, we’ll spend a week at the beach, and as soon as they leave, I go straight back to work. I don’t know what to do with my free time when I’m not shepherding kids!!! Old habits die hard, and I’m grateful that they spend time with me!!!

 

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. And between the hot dogs, hamburgers, Southern Fried chicken, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream, it’s good for us all to remember and be grateful for the immense freedoms we have in this country, and all the advantages.

 

We are very lucky!!! Happy Fourth!!!

 

And much love, Danielle

 

 

Have a GREAT week!!!

6/25/18, Great, so far!

Posted on June 25, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I had another busy one, with three of my children visiting in one week, one after the other, and lots to do with them. All daughters, so we did a lot of fun shopping. I have to admit, shopping always relaxes me!! And it’s so nice sharing adult time with one’s children, talking about life, and what’s going on in their lives.

 

Thank you for your wonderful responses to my blog last week. Motherhood is certainly the best job in the world, and sometimes the hardest—-while you try to do the right thing, hear their needs and what they have to say, and set a good example, which isn’t always easy because even as parents, we’re human too, and inevitably make our share of mistakes, no matter how hard we try not to!!

 

My new silly pet peeves while shopping: it has become fashionable in fancy stores to offer you coffee, water, and sometimes even wine while you’re shopping, which always annoys me. I cannot juggle a cup of coffee while I’m trying to shop, I don’t drink (alcohol), and if I’m thirsty, I can have a bottle of water before I shop. Why would I want to juggle coffee while trying to look at clothes or try them on?  If I want to eat or drink, I go to a restaurant, and if I want to shop, I go to a store. They mean well, but it seems silly to me. My youngest daughter is outspoken at times, and when they offered us wine in a store once on a hot day, she thought about it and then said, “no, thanks, but do you have a beer?” They looked very surprised, and did not have a beer on hand!!

 

But my biggest pet peeve in stores now is that they have pat phrases that they use to make you feel welcome, and make you feel at ease in the store. The most popular one these days seems to be “How’s your day so far?” That somehow suggests to me that they’re going to check in with you again later, and is meant to give you the impression that they really care and want to know. Let’s face it, I’ll probably never see them again, or go back to that store for another year or more, they’ve never seen me before, and won’t again, and don’t know me from Adam. So how’s my day so far? Am I supposed to tell the truth, and tell them it sucked, that the plumbing repair bill was way higher than I thought it should be, the roof estimate I got was ridiculous, I had an argument with one of my kids over something stupid, I had a flat tire this morning, I have to go to the dentist in 2 hours, I have a writing deadline,  and the dog threw up on the rug. There’s a lot that can go wrong in a day’s time, and some days are more challenging than others. So am I really supposed to tell a stranger how my day was “so far”? I just nod dumbly, and say “fine”, which seems like the appropriate answer. I think what annoys me about that question is that it’s supposed to give me the impression that the sales person really cares, and we are now buddies, so I’ll want to buy more. It doesn’t, it just seems silly to me, and I buy (or don’t buy) what I would have anyway, so it seems pointless to me.

 

Other than minor pet peeves like the above, I’ve had a good time with my kids. I enjoy spending time alone with each of them when I can, so I get to hear what’s really going on with them, and we share a few laughs, some meals, and a good time. It’s really nice having down time with them.

 

I’m going to spend the week relaxing, and catching up on a few things, maybe doing some reading—before the next wave of my children, four of them, arrive in a week to spend time with me. It will be busy, but really nice for me. I’m in a lull between books, which is great so I can read other people’s books for a change.

 

I hope good things are happening for you.  Take good care…..And I hope your day, and your week have been “great so far!!” and will continue to be,

 

love, Danielle

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6/18/18, “Mother Love”

Posted on June 18, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I’ve had a very busy week, with some of my children visiting me, and running around with them, doing lots of things, spending time together,—and still trying to keep track of my work, and not falling behind.

 

I hope you’ve had a good and productive week!!!

 

I was very moved by the responses to my last blog, about the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Mr. Bourdain in particular must have been a remarkable person. My children were deeply upset by his loss, and all week I have heard people talk about what he meant to them, and how inspiring he was. He was a public figure and celebrity who really meant a great deal to people, and he will be very, very much missed by his many admirers and fans. Suicide is always a terrible loss, and a tragic event. It is always far reaching, and saddens and affects us all.

 

One of the people, who responded to the blog, is a frequent ‘responder’, with thoughtful and kind comments about the issues I raise in the blog. This person shared his own grief about his grandfather’s suicide, and his subsequent estrangement from his mother. He talked about how deeply affected he has been by both of those events, and no question, those are both events which would shake anyone to their foundations. It led me to think about, and want to share some circumstances in my own life, that I rarely talk about.

 

My mother was an extremely beautiful woman, it was probably her most striking feature. She was a model when she was young, and beautiful and naturally youthful looking until she died at 80. Great beauty sometimes seems to be more of a burden than a blessing, and I don’t think she was ever a happy person (She was solitary and dissatisfied, and even bitter in later years). She married very young, at nineteen, to a much older man (my father), and had me when she was twenty. And like some very physically beautiful people, she was very self-centered, and she was accustomed to having her world revolve around her. People spoke of her beauty til the end of her days. It taught me at an early age that beauty is not enough, and no guarantee of happiness. Having children was never part of her life plan, and I think it must have rocked her world when she had me. She was never good at sharing center stage, I only knew her to have one woman friend during her entire life, and my mother offended her early on, and the friendship ended. She was always and easily surrounded by men who admired her, and were dazzled by her (including my father, who never quite got over her). I think she considered women a threat, and didn’t seek their friendship. So having a child, a daughter, was not a welcome event in her life. My relationship with her was tenuous from my earliest memories of her, and she left my father, and me, when I was 6 years old, and moved on. Like the man who responded to my blog, and spoke of how devastated he was by his mother’s rejection of him—-for any child to be abandoned by their mother is a shocking event, one that can take years to recover from, and certainly takes time and a great deal of thought and introspection to even begin to understand. Once I had children of my own, I understood even less how my mother could walk away from a child of six, or any child, at any age. When my children were very young, I would feel literally physically sick if I left them for more than a few hours. There is an almost physical bond between mother and child, where a mother NEEDS to be with her child. We see it in nature, with animals, and in people. And because I was abandoned by my mother so young, I have always been extremely devoted to my own children, present for every event, there for every moment I could be when they were children, and very close to them as adults. If anything, my mother leaving me probably made me a better mother, and perhaps made me love my children more. I knew what it was like to feel ‘unloved’ by my mother, and never, ever wanted my children to experience that. She was more present in my life again once I was an adult, but in all honesty, we were never close. I was attentive and dutiful, as an only child, but we never overcame the enormous tear in our relationship, which occurred from her leaving me when I was so young, and the time, years and experiences we missed with each other.

 

We all have preconceived ideas about what a mother should be, and most of us expect too much of our mothers, and expect them to be superhuman human beings, able to understand and meet all our needs, wanting them to be warm, loving, compassionate, all forgiving, and never let us down. But mothers are as human as anyone else, I don’t think motherhood ‘improves’ us, I think it magnifies what is already there, both the good and the bad. And some people simply shouldn’t have children, and cause a great deal of harm and pain when they do. Not having children by choice always seems a somewhat sad decision to me, but for those who know they don’t have what’s needed within them, they make a wise decision to follow their instincts and not have children.

 

We expect our mothers to love us more than anyone on earth, to accept us unconditionally—-and when they don’t, we are secretly convinced that it is some terrible flaw or failing in us which causes a rejecting mother to behave that way. It must be our fault if our own mother doesn’t love us, and those who have been rejected by their mothers carry that weight for many years, sure that something terrible must be wrong with them. It took me many, many, many years (and therapy) to understand that whatever my failings, the flaw was not in me, but ‘simply’ in a mother who didn’t have a mother’s love to give. Understanding that is an enormous relief when it finally dawns….’oh Wow, it wasn’t me’. Not having a present mother is a loss, but in some cases it is the loss of someone who just has nothing to give us. Their tanks are empty, and their heart. I share that piece of my history with you because being abandoned by a parent is a terrible blow, and we feel it reflects on us, and being abandoned by a mother seems even worse somehow—your mother is supposed to love you no matter what. But not all mothers can do that. Mine couldn’t, and apparently neither could the mother of the person who responded to my blog. It’s worth saying too that because you were unloved by your mother does not mean that you are Unlovable—-there’s a big difference between the two. That person, a mother, who didn’t love you, clearly wasn’t able to—but that doesn’t mean that others won’t love you in your lifetime. You ARE lovable!!! We all are!!! And deserve to be loved.

 

It made my life infinitely easier once I understood that it had nothing to do with me. She was just fatally flawed, and didn’t feel able to be a mother, unfortunate to be sure—-but what crime could I have committed by the age of 6 to make her not love me? None at all.

 

Interesting things happen too when you don’t have a mother. Throughout my life, much older women have appeared in my life who were wise, loving and compassionate, and took me under their wing for a time, and gave me a kind of love and approval that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Much kinder and more intelligent and wiser women than my mother, a friend’s aunt when I was in my 20’s, just an extraordinary woman, a friend I met when I moved to California/ a Superior Court judge who had no children of her own. Both of those women were loving mentors to me and cherished friends until they passed away. And a third one, whom I had known as a child, a friend of my parents who lost track of them early on, and reappeared about 20 years ago, and she is an extraordinary woman, still active and brilliant and engaged in life in her 80’s, unfailingly loving to me, and always a source of love and encouragement in just the way I would have hoped from my mother as a child, or later on, and never had from her. I feel very fortunate to have had these women in my life, each of whom has made an enormous difference, and gave me enormous gifts of love. So my needs were met, despite my own mother leaving me as a child.

 

What I wanted to share is that the turning point comes, and the healing, when you realize that a child is never abandoned because THEY are insufficient in some way—but because the parent is insufficient and incapable. It’s not about you/the child, it’s about the parent who lacks the ability to love a child adequately, enough to be a loving mother. Being a mother, especially a good one, is not an easy job, and not everyone is equal to it. Once you understand that, all the heat goes out of the loss, or most of it. And our needs are met in different ways in life, not always from the sources we expect, but sometimes from more unusual ones. Losing my mother for all intents and purposes so young wasn’t easy, but once I understood who she was, and saw her with compassion, the loss was no longer a tragedy, but simply a fact of my life. And yes, I did hope for better from her right to the end, but it never happened. She died quite suddenly, still in very good form, still beautiful, and leading a very independent life. She died of a bad flu, within a week of catching it, when it turned to pneumonia. I was able to see her before she died, and I hoped for a minute that she would suddenly say everything I had hoped to hear for all of my life, but she didn’t. She was who she was, true to herself and true to form until her last breath. Quite amazingly, about a week before she died, she said in passing “You were the best thing that ever happened to me.” I was stunned, had never heard anything like it from her in my entire life, and jokingly said to a friend “she must be dying to say something like that”. It was a final gift, and the best she could do. And between my children, and the kind women who have mentored and befriended me over the years, I don’t feel cheated, I feel blessed. And the best I can wish for those who had a similar experience to mine—I hope that you realize in your heart of hearts that there is nothing wrong with you if you feel that your mother didn’t love you—if so, it was her burden to carry, and her failing, not yours. And the sense of loss and lack falls away when you realize that. Our best mothers are not always the women we were born to, which was just an accident of fate. And Don’t forget that YOU ARE LOVABLE, whether your mother loved you or not.

 

On a lighter note, I’ve told you about the White Dinner in Paris before—-it’s a very special event that happens once a year and originated in Paris, where thousands of people are invited to dress elegantly all in white, and meet in front of one of the spectacular monuments of Paris, for a moonlit dinner on  a June night, and to bring with them a table, chairs, white table linens, china, silverware, candles, dinner, and enjoy a magical evening together, and then disappear like mice at 1am, leaving not a shred of mess or evidence that anything took place in the location. There is an incredible Cinderella feeling to it, and it’s a prize to receive an invitation (the dinner is free, by invitation only and meticulously organized. And the location is revealed an hour before the dinner).  With my children visiting, I didn’t attend the event this year, and was driving with my children that night, and lo and behold, we drove into the Place Vendome, and there was The White Dinner, I saw friends there, all the gorgeous candlelit merriment, and the long rows of elegant white tables, gleaming with silver and chrystal. I chatted with friends there for a few minutes, and then drove on. What a gorgeous event the White Dinner is!!! It is truly magical (I wrote a book about it called “Magic”).

 

So have a wonderful week, full of beautiful surprises, good people, and happy times.

 

Much love, Danielle

 

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6/11/18, In Loving Memory

Posted on June 11, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I’m on one my usual three city/two country treks, with 10 suitcases and three Chihuahuas, visiting two daughters midway, and meeting another when I arrive at my destination. So I was going to take a week off from the blog, since I’m traveling, and send you a “Gone Fishing” message. But recent events are too serious to ignore, so I’m sitting down to write to you. The events I am referring to are the suicides of Kate Spade, the fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and TV personality, in the last week. Ms. Spade was 55, and Mr. Bourdain was 61, both much too young to have left this world, both immensely talented and greatly admired and respected.

 

As most of you know, I lost my son Nick to suicide (resulting from bi polar disease all his life) at 19, so I have lived the fall out of suicide at close range. Several of Nick’s friends followed that same path, and his very best friend, a wonderful boy, with everything going for him, great family, nice girlfriend, successful career, bright, charming, intelligent, kind, an incredibly decent person, and he committed suicide in his 30’s.  It came as a shock to everyone who knew him—more so than when my son Nick died, since he had battled with bi polar/manic depression all his life. Others among Nick’s friends have done so as well. Each of my children has had friends who have committed suicide. And tragically, I have been to more funerals for young people than for my own contemporaries.

 

I did not know Kate Spade, although several of my children knew her and her husband, and one of my sons is/was very close to them, and crushed by her death. Nor did I know Mr. Bourdain personally, but several of my children are his ardent fans. Many years ago, one of my children’s friends was on vacation with us, when he saw on television the news that his famous actress mother had committed suicide, and then not long after, his father. He was 14 at the time, and we shared his grief with him. And I knew Robin Williams for 16 years when he died. We met through our children, because one of my daughters and his son were boyfriend/girlfriend devotedly all through high school. I came to know Robin then, and was always impressed by what a wonderful father he was, and how much he loved his children. At his funeral, his friends were devastated, and his three children were absolutely crushed. Knowing what a dedicated and loving father he was, all I could think was how devastated he would have been if he could have seen how broken hearted his children were. It takes an immense driving force for someone to commit suicide, and I suppose it blinds one to all reason—-in their own agony, they don’t realize how their death by suicide will affect those who love them. We had a wonderful caretaker and advisor on psychiatric issues for the last 5 years of my son Nick’s life—she was a talented, brilliant, warm, sensible woman, and a wonderful mother to her three children, with a loving husband. She was so depressed by my son Nick’s suicide, that she never recovered herself, sank into a terrible depression, and three years later, she committed suicide too, at 36, with three young children, who were the ones to find her, given the circumstances in which she did it. We were all heartbroken by her suicide too.

 

I don’t know of Mr. Bourdain’s family circumstances, but Ms. Spade had a 13 year old daughter, who is left to survive her mother’s death, and our hearts go out to her.

 

Some people believe that people commit suicide out of weakness. I doubt that, and I suspect it must take enormous strength to commit such a devastating act. Most often it is the result of severe depression and some form of mental illness. I hear terrible circumstances through our foundations every day, stories which break your heart. Children as young as 5 or 6 commit suicide, some have left suicide notes for their parents in crayon. (I heard a speech on the subject in the Senate that tore my heart out, when I was asked to address the Senate on the subject too). Children who have been bullied commit suicide, or abused. In many states it is against the law to list a child’s death as a suicide, if they are younger than 13 (to avoid the stigma)—-so our public statistics and records are not always accurate. In spite of that, we do know that suicide is the 2nd most frequent killer of young people up to the age of 25, the 1st one being road accidents. I don’t have the statistics for adults at hand, but I have been told that suicide is on the rise among adults. We donate considerable money through our foundations to organizations dealing with suicide prevention, with hot lines, and therapy.

 

There has always been stigma attached to suicide, religiously, and just in the public. We are aware of it now, but do we do enough to stop it, to improve the statistics? Most people seriously bent on suicide are very intent, often secretive, and many give no warning. My own son attempted suicide three times before his final ‘successful’ 4th attempt. And after one of them, he looked at me sadly after we had saved him, and he said “Mom, if I want to do this, you won’t be able to stop me”. Sadly, he was right. He picked a slim window of time, when we thought he was safely sound asleep in bed, and instead he took his own life. He was determined—-from the time he was 11 years old, until he finally died at 19. It was a race against time, trying to stop him, and to manage his bi polar disease so the worst didn’t happen. We got him 8 years longer than he intended, but not long enough.

 

As an aside in all this, I have a personal war against texting. It eliminates real human contact and exchange. Young people ALL prefer texting to phone calls these days. It’s their primary form of communication. Relationships start and end by text. Too much happens by text. At the funeral of my son’s best friend, at least a dozen young people around me said “But I texted with him today….this morning…last night”. My thought was that if they had talked on the phone and not texted, they might have heard something in his voice, or some sign of how depressed he was, and could have talked to him about it, maybe even gone to see him. Maybe that little bit of human contact would have made a difference. I have done a lot of volunteer work with young people with mental illness, and I once spent a night talking to a 16 year old boy, after his 3rd suicide attempt. He received excellent treatment after that night, and he is one of the success stories. That was 15 or 20 years ago, and he is now a healthy, well-adjusted, productive young man, who writes books and gives lectures. I think people who are truly suffering need human contact, compassion and caring. You don’t get that by text.

 

These very public suicides are something to think about, or any suicide, or even an attempted suicide, by a child or an adult. This is a warning bell to all of us, to look around us, to listen, to hear, to be aware of our fellow man, to reach out when we can, to encourage people to seek treatment, and to seek treatment ourselves if we are at risk.

 

Suicide is a heart breaker, it leaves children who will be marked forever by the loss, and families shaken to their roots and forever altered. Those who commit suicide do not go gentle into the night, they rip out our hearts, and take a piece of us with them. We are all affected by the loss, even when we don’t know them. My heartfelt condolences to the Bourdain and Spade families, my heart aches for them, and for all of us, for these terrible losses, and a world that has become so hardened, lonely, and stressful for some that they see no other way out. I hope that in future we find better ways to help these people who are in so much pain. May they rest in peace at last, and may those they left behind heal as soon as they can, with our love, help, and compassion.

 

Have a peaceful week,

 

love, Danielle

 

 

6/4/18, Philanthropy

Posted on June 4, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you had a wonderful week. I’ve been working hard and writing, and I did something fun and different last week—-which was a learning experience for me.
 

I was invited to participate in the annual Forbes Foundation Symposium on philanthropy. They invited 140 philanthropists for a day of talks, information, and brain storming. As you probably know, I established two charitable foundations to honor my late son, about 20 years ago. One of them is the most active, focused on mental illness and suicide prevention. We fund organizations that provide hands on treatment, but don’t provide any services ourselves, and we are very careful who we give money to, to be sure that the organizations are responsible and doing good work. The board of the foundation meets 4 times a year to give relatively small grants too small to medium sized organizations in the Bay Area (of San Francisco). The second foundation funds supplies (sleeping bags, clothing, etc.) for the homeless through a street outreach program, and that foundation is less active at the moment, and our main focus is on the one for mental illness, which gets into the area of homelessness too, so we are putting all of our efforts into the first foundation. But as foundations go, we are very small. We have given a steady stream of funds for 20 years, but on a relatively small human scale. The philanthropists invited to the symposium were mostly from foundations that give literally billions of dollars for massive programs (like food and water for entire villages in Africa, dealing with world hunger, and poverty on a huge scale) way way WAY beyond our means. So I was very surprised to be invited. What I do is tiny compared to most of the other participants, but I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to learn something new, which I could apply on a smaller scale to our foundation. It was way out of my comfort zone, and experience, and most of the people running those foundations are heads of corporations. What we do at our foundation is tiny/microscopic compared to them. But hopefully we do some good on our small scale.
 

The instigator, inspiration, and guest speaker of the symposium, was Warren Buffett, who was absolutely remarkable. He is 88 years old, vital and active, brilliant and very interesting, and at the same time very human, and seemed like a very nice person. He has given billions of dollars to charitable causes and projects, and it was fascinating listening to him.
 

I have to admit, I felt both very small, and at the same time very grown up being at that event, listening to the projects that the various philanthropists spearhead—-a few on a small scale, but most of them on a very, VERY large scale. But in some cases, the same principles apply. Mr. Buffett suggested that we think outside the box, and think BIG, that one needs moral courage and energy to effect a change in the world, all of which is so true. We, as the audience, were seated at round tables, with 6 people at each table, with random seating, and guest speakers all day. The meeting began with breakfast at 9 am, and the serious talks and speeches by guest speakers started at 10 am. Their talks were kept short, and there was a new speaker about every half hour for the entire day. It was a wealth of information on a variety of subjects: poverty, education, social philanthropy. The man who wrote “Moneyball”, an ex-baseball player, who applied new principles to investing in sports and apparently made sports history doing so (with the Oakland A’s) gave a very interesting talk. I met and heard people I would never have met otherwise, and each of them had something to say which was useful, not only for our foundation, but about life.
 

Writing is a very solitary activity, and since I write pretty much all the time, I don’t get out much, and live in my own little bubble, writing books. So for me, it was a big dose of information, and the opportunity to learn from many people all at once. It felt like going back to school for a day!! I’m very glad I went, and did something so different. It’s a great feeling to learn new things.
 

And for our small foundation, I always find that Mother Teresa said something which applies to us, and our theory on giving. She said “We can’t do big things, but only small things with an immense amount of love”. We haven’t given billions, but we have given to many organizations in 20 years, and through those organizations we’ve helped thousands of people who suffer from mental illness. Going to the symposium was a good experience and great learning experience for me, to be willing to be the small person at an event, to learn from bigger people with bigger budgets and bigger ideas. And there is always more to learn.
 

And then I came home, and got back to my typewriter, and went back to work!!!
 

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

5/28/18, Memorial Day

Posted on May 28, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re enjoying a long lovely weekend for Memorial Day. This holiday always symbolizes the beginning of summer….which is not quite the weather we’re getting anywhere on my route. Cold and gray in San Francisco, a friend tells me it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I think it’s been cold in New York, and everyone in Paris is complaining about how cold it is there. And I was in Napa and wore two sweaters and a jacket. So come on, Summer!!! Please try a little harder!!! I brought out my summer clothes this week, and am wondering why I did!! But other than the weather, It’s a lovely holiday, and is kind of a book end for summer, with Labor Day at the other end. So summer has officially begun.
 

In years past, my husband and I used to spend the Memorial Day weekend getting our home in the Napa Valley ready for the summer, dragging out all the pool furniture, dusting off the porch, pulling summer toys out of the barn for our kids. We spent the whole weekend cleaning things and getting ready, a big job. Our Napa home belongs to my children now—-and I’m still on the cleaning crew, although I only go there once a year now. And I spend several days before the holiday, with helpers, doing the same chores before Memorial Day now. It always warms my heart to go there, and do the same things again, getting it ready for my children to enjoy the place now with their siblings and friends. It’s a tradition now. We bought the home before most of them were born, and there is something touching about continuing the traditions of the past, which is in great part what Memorial Day is about, memories and cherished people. So I spent this week cleaning house and sprucing the place up, power washing, a little painting here and there, and freshening things up. And we are particularly grateful this year, as the big Napa fires last October came within less than a mile of the home. My youngest son very bravely went up during the fires to save all the photographs of their childhood, and mementoes of their father, in case we lost the house in the fire. We were all very grateful we didn’t, and copied the photographs he brought back. They normally hang all over the house, it’s their whole family history on the walls of our old farm. It’s very quaint and cozy. And my BIG BIG job this week was hanging all 464 photographs back on the walls. I hung them chronologically this time, so you can trace back to my husband’s youth, his early days, when we met, our wedding, all the children’s christenings (a LOT of them with 9 kids!!), their childhood and growing up years, right to the present. It was a lot of work, but I had a wonderful time doing it, and it brought back tender memories of happy times. I hope it will do the same for them!!! So that’s what I did this week. A long walk down memory lane and a lot of cleaning.  One daughter always helps me, and we always have fun doing our annual clean up week. So we’re spiffy clean and ready for summer when it shows up!!
 

The big news for me this week is that my new book, “The Cast” a week after it came out, will be #1 on the New York Times and several other lists this week. No matter how often it happens, it is a thrill for me every time!!! Thank you for buying the book—I hope you love it. It’s about the members of the cast of a hit TV series, and all the complications and secrets in their lives, and their interactions with each other in real life and on the show. It was huge fun to write, with some wonderful characters in it, and surprises, and I hope you love it!!! It should be a really fun read for the summer with characters I loved when I wrote the book.  And now that my big annual cleaning mission is done, I’ve been writing all weekend. I really do hope you love “The Cast”.
 

I have some busy times ahead, with a lot of work to do. The books don’t happen by magic, so I’m getting to work.
 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful long holiday weekend, and are starting to make fun summer plans. Thank you for everything, and for making the book #1.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

5/21/18, Dog Days

Posted on May 21, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
 

The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
 

So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Art, Dogs, Hobbies, homes, Paris | 3 Comments

5/14/18, Mother’s Day

Posted on May 14, 2018

 

Hi Everyone!!

 

I hope you had a great week, and have been happily busy!!!
 

Had my all time favorite day of the year yesterday: Mother’s Day!! I had dinner with my daughters in New York last week, for an early mother’s day celebration, and yesterday, I spent the real one with all my other kids. And as always, they always spoil me. They gave me some really adorable presents: 2 fun decorated pillows, 3 pairs of very cute shoes, a wonderful album of family photographs, and a vintage typewriter that looks exactly like the first one I got from my grandmother when I was 14 or 15, a portable Smith Corona. I loved my gifts but best of all, I loved spending the day with my kids. We had brunch together, and I ate way too much!!! Mother’s Day is definitely my favorite holiday of the year.
 

Other than that, I have a lot of writing to do, so I have plenty to keep me busy—-after being lazy yesterday, and enjoying the holiday!!!
 

I hope that all is well with you, and I wish you a wonderful week!!! I have a new book coming out tomorrow, “The Cast”, about the cast of a hit TV series, and all the different people and personalities involved. I hope you love the book!!! Have a great week,

 

 

love, Danielle