Posted on November 30, 2015
I’m busy writing. With a 6 book a year publishing schedule, I have LOTS of writing to do!!!
I had an interesting experience recently, when I went through New York to see my daughters there, we went shopping together, which is always fun for me. And also challenging!! With all 3 working in fashion, they have a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t and strong opinions about what I should wear—–and never wear!!! My perception of fashion is a little different than theirs, I’m older and can’t get away with every trend that comes along, but I also like a touch of humor sometimes, and don’t always want to wear serious Mom-clothes. Fashion needs to be fun too. Sometimes I regret those flights of fancy, and sometimes I really enjoy them. And sometimes I make some lulus of mistakes!!! And my daughters keep me in line. They’re a tough fashion committee to get by sometimes!!! As all daughters are, even if they don’t work in fashion. (You’re going out in THAT??? How many times have we all heard that from teen age daughters? And then they steal it from our closet and wear it themselves!!)
And I guess I wasn’t in a very serious mood the day we went shopping. At the first store we went to, I picked a big red and black checked purse that went with a few things I own. As the girls pointed out, I didn’t “need” it, but thought it would be fun. I got a resounding NO!! on that one, by all 3. I tried on a pair of navy blue patent leather lace up boots that I also thought would be fun. No again, and their verdict was that I looked like an 18th century school teacher. So with some regret, I said no to those. At the second store, they picked out a pair of beautiful sparkly black very high heeled evening shoes which they said I’d wear a lot, and I realized they were right, so I bought them and will probably wear them for years. They are very elegant and grown up, and I’ll probably wear them on Christmas Eve when we dress up for dinner. I also picked out a pair of platform flat shoes and got an instant No on those, and….tried on a pair of high heeled boots with flowers painted all over them that I thought were really fun. The committee voted those down too, but I tried them again and loved them, and bought them anyway. They may be right, and I may never wear them, but they looked happy and fun, so I gave myself a treat. And a moment of defiance of their sometimes stern fashion rules!! The boots are probably silly, but why not?
We had a wonderful day together, and didn’t buy anything else. We had lunch and dinner, I got a little alone time with each of them, and visited a new apartment of one of them, and she’d done a great job with it. They’re very grown up, but we still love to spend time together. And the conversation turned serious at some point, as we discussed the people in their lives, their work and mine, and the things of most concern to them. They are responsible and have good judgement, but like all of us, people creep into their lives sometimes who shouldn’t be there, and either has or could really hurt them. And as a parent one hates to see that. I don’t want them to get hurt!! And I am no infallible authority, but I have more life experience than they do, and have made my share of mistakes, some of which hurt me deeply, and took years to rectify and overcome. None of us want to see our kids get hurt, or make the same mistakes we did. So just as they said NO to the shiny blue school teacher boots or the red and black bag they said looked cheap and I’d never wear and I realized they were right—–I warned them of people I thought could be unhappy experiences for them in the long run. And I know you can’t compare fashion to people and relationships, but I was relying on their experience and good judgement in fashion—–and hoping they would trust mine about some of the potential dangers in life. But advice about men, people, and relationships is much harder to take, even from someone with more experience. And whereas it was easy to walk away from a purse and a pair of boots, it’s not so easy to walk away from people we are growing attached to and maybe shouldn’t have in our lives, or even those who’ve been there for a long time, and shouldn’t be. No one takes that kind of advice easily, and they argued vehemently in favor of the people we discussed, not as willing to take my advice as I had been to take theirs, and that struck me when I thought about it later. We all have to make our own decisions and mistakes, even when they hurt us, and even our (adult) children have a right to choose their own path, no matter what we think. And as a parent we need to be gracious and supportive, and sometimes back off and let them learn a hard lesson themselves (I’m not very good at that, and a devoted mother hen, trying to protect my chicks.)
I was reminded again of how hard it is to be the mother of adults, to watch them take potentially dangerous turns in the road at times, or trust people who don’t deserve it and may hurt them later, or even some who are obviously not good for them. We made our mistakes, and I guess we have to let our kids make theirs. But damn it’s hard, and can be painful to watch a movie we’ve seen before in our own lives and know how it will probably turn out for them too, not well. One has to strive every day, to learn how much to say and not to say and when to say it. (I usually opt for saying too much, and too often, out of worry for them. and wind up annoying them). And in the end, their life story is theirs to write, whether similar to ours or not, and we have to try and trust their judgement to be better than we fear, and the fates to be kind to them. We all hope for a happy ending for our kids in the end. That’s all we want.
But I was struck by how easily they say NO to me about something to wear, and I follow their advice. And how much harder it is for them to hear me say NO about a person or a situation, and trust that I know what I’m talking about and could be right. I’ve learned from my mistakes, but paid a high price for it in my life, and would love to spare them the same experience. But perhaps we can’t, and they have their own decisions and mistakes to make. And maybe they’ll be wiser than we were at the same age. Mine have made no glaring mistakes so far, but with youth comes a certain innocence that things will turn out right no matter what, and no matter what the odds. But I’m very grateful that my children are much wiser than I was at their age.
And I guess at any age, we have a streak of defiance and mischief in us…..after all, I did buy the flowered boots they hated. I’ll let you know if I wear them, or if the girls were right…..They’re trying to keep me from looking foolish with fashion mistakes….and I am trying to keep them safe and happy and away from people who might not be good for them…..we all mean well and are trying to help each other. It is truly an art learning to be a parent to kids at every age, and I’m still learning now that my kids are adults!!! The stakes are higher as they get older, and the consequences….and they will always be our children, no matter how grown up they are. And wouldn’t it be nice if when we say NO as parents, they listened….but that wouldn’t be real life would it!!?? May the fates be kind to our children, and keep them safe, yours as well as mine….
Posted on November 23, 2015
Wow….how did it get to be the holidays so soon? It was January the last time I looked, and as it does every year, it whizzed by. One minute the year is beginning, you’re planning what you’ll do, and suddenly it’s spring and then summer, and then summer ends and it’s fall. A bunch of kids show up on Halloween, and Zap, it’s Thanksgiving. In five minutes it will be Christmas, you put the lights on the tree, admire it for a minute….then someone is singing Auld Lang Syne, and then you start all over again. So here we are, and here comes Thanksgiving.
To me, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and about friends. Although it is theoretically about family, it is a holiday to welcome friends who have nowhere else to go and might be alone, and to be thankful together. I always think about that phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It’s nice to be the place where people come, and to host it, and also nice to go to one’s friends if one is alone. And this is a good time of year for me to practice what I preach, and remember to be grateful for my family, my friends, (you my readers, and the people I work with), and the many blessings I have. I mean it, and it sounds good, but holidays also get hectic, life gets pressured and stressful, real life doesn’t stop on the holidays, and it’s easy to get worn out, stressed out, and sometimes even upset, and forget to be grateful. Sometimes the problems seem bigger than the blessings.
People in families worry about family battles and family members they don’t get along with. People without families are sad because they’re alone. People who are cooking the turkey and feel like they’re cooking for an army feel put upon (“Why do I always have to do it?”), People who have no turkey, no family, few friends and maybe nowhere to go feel deprived. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Very few people have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, where the turkey is golden, the kids all behave, and the relatives are well behaved and adorable. People are stressed and short tempered over the holidays. There’s a lot to do and take care of.
No one’s holidays are perfect or very few. Sometimes big things are wrong, or only small ones. We remember those who are no longer with us and miss them more acutely.
My older children who are married usually go to their in laws, although one of my older married children will be with us this year, which is rare. My five younger children are coming home, but they have busy lives and stressful jobs, it’s a hassle to come home from far away, their lives aren’t perfect either, but we will be grateful to be together. Gratitude will be very important for all of us, to remember that we are lucky to have each other, no matter what our situations are at the moment. I’m very grateful that my kids are coming home for the holiday. And I know it will be busy and crazy, we will miss my son Nick who is no longer with us, and I’ll just be happy to have my kids home.
And if it gets crazy or too hectic, or things don’t work out perfectly, or if there are hassles at the last minute, I’m going to take a deep breath, and remind myself of how blessed I am, how thankful I am, and how very, very many blessings I have in my life, starting with my kids. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed and wonderful, your relatives well behaved, your friends kind. And if it starts to get crazy, try to be grateful, even for a minute…..we all have something to be grateful for wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whatever our circumstances. I send you all my love, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Posted on November 16, 2015
I am speechless with grief over the violence in France. I have spent hours talking to friends and relatives in Paris. I am devastated to see the violence, the loss of life, the tragedy, the victims, the terror in Paris. My heart goes out to anyone who lost loved ones, who were injured, and all of those who are now shaken and afraid. It breaks my heart to see the city I love so much, my home, and innocent people, so savagely and senselessly attacked.
It brought to mind the words of General Charles de Gaulle, in June, 1940, the day after France fell and was occupied by the Germans. Posters appeared all over Paris with General de Gaulle’s message to believe in truth and honor, to fight for what is right, and to never, ever give up, and stand by all that we believe in, with faith and courage. It is a message that always brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. It is a love letter to France.
His final words in the message bring to mind the situation France, and the Parisians are in now:
“To All Frenchmen……I ask all Frenchmen, wherever they may be, to unite in action, in sacrifice, and in hope. Our country is in danger of death. Let us all fight to save it!!! Long Live France!!” General Charles de Gaulle (and in the original:….”je convie tous les Français, ou qu’ils se trouvent, a s’unir dans l’action, dans le sacrifice, et dans l’Esperance. Notre patrie est en peril de mort. Luttons tous pour la sauver!! Vive la France!!”)
I pray that peace may reign again in France quickly. God bless all our troubled nations, and keep us safe….
Posted on November 9, 2015
busy week last week for me, and a VERY exciting announcement today by my publisher: Starting next month, they are going to publish 6 of my books in hardcover every year, and 6 books in paperback (of books that were previously in hardcover). This is in response to readers asking for More, More, MORE!!! It’s a fantastic challenge to meet and so exciting for me. Since I work on several books a month, I can give you six new books a year!!! I hope you love them!! I will be working hard for you, and can’t wait!!!
How are you?? Doing well, I hope. And doing some things you enjoy. I have a sign in my office that says “Do more of what YOU want to do.” It’s a good reminder. I’m a ‘dutiful’ person and do a lot of the things I think I should do—-and not always the fun things I’d enjoy doing. We have to remember to put fun in our lives too.
This past week has been a busy one, LOTS of writing (in outline, first draft and editing form), seeing some friends, planning for the holidays, some Christmas shopping (Now that IS fun!!! I love shopping for myself and others—-I can have a good time anywhere, even in a hardware store!!)
It was one of my 2 country/3 city weeks, visiting my children, traveling 6,000 miles to do it. That’s a lot of airplanes, I use the time to watch movies, sleep, and catch up on reading!!!
I had a request recently to contribute to a psychiatric book about bi polar illness. My son Nick suffered from it, so I was pleased to add what I had to say on the subject, from a parent’s point of view. Hopefully it will help some parents, trying to support their child meet their challenges.
AND I am REALLY looking forward to our Facebook Chat this week on Wednesday November 11, at 2pm Eastern time. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to answer you directly. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all the posts, but I type as fast as I can, so I answer as many as possible. It’s VERY exciting for me to be in direct contact with you. Forgive me if I don’t get to yours—–I really do my best to answer you. We receive about 2,000 posts in the time allotted, and typing really fast, I answer about 200. I am so grateful to you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts with me.
Holiday plans are shaping up. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and what I am ALWAYS grateful for is your loyalty to me and your kindness.
Have a great week, lots of love, Danielle
Posted on November 2, 2015
I hope you had a great week. I spent mine glued to my typewriter all week, writing till 4 am every night. I had to leave the house once for a few hours, but normally I don’t go out at all when I’m writing…..so I was a hard working writer for Halloween!!!
I had to share with you the aftermath of Halloween. We’ve always taken Halloween, and costumes, seriously in our family. When the kids were little, they would plan their costumes for months. Mermaids, witches, Star Wars characters (I was Princess Leia once!!!). And my children have gone on and on and on dressing up on Halloween long after they were children. One of their best ones was one of daughters as a Matador a few years ago, she looked fabulous. They’ve done TV characters, political figures and some truly crazy stuff, all in good fun!!!
This Halloween, one of my daughters was a race car driver, another was a skeleton and looked adorable. And my kids dress up their dogs too. One daughter’s Chihuahua wore a poncho and a sombrero this year, my son dressed his adorable dog up as a Hawaiian tourist in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, and another daughter’s Yorkie was Madonna this year—in a platinum blonde wig!!! My two little Chihuahuas were going to be ballerinas, but since I was working I didn’t dress them. Oops, I forgot!!!
But the real winner this year was my daughter Victoria, who dressed up for Halloween as—–Me!!! I laughed when I saw the picture because she picked up on my all my ‘quirks’. I wear lots and lots of bracelets on both arms, and she said she wore every bracelet she had. My daily ‘uniform’ when I’m working (that’s most of the time) is a black turtleneck sweater, jeans and loafers. I wear reading glasses—-and also distance glasses, and usually wind up with both sets of glasses on my head. I have very long hair, and almost always wear it pulled back in a ponytail, so she did (although I have red hair, and she’s blonde) I wear a necklace with a cross, so she wore that too. Victoria looked a whole lot prettier than I do in all of it…..she looked adorable, and while I was working, that photo popped up and I REALLY laughed—–and I had to share it with you!!
Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset
I hope you had a TERRIFIC Halloween, whether you wore a costume or not!!! Take care!! Have a wonderful week.
Posted on October 26, 2015
I hope you’ve had a good week, with lots of good things happening, or at the very least a peaceful one. I’ve had another crazy busy week, but am hoping for some quiet time this week to do some writing. My writing times are always a quiet refuge for me, and often a great escape from the headaches of ‘real life’, while I focus on the story I’m writing. But this was a go go go week for me, with a lot to do, and a lot of real life to deal with. Not unpleasant, just Busy!!! I had a friend come to visit for 4 days, which was a lot of fun. We had dinner with friends every night, to introduce her to new people, went to an art fair, visited a fascinating new building which was a wonder of architecture, and did some shopping (a girl can never have enough shoes, which is nearly impossible to explain to a man, “But you already have black shoes”—–yeah, whatever. Don’t even try to explain it to them). I did some Christmas shopping, which I always try to do early, to avoid the crush of shoppers in December. I had a wonderful visit with my God children, and tried to keep up with my work. And to add some spice (and worry) to my week, one of my children was on a business trip to Mexico this week, just when the hurricane was heading there, and I was seriously worried about her. She was just far enough away from the worst of it to be safe, but I watched the weather reports with great concern. (One of my daughters lost her home and almost everything she owned in Hurricane Sandy in New York 3 years ago, so the word ‘hurricane’ terrifies me). » read more »
Posted on October 19, 2015
I hope you had a great week and that all is going smoothly!!! We can all use more of that!!!
I had an absolutely fantastic experience with my daughter. Like everyone else, I go along through life, being with my family, doing my work, trying to keep up with the big and little stuff, seeing friends, and meeting ‘regular’ people. And then once in a while, through luck or my work, or even my kids, I meet someone extraordinary and very special. (like meeting Joel Osteen this summer, through a friend of a friend). My youngest daughter is a HUGE basketball fan and never misses a game. And she absolutely loved last season when the Warriors won the championship and her hero is MVP Stephen Curry. And luck smiled on us again, one of my daughters has a good friend who works in sports, and was able to arrange a meet and greet with the basketball star. It was too good to be true, and more than I ever hoped, and on my youngest’s birthday a few weeks ago, I was able to promise her she’d meet the star!! She nearly keeled over!! We were told we could come to their practice facility after a practice and she could say hello and shake his hand. And she asked me to come with her.
The Big Day came, and we drove to Oakland, where the team practices (in a huge, spectacular gym). We followed the directions and found ourselves in the hallways of the Warriors’ facilities, nervous with anticipation, excited, even I had caught the bug by then and was excited to meet him. Everyone was wonderful to us, treated us like royalty, welcomed us warmly, we chatted with some people in the halls, an ex-basketball player who has a radio show and had come to interview him. The General Manager, Bob Myers, couldn’t have been nicer. The head of Communications made us feel welcome. And we got to watch Stephen Curry’s practice routine. I was as excited as my daughter by then, and she looked adorable in team tee shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers in the team colors. (And I managed to wear royal blue, since royal blue and yellow are their colors). We hung around for an hour, soaking up the atmosphere and watching several of the players practice, my daughter recognized all the players she saw, as several of them went through their practice regimes in the enormous gym. And when he finished his, Stephen Curry walked over. He is strikingly handsome, and an outstanding, gifted athlete and a major star, and like some great people, what struck me about him immediately was his modesty, how humble he was, and how kind. He was absolutely wonderful to us, we talked about their victorious past season, how exciting it had been, and we talked about his daughters. He made my daughter feel special and important, wasn’t in a hurry and gave her all the time she wanted, and signed the team tee shirt she had brought. We thanked him for his kindness and his time, and then, smiling at her, he stooped down, took off his shoes, signed them and handed them to her, they were bright turquoise, an incredible trophy to go home with, and remarkable souvenir. We went home dazzled by him, and what an obviously special and extraordinary person he is. Just meeting him was a gift and a thrill, to be in the presence of such talent. He is diligent and disciplined about what he does, you can see it in the way he practices, and he was overwhelmingly nice to us. The whole experience was a thrill, it was everything my daughter hoped and more, and we were so grateful for all the people who made it possible and fun for us. And we’re going to put the signed tee shirt and shoes in a special case and hang it on the wall. Meeting Stephen Curry was a total WOWWWWW!!! And an unforgettable experience. I hope he and the team have a great season, and I will never forget his handing my daughter his shoes, a gratuitous generous incredibly thoughtful gesture. And after all is said and done, in addition to being a real star and an outstanding athlete, what a truly, genuinely nice person. We went home after that, giggling and laughing and excited. Some experiences don’t live up to what you hoped they would be, but this one far exceeded anything we could have imagined. It was just plain WOWWWW!!!!
Posted on October 12, 2015
I hope you had a good week. I’ve been writing a lot, so I’ve been buried at my desk, not paying much attention to anything else or what goes on around me. I always seem to write more in the fall and winter, so I don’t feel guilty (or cheated) when I’m locked up and can’t go out in pretty weather.
Lots of noise over my desk though!!! Every year on the Columbus Day weekend, there is a big air show in San Francisco: the Blue Angels, Navy pilots in fighter planes flying in tight formation, and doing all kinds of breathtaking stunts and tricks—-and they make a HUGE amount of noise. They used to fly very low, I once literally saw the face of one of the pilots as they flew past my house. They dont fly as low now, I think the city complained. But they are very impressive, and practice all week over the Bay. Warships come into the Bay the week before and are still there. And every sailboat in the Bay is lined up to get a better view as they flash by. It really is impressive, though noisy when I try to write, and since this is high writing season for me (I’m always working on a book this time of year), it’s distracting while I try to write. But nonetheless impressive to watch. One year, it was foggy, as it often is in SF, and they had to cancel, and everyone was disappointed.
I heard that there were 2 more school shootings somewhere in the country this week. Please tell me the world hasn’t gone mad, and that this horrifying insanity will stop one of these days. You know how I feel about it, we all do.
I just finished a big writing project, and am hitting the road this week. This is one of my 4 city weeks when I visit all my kids as I trek across the world. I love doing it and seeing them. My dogs aren’t quite as happy about it, as I drag them with me too. And from the absurd to the ridiculous, my Chihuahuas will be ballerinas for Halloween this year!!! (last year bumble bees, the year before geisha girls). It’s good to do something silly and have a laugh sometimes. And they HATE their costumes, but they look so funny and cute.
Getting ready for Halloween….I can never resist it. The perfect excuse for chocolate in bite size candy bars, with the excuse that you’re giving them out to children (and I eat half of it myself!!!)
Take good care, be safe and happy, and I hope great things happen to you this coming week. Have a great one, and I just learned that I will be doing 4 Facebook ‘chats’ a year with readers from now on. I can’t wait!!!
All my good thoughts and love to you, Danielle
Posted on October 5, 2015
I hope you’ve had a good, peaceful, productive week. Things are pretty busy after the first month of fall.
I don’t have the heart today to write to you about fashion shows—although Paris fashion week is still in full swing with the spring ready to wear collections—–or my opinions about love and marriage, or funny quotes. It’s a time for quiet musing, about the state of our country and our world.
Last Thursday, as I’m sure you know, there was a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a small town of 22,000 people, which left 10 people injured and 10 dead (including the shooter). We CANNOT allow this to become a banal event, and ordinary occurrence in our lives. We just can’t. There are statistics flying around since the shooting that vary but essentially this was supposedly the 41st or 45th public shooting THIS YEAR, and the 141st in 3 years, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, in addition to some random shootings in public places that left a smaller number of people dead. If you do the math on that, that means that there is approximately ONE shooting per week in public places like schools, colleges, or churches, or even in public restaurants. It means that the places that we send our children, or young adults, and assume they will be safe, are NOT safe by any means. You can send your kindergartner off to school now with their superhero lunch box and not be absolutely certain they’ll still be alive by lunchtime. If I had a school age child today, I would be terrified to send them to school. My youngest child graduated from college two years ago, and I would be just as panicked about her. But it’s not just schools, there are random shootings in churches now, so no one is entirely safe there. You might go to buy your groceries, or stop for a meal at a fast food restaurant, and it’s entirely possible that someone will open fire in the restaurant, leaving dead and injured victims everywhere, and grieving families in the news. What is happening to us? What are we not doing or seeing? What is wrong with our mental health care system that we are not identifying these very troubled people who commit these atrocious crimes, providing them the help they need, and stopping them before they kill innocent bystanders and children? Are we so blind to the troubled people among us? Do we not care? Are we afraid to speak up when we know that someone in our communities is putting the rest of us at risk? Is human life so totally without value that we just accept this now as a symptom of modern life? It is truly, truly shocking, beyond words. » read more »
Posted on September 28, 2015
I hope all is going smoothly in your life, and that the Fall is off to a good start, now that it’s officially here.
I was thinking about ‘fashion’ in general and specifically tonight. I write about it often, when I go to fashion shows, or see my daughters’ work. Three of my daughters are professional stylists and design consultants, to a variety of designers. All three of them have the same job, but perform it in very different ways, depending on who they’re working with, and their own individual styles. A design consultant works closely with the designer to develop their next collection, how it should look, what colors are strongest, fabrics, textures, details, and a huge amount of research and collaboration goes into putting the new collection together. They may be inspired by a period in history, a country, a culture, or even world events, or street culture. First they help develop the concept, and then in the case of one of my daughters, she does an immense amount of research, delving back into fashion books, and even looking at vintage pieces, for inspiration. And then the hands on work begins, helping to choose fabrics, seeing how they work, what colors work best with those designs, then they have samples cut and sewn and fit them on models to see how they move and drape, before cutting the actual clothes for the collection. And once the real samples are made, they fit them on the models who will wear them in the fashion show (and pick the models), and then their role as stylists comes in, as they put together each complete look that will be worn by a model on the runway, and the accessories that will help create that look. The tension before a fashion show is enormous, my girls stay at work long after midnight, and are often back at work at 6 or 7 am right before a show. And the day after a show, it’s not over, and then they begin shooting photographs for the “look book”, which buyers can refer to when they order the clothes. And by the time they finish that, a week after the show, they begin work on the next collection. Designers (who actually do the drawing of the designs) and their consultants work closely together, and have to come up with 3 major collections a year: spring, fall, and ‘resort/cruise’, which used to be beachwear people wore to resorts in the winter, and is now essentially an early spring collection. In addition, for spring and fall, they do a “pre-collection”, which is a simpler, more commercial, sometimes slightly less expensive version of what is shown on the runway. So you’re really talking about designing 5 collections a year, with the pre-collections. It’s a stunning amount of work, and that’s true for all brands, whether low, moderate, or high priced. “Fashion Week” happens twice a year, for the spring and fall collections, and is really fashion month. It starts with a week in New York, where American designers show their wares, then on to London for the British designers, Milan for the Italians, and then the grand finale in Paris, for all the French ready to wear designers. It is four intense weeks where magazine editors, the fashion press in general, store buyers, and anyone who follows fashion go from city to city for an exhausting month. It begins in early September in New York and goes into October, showing spring clothes for the stores to order, and then happens again in February, into March, to show the fall collections. One of my daughters actually worked all 4 cities at times, but mostly my daughters work in New York and Paris. All three are talented and work with major designers, and it’s a thrill for me every time to see the collections they worked on, and to see the influence they had, and the results of their hard work. I admire them immensely for how hard they work, and am very proud of the results. (I’m proud of all my kids, who work in very different fields, the eldest is a social worker in pediatric oncology, the youngest has a passion for music, two of my sons work in startups, and another works in the film industry. And my late son Nick was a talented musician, and lyricist, and lead singer in a band. And best of all, each is following their passions and expressing their individual talents.) » read more »
Posted on September 21, 2015
I hope you had a good week. I had a birthday last month (I always dread my birthdays, but I had a great one this year!!! With my children, we spent a weekend together, and REALLY enjoyed it). The joke of the birthday was that my kids had a fantastic birthday cake made: it was a life size and life like sculpture of my two tiny Chihuahuas, Minnie and Blue, wearing tutus and tiaras. The cake showed them looking real, was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and the baker who made it was a genius. I was THRILLED with my birthday cake, and because it was so cute, I wouldn’t let the kids cut the cake——I wasn’t about to let them chop off a nose or an ear, or a paw when it looked so real and so adorable—-I spent the weekend protecting it, and made the family eat apple pie instead!!! And there were a LOT of complaints about it. I took the cake home after the weekend, untouched, like a work of art. It would be hard to top that cake!!!
I got wonderful gifts from my kids, even a pair of shoes that said “I Love U”, and lots of other gifts, shoes, sweaters, bracelets, a ring with a heart on it, all kinds of thoughtful things I loved and have been enjoying since. And I got a really sweet little tiny miniature book from a friend, with sayings about love and marriage that I found extremely touching and wise. (Including a very funny quote from Phyllis Diller that said “Don’t go to bed mad, stay up and fight”). The book is called “Words about Love” from the Orange Art Miniature Press. And I wanted to share my favorites with you here. Since you all know how much I love quotes!!!
– “Money can’t buy love, but it improves your bargaining position” – Laurence Peter
– “The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters” – Harold Nicholson.
– “Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about 3 or 4 things a day unsaid” – Harlan Miller.
– “Be good to yourself, be excellent to others, and do everything with love” – John Wolf
– “We can do no great things, only small things with great love” – Mother Teresa
– “Love your neighbours—not the neighbours you pick out, but the ones you have” – Wendell Berry
– “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” – Mignon Mc Laughlin
– “Love has to be put into action, and that action is service” – Mother Teresa
– “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction” – Antoine de Saint Exupery.
I thought they were wise and helpful, and some good reminders!! Have a great week!!
(Footnote: After writing this blog to you a few days ago, I was shocked yesterday to learn of the passing of my friend and very talented writer Jackie Collins. She was a wonderful woman, and apparently has been battling breast cancer in secret. We spoke several times only a few weeks ago, and she didnt even hint at it. We’ve been friends for many years, I admired her talent enormously, and loved her as a person. She was an incredibly kind friend, and helped me for several years with my son Nick’s foundation, and came to San Francisco to visit me. She will be greatly missed by all her friends, for her kindness, wit, sharp mind, beauty and great sense of humor……my deepest sympathy to her family and all who knew and loved her. A truly terrific woman. Farewell, beloved friend.)
Posted on September 14, 2015
I hope that all is well with you, and that your fall is rolling out nicely.
This is usually not an easy week for me. We all have our challenges in life, and my greatest one was losing my son Nick eighteen years ago, when he was 19. Those of you who’ve read my book about him, His Bright Light, know that he was bi-polar all his life. I suspected that something was wrong, or very different about him, when he was 18 months old, by the time he was four years old, he was fully and obviously bi-polar, although then people with bi polar disease were never diagnosed until their early 20’s. I spent years telling doctors his symptoms, always to be told that he was just very bright, or too bright, or ‘spoiled’, and not to worry. Today, children are diagnosed with bi polar disease, and treated with medication and therapy at three or four. In Nick’s case, his diagnosis was confirmed at 16, which was considered early then. The psychiatrist who diagnosed him was bi polar himself. And once medicated and treated, he had 3 great, mostly happy and VERY productive years until the end. He was hugely talented in music, as a musician and lead singer of a successful band. And despite his illness, he had a lot of fun, and gave us enormous joy. I always hasten to remind people that many, many, many people with bi-polar disease survive it, live well, manage it successfully, and have full, happy, and productive lives. Living with bi polar is challenging, like a lot of other illnesses, but can be successfully managed. Some are unlucky, like Nick, but many people survive it well. » read more »
Posted on September 7, 2015
One of the readers who made a comment to my blog post of August 24th, shared a wonderful quote: “The legend of the two wolves, Hope vs. Despair. Which one wins? The one that you feed.” That is so true and so inspiring. Thank you!!!
I just added some new quotes to my office wall, and moved one of my favorites to where I see it more directly. “One of the deep secrets of Life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others” by Lewis Carroll.
The reader who offered the quote about the wolves referred to the men who recently stopped an armed gunman on a train between Amsterdam and Paris. A man carrying an arsenal of weapons, including a machine gun, boarded the train, and injured three people before 3 American Servicemen and a British teacher stopped him, before anyone else could get injured. Miraculously, no one was killed. And their incredibly bold act of courage saved the lives of countless people on the train. It is shocking, heartbreaking and terrifying that acts of terrorism have now become not part of daily life, but a frequent occurrence: school shootings, shootings in public places, homemade bombs, suicide bombers due to mental illness or politics. Every time we go to large public gatherings, or even just go out to buy groceries, go to school, or take a trip we are facing the very real possibility that something unexpected and dangerous could happen. We can’t worry about it constantly, or hide at home, but the possibility is very real. The Boston Marathon, the attacks in Paris, shootings at Universities and even at elementary schools. It is becoming increasingly frequent, and alarming. One of the US Servicemen from the train said not to simply stand by and watch it happen, but to do something when it does. I cannot imagine having the courage to do that, and yet people become heroes every day when they step in and step up and save others. I cannot even imagine the sheer guts it must take to do that, the bravery and selflessness. Those who acted on that train were decorated three days later as heroes to whom the French government was grateful. » read more »
Posted on August 31, 2015
Well, it’s the last day of August, and appears to be the end of the summer. Kids are back in school, fall is officially almost here, those of us who were taking time off this summer have done it, and I was lucky to have two vacations with my kids, one for 10 days in France with my younger children, and the other for a few days in the States with everyone for my birthday, it’s a good excuse to get together. I hope you got some time off to play, relax, get some sun, and rest before launching into Fall.
Tomorrow is an exciting day for me: my new hardcover novel will come out. “Undercover”. It’s a thriller, with surprises and twists and turns. It begins in the jungles of Colombia, with an Undercover agent placed in the drug cartels there, a different venue and subject for me, and exciting to write. It’s about two people in separate worlds, an Undercover agent in the DEA, who is then transferred back to Washington, DC, after years of living an entirely different identity. He is assigned a desk job in the Pentagon, which he hates, and then is loaned to the Secret Service on the Presidential detail. And while there, more excitement happens to him, and he eventually winds up in Paris. The other central character in the book is a young woman, daughter of an Ambassador assigned to Argentina, where she is kidnapped by revolutionaries, a life changing experience for her. She also winds up in Paris, later in the book, and finds herself in danger once again. The Undercover agent crosses paths with the Ambassador’s daughter, and they wind up on the run, escaping the dangerous men from their past. The book is exciting, covers a lot of territory, with interesting characters woven in and out, and some frightening and thrilling moments. I hope you read it and love it!!! I had a great time writing the book. And it’s especially fun to write something different, for a change of pace. I hope you enjoy it too!!
I hope your September gets off to a great start!!!
Posted on August 24, 2015
I tackled a massive project recently: my desk. On the corner of my desk is a stacked “outbox”, where everything seems to wind up, bank information, literary contracts, birthday cards from my children, poems I’ve written, Christmas lists, and religious articles. Anything I’m not sure where to file, I put on the stack in my outbox, until it resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and if anyone moves too quickly, bumps into it, or adds a single piece of paper to it, it slides into an avalanche onto the floor. I clean it all out every few years, though I rarely go through it all. With a few hours to spare recently, I decided to attack it, put away the sentimental things, photos of friends….a photo of a man I dated a dozen years ago, birthday cards from my husband from longer ago than that. I decided to get rid of what was no longer relevant, file the business papers in my office, and get rid of the towering stack. There were things in it that went back twenty years, and I found some real treasures, some things that made me laugh, and of course a lot of junk. But some truly great stuff from my kids!!! I saved everything that was special or meant a lot to me, and put it all in a box.
And among the papers, I found some things that had inspired me and I was happy to find. And I thought I’d share two of them with you here, about love, and life.
The first one was written by Mary Baker Eddy: “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power”. I like that one a lot.
And the other one is anonymous but touched me too:
“If life is funny, it’s okay to laugh.
If it becomes too difficult, it’s okay to travel with a friend.
If life becomes tragic, it’s okay to cry.
If life becomes impossible, you still have to go on, you can never, ever give up.
If life becomes too lonely, look for someone to take your hand.
And if by some miracle, you find your dreams and they actually come true, remember to count your blessings and whisper thanks.”
I love that message a lot. Have a great week!!
Posted on August 17, 2015
Here we are in the middle of August, the summer is almost over, and thoughts are turning to Fall and making plans. September always seems exciting to me, maybe left over from my school days, but life begins anew in the Fall, new season, fall clothes, clean slate, and a burst of energy after the summer, to do new things. When the real new year starts in January, the weather is usually so dreary and depressing (unless you live in Hawaii or the Caribbean!!), but in September, everything starts over again, the cooler weather is invigorating, and the pace steps up as we get busier again after the summer. I actually have a new book coming out on September 1st: “Undercover”, about an undercover agent, fighting the Colombian drug cartels, lots of excitement and suspense!!! I hope you like it!!
So back to breakfast. My real breakfast is not too exciting. I eat the same thing every day: 1 piece of toast, and an iced decaf coffee, which seems to hit the spot as I start the day. I’m not much of an eater, and I share my single piece of toast with my 2 Chihuahuas, Minnie and Blue, who get very excited about it!!! So that’s the fuel I use to start my day, nothing too exotic, to say the least.
But I also try to feed my soul in the morning. Some days are better than others, and I try to keep a positive attitude, no matter what is going on—sometimes more successfully than others. Sometimes I think of the things that are worrying me as I wake up, not a great way to start the day. So I need a little boost to brush away the cobwebs. The first thing I do when I get up, even before my breakfast, is check my emails, to see if I have emails from my kids, my agent, editor, or publisher, or anything urgent. With half my life in Europe, it’s already the end of the afternoon there when I wake up early if I’m in the States, as emails come in from abroad while I’m sleeping. So I read through them first thing. What that means is that my first stop of the day is at the little table my youngest son made for me when he was about 10, in Woodshop, (it was for my birthday, I think, he made it and painted it) and I use it as my computer desk, with a little child’s antique chair. It’s a cozy set up in a corner of my office, since I only use my computer for emails, and not for writing my books. I’m always in my office by 8 am, no matter how late I go to bed (usually around 3 am, sometimes a little earlier or later if I’m writing). And first thing in my morning, I sit down at the little computer desk. So I put things on and around that desk to inspire me and start my day off right, and make me happy.
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Posted on August 10, 2015
I hope that all is well with you. I have had an amazing week, and had to share it with you. A dream come true. An idol met. An incredible experience. Unforgettable moments.
It all began in a hotel room half a dozen years ago. In New York, while visiting my children, late at night looking for something to watch on TV, I happened across a preacher speaking on television, and watched for a few minutes to listen to his message. He was young, attractive, sounded intelligent, and I was impressed by how simple and clear his message was. It was a huge dose of hope, mixed in with common sense, and made faith palatable to people of almost any religion, or even none at all. I was enormously impressed, watched the whole show, and liked it enormously. The preacher was someone I’d never heard of (then), Joel Osteen. The message stayed with me for several days, I mentioned him to one of my daughters, who said she had read something about him in the New York Times. I left New York 2 days later, and was walking toward the gate at the airport, past the book store, when I saw his book on the bestseller shelves, and quickly bought one before my flight. I loved the book, and once again his strong clear message of hope, and how to lead a better life. EVERYTHING he said appealed to me and made sense. I soaked up the book’s message like a sponge. I can’t remember what was happening in my life at the time, but undoubtedly the usual challenges of being the single parent to many children, a major career with the pressure and challenges that entails, a recent embezzlement at the time, and the usual problems we all face every day, which can range from discouragement to occasional despair. I found the book, and Joel Osteen’s message helpful in a down to earth, warm, practical way, and it stayed with me. I applied the principles in the book to my life, and found that they had a strong positive effect. I’m a religious person so was open to it, but even someone not of a religious bent, or of any faith, would have found it appealing. Who doesn’t need a positive attitude about their life? My admiration for Joel Osteen began then.
When I got home, I looked up his other books on the Internet and ordered them all, and read them avidly, and loved each one. I read his new books as they came out and was never disappointed. I told people about them, and gave them to friends. If anyone was struggling with problems, and everyday life, I sent them one of Joel’s books. I read those I had for a second and third time. His stock in trade was hope, practical advice, and his positive attitude was contagious. If I was having a tough time with anything, kids, work, life, I grabbed one of his books and read it again, and my life seemed to improve immeasurably whenever I did. He had a smooth writing style, his sincerity flew off the page, and the books were not only helpful, but fun to read. And I was intrigued by his mentions of his family, all of whom were in some way engaged in their family ministry. He had inherited it from his father, his siblings and in laws work with him, his wife, and children, and his mother. And from a small church, he managed to acquire one of the largest buildings in Houston, where his ministry is based, and they moved to the Compaq Center in Houston, where his church, following and ministry grew exponentially. By then, he was far from unknown, and his books hit the bestseller lists every time. My only knowledge of him was through his books, occasional interviews, and his televised sermons when I saw them.
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Posted on August 3, 2015
I hope you had a good week, and that August is off to a good start. I’m hoping it will be peaceful. We’ve had something of a turbulent summer, which you know, if you read my blog about Sam Ewing 2 weeks ago, “Fallen Hero”. But we’ve had some really good family time together, which is the best antidote to the pains of ‘real life’. And I had a wonderful 10 day vacation with my 5 youngest children. I am always grateful for time with my kids, when they can spare the time from their jobs and busy lives. And in a few weeks, I’m hoping to spend some time with all my kids. So….onward….
In the comments to last week’s blog, someone mentioned that she was writing her first novel, and said that people were really giving her a hard time about it. And oh do I know that one. Somebody told me years ago that there are two jobs everyone thinks they can do, if they just had the time and wanted to: writing and photography. We all know we can’t be brain surgeons, or lawyers or nuclear physicists unless we study for it for a lot of years. But lots of people think they can write, and everyone takes pictures, so they figure they can do it, if they want to bother. And lots of people are talented writers and photographers, but it’s not quite as easy as some people think, and they might be surprised if they try it!!! (My father was a talented amateur photographer, who sold some of his photographs in later years, and let me tell you, that talent is not hereditary—–I can’t take a photo without cutting everyone’s head off, or get it in focus. Although one of my daughters is a terrific photographer. But I’m never going to win any prizes or set the world on fire with my pictures!!)
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Posted on July 27, 2015
Before I share this week’s blog with you, I want to tell you how touched and totally bowled over I was by your loving and heartfelt messages about Sam Ewing. As of this moment, there are 146 messages from you about him, and you really, really touched my heart, and his wonderful mother has read them too. I can’t begin to tell you what it means to all of us. Thank you for your incredible kindness and beautiful words. With love from all of us.
And now for some more mundane thoughts!! I hope that all is well with you!!!
I hope your summer is rolling out smoothly and nicely with fun times, some relaxing days, and maybe even a great vacation you’ve been waiting all year to take. I love these summer days.
The Green Eyed Monster I’m talking about is jealousy, and I think it’s a REALLY important subject, for all of us. It is the seen and unseen evil in all of our lives, no matter who or where we are, at whatever level or stage in life. And it can wreak havoc in our lives, and often does.
I read a comment to my blog recently, from someone having trouble at work. I hear it from friends, my children at their jobs, and experience it myself every day. It may come in the form of a small snide comment from a co-worker, or even a boss, that takes you by surprise, or it may even take the form of some truly wicked planning by someone who is out to do you harm. And jealousy often comes from unexpected quarters, from someone you just can’t even imagine would be jealous of you. Some jealous people go to great lengths to hide it, others unabashedly go after you in some way. But whether hidden or overt, jealousy is one of the most corrosive, potentially dangerous elements in all of our lives. I have long since had a great “respect” for just how dangerous other people’s jealousies can be.
As a famous person, people in the outer circle of our lives see the outer trappings (all of them perfectly manicured and dressed up for your viewing pleasure) of a public person’s life. You see how handsome their children are, how big their house, how nice their clothes. You’re told how successful they are, how much fun they’re having, and shown how fabulous they supposedly are. In most cases, you don’t see how troubled one or more of their children may be, how stretched their finances, how bad their marriage (except in the tabloids), you don’t see them crying over the griefs in their life, or on a bad hair day, or with stomach flu. In a way, we are set up to be jealous of them. And they in turn, as famous people, are set up as an open target for other people’s envy—-which is a scary situation to be in. I’ve had my share of threats, and nasty jealous hate mail too, for all those reasons, and have also experienced other people’s jealousy at close range, from people I know. Jealousy almost always comes as a surprise, and it can be a powerful negative force against us.
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Posted on July 20, 2015
In the early morning hours of July 4, a hero emerged in an old Victorian home in Los Angeles. The hero was a man I’ve known since he was a boy, named Sam Ewing, known to his friends as Sammy.
I first met Sam in his teens, a wiry funny lively, bright boy, full of life, with a passion and gift for music. He wanted to be a writer when he grew up, and was one of my son Nick’s two very best friends. They met on the music scene when both were playing in bands as kids. Nick’s was on a track toward success, and he and Sammy became fast friends. The boys spent time together, with their other friends, always dedicated to their music, and talented writers. Sammy was always fun, funny, the two were often up to harmless mischief and thought starting food fights among their friends was great sport. They had good years together in their teens, happily chasing girls, constantly playing music. They were part of a group of close ‘guy’ friends, and were a trio of good kids, with another close friend of Nick’s named Max. The three boys were inseparable, and Sammy came on vacation with us several times with our family. As an only child, Sam thoroughly enjoyed and was welcomed into our big family, with siblings both older than Nick, and younger. Sam fit right in and was always welcome and part of the fun.
Sadly, tragedy hit their group early on. Nick’s closest childhood friends fell one by one, to accidents (one hit by a drunk driver while crossing a street in the crosswalk), Nick’s suicide at nineteen. Then their friend Max’s suicide later. One by one, like the ten little Indians, they disappeared. Sammy was 3 years older than the others, and as of three years ago, was the last survivor of the group. He turned 40 in April. And after Nick’s death, he took on the role of stand in big brother to Nick’s younger siblings, a role has continued faithfully, and was particularly kind and attentive to my youngest daughter, trying to stand in for Nick. He worked in my office for 7 years after he finished college, was much loved by all, still played music in various bands at night, and tried to start a budding career as a writer, working on a novel, and writing under the pen name of Sam Winston. He had talent, life, energy, bright ideas, friends and a mother who loved him. He began in San Francisco, and moved to LA in the last year to add new horizons to his life, and worked on the music scene, still writing.
In LA, he moved into an old Victorian house with 4 roommates. And on the night of July 3rd, an electrical fire broke out. Within seconds, the house was filled with heavy black smoke. Sam came out of the house, found himself alone on the street, waiting for the fire department to arrive, and none of his roommates came out. Overwhelmed by the smoke, his 4 roommates were dazed, as Sam saw the house begin to collapse in the flames and smoke. Without hesitating, he rushed back inside, found his roommates, and one by one carried them to safety. Two were critically burned, two less so, and one by one he got them out of the smoke and flames. A hero was born in that moment, and no one who knew Sammy is surprised. It is so typical of the good person he was. And as he got the last of them out, the fire raged even further out of control, Sam was trapped and killed. His heroic act, saving four friends cost him his life. 62 fire fighters fought the fire for an hour before bringing it under control, with one of the firemen severely injured as well. Too late for Sam. There is nothing left of the house but shock and memories, Sam’s act of heroism, and the four people he saved and sacrificed his life for. » read more »