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 »
Posted on July 13, 2015
It’s that time of year again, the fashion shows in Paris—-more precisely the Haute Couture shows, the shows of clothing that are not Ready to Wear, but are made to order stitch by stitch to the exact measurements of the lucky person who can buy them (and afford them). Haute Couture has always been the summit of high fashion, the most elite and exclusive, available to only a select few clients who can afford them. The creations are remarkable, the clothes unforgettable, and the piece de resistance at the end of the show is always a bridal gown. All of the clothes can be ordered and take several months to make, and clients have two or three fittings before they’re finished to make sure that they fit impeccably.
You can’t just show up at either a Ready to Wear or an Haute Couture show in Paris, it is by invitation only. And the invitations are much coveted and sought after. In days gone by, the front row of the Haute Couture shows were lined with famously well dressed women, the wives of Presidents and Captains of Industry, famous movie stars, women who were known to be the best dressed in each of their countries. The women were usually of a certain age, and the clothes designed accordingly. Dressing in haute couture was not a young women’s sport, it was SERIOUS fashion business, an important business, and the women who wore them were known for how well dressed they were. Now, everything has changed. Haute Couture is a dying art, there are only two of the old venerable famous dress houses who still make haute couture: Dior and Chanel. The others are mostly newcomers. And all of the old important haute couture houses have faded away and closed. Haute Couture fashion week lasted a full week, with 5 or 6 important shows a day. Now it takes two days. And the famous women who lined the front row, jotting down notes of what they wanted to order have been replaced by faces most of us don’t know: Chinese movie stars, members of the press or in public relations, people who love fashion but don’t wear haute couture and never will. One sees a few well dressed women with no idea who they are, and a great many people in exaggerated costumes, desperate for attention. And in all fairness, the prices of Designer Ready to Wear now is what Haute Couture, handmade clothes cost 20 years ago, and Haute Couture prices are now out in the stratosphere for incredible embroideries, beautiful fabrics, and clothes that very few people can afford.
» read more »
Posted on July 6, 2015
I hope you had a good week, and that good things are happening. School is almost out, if you’re in school, always a glorious moment, waiting for freedom all summer. Or if you have school age kids, lots to plan to keep them busy all summer!! And hopefully lots of fun things to look forward to!!!
I had a funny experience recently, a conversation with a friend, which made me think about how we react to some of the unpleasant things that happen to us. Good manners and pride lead us to minimize some of the really yucky stuff we go through, and the people around us minimize it too, perhaps to make us feel better about it, or maybe they don’t know what else to say. There is some good in that theory, because we can’t sit around moaning all the time. But you fall flat on your face (or on your hands and knees) on the sidewalk, and with bleeding knees, embarrassed beyond belief, with torn stockings, and seeing stars, you assure everyone of how “fine” you are….no, really, it’s nothing…I’m fine. Really?? When you feel like you’re about to throw up and want to crawl into a hole and put yourself back together without 14 strangers staring at you??? Your boyfriend dumps you, or you break up mutually, and everyone assures you that you’re better off, and you’ll find a MUCH better guy in no time, and it’s a blessing in disguise. (As one of my friends says, I’m looking for a blessing that’s NOT in disguise!!). You get divorced, and your heart feels like it’s in a million pieces, or you lose someone you love some other way, and you assure everyone you’re fine—because it’s too embarrassing or painful to admit that you’re sitting at home crying every night, for a while anyway, and feel like your world will never be the same again. And every one will tell you that it’s better sooner than later, and a great thing that you didn’t lose more time (possibly true, but a miserable experience nonetheless). You lose a job, and again everyone says you’ll find a much better one that uses all your hidden talents, and once again we say we’re fine—-while you’re really thinking, how the hell am I going to pay the mortgage, or the rent, and feed the kids? Dignity induces us to assure the world and ourselves that we’re “fine”, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. Because the world doesn’t come to an end, or shouldn’t, every time something bad happens, and hopefully something good will happen after that. And after the storm, the sun does come out again, and that’s a good thing to remember. But most, or many of us, rarely admit how really shaken up we are by the bad stuff, or how upset we were
I had two unpleasant experiences recently, I was let down by people I trusted profoundly. And the other was an upsetting, unnerving experience that really upset me. And in both situations, I dealt with them sensibly, and calmly, and worked hard at appearing un-upset by it, although I was. I shared both experiences with a friend recently, in a very matter of fact way, not wanting to make a big deal of it (and seem like a whiner or a sissy), and she looked at me in amazement and said “Oh my God, that’s HORRIBLE!!!!” She totally ‘got’ how upset I was, maybe even more than I did. And all of a sudden, it felt okay to admit it, and acknowledge it, and not just try to be ‘grown up’ and polite about it. (I come from a very uptight European background, where you just don’t admit how upset you are, and you deal with it quietly and politely). My friend looked at me and said “that SUCKS”, and I had to laugh….because it did suck, and it was horrible, and all of a sudden I didn’t need to reassure everyone that it was really okay, and I was “fine’. I am fine, but I was damn upset for a while. And sometimes that’s okay. We don’t ALWAYS have to be polite and tell the people closest to us that we’re fine, and what they did wasn’t really so awful. It was liberating to hear her validate my feelings and the experiences….. She was absolutely right, it sucked!!! Sometimes things that happen are horrible, and it’s okay to say that. And hearing someone I respect say that made me feel so much better. So my conclusion is that we don’t always have to say we’re “Fine” if we’re not. (And maybe the people who upset us should know how much they upset us, and be accountable for it). It’s okay not to be fine sometimes. And I suspect that admitting it when things are lousy, even if for a moment, helps us to be really fine in the end, and maybe a lot faster, if we say “this sucks” instead of “I’m fine”!!! It was an interesting insight for me!!!
Posted on June 29, 2015
As you know, I love finding quotes that inspire me. I thought maybe these would inspire you too.
– “Wake up every morning as if something wonderful is about to happen.”
– “Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong. Believe that tomorrow is another day. Believe in miracles.”
– “Do more of what makes YOU happy.”
I hope they inspire you too!!!
Posted on June 22, 2015
I hope all is going well for you, and that life is treating you well.
I had one of those Hmmm…..moments today, when I ponder one (or several) of the mysteries of life, or the differences between men and women, or I just contemplate my life and question what I think. One of the differences between men and women that I’ve always noticed, other than the obvious ones, is that you can vent to a woman friend sometimes for hours, share what’s bothering you, and she’ll listen. She may make some suggestions, or just listen, but it’s rare for a woman to impose a solution on another woman. She may tell you how she handled a similar problem, which can be helpful, or offer her thoughts, but it’s rarely done forcefully, a woman friend will remind you of the options, but most women figure that the solution is your decision. But if you tell a man your problems, in just the same way, at the end of what you tell him, he will tell you what you should do in very definite terms. I’ve rarely known a man to be tentative about his suggestions. And most men seem to believe that you are telling him, not just to get his advice or opinion, but so that he can tell you what to do. Most men seem to feel totally frustrated if they can’t suggest a positive action, and his thoughts may be relevant, but not necessarily adapted to your style. And most men also seem to feel slighted if you don’t take their advice and put their plan into action immediately, just as he outlined it. It can create some very awkward situations, where you don’t want to hurt his feelings or insult him, but his suggestion may just not be what you want to do. Most men do not seem to ‘get’ that you may just want to whine, complain, or vent for a bit, and you’re not asking anyone else to solve your problems. It can be a real dilemma between men and woman, and I’ve been in some awkward spots myself, where I really didn’t like the male advice that was offered. I thanked them for their concern, but went on to solve the problem in a way that worked for me. This may be why a lot of women talk to other women about what’s bothering them. There are no ruffled feathers or hurt feelings if you don’t take their advice, or modify it to suit you. Men are more solution-oriented but in a very male way that doesn’t always suit us, even if their advice is full of good intentions, and male solutions. (“Just tell your kids (or husband) they can’t, or should, or have to….etc.” Good luck on that. Just ‘telling’ one’s kids, or husband, or ordering them around is rarely a viable solution for us. It takes a lot more psychology and finesse than that, in my life anyway). And I know I’ve really annoyed some male friends when I didn’t take their advice and follow it immediately, just as they outlined it to me. » read more »
Posted on June 15, 2015
I recently had one of those great fun experiences that I love to share with you. I’ve told you before about the White Dinner that I go to in Paris every year. Six people organize it, thousands of people are invited and attend (by invitation only). They are told at roughly 6:30 pm to come to a meeting place bringing a table, 2 chairs, their meal, it must be elegant and not a picnic, and you must be wearing white from head to foot (It was started about 26 years ago, by a naval officer, who invited friends to join him and his wife for their anniversary, in front of one of the monuments in Paris. And it has become an annual tradition since then). You must go to the meeting place at 7:30 pm, you stand around with your friends, or strangers, and at 8:45 pm, you are told the REAL location of the dinner, always about a 5 or 10 minute walk away from the meeting point, (carrying all your equipment, table, chairs and meal). And the dinner is held in front of one of Paris’ spectacular monuments. This was my fourth one, invited by a close friend who invites me every year—-and you are invited as a couple, so there must be two of you—–and I have been to the White Dinner in front of Notre Dame Cathedral (which was beyond spectacular!!), in front of the Louvre amid the glass pyramids all lit up, and last year on the vast lawn in front of the Invalides. The group has gotten so large over the years, that I believe it reached 14,000 by last year, divided into 2 groups, at 2 locations. The remarkable thing about it is that it is kept secret until the last minute, thousands of people show up wearing only white, NO ONE ever tries to crash the event, and with the backdrop of the monuments of Paris, it is an exquisitely beautiful event visually, and everyone behaves impeccably. By 9 pm you reach your final destination.
You set up your table WITH tablecloth and napkins, candles, real plates and glasses and cutlery (NO picnic stuff), and by 9:15 you are seated. It is done with minute precision, when you arrive you are assigned a spot just big enough for your small folding table for two, and you have to set it down where they tell you. You can’t wing it, or decide you prefer a different spot. The table locations are assigned in long, long rows, and when the organizers point to H127, or B223, that’s where you set up, not ten feet away from it, or somewhere else where you spot a friend. The spots are calculated by the inch. The small tables for 2 form a long line of diners, women on one side, men on the other. And as you begin the meal in the festive atmosphere, darkness falls, candles are lit on the tables. And at midnight, you are handed sparklers, you stand and hold them aloft, and the entire location is lit by candlelight and sparklers, a truly dazzling sight. There is music after that if you want to dance. And some years, people have brought beautiful Chinese paper lanterns that they light and sail up into the night sky. And the final rule is that The White Dinner ends at 1 am, at 1am like Cinderella (only an hour later), your stuff must be packed up, you have to leave the location IMMACULATE, not a shred of paper, cigarette butt (it’s France!!), wine cork or so much as a raisin can be lying around where you were. You take your garbage with you, and as the evening ends, there must be NO evidence that anyone was ever there. The event is not to disrespect the city or create clean up work for others, it is to celebrate the beauty of the city, and respect it unfailingly. Every single time I have been, it has been absolutely magical, and one of the most exciting nights of my life. Last year and the year before, I think there were 10,000 people at the location where I was, but it didn’t look like that many. It is NEVER rowdy, but just pure good respectful fun, and it amazes me that no one tries to crash. The night is all about respect, for each other and the city. (The event has been imitated in other cities, but Paris is the original one. » read more »
White Dinner 2015
Posted on June 8, 2015
I love a good laugh, and having a sense of humor always gets me through the ups and downs of life. My father used to say I had a banana peel sense of humor, and I have to admit I do. It must be hereditary, because he had an outrageous sense of humor, and so do most of my kids. (They have always tortured me on April Fool, with THE MOST outrageous tricks and pranks). I’m not a practical joker, but there is nothing I like more than a good laugh. And as you know, I love quotes, clever, touching, wise, inspirational, or funny things people have said. I have a brilliant literary agent, who is wonderful at what he does, and among the many things I love about him is his sense of humor. He tells the best jokes. He recently sent me these quotes, which had me laughing out loud when I read them. And I thought you might enjoy them too. Have a great week!!!
– “As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind: Every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.” John Glenn
– “America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real, but the moon landing was faked.” David Letterman
– “I’m not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. I’m a billionaire.” Howard Hughes
– “The only reason they say ‘Women and Children First’ is to test the strength of the lifeboats.” Jean Kerr
– “I’ve been married to a Communist and a Fascist, and neither would take out the garbage.” Zsa Zsa Gabor
– “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s a either a new car or a new wife.” Prince Phillip
– “Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke.” Robin Hal
– “Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars, but I’m just as happy as when I had 48 million.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
– “We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea.” WH Auden
– “If life were fair, Elvis would still be alive today, and all the impersonators would be dead.” Johnny Carson.
– “Home cooking is where many a man thinks his wife is.” Jimmy Durante
– “If God had intended us to fly, he would have made it easier to get to the airport.” Jonathan Winters
Posted on June 1, 2015
How are you?? All is good with you, I hope!!!
The week has been insanely busy yet again. The bats flying in the windows are not quite as large, but it’s the tennis game of life, where a problem heads at us, we hit it to the opposite side of the court, it comes back at us again, and back and forth it goes, until eventually it’s solved, but sometimes that takes time. Also, if you have a big life, with a lot of people in it, inevitably, a lot of “stuff” happens that you have to deal with every day. I wear many hats in my daily life. I’m an employer, and also an employee of sorts, since I produce work for a publishing house, several of them in many countries and they pay me, so that makes me an employee and they make the rules, as employers do. I work with and for many people, with different personalities and opinions. I am the mother of eight adults, who are wonderful people, but I worry about them at times, as mothers do, and we don’t always agree either (although they are extremely reasonable and nice people!!). But there are bound to be bumps in our lives. And then there are the people in the outer circle of one’s life who are difficult, or jealous, or not always honest, who can really make our lives miserable if they work at it. It’s a lot of balls to keep in the air. And even if you’re a Mom at home, driving car pool for three kids, and trying to get them to school on time, and their soccer games, and make sure they do their homework and are doing okay in school, you have your hands full. We all do. And there are plenty of opportunities for challenges every day. If you live alone in an apartment you haven’t left in 10 years, have one single artificial plant, and a plastic fish, your life should be pretty simple. But anything more than that and you’re going to be dealing with difficult things at times—-and also opportunities for great things. But life moves fast these days, and most of us do wear several hats and we have to switch gears constantly, as partner, parent, employee, employer, friend. Just keeping up with texts and emails takes a lot of time out of our day. And some days, I feel like I will never catch up, and probably you feel that way too. Not to mention the people who encroach on our lives, don’t wish us well, intrude on us, and really put some energy into messing up our day, and there are people like that in all our lives too. (I wish they would find something else to do!!! and stay away from me!!). » read more »
Posted on May 25, 2015
I hope you have a day off today, and are enjoying early summer activities and good pre-summer weather somewhere.
Memorial Day has several ‘layers’ to it, and meanings to many of us. On the light side, it’s the first landmark of summer, and unofficially marks the beginning of summer, even though officially it’s still several weeks away. For people with country homes, you start dragging out the outdoor furniture, getting the barbecue ready, cleaning up the damage and debris of winter, and sprucing things up for the summer (power washing, and painting things that got battered during the winter months and harsher weather). My husband and I used to work hard for all of Memorial Day weekend, doing all those things, getting our country home ready for the summer. Spring cleaning, and getting things ready for our kids. It’s a hopeful sign that summer is almost here.
It’s also a day to remember veterans, and people who have served in the Armed Forces, and those who lost their lives defending our country, and those still surviving. The two veterans I know best are a 93 year old friend who served in World War II, has fascinating history to share, and marches in a Memorial Day parade every year, and will again today. And a wonderful woman friend, who served nine years in the Navy, is a psychologist, deeply involved in the field of mental health, and a really extraordinary woman. Two VERY impressive veterans.
And in a broader sense we remember and honor our lost loved ones, or people we respect and knew. Too many come to mind this year. I got a beautiful photograph this week of Robin Williams, from his family, with a quote from “The Little Prince” and a poem by e.e.cummings. I smiled, looking at the photograph of him, and stopped to think about him. What a terrible loss it was when he died last August, and what an amazing legacy he has left us with his films. How many times he made us laugh, or brought a tear to our eye with a tender moment. The elegance of Oscar de la Renta, with so much charm, wit, brilliance, and style. The loss of so many innocent people, with the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, and the German plane brought down in the Alps, which took 150 innocent people with it. It’s a lot to digest, think about, and remember. And on a more personal level, the people we knew personally and cherished, who have gone on. A little boy lost to friends recently, a week before his first birthday, born with a severe heart defect. And my own son Nick, who died at nineteen, full of talent, and charm, funny and handsome, the light and love of our lives, as he always will be.
It’s a day to remember them…to reflect on how precious life is, how lucky we were to know them, how they added to our lives, whether people we actually knew and loved, or our lives were enriched by them with the talents they contributed to the world, or if veterans who defended our country. It’s good to remember, and to honor them…and then to go on getting ready for the joys of summer, with so much to look forward to, good times ahead, and happy days. Life is so precious, and to be enjoyed to the fullest. Have a wonderful Memorial Day, whatever you’re doing today…
Posted on May 18, 2015
How are you?? All is good with you, I hope!!!
I had a wonderful Mother’s Day with my kids a week ago, and felt very spoiled. Brunch at home, and dinner out with some of them, and one flew in specially, and I had had a lovely time in New York before that with two of my girls. We have passed the stage of macaroni necklaces and Kleenex boxes decorated with flowers and beads (which I loved and kept them all!!), and I always miss that and remember it fondly, but sometimes it’s nice having grown up kids that you can really spend time with and enjoy. So I had a great one, which I really appreciated. My kids saw to it that I had a great time and was spoiled!!! And felt very loved, just as I love them.
I don’t very often get a chance to go to movies, since I usually work at night, but I had finished a big block of work this week, and decided to treat myself to a little time off, and on the spur of the moment went to a late movie when I finished work. I had heard the name of the movie, but didn’t know much about it, “Woman in Gold”, with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. It’s a true story about an Austrian woman, from a previously wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, before the war, that lost everything they had to the Nazis. They had a beautiful home in Vienna, and collected spectacular, famous and very valuable works of art. They had collected the work of Gustav Klimt, whose paintings I have always loved. They are mostly gold, typical of the 1930’s, with beautiful women in them. One of my favorite ones is called “The Kiss”. And in fact, I’ve used one of the Klimt paintings as art work on a book cover, when it seemed appropriate. And in the case of the woman the movie is about, one of Klimt’s most famous paintings of a beautiful woman was a portrait of her aunt.
» read more »
Posted on May 11, 2015
You know my love for and fascination with words. The words ‘love’ and ‘hope’ always resonate for me, and for most of us. But ‘lovable’ is a word I discovered later in life, and never realized the importance of it for a long time. We talk about being loved (by someone), or loving someone or something. We LOVE ice cream, chocolate, sunny days, vacations, (shoes!!), our friends, our children, and hopefully the person we are married to or dating. We tell people how LOVED they are. We talk about certain people being very LOVING. But we seldom talk about, or think about being LOVABLE. And that’s a real stumbling block for some. We want to be loved, who doesn’t—–but do we believe, truly believe, in the depths of our gut, that we are lovable? Do we believe that we are lovable, and worthy of being loved? We focus on our flaws, and sometimes our loved ones are quick to remind us what they are, we don’t do this or that right, we forget to take out the garbage, lock the front door, or walk the dog. We make a mess here and there. Some of us come from deeply critical families, whose favorite sport is tearing others apart, or comparing us unfavorably to others. Unhappy mates tell us everything that’s wrong with us, and blame us for what goes wrong in a relationship. We don’t do as well as we plan to in life, didn’t get the promotion we want, or don’t feel we are paid enough (and make less money than our sister, husband/wife, best friend or neighbour). We haven’t had a date in 6 months or a year, or our boyfriend/girlfriend dumped us, or we got divorced. And what that all adds up to is that somewhere in our heart of hearts, we feel unlovable: undeserving of the love we want and hope for and need to thrive. We secretly believe we are second rate, or tenth rate, or no rate, and everyone else seems lovable, but us. » read more »
Posted on May 4, 2015
I’m sorry I was a no show last week, I was busy writing, and am very happy with what I’ve been working on, and I hope you will be too. Writing is often where I take refuge from real life, and my own problems, it’s a world where I am comfortable, feel at ease, know how to solve the problems in the story, and sometimes when the writing soars, it is pure joy. After doing it for a long time, I still thoroughly enjoy what I do, even though it’s hard work and challenging at times, and even exhausting when I work 20 hour stretches on my old typewriter. Sometimes it’s almost like flying, as you rise above the clouds, and see things more clearly, about life, and intricate situations. And I always fall in love with the characters in the book, and they become real to me, just as they do to you. It’s probably because they do seem real to me that you feel that way too when you read the books. The characters I write about are always fictional, because it would be too limiting to base them on real people. So I’ve been having a great time writing, and I hope you like the book when you read it. (I never tell the story or the title beforehand. It’s more fun to keep it a surprise!! But I think you will love this one, as I do!!) » read more »
Posted on April 27, 2015
I’m going to take a week off from posting my blog, since i’m really busy writing at the moment. Have a great week!
Posted on April 20, 2015
I hope all is well with you. I was very, very touched and pleased that you all liked my blog about the Shabbat Dinner, and were very interested in the fantastic red headed writer/film maker I mentioned, super active, still working hard, who just celebrated her 87th birthday. So I wanted to write to you to give you the info. Many of you wanted to read her book. She is the lady I mentioned who was deported at 14 or 15, and survived 4 concentration camps during World War II.
Her name is Marcelline Loridan-Ivens, and the book is called, in French, “Et tu n’es pas revenu”, which means “And you didn’t come back”. (The publisher is ‘Grasset’, a French publishing house). I don’t know if the book has been translated into English or not, but I imagine you could find out on the Internet. The title and the book really, refer to her father. She was caught and deported with him. They were separated in the camps they were in (in different buildings, but the same camps), but they managed to see each other a few times, but he didn’t survive the camps and was killed there. And she survived and went home to Paris when the camps were liberated at the end of the war. The book is incredibly poignant and touching, and clearly she and the whole family were deeply marked by her father’s not surviving. She talks about a letter her father wrote to her and managed to get to her in the camp. The deprivation, and the anguish, and the horrors of the camps come through her words so powerfully, when she speaks and when she writes. It’s quite a short book, but moved me tremendously. She goes right to the heart of the feelings and the experience. She’s a strong woman and a survivor, despite her tiny size. When she was deported, her mother and the two younger children escaped and were hidden by people for the rest of the war, and her two older siblings joined the Resistance and survived the war. (The Resistance were the brave people who did everything they could to sabotage the Germans while they occupied France). So out of 5 children, only she and her father were caught and deported to the concentration camps. And yet she survived it. She really is a monument to the strength of the human spirit. And the book is powerful and wonderful. I hope you can find it in a language you speak. It is a wonderful book!!!
Some of you were confused too by my saying I hadn’t been to a Shabbat dinner before, but ‘have been 3 or 4 times. When I went to the first Shabbat Dinner I was invited to, I had never been before. It was a Chanukah Dinner. Since then, the same friends have invited me 2 or 3 more times. I love it, and am always thrilled to go.
I hope you can find Marcelline’s book. I don’t usually answer questions in the blog, because there are so many of them. But so many of you asked about this lady, and her book, I really wanted you to know the information. Take care, and have a great week!!
Posted on April 13, 2015
I hope you had a good week last week. Mine was a little scrambled, with cancelled plans, sick kids, and a lot of work to do. The usual stuff of life that we all deal with every day. No one is exempt from petty aggravations, changes of plans, unexpected bills, flat tires and the things that annoy us all, not to mention the big things that shake us up more severely.
I’m working on a book, so I was going to keep it short here, and talk about The Big Event in our family: the opening of baseball season!! I love going to baseball games with my youngest son, who is an ardent fan. I have a collection of ‘acceptable’ outfits to support the Giants (who do great even without my support!!), orange loafers, orange and black shoes, a black and orange ‘fan’ jacket, orange sweaters so I don’t freeze when I go to the games. I love going to baseball games with my son (and all the junk I get to eat). So I’m excited that the season is starting. There is always something so wonderful and happy and patriotic about those games. It’s good All American fun!!! So, Go Giants!! Let’s hope they have a great season ahead of them!!! With another shot at the World Series at the end of it!!! » read more »
Posted on April 6, 2015
I hope that you’re all doing okay, and that all is well with you.
I had a truly fascinating evening recently, and wanted to share it with you. I was invited to a Shabbat Dinner, (a Sabbath dinner) by friends in Paris. They introduced me to their Sabbath dinners a few years ago, and they give them almost every Friday. I’d never been to one before and didn’t know what to expect the first time, and didn’t think much about it before I went. What I found was a really interesting group of people, of all ages, and the atmosphere was lively, warm, enthusiastic, relaxed, congenial. It was a gathering of all ages, many religions, all walks of life. The friends that do these evenings are a lawyer (she), a cardiologist and researcher (he), and they had friends from their own professions, other lines of work, their children, their children’s friends, their friends’ children. The evening began on a religious note as they lit the candles, said a prayer, chanted a prayer, broke bread and sipped wine (no different from our Christian traditions), and then everyone dug into delicious food and engaged in long, interesting conversations about politics, literature, art, film making, and a million subjects. It is a treat to be invited to their Shabbat dinners, and I look forward to it, every time. I’ve been to 3 or 4 of them now, and it’s a privilege to be invited, and I am always intrigued to see who will be there from their grab bag of friends, colleagues, and young people. And the most recent dinner of theirs that I went to was a knock out, and incredibly eclectic. I love the way they gather people around them, regardless of religion, and one feels warmly welcomed, whatever one’s traditions. (What a contrast to the Catholic traditions I grew up with, with quiet Friday night dinners, and always a meal of fish which I hated, although I loved my religion. But I hated the fish, always felt sick from it, and years later, discovered I was allergic to it). At my friends’ Shabbat dinners, the food is plentiful and varied, Italian, Thai, exotic, hearty, roast beef, many choices, and a huge array of delicious, irresistible, and fattening desserts!!! Even the food is joyful at their table, and everything seems happy. To some degree, although I’ve never been to a Shabbat dinner, other than theirs, I think the evening and the combination of people, interesting mix, and long hours of conversation are more likely to happen in France than in the States. The only thing all the guests have in common at their dinners is that everyone is French, probably not by intention, it just happens that way.
The other thing that always strikes me at their dinners is how seriously educated their guests are, and the variety of jobs they have. My own friends seem to be in business, some in the arts, doctors, lawyers, and have pretty human scale jobs. But their friends are in fields that I never even think of. This time I sat between a nuclear scientist and researcher, whose intellectual capacity is out in the stratosphere somewhere compared to mine, although he was very nice, and he’s married to a school teacher. On my other side was a man who sells gold, the man next to him is the head of all cultural radio in France, there were a film maker, a screen writer, a politician of some kind, several lawyers, the age range was from 2 weeks of age (the hosts just had a baby, their 4th child) to 87 years old, with a group of young people at the far end from 17 to 22, two of them law students (the hosts’ older children). Two birthdays were celebrated, 17 and 87. And all the ages and professions and groups were mixed, and it struck me as I looked down the table of 14 or 16 people, that there were two Catholics I knew of including me, two Muslims, and most of the others were Jewish. We all stood respectfully for the lighting of the candles and chanted prayers, as the baby passed from one set of arms to another, amidst the lively discussions around the table, and as always, the table was crowded with platters of delicious food, Mediterranean, Italian, Greek, roast beef and potatoes. There is something for everyone at their table in terms of religions, personalities, interests, careers, and even food (and way too many delicious cakes, and I tried at least three of them).
The star of the show for me was a tiny woman (I’m 5 feet 1, and she was several inches shorter than I), with bright red hair, a lively personality, she strode into the room looking lively and attractive, bursting with energy, and I guessed her to be about 70, and discovered when we celebrated her birthday later that she was 87, that day. She is a documentary film maker, still busy in her career, just released a new movie, and published a new book, and I found her instantly fascinating as I listened to her at dinner. She was as sharp as a tack, and one of the livelier participants at the table, she had style and energy and a magnetic personality. And listening to her, I discovered that she survived 4 of the worst concentration camps during the war, is a well-known personality, and has made some important documentary films, and was married to a film maker. She was mesmerizing as she talked, and showed us the number tattooed on her arm at one point. She spoke without hesitation or artifice, there was nothing arrogant about her, and listening to her life experiences, especially during the war, was riveting. I have no idea how she survived what she did, and remained whole, alive, full of energy and life. Her family had been decimated by the camps and the war years. Our hostess gave all of us her latest book, which I read the next day, in awe of what she survived in the camps, and how she survived it and demonstrated the strength of the human spirit then and throughout her life. Her book was incredibly touching and poignant, and I was filled with admiration for this woman whom time has not touched, but has been through so much in one lifetime. I felt truly honored to meet her and talk to her.
The dinner ended long after one o*clock, and as always was warm, fascinating, touching. I will long remember the tiny red haired, ageless, timeless woman, so full of life and talent, with a spirit that nothing has destroyed. And once again, I went home feeling so lucky to be included in such a special evening, and to meet so many talented, bright people I would never have met otherwise. And then I went back to my own real life, filled with more ordinary pursuits, and less unusual people. What a blessing to share an evening like that, and come home richer for it. And I will be forever haunted by the film maker’s book about her experiences. I felt humbled by it, and all of those around me. It was, once again, an amazing evening, which I won’t forget. It was a rare night, filled with special people of varied and extraordinary talents. And I felt so lucky to be a part of it……
have a great week!! love, Danielle
Posted on April 2, 2015
After recent events and what appears to be a plane crash that was a suicide mission, it seems more important than ever to keep our thoughts clear, especially faced with events that are so hard to fathom. We have had many of them recently. Acts of terrorism seen on television with a human being burned alive as a message to the world, equally distressing acts of terrorism in Paris with people in a grocery store taken hostage and some killed, and now what appeared to be a healthy apparently normal young person allegedly turning a normal flight into a suicide mission, taking 150 innocents with him. The common thread here is that innocent people became victims and lost their lives while pursuing ordinary activities, buying bread, or taking a short flight in the course of a school trip, or on vacation. We are all the innocent victims of these acts, whatever the reasons for them, political or not. We somehow seem to get caught in the crossfire, or the acts of troubled minds, and our lives are changed forever. Even if we are in the outer circle of these acts, they shake our faith, our belief system, they engender fear as soon as we or our loved ones leave home. We worry about each other and ourselves, and a darkness takes hold of world thought, our trust in our fellow man is shaken, and the forces of evil appear to win another round. Most of us, wherever we live, whatever we do for a living, pursue ordinary lives, worry about our kids, groan at our taxes or when our car breaks down, we pay our bills, scold our kids, walk our dogs, buy our groceries, and do our laundry. We dont expect tragedy to strike us or those standing next to us in the course of our daily lives. We are profoundly shocked by the acts we read about, and disheartened. We dont feel as safe as we used to. We are all touched by it. We are in just as much danger in the parking lot of our local supermarket if someone goes nuts, as we are getting on a plane to someplace exotic. These random acts affect us all. We are linked by a bond of humanity that has been severely disrupted in recent months. These are not easy times to live in. And while our countries and leaders fight their battles, we are just trying to lead good, ordinary lives, and take care of our loved ones.
More than ever, with the reports we see now, and given the people who run amok on a grand or small scale, whatever the reasons, we need to focus on the things that keep us strong, and allow us to believe in the good things in life. And whatever one’s religion, the degree of one’s faith or none at all, the message that has always meant the most to me is that of “Resurrection” at this time of year. Much of the focus in Christian beliefs is on ‘crucifixion’ at this time of year, on unmerited punishment, and the pains that exist in all of our lives. The losses, the sorrows, the griefs, the things we do not always understand which befall us, and happen to us all. People we love die, people get sick, we lose jobs, money, houses, safety, security, we get divorced, mugged on the street, something happens to one of our kids, small griefs and large ones. It happens to us all, no one is exempt from the pains in life, though some people are luckier than others. But sadness hits us all at some point. But more important than the bad things is how we deal with them, how we get up again after we get knocked down, how we believe in people again, and ourselves, how we rise from the ashes of the flash fires in our lives. Resurrection. In the Christian faith, this week are the darkest days of the year, which honor the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday. I have always liked crosses, but not crucifixes, which seems to put the emphasis on the wrong thing, to me. What seems most important is the notion of resurrection, rebirth, starting over, having the guts to get up and move forward again. Easter Sunday is the celebration of the resurrection, that rebirth, the power of life, instead of the message of death. Now to me, that positive message of rebirth seems something truly worth celebrating, whatever your beliefs. It is the message of not just survival, but of strength. We have all had bad things happen to us. The key, the most vital part is getting up again when you’ve been knocked down. I have a little saying on my office wall that says “Bounce Back”, just those two words to remind me, when I am in the pit of feeling sorry for myself, to get up and get going again. We HAVE to. No matter how hard, or how impossible it seems at times. We MUST continue, no matter what we see on the news, or what friend disappoints us, or what loved one hurts our feelings, or robs us of peace or good feelings. We cant let the bad guys win. We just cant. We cant afford to, or it pulls our own lives down. However we get there, with or without religious beliefs, we have to find rebirth in our own lives, even after reading about something like the plane that was brought down on a suicide mission, even when things are tough in our own lives. We have to bounce back. That is what makes the notion of resurrection so important. It’s a far bigger message than any other to me. I love all the warmth and coziness and shared joy and fun of Christmas, but the really big message, to me anyway, is the one of resurrection, of rebirth, of starting over, no matter how tough life or the world seems at the moment, or what we’ve been through. And the darker the world seems, the more important that message of rebirth is.
My wish for you, for myself, for each and all of us, and my prayer, is that you find that moment of rebirth, the strength to go on, or just stand up, that we continue to believe in the light and not the darkness. In some big or small way, may you find a moment of rebirth. We all need that. It is the very essence of hope.
One of my favorite sayings is what Anne Frank said, the young girl who was hidden with her family during the war, and eventually died in a concentration camp with them. She was 15 years old, and said “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart”. It sounds naive, we see and hear and know of so much evidence to the contrary. I cling to those words as a message of hope for us all.
May you have a moment of rebirth, of light shining into your heart and life, despite the darkness we hear and read about every day. Resurrection. Rebirth. The world needs your light to counter its darkness. May we all shine brightly together, no matter what we see and hear around us.
with all my love, Danielle
Posted on March 30, 2015
It’s a somber quiet hello today after the events of the last week. Or The Event, the crash of the German airliner in the French Alps, flying between Spain and Dusseldorf, which now appears to have been a suicide mission on the part of the co-pilot—–and took 150 lives with it. 150 families and loved ones who will be forever affected by it, a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. And yes, there have been other, bigger ones, like 9/11 or natural disasters, but this was so unnecessary and is so profoundly shocking. And knowing that there were children, a class of adolescents and babies on the flight makes it even more horrifying.
For the moment, they are still piecing together the puzzle, and as a police detective (specialized in terrorism and aviation) I spoke to in Paris said, it has highlighted security failures in the system: a seemingly fail-safe anti-terrorist system which allowed the cockpit door to remain locked and would eventually open automatically after entry was refused several times—but too late in this instance, a rule which allowed only one pilot to be in the cockpit alone for a brief time (that rule was changed throughout Europe within hours of the crash. American regulations didn’t allow that, but the airline in this case was German, where a pilot could be alone in the cockpit briefly on that type of plane), and no psychological testing required for pilots of that airline. (It seems to be coming to light now in the investigation that the co-pilot had a history of psychological problems, and allegedly had not been cleared for flight that day). All circumstances which allowed the unimaginable, unthinkable to happen, if what they believe now is true, that a person/co-pilot with a history of mental issues crashed the plane into the mountains in order to commit suicide, and took a plane full of innocents with him. Apparently, the pilot (who had left the cockpit for a few moments) fought heroically to re-enter the cockpit, and even tried to break down the cockpit door with an axe, once his co-pilot had denied him re-entry, and was taking the plane down at a rapid rate. The drama ended within minutes and turned into tragedy. It is a haunting event which has touched us all. For anyone who flies, we all take our risks, as you do when you drive down the highway too. A mechanical failure or bad weather can bring a plane down, and today terrorism has become a factor we are all aware of, and was demonstrated so shockingly during 9/11. Similarly people who went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread risked and lost their lives when terrorists took over a grocery store in Paris recently, and tragedy struck there too. But to have to worry now about becoming part of a pilot or co-pilot’s suicide is a heavy dose of reality for us all. And it is always a tragedy when lives are lost, or even one life, whatever the circumstances.
Authorities are now looking for fragments of the victims’ bodies to return to their families, using DNA tests to identify even tiny pieces. It is ALL so unthinkable. The death of any loved one or family member, or even a good friend, changes your life forever. The absence of that person leaves a hole and an ache in your heart forever. The terrible ‘why’ it happened, trying to understand why they were struck by an illness, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a careless moment behind the wheel of a car, or why they may have been negligent for an instant. And to die in innocence seems such a terrible way to lose someone. And to be the victim of someone else’s suicide, in a circumstance where you are supposed to feel relatively safe and have no control, seems particularly awful. I was in Paris when it happened, and people all over Europe are badly shaken by it, as I am sure they are in the States too. I flew myself 3 days later, and I think the event was on everyone’s mind then as well, both passengers and crew seemed unusually quiet, and I felt that way too. It peels away a layer of safety and trust, and adds one more thing to worry about on the list, along with terrorism, mechanical failure, and bad weather.
The world seems so troubled these days, none of us feel totally safe anymore in our daily lives, wherever we live, whether put at risk by a crazed student on a campus, a shooter in a fast food store, as victims of an elaborate plot, or simply one lone moment of madness, as seems to have happened on the flight from Spain to Germany this week. What is making the world so much more tense, causing people to implode and commit unthinkable acts (like at the Boston Marathon), fall prey to politics which injure others, or take others with them in an act of suicide? We hear about too many of these events. It crosses our minds more often, and we and our loved ones seem so much more at risk in the world today. I think about it each time my children fly, or I do, and probably you do too. And even a life lived more locally is not without risk, if you can be killed at the grocery store by a mad gunman. We can’t hide at home, we can’t imagine danger in every corner, and yet we seem to have regressed to an era in history (like the middle ages) when daily life was dangerous, and the future was never safe or certain, and the weapons of choice now seem to range from homemade bombs to very sophisticated ones and elaborate plots, a handgun or an airplane.
The family of the young co-pilot must be deeply aggrieved too. It is a tragedy for everyone on that plane and everyone they loved and who loved them, and for all of us, to be mourning again people we did not know, and who should not have died on that plane. Laws will be changed as a result, which will prevent exactly that scenario from happening again, but it is somehow a sign of a deep wound somewhere in our civilization that such troubled people have power over us, even when we least suspect it. My deepest sympathy and my prayers go out to all of those affected, and to all of us as well, as we stand by helplessly and mourn innocent people yet again. The tragedies seem to be becoming more shocking and more frequent. May we somehow find a way to heal the wounds in our world, and help each other.
Posted on March 23, 2015
I hope you’ve had a nice first few days of Spring, and are enjoying warmer weather somewhere. All the cities I travel to still seem to be in the grips of winter. Paris has cooled down again, New York is still freezing, and had more snow in the past week, and for now Spring is more a hope than a reality.
I had an absolutely wonderful time I wanted to share with you. I took my Godchildren to the preview of the new Disney movie, “Cinderella”. And nothing is more terrific than the world seen through the eyes of a child, and they are such a perfect age. The youngest is 4 years old, and I got her Cinderella’s ‘ballgown’, complete with light up shoes and tiara at the Disney store. She put it on immediately when I gave it to her, and it was soooooo fun watching her play Cinderella. And I LOVED the movie. It is beautifully done, with real actors, not animation, and the star who plays Cinderella, Lily James, is one of the actresses on my favorite TV series (Downton Abbey), and one of the stepsisters is from Downton Abbey too. I saw the film in French, and it was a preview, which was VERY exciting. Now I want to see it in English, and about 16 more times. It reminded me of how totally I enjoyed my children at those ages, and the time I spent with them, where everything you do is an adventure, everything is new and thrilling, no one is tired, jaded, worried, stressed, overworked, or facing the challenges of real life. And no matter what is happening in your (adult) life, the cares and worries melt away with the magic of a fairytale, a delightful movie, and sharing it (or anything else) with children you love. I had as much fun as they did, and they are exceptionally lovely children, so we all had a good time, they were mesmerized, and totally enthralled, and their mother and I cried at all the touching parts. I came out floating, it made us all happy, and was an absolutely great experience. If you have a sentimental side at all, and a touch of romance, and want to be swept away by a wonderful movie, with a happy ending, go to see Cinderella, with or without children, as soon as you can!!! I absolutely LOVED it!!!!
much love, Danielle