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 »
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.
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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…