Posted on November 24, 2014
As of today, the countdown has begun. We are entering the ‘zone’ now, with Thanksgiving in a few days, and as of today Christmas is exactly a month away. And if you have people on your list you’re going to shop for, it’s time to get serious.
I’m one of those annoying people who start Christmas shopping in August. When I see something that looks like the right gift for someone on my list, from August on, I buy it. And in September, I actually start shopping. But the net result is that I now have gifts for employees, friends, people I do business with, have ordered chocolates for the nurses at my pediatrician, dentist, and vet, and even for my dry cleaner in Paris, but the MOST important people on my list, my children, have yet to tell me what they want. So I’m still going to have to go shopping. And I have to beg to find out what they want. I start shopping early so I won’t get caught in the crush in stores at Christmas, and so they don’t run out of sizes, and by October I have it pretty well nailed…..EXCEPT for my kids. So I’m still as stumped as you are, and will be dashing to some store on the 23rd of December.
And with Thanksgiving this week, the holidays have begun in earnest. I particularly like the symbolism of Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks (and eating way too much!!!). It is a day for excess, a ton of food (I like the stuffing best, and cranberry jelly), and although whipped cream always upsets my stomach, particularly after a huge meal, but I can never resist it. So I will heap it on the pumpkin and apple pie for dessert, and will roll away from the table after!!! But beyond the food we eat on that day, there is the reminder to give thanks for our blessings and for the people at our table. Or it’s a day when we have an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate. Many of my friends work in shelters serving or preparing food that day, and when I was working on the streets on homeless outreach, we always went out to reach out to as many people as we could the night before Thanksgiving. And as we sit down at our table that day, all of us, it’s good to remember those who are alone, or lonely, or may not have a meal to eat. If we can reach out to even one person that day, it makes the holiday even more important. It’s an issue too for many people about who they spend it with, or if they have anyone at all. Gathering friends who have nowhere else to go is an important part of Thanksgiving. And sometimes it’s easier to be with friends than family on that day, depending on how well family members get along.
And once we get through Thanksgiving, the days will just fly by. A few weeks to shop, make plans, invite friends, decide where to go or who to invite, and the next thing you know, we will be nose to nose with Christmas, and our plans or lack of them then. And then there will be New Year’s to get through, and after that we can all heave a sigh of relief and relax. But for now it’s just beginning.
I hope you have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving, that it unfolds just the way you want it to and that you can be with those you love. But if not, remember those who will be so grateful for your company or a helping hand. I will think of you on Thanksgiving, and please know that you are top of the list of things and people that I am grateful for. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday.
Posted on November 17, 2014
I had an interesting experience a few days ago, to share with you. With friends visiting from Europe, one tends to see tourist spots that you just don’t visit in a city where you live. I’ve lived in San Francisco for a very long time, but have never been to visit Alcatraz, the federal prison on an island in the bay, which has been a National Park, and highly visited tourist attraction for many years. The thought of visiting jail cells always seemed depressing, so I’d never been there, but it was on my friends’ list of must sees, and their son was anxious to see it. So we bundled up on a Saturday morning, anticipating cold, windy weather, went down to the dock where the boat leaves from, and it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day. There is a sort of ferry boat that makes the one mile trip from the city to the island, and there were several hundred tourists on it. Once arrived, a National Park Ranger directs you where to go, and a few minutes later after a short hike up the hill (there is also a sort of open jitney that will drive you up), we got kitted out with recorded audio tours, and set out to see the inside of the prison. The tour we took was of the main block of prison cells, and within a few minutes, for me anyway, it became one of those sobering tours that not only teaches your local history, but gives you an inside view of human misery.
I’m sure that the inmates of Alcatraz (which functioned as a prison from 1934 to 1963 for hardened male federal criminals), I’m sure that they weren’t a lovely group of people, but the thought of humans in tiny pens, barely bigger than the cots they slept on was disturbing. The cells were 5 x 9 feet, and 7 feet tall, with a tiny cot, a sink, an open toilet, and a tiny shelf, and that was it. I don’t think they could have walked around the bed. Twice a week they walked around the outdoor yard for two and a half hours of exercise and fresh air, and the rest of the time they were in single occupancy cells. And that was their lot if they behaved well. If not, they were sent to the “Treatment Unit”, more commonly known as the hole, where they would spend several months in a slightly larger cell, but kept in total darkness, as a form of punishment, and only got out of their cell for an hour a week. And that was it. In the normal areas, for well behaved prisoners, they could sign up for books at the library, or take correspondence courses. The tour was narrated by old guards of the prison, and some old prisoners, to give you perspective from both sides. And enticingly, from “The Rock” as they called it, the island that Alcatraz sits on, only a mile away they could see the sparkling lights of the city. Any escape from the Island was allegedly impossible, due to the strong currents in the Bay, and the sharks who inhabit it. It was an incredibly bleak place to visit. The only good news for them was that they were housed one man to a cell, so at least in their cells, they didn’t have to worry about attacks from a hostile or dangerous cell mate. And one of the things that shocked me was that among the prisoners who were sent there were several for tax evasion. Although it’s certainly not okay and illegal to avoid one’s taxes, it was nonetheless horrifying to think that cheating on your taxes could land in you a hopelessly awful place like that. Its most famous prisoner was Al Capone, and a number of others we’ve all heard of, among the famous criminals of the last 80 years. But penning men up in such tiny cells seemed an extraordinary act of cruelty, and must have been a truly devastating existence. Perhaps they deserved it, but human compassion didn’t seem to enter into the scheme of things. And in those days, with less stringent laws about abuse, one can easily imagine that faced with an overzealous guard or officer, there must have been some severe punishments meted out, with nothing to stop them.
I’m not one of those bleeding hearts who believes that prisoners should be coddled and spoiled at the tax payers’ expense, and I have myself been the victim of crimes on more than one occasion, in both cases crimes that were severe enough to land the perpetrators in prison. But those agonizing small cells I saw at Alcatraz seemed bereft of humanity, any creature comfort, or compassion. Some of the men who were sent there were there for 18 or 20 years, and I would think you could go mad in a cell that size or in total darkness for many months in the Treatment Unit. It certainly wouldn’t make the inmates better suited to society, but rather less so, angrier and more dangerous, or maybe only hopeless. Visitors were very quiet, walking from one area, and one grim cell to the next, listening to the tour.
There was a period of the prison’s history that wasn’t mentioned, but I remember. The prison closed its doors as a prison forever in 1963, and I believe it remained guarded but uninhabited for several years. From 1969 to 1971 it became the object of major media attention, when a group of Native Americans took over the island and the prison, and exercised squatters rights there. I asked one of the rangers about it, and he said they are not supposed to mention it. Perhaps it was an embarrassment that they were able to take it over and remain there for two years. I don’t recall how the siege ended.
Also, during the years that the prison was functioning, The Warden, guards and their families and children lived there on the Island. So there was a sort of village of non-prisoners living on the Island, and I imagine it must have been a depressing place to grow up, in the shadow of the prison, on an island, and in San Francisco’s usually bleak, windy, chilly, foggy weather.
There was considerable mention of two escapes that were orchestrated there, which I found interesting. One was quite a large attempt that failed and left three guards and two prisoners dead, and I imagine that those who attempted the escape and organized it were severely punished. And the second attempt was close to the time when the prison closed, perhaps a few years before. Three men had apparently planned it with attention to every detail, and that time, they were successful. They managed to get out of their cells, reach the roof, and then disappeared. The three men were never found, and obviously left the island, presumably swimming, unless they had a boat to pick them up. The mystery of where those three men went was never solved. No trace of them was ever found, neither on land, or drowned in the water. It would seem that if they had drowned, they would have washed up somewhere, but they didn’t. Some believe that they died in the icy water, swept away by the currents, or eaten by sharks. Others believe that they made it to freedom, and went on to lead good lives with new identities. And I have to admit, although I believe in criminals being brought to justice and even being imprisoned, but after touring their cells for two hours, and listening to the hardships of their lives there, I hoped that they made it to freedom. If so, they earned it. And then, still thinking about them, I quietly got on the boat to go back to the city. It’s a tourist spot worth visiting, but certainly not a happy one, and a tribute to human misery, which is always sad to see. And all I could think of were the three men who had tried to swim to freedom from “The Rock”. I hope they made it.
Posted on November 13, 2014
Whew, whirling dervish time in my life. This has been one of those ‘transitional’ weeks when I run through three cities in two countries all in a matter of four days. And sometimes the transition is gentler than others. And it requires a different mindset and attitude in every country and city, depending on the life I live there. But each city has its own characteristics and pace, some speedier or slower than others.
At the end of last week, I left my quiet, friendly relaxing life in Paris, having lunches and dinners with friends, and headed for New York. Usually I see my children there, but this time in addition, I spent most of one day in very interesting meetings with my publishers, making future plans. The meetings were serious and fun, with both my American literary agent, and the agent who handles my foreign sales, the Chairman of my publishing house, the President and CEO, the heads of marketing and publicity, the woman who handles social media, and another who deals with the distribution of the books. Ordinarily, as most writers do, I work in solitary silence, alone at home, and in cities that are each three thousand miles from New York, which is the hub of literary activity and publishing. So to be in the midst of all the excitement and activity at my publisher’s was a BIG change. And after the meetings, we all went to lunch. And then I met up with my daughters. But it was a day of intense activity and work focused on my publishing life and future books for most of the day. We shared a lot of information and some very good plans.
I had dinner with my daughters that night, and again on Saturday and also spent the day with them, and on Sunday I flew back to San Francisco, to unpack, settle in and get ready for some family time in a few weeks. And by Monday of this week, after catching up at my desk, I moved my things out of my beach house that I’ve told you about, since the house was sold. So I apologize for the delay getting my blog up this week, but you can see what I’ve been up to, and there just was no time to write once I got home.
I was startled by how hard it was to let go of my beach house, because I love it, but it’s going to people who are thrilled and love it, so it feels right, even if bittersweet for me to let it go. I had dinner with one son, and before that with three of my daughters in New York.
The week has whizzed by and the holidays are approaching. And hopefully now things will slow down a little, at least for a few days.
Have a great rest of the week,
Posted on November 10, 2014
so I will post a new blog in the next day or two.
Please stay tuned!
Posted on November 3, 2014
I hope you’ve had a good week, and that you had fun on Halloween if you celebrated it!!! I had a dinner last weekend for my Godchildren, with Halloween decorations on the table, candy, costumes (Elsa and Anna from “Frozen” for the girls, and Spiderman for my God daughter’s 7 year old brother). We had fun and watched Sound of Music, so I got a taste of Halloween with little kids. And although I wasn’t with them, my younger kids (in their 20’s) dressed up as Justin Bieber, Cheech and Chong, and My Little Pony. We even dressed up our dogs. My two tiny teacup Chihuahuas, Minnie and Blue, were bumble bees for Halloween. My daughter’s Yorkie Gidget was a bunny (sooo cute!!) and my son’s Boston Bull was a pirate!!! So I think we paid homage to Halloween.
I was thinking about reporting to you about the week, and on the surface, I thought it was a quiet week, and then on closer inspection, I realized it wasn’t that quiet, and there were lots of ups and downs, and a roller coaster of emotions in some areas, that were not negligible after all!! » read more »
Posted on October 27, 2014
I hope that all is okay with you.
For someone who has claimed until this summer that I’ve never lost a friend, who died, (although sadly, I know many young people, contemporaries of my children, who died tragically young, including my own son)—-but on that score, this has not been a good summer or fall. Friends have been falling at a rapid rate. And even more shocking, some of them are people of SUCH UNIMAGINABLY IMMENSE TALENT. Robin Williams two months ago, another friend this summer in Paris, and now Oscar de la Renta, the famous dress designer. In Mr. de la Renta’s case, it was not entirely unexpected as he has fought a valiant battle with cancer for the past several years. But repeatedly, he seemed to conquer the illness and continued to create, see friends, be present, and then he would win another round against the disease. He was a remarkable man in a myriad ways. And I realize as I look back, that I’ve known Oscar for about 30 years, and met him sometime in the 80’s when he was widowed, and before he married his lovely present wife Annette, who is herself the epitome of fashion. And I had heard last week through a mutual friend that Oscar wasn’t doing well, and was finally losing the battle with cancer, after several years. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when I heard the sad news. » read more »
Posted on October 20, 2014
I just wanted to share with you that I have TWO new books coming out on October 28. A hardcover novel called “Pegasus”, which begins in World War II, covers three generations of 2 families who are close friends, the book takes place both in America and Europe, and it has lots of exciting things in it. Among them, there are some very interesting things about Ringling Brothers Circus, and life in the circus during the war years. It’s a big meaty book with lots of great stuff and characters in it. I love the book and hope you do too. And one of the elements of the book is about Lippizaner horses, the incredibly beautiful white horses that are used as show horses, who do elegant and amazing acrobatics. I REALLY REALLY hope you love the book!!!
And the second book is a children’s book called “Pretty Minnie in Paris”, for children about 4 to 8 years old. It was inspired by my tiny little white long haired tea cup Chihuahua Minnie (she weighs just over 2 pounds!!), and in the book Minnie lives in Paris, belongs to a little girl named Francoise, and both Francoise and Minnie love to wear pretty clothes. It’s about Minnie’s adventures in Paris….and there will be a sequel to the book a year from now. I am sooo excited about this book too, it is unbelievably cute, the illustrations by Kristi Valiant are gorgeous, and there is lots of pink and purple glitter in the book!!!! If there are any little girls in your life, they will LOVE it!!!
I hope you have a chance to enjoy both of these books.
Lots and LOTS of love, danielle
Posted on October 13, 2014
I hope that all is going well for you, as we slide into the fall, from September into October.
Two friends sent me some wonderful words in the last couple of weeks that I wanted to share with you. Both of these sayings really touched me.
One is a Chinese ‘precept’, which a good friend sent to me, about money, and what it can and can’t buy, and was such a good reminder.
“Money can buy a house, but not a home.
It can buy a bed, but not sleep.
It can buy a clock, but not time.
It can buy a book, but not knowledge.
It can buy a position, but not respect.
It can pay for a doctor, but not buy health.
It can buy blood, but not life.
It can pay for sex, but not love”.
And the other words that touched me were from a Jewish friend, who shared the Yom Kippur prayer with me during the recent holiday.
“To those I may have wronged,
I ask forgiveness.
To those I may have helped,
I wish I had done more.
To those I neglected to help,
I ask for understanding.
To those who helped me,
I sincerely thank you.”
I love both of those so much, and the people who sent them to me. And you, my beloved readers, always help me with your kind words and support. So as the prayer says, I sincerely thank you.
with much love, danielle
Posted on October 6, 2014
I had a great privilege today, as I write this. I had the honor of knowing Robin Williams, socially through our kids (one of my children dated one of his for four years), and he was incredibly generous with his time, and came to the gala benefit evenings I gave for my son’s foundation for mental illness. He always showed up, every time which was a thrill for people who came to our event. We had mutual friends, and met a few times a year. He visited my home, and wherever I’d run into him, or when he came to my house, or to my daughter when she went to theirs, he was incredibly gracious, kind, and warm. He was a lovely person to meet and know, always charming, always funny, always nice to talk to. And I was greatly saddened to hear the news when he took his life nearly two months ago. It was a terrible shock, and knowing his children, I was particularly saddened for their loss. » read more »
Posted on September 29, 2014
Instead of reporting to you on big antique shows, fashion shows, world events, or personal things that matter to me, sometimes even very personal (like losing a friend this summer, or my late son’s anniversary date last week), now and then I get to share a pet peeve with you, and it’s always rewarding when I discover that you share my irritation about the same thing, and I’m not alone in my complaint. (There’s comfort in numbers).
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Posted on September 22, 2014
It’s hard to think of a different blog this week. I will have been in 3 cities this week, in 2 countries, touching base with my children. And the day when everything comes to a screeching halt for me is September 20th, the anniversary of when I lost my son Nick, at 19, to suicide. I know that many of you are aware of it, and have read the book I wrote about him, “His Bright Light”. He had bi polar disease all his life, and put up a valiant fight to have a good life in spite of it. He was an incredibly talented singer and musician, and lyricist. He wrote extremely well, he laughed a lot, was talented and full of fun and mischief, and he was greatly loved. But his illness overtook him in the end, and I’m so grateful for the nineteen years we shared with him. Even now, he is a blessing in our family.
It’s an incredibly difficult thing to lose a child, you have to fight courageously to make it meaningful, to help others, to not let yourself be drowned by the loss. And the anniversary dates are brutally hard. like waves that overwhelm you. But however hard, or poignant the memories,I am so deeply grateful for the belssing he was, the joy that we shared, and that he came into our lives at all. I know that wherever he is, he is smiling and at peace, loving us as much as ever, just as we love him more than ever, and he will forever be a gift in our lives. May he rest in peace and the tenderness of God’s love for him, and ours….and with all my love to you,
Posted on September 15, 2014
Things are revving up and speeding up, as they do after the summer. As the days get cooler, our lives seem to get busier.
I just finished a book, and am editing two others that are due out in the coming year. I’ve been traveling, visiting with my kids. We have 2 September birthdays in our family, so we’ve made plans for that. And I went to the big antique show this week that happens in Paris every two years, The Biennale. Beautiful museum quality antiques in some booths, paintings, and every important jeweler in the world has a stand at the show. It’s exciting to see it all, and a little dizzying!!! But really lovely stuff. The show is kicked off with a black tie event and dinner, which I go to whenever the show is in Paris every two years. It’s the summit of all antique shows, and really a glamourous event. Lots of women in evening gowns attend, wearing some very spectacular jewels. And they come from all over the world to see the show and attend the opening. You hear every imaginable language, and some very big ticket items are sold. It is truly an impressive event.
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Posted on September 8, 2014
With Labor Day a week behind us, Fall is getting started, and things are speeding up. The weather is still gorgeous everywhere, in every city I’ve been in, still warm and sunny, even finally sunny in September in foggy San Francisco, and still hot almost everywhere else, but with a hint of cooler weather to come, and sometimes chilly evenings. And I definitely notice that the pace is picking up, with things I have to do, and work on my desk. I am currently working on two sets of ‘galleys’, the final stage of a book before they print it, and my last chance to make corrections before they do. I finished one set of galleys last night, and am starting another set today, for books that will be published and available in the coming months. Galleys look like the printed pages of a book, but they’re not bound together yet, so the pages come in a big stack, and I can make necessary changes and edits on them, it’s my last chance before the book gets printed.
Book wise—-I’m getting revved up for two new books coming out in October, a hardcover novel, “Pegasus”, it’s a World War II book, a historical novel, and my new children’s book, “Pretty Minnie in Paris”, about a white long haired teacup Chihuahua who lives in Paris and loves to wear pretty clothes. It is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, with gorgeous illustrations by Kristi Valiant, and lots of pink and purple glitter on the book. If there are any little girls in your life, they will love it!! So on the book front, things are getting busy. And my own tiny white Chihuahua, Minnie, had a photo shoot this week for publicity shots for the children’s book. She wore eight different coats and two tiny tee shirts, and she looked very cute!!!
On the social front, I am going to a big very fabulous antique show, the opening night dinner, which is always a very glamourous event, and the antiques at the show are museum quality and wonderful to see. I always look forward to it, and the show happens every other year. It’s fun to see, jewelry, paintings and spectacular antiques. On a more human scale, I had my adorable Godchildren to dinner last night, for pasta and a movie. They are 4, 7 and 10, and really wonderful kids. They came to visit me with their parents for a week in San Francisco this summer, and we went to Las Vegas together for 3 days. We watched “Sound of Music”, which I love as much as ever, and really enjoyed with them. It had a very international flavor, as my godchildren are half French and half Japanese (and are in the dedication of my children’s book), so I knew all the songs in English because I had seen the movie in English as a child, the film we watched was dubbed in French, so the songs in the movie were in French, and my godchildren knew all the songs in Japanese, and sang along in Japanese—now there’s an international mix for you!!! We had a lot of fun, and I can tell you that the songs in Sound of Music sound great in Japanese too!!
Family-wise, it’s the time of year when I miss my kids, after spending time with them in the summer, and everyone back in their cities, lives and jobs now after the summer. My three girls in fashion are all hard at work on their ready to wear fashion shows in New York, and will be doing the same in Paris soon, and I will miss them in both places. They’re working 20 hour days, and I keep up with their shows, very proudly!!, on style.com. And the others are all busy at work too. And I’m back to editing books, and working on new ones. So it feels like ‘back to school’ for all of us, although no one is in school anymore. But we all seem to be busy. This summer was a mixed bag, with wonderful time with my kids and visits from my French friends, and then the sad loss of a close friend, and two I was less close to (an accident and two suicides, so shocking in all 3 cases), and cleaning up after the earthquake in the Napa Valley. It wasn’t a lazy summer. And things are speeding up now. Two of my daughters have birthdays this month, and for the first time, I wasn’t able to be with one of them, as she had to work on a fashion show, September is a busy month for all of us.
I hope the Fall is off to a nice start for you, with fun projects up ahead, things you’re looking forward to, and interesting things to do. I wish it were still summer, but there’s always next year…..I wish I could fast forward to next summer now!!! But there is lots to do before then. Have a great week!!
Posted on September 1, 2014
My last two weeks of the summer (after a very nice summer and some wonderful time with my children) have not been peaceful or easy. The loss of a close friend, that I mentioned to you, and a few other bumps, have made the last of August more like real life than the end of summer.
Almost two years ago, one of my daughters who live in New York lost her apartment and belongings to Hurricane Sandy. She lived in a ground floor apartment she loved and had fixed beautifully, and living right on the River, her building was hit hard, her street was flooded, and her apartment was engulfed in river and sewer water when Hurricane Sandy hit lower Manhattan. What I saw there at the time was overwhelming, and my daughter’s losses heartbreaking. I had never seen first-hand before the aftermath of a hurricane and the resulting floods. It was devastating, and profoundly shocking. And in l989, we lived through the 6.9 earthquake in San Francisco. We did not experience much damage in our home, but the quake itself was terrifying.
As I told you in my last blog, I went to Las Vegas with friends and their children last week, had a great time and came home, and hours later was woken out of a sound sleep, as my bed shook violently and woke me up. It took me a few instants to realize that it was an earthquake and not a bad dream. And living in San Francisco, we are allegedly prepared for that to happen, but after a while, you start to assume it never will. You get complacent, and then suddenly a good shake wakes you up and scares you, and you are sharply reminded that you live in earthquake country, which is a serious matter, and we should always be prepared for what can happen. » read more »
Posted on August 25, 2014
I just took a vacation with friends from France, and their kids (my Godchild and her siblings again), to a place where I haven’t been in 14 years: Las Vegas. I’d been there 3 times in the past, just for a day or so, and found it a bit dazzling and overwhelming, but it’s definitely a place one should see at least once. And on my friends’ American Tour with their kids this summer, it was their next to last stop and I agreed to join them. And Wow!! What an adventure that was!! I never thought of it as a place for kids before, but we didn’t stop for 3 action packed days. We saw the fabulous Cirque du Soleil’s O show, which is as beautiful as I remembered, combining acrobatics with swimming, a pool which appears and disappears, and then disappears partially, while one part of the cast is dancing on a solid floor, and the others are diving acrobatically (or from high trapezes) into the water. It is a breathtaking experience for all ages, and the children I was with were as dazzled as the adults were. On our last night we saw David Copperfield’s magic show, which is less poetic than O, but totally amazing and fascinated us too. And in between we went to roller coasters inside 2 hotels, Circus Circus and New York New York, we watched the volcano erupt outside the Mirage Hotel, and the water show of fountains outside the Bellagio. We walked for miles along the Strip, peeking at enormous, impressive hotels, each with a special flavor of its own. Some of our group went to the Venetian Hotel, but I missed that, we walked through the lobby of the Bellagio, and walked for many blocks along Fremont Street, which was a little less my cup of tea, with half naked people in costumes posing for photographs, and a lot of souvenirs and tattoo parlors. I wasn’t as crazy about that, it felt like the old days in Times Square in New York, a little on the seamy side. But the rest of what we saw in Vegas wasn’t seamy at all, but mostly fun and exciting. » read more »
Posted on August 18, 2014
Serious Moment. It happens sometimes. And life lessons.
On a foggy Saturday morning in San Francisco recently, after a long night of writing, just back from Paris, my phone and computer came alive at 6 am. Emails, messages, texts, calls, with the totally unbelievable news that a close friend in Paris had died, the husband of one of my very close women friends. The first thing I saw was an email that gave his first name and said he had died. I only know one person by that name, but immediately rejected that possibility….it couldn’t be him….too young….I saw him only a few weeks ago….we’re all having dinner in a few weeks….not him…I tried to figure out who else I knew by that name. I opened the email and saw his wife’s name, and I felt as though an entire mountain had come crashing down on me. It was indeed the close friend which my mind flatly refused to believe could have died. » read more »
Posted on August 11, 2014
Weirdly, I was thinking this morning and an old French saying popped into my mind. In French it’s “Les chiens aboient, et la caravane passe….” Translated, it says “The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.” The meaning being that something may be loud and catch your attention and seem all consuming at the time, and then it moves on and turns out not to be such a big deal. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff. And although I often have trouble remembering that myself, it is so true!! Things happen which seem loud and strident and upsetting, an event, an incident, an argument, and we all get so upset. It seems all consuming and can just ruin a day, or a week. It happens to me all the time, a child, a friend, a partner, an employer or employee says or does something that just infuriates me or hurts my feelings, and becomes the focus of my world for a while—-and maybe yours too!!! And then time passes, and with a little perspective, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal, and life moves on. I wish I remembered that more often. And it was a good reminder when I thought of it today, so I thought I’d share it with you.
I hope there are no ‘dogs barking in your life” at the moment, with things to annoy or upset you. But if so, try to remember that the caravan will move on soon….you can remind me of that too the next time I get wound up!! Have a great week!!
Posted on August 4, 2014
So have you read my new hardcover yet, that came out last week, “A Perfect Life”? Sorry, I don’t mean to push. I just love the book and hope you do too. I hope you get to read it on vacation, or on the way to work, or tucked into bed at night.
Actually, I was writing to give you a heads up about a children’s book I have coming out in October. It’s called “Pretty Minnie in Paris”, and it’s ADORRRABLE!!! I am in love with it!!! It’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen for little girls, about a little girl named Francoise in Paris and her tiny white long haired Chihuahua—-Minnie of course!!! They love clothes and cute shoes, and Minnie has lots of outfits, and loves to match Francoise (in matching tutus, snowsuits and party dresses). It’s illustrated and the illustrator, Kristy Valliant, did a fantastic job, capturing my real Minnie, and turning her into a storybook character everyone will fall in love with (Kristy came to visit in Paris to do drawings and take photographs and videos of the real Minnie, and captured her perfectly!!). If you have any little girls in your life, it will make a fantastic gift (for all the little girls I know too) with lots of drawings of Paris, and Minnie in her adorable outfits. She gets lost at a fashion show in the book, and I’ll let you read the rest. It won’t be out til October, but I couldn’t resist telling you about it now. I am thrilled to have been part of the creation of the book, and my own little Minnie is of course thrilled to be the star of a children’s book. It’s full of pink and purple glitter and everything little girls love (and me too!). I have a regular grown up novel coming out in October too, “Pegasus”, it’s a historical novel which begins in World War II. I think it’s one of my best books, a family saga of two families…..but “Pretty Minnie in Paris” will steal your heart. I hope you’re finding down time to relax and read this summer. At the moment, between writing books, I’m plunged into a novel by one of my favorite authors, it’s a cozy read and takes place in Ireland. It’s nice to relax for a change.
Posted on July 28, 2014
Whew!! It’s been hot everywhere I’ve been lately, with more to come. I love the heat in the summer, and I’m never a big fan of air conditioning, which is like stepping into a refrigerator. I’d rather enjoy the hot weather.
I had one of those moments of reality and gratitude today, when for a moment, you see reality, take stock, and are really grateful. I had one of those days a few days ago, when everything went wrong. Small stuff, but truly aggravating. A problem in my office, some work challenges, some legal issues in the building where I live in France. My family vacation with my kids is over, which always makes me sad. They all left for their cities and went back to work, and my home is always MUCH too quiet when they’re gone. I just had one of those days when everything you touch is a problem or isn’t going the way you want. And it’s easy to forget how lucky one is on days like that. My greatest moment of gratitude was about a flight one of my children took last week, that nearly crashed on landing, and I was soooo profoundly grateful that it didn’t crash, and although badly shaken, my daughter was fine and unhurt. She called me sobbing when she landed, and just thinking of what could have happened really shook me up. As we all know, and don’t always remember, life can change in an instant, and everything you care about dissolves or goes out the window. So I am VERY grateful that didn’t happen. But I had an annoying day a few days later anyway. It happens.
And then today, I had a business lunch with my French publisher. I rushed around doing errands in the morning, and he had given me the address of a restaurant I didn’t know. When I arrived, it was on the roof of a hotel I had forgotten about, in Paris, and the roof was set up as a garden, within a block or two of the Arc de Triomphe, with a fabulous view of the rooftops of Paris, and if you walked around the terrace, which I did, you could see Sacre Coeur in the distance, and many of the spectacular monuments of Paris. The view was incredible.
When my publisher arrived, we had a delicious lunch, and sat there in the roof garden, talking business and enjoying the view (although there was a slight haze of pollution in the distance). And in a quiet moment, I looked around and realized how lucky I am, to be sitting in that beautiful place, enjoying a wonderful lunch, with all of Paris spread out before me under a blue sky. How much better can it get? I felt so blessed and fortunate as I sat there. And yes, life is aggravating at times, and bills are always bigger than one wants, and we all have worries and concerns and even aggravations with our families, and work, and just the little pitfalls of life. (The dry cleaner always manages to lose my favorite sweater, whichever one it is at the time). It’s so nice sometimes to just have one moment of clarity, when we realize how lucky we are. Sometimes life is really hard, and terrible things happen that worry us or break our hearts…..and then at other times, there is a moment, just a flash, when all is peaceful for a few minutes and we realize how lucky we are, and how good life can be at times. I’m happy I had one of those moments, it gives you the strength to fight the battles that we all have to face. I was sooooo grateful for that lucky moment today!!! I hope good things are happening to you.
Posted on July 21, 2014
I hope that all is well with you and that the summer is rolling out nicely for you, with some time to relax, enjoy your families, take time off (and hopefully read a book or two. I have a new book coming out in hardcover tomorrow, “A Perfect Life”. I hope it will be the perfect summer read for you!!).
As I’ve confessed to you before, among my many confessions to you, I’m a creature of habit, AND I am not good at relaxing. I always love having something to do, and getting me to just sit still and take a vacation and enjoy some down time is no easy task. I always think I should be accomplishing something, writing an outline, helping one of my children, doing spring cleaning, or pulling a closet apart. But in spite of that, I take a vacation with my five youngest children every summer, and it is one of the best moments of the year for me, wherever we are, rivalled only by a week together at Christmas with all of my kids. We have gone to the same hotel every summer—we used to spend three weeks there, but now with all of my kids working, and busy with their careers, we are grateful to have a week together. And in spite of myself, eventually I unwind and actually relax. And it is sheer heaven being with them. We swim, lie in the sun, have meals together, they tell some hair raising stories of pranks and mischief they committed when they were younger, and are thrilled to tell me everything I didn’t know, which they think is hysterically funny now. We share long lazy meals, go to favorite restaurants, play games like Scrabble and cards, and a recent addition called “Catch Phrase”, which I love, it’s a little bit like charades where you have to describe a word, with a timer ticking, while everyone tries to guess the word, and pass the game along before the buzzer sounds. Some years they come with their boyfriends and girlfriends, or just a friend, and sometimes they come alone. Only one of the younger five is married, and my son in law fits right in with the rest of my ‘kids’ (in their mid and late 20’s now), and is a welcome addition to the group. It is one of the rare times of the year when we all relax together, enjoy each others’ company, reminisce about old times when they were little and other vacations we shared. And we have gone to the same hotel for about 25 years, all of their lives. Many of the same people still work there, and it’s like meeting up with old friends every year. » read more »