Posted on December 15, 2014
It’s less than two weeks before Christmas, and I’ve definitely been busy on the holiday circuit, and with holiday activities, and it has been fun. It’s a nice time of year to spend time with people you care about and enjoy, not just the ‘have to go to’ parties or the ‘think I should’s’. I weeded those out a few years ago, so I get to spend time with people I really consider friends.
This week was a bit of a whirlwind. On Monday I gave a lunch for my women friends, we see each other pretty regularly, so there wasn’t a lot of ‘catch up’ to do, just talking about our plans for the holidays, our families, and latest news, and taking time out from the rush to enjoy each other and have a civilized lunch. There were 7 of us at lunch, since five others couldn’t make it. Almost all of us work, and several of them still have young school age kids at home, and those activities take precedence, for all of us. Or work obligations. It was really fun to have lunch, and to discover that one of the group is having a baby, her fourth, which is brave of her, since she has a big career as an attorney, and a cardiologist husband, and 3 older children, so she has a very full life, but is very excited about this baby. And we were all thrilled for her!! They don’t have baby showers in France, that’s an American tradition, but I’m going to have one for her before the baby comes.
On Tuesday, I had lunch with one of my closest friends, which we do often, to discuss whatever is happening in our lives and enjoy each other’s company. He’s a male best friend, so we also give each other the benefit of the opposite sex perspective on situations, and that can be very helpful at times!! We always have a wonderful time together! And that night, I was invited to an interesting dinner given by American friends, an ex-Ambassador and his wife. And they invited me and a friend to meet the new American Ambassador to France, who is a charming woman. The ambassadorial post in France is not given to a career diplomat, but always to a major supporter of the current president, so it brings some very interesting people to the job, which is an appointment by the President. It was a fun evening and a small dinner of about 10 people, so a good chance to talk to her.
On Wednesday, I had lunch with my co-producers of the song album I wrote the lyrics for last year. And it was nice to catch up with them, and that’s a whole different milieu, since music was very new to me, and not my usual professional world.
On Thursday (which is Saint Danielle Day in France, my saint’s day. Saint Danielle!!), I gave my Christmas party, with 30 good friends, it was what the French call a ‘dining cocktail party’, officially it’s a cocktail party, but that tells people that there will be enough food passed around, or set up on a table that you won’t starve to death if you decide to stay. And in France, all parties go longer, so people will come to a cocktail party and stay til 1 or 1:30 am, which is what happened. It was the group of my social circle in France, and we really had a nice time together, particularly because everyone knows each other well. It was fun!!
And on Friday, I had lunch with a women’s group (of 5 women) that I belong to, and we meet once a month, usually for dinner, but everyone is so busy right now that we met for lunch. And that was really fun too. We all gave each other small gifts, one of them gave me some ‘lotto’ tickets, and I won $10.00 !!!! And Friday night, I went to a Shabbat dinner at the friends who are having the baby. They have a Friday night dinner every week, where friends come for dinner, and stay for long conversations. The food is plentiful, the discussions interesting, the people varied, and their children and their children’s friends come to dinner too. It’s a warm family gathering that everyone enjoys, and I love being invited to their Friday night dinners, with the lighting of the candles, the opening prayer, the traditions, and the lively atmosphere after the formalities. It’s always a special evening to be with them and their friends.
And today, I stayed home to work, and started packing to leave. Tomorrow, my God daughter and her family are coming to dinner. She is four years old, incredibly adorable and irresistible, and we’ll all open presents under my Christmas tree. It has been a thrill to give the little girls I know my new children’s book, “Pretty Minnie in Paris!”, which has wonderful illustrations, and even glitter on the cover, and so far they have all loved it (and so have some of my grown up friends!!) It’s about a little teacup Chihuahua who lives in Paris, and loves to wear pretty clothes. And the illustrations by Kristi Valiant are fabulous!!!
So this week has been all pre-Christmas events, all of which I’ve enjoyed. And last weekend I stayed home to wrap presents—which I am terrible at, and they all look like someone was blindfolded while they did it. Wrapping presents is not my strong suit!!
And before I leave Paris, I’ll have lunch with another good friend, and on my last night here before the holidays, two friends are coming to dinner.
Next week, once I leave Paris, I’m going to spend a day with one of my daughters to celebrate her birthday and have dinner with her and her friends, on the way home. I have a business meeting too, and then back to California for all our family Christmas traditions, and a chance to see some friends too. And I give a lunch every year with Santa present for all the really little children I know. I’ve been doing that since my own children were that small.
So, as you can see, I’ve been caught up in the whirl of Christmas, still doing a lot of shopping, seeing a lot of friends, and still managing have time to work, on a new book outline, some re-writes, and editing a set of ‘galleys’, which is the last stage in “book production”, my last chance to make corrections before a book goes to the printer and is turned into an actual book.
I do love the busy-ness of Christmas, the chance to see friends I love, the excitement of finding just the right gift for someone and hoping they’ll be excited about it, and the quiet moments when you think about what it all means, and inevitably, you think of the people who were part of your Christmas and no longer are, like my late son Nick. There are always some very nostalgic bittersweet moments to the season, but on the whole, happiness prevails.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. I hope your Christmas is off to a good start, and even if it falls short in some way, or the people you love aren’t around, it is a finite number of days, and you know it will be over soon. Before it is, I hope you have some wonderful days and evenings, and some special moments with loved ones and friends.
I am thinking of you, and send you much love, on holidays, and at any other time.
all my love, danielle
Posted on December 8, 2014
You’re probably running around as I am right now, trying to get organized for the holidays. Thanksgiving was wonderful, and I was very grateful that all my children came home, flew home, and so did I, so we could be together, only for a couple of days, but seeing them was a great gift, and always is.
I love reading your comments and responses to my blog too. It was interesting to see that one reader was very upset that several people died at the beginning of my book “Winners”, and another reader responded to her. (I wish I could respond to everyone, but it’s hard to do, but I am grateful for everything you say, and take it to heart). It was unfortunate that the unhappy reader didn’t read on through the book. The whole point of that book is that we can be faced with some incredibly tough situations, hang on, and persevere through them, and triumph in the end. It’s not easy to do, and it takes a great deal of courage. In ‘Winners”, all the main characters in the book have suffered some kind of really tough blow or loss. The central character, a young girl on the Olympic ski team suffers a spinal cord injury in an accident and becomes a paraplegic, which ends her dreams of ‘winning the gold’. The surgeon who operates on her loses her husband the night she operates on the young skier. Another character is a breast cancer survivor and her husband divorced her while she was going through treatment. And another character has lost his career, his money, and his wife (his wife leaves him when his professional life falls apart). And ALL of these people find strength in one way or another, inspired by the courage of the young skier, as she faces her challenges and wins remarkably in the end (and there are many brave people like her in real life). In many ways, it’s a very inspiring book by the end, so I’m sorry that the discontented reader didn’t persevere and get to the uplifting part, which is the whole point of the book. Sometimes the good things in life come at a high price. And I have always liked a quote that I have framed on my wall behind my desk. “Courage is not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them”. And another quote I love “Courage is the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good”. The woman who originally said that is Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist in Germany in the 1930’s right before the war. I try very hard to ENcourage people with what I write, not DIScourage them. We get enough of that, and can all use encouragement to face the tough stuff in our lives. Sometimes you have to keep reading, keep going and keep living to get to better times!!! And as Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up!!!” which is an inspiration too. I was very fortunate to know Christopher Reeves, the actor who suffered a terrible horseback riding accident, and had a severe spinal cord injury as a result. (He played Superman in the movies). He was one of the bravest, most inspiring, most extraordinary people I ever met, and an amazing example of what people can do, faced with terrible challenges. He was gracious, upbeat, and totally remarkable, and was wonderful even after his accident. And people like him, and others I know, inspired my book “Winners”. The people in the book really are winners, and each one finds a way to triumph in the end.
I was thinking about something today which is what I was going to write to you about, because it was on my mind. Accountability. Being accountable for our actions. It always amazes me how some people just aren’t. And we are half of that equation if we don’t hold people accountable, and don’t expect them to be responsible for what they do. I am always torn by a contradiction on that subject, because I’m religious, and I think forgiveness is important. Not forgiving those who hurt us, whether or not we keep them in our lives, is a heavy burden to carry. And in the Bible when someone asked “how many times must we forgive someone?” the response is 70 times 7. Yikes!!! That’s 490 times. Do I really have to forgive someone 490 times??? That’s a tall order. But I have leaned more toward forgiving people in my life than making them accountable for their actions. You don’t have to stay mad, and shouldn’t, but people really do need to be responsible for their actions. And some people appear to be oblivious to any kind of accountability for what they do to others. There is someone in my life who hurt me very badly many years ago, and I chose the route of forgiveness, and took the higher road. But quite amazingly that same person surfaces from time to time, even regularly, wanting favors from me. I debate about it, and have often decided to be generous about it, and lend a hand. And damn if that person doesn’t take advantage of me EVERY time. Maybe some people just can’t help it. I don’t make an issue of it, but I wind up mad at myself for giving that person another chance they just don’t deserve. They just surfaced again, wanting me to do something I really didn’t want to do, and FINALLY, I just said no. I explained why, nicely, but I’m not going to be taken advantage again. It really is time to set firm boundaries in that case and say no. And predictably, they were furious at me, and quite incensed. I’ve been a good sport for too long, and I think it was a shock to finally hear me say no, I wasn’t going to play that game anymore, where I wind up being and feeling used and taken advantage of. And people who do that seem to be quite shameless about it; it’s all about them and what they want. I thought about it after my firm no, and wondered if I was being unkind or uncharitable, and suddenly realized that no, I finally made that person accountable for their actions of the past. It was long, long overdue, and in the end it was a good feeling. I needed to respect and protect myself. Some people do not improve with time, and if we don’t stop them, they use us again and again and again. I was very proud of myself for making them accountable, not angrily, not meanly, but it was the appropriate response. It has taken me a long time to get there. Some of us learn that lesson slower than others. Accountability is really important in any situation and relationship. We’re all sloppy about that at times, no one is perfect, but we need to be accountable for our actions, and expect the same from others. It was actually a REALLY good feeling, not to let someone take advantage of me again!!! And all it took was a simple, firm, heartfelt No. I wish I’d learned that lesson sooner!!!
And as you go along in these busy weeks, getting ready for the holidays, if you celebrate them—–I hope that all is going well for you!!! I’m always aware that it’s not an easy time of year, but I hope these holidays will be gentle for you!!!
Posted on December 1, 2014
I hope Thanksgiving went well for you, and turned out as you wished.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I went to a famous church in San Francisco, Glide Memorial, which is a free form protestant/Christian experience, a church where the founder and pastor is an extraordinary man, Reverend Cecil Williams, and their extensive charitable foundations are run by his exceptionally wonderful wife, Janice Mirikatani. The music there is fabulous, and is Gospel with a large musical ensemble, the message is flawless and calls us to put our actions where our Faith is. It really spoke to me when he said that we wait for God to act on our behalf, but maybe God is waiting for us to act, to demonstrate our faith. I liked that a lot, and he urged us not to Talk Love, but to Live it. I took friends from Europe there, and I always come out of that church feeling terrific and full of energy and renewed faith. Glide is exceptional because they have countless programs for the poor and homeless, education, health and housing programs, detox, and an amazing free meal program, where they serve close to 900,000 free meals a year, lunch and dinner. Cecil and his wife Janice are truly an inspiration!! It got my Thanksgiving week off to a great start, and as he said, the emphasis should be on Giving.
» read more »
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!!