Posted on February 8, 2016
I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy, writing, changing cities, seeing my kids, keeping up with life. Probably you’re busy too!!!
I don’t usually respond to comments on the blog, but now and then one snags me, and I can’t help but chime in. And one of those caught my eye recently, when someone wrote in “Forgiveness and generosity are not accessible to everyone”. And another person commenting on the blog strongly disagreed—–and I so agree with him. The beauty of both forgiveness and generosity is that they ARE accessible, and possible, and even vital for everyone!!! Personally, I don’t think you can have a decent relationship with anyone, a parent, a spouse, a lover, a co-worker, a boss, a friend, a child without being willing to forgive. And I know, sometimes it is VERY hard. There are a few people who hurt me so badly in my lifetime that it will be, and has been, a life’s work to forgive them. But the person carrying the heaviest burden is the one unwilling to forgive. No marriage works without forgiveness, no friendship, no relationship. I think it’s one of the most important gifts between two people, and that one can give: forgiveness. We don’t even have to invite those people back into our lives, hang around with them, have them over for dinner, but we do have to be able to forgive in order to go on with our lives in a healthy way, in freedom from the burdens of the past. It is in our power to forgive and well worth the hard work it takes sometimes to let go of anger and resentment and forgive. The forgiveness we extend to others blesses us every time.
And generosity is within our abilities as well. Generosity is accessible to everyone!! Not money, not a check, although sometimes that is certainly welcome, but the gift of time, of oneself, helping a friend with a move, a problem, a project, sometimes just listening, calling someone you know is having a hard time, or lonely, or sick, or giving them something you love but know would mean a lot to them. There are so many ways to be generous, which can mean so much to others. I have never forgotten the people who reached out to me when I was having a hard time. A gift like that can light up your day, or your life, or change your whole outlook.
Right off the top of my head, three examples come to mind. My oldest daughter had a Moped accident when she was fourteen. At first it just seemed like a very nasty scrape with some cuts and bruises on her leg, but it rapidly became a much bigger deal with an infection that went into her bone and up her leg, and she nearly lost her leg, and endured seven years of surgeries, intense pain, nerve damage, physical therapy, wheel chairs and crutches until she was well again. A year after the accident, one of her doctors suggested that she do some volunteer work with people more unfortunate than she was. At 15, she volunteered to work with children with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy. She stuck with it for many years, loved the kids she met, and found that she had a real gift for working with them. In the summers, she volunteered to work at a camp for kids with cancer, and did that for many years. She directed her studies toward that kind of work, got several graduate degrees and eventually became a social worker and therapist in pediatric oncology, and has had an impressive career in that field. Her incredible generosity with her time, at a time when she was in so much pain herself led to a lifelong passion and a remarkable career. And years later, when I was devastated over the loss of my son and the disintegration of my marriage, her shining example led me to do the homeless outreach work on the streets that changed my life and brought help to many, and immeasurable joy to me.
When thinking about unexpected generosity at a dark time, I remembered a time when I went to an antique shop to look around. I couldn’t afford anything in the shop at the time, I knew the antique dealer slightly, and I was having a hard time just then, and my spirits were somewhere in my socks. He must have sensed it or seen it, and I looked at a beautiful little miniature antique painted desk. It was just a lovely piece, and I would have loved to have it, but I couldn’t even consider it. It was quite an expensive piece. I went home, and the next day, a gift arrived: it was the beautiful little desk, given to me as a gift by the owner of the shop. It was an incredible gift, I was totally stunned, and no one has EVER given me such an amazing gift, before or since. It was pure generosity and kindness. I was overwhelmed by it, and so grateful for the enormously generous gesture. The desk is still in my living room, and I think of how it came to me every time I look at it. It was really a gift of love that warms my heart still.
The other example that came to me was my friend and mentor, Alex Haley. He wrote the book “Roots”, and was an icon and a legend. He was one of the kindest, most generous men I have ever known, always giving to others, always taking time to listen to them. He couldn’t do enough for people, and he had an incredible, compassionate way about him. People stopped him everywhere he went, he was an inspiration to many, and people wanted to talk to him. Going anywhere with him was a challenge, because every five minutes someone wanted to touch him, or meet him, or tell him their life stories. And it always struck me about him how generous he was, giving of himself. No matter how rushed, or busy, or tired he was, he would stop and talk to them, and seemed as though he had waited a lifetime to meet them, and had nothing else to do. They walked away afterwards, feeling ten feet tall after he gave them his full attention, and made each one feel like they were the most important person world. He was so humble, which was a true sign of greatness, and so generous with his time, and heart and soul.
I’m as crabby as the next person, and there are days when I fall short of what I hope to be, when I don’t take enough time with others, or am grumpy when things go wrong. And then I remember these generous acts and generous people….whether it’s with a cup of coffee, or five minutes, or a smile, or the gift of a book we love, or a touch of the hand at the right time, we can all be generous. It’s a gift that any of us can give, and generosity is indeed accessible to us all.
This coming Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and I hope it turns out just the way you want, with the person you want to be with, and the way you want it to unfold. I hope wonderful surprises are in store for you. I hope all your dreams come true. And just know that all of you are my Valentines every day!!
Posted on February 1, 2016
I hope all is well with you!! I had a fun week last week, saw friends, went to a movie premiere of a film produced by a friend, about an in-school project, trying to discourage racial and religious discrimination among school age children. A really worthy subject, particularly in France, given the current tensions. One of my daughters had to work in Paris for a week, and as always, I really enjoyed her company, as I do all my children. She was busy, but it’s always nice seeing my kids coming and going out of my home, and living under the same roof with me, although it’s never for long enough!!! But I’m grateful for the time I get, and we managed to have dinner together twice.
The Big Event in Paris last week was Haute Couture week, which is only a 3 day event now. I’ve mentioned to you before that it used to be an entire week of fashion shows by important designers, running from one show to the next to see fabulous clothes modelled on the runway. Now there are only two important haute couture houses left: Dior and Chanel, and a handful of less known designers. And one very glamourous one: Elie Saab who makes beautiful sexy evening gowns, but since I don’t wear them and don’t have a life that requires them, I’ve never gone to their show. I wear less elaborate clothes, that I can wear in the daytime, or for an informal dinner out. I have a closet full of evening gowns that I never, or rarely, wear anymore, and am saving them for my daughters. Some are quite beautiful, and are even museum pieces, made by designers who either don’t do them anymore, or are no longer alive. Most of what I’ve saved, of haute couture, is by Dior, Givenchy, Balmain (when it was still a couture house), and Chanel. They are gorgeous clothes for daytime and evening, by remarkable designers, who were really great artists. Hubert de Givenchy, who is still alive though retired, and a cherished friend—-designed Audrey Hepburn’s private wardrobe, and for all her films. He is the last truly great gentleman and an amazing man, with unlimited talent. At the time when I bought a lot of Christian Dior Haute Couture, it was designed by Gianfranco Ferre, an Italian designer, who was replaced by John Galliano (British). I used to buy a lot of Balmain Haute Couture (and still have all of it, and the clothes by Dior), when it was designed by Oscar de la Renta, who eventually retired from Balmain to continue his own brand, and died last year, much to my sorrow. And Chanel ready to wear and Haute Couture is designed by Karl Lagerfeld (he’s German), he is a powerhouse of creative genius and astounding energy, and still designs for three brands at eighty five. The extent and level of his talent is amazing and dazzling. He is constantly ahead of his time, and sets the fashions. His ready to wear shows are the biggest in fashion, presenting more looks than anyone else (Over 100 each time, most designers show about 30 looks now). One interesting side bar is that I bought Haute Couture over many years, for a long time. My grandmother bought it for me when I married in my teens. My mother in law very generously gave me some pieces when I was married to her son. And once I ‘grew up’ and became successful I bought it for myself, and sometimes even a lot of it. But the prices then (and not that long ago) were the same or less than what ready to wear clothes cost now. The price of Haute Couture today is enormous, and nothing like the more reasonable prices of a decade or two ago. And designers I knew well sometimes sold me samples, with evening gowns that were exquisite for less than a ready to wear wool jacket or coat would cost today. Much of what is shown on the runway in Haute Couture shows now is never made. It is simply part of the show and ‘spectacle’, as publicity for the house that made them. There are very few buyers for Haute Couture today, due to the more casual lifestyle now, and with the high prices, there are far fewer people around the world who can afford it. But for me, it has always been a form of art. I studied fashion design at Parsons in New York, and it’s a thrill to see an haute couture show even if I don’t buy it. It is a true art form, and in a way the summit of fashion. » read more »
Posted on January 25, 2016
I hope you’re okay, and staying warm wherever you are!! It seems to be cold everywhere (except tropical places), and the weather is wintry in all of ‘my’ cities: cold, gray and rainy in Paris, rainy and chilly in San Francisco, and a blizzard in New York. Two of my daughters are snowed in there, while it continues to snow (with very strong winds), and they’re in a very dangerous situation: boredom has driven them to shopping online. Uh Oh!!! Here comes trouble!! It’s a good thing that’s not me. I’ve only looked to shop online a few times, and I suspect I could become addicted to it, if I knew how to do it efficiently. And they’re much more Internet savvy than I am, so I hope the snow stops soon!! I’m sorry I’m not in New York right now, I LOVE snow, although a blizzard might be too much of a good thing. But it looks beautiful and adds a touch of magic (until it turns into a mess a few days later). My daughters say the wind is so strong, that you can’t see more than a few feet in front of where you’re walking. The city was declared in a state of emergency on Saturday, the airport was closed, and only emergency vehicles were allowed on the road, so everyone is stuck at home (while some people shop online!!!). I have a cousin in Washington, DC who said that in the blizzard there, it took her three hours to get home, a distance that normally takes her fifteen minutes!!!
I’m not ‘stuck’ at home, but chose to be at home this past weekend, still doing a lot of writing, and enjoying being tucked in at home. Last week was busy and interesting with the usual ups and downs, some good news, some less good, working on manuscripts, and some meetings. A little shopping here and there, for my kids, and for me (I bought myself a bracelet, and am happy with it). And am editing, and working on ideas for new books. I have to admit, I love my weekends tucked in at home when I’m writing….or any time!!! And when I want to take a break, I watch an old episode of Downton Abbey, which I always love.
I’m lucky that I’ll be spending four days this week with one of my daughters, she’s coming to stay with me while she works, and this coming weekend I’ll be with three of them. And I will see more of my kids next week. I’ll be doing another Facebook chat on February 3rd from 11 am to 1pm Pacific time, so I hope you’ll chime in and contact me directly during the chat—-and I hope I’ll have time to answer whatever you send me. I type as fast as I can, to answer as many as I can. I wish I could answer them all!!!
I’ve had lunches and dinners with friends recently, which is always fun, and will be doing more of that this week. I’m more interested in the friends than the food or the restaurant, since I’m not a big eater, and not a ‘foodie’. The meal is just a good excuse to meet up with friends I love. And another friend spent the night at my house last week, and it was fun to chat until late—-and she arrived bearing chocolates, there is no better treat!!! Fun evening chatting with a friend and catching up while eating chocolates!!
I hope you have some fun plans this week. And that you’re not snowed in anywhere. And if you are, I hope you’re reading my new book “Blue”. I really, really hope you love it…..and that all is well with you.
Much love, Danielle
Posted on January 18, 2016
I hope that all is okay with you, and that life is treating you well, good things are happening, and you’re even having some fun!!
Tomorrow, January 19, is an exciting day for me: my new hardcover “Blue” is coming out. I’ve been looking forward to this book. It’s about a homeless boy, and about finding hope when you least expect it, long after you’ve given up hope. On a snowy night, sleeping in a small tool cupboard, barely big enough for his body, a thirteen year old homeless boy named Blue (because of the vibrant blue color of his eyes) meets a woman who champions his causes, believes in him, won’t let him give up, fights some important battles with and for him, truly cares about him, and changes the course of his life. The woman who befriends him had given up hope herself. After losing her husband and son in a car accident, she is alone in the world….until she meets Blue. I wont tell you the rest, but there are surprises in the book, some serious challenges, some dark secrets, and twists and turns. The woman who befriends Blue is kind and trustworthy and compassionate. We all need people like that in our lives whom we can trust, and who care about us, and a lucky break when the sky looks very dark. It’s about not giving up hope. I really hope you love the book!!!
Other than that, I am working on another book now, and enjoying working on it. I love to hibernate in the winter, and write, write, write, which is what I’m doing now….so I really hope you read Blue and love it!! Have a great week!! I’ll be hard at work at my typewriter, and thinking of you!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on January 11, 2016
It’s a cold, rainy Sunday in New York, and I’m visiting two of my children, which is always a joy for me. We had dinner together last night, will have brunch today and hang out together, which is always a gift for me.
I was just thinking about the roller coaster of life, the shocks and not always good surprises that life broadsides us with. It happens to us all. And the bigger the life, the rougher the ride sometimes. I’ve spent the last two and a half weeks since Christmas, visiting two people I love in the hospital, both very sick. One hit unexpectedly with an illness they had 2 chances in a million to catch, the other sick for a long time. It makes you realize again how quickly things can change. Someone I work with had an accident in LA during the holidays and had to be flown back to New York in an ambulance plane for surgery. And I heard from a close friend last night, that his business partner had pulled a power move and tried to shut him out of his business this week, which is going to involve a lot of legal work to straighten it out. It’s the second story I’ve heard like it recently, of people being pushed out of their jobs or business by someone they trusted. It happens to all of us—-we get hit like a ton of bricks by something we didn’t expect. It’s part of life, and definitely not the fun part!!!
I don’t have any great Pollyanna answers about how to deal with the tough things that happen to us unexpectedly. You just have to hang on, go through it, do the best you can, and hope for a good outcome. And no question, long term, sometimes blessings come from it, a stronger relationship, a better job or partnership, a rethinking of what we care about most, a deeper appreciation for the good times and good people in our lives. And I’ve had times when I’ve been thrown for a loop too, in business or my personal life. Big stuff, not just small stuff, and I’m sure those things have happened to you too!!! No one is exempt. Great things happen, but so do hard ones, and suddenly an easy day becomes a very hard one, and some things take a long time to resolve.
Someone sent me a greeting card once that said “Life is like a roller coaster ride” (with a picture of a kid screaming on a roller coaster on the front) and inside” First you scream, and then you throw up”. All true. But after that, you have to hang on for dear life, figure out how to survive it, how to deal with it, and what the best outcome will be (sometimes with unusual solutions you’d never thought of before), and how to make the best of it. Sometimes endurance serves us best, and perseverance, getting through a big problem day by day, or even hour by hour, until the bad time has passed.
I’m sharing this with you in case you’re on the ‘scream-y’ part of the roller coaster ride, and if you’ve been broadsided by some big event that’s challenging you. Hang on!!! The ride does smooth out again in time. We forget that when we’re in the midst of it. The problems do get solved, and somehow we survive it. There will always be unexpected storms in this lifetime, even tornadoes and hurricanes, it’s all about how we survive them, and the things we learn while going through them. It’s not the fun part, but it’s part of the deal. So onward through the storms, and if you’re on the roller coaster ride right now, HANG ON!!!! And whatever is happening, it will smooth out again….I remind myself of that too!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on January 4, 2016
Happy New Year!!!! I hope that whatever you did on New Year’s eve was fun, and if you had too much fun, by now you have started to recover, and feel fresh and ready to face a brand new year, like a clean slate, ready for you to write on!! I think we all forget sometimes how much of what we do, we can determine ourselves. So we should all think about how we want this year to go, and in what direction. Do we want to slow down and take it easy, smell the roses, and not work as hard? Or rev up our engines and do more, start new projects, or a new business? Do we want to meet new people and get out more, or stay home more and not race around quite as much. Are we ready for a new relationship, or know we should end an old one if it’s not working. Do we need or want to spend more time with our kids….or have a child, or move to a new home or apartment? Look for a new job? Or work harder at the old one? Take better care of ourselves, change our hair color or our look? Or get a new puppy? Lose or gain weight? Get more exercise? The possibilities are endless, and there are always surprises and things we can’t control in life, but at least we can head in the right direction—-whatever that direction means to us. » read more »
Posted on December 28, 2015
I hope your Christmas, or Chanukah, holidays were wonderful. I had a really terrific time with all my kids, and got wonderful gifts I REALLY loved from them. But the best gift of all was being with them, and sharing family time. We were all so grateful to be together. And our holiday time is almost over. They leave tomorrow, and on Tuesday, I’ll be at my desk, back at work, working on books for the months ahead. So my holidays are drawing to a close. Each one of my kids gave me special gifts, but their presence at home was what I cherished most. One of my daughters gave me gorgeous evening shoes, with “I love you, Mommy” written in sequins in French, and a gold bracelet that says I love you, and a bunch of other lovely presents too. Two of my daughters gave me a beautiful little table from the l950’s, by a furniture designer whose work I love, it has an Asian scene on it, and I put it in the living room. Knowing how I love shoes, several of my daughters gave me shoes I’m crazy about. And another of my daughters gave me two great jade bracelets and a necklace. One of my older sons gave me a fantastic giant poster (about 5 feet high and 5 feet wide) with photographs of 9 antique typewriters, and the words “Mom” and “Love” and other words typed out. And my youngest son gave me a little journal I will cherish forever, where he wrote down his favorite memories with me, of things we’ve done together, and a ski trip we took together about 5 years ago, he wrote down all the things he loves about our relationship, what he admires in me, what he feels I’ve taught him, and the advice I’ve shared. it is an incredible gift of love, and said things any mother would give just about anything to hear. They were all incredibly generous and thoughtful, and we shared some wonderful meals and fun times together. We are all sad to see the holidays end as they pack to leave.
» read more »
Posted on December 21, 2015
I hope you’re not totally frazzled, worn out, and unnerved by now, trying to get everything done and wrapped up before Christmas. It can be a frantic time of year, even for the most organized people, a happy time, or a sad one, depending on where we are in our lives at the moment. It will undeniably be a hard time this year for those who have suffered losses of loved ones in some of the violent and tragic events that have caught our attention around the world. For those people, these holidays won’t be easy. My family went through that when we lost my son Nick three months before Christmas several years ago. Christmas was tough, and we struggled to make it the best we could, reaching out to friends, staying close with our family, and trying to make sense of life, and not totally losing our sense of joy at a very hard time for us, despite such a huge loss.
We can’t ignore, and I can’t ignore, the hard public events that have happened in the past year, the unrest all around us, the uncertainties in our future, about safety, disturbing political situations, the economy in almost every country. We don’t live in easy times, and it presents a challenge to each of us, as to how we view it, what we do about it, what we tell our children, how we explain things that even we don’t understand, and that are almost impossible to understand, and in some ways the senseless violence that threatens us all in some form.
What I find is that in many cases, it is driving people back to our basic and original traditions—–rather than disrupting our lives and tearing them apart forever, it is bringing back and strengthening some of the things we hold most dear: love of family, simple values and traditions, the importance of our friends, some of the smallest things and gestures in our lives are suddenly infinitely more dear. In some cases, it is making people kinder and more compassionate, reaching out to others, cherishing their relatives and friends. It makes each moment we spend with our children dearer and more important. The risks in the world today make each day seem like a gift.
Each of us have our traditions surrounding the holidays, Christmas or Chanukah, or customs in other cultures to mark the end of the year, traditions involving gifts or food or friendship or religion, which bring us comfort and give us a solid foundation to stand on. I think that when the world is troubled, the simple basics become more important. Although it’s certainly fun to get a fabulous gift, the kind gesture of a friend, or some small token from someone you don’t know well, a thoughtful reaching out in some way, baking something, giving something meaningful, doing something kind and small, touches the heart deeply.
I read recently “If you want a miracle, be a miracle to someone”, we all have that opportunity every day, to reach out, to be kind, and to pay attention when someone seems in distress or needs a hand. I know myself that whenever I was having a hard time with something in my life, the smallest gesture sometimes even from a stranger, even a smile, becomes meaningful, and can change an entire day.
We don’t have to have lived through tragedy to face challenging times. We all get stressed and pushed, and a day can head in the wrong direction, or we could be coincidentally dealing with major issues in our lives during the holidays. Someone reaching out to you then can change everything, can turn the day around. And at a time when it is easy to feel overwhelmed, like at the holidays, what better time to take a minute to smile, or lend a hand, call someone you know and may not have talked to for a while, or embrace the people you know and are grateful for, to tell our children how much we love them, praise our coworkers or cherish a friend, those are sometimes the most precious gifts to all of us. We may not even realize that someone we know is having a hard time, and your kind gesture may change everything for them.
I love buying gifts for my children and friends, for employees and coworkers and people who have been kind and helpful to me during the year (and my January budget is usually a mess as a result, but it’s worth it), but we forget sometimes what a huge difference a tiny gesture can make. It’s hard to think of it at times, to remember, to take the time and act on it, when we are all busy and stressed, but being a miracle to someone seems like the essence of the holidays to me. Some of the gifts that have meant the most to me are the gestures I least expected, something someone made me, or did for me. I try to remind myself of that when I rush around, trying to get everything done: pick out Christmas trees, decorate them, entertain friends, or do special things with my children that they will enjoy and hopefully remember for years. This year it seems particularly important to embrace our traditions, establish new ones, to reach out with generosity and compassion, rather than turning inward in despair and fear.
It’s up to each of us to set the example, to be a beacon of love and warmth, to shine brightly, to cast light into the world, instead of darkness.
May your holidays shine brightly, may your hearts be warm, and may we each be a miracle to someone in some small way. Our lights combined will light up the world with love and hope. And from the bottom of my heart, I wish each of you a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, I thank you for your kindness to me all year, for reading my books, for your letters and comments, for caring about me and my family. May our love for each other, all of us, light the world, just as you light up my days and warm my heart. May you and those you love be blessed and warm and safe during these holidays and always.
with all my love, Danielle
Posted on December 14, 2015
Everybody is getting ready for the holidays in one form or another, and not to put a damper on the holiday spirit, after recent attacks and violence, it has added another layer of concern to our usual activities. Maybe because I live in France half the year, I’m more sensitive to it, but even in the US, there have been frequent and constant bouts of violence this year, sometimes politically inspired, and sometimes by a disturbed person who went unnoticed, or was thought to be harmless, until they go berserk in a public place and leave a tragedy in their wake.
It is soooo disturbing to read the news right now. It isn’t commonplace yet, and we’re all still shocked at the senselessness of it, but it feels like every day we’re hearing about these events. The tragic recent attacks in Paris, which left 130 dead and 350 severely injured, the heartbreaking attack in San Bernardino, which killed 14 and 18 injured. Another shooting in Michigan….one in Wisconsin. A man went berserk on a London subway and stabbed 3 people. How are we supposed to behave after that? What are we supposed to think? How do you protect yourself or your kids? Do we just act like nothing happened? Do we stay home? Avoid certain public situations? Or try not to think about it? How are we supposed to behave?? » read more »
Posted on December 7, 2015
Busy writing again!! You keep me busy!! But there’s nothing I like doing more, so I am enjoying it thoroughly. Funnily enough, when I’m writing, I get new ideas for future books. And when I’m taking it easy and not writing, everything in my head goes quiet. So working seems to inspire me!!! And definitely agree with me.
I wanted to share the story of one of my bracelets with you. I wear a lot of bracelets on each wrist, many of which were given to me by my children, and all of which are sentimental to me, and I never take them off. People ask if they bother me, and I don’t even feel them, I’m so used to them. I haven’t taken them off in more than 20 years (when I had my last baby, the hospital insisted!!). They stay on my arms at all times, night and day!! Among them, I wear an ebony wood bangle bracelet on my left arm that I particularly love. It has 4 oval gold plaques on it with a saying that means a lot to me. Each plaque has a few words on it that forms a sentence, all put together. It says “You have to believe in luck in order to be lucky”. It’s in French, and a limited number of the bracelets were made by a French jeweler, Van Cleef and Arpels in 1970. I’ve seen it a few times in vintage stores, and always admired it. I love what it says!!! The original ones are expensive and hard to find, and a few years ago one of my daughters who works for a magazine told me that Van Cleef was going to issue a few more, in ebony and dark wood. I rushed to the store in Paris, and ordered one each for each of my daughters, and an extra for a friend, who had been trying to have a baby unsuccessfully for several years. I was SO EXCITED when the bracelets came, and gave them to my girls for Christmas, and to the friend. I put mine on immediately, and I don’t like to be superstitious, but I wear it EVERY day and I just love it, and think of it as my ‘lucky bracelet’. I ALWAYS wear it, and have since I got it…..and the friend I gave it to got pregnant the day she got hers, and has THE MOST ADORABLE little girl you’ve ever seen, who just turned two. The story definitely has a happy ending. So believe yourself lucky, and believe in luck, and you will be!!!
I wish you good luck and lots of love, Danielle
Posted on November 30, 2015
I’m busy writing. With a 6 book a year publishing schedule, I have LOTS of writing to do!!!
I had an interesting experience recently, when I went through New York to see my daughters there, we went shopping together, which is always fun for me. And also challenging!! With all 3 working in fashion, they have a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t and strong opinions about what I should wear—–and never wear!!! My perception of fashion is a little different than theirs, I’m older and can’t get away with every trend that comes along, but I also like a touch of humor sometimes, and don’t always want to wear serious Mom-clothes. Fashion needs to be fun too. Sometimes I regret those flights of fancy, and sometimes I really enjoy them. And sometimes I make some lulus of mistakes!!! And my daughters keep me in line. They’re a tough fashion committee to get by sometimes!!! As all daughters are, even if they don’t work in fashion. (You’re going out in THAT??? How many times have we all heard that from teen age daughters? And then they steal it from our closet and wear it themselves!!)
And I guess I wasn’t in a very serious mood the day we went shopping. At the first store we went to, I picked a big red and black checked purse that went with a few things I own. As the girls pointed out, I didn’t “need” it, but thought it would be fun. I got a resounding NO!! on that one, by all 3. I tried on a pair of navy blue patent leather lace up boots that I also thought would be fun. No again, and their verdict was that I looked like an 18th century school teacher. So with some regret, I said no to those. At the second store, they picked out a pair of beautiful sparkly black very high heeled evening shoes which they said I’d wear a lot, and I realized they were right, so I bought them and will probably wear them for years. They are very elegant and grown up, and I’ll probably wear them on Christmas Eve when we dress up for dinner. I also picked out a pair of platform flat shoes and got an instant No on those, and….tried on a pair of high heeled boots with flowers painted all over them that I thought were really fun. The committee voted those down too, but I tried them again and loved them, and bought them anyway. They may be right, and I may never wear them, but they looked happy and fun, so I gave myself a treat. And a moment of defiance of their sometimes stern fashion rules!! The boots are probably silly, but why not? » read more »
Posted on November 23, 2015
Wow….how did it get to be the holidays so soon? It was January the last time I looked, and as it does every year, it whizzed by. One minute the year is beginning, you’re planning what you’ll do, and suddenly it’s spring and then summer, and then summer ends and it’s fall. A bunch of kids show up on Halloween, and Zap, it’s Thanksgiving. In five minutes it will be Christmas, you put the lights on the tree, admire it for a minute….then someone is singing Auld Lang Syne, and then you start all over again. So here we are, and here comes Thanksgiving.
To me, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and about friends. Although it is theoretically about family, it is a holiday to welcome friends who have nowhere else to go and might be alone, and to be thankful together. I always think about that phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It’s nice to be the place where people come, and to host it, and also nice to go to one’s friends if one is alone. And this is a good time of year for me to practice what I preach, and remember to be grateful for my family, my friends, (you my readers, and the people I work with), and the many blessings I have. I mean it, and it sounds good, but holidays also get hectic, life gets pressured and stressful, real life doesn’t stop on the holidays, and it’s easy to get worn out, stressed out, and sometimes even upset, and forget to be grateful. Sometimes the problems seem bigger than the blessings.
People in families worry about family battles and family members they don’t get along with. People without families are sad because they’re alone. People who are cooking the turkey and feel like they’re cooking for an army feel put upon (“Why do I always have to do it?”), People who have no turkey, no family, few friends and maybe nowhere to go feel deprived. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Very few people have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, where the turkey is golden, the kids all behave, and the relatives are well behaved and adorable. People are stressed and short tempered over the holidays. There’s a lot to do and take care of.
No one’s holidays are perfect or very few. Sometimes big things are wrong, or only small ones. We remember those who are no longer with us and miss them more acutely.
My older children who are married usually go to their in laws, although one of my older married children will be with us this year, which is rare. My five younger children are coming home, but they have busy lives and stressful jobs, it’s a hassle to come home from far away, their lives aren’t perfect either, but we will be grateful to be together. Gratitude will be very important for all of us, to remember that we are lucky to have each other, no matter what our situations are at the moment. I’m very grateful that my kids are coming home for the holiday. And I know it will be busy and crazy, we will miss my son Nick who is no longer with us, and I’ll just be happy to have my kids home.
And if it gets crazy or too hectic, or things don’t work out perfectly, or if there are hassles at the last minute, I’m going to take a deep breath, and remind myself of how blessed I am, how thankful I am, and how very, very many blessings I have in my life, starting with my kids. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed and wonderful, your relatives well behaved, your friends kind. And if it starts to get crazy, try to be grateful, even for a minute…..we all have something to be grateful for wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whatever our circumstances. I send you all my love, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Posted on November 16, 2015
I am speechless with grief over the violence in France. I have spent hours talking to friends and relatives in Paris. I am devastated to see the violence, the loss of life, the tragedy, the victims, the terror in Paris. My heart goes out to anyone who lost loved ones, who were injured, and all of those who are now shaken and afraid. It breaks my heart to see the city I love so much, my home, and innocent people, so savagely and senselessly attacked.
It brought to mind the words of General Charles de Gaulle, in June, 1940, the day after France fell and was occupied by the Germans. Posters appeared all over Paris with General de Gaulle’s message to believe in truth and honor, to fight for what is right, and to never, ever give up, and stand by all that we believe in, with faith and courage. It is a message that always brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. It is a love letter to France.
His final words in the message bring to mind the situation France, and the Parisians are in now:
“To All Frenchmen……I ask all Frenchmen, wherever they may be, to unite in action, in sacrifice, and in hope. Our country is in danger of death. Let us all fight to save it!!! Long Live France!!” General Charles de Gaulle (and in the original:….”je convie tous les Français, ou qu’ils se trouvent, a s’unir dans l’action, dans le sacrifice, et dans l’Esperance. Notre patrie est en peril de mort. Luttons tous pour la sauver!! Vive la France!!”)
I pray that peace may reign again in France quickly. God bless all our troubled nations, and keep us safe….
Posted on November 9, 2015
busy week last week for me, and a VERY exciting announcement today by my publisher: Starting next month, they are going to publish 6 of my books in hardcover every year, and 6 books in paperback (of books that were previously in hardcover). This is in response to readers asking for More, More, MORE!!! It’s a fantastic challenge to meet and so exciting for me. Since I work on several books a month, I can give you six new books a year!!! I hope you love them!! I will be working hard for you, and can’t wait!!!
How are you?? Doing well, I hope. And doing some things you enjoy. I have a sign in my office that says “Do more of what YOU want to do.” It’s a good reminder. I’m a ‘dutiful’ person and do a lot of the things I think I should do—-and not always the fun things I’d enjoy doing. We have to remember to put fun in our lives too.
This past week has been a busy one, LOTS of writing (in outline, first draft and editing form), seeing some friends, planning for the holidays, some Christmas shopping (Now that IS fun!!! I love shopping for myself and others—-I can have a good time anywhere, even in a hardware store!!)
It was one of my 2 country/3 city weeks, visiting my children, traveling 6,000 miles to do it. That’s a lot of airplanes, I use the time to watch movies, sleep, and catch up on reading!!!
I had a request recently to contribute to a psychiatric book about bi polar illness. My son Nick suffered from it, so I was pleased to add what I had to say on the subject, from a parent’s point of view. Hopefully it will help some parents, trying to support their child meet their challenges.
AND I am REALLY looking forward to our Facebook Chat this week on Wednesday November 11, at 2pm Eastern time. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to answer you directly. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all the posts, but I type as fast as I can, so I answer as many as possible. It’s VERY exciting for me to be in direct contact with you. Forgive me if I don’t get to yours—–I really do my best to answer you. We receive about 2,000 posts in the time allotted, and typing really fast, I answer about 200. I am so grateful to you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts with me.
Holiday plans are shaping up. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and what I am ALWAYS grateful for is your loyalty to me and your kindness.
Have a great week, lots of love, Danielle
Posted on November 2, 2015
I hope you had a great week. I spent mine glued to my typewriter all week, writing till 4 am every night. I had to leave the house once for a few hours, but normally I don’t go out at all when I’m writing…..so I was a hard working writer for Halloween!!!
I had to share with you the aftermath of Halloween. We’ve always taken Halloween, and costumes, seriously in our family. When the kids were little, they would plan their costumes for months. Mermaids, witches, Star Wars characters (I was Princess Leia once!!!). And my children have gone on and on and on dressing up on Halloween long after they were children. One of their best ones was one of daughters as a Matador a few years ago, she looked fabulous. They’ve done TV characters, political figures and some truly crazy stuff, all in good fun!!!
This Halloween, one of my daughters was a race car driver, another was a skeleton and looked adorable. And my kids dress up their dogs too. One daughter’s Chihuahua wore a poncho and a sombrero this year, my son dressed his adorable dog up as a Hawaiian tourist in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, and another daughter’s Yorkie was Madonna this year—in a platinum blonde wig!!! My two little Chihuahuas were going to be ballerinas, but since I was working I didn’t dress them. Oops, I forgot!!!
But the real winner this year was my daughter Victoria, who dressed up for Halloween as—–Me!!! I laughed when I saw the picture because she picked up on my all my ‘quirks’. I wear lots and lots of bracelets on both arms, and she said she wore every bracelet she had. My daily ‘uniform’ when I’m working (that’s most of the time) is a black turtleneck sweater, jeans and loafers. I wear reading glasses—-and also distance glasses, and usually wind up with both sets of glasses on my head. I have very long hair, and almost always wear it pulled back in a ponytail, so she did (although I have red hair, and she’s blonde) I wear a necklace with a cross, so she wore that too. Victoria looked a whole lot prettier than I do in all of it…..she looked adorable, and while I was working, that photo popped up and I REALLY laughed—–and I had to share it with you!!
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I hope you had a TERRIFIC Halloween, whether you wore a costume or not!!! Take care!! Have a wonderful week.
Posted on October 26, 2015
I hope you’ve had a good week, with lots of good things happening, or at the very least a peaceful one. I’ve had another crazy busy week, but am hoping for some quiet time this week to do some writing. My writing times are always a quiet refuge for me, and often a great escape from the headaches of ‘real life’, while I focus on the story I’m writing. But this was a go go go week for me, with a lot to do, and a lot of real life to deal with. Not unpleasant, just Busy!!! I had a friend come to visit for 4 days, which was a lot of fun. We had dinner with friends every night, to introduce her to new people, went to an art fair, visited a fascinating new building which was a wonder of architecture, and did some shopping (a girl can never have enough shoes, which is nearly impossible to explain to a man, “But you already have black shoes”—–yeah, whatever. Don’t even try to explain it to them). I did some Christmas shopping, which I always try to do early, to avoid the crush of shoppers in December. I had a wonderful visit with my God children, and tried to keep up with my work. And to add some spice (and worry) to my week, one of my children was on a business trip to Mexico this week, just when the hurricane was heading there, and I was seriously worried about her. She was just far enough away from the worst of it to be safe, but I watched the weather reports with great concern. (One of my daughters lost her home and almost everything she owned in Hurricane Sandy in New York 3 years ago, so the word ‘hurricane’ terrifies me). » read more »
Posted on October 19, 2015
I hope you had a great week and that all is going smoothly!!! We can all use more of that!!!
I had an absolutely fantastic experience with my daughter. Like everyone else, I go along through life, being with my family, doing my work, trying to keep up with the big and little stuff, seeing friends, and meeting ‘regular’ people. And then once in a while, through luck or my work, or even my kids, I meet someone extraordinary and very special. (like meeting Joel Osteen this summer, through a friend of a friend). My youngest daughter is a HUGE basketball fan and never misses a game. And she absolutely loved last season when the Warriors won the championship and her hero is MVP Stephen Curry. And luck smiled on us again, one of my daughters has a good friend who works in sports, and was able to arrange a meet and greet with the basketball star. It was too good to be true, and more than I ever hoped, and on my youngest’s birthday a few weeks ago, I was able to promise her she’d meet the star!! She nearly keeled over!! We were told we could come to their practice facility after a practice and she could say hello and shake his hand. And she asked me to come with her.
The Big Day came, and we drove to Oakland, where the team practices (in a huge, spectacular gym). We followed the directions and found ourselves in the hallways of the Warriors’ facilities, nervous with anticipation, excited, even I had caught the bug by then and was excited to meet him. Everyone was wonderful to us, treated us like royalty, welcomed us warmly, we chatted with some people in the halls, an ex-basketball player who has a radio show and had come to interview him. The General Manager, Bob Myers, couldn’t have been nicer. The head of Communications made us feel welcome. And we got to watch Stephen Curry’s practice routine. I was as excited as my daughter by then, and she looked adorable in team tee shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers in the team colors. (And I managed to wear royal blue, since royal blue and yellow are their colors). We hung around for an hour, soaking up the atmosphere and watching several of the players practice, my daughter recognized all the players she saw, as several of them went through their practice regimes in the enormous gym. And when he finished his, Stephen Curry walked over. He is strikingly handsome, and an outstanding, gifted athlete and a major star, and like some great people, what struck me about him immediately was his modesty, how humble he was, and how kind. He was absolutely wonderful to us, we talked about their victorious past season, how exciting it had been, and we talked about his daughters. He made my daughter feel special and important, wasn’t in a hurry and gave her all the time she wanted, and signed the team tee shirt she had brought. We thanked him for his kindness and his time, and then, smiling at her, he stooped down, took off his shoes, signed them and handed them to her, they were bright turquoise, an incredible trophy to go home with, and remarkable souvenir. We went home dazzled by him, and what an obviously special and extraordinary person he is. Just meeting him was a gift and a thrill, to be in the presence of such talent. He is diligent and disciplined about what he does, you can see it in the way he practices, and he was overwhelmingly nice to us. The whole experience was a thrill, it was everything my daughter hoped and more, and we were so grateful for all the people who made it possible and fun for us. And we’re going to put the signed tee shirt and shoes in a special case and hang it on the wall. Meeting Stephen Curry was a total WOWWWWW!!! And an unforgettable experience. I hope he and the team have a great season, and I will never forget his handing my daughter his shoes, a gratuitous generous incredibly thoughtful gesture. And after all is said and done, in addition to being a real star and an outstanding athlete, what a truly, genuinely nice person. We went home after that, giggling and laughing and excited. Some experiences don’t live up to what you hoped they would be, but this one far exceeded anything we could have imagined. It was just plain WOWWWW!!!!
Posted on October 12, 2015
I hope you had a good week. I’ve been writing a lot, so I’ve been buried at my desk, not paying much attention to anything else or what goes on around me. I always seem to write more in the fall and winter, so I don’t feel guilty (or cheated) when I’m locked up and can’t go out in pretty weather.
Lots of noise over my desk though!!! Every year on the Columbus Day weekend, there is a big air show in San Francisco: the Blue Angels, Navy pilots in fighter planes flying in tight formation, and doing all kinds of breathtaking stunts and tricks—-and they make a HUGE amount of noise. They used to fly very low, I once literally saw the face of one of the pilots as they flew past my house. They dont fly as low now, I think the city complained. But they are very impressive, and practice all week over the Bay. Warships come into the Bay the week before and are still there. And every sailboat in the Bay is lined up to get a better view as they flash by. It really is impressive, though noisy when I try to write, and since this is high writing season for me (I’m always working on a book this time of year), it’s distracting while I try to write. But nonetheless impressive to watch. One year, it was foggy, as it often is in SF, and they had to cancel, and everyone was disappointed.
I heard that there were 2 more school shootings somewhere in the country this week. Please tell me the world hasn’t gone mad, and that this horrifying insanity will stop one of these days. You know how I feel about it, we all do.
I just finished a big writing project, and am hitting the road this week. This is one of my 4 city weeks when I visit all my kids as I trek across the world. I love doing it and seeing them. My dogs aren’t quite as happy about it, as I drag them with me too. And from the absurd to the ridiculous, my Chihuahuas will be ballerinas for Halloween this year!!! (last year bumble bees, the year before geisha girls). It’s good to do something silly and have a laugh sometimes. And they HATE their costumes, but they look so funny and cute.
Getting ready for Halloween….I can never resist it. The perfect excuse for chocolate in bite size candy bars, with the excuse that you’re giving them out to children (and I eat half of it myself!!!)
Take good care, be safe and happy, and I hope great things happen to you this coming week. Have a great one, and I just learned that I will be doing 4 Facebook ‘chats’ a year with readers from now on. I can’t wait!!!
All my good thoughts and love to you, Danielle
Posted on October 5, 2015
I hope you’ve had a good, peaceful, productive week. Things are pretty busy after the first month of fall.
I don’t have the heart today to write to you about fashion shows—although Paris fashion week is still in full swing with the spring ready to wear collections—–or my opinions about love and marriage, or funny quotes. It’s a time for quiet musing, about the state of our country and our world.
Last Thursday, as I’m sure you know, there was a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a small town of 22,000 people, which left 10 people injured and 10 dead (including the shooter). We CANNOT allow this to become a banal event, and ordinary occurrence in our lives. We just can’t. There are statistics flying around since the shooting that vary but essentially this was supposedly the 41st or 45th public shooting THIS YEAR, and the 141st in 3 years, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, in addition to some random shootings in public places that left a smaller number of people dead. If you do the math on that, that means that there is approximately ONE shooting per week in public places like schools, colleges, or churches, or even in public restaurants. It means that the places that we send our children, or young adults, and assume they will be safe, are NOT safe by any means. You can send your kindergartner off to school now with their superhero lunch box and not be absolutely certain they’ll still be alive by lunchtime. If I had a school age child today, I would be terrified to send them to school. My youngest child graduated from college two years ago, and I would be just as panicked about her. But it’s not just schools, there are random shootings in churches now, so no one is entirely safe there. You might go to buy your groceries, or stop for a meal at a fast food restaurant, and it’s entirely possible that someone will open fire in the restaurant, leaving dead and injured victims everywhere, and grieving families in the news. What is happening to us? What are we not doing or seeing? What is wrong with our mental health care system that we are not identifying these very troubled people who commit these atrocious crimes, providing them the help they need, and stopping them before they kill innocent bystanders and children? Are we so blind to the troubled people among us? Do we not care? Are we afraid to speak up when we know that someone in our communities is putting the rest of us at risk? Is human life so totally without value that we just accept this now as a symptom of modern life? It is truly, truly shocking, beyond words. » read more »
Posted on September 28, 2015
I hope all is going smoothly in your life, and that the Fall is off to a good start, now that it’s officially here.
I was thinking about ‘fashion’ in general and specifically tonight. I write about it often, when I go to fashion shows, or see my daughters’ work. Three of my daughters are professional stylists and design consultants, to a variety of designers. All three of them have the same job, but perform it in very different ways, depending on who they’re working with, and their own individual styles. A design consultant works closely with the designer to develop their next collection, how it should look, what colors are strongest, fabrics, textures, details, and a huge amount of research and collaboration goes into putting the new collection together. They may be inspired by a period in history, a country, a culture, or even world events, or street culture. First they help develop the concept, and then in the case of one of my daughters, she does an immense amount of research, delving back into fashion books, and even looking at vintage pieces, for inspiration. And then the hands on work begins, helping to choose fabrics, seeing how they work, what colors work best with those designs, then they have samples cut and sewn and fit them on models to see how they move and drape, before cutting the actual clothes for the collection. And once the real samples are made, they fit them on the models who will wear them in the fashion show (and pick the models), and then their role as stylists comes in, as they put together each complete look that will be worn by a model on the runway, and the accessories that will help create that look. The tension before a fashion show is enormous, my girls stay at work long after midnight, and are often back at work at 6 or 7 am right before a show. And the day after a show, it’s not over, and then they begin shooting photographs for the “look book”, which buyers can refer to when they order the clothes. And by the time they finish that, a week after the show, they begin work on the next collection. Designers (who actually do the drawing of the designs) and their consultants work closely together, and have to come up with 3 major collections a year: spring, fall, and ‘resort/cruise’, which used to be beachwear people wore to resorts in the winter, and is now essentially an early spring collection. In addition, for spring and fall, they do a “pre-collection”, which is a simpler, more commercial, sometimes slightly less expensive version of what is shown on the runway. So you’re really talking about designing 5 collections a year, with the pre-collections. It’s a stunning amount of work, and that’s true for all brands, whether low, moderate, or high priced. “Fashion Week” happens twice a year, for the spring and fall collections, and is really fashion month. It starts with a week in New York, where American designers show their wares, then on to London for the British designers, Milan for the Italians, and then the grand finale in Paris, for all the French ready to wear designers. It is four intense weeks where magazine editors, the fashion press in general, store buyers, and anyone who follows fashion go from city to city for an exhausting month. It begins in early September in New York and goes into October, showing spring clothes for the stores to order, and then happens again in February, into March, to show the fall collections. One of my daughters actually worked all 4 cities at times, but mostly my daughters work in New York and Paris. All three are talented and work with major designers, and it’s a thrill for me every time to see the collections they worked on, and to see the influence they had, and the results of their hard work. I admire them immensely for how hard they work, and am very proud of the results. (I’m proud of all my kids, who work in very different fields, the eldest is a social worker in pediatric oncology, the youngest has a passion for music, two of my sons work in startups, and another works in the film industry. And my late son Nick was a talented musician, and lyricist, and lead singer in a band. And best of all, each is following their passions and expressing their individual talents.) » read more »