Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

5/14/18, Mother’s Day

Posted on May 14, 2018

 

Hi Everyone!!

 

I hope you had a great week, and have been happily busy!!!
 

Had my all time favorite day of the year yesterday: Mother’s Day!! I had dinner with my daughters in New York last week, for an early mother’s day celebration, and yesterday, I spent the real one with all my other kids. And as always, they always spoil me. They gave me some really adorable presents: 2 fun decorated pillows, 3 pairs of very cute shoes, a wonderful album of family photographs, and a vintage typewriter that looks exactly like the first one I got from my grandmother when I was 14 or 15, a portable Smith Corona. I loved my gifts but best of all, I loved spending the day with my kids. We had brunch together, and I ate way too much!!! Mother’s Day is definitely my favorite holiday of the year.
 

Other than that, I have a lot of writing to do, so I have plenty to keep me busy—-after being lazy yesterday, and enjoying the holiday!!!
 

I hope that all is well with you, and I wish you a wonderful week!!! I have a new book coming out tomorrow, “The Cast”, about the cast of a hit TV series, and all the different people and personalities involved. I hope you love the book!!! Have a great week,

 

 

love, Danielle

5/7/18, May Day

Posted on May 7, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I had a sweet day last week, which was a double header for me. May Day. When I was a little girl in French schools, we used to wear a little wreath of flowers around our heads, and dance around a Maypole. It sounds pretty silly, but I thought it was fun. May Day is Labor Day in France, so it’s a National Holiday. And lily of the valley, the flower, are the symbol of May Day, and happen to be my favorite flower. I love their delicate scent. In France, everyone exchanges sprigs of lily of the valley on May Day, as a symbol of friendship and good luck. There are street vendors everywhere selling lily of the valley, for people to give to friends, coworkers, children, grandmothers. It’s such a pretty holiday, and a lovely thought.
 

May Day also happens to be my late son Nick’s birthday. I loved that he was born on May Day. So it’s a bit of a double edged sword for me now, with happy and bittersweet memories that flood into my mind. Memories of him as a little boy, and when he was born, and as he grew up. He was an amazing person, and passed away at nineteen. So I love the day, but I also miss him enormously on that holiday. I usually invite friends to dinner that night, so as not to be alone, and I did the same this year. Twelve friends joined me for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Before that, I spent a quiet day, reading, and thinking of Nick.
 

So Happy May Day to you, and I hope that Spring is now officially here. And soon it will be full-on summer!!! Get ready for it!!

 

 

love, Danielle

4/30/18, Mom The Magician

Posted on April 30, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
I hope you had a happy, busy week, and that good things happened or are about to!!!
I had a roller coaster week, non-stop calls, dilemmas, and crises. All of them resolving now, but what a week!! Things always happen at once, to most of us. I had one child with a severe allergic reaction (first to an insect bite, then to the medication for it), feeling absolutely awful in one city, not a fatal situation, but I hate it when my kids are sick. Another child whose dog was very sick, and needed surgery, so lots of calls with the dog owner, and the vet. Another of my children lost her beloved dog to cancer 6 months ago, which was a terrible heartbreak, and I’ve been looking for a new puppy for her, we found one with the help of a wonderful person who finally located one for us, and I had to figure out how to get the puppy from Arizona to California to New York this week. It finally arrived on Friday, with a LOT of organizing, and understandably, the puppy was jangled by the trip, and cried all the first night. So lots of calls on that, as I followed the puppy’s progress across the country into my daughter’s arms, with me in Europe.  To add a little more chaos to the week, I had house painters, and my apartment was a mess (but with great results when they finished. They painted a sky on my entrance hall ceiling, and I LOVE it!!), and I had a mountain of editing work on my desk, while fielding phone calls about sick and arriving puppies, and sick ‘children’, even though adults.
I find that the hardest part of being the parent of adults is that you can’t solve all their problems, kiss all their boo boos away, or protect them from hard life events or bad people. Motherhood is a lifetime job, and just as I once watched and protected them in the playground, or on the swings, and kept them safe, I wish I could still do that in real/adult life. A mother is expected to be a magician, and you should always be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat. It turns out that although motherhood comes with that expectation, in fact it does not come with a magic wand, a top hat, or a satin cape with secret pockets. I think fathers are often better at letting them solve their own problems, and stepping back while they do. I hear from friends, and know from myself, we as mothers want to ‘fix’ their problems, while not depriving them of the ability and satisfaction of doing it for themselves. We are by nature protectors once we have children. But there is so much to protect them from, as adults in the real world, none of it controllable, including their own mistakes, or things that just happen. It’s damn hard to cut the cord, and I don’t think I ever really have, and probably never will. If I live to be 100, I’ll still be there, wanting to protect my 80 year old kids from something!!! And crying children, in crisis, and suffering life’s blows (like losing a beloved dog, or a relationship, or job, or suffering some form of illness or injustice) just breaks my heart.
So I have to be content with being available, resourceful, creative, patient (not always my strong suit), and help solve the problems I can, or come up with a puppy, help find an apartment, or just listen when they’re upset even if there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. The latter is the hard part. The ‘nothing I can do about it’ problems are agonizing.
In the end, on balance, it was a good week, the sick dog is better and came through the surgery and the dog’s owner is feeling calmer and went to a baseball game yesterday, so he’s okay. The sick daughter is feeling better after a miserable week. And the puppy arrived in another daughter’s arms, and is settling in after an understandably bumpy first night. I didn’t solve any problems, but I listened and did what I could, with some advice. And a puppy to love is a wonderful thing. The calls came fast and furious all week, but things are quiet today. Somehow, I got my editing done, and the painters left, the furniture is back in place, and I have a really pretty blue sky overhead—-to remind me that eventually most storms calm down, and blue skies return. It’s a quiet Sunday and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet, for as long as it lasts, until the phone starts ringing again. And what would I do without that? I’m grateful that they call me, even if they’re grown up.
I didn’t make any great magic this week, I rarely do these days. I can’t produce a much wanted doll, find a lost teddy bear, or glue something back together. (I once went to the park at midnight to find a teddy bear one of my kids had left in the playground, and went through trucks of a hotel’s laundry, looking for one son’s beloved sleep monkey, and I found him, and came back from the park at midnight with the teddy bear. That was all a lot easier than grown up life today. I really shone as a magician when they were little kids!!!). It’s easier to make magic for little kids than for big ones. But most Moms try to make magic where they can, even if it’s only to produce a favorite meal, babysit for a sick dog, or offer advice when appropriate (rarely!!! Who listens to their mother? And as one friend says, “My advice is worth what you paid for it.”)
So I’m no longer the most efficient magician, but I sure try. I think most mothers do—-and when you actually get lucky and pull a rabbit out of a hat for your kids, whatever their age—-it feels SOOOO GOOD!!!!
Have a magical week!! I hope wonderful things happen to you!!!

 

 

much love, Danielle

4/23/18, Binge Watching

Posted on April 23, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you had a good week last week. I’ve been doing lots of spring cleaning. I cleaned out my children’s old playroom, full of things they haven’t looked at, or played with in fifteen years (a million high school papers!!). It was a lot more work than I expected, but it looks as good as new now, and can be used as a bedroom. That kept me busy. And I’ve been sorting and cleaning in other parts of the house too. Manual labor is always relaxing, and very rewarding to see a project completed at the end of the day—instead of waiting months for things to happen in business, or years to finish a book!!!
 

AND my reward to myself for my labors is that I binge watched the new season of  Call The Midwife, my currently favorite show. I received it as a gift from England, and nearly ripped it out of the mailman’s hands, and rushed to a computer so I could watch it. I LOVE binge watching a whole season of a series I love, instead of waiting to see what happens week by week. The characters are wonderful in the show, the casting is perfect, the actors lovable and believable, the script and various stories beautifully done and intertwined. I think Downton Abbey is still my favorite, I loved The Crown on Netflix. And I love Victoria too, about the young Queen Victoria. And now I’ve fallen in love with Call The Midwife. So that was my treat this week, and after I watched all of this season’s episodes, I watched it again!!! It’s very relaxing to watch a favorite show on TV or a computer.
 

So that’s what I did this past week, and the coming week will be a busy one. I’m on the road again, to visit my kids, and do some writing, in search of spring somewhere along the way!!! This has been the longest winter ever. I love snow, but have seen a little too much of it this year, and freezing weather. And of course, I have my DVD’s of my favorite shows with me, and will watch some of them on Netflix, so I can binge watch wherever I am!!!
 

I hope you have a great week, and take a few minutes to relax—–and maybe binge watch a favorite show too!!!

 

love, Danielle

4/16/18, Life Lessons

Posted on April 16, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope all is well with you, and that you’re having some peaceful, happy days, some fun, and productive times doing something you enjoy.
 

I was reading the new Joel Osteen book this weekend, “Blessed In The Darkness”. I always love what he writes, it makes me think, and feel hopeful about life. We all have daily challenges, and it’s nice to have ‘tools’ to help us deal with all the things that come up in all of our lives.
 

It brought to mind an experience I had several years ago. You may have read about it, or not. I was embezzled for a large amount of money, by my most trusted employee at the time, a person who had worked for me for nearly twenty years. (That doesn’t make me special, the FBI said at the time that most embezzlements are committed by the person closest to you, whom you know well, has worked for you the longest or for a very long time, and whom you trust most. And that’s how it was for me). It was an enormous financial and emotional challenge, ENORMOUS, and involved a huge amount of money. I discovered it by accident, which is usually how it happens, some small thing exposes it, and it all unravels after that. And it turned out that the person who embezzled from me had been doing it almost from the day they started working for me (nearly 20 years before), and the embezzler admitted that they had been jealous of everything I had from the moment they started working for me. Jealousy is a VERY dangerous thing!!! I work very hard for what I do have, and always have worked very hard, and I’m not careless with money, no one has the power to sign checks on my account except me. And it wasn’t done in huge shocking amounts that would catch attention, so that I would say “OMG, where did that money go?” It was done in small steady amounts, sometimes several times a day, usually under a thousand dollars,’only’ several hundred dollars at a time, and rarely over a thousand, so that eventually at the end of the month, I had less money in my account than I thought I should, but I couldn’t figure it out and thought that maybe I was spending more than I realized. The full amount if you added it up over nearly 20 years was a staggering figure. Embezzling from me was a full time job, more so than their actual job with me. You feel stupid when it happens, and shocked and betrayed, and hurt and heart broken, and feel you should have noticed it, but it was very, very cleverly and simply done, which is also typical of many embezzlements. The person who did it figured out the 3 areas that I didn’t watch closely, they also lied to me constantly and I believed them. They also figured out the one or two areas that the accounting firm we used to verify things didn’t watch as closely so they didn’t spot it either, and also what the bank didn’t watch closely. Those three factors made it possible to steal literally millions from me over the years. And life events happen which distract you—-I got divorced—-I had a very sick son, who died during that time, and those distractions also provided fertile times for someone to take advantage of me.
 

Interestingly, there is a statute of limitations on what people embezzle from you. That limit is 3 years, so even once we knew how much more it was, with some very frightening ballpark and accurate figures, the embezzler could only be prosecuted for 3 years of what they stole—-the 12 or 13 or 15 years before that could not be claimed because of the statute of limitations. I got some money back for the last 3 years, but the bulk of what was stolen couldn’t be claimed because of that statute of limitations, which was shocking too. Embezzling is in fact a psychological pathology, and probably a form of compulsion or obsession. I doubt that there was ever a day that some amount wasn’t stolen from me by the embezzler. Many lies were told, each lie tailored to the person they were lying to, the bank, the overseeing accountant, other employees, or me. And we all believed the lies. Looking back, there are signs that could have been red flags, but I’m a trusting person, I’m honest and assume that others are too. The person bought a big house and spent a lot of money on it, landscaping, decorating, etc., and I was told that a relative had left this person money, I believed it and never questioned it, and I was happy for them. It never occurred to me that I was the ‘relative’, and paid for that house. The court awarded me the house and the proceeds from selling it, but once caught, it was mortgaged to the hilt, and I got only a small fraction of what it was worth, and very little for the contents.
 

There is no question, it was a very, very ugly, frightening, shocking time. It took a team of forensic accountants recommended by the FBI eight months to figure out what I had lost, and it was mind boggling. Some days I would be panicked by losing so much money, other days I was heartbroken by being so badly betrayed by someone I trusted completely. And it took time to get over it emotionally. One of my daughters, in her teens at the time, summed it up for me one night when I was in despair over it, and she said “We’re not starving, we’re not in the street, you’re still working, we’re going to be okay, Mom”, and she was right. It was as simple as that.
 

Because of the huge financial loss, I lost some things that really mattered to me. In order to try and regain our financial balance—-losing any amount of money hurts, but when you get hit big, it’s a struggle to get things on an even keel again, unless you have vast amounts of money—-in order to try and equalize what I lost, I had to sell a beach house I loved, I had to close my art gallery which I’d had for 6 years, and REALLY loved, as a wonderful 2nd occupation, I represented 21 unknown struggling artists, so they got hurt by the loss too, and we were all very sad to close but I had no other choice, I couldn’t afford to support the gallery anymore. And worst of all, I had run a street outreach program to help the homeless for 11 years, working on the streets and providing supplies they desperately needed. I poured a lot of money into it, and could no longer afford it after the embezzlement, and had to shut down our operations on the street. That hurt the most, it was work I loved for people in dire need. The judge was most upset by that, and added many, many hours of community service to the embezzler’s sentence, to acknowledge that. I was very sad to lose those three things, the homeless outreach program, my art gallery, and the beach house. I just couldn’t afford them after the loss.
 

It doesn’t help much, but I realized then how common this is. If you own a small (or large) business, you are vulnerable to someone doing something similar to you. A household employee can steal from you. If you have caretakers for elderly parents, those caretakers can steal money from you too, and that happens often, I hear it from friends. It can happen on a large scale or a small one. Before it happened to me, it happened to my agent, with an employee he treated like a son—-he embezzled a huge amount of money from my agent, and bought himself 2 houses, just like what happened to me, and the embezzler claimed he had inherited money. It all unraveled with a $125. withdrawal, and everything was exposed after that. At the same time it happened to me, it happened to art dealers I knew, in similar amounts and shocking circumstances by their most trusted employee. And recently it happened to two friends who own a small jewelry store, again by their most trusted employee of many years. I’m not suggesting that you become suspicious of everyone around you, or who works for you. But these things do happen, to smart careful responsible people, if you have a dishonest employee who knows you well and what your vulnerabilities are. If you’re an honest person, it never occurs to you that a dishonest person is taking advantage of you. I never dreamed that it could happen to me, that someone would do that to me. But it does, and it’s smart to be aware, and very careful (I thought I was).
 

In my case, the embezzler went to prison, though not for very long. To be honest, I wasn’t angry (I think I was too shocked to be angry), I was deeply hurt by it, practically and emotionally. I wrote a book inspired by it although a different story since it’s fiction, which helped a little, (“Betrayal”). It takes time to get over a shocking event like that. And I never recouped the money that I lost. Maybe one day I will, but probably not. But my daughter’s early assessment was right, we had our house, we weren’t starving, I still had my job, and we’re okay.
 

I did the only thing I knew how to do to recover from it. I rolled up my sleeves and worked even harder than before—hard to believe since I have worked hard on my books all my life. I worked extra time and over time, and wrote more than ever. The feelings and the hurt fueled me, and I was determined to protect my family and provide for them. And I realize now that blessings came from it. There are hard things that happen in life, but they often come with a blessing you don’t realize until later. The raw emotions and drive and determination made me work even harder on the books, and it showed in the writing. Is it an event I count as a blessing? No, but there have been definite benefits from it. Seeing my work, my publisher moved me up from four books to six a year, and now seven. If it had never happened, I probably wouldn’t be publishing 7 books a year, or even 6. But my fan base grew, my publishers recognized it, and little by little my career has grown ever since. My determination to work harder grew my career. I still miss my gallery, but no longer having it, I began spending more time in France, and am very happy there. That might not have happened, if the embezzlement hadn’t happened. And I will always miss my street work with the homeless, but in fact it was a very dangerous project, and I always worried about someone in my 12 man team getting hurt on the streets. We had some dicey moments, and it was a very high risk project, working hand to hand and face to face with people who were often mentally ill. Anything could have happened, and luckily no one got hurt in 11 years, but I always knew that at some point the risks would be too great, so maybe we stopped at the right time, and maybe by now we couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe we stopped at the right time, without knowing it. And I raise my voice whenever possible for the homeless, which I couldn’t do when I did the street work, since we did it anonymously.  There is no question that blessings did come from the embezzlement, over time, and not always visibly at first. But needing to counterbalance the loss drove my career forward in ways I couldn’t have foreseen, and maybe I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and I’m very grateful for that. I love publishing more and writing more, and enjoy it thoroughly.
 

It was a hard lesson, and probably one of the hardest things that has happened to me. Losing my son was much worse, and getting divorced, but this was one of those shocking, brutal practical lessons you just don’t expect to happen to you. But it can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from jealousy, and the dishonesty of people you just don’t expect, whether it’s getting mugged on the street and having your purse stolen, or your house burglarized and possessions you love taken, or as in this case, someone you trust stealing from you. I was pretty careful, even very careful before, but I was trusting too. The other embezzlements I’ve heard of, of people I know, are incredibly similar to mine, always by a very, very trusted employee, and usually someone who worked for them for a very long time and has greater access than other employees, and the benefit of your trust. One thinks of innocent naive movie stars being ripped off by their shady managers—you just don’t think about it happening to responsible people who run their lives well. But it can happen to all of us in some form.
 

Reading Joel Osteen’s book reminded me of the blessings that can come from a shocking upsetting event. And as he says, you don’t stop there. You go on, you make the best of it, you use it to grow and become more as a person, which is the real victory after an event like that. The focus is on the money lost in an embezzlement, and the broken trust. But if you look harder you see the good that comes from it eventually too. And I realized, when I thought about it, that publishing 7 books a year now is one of those big blessings that might never have happened otherwise, and that’s a great thing for me, my family and my career. I’m working harder than ever, and my career has grown exponentially since that unhappy event. You can’t stop at the unhappy events in your life, you have to make the best of them, learn from them, and go on to better days…..and the blessings will come in abundance over time. I am very, very grateful for that!!!

 

much love, Danielle

3/26/18, Inside/Outside

Posted on April 2, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you, and that you had a lovely Easter, or Passover, if you celebrated either of them. I had Easter brunch with three of my children and their significant others, with chocolate bunnies on the table, bunny ears for all to wear, little chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and the little wind up chicks and bunnies that were fun when they were children.
I was spared April Fool this year, with Easter on the same day. My children are notorious for April Fool jokes and I always fall for them!!

The big excitement for me is that my new book “Accidental Heroes” will be #1 on the New York Times list this week—-it is always a thrill when that happens, and it never gets old.  I hope you read the book too and love it!!! I really love that book, it’s suspenseful and exciting and was challenging to write!!!

I was thinking of something the other day that I wanted to share with you. Twice recently, I’ve had a similar (almost identical) conversation with two very close good friends, one a man, the other a woman, both of them people I respect enormously. Both are people that everyone admires, on many fronts. Both are deep, serious, people with strong personal values. Both have impressive, very successful careers, in businesses they have built themselves. Both have studied hard, and by all normal standards, are high achievers who have accomplished a great deal professionally, and are highly successful. Additionally, both are in long marriages, with the same partners they started out with (not many people can claim that anymore), both have what would be considered today ‘large’ families, several children, and their children are all really lovely ‘kids’, some of them grown up now, and starting on their own lives and careers. Both of them are family people, and have strong family and personal values. I consider both honest, honorable people. Both are good, loving spouses, whom I admire in their marriages. And interestingly, both are religious, and attend religious services regularly. And both are people I truly admire, and many of us would consider role models. What was remarkable about my conversations with them was that both were deeply questioning themselves, and really undervaluing themselves, questioning if they were good parents, were getting really good results with their kids, were they successful enough in their marriages, were they good spouses, and questioning their success and careers. Both had serious doubts about themselves, which would stun me, and did, given everything I know about them. But what didn’t stun me is that I have heard the same things from other people at various times, and have questioned myself in very similar ways at times.

I have wonderful kids whom I love dearly, more than anything on earth, and who love me. They are healthy, normal, upstanding, wholesome, honest, loving hard working young people, and yet I always question if I have done and given enough for them and to them. Have I been enough for them, and been a good parent? I much more easily see my flaws and failings than what I’ve done right. And I heard the same thing from those 2 friends in the last week, and others before them. I have been so blessed in my career, and have had a long successful career I work hard at—-and I work very hard—but do I work hard enough? Am I a good enough friend, person, human being, parent, writer?

What is so remarkable is that good people, who really strive hard to do well and do the right thing, and are really doing a great job on many fronts, so often doubt themselves and think they aren’t good enough. Other people look so much more ‘together’ to all of us. They seem to have all the answers, make the right decisions, look so much ‘cooler’, smarter, better than we look to ourselves.

The best advice I ever got on this subject was from the woman who helped me take care of my son Nicky when he was very sick. She said “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. And it is SOOOO TRUE. Everyone else looks like they have their ‘sh–‘ together, that they know all the answers, and don’t make the dumb mistakes we all do. We don’t see them snap at their kids when they’re tired or had a bad day, or argue with their partner/spouse over something really dumb “you always leave the kitchen a mess….you Never take out the garbage….you never pick up your own stuff, why do I have to do it?….” We see other people’s outer perfection and smooth presentation—-and we look just as smooth, but we know the lumps and bumps of ourselves inside. I question myself a thousand times late at night in the dark hours when I finish work/writing and am alone, and I see everything I’ve done wrong, the mistakes I make again and again, big and small, the times I have failed to go the extra mile for someone and think I should have.

Even people whom we think are so ‘perfect’, are so hard on themselves. Why do we do it? Why aren’t we better at celebrating what we do right??? And all the good things we’ve done!!!

Listening to my 2 friends doubt themselves reminded me of that piece of advice. I’ve heard my kids doubt themselves when they have so much to be proud of in themselves, and I’m proud of them. And I’m sure (or hope) that I’m a better person than I think I am.
I thought I would share that with you, because I’ll bet that many of you do it too—–compare the private you to other people’s ‘outsides’, which look so great.

We are all frail beings, unsure of ourselves, painfully aware of our weaknesses and flaws, and all the times when we think we could have done better. It’s good to remember sometimes that others are no more sure of themselves than we are (no matter how great they appear to us). So if this applies to you too, Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other people’s outsides!!! It’s such good advice!!!

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

3/12/18, Happy Paris

Posted on March 12, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope that all is well with you. Paris has had a history-making Arctic cold front from Siberia for the past couple of weeks—New York has been hit with snow, the middle of the country is still freezing cold, so except for those of you in Florida or Hawaii, I hope you’re staying warm!! I was chuckling to myself this morning thinking of the song, “I love Paris in the Springtime”….yeah, right, whatever….I mean, Siberia—-seriously?? Yes.
 

Other than the weather, pouring rain and freezing cold, Paris has been happy and fun. As I told you last week, I loved going to my daughter’s fashion show, and I wound up Paris fashion week with the Chanel show. Chanel is famous for their incredible, outstanding decor for all their fashion shows. I think the prize-winner for me was the very real looking rocket ship a year or two ago. It sat center stage, and looked like a movie set. The models swirled around it in space age inspired clothes. And to give it some life, there was vapor coming out from under the bottom of the space ship, and I figured that was as real as it was going to get. Not at all. At the end of the show, more vapor came out, rocket ship noises, and much to the entire crowd’s amazement, the rocket ship lifted off the ground, or appeared to, and headed toward the roof of the beautiful glass building, the Grand Palais, where the shows are held, and just as it reached the very top of the building, and you thought, holy COW!! It’s going to break right through the roof, very clever mechanical tricks came into play, where it sort of pleated into itself, so it LOOKED like it was taking off through the roof, but it really wasn’t. That was a total WOW!!! My second favorite was the time they flew in a REAL ‘small’ iceberg from Sweden. Small in relation to other big ones, but it nearly filled the huge building, so not so small. It was flown in, and back to Sweden after the show, and the temperatures in the building had to be kept freezing for the safety of the iceberg. I was frozen, but so fascinated by sitting only a few feet from a real iceberg that I didn’t care. The fashion show went on around it, as the models walked around the iceberg. They were sloshing through a small amount of water by the end of the show. The sets are always so fabulous at Chanel that sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on the clothes (once, a full sized replica of a Supermarket, an end of the world desolate expanse of black sand, a moonscape, lush gardens.) All of the stage sets for Chanel are designed by Peter Marino, he is a brilliant talent, and always appears at the shows himself entirely dressed in black leather.
 

The clothes for the show last week were for fall and winter, so the stage set was a winter forest. Clever photographic curtains surrounding the whole area showed tall trees that looked very real, and real trees were set up on the area the models walked through, dead leaves and moss were on the ground, and earth, and the whole place had an autumnal earthy smell. It was a perfect fall/winter scene, and the clothes were very pretty. It is a huge show with many models, probably over 100 looks, and beautiful clothes. It was a terrific show!!!
 

For the rest of the week, I puttered around my house, watched a ceiling light fixture get set up, (black glass), I did a little shopping, saw my daughter off (always sorry to see her go), worked, read, watched my favorite TV series (“Call the Midwife”), and had lunch with a friend, and had fun talking to him, and then settled down to writing again. End of Fashion Week, and back to work. For those who work at ‘fashion week’, they see the end of it with a huge sigh of relief. It begins in New York, goes on to London and Milan, and ends in Paris—and is really a 4 week marathon for anyone involved in ready to wear fashion. I get to see it at close range with my daughters, and love it.
 

So it’s back to work for me. Have a fantastic week, and don’t forget to have some fun. We all need a break at times, to have a good laugh, see a friend, just take a little time off, to break the rhythm of work. I tend to work too much, too long, and too hard, but I love it—-and I have to remind myself to take a break and have some fun. So you too, and have some fun! (I have a sign in my office that says “Do what makes you happy!” Good advice!!) Spring will be back one day….I can’t wait!!

 

much love, Danielle

3/5/18, Report from Siberia

Posted on March 5, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re having an interesting fun week so far. I am experiencing something new to me: a Siberian winter. Paris has been experiencing a record breaking cold front, coming straight from Russia, literally from Siberia, and I am now understanding the descriptions I’ve read in books like War and Peace, and memoirs by people sent to prison in Siberia. It is bone chillingly cold in Paris, and has snowed several times, which is beautiful, but the weather is unbelievably cold!!!! So I’ve been puttering around my house catching up on things to do, writing, and going out too, and wearing many layers when I do.
 

I flew into Paris to meet up with another of my daughters, who works in fashion, to see her work on the Altuzarra fashion show, which she styles every season (she puts the looks together that are worn by models on the runway, to show the fashions for next winter, and after all the shows during fashion week, store buyers place their orders for their stores. So the goal is to make the clothes look as appealing as possible, as chic and as fun, on the runway.) Since I’ve been attending fashion shows myself since I was a very young girl, and took my daughters to see the fashion shows in Paris, when they were children, we have a fascination with fashion—and I can compare how the audience, models, styles and fashion itself have changed since my childhood until now. It’s more casual now than it used to be, since people don’t dress as formally. These are ready to wear clothes that you will eventually be able to buy in stores all over the US (and Europe). Previously, the most elegant women went to the Haute Couture shows, they were a serious bunch of very well dressed (somewhat intimidating) women, and that generation of fashion clients are gone now. Presidents’ wives, royalty and famous movie stars went to those shows, more to be seen than to buy clothes. Today, Haute Couture is a dying art, with few customers left for a beautiful but almost extinct art form now—-and the real ‘happening’ is at the ready to wear shows twice a year in Paris, New York, London and Milan at “Fashion Week”. These are the shows that movie stars and celebrities and fashion followers go to now, along with magazine editors, and store buyers. Each fashion show is AN EVENT, and there is as much to watch in the audience as on the runway.
 

The clothes at the show I saw today were beautiful and wearable, at department store prices, so not cheap, but real people can actually afford them, unlike Haute Couture which sells for six figure amounts and only the wealthiest women in the world can afford them. Ready to Wear is accessible, in wearable styles at affordable prices. The models, like all models now, are insanely, unhealthily frighteningly thin, and no one except people who have starved since their early teens can wear them in the sizes shown on the runway. The models are beautiful but just too thin, and women compare themselves to them, and come out muttering about how fat they are. Many or most of the models are in their late teens, although they look very grown up and sophisticated in the clothes, hairdos and make up.
 

The clothes were beautiful, and my daughter Vanessa did a beautiful job styling them, putting the looks together, dresses and coats and pants, and purses and shoes that you want to own and wear when you see them. She did a great job, and I was VERY proud of her, and thrilled to be at the show. Famous fashion magazine editors were there, movie stars, celebs, and people one recognizes. Part of the appeal of these ready to wear shows is where they hold them—-this one was at a trendy restaurant, that has been popular for decades in Montparnasse, the once “arty” Bohemian part of Paris (Toulouse Lautrec lived and painted in that part of Paris, and many famous artists). The restaurant was big, seating was set up for hundreds of people, (the fashion shows are by invitation only and it’s an elite crowd of Fashion VIPs) and the models threaded their way among us, wearing the clothes, while music played. Fashion Shows are An Event now, a place to see and be seen—-and I have to admit, I have fun staring at the audience before and after the show as much as the clothes. You see EVERYTHING there, wild hair does, crazy clothes, weird shoes, vintage clothes, current styles, I am always fascinated by the shoes, which look like works of art (but not too comfortable). The people who go to the shows want to attract attention, be noticed, and especially get photographed by the hundreds of international press attending. The theme of the audience is often “the crazier the better”, although some are truly stylish. The wild trendy ones stand out, and are fun to watch. My children scold me for staring, but who can resist that??? So I saw everything in the audience today, glittery, shimmery metallic skirts, wild sneakers, hugely high platform shoes, weird hats, out of control trendy hair does, along with some truly fashionable men and women. As many men go to these shows as women. Everyone has their own reason for going, business, amusement, or a love of fashion.
 

It was a fun day for me, seeing my daughter’s work, and the clothes she consulted on with the talented designer. It was a beautiful show, and I really had fun. Fashion can be a wonderful respite from the hard things that happen in the world and bring us down. Fashion is an instant upper, that makes one happy, and makes one laugh or smile or dream, or wish one owned what’s being shown on the runway. There was a short black jacket with a white knit collar that I had my eye on, and I may just try to snag it when the collection becomes available in stores next fall. I love sharing my fashion hobby with you. It’s a much happier past time than some of the serious things that go on around us in our world. So stay tuned for Paris fashion, and an important group of observers of the fashion shows now are the bloggers, who come from all over the world to report what they see, on their blogs. I had a blast, and was soooo proud of my daughter!!! We went to lunch afterwards and did some shopping ourselves!!
 

Have a great week!!! And I hope there will be some fun things happening this week for you!!

 

love, Danielle

2/19/18, Night of Hope

Posted on February 19, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you, and you’re enjoying a holiday, and had a great Valentine’s Day!! I had a truly wonderful experience last week, which meant a great deal to me.
 

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a great fan of Joel Osteen, the minister from Houston, Texas, whose quiet, modest way has slowly brought him to the forefront of people’s attention. His books, which are basically inspirational practical messages of hope have all been #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and his message is simple and pure and uncomplicated, you don’t even have to be deeply religious to be touched by it. I have mentioned him to friends of varied religions, and some not even that religious, and his message is direct, practical, warm, common sense for today’s often complicated world. He gives me hope and strength when I need it.
 

I first became aware of Joel when I was in a hotel room in New York years ago. Bored, late at night, I was flipping through channels with the remote, and when I got to Joel’s show, something stopped me. I watched and was touched and impressed, and assumed no one had ever heard of him. A few weeks later, running through an airport to catch a flight, I saw his book, bought it, read it, and loved it, and gave it to friends. I have remained a huge fan of his message, his mission, and his work ever since. He has written many books, and I’ve loved them all!!
 

Two years ago, I mentioned him to my PR people, just in a passing conversation, and one of them “knew someone who…knew someone….who knew someone…who knew him.”, and he was coming to San Francisco. I bought tickets to see his service, at the baseball stadium, and the person who knew him very kindly made an introduction. I invited Joel and his wife to come to my home for a visit, and to be honest, it was a major thrill for me. I was also very nervous about it, afraid that the man behind the message might be different, or commercial, or slick, or not what he seemed to be in his books and on TV. And he was different—-he was even better!! A little shy perhaps, quiet, gentle, funny, kind, natural, “normal”, a real person, a very big person in a VERY humble way (most truly great people are humble). I gobbled up the time talking to him, and his equally lovely wife. When I went to the service at the ballpark, with a friend, we were invited backstage to meet his sister, his brother, his mother and his children. They are strong family people, and all work together. His brother does medical missionary work in Africa half the year, his mother is amazing, his children are really nice kids. They exude love, and friendship, kindness and grace, and are fun to talk to. Meeting him two years ago was one of the great thrills of my life. And I recently discovered that he was coming back to San Francisco, and luckily I was going to be in town briefly for my son’s birthday, the day before. I got tickets again, and was invited backstage again. Joel touches my heart profoundly. Religion of any kind isn’t for everyone, but Joel is truly a very, very special person. I find him to be a remarkable person, and I’d say he is one of the few people in my life who impresses me most. He lives his message, he breathes it, he shares it, and gives generously of himself, without forcing his ideas on you. He offers them like precious gifts, and what you do with them, how you interpret and live them, is up to you.
 

When he does these tours around the country, the events are called “A Night of Hope”. It was that for me, and I was floating after seeing him again. He is just the nicest person, and once again his family embraced me. We were just hard working people, sharing the thoughts that warm us and give us strength, and enjoying a night off with a great friend. I feel soooo lucky to know him, and to have met him. Knowing him, and meeting him, and reading his work, has been life changing for me.

I cannot help but comment too on the absolutely heartbreaking events that happened in Florida last week. Having lost a teen aged child, to suicide, not violence, my heart aches for the parents, the families, the lives lost, the people who loved them. I am profoundly moved by the teacher who stood in a doorway to take the bullets meant for the children, and died in the process. It is love and heroism beyond measure. Apparently, a mother, distressed beyond belief, understandably, said they don’t want our “thoughts and prayers”, they want change. The statistics are absolutely horrifying. Over 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook, 65 last year, 17 since the first of this year. A friend of mine with a four year old, trying to pick a school for her child, wants a school that offers the most security against events like this. People are no longer picking a school for their math skills, their language program, the experience of the teachers—-they are picking schools for how well the children are protected from lethal incidents. People talk about the politics involved, which are complicated. For me, as a mother who lost a beloved son, all I hear and all I see and all I know are these grieving people who have lost precious children. My heart goes out to them. Their lives will never be the same again. they do have my heart and my prayers, my sympathy and compassion. It is a tragedy beyond measure. May it stop soon, and may their souls be blessed, and their memories cherished forever, and in time may those who love them find peace.
 

with all my love, Danielle

2/12/18, Happy V Day

Posted on February 12, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope your weeks have been going well. I’ve been busy writing, which usually keeps me happy and out of trouble.

And I guess we need to mention the holiday looming this week: Valentine’s Day. It’s a day of hope and expectations, excitement, joy, and sometimes disappointment if your Valentine hopes don’t quite measure up. I hope your Valentine’s Day will exceed all expectations and turn out even better than you dreamed!!!

My own Valentine’s Day experiences have been varied, from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some real highs—two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day, one for a marriage that lasted nearly twenty years, and remained a great love (the father of eight of my nine children), and the other was a bumpy road but someone I loved a lot nonetheless, and we also stayed very close. I’ve had some terrific dates on Valentine’s Day, and some less than terrific dates, and some years alone. It’s one of those days, like New Year’s Eve where people pin their hopes on everything they wish, and it’s sometimes/often hard for reality to measure up. My children have been my best Valentines over the years, and still are!!! We used to set a terrific table with lots of candy hearts, and funny little party favors, walking hearts, Peeps of course (my favorite), lots of chocolate, T shirts with hearts on them, fun jewelry that lights up, and a BIG pink heart shaped cake at the end of it. We do a small version of that now for my daughter who still lives at home, but she usually goes out and has more exciting plans than a heart shaped cake at home!! But it was a lot of fun when all my children were little and still at home.

I hope you’re planning to do something fun on Valentine’s Day, and I hope that someone gives you flowers and chocolates—-even if they don’t propose. If not on Valentine’s Day, maybe they will soon!!! My youngest son’s birthday is four days before Valentine’s Day, so he was a GREAT Valentine’s Day gift, the best ever!!! We celebrated his birthday last week with a family dinner, which included some of his friends.

I hope that your Valentine’s Day plans turn out just the way you hope, and you have a fun, romantic day and evening, full of love, and maybe even the excitement of a new romance, or the warm comfort of an old romance. The possibilities are endless—-and anything is possible. So Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope it will be a great one!!!

 

much love to you,  Danielle