Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

8/21/17, Lovely Weekend, and bittersweet.

Posted on August 21, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope these last days of summer are ending the summer gently for you, with some final fun times before Labor Day closes the summer season, and we head into the ‘full steam ahead’ of September.

I had a very special weekend last week, with ALL of my children, a rare occurrence that only happens about twice a year, on Christmas, and my birthday. I have never liked my birthdays. With a summer birthday, none of my friends were ever around for my birthday as a child, and my childhood birthdays were always somewhat disappointing because of it. For my sixth birthday, my parents sent me away to camp for two months, which I hated, and I’ve just never liked my birthdays. I much prefer celebrating everyone else’s. John, my husband of eighteen years, gave me some wonderful birthdays and birthday parties, and our children have followed his traditions. So I spend my birthday with all my children, every year, usually in seclusion at their country house. And that’s what we did this year, ALL of my children flew in from their various cities, and so did I. It always touches me how much effort they make. They flew in from New York and LA. A wonderful boy we love who lived with us for many years and became part of our family flew in too, and usually does. One of my children flew in from Colorado. They give up a weekend they could spend enjoying their summer closer to where they live, but instead they all come home like homing pigeons to celebrate me. They spend a week at our old country house, which is a very old ranch/farm (built in 1857), where we spent every summer when they were children. They own it now, and it touches me to see how beautifully they take care of it. I leave them to enjoy each other during the week, and join them for my birthday weekend, and they organize meals, and usually one outing to a restaurant. We’re a big group with all 8 of them, and their partners, and after living pretty quietly all year, except for the holidays we spend together, I love the noise, and hustle bustle of all of us living under one roof again and now as adults. We’re together for breakfast, then they go off on walks or to exercise, and we meet late in the morning at the pool, have a big lunch together, lie around all afternoon afterwards, and have big family dinners at night, with good food, wine (for them), and a lot of laughter, singing, talking. Sometimes we play games (dice, and board games, and Scrabble). It is such a happy time for me!!!

The house we share is filled with photographs of them as children everywhere, some with me and my husband, and just seeing those photographs brings back soooo many happy memories, of when they were little. I have to keep my mind set on the present and the future, not to look back with too much nostalgia at all those old happy moments, when they were children. There is a bittersweet quality to that, which I try to resist, and try not to get too sentimental over those days in the past, when we were all so happy together. It’s better to focus on the present, and how good they are to me now just by being there!!!

By the time I left at the end of the weekend, I was filled full up with new happy memories of the weekend with them, and then we went back to my house in the city and spent two more days together. My time with them really is a gift. And I can’t think of a happier way to spend my birthdays.

And at the end of the weekend, in the typical juxtaposition of real life, I had to attend a memorial service for a close friend of my late husband’s. And that really was bittersweet, seeing old friends gathered. Because I was married to men twenty years older than I, many of their friends are quite a bit older, and some have passed away. It was nice seeing many of them at the service I went to. And it was indeed a bittersweet moment, happy to see the friends again, and sad to have lost one of them.

Life. With all its gifts and beautiful moments, good people and happy experiences, tender memories, and losses, and new people we meet. I felt very blessed after my birthday weekend…it takes the sting out of getting another year older!!!

Have a terrific week!!

much love, Danielle

PS: The Icing on the Cake.
As though our lovely family weekend wasn’t enough to celebrate my birthday, the day after I wrote this blog, my children gave me a surprise birthday dinner with all of them, and 4 of my closest friends. It was fantastic, and so much fun. They absolutely stunned me with their surprise. It was a fantastic birthday this year, in every way, thanks to them, and I didn’t suspect for a minute they were giving me a surprise dinner too.
It was the best birthday I’ve ever had!!!
love, D.

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 29 Comments

8/14/17, Filling the Void

Posted on August 14, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all fine, and enjoying these last weeks of summer. By this point, midway in August, I always feel like it’s the countdown til the end of summer, and most of the time I’m ready for that to happen. Kids will be going back to school in a week or two, or leaving for college, most vacations are over, and we get our motors revved up, to pick up speed and head into fall. I’m definitely thinking that way, as I have a busy fall ahead for the next few months.

One of you who sent in a comment to the blog brought up a REALLY good point, two in fact, which I thought I’d address here. She mentioned that she lives far from her family, doesn’t have children of her own, and that it’s difficult maintaining friendships once friends have children, and become busy with parenting. She said it makes her feel like an outsider, because she doesn’t have kids of her own. And I can really understand that. Actually, it’s been a subject that has come up a lot recently with my children. The four oldest are married and have children now, and the four youngest aren’t and don’t have kids. With so many kids of my own, I get to see the problems which arise in each age group. And my four youngest have talked a lot recently about how hard it is for them to still connect with their friends who are married and starting to have babies. It has also made me aware of my own behaviours in the past. As most of you have figured out, I’m crazy about my kids and somewhat ‘obsessed’ with them. I realize now that for years and years, I would sit at dinner parties and must have bored my dinner partners to extinction with stories about how adorable my children were, and what cute things they did lately—which I found fascinating, and the person I sat next to most probably didn’t (Oh ughkkk….here comes that woman again who only talks about her kids. It was my favorite subject). I thought they were so cute, and they were, but I probably bored everyone to death (and maybe still do). And now I listen to other people’s stories about their kids, and most of the time, I could fall asleep with boredom about how cute they looked yesterday, how brilliant when they said “Daaa…” and how hysterically funny when they tried to comb their hair with a spoon. Uhhh yeah….but not THAT cute. And nowadays to make it worse, they whip out their phone and show you 785 photos taken just yesterday. I think MY kids are cute, but I have never been that enamored with other people’s children, whom I never thought were as cute as my own (and still don’t). People who have kids, particularly ‘new’ or very young kids, or babies, just don’t realize that people who don’t have children are just not that excited about hearing about the accomplishments of a 4 month old. (Let’s face it, eat, sleep, poop, smile occasionally, and for people who don’t have children, it’s just not that fascinating.) My children complain about it now, that their friends not only become gaga when they have kids, but they become inaccessible. They’re busy, they can hardly keep up, now they have their jobs AND a baby to deal with, they’re sleep deprived, not everyone can afford child care, so they drag the baby along to dinner, who may cry through an entire dinner, or make the evening a challenge. Once you start having children, it’s generally easier to hang out with other people having children, who are dealing with the same problems, and concerns, and time constraints.

So, what if you don’t have kids yet, and your friends do, and it makes you feel like an ‘outsider’, as the person who wrote to me said? For one thing, as new parents, people need to try and be a little bit aware and considerate, that your friends may not want to eat dinner with you at 4:30pm because it works with the baby’s schedule, may not necessarily enjoy an evening spent with your baby or 2 year old, and they still want some adult time with you, so they can talk, and not just play with the baby instead of have an adult conversation with you. I think new parents or any parents should ASK their friends if it’s okay to bring the baby/child, and not get all insulted when that doesn’t appeal.(Most people are not that keen on kids before they have their own. They ‘don’t get it’. And they don’t want their social interactions controlled by your nursing schedule, or the baby’s sleep needs. You have to remember, with people who don’t have kids, that they want to spend time with YOU, but maybe not with your baby or toddler, or even 5 year old. Try to get a sitter occasionally, so you can spend an evening with friends who don’t have kids, and may not want to spend an evening (or a weekend) with yours.

And for those who don’t have kids, I think we all need variety in our lives. And there are landmarks in life. A time will come for all young people when most, not all, of their friends will marry (or not) and start having kids. It’s a rite of passage and marks a new chapter in time, for those parents, and also for their friends who aren’t there yet (and may never want to be). If possible, it’s nice to have friends with partners, and single ones—-friends with kids, and friends without. It’s cozy sometimes to have a family evening with people—-and also fun to be out with single pals. You may want a ‘baby fix ‘ occasionally, and also to be with friends whose lives are still more similar to yours. Your friends with kids probably feel as left out as you do, remembering the good old days when they were free, had no responsibilities, and could go to a movie, or a bar, whenever they felt like it—-and could afford to. So for those of you who don’t have kids for now, and many of your friends do, try to have some single ones too, or who don’t have kids, so you can share the non-parental evenings you enjoy, and try to be patient with the ones who are tied down by kids now—-and they should be considerate about not forcing their children on you. But there is no question, their time is short with young kids, running to do everything, work, be a parent, and taking care of kids who just take up a lot of one’s time.

The other question the same person asked is once your kids grow up and leave home, how do you deal with the loneliness? Oh WOW!!! that is a big question, and a tall order, with a longggg answer. My whole life revolved around my kids for many, many years. I wrote at night when they were asleep, and eventually when they went to school, and the rest of the time, I was fully with them. They were my whole day, my life, and filled my life, usually in a good way, and sometimes in worrisome ways, when they had a problem or were sick. And as they left home, one by one, I felt a terrible void. I’m lucky to still have one daughter who lives at home, my youngest, but she is so busy and has such a full life that I barely see her, we kind of fly by each other in the hall, and most of the time when I’d love to have dinner with her, she’s busy. She’s in her 20’s, and having dinner with her mother is not her idea of fabulous entertainment. I didn’t want to spend time with my parents at her age either. I think the ’empty nest’ is a huge issue for most women, and even some fathers (most men seem to handle it better than women, and aren’t quite as devastated and bereft as we are). It is a huge gaping hole when your kids leave, and you suddenly realize that all those happy years of living with your children is behind you. And it whizzes by at jet speed. What did I do? I cried a lot, but I also tried to figure out what to do to fill some of the void. And I also made a big effort to see my kids whenever they could, and I still do. I fly around to see them every few weeks, but I’m lucky, I can take my work with me. Not everyone can, if you have a job that ties you to an office. My strongest suggestion to keep your life on the upswing is: get a job if you don’t have one. My work has always saved me from being seriously depressed, because it keeps me so busy. I started an art gallery when my kids started leaving for college, it was a fun, exciting project, and I loved it. The artists I represented became my children, and needed me. And art is one of my passions. But any kind of job will keep you busy. You need to fill the time you used to spend on them!! If you don’t need a job financially, do volunteer work in a field that interests you. Take up a hobby (I am terrible at that and don’t have any!! I either write or see my kids, no hobbies). Learn something: a language, cooking, photography, something. Take up a sport. My point is DO something. I don’t do well when I’m not busy, and my kids kept me so busy, that I get sad if I’m not busy. Get a dog. I now have 3, and I love them, ridiculous little Chihuahuas, but when I’m sad or feel lonely they cuddle up to me and make me laugh. Nothing will ever take the place of those happy years with your kids around full time—-but it’s also a chance to take care of yourself, to do things you haven’t had time to do for 20 years (like get a manicure or read a magazine, or a book!! Seriously), or paint your kitchen, or plant a garden, or see friends. I never had lunch with friends when my kids were young, no time. Now I do occasionally. You can travel (not my forte either, I don’t like to travel alone, and all my friends are married). But the key, I find, and it’s vital for me, is to keep myself busy. Writing fills my life wonderfully, but nothing replaces having kids still at home—-and I make a real effort to keep my time filled, or I would get really sad thinking about the kids no longer living at home. So that’s my advice. And work always does it for me!!! Once your kids leave, it’s much harder than most people give credit for. We all need to be needed, and suddenly no one needs you to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, don’t need to be picked up at school, or taken to soccer practice, or help with homework. It’s tough, but it IS survivable, if you keep busy!!! Do what YOU want to do. You have that opportunity now, it can be a really fun time in your life—indulge yourself, you gave to your kids for many many years, now give yourself some fun too!!

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 7 Comments

8/7/17, God Bless America!

Posted on August 7, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I’m still a little dazed from travelling, moving around a lot in the last few weeks, and a vacation with my kids, and now getting back to work. I’ve been doing re-writes (on books) all week. And I had a REALLY lovely experience I want to share with you.

One of my employees, a wonderful woman, became an American citizen this week, and I was honored to be invited to the ceremony. I’ve never been to one before, and I was thrilled to go. I knew it was an important moment for her. She is Italian, and grew up in England, and has been in the US for more than 30 years, with a green card, and decided to become a citizen. And the ceremony was beautifully organized, and very touching. It was held in really lovely theater from the 1930’s, there were 1,014 people naturalized, from 92 countries. And everything was perfectly planned from the moment we got there.

While we waited for the ceremony to start there were films of various beautiful parts of the US, and some wonderful film clips of Ellis Island, which is a fascinating place, which I’ve researched in the past for several books. The stories of immigrants there in the early days are very touching, and they have remarkable records, where you can find your ancestors in the ledgers of immigrants going back over 100 years. We were greeted by various Federal employees, a chorus sang, and there was a mounting sense of excitement as we waited for the new citizens to take the oath. It’s a long, long process for many, until they get to the final event. We saw a wonderful film clip from Madeleine Albright, the previous ambassador to the UN, and Secretary of State (under Clinton). who was apparently Czechoslovakian, and came to the US at eleven. She gave a very moving talk of what it meant to her then and now. There were a few more speeches, we sang the Star Spangled Banner, pledged allegiance to the flag, and then finally the oath was administered and 1,014 people became Americans. What touched me profoundly was how excited and thrilled they were, and how much it obviously meant to them. To those of us born here, we take our citizenship and freedoms for granted much of the time, and then you see how much it means to others, how they have struggled for it, and wished for it, it really makes you realize how precious those freedoms are, and what a gift.

After the ceremony, people milled around outside with a festive feeling and atmosphere, then a group of us went to lunch to celebrate with her. It was a fun day, and a very special moment I was proud to share!!

The other excitement of my week was official, but less patriotic, and a lot less fun—Upon renewal of a drivers’ license in California now, you have to take the written test, every five years. The booklet of questions to prepare you for it is 80 pages long, with sooo MUCH to remember. I passed, but was terrified I wouldn’t.

So I’m keeping busy and having fun. It was a very ‘official’ week for me!!! I hope you’re having a great summer!!!

lots of love, Danielle

5/22/17, Reese!!

Posted on May 22, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve had a fun, varied, busy one. A wonderful Mother’s Day with my kids a week ago, and busy days since then. I’m in a frenzy of spring cleaning, cleaning out closets, getting rid of clothes I don’t wear (some very entertaining—-and embarrassing—-fashion mistakes, where I manage to forget both my height (5 feet 1 and a half inches!!) and my age, or some trendy things I never should have bought.) When I clean out my closets, I give the best of what I find to my five daughters, give a choice piece now and then to a friend, and sometimes donate or sell the rest. Every May, I spend a couple days with one of my daughters cleaning and scrubbing and refreshing the country house that five of my children share, which they own now, and where we spent summers when they were growing up. The place is 160 years old, and its hard work keeping it in good order, but I always enjoy projects like that. A book takes me more than two years to write, sometimes three, from my first notes on the concept, to outline, first draft, to the many re-writes I do, before the book is finally printed and then published at last. It’s a long process of honing, cleaning, building, editing—–but you take a messy, or tired, or dusty house, or a pile of things to get rid of and repair, or clean out a closet, and presto magic, within hours or a few days, you see the shining results right before your eyes. It’s so gratifying to get results on a project with a rapid beginning and an end. So I’ve been busy with that, found time to read a book I enjoyed, while I take a little break from my own writing (I never read other books while I’m working on my own), went to a dance recital and a school play.

But the highlight of my week was a very special visit. A few weeks ago, while in New York, I went to a birthday party with two of my daughters. The birthday boy was a good friend, a talented young fashion journalist, who knows and has interviewed some major stars. His birthday party was a fun event, at a bar that was taken over for the event. And there was a wonderful mix of young, talented, writers, actors, artists, business people, and some very famous people who were exciting to meet. Among them, I was thrilled to meet Reese Witherspoon, and have always been a big fan of hers. I love her romantic comedies, and also this week, I ‘binge-watched’ her recent TV series “Big Little Lies” and LOVED it!!! It’s a terrific series of 7 episodes, which has been a big hit, with some great surprises in it, and some wonderful actors and actresses (Nicole Kidman) in the cast. Reese is both acting and producing now, with enormous talent at both. I loved chatting with her at the birthday party, and decided to be brave (I’m normally pretty shy, and don’t like to intrude on people), and emailed her after we met, and told her how much I enjoyed meeting her, and how much I enjoy her work. A lively, friendly email exchange ensued in the past few weeks, and we discovered that we were both going to be in the same city this week, and agreed to get together—–and we did!!! What a treat!! She’s a beautiful woman, incredibly bright, enterprising, creative, talented, and full of exciting ideas. She was busy in the midst of a trip, and I had no idea if she could only spare half an hour or more. We wound up spending three hours together, talked incessantly, about her work and mine. I would love to do a project with her, and we kicked around some ideas. We both talked a mile a minute, about life, our work, our families, our plans, and our wish list of what we want to do next. In the 90’s, a meeting at a dinner party led to my 21 TV movies, and it would be a dream come true if our meeting at that birthday party led to our working together one day. And if not, I am thrilled to just know her as a friend. The time we spent together was a gift. She is warm, lively, vivacious, gracious to everyone who approaches her, she is an absolutely delightful woman, and I loved every minute of the time we spent together. And it is soooo invigorating to talk to someone full of energy and ideas. The time flew by. I could have talked to her for another ten hours, and look forward to seeing her again!!

It’s not every day I get to meet a movie star, and get to spend hours with her, talking about our lives and work. I spend most of my time locked up in my office, writing my books—or with my kids, when I’m lucky enough to spend time with them. So meeting Reese Witherspoon was a great big fabulous treat, like a super duper fantastic chocolate cake with whipped cream on top!!! Spending time with her made it a very special week!!!

I hope you have a wonderful week!! I don’t see how this coming week can possibly be as exciting as the last one was for me—-unless I get to see Reese again—-and I hope I will soon!!! Have a great week!!!

love, Danielle

PS. In response to some of your questions at the end of last week’s blog.

The little book I mentioned, with the house story, of the woman who hated her house, and then made it beautiful and she came to love it once she embraced it: The book is called “Gratitude: Affirming the Good things in Life”, by Melody Beattie, published by Ballantine. It may be out of print, I’ve had it for a long time, but it’s a wonderful little book.

In response to your asking if I’ve written a sequel to one of my books—-No, I haven’t. I have never written a sequel to any of my books. I don’t like comparisons, where people may prefer the first book, and might be disappointed by the sequel, so I never write them. Or at least I haven’t yet.

And one of you referred to my ‘flip phone’, because I admitted to using a VERY old cell phone that I love—–mine PRE-dates the flip phone, and is a tiny little Nokia, that has fallen on the floor a million times and doesn’t break. It lights up when a call comes in, or when there’s a message on it. I just love that little phone. I’ve heard that Nokia is going to make a modern version that looks the same, and I don’t know if that’s true. It is definitely a dinosaur but a beloved one. My kids and friends make fun of it—-but I just love that little phone, and I’m sticking with it, as long as there is life in it!!! love, Danielle

5/15/17, Another House Story

Posted on May 15, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope that last week went well, and that Mother’s Day was a good day for you, even if you spent it in some unusual non-traditional way. There are so many ways to be a mother these days, and to have a mother. Some of the most loving mothers in my life have been women I was not related to, and have been wonderful mothers to me. I cherish those relationships.

I was so touched by the many, many responses to my blog (on April 10, I think, “Random Acts of Kindness)—-we all need to remember at times that miracles DO happen, and sometimes the littlest blessing can turn out to be a big one, and just what we needed.

It touches me too to hear of the challenges you’re facing. Children you have lost, which I’ve experienced too, as you know, relationships you’ve lost, men who have abandoned you, difficult family relationships, and job challenges, one lady wrote that she still has to work at 63, and another one wrote that she is still obliged to work at 75. I do believe that even if working is hard at times, I think it keeps us alive and engaged in life, and busy. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I weren’t working. Particularly with my children grown up now, I need the challenge of work, and I’m lucky that I love my work—most of the time!!!.(I have a magnet on my fridge that I love, it says “I’ve done the calculation and I’ll be able to retire 5 years after I die”. That’s true for a lot of us, particularly if we have a lot of responsibilities to others!!) I really admire (much) older people who are still working, I hope I can continue writing until I’m very, very old!!!

The challenges you mentioned in your responses to my blog are the things I write about, because they are the challenges we all face—-and the things that frighten, sadden, and discourage us at times, whether the loss of a loved one, or a disappointment of some kind. And I write about them because I’ve experienced them too, so I can relate to what you said.

Your responses remind me of another house story that impressed me when I read it. It didn’t happen to me, but to someone else, and it was written in a little book that I still keep in a suitcase I travel with, because it’s a good reminder when something gets me down, and it’s a true story, written by an inspirational writer. She wrote about needing a new home, and not being able to afford a nice one. She was able to buy a very small house, in terrible condition. She said that it was truly ugly, and once she was in it, she absolutely hated the house, everything was shabby or broken, and she didn’t have the money to fix it up. She said that every night for a year, she just sat in the ugly house and cried, hating it, and the fact that she couldn’t have anything better. After a year, she said that she got tired of crying about the house, and she saved up and bought some fabric and made curtains, but the rest of the house was still a mess, she then bought some tools, and fixed the woodwork in the kitchen, she lived alone, and had to learn how to do it (I think she’d gone through a bad divorce). She said her kitchen looked amazing after she worked on the woodwork. She was so busy, working on her house at night, she stopped crying, and started enjoying it, and little by little, her ugly little house got better and better. She said it took her a year, but at the end of it, she had come to love the place, and she loved the way it looked. She redid the floors, and regrouted the bathroom, and did it all herself, and painted all the rooms. She saved up to buy inexpensive second hand furniture and fixed that up too. After a while, she really enjoyed it, and eventually she planted a garden in the tiny backyard. And AFTER she worked her tail off on the house, and loved the way it looked, and it felt like a cozy home, something changed in her fortunes, she got a great opportunity and a better job, she sold the house, and was able to buy a much better one that she loved. But the lesson that hit me from her story was that, she had to embrace the ugly house first, and really work to improve it, and once she did, everything changed—not immediately, but in a reasonable time. I think it took her a year to fix up the house, and then everything got better after that.

We ALL find ourselves in situations we hate, a home we don’t really like, a job we hate (I had a number of those before I was able to write full time), a boss who makes our life a living hell—-and most of the time, those situations don’t improve by magic. Sometimes, often, we have to embrace the situation we’ve got, and work on improving it, and only then, when our attitude changes toward it, are we shifted to a much better place or situation—but first we have to do OUR part. The bad boss doesn’t just quit and make your life easier, and no one walks up to the front door and hands you the keys to a better house, or gives you a check to improve it. But once you do your part, the miracles start to happen.

That story has been a great reminder to me that we have to work on improving a situation, and not just sit and cry about it, and we can’t give up until we make the ‘ugly houses’ and situations in our lives more livable, and THEN the blessings and miracles happen. A friend may help you, or a lucky break, or some unexpected money, or someone may give you what you need—-but we have to do our part of the work too. I hadn’t thought about that little book in a while, and you reminded me of it when I read your responses to my blog, so I’m sharing it with you.

Have a terrific week—–an AMAZING week, not just a good one!!!

much love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Friends, homes | 3 Comments

5/8/17, Happy Mother’s Day

Posted on May 8, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week since I last wrote to you!! My favorite holiday is coming up this week, on Sunday, Mother’s Day. I always say I love it, because I get presents and don’t have to get a year older!! Definitely a plus!! And I think I have every Mother’s Day gift my kids ever gave me: I still use a slightly battered Kleenex box my kids decorated for me, all the usual soup can pen and pencil holders. Several decorated jewelry boxes. One of my sons made me a terrific table in woodshop when he was ten or eleven, which I still use in my office, for my computer when I send emails. He made it and painted it himself. I have drawings and paintings they made me, and ceramic hand prints they made in Kindergarten, and some ceramic fruits and vegetables that are so pretty I still have them in our family sitting room, mixed in with some antique Chinese ceramic objects (and they look great together!!). I have lots of needlepoint cushions the girls made for me, and some wonderful more sophisticated gifts they’ve given me as they got older. One of my favorites is an Italian sweater, black with gold and pearl letters on it that says “Mamma”—-I wear it every chance I get when I think I need to be identified as The Mom at a special occasion!!! So I have been utterly spoiled by my kids.

When I was married to their father, and the kids were younger, we made a BIG deal of mother’s day—but they still do, we have brunch together at home, and usually meet up again in the evening and go out to dinner. And I do it in two ‘sessions’ now, in two cities, so I can meet up with as many of them as possible, for those who live far away now. It’s a very, very special day for me.

I realize too that it’s not always an easy day. If your own mother is no longer around, it can be a hard day, or if the relationship with your mother is not an easy one (I’ve had that experience too). There have been some very important ‘adopted mothers’ in my life, growing up and as an adult, women who became extraordinary friends and role models for me, and whom I love and admire still to this day. Even if we don’t have a present mother, or an easy one, other sometimes older women can come into our lives and be an important force in our lives for love and support. And I’m very, very grateful to the women who did that for me and some who still do.

So whether you celebrate with your own mother, or a stand-in mother, or a favorite aunt, whether you are a mother yourself or not, it’s an important day to celebrate some of the relationships we have with other women who are important to us, or to be motherly ourselves for someone who needs us in that role, whether we are related by blood or not.

I hope this Mother’s Day will be wonderful for you, and that the special relationships in your lives that celebrate mothering in some way, will nurture you, or that you will be nurturing someone else.

Have a great day!!! And a wonderful week ahead, much love, Danielle

8/29/16, Sweet Visit

Posted on August 29, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope these last days of summer are nice for you, and that you’re still enjoying it.
Summer is definitely over for me, I’m back to work, working hard. I don’t know where the summer went, it went so fast, and now a few days this week and then Labor Day, and then it’s officially over. Boo Hoo!!! Just about everywhere, kids are going back to school this week, so that’s it. We’ll have to wait til next year for hot weather and summer vacations. It seems a long time away.

I had a really sweet week until I went back to work (although that’s sweet too!!). The 12 year old daughter of a very close friend in Paris came to visit me, and it was a real treat. She is the sweetest kid, and it was so much fun. With grown up children I forget just how easy and nice that age can be, everything is straightforward and simple, you know where you stand, communication is easy, in most cases, problems are small. Kids that age are happy to be with you, don’t have conflicting plans, and two hours in a swimming pool is super fun!! They are thrilled with everything at that age. And she is an exceptionally nice, well behaved child. I had a wonderful time with her, a little shopping, 2 movies, some swimming, bowling, buying new books, we visited the sea lions (too smelly), a manicure (bright orange!!) pasta dinners, pizza, we were supposed to go to a museum, but never did. Her big thrill was buying candy. And as I solemnly promised her parents, we did 2 hours of her remaining summer homework every day, and finished it!! And it’s a really brave thing to do, for a kid that age to visit a grown up, she must have been worried that she’d be bored, but it was an adventure for both of us, and a real gift to me!!! On the day she left, we both woke up sad that she was leaving, suddenly the easy fun was over, and it went too quickly. I took her to the plane, and waited until it took off, and before it did, she was sending me frantic text messages about how much she already missed me (I did too), and texts with hearts on them. I was really sad to see her leave (and started a new book that night). It was such a simple pleasure, so innocent and pure, and she’s such a sweet kid, it really was a wonderful visit. She starts school on Friday. It was a perfect end to my summer. (The one funny note was that she bought so much candy, for herself, her brother and sister, that I had to lend her an extra suitcase to take it home.)

And by the way, it was my Chihuahua Minnie’s birthday this week. I hope you remembered!!!

I hope the end of your summer is sweet too!!! Have a great last week of summer!!!

all my love, Danielle

8/8/16, Roll of the dice.

Posted on August 8, 2016

 Hi Everyone,

I hope things are rolling along smoothly. I’ve had some busy weeks, and have been flying around a lot, which gets more and more complicated with increased security in airports, which is a good thing. This month has been about friends for me. I had house guests last week, who came to visit their son in his summer job far from home. It was special and wonderful having friends I particularly love stay with me. It gave us time to talk, share meals, and just hang out, which doesn’t happen often in busy lives. It was a really lovely, warm, cozy time.

And I had a very special evening last week. As I mentioned to you exactly two months ago, my ex husband Tom Perkins, with whom I stayed very close even after our marriage, passed away in June. Sadly, his memorial happened in San Francisco on the day that my five youngest children arrived in France, for our annual vacation. They all have demanding jobs and lives, and had asked for their time off 7 months before, so we couldn’t postpone our vacation, and I couldn’t come back from France for the memorial. So I arranged for a very special night when I got home. During our marriage, long before, and long after, Tom had a very special group of friends, who were his closest friends and wonderful to me. They’ve all been Tom’s closest friends for more than 60 years. They welcomed me into their midst with open arms and loving hearts when Tom and I married, we have stayed close as well, and I nicknamed them The Big Six, 3 absolutely wonderful couples, who were like Godparents to me. And added to them eventually was the daughter of one couple and her husband. They were Tom’s closest friends, we saw each other frequently, and spent vacations togetDS.TP.1her. And one of Tom’s favorite past times was playing Liar’s Dice, a form of poker, using dice. We had some really great times together, and some fun rowdy evenings with lots of laughs playing dice. Tom loved to win, was a great player, and took great pleasure beating us. But we gave him a run for his money too. He didn’t like playing for money, but we did anyway, for small stakes. On a big night, we could win $20.00, or lose $10. You would think we had won the lottery at the screams of glee and delight when one of us won $5.00. We set up regular dice nights with pizza dinners, and lots of snacks while we played (Cheetos, Fritos, chips, pretzels, chocolates, and one very fancy night, corn dogs as well as pizza).

So one night last week, we gathered at my home for our dice night. It was bittersweet without Tom to growl when he lost to one of us, but the evening was mostly sweet, in memory of our Fearless Leader. We talked about him, reminisced about our trips together, told funny Tom stories, and shared a warm and very special evening. I had gathered up photos of Tom and set them on the table with little vases of red roses. The photos brought back so many memories, of our trips, our wedding, our great times with him. We all cried looking at the photos, and laughed at the stories we remembered. It was a perfect way to remember him. And I gave everyone a dice cup with one of Tom’s favorite sayings on it. It was such a lovely evening, and such a nice way to share our memories of him. It was a wonderful reminder too of how precious good friends are, and how important they are in our lives, to share happy and sad moments. We all left each other at the end of the evening, grateful to be together and for our friendship, with Tom’s presence so firmly in our hearts forever. He will never be far from us.  And I won $10.00 !!!!

DS.TP.3

DS.TP.2

Have a great week. I hope you do something fun this week, and even get to spend time with a good friend. There is nothing better!!!  (Except maybe one’s kids. But good friends are so important for our well being).

all my love, Danielle

6/20/16, Dreams

Posted on June 20, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week, and that some really nice things happened to you this week. We can all use that, to give us a boost, even something small, a nice moment, something that makes us smile, or some piece of really good news.

I’ve been somewhat pensive, and quiet, in the almost two weeks since the passing of my ex-husband Tom. It’s a sad event for those of us who knew and loved and admired him, but he had an extraordinary life, a truly great life, and I think he got to do everything he wanted to do, and more. He lived to be a great age, and had opportunities and experiences few people have. He once went to Antarctica for several months on one of his boats—-(I stayed home!!! I would pay money, serious money, NOT to be on a sailboat, dodging icebergs in the dead of winter. He loved it, I would have hated it, so I didn’t go. But what an amazing experience for him, and the photos he brought back were fabulous!!). For those of us left behind when someone we love passes on, we are left with memories, the loose ends to tie up in our minds, and some introspection about their impact on our lives. So I have been quiet and reflective.

I’ve seen some close friends for lunch, and really enjoyed their company. And I had dinner at the home of good friends a few days ago. The wife is Japanese, so there were a number of Japanese people there, which was interesting, and nice to meet them. One of the couples had brought their nephew to dinner. He looked to be somewhere in his late twenties, was a biologist, and was leaving soon for a 6 month research project in Finland, so it was interesting talking to him. And at some point in the conversation, despite his youth, he said something that really caught my attention. He said that “You’re not old until your dreams become regrets”. Wow!! That is a very deep, and very true thought. No matter how old we are, we still have dreams, we ALL have dreams, or we should. Things we’ve always wanted to do, haven’t gotten to yet, and hope to get to one day. Some of it may not be realistic: Winning Miss Universe or Miss America at 55 or 65 or 70 is not likely to happen, you may have missed the boat on that. Or climbing Mount Everest. That could be sketchy too. But going somewhere that is actually feasible, traveling somewhere, building something, learning a language—-taking classes of some kind, or even writing a book. There’s no limit to what we can do—there may be some limits, but in many cases, we can fulfill at least some of our dreams. Some people even find their soul mate late in life. And bitterness and regret is not unique to old age. Some people give up on their dreams early, and shouldn’t. One of my favorite role models is an 88 year old friend of mine in New York. She is still working as an interior designer, takes classes to learn something new, goes to a book club, the theater, and sees nearly every movie and reads every book that comes out. She is still learning things at 88. She is a knock out, and so much fun. She is a living example to me of how I want to be when I’m her age, full of life, and busy, and still growing and doing, and fully alive. And obviously, good health helps.

I try to keep track of what my goals are every few years, and what I want to do. I try to keep track of it so those dreams don’t slip away. It’s easy to put our dreams away, and get bogged down in the every day. And sometimes I achieve those goals better than others. But I thought that what that young man said was so true….that you’re not old until your dreams turn into regrets (about what you didn’t do). It was a good wake up call for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

What are YOUR dreams? What do you want to do, that you haven’t gotten around to yet? It’s good to think about it from time to time. I have a rock on my desk with a saying carved on it, “It’s Never too late”. And another one that says “Follow your dreams”. It’s not too late for you to meet the right person, to take a class you’ve always wanted to take, to learn a language, learn to cook, take a writing class, a dancing class, to get in shape, to make new friends. I think that’s how people do stay young, interested and interesting, by opening new doors and windows, learning new things, even small things, and hanging onto those dreams.

It was a good reminder hearing that, and maybe for you too. Take good care, and have some fun! We all need it, a good belly laugh from time to time, and even just a warm moment with a friend. Have a terrific week!!

love, Danielle

4/25/16, “Pretty Minnie in Hollywood” & “The Apartment”

Posted on April 25, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone is fine and doing well. I have Book News for you today—–two new books!!!! Both are coming out next Tuesday, on May 3rd.

I have a new hardcover coming out, “The Apartment”, about four young women who meet each other when they become room mates, sharing an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in New York. Many, many years ago, Hell’s Kitchen was one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in New York, home to several conflicting gangs who clashed regularly. It was an area no one respectable wanted to live in, or even walk through, on the West Side of New York, and deserving of its name. Today, all those once bad neighbourhoods, Hell’s Kitchen, the Bowery, parts of the lower East Side, have become gentrified, even fashionable, rents and sale prices have skyrocketed and they are highly desirable. Today, Hell’s Kitchen is an interesting mix of renovated old buildings, some of which were warehouses, and some beautiful newer buildings. It’s near the theater district, ballet schools, and some of the more creative areas in New York. So the apartment in the book is there, there is even a terrific produce market and flea market there on the weekends to add local color. The four young women in the book meet when they get together to share the apartment, and most of them didn’t know each other before. One is a young writer/playwright, involved with a much older Off Off Broadway theatrical producer, who is clearly taking advantage of her naiveté and her talent, and she is foolishly and madly in love with him. She grew up in LA, and is the daughter of successful TV producers. The other room-mate is a young shoe designer from San Francisco, with lots of talent and ambition and a horrible boss in a shoe company going nowhere. Her mother scrimped and saved to put her through design school, the young designer has very little money, and needs to share the apartment, a loft in an old building. The third room mate has a very successful job in the financial world, and a very dashing, handsome boss. And the fourth room mate is a Resident/medical student, who has no time for anything except her shifts at the hospital, and she has an identical twin who is a very successful and daring top model, with a slew of bad, dangerous boyfriends. The mischievous twin loves to show up with her own key, and fool the other room mates, as to which twin she is, often masquerading as her medical student sister. One twin naughty and one nice, which adds some spice to the group in the apartment. The room mate who works on Wall Street has a really great boyfriend who owns a restaurant in the neighbourhood, and keeps them well fed, and they host a family style dinner at the apartment every Sunday night for their friends. The book is really about the relationships that form among friends once they leave home and set out on their adult lives and careers. The four women are in their twenties and early thirties. All are from other cities. The young woman in finance grew up in Boston in a fairly broken family (her brother also moved to New York and works in PR). And the medical student/Resident moved to New York from Atlanta (Her parents hate each other after a bad divorce, and her father is remarried to a very young woman). The book is about the room mates’ hopes, dreams, and lives in New York, and who they become as they grow up, in the same apartment, and become good friends. It talks also about their families at home, and how their families affected them growing up, as is the case for all of us. Our original families leave their mark on us, both good and bad. The book is exciting and fun, warm and real as they face victories and disappointments, and some shocks as they learn more about the men they date, the people they meet, and those in their immediate circle, and at their jobs. It is a time in life which is important and forms us all as we become independent and grow up, often far from our original homes. I really hope you love the book, and reading about the four women in it and all that happens to them.

The other book coming out on May Third is my second ‘Pretty Minnie’ book, an illustrated children’s book, inspired by my white long haired teacup Chihuahua Minnie. The illustrations are just adorable, by a talented illustrator, Kristi Valiant. This second Minnie book is “Pretty Minnie in Hollywood”. Minnie lives in Paris, goes to Hollywood, and stars in a movie. She gets to wear lots of pretty clothes, stay at a fancy hotel, and wear a sparkly gold dress in the movie. Little girls will love this book and Minnie’s adventures. I LOVE writing children’s books. This is a huge splash of happiness, and fun, watching Minnie on all her adventures, in her adorable clothes. Lots of glitter, and the cutest illustrations ever. If you have a little girl in your life, she will love it—-I even give the Minnie books to my grown up friends who love clothes or dogs or know my Minnie. I really hope you love it!!!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

So I hope you enjoy my new books as much as I did writing them. I am thrilled to share them with you.

Lots and lots of love, Danielle

theApartment

Preorder: http://bit.ly/1XqGf0x

Pretty Minnie in Hollywood

Preorder: http://bit.ly/1Sc1fdm

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