Archive for the ‘Getting Along’ Category

7/18/16, River of tears.

Posted on July 15, 2016

Hi Everyone,

 I hope that all is well and peaceful in your world, and that you’re getting some time off this summer to just relax, recharge your batteries, and do the things you want to do. I’ve continued working hard this month, so that I could take a break and enjoy a vacation with my kids.

I  was thinking about what to write to you, without boring you with the more mundane parts of my life, or not wanting to talk too much about fashion, or should I tell you I’m working on a new book…..tell you how happy I am to be with my younger kids…..or that I’ve enjoyed seeing friends recently….or that one of my daughters got engaged, which is exciting news for us……and as all those possibilities wandered through my mind, fate intervened with shocking news in Nice: another act of terrorism, the man who rented a truck and ran down a crowd watching the fireworks on Bastille Day,  killed 84 people, and wounded 68, 50 of them children.

Where does it stop? How can this be happening? Some of us know the grief first hand of someone we know and love being decimated by these shocking acts. I told you in March of my niece who was at the airport in Brussels, during the attack there, and at 17, lost both her legs. She is still in the hospital, undergoing further surgeries.  And even when we don’t know the people affected, our hearts go out to them and their families….in Brussels, or Paris, or Orlando, or wherever it happens.  The plots get simpler and simpler. Suicide bombers in a nightclub, or a mad gunman with a machine gun who suddenly opens fire and alters or ends hundreds of lives forever. Now even simpler, a man rents a truck, drives it at full speed where he knows there is a gathering of people celebrating a national holiday, and runs over the crowd, killing and maiming people, destroying lives and dreams and families. It is unthinkable, unimaginable, inconceivable.

Once again, France is mourning its dead, grieving for children whose lives have been cut short and forever altered so needlessly. Several of my own children took a plane that night, and I had my heart in my mouth until they landed. Fear fills our lives, which is the intention. Nothing is sacred or safe, human life is cast aside, dreams die instantly, and futures are erased. Only a month ago, we were shocked and grief stricken over the carnage in Orlando, my own family has yet to recover from the attack in Brussels, and now we are watching it unfold again, with a holiday turned to horror, countless children dead, and others fighting for their lives.

In the long term, I cling to the belief that the forces of good are more powerful than the forces of evil, despite present evidence to the contrary. But in the short term, the news is so unspeakably awful, the scenes of terror so disheartening.

Somehow, we must cling to what is right in the world, we must somehow prevail against violence and fear and broken dreams. We are all changed by these events, and somehow our resolve must grow stronger to protect our world and loved ones, to stand by the values we believe in, and to cling to the principles we hold dear. Around the world, we are shaken by what we hear. It is not just happening to ‘other people’. It is happening to us too. In Paris, 50,000 police, and additional riot troups stood near the Eiffel Tower, to prevent a spectacular fireworks show from turning to violence, and at that same moment, innocent people were being murdered in the South after a similar show.

Please let it stop, let the world come to its senses again, may we find a way to live in peace, to cherish life and our fellow human beings. This cannot be the future for us, to watch civilization and humanity float away on a river of tears. May we have the courage and strength to stand for all that we believe in and preserve our world in peace. And may our prayers for peace and safety be heard.

With grief and all my love, Danielle

4/18/16, Internet Manners

Posted on April 18, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I recently had an experience, which I wanted to share. Times have changed with modern communications. Most people don’t write letters anymore, they send texts and emails. I miss the fine art of letter writing. I love books with love letters in them, or funny letters. Writing a great letter used to be an art, which almost no one bothers with anymore. Some people worked hard on the letters they sent, and I’ve always loved books which include letters, and am sorry letters have gone by the wayside. It’s a lost art now. And text and email is certainly faster and often more convenient, though less eloquent and less elegant. My agent writes some wonderful letters, and I always admire the elegance with which he can turn a phrase!!! My own letter writing is a little rusty these days. Who has time to write a great letter? Most of us don’t. » read more »

4/4/16, “Compassion”

Posted on April 4, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you. I’m having a serious moment. When very serious or bad things happen, it sometimes takes me a while to talk about them. I have to digest them first. And some things take longer than others. I am feeling rocked to the core by the act of terrorism that occurred in Brussels on March 22nd. Destruction of that nature is so huge, as an act, a message, and in its results, that it’s hard to get one’s mind around it. The recent acts of terrorism in Paris last November were like that, so shocking, such a wake up call (but to what?) that it sombered the city, the country, and the world, as we witnessed the events and the results on TV. There is something mesmerizing as well as heart breaking about events of that nature. You can’t tear yourself away from it once you start watching, as again and again you ask yourself why. And now it has happened again in Brussels, in Pakistan, in other countries, a steady stream of attacks on innocent people. And I have discovered now that as we read the statistics, we don’t fully understand what they mean. We read the death toll with horror and grief for the families and loved ones of those who died, and sadness and relief about the numbers of injured, thinking that at least they survived. But survival is no longer so simple with the kind of bombs and weapons that are used. And sometimes the event comes tragically close to home. This time it did for me and my family.

Among those wounded at the airport that was blown up in Brussels was a 16 year old member of my family, a young girl left in devastating condition, still alive, in a coma and hanging by a thread. Her body riddled with shrapnel and metal from the explosion, her internal organs damaged, limbs injured, her face and body burned. Suddenly this is not just news or a statistic or a video, or a political act that makes no sense. Suddenly it is a child, a loved one, family, and for some a friend. It becomes an act that is all too real and makes no sense. Women, children, babies, young people, men, their lives destroyed or forever affected by those who wish to deliver a message, an angry statement and hurt us by killing or injuring the people we love. It is shattering to think about, and not what we expect of our fellow humans, this wanton destruction of young lives, and even old ones. It truly makes no sense.

My heart aches as I share this with you. I have no message, no conclusion, no answers, no solutions. No idea how the world can turn back to something more civilized and humane again. I have never focused on politics personally or professionally. I care about people, families, children, the human race. I try to live and write about a message of hope, that transcends the hard things that happen to us. Losing someone we love is always hard to understand. But losing loved ones, or seeing them so devastatingly injured so needlessly, so wrongly, so cruelly and wastefully shocks us to our core. Not knowing what else to do, I turn to prayer at times like this, and I turn to you, baffled, saddened, crying, confused. How can this happen? How can something so wrong take place again and again, all over the world? As Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things, only small ones, with a great deal of love”. I pray for you, for your families and your loved ones, for your safety and well-being. I pray for wisdom in those who would hurt us, for compassion among all of us, for lives to be saved not lost. And I pray for the child of our family, that she may live and be whole again. I pray for your protection, for all our protection from acts of terrorism and hate. May there be more light and love and hope in the world.
With all my love, Danielle

3/21/16, Resurrected, Refreshed, Reborn

Posted on March 21, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you. Unless one has young, school age children, or is religious, I know that the Easter holiday isn’t always a big event in the States. It’s a bigger deal in Europe, in the Catholic countries, where everyone has Good Friday and Good Monday off, so it becomes at least a 4 day weekend. My two youngest children attended a Jesuit university in the US, and even there they didn’t get Good Friday or Monday off, and it was just a normal weekend. And although religion has always been an important part of my life, it’s a very personal choice, and I don’t press it on my readers. For both family and religious reasons, I love everything about Christmas and what it stands for, and getting my family together for Christmas. And although we enjoy Easter too, I think that the symbolism of Easter is an important one, whether one is religious or not. The essence of Easter, and the ‘high point’, the whole point, is ‘resurrection’, the rebirth, the rising from the ashes, from an extremely dark time, into rebirth and renewal. I cherish the reminder every year, and love to share it with you, while I remind myself of what it means. » read more »

2/8/16, Generosity & Forgiveness

Posted on February 8, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy, writing, changing cities, seeing my kids, keeping up with life. Probably you’re busy too!!!

I don’t usually respond to comments on the blog, but now and then one snags me, and I can’t help but chime in. And one of those caught my eye recently, when someone wrote in “Forgiveness and generosity are not accessible to everyone”. And another person commenting on the blog strongly disagreed—–and I so agree with him. The beauty of both forgiveness and generosity is that they ARE accessible, and possible, and even vital for everyone!!! Personally, I don’t think you can have a decent relationship with anyone, a parent, a spouse, a lover, a co-worker, a boss, a friend, a child without being willing to forgive. And I know, sometimes it is VERY hard. There are a few people who hurt me so badly in my lifetime that it will be, and has been, a life’s work to forgive them. But the person carrying the heaviest burden is the one unwilling to forgive. No marriage works without forgiveness, no friendship, no relationship. I think it’s one of the most important gifts between two people, and that one can give: forgiveness. We don’t even have to invite those people back into our lives, hang around with them, have them over for dinner, but we do have to be able to forgive in order to go on with our lives in a healthy way, in freedom from the burdens of the past. It is in our power to forgive and well worth the hard work it takes sometimes to let go of anger and resentment and forgive. The forgiveness we extend to others blesses us every time.

And generosity is within our abilities as well. Generosity is accessible to everyone!! Not money, not a check, although sometimes that is certainly welcome, but the gift of time, of oneself, helping a friend with a move, a problem, a project, sometimes just listening, calling someone you know is having a hard time, or lonely, or sick, or giving them something you love but know would mean a lot to them. There are so many ways to be generous, which can mean so much to others. I have never forgotten the people who reached out to me when I was having a hard time. A gift like that can light up your day, or your life, or change your whole outlook.

Right off the top of my head, three examples come to mind. My oldest daughter had a Moped accident when she was fourteen. At first it just seemed like a very nasty scrape with some cuts and bruises on her leg, but it rapidly became a much bigger deal with an infection that went into her bone and up her leg, and she nearly lost her leg, and endured seven years of surgeries, intense pain, nerve damage, physical therapy, wheel chairs and crutches until she was well again. A year after the accident, one of her doctors suggested that she do some volunteer work with people more unfortunate than she was. At 15, she volunteered to work with children with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy. She stuck with it for many years, loved the kids she met, and found that she had a real gift for working with them. In the summers, she volunteered to work at a camp for kids with cancer, and did that for many years. She directed her studies toward that kind of work, got several graduate degrees and eventually became a social worker and therapist in pediatric oncology, and has had an impressive career in that field. Her incredible generosity with her time, at a time when she was in so much pain herself led to a lifelong passion and a remarkable career. And years later, when I was devastated over the loss of my son and the disintegration of my marriage, her shining example led me to do the homeless outreach work on the streets that changed my life and brought help to many, and immeasurable joy to me.

When thinking about unexpected generosity at a dark time, I remembered a time when I went to an antique shop to look around. I couldn’t afford anything in the shop at the time, I knew the antique dealer slightly, and I was having a hard time just then, and my spirits were somewhere in my socks. He must have sensed it or seen it, and I looked at a beautiful little miniature antique painted desk. It was just a lovely piece, and I would have loved to have it, but I couldn’t even consider it. It was quite an expensive piece. I went home, and the next day, a gift arrived: it was the beautiful little desk, given to me as a gift by the owner of the shop. It was an incredible gift, I was totally stunned, and no one has EVER given me such an amazing gift, before or since. It was pure generosity and kindness. I was overwhelmed by it, and so grateful for the enormously generous gesture. The desk is still in my living room, and I think of how it came to me every time I look at it. It was really a gift of love that warms my heart still.

The other example that came to me was my friend and mentor, Alex Haley. He wrote the book “Roots”, and was an icon and a legend. He was one of the kindest, most generous men I have ever known, always giving to others, always taking time to listen to them. He couldn’t do enough for people, and he had an incredible, compassionate way about him. People stopped him everywhere he went, he was an inspiration to many, and people wanted to talk to him. Going anywhere with him was a challenge, because every five minutes someone wanted to touch him, or meet him, or tell him their life stories. And it always struck me about him how generous he was, giving of himself. No matter how rushed, or busy, or tired he was, he would stop and talk to them, and seemed as though he had waited a lifetime to meet them, and had nothing else to do. They walked away afterwards, feeling ten feet tall after he gave them his full attention, and made each one feel like they were the most important person world. He was so humble, which was a true sign of greatness, and so generous with his time, and heart and soul.

I’m as crabby as the next person, and there are days when I fall short of what I hope to be, when I don’t take enough time with others, or am grumpy when things go wrong. And then I remember these generous acts and generous people….whether it’s with a cup of coffee, or five minutes, or a smile, or the gift of a book we love, or a touch of the hand at the right time, we can all be generous. It’s a gift that any of us can give, and generosity is indeed accessible to us all.

This coming Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and I hope it turns out just the way you want, with the person you want to be with, and the way you want it to unfold. I hope wonderful surprises are in store for you. I hope all your dreams come true. And just know that all of you are my Valentines every day!!

love, Danielle

1/11/16, Roller Coaster

Posted on January 11, 2016

Hi Everyone,

It’s a cold, rainy Sunday in New York, and I’m visiting two of my children, which is always a joy for me. We had dinner together last night, will have brunch today and hang out together, which is always a gift for me.

I was just thinking about the roller coaster of life, the shocks and not always good surprises that life broadsides us with. It happens to us all. And the bigger the life, the rougher the ride sometimes. I’ve spent the last two and a half weeks since Christmas, visiting two people I love in the hospital, both very sick. One hit unexpectedly with an illness they had 2 chances in a million to catch, the other sick for a long time. It makes you realize again how quickly things can change. Someone I work with had an accident in LA during the holidays and had to be flown back to New York in an ambulance plane for surgery. And I heard from a close friend last night, that his business partner had pulled a power move and tried to shut him out of his business this week, which is going to involve a lot of legal work to straighten it out. It’s the second story I’ve heard like it recently, of people being pushed out of their jobs or business by someone they trusted. It happens to all of us—-we get hit like a ton of bricks by something we didn’t expect. It’s part of life, and definitely not the fun part!!!

I don’t have any great Pollyanna answers about how to deal with the tough things that happen to us unexpectedly. You just have to hang on, go through it, do the best you can, and hope for a good outcome. And no question, long term, sometimes blessings come from it, a stronger relationship, a better job or partnership, a rethinking of what we care about most, a deeper appreciation for the good times and good people in our lives. And I’ve had times when I’ve been thrown for a loop too, in business or my personal life. Big stuff, not just small stuff, and I’m sure those things have happened to you too!!! No one is exempt. Great things happen, but so do hard ones, and suddenly an easy day becomes a very hard one, and some things take a long time to resolve.

Someone sent me a greeting card once that said “Life is like a roller coaster ride” (with a picture of a kid screaming on a roller coaster on the front) and inside” First you scream, and then you throw up”. All true. But after that, you have to hang on for dear life, figure out how to survive it, how to deal with it, and what the best outcome will be (sometimes with unusual solutions you’d never thought of before), and how to make the best of it. Sometimes endurance serves us best, and perseverance, getting through a big problem day by day, or even hour by hour, until the bad time has passed.

I’m sharing this with you in case you’re on the ‘scream-y’ part of the roller coaster ride, and if you’ve been broadsided by some big event that’s challenging you. Hang on!!! The ride does smooth out again in time. We forget that when we’re in the midst of it. The problems do get solved, and somehow we survive it. There will always be unexpected storms in this lifetime, even tornadoes and hurricanes, it’s all about how we survive them, and the things we learn while going through them. It’s not the fun part, but it’s part of the deal. So onward through the storms, and if you’re on the roller coaster ride right now, HANG ON!!!! And whatever is happening, it will smooth out again….I remind myself of that too!!!

much love, Danielle

11/30/15, Shopping & Parenting, a Work in Progress Forever

Posted on November 30, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I’m busy writing. With a 6 book a year publishing schedule, I have LOTS of writing to do!!!

I had an interesting experience recently, when I went through New York to see my daughters there, we went shopping together, which is always fun for me. And also challenging!! With all 3 working in fashion, they have a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t and strong opinions about what I should wear—–and never wear!!! My perception of fashion is a little different than theirs, I’m older and can’t get away with every trend that comes along, but I also like a touch of humor sometimes, and don’t always want to wear serious Mom-clothes. Fashion needs to be fun too. Sometimes I regret those flights of fancy, and sometimes I really enjoy them. And sometimes I make some lulus of mistakes!!! And my daughters keep me in line. They’re a tough fashion committee to get by sometimes!!! As all daughters are, even if they don’t work in fashion. (You’re going out in THAT??? How many times have we all heard that from teen age daughters? And then they steal it from our closet and wear it themselves!!)

And I guess I wasn’t in a very serious mood the day we went shopping. At the first store we went to, I picked a big red and black checked purse that went with a few things I own. As the girls pointed out, I didn’t “need” it, but thought it would be fun. I got a resounding NO!! on that one, by all 3. I tried on a pair of navy blue patent leather lace up boots that I also thought would be fun. No again, and their verdict was that I looked like an 18th century school teacher. So with some regret, I said no to those. At the second store, they picked out a pair of beautiful sparkly black very high heeled evening shoes which they said I’d wear a lot, and I realized they were right, so I bought them and will probably wear them for years. They are very elegant and grown up, and I’ll probably wear them on Christmas Eve when we dress up for dinner. I also picked out a pair of platform flat shoes and got an instant No on those, and….tried on a pair of high heeled boots with flowers painted all over them that I thought were really fun. The committee voted those down too, but I tried them again and loved them, and bought them anyway. They may be right, and I may never wear them, but they looked happy and fun, so I gave myself a treat. And a moment of defiance of their sometimes stern fashion rules!! The boots are probably silly, but why not? » read more »

11/23/15, Thanksgiving

Posted on November 23, 2015

Hi Everyone,

Wow….how did it get to be the holidays so soon? It was January the last time I looked, and as it does every year, it whizzed by. One minute the year is beginning, you’re planning what you’ll do, and suddenly it’s spring and then summer, and then summer ends and it’s fall. A bunch of kids show up on Halloween, and Zap, it’s Thanksgiving. In five minutes it will be Christmas, you put the lights on the tree, admire it for a minute….then someone is singing Auld Lang Syne, and then you start all over again. So here we are, and here comes Thanksgiving.

To me, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and about friends. Although it is theoretically about family, it is a holiday to welcome friends who have nowhere else to go and might be alone, and to be thankful together. I always think about that phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It’s nice to be the place where people come, and to host it, and also nice to go to one’s friends if one is alone. And this is a good time of year for me to practice what I preach, and remember to be grateful for my family, my friends, (you my readers, and the people I work with), and the many blessings I have. I mean it, and it sounds good, but holidays also get hectic, life gets pressured and stressful, real life doesn’t stop on the holidays, and it’s easy to get worn out, stressed out, and sometimes even upset, and forget to be grateful. Sometimes the problems seem bigger than the blessings.

People in families worry about family battles and family members they don’t get along with. People without families are sad because they’re alone. People who are cooking the turkey and feel like they’re cooking for an army feel put upon (“Why do I always have to do it?”), People who have no turkey, no family, few friends and maybe nowhere to go feel deprived. It’s easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Very few people have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, where the turkey is golden, the kids all behave, and the relatives are well behaved and adorable. People are stressed and short tempered over the holidays. There’s a lot to do and take care of.

No one’s holidays are perfect or very few. Sometimes big things are wrong, or only small ones. We remember those who are no longer with us and miss them more acutely.

My older children who are married usually go to their in laws, although one of my older married children will be with us this year, which is rare. My five younger children are coming home, but they have busy lives and stressful jobs, it’s a hassle to come home from far away, their lives aren’t perfect either, but we will be grateful to be together. Gratitude will be very important for all of us, to remember that we are lucky to have each other, no matter what our situations are at the moment. I’m very grateful that my kids are coming home for the holiday. And I know it will be busy and crazy, we will miss my son Nick who is no longer with us, and I’ll just be happy to have my kids home.

And if it gets crazy or too hectic, or things don’t work out perfectly, or if there are hassles at the last minute, I’m going to take a deep breath, and remind myself of how blessed I am, how thankful I am, and how very, very many blessings I have in my life, starting with my kids. I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed and wonderful, your relatives well behaved, your friends kind. And if it starts to get crazy, try to be grateful, even for a minute…..we all have something to be grateful for wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whatever our circumstances. I send you all my love, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

love, Danielle

10/26/15, Bloom Where You Are Planted

Posted on October 26, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, with lots of good things happening, or at the very least a peaceful one. I’ve had another crazy busy week, but am hoping for some quiet time this week to do some writing. My writing times are always a quiet refuge for me, and often a great escape from the headaches of ‘real life’, while I focus on the story I’m writing. But this was a go go go week for me, with a lot to do, and a lot of real life to deal with. Not unpleasant, just Busy!!! I had a friend come to visit for 4 days, which was a lot of fun. We had dinner with friends every night, to introduce her to new people, went to an art fair, visited a fascinating new building which was a wonder of architecture, and did some shopping (a girl can never have enough shoes, which is nearly impossible to explain to a man, “But you already have black shoes”—–yeah, whatever. Don’t even try to explain it to them). I did some Christmas shopping, which I always try to do early, to avoid the crush of shoppers in December. I had a wonderful visit with my God children, and tried to keep up with my work. And to add some spice (and worry) to my week, one of my children was on a business trip to Mexico this week, just when the hurricane was heading there, and I was seriously worried about her. She was just far enough away from the worst of it to be safe, but I watched the weather reports with great concern. (One of my daughters lost her home and almost everything she owned in Hurricane Sandy in New York 3 years ago, so the word ‘hurricane’ terrifies me). » read more »

10/5/15, Shootings

Posted on October 5, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good, peaceful, productive week. Things are pretty busy after the first month of fall.

I don’t have the heart today to write to you about fashion shows—although Paris fashion week is still in full swing with the spring ready to wear collections—–or my opinions about love and marriage, or funny quotes. It’s a time for quiet musing, about the state of our country and our world.

Last Thursday, as I’m sure you know, there was a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a small town of 22,000 people, which left 10 people injured and 10 dead (including the shooter). We CANNOT allow this to become a banal event, and ordinary occurrence in our lives. We just can’t. There are statistics flying around since the shooting that vary but essentially this was supposedly the 41st or 45th public shooting THIS YEAR, and the 141st in 3 years, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, in addition to some random shootings in public places that left a smaller number of people dead. If you do the math on that, that means that there is approximately ONE shooting per week in public places like schools, colleges, or churches, or even in public restaurants. It means that the places that we send our children, or young adults, and assume they will be safe, are NOT safe by any means. You can send your kindergartner off to school now with their superhero lunch box and not be absolutely certain they’ll still be alive by lunchtime. If I had a school age child today, I would be terrified to send them to school. My youngest child graduated from college two years ago, and I would be just as panicked about her. But it’s not just schools, there are random shootings in churches now, so no one is entirely safe there. You might go to buy your groceries, or stop for a meal at a fast food restaurant, and it’s entirely possible that someone will open fire in the restaurant, leaving dead and injured victims everywhere, and grieving families in the news. What is happening to us? What are we not doing or seeing? What is wrong with our mental health care system that we are not identifying these very troubled people who commit these atrocious crimes, providing them the help they need, and stopping them before they kill innocent bystanders and children? Are we so blind to the troubled people among us? Do we not care? Are we afraid to speak up when we know that someone in our communities is putting the rest of us at risk? Is human life so totally without value that we just accept this now as a symptom of modern life? It is truly, truly shocking, beyond words. » read more »