Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

1/28/19, Rainy Sunday: Boundaries

Posted on February 4, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope January went by pleasantly and productively, and now we’re off to February—-and Valentine’s Day—-don’t get me started on that. If you’re madly in love, or even moderately in love, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day can be terrific—-if not, and love is not big on your agenda at the moment, watch out for those two nights. Alone, and in the wrong frame of mind, they can really suck. So much for that (I solve both by working if Love is not on the horizon. It works for me. I forget where I am and what I’m doing, and what day it is. Kisses and romance are certainly more fun, but work is okay too).

 

The riots are continuing in France, after three months now. The violence is not as extreme as in the early months and weeks, but the destruction and a certain degree of violence continues, it’s more contained, but stores are still being burned and looted, even if to a lesser degree. (In the first month, the rioters broke into a jewelry store, destroyed the brand new store, stole a million dollars’ worth of jewelry and vandalized and set fire to the place. They are a little more moderate now, but have caused billions of dollars of damage. It’s heartbreaking to see, in a city as beautiful as Paris). And just last week, one of the rioters clashed with police, lost an eye, and is still in a coma. No political opinion or cause seems worth that to me (other than a real war where you are defending your family and your home). Several people have died, both rioters and police. And it continues. An American friend commented to me the other day that it is hard to understand how the riots can happen once a week, by appointment on Saturday, with real savagery, and even loss of life and injury, and then go about their business like civilized people the other 6 days of the week. It makes no sense to me either. I was thinking today , as I have for these 3 months, and have seen some REALLY frightening days with entire streets on fire, whole blocks of cars burning, and stores and homes—–no matter what the cause or the reason, I abhor when it turns to violence and wanton destruction. (Some people even came from other countries (Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany) to join in the ‘fun’, when they have nothing to protest about daily life in France, or government positions. It’s not their country. The reasons for the protests/riots have shifted and grown, it started with gas prices, went on to taxes, retirement pensions, complaints about the rich, the minimum wage, and like water it spread and became more free form. Anyone who had something to complain about, even if they had valid points on certain issues, put on a yellow jacket, and got busy. Not all the protestors were violent, but too many were. I hate violence, we all do. It just seems to me that once people lose control to that extent, they not only lose their effectiveness, and sympathy, but it just seems profoundly wrong to me. Even on a tiny personal level, when I lose my temper and get really angry, which is rare for me, I always feel diminished and as though I have lost something important of myself. One should be able to solve problems without losing one’s temper, saying hurtful things, and certainly without violence. Among the many shocking statistics floating around are that the electronic monitors on the highway, to monitor speed and send tickets later, were ALL destroyed in many areas around Paris. To replace those machines now will cost half a Billion dollars. And what about the rest? The stores, streets, houses, monuments, bus stops, and private and public property that were destroyed. Inevitably, taxes will be raised to cover the expense of repairs, which defeats the purpose of the protests. They wanted lower taxes, and did so much damage, that now taxes will be raised to pay for it. Everyone loses once violence happens, and even more so on a personal level.

 

After mulling all that over (with no conclusion) on this rainy Sunday, it made me think of boundaries and how important they are. I’ve been in relationships without them, which eventually bit the dust and died, for lack of them and other problems—-but EVERY relationship, whether parental, familial, boss and employee, mother and child, or between lovers, friends or spouses, and even between roommates—-EVERY relationship needs good boundaries, or regrettable things are going to happen. Someone younger than I asked my advice this week about a blow out that had happened in their romantic relationship, where one of the partners went off the deep end, said and did things they shouldn’t have, and wanted my advice about it. (People always assume that if you’re older than they are, you’re smarter, which isn’t always true. Older people can be just as confused as younger ones, they just look more grown up!!). But the incident related to me was clearly a terrible lack of boundaries. Some people assume that you can do or say anything in an argument, no holds barred and say “Sorry” later and it will all go away. That just isn’t true. Some words and some actions should never happen and can never be undone. My suggestion in this case, which is one I’ve tried to use myself, with good advice from a therapist, is to sit down at a good time on a good day (not at 2 am in the midst of an argument), and agree to some mutual rules of fair fighting, based on what’s important to each person, and stick to them meticulously in future—-No breaking the rules. Because the horrible things you say or may do (breaking something precious to the other person, insulting them so deeply you can never take it back, saying awful things about their families or kids (if their kids aren’t yours), frightening them or threatening to abandon them, threatening to end the relationship if you don’t really mean it—–those things just can’t be taken back are never forgotten and ultimately destroy the relationship, and do irreparable damage to the other person and the relationship. None of us can afford to let loose like that, nor should we allow ourselves that liberty or want to. I first heard about ‘boundaries’ in a group therapy session I went to….and I left it thinking “what was that B word again?…barnacles….beautiful? Uh, what was that?” it was boundaries, and I have learned the importance of that since.  I see it all the time when people don’t have good boundaries and let loose on others in ways they never should, and may not even mean (and even worse if they do mean it). But once you say it, it’s out there, or do something awful to the other person (not even physically, but emotionally). And watch out for people who DO intend to hurt you, and go as deep as they can to hurt you. Run like hell when you run into one of those!!! I find that I never feel really emotionally safe with people with bad boundaries, you don’t know what they’ll do or say, or how much they’ll hurt you.

 

So that’s my thought for the day: Boundaries. They really are important. Laws are a form of boundaries imposed on us, and we respect them so we don’t get in trouble and break those laws. Boundaries are just as important so we don’t break someone’s heart!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

1/28/19, No Karl

Posted on January 28, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you, and you’re chugging along, and life is happy. As I write this, it has been snowing for two days, not the gorgeous “Winter wonderland” kind of snow you see on Christmas cards, just cold and wet and blowy, pretty for a minute as the snowflakes fly through the air, and then it turns into a mess on the ground, while the wind whips around you, and no matter how you hold your umbrella, you get wet anyway. Ugh. The temperatures are freezing, and people are getting snowed in all around the country. From Boston to the South, friends I’ve called have lost phone service and are in the midst of heavy storms. This is about the time of year when I get fed up with winter, and tired of being cold, and start wishing for Spring, which is still a long way off, in any place I live. So as usual, I’m busy working/writing.

 

I did emerge from my winter cave briefly last week to attend the Chanel haute couture show—-the fashion show of clothes that are all made by hand and are a real art form. The stage setting for the show looked like an Italian garden, in contrast to the snowy blustery weather outside. The show was beautiful as always, and the clothes exquisitely made, worn by gorgeous models. All went as usual, in the glamourous atmosphere of an haute couture show (and Chanel’s are always so gorgeous!!!)—-until the very end, where traditionally, after the final model had come out in the wedding gown (we all wait to see what spectacular bridal gown the designer has come up with. And they sell for a fortune)—-in this case, Karl Lagerfeld is the designer of Chanel and has been for several decades, and he is truly a genius of the fashion world, and deservedly a legend. His hair is snow white, he wears it tied back in a neat ponytail with a black ribbon, high collars, often tail coats, with a dignified, elegant style, and he walks around the runway, with the bride on his arm at the end of the show, to thunderous applause from the audience. This time, the bride did her turn around the runway, solo, as always, after all the other models had strutted past. The bride in the show, the very last one, has the runway to herself, and when she finishes the entire circle, Karl Lagerfeld, the designer comes out, takes a bow, and does one more walk around with the bride on his arm. Wearing an unusual and somewhat startling bridal ensemble (of a rhinestone covered bathing suit, with matching rhinestone covered bonnet (in the shape of a bathing cap), with a long veil trailing behind her, the bride completed her tour around the runway, and the audience waited for the stage door to backstage to open and Mr. Lagerfeld to come out….nothing…..We waited, and no one appeared. In recent years, he has appeared to be more energetic on some years than others, even to the point of looking frail once or twice, although he still works at a furious and productive pace, but he is well into his 80’s, and still works harder than most people half his age. Somehow, one assumes that he is eternal, and hopes that he will be with us forever, working at full steam. After a few moments of surprise, as everyone waited to see him at the end of the Chanel show (which was gorgeous as usual!!!), an announcement came over the sound system that Mr. Lagerfeld was very tired today, and sent us all his greetings and would not be appearing. There was a long, long moment of shocked silence. No one spoke, and everyone feared he might be more than ‘tired’, since it was the first time in his entire history that he did not appear after the show to take a bow. there was total silence in the enormous Grand Palais, as everyone digested the information, glanced at each other with worried looks (thousands of us), and left the hall in total silence, out of respect, admiration, love and fear for him. It was a shocking dose of reality that one day time affects us all, and claims us, that nothing goes on forever, even remarkable talent. We all hope that he is only tired, and will bounce back, and that we will see him again at the end of another show. It left me, and I think all of us, with a great sense of sadness, after a truly beautiful show, which was yet another tribute to his talent. It sobered me and saddened me for the rest of the day. It was a shocking reminder that we are all mortal, and even people with huge talent are vulnerable, especially at a great age. We all want him to go on forever. He is a unique talent in fashion, and an icon, and we all wish him well. His absence outweighed the excitement of the show, and thousands of us left the Grand Palais in total silence, no one said a single world. We just left, and stood outside in the snow, looking lost. His absence was sorely felt by all.

 

Have a great week, stay warm, wherever you are.

 

much love, Danielle

 

12/3/18, Paris IS burning

Posted on December 3, 2018

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, that you recovered from Thanksgiving, and are heading peacefully toward the holidays.

 

I am overwhelmed with sadness today. I don’t know how much it is reported in the States, but one of the ways that the French express their displeasure with governmental policies is to demonstrate, gather in the streets, to protest policies and conditions they don’t like. Demonstrations in France are usually peaceful, but not always. They can be noisy sometimes (or not), and rarely result in violence.  For the French, demonstrations are a form of freedom of speech. In the States, I think demonstrations tend to be bigger and less frequent, on a variety of important subjects. We should all have the right to let our governments know how we feel about things, hopefully peacefully without injury to property or people, nor destruction of any kind. Some people do it by writing letters to their legislators, others prefer to do it in a march, or a demonstration. It’s a show of hands for new and different policies, which seems fair to express those opinions.

 

The French people are generally unhappy about a variety of subjects at the moment. The economy is not doing well, there are certainly injustices that need to be corrected, and problems that have not been addressed, as with any government in any country. And to bring current problems to the government’s attention, a group of citizens applied to demonstrate for several consecutive Saturdays, beginning two weeks ago, for what was meant to be a peaceful demonstration in a number of cities in France. Since the issues are important and heartfelt by the demonstrators, the demonstrations became heated, erupted in destruction of property a week ago, and as a precaution stores were ordered closed in many areas, this past Saturday for the third demonstration.

 

The third demonstration two days ago became a nightmare of mob brutality and wanton destruction in Paris. However valid or not the complaints may have been, the expression of them got out of hand. Cars were burned, homes were set fire to, businesses and stores were destroyed and vandalized, bonfires were set in the streets, flaming bricks and rocks flew through windows setting fire to homes once inside, people were frightened, important monuments were graffiti-ed and severely damaged, trees were burned, entire streets were destroyed, smoke was heavy in the air from all the fires, and the acrid smell of smoke from tear gas bombs, water cannons were turned on the crowds by police. By noon, it looked like the city was in flames, over a hundred people were injured, both law enforcement and civilians. And observing it at close range, one sensed the frenzy of the crowd, a frightening excitement to destroy anything at hand. By nightfall it looked like there was snow on the ground which was a carpet of broken glass from all the destroyed cars, windows, bus stop shelters, etc. In an economy already suffering, in the weeks before Christmas, there will be fewer purchases with stores that will take months to repair (or closed forever for shop keepers who can’t afford to repair them), and people afraid to leave their homes for something as benign as Christmas shopping. Even sadder, the small independent shops and businesses who are the livelihoods of people who own them and work there, small grocery stores, dry cleaners, book stores, florists, which they can’t afford to repair and will not reopen. Big fancy stores as well as small ones were looted, vandalized and set on fire. Fire fighters couldn’t get from one fire to the next fast enough, and in some cases, an entire street of cars were burning. The destruction of property of all kinds was extreme, as shocked Parisians watched their city burning.

 

In the past few weeks, I have seen the shocking cataclysmic destruction by nature with the fires in California, with homes and businesses and lives lost, a true tragedy and natural disaster……and now to the kind of destruction Man is capable of when emotions run high, and get out of control, even if with the best of intentions. In either case, the results are tragic and immeasurably destructive.

 

And just as I was heartbroken for the tragic immeasurable losses to the fire in California, I am deeply saddened now for the destruction in Paris, and all the people who will suffer from it. In its own way, it is tragic too, to see a beautiful city looted and pillaged and in flames, and so many people affected by it. When Nature or Man get out of control, we are all losers in the end.

 

Have a great and peaceful week, and I hope the holiday spirit prevails and begins to grow in all of us.

 

love, Danielle

 

PS. Elaine very correctly said that she read that “professional rioters” have joined the Gilets Jaunes (the yellow vests, because that’s what they wear to identify themselves) demonstrators in France. The Gilets Jaunes began by demonstrating peacefully, and a group informally known as the “Casseurs” (the breakers, the people who break things) infiltrated their ranks, and are wearing the same yellow vests, making it impossible to tell who is who. The Casseurs have added the violent element to the demonstrations, and turned them into riots more than peaceful demonstrations. It’s a tremendous dilemma, because the yellow vests they wear (the same ones), make it impossible to figure out who’s who. I don’t think the Gilets Jaunes ever intended for the demonstrations to become violent, and the Casseurs have appeared at other demonstrations in France. And the end result now is some tremendous damage that will be very costly to repair, graffiti on many important monuments, windows broken, shop windows smashed and the stores looted and vandalized, cobble stones hacked out of pavement, and thrown through windows and used to smash cars. Some of the professional rioters use sledge hammers to destroy cars. And with the added element of experienced rioters, violence has erupted. Everyone in Paris hopes that it will stop, stores are suffering from lack of business, not just big fancy stores, but small independent stores, grocery stores, dry cleaners, neighbourhood florists, people who depend on their business to earn their livelihood, and now their stores have been vandalized. The big luxury stores have been attacked and looted, and are able to recover more quickly. Everyone in Paris is affected in some way. And the situation Elaine described is exactly the problem, and once violence is added to the mix, it’s very hard to calm it down again. I hope that solutions will be found soon that will be acceptable to all, so Paris can recover, tourists can return, and people can move around the city safely. D.

10/29/18, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and that this week will be more treat than trick for you!!! (Treat being lots of dark chocolate or whatever makes you happy!!!)

 

I worked REALLY hard last week, writing 20 hours a day, so I am definitely back up to fall speed and my winter writing schedule. And I finished what I was writing on Friday, so I treated myself to a fun day on Saturday (after Xeroxing everything I’d been writing, since I type it on a typewriter and don’t use a computer). After the Xeroxing, I did some Christmas shopping….and of course a few treats for me!!! I’m having my Godchildren for a Halloween dinner, and they’re still young enough to really enjoy it!!

 

After Christmas shopping on Saturday (I went to a really cool store that is ALL men’s socks in a million different rainbow colors—–great stocking stuffers for the men on my list!!)—after that, I did something I never do. I NEVER go to restaurants alone, I’m not a big eater, wouldn’t enjoy being in a restaurant alone, it always looks weird to me when I see women alone in a restaurant, or people alone generally, and it’s no fun without someone to talk to. If I’m out doing errands, I just plow through until I get home, and I always have a bar of dark chocolate in my handbag if I get hungry, and it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal. I’d rather do that than go to a restaurant alone. And I’ve only done that once in my life. But Saturday, I decided to spoil myself a little after a week of hard work, and spotty meals. I tend to eat food that’s easy to eat and I don’t have to pay attention to when I’m working. Like hard boiled or scrambled eggs, the occasional sandwich, and waaayyyyy too many cookies!!! But Saturday I stopped for a late lunch, I had truffle risotto and calf’s liver (I love liver—-I know, no one else does). It was yummy, I was on an outdoor terrace, having a ball watching the people go by, sitting in the sun, feeling lazy and spoiled and enjoying it thoroughly. It was a fun restaurant I go to a lot, so they know me, and the kind of place where families and couples go, and all kinds of people so I didn’t stand out alone. And the people watching is superb there. Lots of foreigners, on my right were two Chinese women who looked like they were having a good time. They took photos of each other with their phones. to my left were two young Americans, maybe about 18 or 19, a boy and a girl, talking about college and exams, and how awful their parents are (I tried not to laugh at that. The boy said he had to take a trip with his father and said “Erghk!! How Sinister is That!!”) And beyond them was a beautiful Russian woman with what seemed to be her boyfriend. Lots of people came and went in some wild outfits. It’s a restaurant where a lot of people go in the fashion business, and some models, actors and actresses sometimes, and people who want to see and be seen. There was a Chinese actress posing for photographs in front of me, and some crazy outfits: one couple had on matching suits with Bermuda shorts, and she was wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It was a fun interlude for an hour, and at least I had a decent meal after a week of eating snacks nonstop.  I did some more errands after that, and went home and listened to some music and answered some emails.

 

I still haven’t figured out a Halloween costume, I have a pink sweatshirt with Miss Piggy on it, and may settle for that this year. I hope you have a GREAT HALLOWEEN!!! Whether in costume or not, and I hope you get lots of treats!!!

 

I learned something VERY unusual this week by the way—At least I think it is, a social event popular with the Millennial generation (late 20’s to early 30’s) Apparently the big trend is for “Gender Reveal” Parties. Clearly, I’m from the Dark Ages because I’d never heard of it before, although all my children knew about it when I checked. It sounded extremely sexy, but apparently isn’t. Here’s how it works if you don’t know about it either. When a Millennial is having a baby, instead of having the doctor tell her and her partner or spouse the sex of the baby, the doctor writes the baby’s sex down on a piece of paper, seals the paper in an envelope and the future Mom takes it to a party planner and a baker, and they throw a party, which will either have a pink or a blue theme, they invite all their friends, and when they go to the party, they discover the sex of their baby, along with all their friends, from the pink or blue balloons. I have to admit, I was stunned, I can’t imagine wanting to share that discovery with 50 or 100 friends or even two. In my generation, it was a very private moment to share with my husband and not discover at a party. But apparently, Gender Reveal Parties are a big deal now. You learn something new every day!!!

 

 

Trick or Treat!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/1/18, The Rose and the Thorns

Posted on October 1, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a long crazy one, travelling again, and my travel day this time consisted of TWO, not one but TWO cancelled flights, and 7 hours in the airport between them (with my 3 dogs), only to go nowhere and go back home that night, unable to get a seat out for another 2 days. It’s fairly typical travel hell nowadays, but it sure isn’t fun when it’s happening. And I think cancelled and delayed flights happen a lot now. In the end it took me 4 days to get home, instead of one. It’s all part of the complicated landscape of travelling now, and challenging at best. I was exhausted by the time I got home.

 

Two hours after I got home, I celebrated my daughter’s birthday with her, and some friends. It was a really fun evening, and her birthday was the reason I came home. I would have swum home if I had to, not to disappoint her.

 

And the next day, I had some sad, bad news. A friend had gotten sick a few weeks ago, seemed to be coming out of it and recovering, and this morning at barely 60, he had cardiac arrest and died. I was stunned when I got the call. It just didn’t seem reasonable or possible. We had spoken only a few days ago, and emailed regularly. He was a wise, intelligent, extremely kind person who had been very helpful to me, always willing and quick to go the extra mile to help. He was a truly lovely man, with strong protective instincts. I always felt safe when in his presence, as though nothing could harm me when he was around, which is a rare feeling. I met him many years ago, and our paths crossed again earlier this year. The friendship picked up then for the past several months. I saw him twice this summer, and as usual, he was wonderful to me. We exchanged some emails, just chatting, and three weeks ago, I learned through one of my children, he was ill in the hospital, and wanted to hear from me. So I sent him an email, and we began talking. He was suffering from the illness he had, but he was determined to beat it. And he assured me only days ago that he would. While he was ill for the past few weeks, our correspondence became voluminous and intense, as I tried to encourage him, and hoped he would get well soon. I sent him some prayer cards, and some religious things, including a medal from a convent near my childhood home in Paris, and some books. And our email exchanges were fun too. I was always happy to hear from him, and he was grateful for the support. The thought that he might not get well seemed remote and unlikely, and he said that he was confident that he would. We spoke a few days ago, and he was “confident that he was getting better”. And then one morning a few days ago, that terrible call, that he had died suddenly, and was gone. It left an instant void, and an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and I was stunned all day after hearing about it.

 

The concept of birth and death has always been a mystery to me. It always struck me when I was having a baby. One moment you are X number of people in the delivery room, and minutes later, there is one more person in the room. How did they get here? It is utterly remarkable to me that a person can be added or subtracted at a moment’s notice. And similarly, death makes no sense to me at all. People you love and care about and know, see regularly or once in a while, and suddenly that person no longer exists. Game over. The person you loved or knew is nowhere to be found on this planet, you can’t talk to them or see them, and never will again. Vanished. Gone. Whatever they were doing before, and in all the places where you used to see them, they are no longer there, and you will never hear their voice or see their face again. It seems incredibly cruel, especially with our loved ones. Now you see me, now you don’t. And we are left with the memories of time shared with them.

 

I’ve often said that some books are shorter than others, and it applies to people too. Some lives are shorter, and they are not meant to go the whole long distance. But for those of us left with our memories, and not with the person we loved, it’s hard to understand why this happened, and what it means to us.  I will miss talking to my friend, and reading emails from him, the exchange of laughter, the comfort and the reassurance of his emails. Why destiny chose to make our paths cross again this summer for these few months, I don’t know. And I know even less how such a lovely person, anxious to help anyone he could, should die so young. I’m grateful to have known him, I will cherish the memories of who he was and what he shared, and the example he set for kindness in this world. He always went the extra mile for anyone.  I will miss his smiling face, and so much about him.  He said to me the last time we spoke, that he preferred to focus on the roses in life than the thorns. He was certainly a rose in many lives, and I will long remember and cherish his friendship.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Paris | 7 Comments

9/17/18, Hard Day, Hard Week

Posted on September 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, even a great week, as the Fall gets off to a busy start. For those of you with children, they’re all back in school by now, which keeps parents busier than ever, until the new routine is established, and things settle down. And with after school activities, and sports teams, kids keep us running. Mine are all working now, and I miss those school days (which will sound crazy to you if you’re dashing all over the place with your kids, and wish they’d hurry up and grow up. Beware of what you wish for!!! They grow up all too soon!!). I still have one child living at home, and am grateful that I do!!! Every time she leaves her laundry stacked up in the front hall, or borrows something and forgets to return it, or loses something, or scrambles my schedule, or uses enough towels to stock a hotel, I remind myself of how lucky I am to still have her at home!! Any time I spend with her is precious.

 

I had a busy, mostly fun week last week, doing errands, catching up, seeing friends for lunch and dinner. I love having friends in for dinner after the summer, to catch up with how everyone’s summer was. I worked, and finished an outline I love, for a future book, and can’t wait to get to work on it. And I’ll see a few friends this week too, and visit two of my daughters, and see 2 more of my kids by the end of the week. Seeing my children will be the best part of the week. And I have a bunch of real life stuff to do too. A visit from the plumber to solve a (lack of) hot water problem, a trip to the vet to check the dog who was sick this summer (Blue, with a disk problem), put away summer clothes, call to complain about the kitchen chairs I ordered 5 months ago and haven’t received yet. Ordinary real life housewifely stuff, which I enjoy. I got a new TV for my bedroom, after 14 years, which is fun. I like the rhythm and routine of ordinary life, I find it comforting and relaxing to get small things done. Last week had its serious moments too, I went to the memorial service for a dear friend, and unfortunately will go the memorial service of a beloved brother in law this week. The friend was 91, a famous fashion designer (Hubert de Givenchy, an extraordinary really lovely man). My brother in law was in his late 80s, and like a real big brother to me since I was 16. Both men led good, full, long productive lives. I will miss them both, but it is in the order of things for people to leave, and both lived well lived complete lives to a great age, which makes their leaving easier to accept.

 

But all in all, I know this will be a hard week for me. However well I fill the time, whatever I do, there is a date that I cannot escape every year, the anniversary of my son Nick’s death, by suicide at 19. He was greatly, great loved, and still is, and I miss him always. Talented (in writing and music), brilliant, funny, loving, compassionate, he was a wonderful boy, suffered from bi polar disease all his life (I first noticed it before he was 2, and knew it for sure by the time he was 4 years old). We did everything we could to help him, but he finally just couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He led a remarkably full life in his short time, he already had a successful career in music (writing lyrics and music, and lead singer in a successful band). And even after his death, his life has been a blessing to many people. We established two foundations in his honor, to help mentally ill people, and the homeless. Thousands of people have been helped in his name. There is a blessing in even the hardest events in our lives.

 

Anniversary dates are always something of a mystery to me. The person we loved, and still love, is just as gone the day or the week or month before and after the anniversary. But there is a power to the anniversary date that is like the sound of a gong that reverberates through you, shattering the silence and any sense of peace. It’s as though your body knows what day it is as well as your heart. Life stops for me on that day, as I try to remember him without remembering how terrible that day was. Birthdays are easier because there are happy memories of that day. There are no happy memories of the day someone you love dies, and it pierces your heart like a spear. The memory of that stops you in your tracks. I try to keep it as gentle as possible, but there is no easy way. This will be the first year that I won’t be with some of my children on that date, but I will see them the next day. There is something particularly terrible about losing a child, at any age, because it is not in the correct order of life, and a child is part of you from the moment they are born until you die, and they take with them a part of you that belonged to them.   So it will be a hard day. It always is. Some years are harder than others, and some years are a little better, and gentler. You never really escape it, but some years whatever you do to soothe the pain seems to work, distraction, seeing friends, whatever you do, and you get through it. Other years you barely crawl through it. The pain begins to dim the next day and gets back to something you can live with, but you hit a wall on those days, time stops, and you are catapulted into the past to a day you wish had never happened. In a way, the agony of that day doesn’t make sense, because they are just as gone before and after the day, and you learn to live with it…..but the actual anniversary date is particularly tough. I dread it, but one gets through it. It comes at you like a heat seeking missile, headed straight for your heart.

 

He was an incredibly sweet boy with a huge heart. Forever missed, forever loved, for the rest of time.

 

Have a great week!!! I hope it is a gentle week for you, with lots of happy moments in it.

 

all my love, Danielle

 

8/20/18, Bea, an Amazing girl!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are, the last week in August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and we have ‘done’ the summer. It has whizzed past us, I hope you had lots of fun, some time off and vacation, and I hope you’ll look back on this summer with a smile. And now we have all the excitement of the fall to look forward to, and our winter plans and projects, in some cases moving at high speed after the summer. I am definitely back at work, and working on new books.

 

I wanted to bring you up to date on something I have mentioned to you before, that happened in my family two years ago. My nephew’s daughter Bea, my great niece, was 17 years old then, a beautiful, happy normal high school girl. She grew up in France, her father is French, her mother American, and they had just moved to Brussels, Belgium from Paris a few months before. Her passion was, and is horseback riding, her dream was to ride in the Olympics. And her great love was, and is, her beloved white horse Deedee. She has two older brothers, lots of friends, and lots of dogs. A very normal high school girl. And in March of 2016, her whole world changed. The family went to Florida for Spring vacation, she stayed back a day, and set out to join them in Florida a day later. She went to the Brussels airport for her flight, and Fate intervened in a very major way. It was the morning that terrorists blew up the Brussels Airport, right as Bea was in line to check in. We know now that she was standing roughly 3 or 4 feet from one of the bombs when it exploded, and was one of very few survivors in the terminal. It is a total miracle that she survived at all. Seven months in the hospital of fighting for her life, dozens of surgeries ensued. Hundreds of people were killed and injured. She was in a military hospital along with the other survivors, because the wounds inflicted were so extreme that they were only comparable to wartime military injuries, not civilian ones. She was burned over much of her body, was paralyzed in the days and months after the explosion, her body was full of shrapnel, pieces of metal in the bomb designed to do the most damage possible to a human body, and she lost both legs. It’s the kind of horrifying event you read about in a newspaper, but doesn’t happen to anyone you know. But it did, to this very wonderful 17 year old girl. And the future looked dark indeed for a while.

 

We don’t have any idea how any of us would respond to catastrophic events in our lives. Something like that is beyond imagining. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, to alleviate her suffering. And what not only survived but flourished and grew to incredible proportions was her extraordinary spirit, her strength and determination, not only to survive, but to have an amazing life in future anyway. She has a family who adores her, and a remarkable mother who exhibited strength and courage that kept Bea fighting for her life at the darkest times—and fighting for the quality of her life.

 

One of the most touching moments in her early recovery was when she was finally well enough to sit in a wheel chair and be rolled outside for some air. Her horse trainer had arranged with Bea’s mother and the hospital to bring Bea’s beloved horse Deedee to visit her. The video of it reduced me to sobs, and still does. Bea was sitting in her wheel chair, not expecting a visit, as Deedee was led out of the trailer, was instantly alert, and literally raced across the parking lot to where Bea was sitting, found her, licked her face adoringly, and then rested her head on Bea’s shoulder. It was pure love between those two. It was a turning point for Bea in her recovery. A day or two later, she was cautiously lifted into the saddle on Deedee, and held there so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall, and thus began the next chapters of Bea’s life, with courage, love and hope, and a fierce determination not to be beaten or destroyed by what had happened.

 

Fast forward the long arduous film of what came after: 7 months after the attack she left the hospital, and went back to school for her last year—-she was greeted at school by a standing ovation by the entire school. People around the world, who didn’t even know her, had been praying for her. In June, 15 months after the attack, she graduated, and walked across the stage in braces to accept her diploma. She went to rehab at a Naval Facility in San Diego and is still there. Next month, she will start college. And for many months now, she has been training for the next Paralympics in Tokyo. Three countries invited her to ride for them. They first contacted her after someone had seen the first meeting with Deedee at the hospital. She is hard at work now training for the Paralympics, and getting ready for college. Her determination, and extraordinary spirit are astounding—-how can any of us complain about the problems and disappointments and minor inconveniences in our lives when you see someone like her, determined, strong, never lagging, never giving up, absolutely passionately determined to have an amazing life, and not be robbed of her youth and spirit and courage about life. After college, she wants to start a company for sports equipment adapted for people with physical impairments. She has feeling in her legs and back now, and her hope is to continue to improve. She has worked incredibly hard in the most grueling way at her recovery, and is continuing to do so.

 

Bea is a remarkable girl. Extraordinary, remarkable, incredible, courageous, amazing, don’t even begin to describe her. And her remarkable mother has fought alongside her every inch of the way. Her whole family cheers her on. I am stunned by her courage and spirit. It’s breathtaking.

 

What she has done and is continuing to do is an inspiration to anyone who knows her or hears about her. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t complain about her losses, she held on tight and celebrated what she did have, and reached out toward all the good things and good times and victories that lay ahead. Her whole life is a victory, a shining example to others, an inspiration to us all. She is the best of what a human being can be faced with incredible challenges, and she has met them all.

 

I am in awe of this brave nineteen year old girl who has faced the unthinkable and is turning it into a victory every single day. And this is only the beginning of what I know will be a shining life that will continue to dazzle and inspire us all.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids, Paris | 30 Comments

7/9/18, Paris Fashion:Haute Couture

Posted on July 9, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Every prayer for success for the boys, their rescuers, families and the entire team in Thailand as the whole world watches and prays for them.

 

I hope you had a terrific week, and a wonderful, fun 4th of July!!

 

I enjoyed one of my favorite fun past times, and went to the Chanel Haute Couture fashion show last week. I love seeing the beautiful clothes on the runway, that are really an art form. Every stitch in a Haute Couture garment is hand done, not a machine stitch anywhere, and often spectacular embroideries. Beautiful models showing beautiful clothes. Chanel is my favorite show, either Haute Couture or ready to wear, and Haute Couture is the highest art form in fashion, and a dying art, because it’s so rare, and there are so few clients for it, and so few people left with the skills to make it. (The apprenticeship time to work on Haute Couture clothes is 12 years!!). And even as a spectator, and not a buyer, I thoroughly enjoy the experience and the spectacle. Karl Lagerfeld, in his late 80’s now is still the designer for Chanel and an absolute genius, and a power house of strength, energy, foresight, and creativity. It’s always an honor to see his collections, and to see him take a bow at the end of the show. The scenery is always spectacular at any Chanel show, this time the scene was set as though it was along the river Seine, where the booksellers are who sell old books. And the models strolled past the beautiful sets and the stage set booksellers.

 

The show was particularly fun for me, not just because of Karl Lagerfeld’s talent, but my youngest son and his girlfriend came to the show with me, and although he is not as involved in fashion as his sisters, or at all in fact, he really enjoyed the show, the stage set, the beautiful models and amazing clothes, as fifty or sixty models pounded past him on the runway in the spectacularly beautiful clothes. Invitations to the show are hard to come by, and I was very grateful that all three of us were invited, so I could go with them. I used to take my children to the fashion shows with me when they were little, because I thought it was such a beautiful art form, and three of my daughters wound up with careers in fashion. Maxx didn’t enjoy the shows as a very little boy, but he did enjoy it this time, with his girlfriend in awe of how beautiful the clothes were, and how exquisite the workmanship!!! Fashion at that level is really a kind of art, more than anything.

 

Other than that, I’ve been doing more mundane things, a bit of work, a lot of family visits, some good meals, time with friends, vacation with my kids, and just enjoying the summer. I’m looking forward to time with my kids, and I hope you have some fun vacation time planned this month too.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

5/21/18, Dog Days

Posted on May 21, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
 

The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
 

So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Art, Dogs, Hobbies, homes, Paris | 3 Comments

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