2/17/14, Personally

Hi Everyone,

I hope your week is off to a good start. And your year, since the year is still young and just beginning. Mine has been a slice of life so far, some good stuff, and not so good stuff. Last year ended on a mixed note too, an anonymous death threat, which was unpleasant, and the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had, spent with my kids, which was truly wonderful. And on New Year’s Day, I got the news that I am going to be given the Legion of Honor award in France (it’s being ‘knighted’ with a beautiful medal), which is a Big Deal, and a great honor. There have been a few minor bumps since the new year started, some hurt feelings occasionally, and the local SF press ran a series of nasty articles about me, complaining that I have a high hedge around my house there, and making nasty personal comments about me. I guess they think that sells papers, but it wasn’t true or nice, and being human it hurt my feelings. Over the years, I have noticed that sometimes when good things happen to us (a new man, a marriage or new romance, a new baby, or wonderful new job), it doesn’t always inspire delight in others, but often inspires jealousy. Jealousy is something to be careful of in life. It’s disappointing and upsetting when it’s focused on you, and a good thing to try to avoid!!!

Thinking about all that today, I was reminded of one of my own failings, or character flaws. I take things personally. It’s so easy for people to say, “It’s not personal, but…..” which then becomes a license to say something really awful to you that decks you and hits you right in the gut. Or “it’s not personal, it’s business” when you get fired or don’t get the raise or opportunity you know you deserve. Or sometimes even a friend can do something thoughtless, and even if not meant that way, it seems so personal. And I have a tendency to take things personally. As a mother, an employer, and even as a woman, it’s easy to get blamed for things unfairly. And all my life, when people have done or said something unkind to me, I take it personally—–without thinking that maybe it has nothing to do with me, that that person may just be limited and not have much to give, or that something else is going on in their life. Without looking any further, I get my feelings hurt. It’s something I still work on, to broaden my vision and realize that maybe it isn’t personal at all. But it sure feels like it at times. And hate mail, death threats, and some of the less pleasant things that come with fame aren’t personal either. They are just the expressions of some crazy who doesn’t even know you. But at times, it all FEELS personal. Especially when attacks or disappointments come from people you know, or love. But even then, it may not be personal at all.

Being shy, I often don’t express it when people hurt my feelings, but just sit with it and let it bother me, in silence. And recently, I had an interesting experience. I went to a dinner party where I knew that 4 of the guests were people who had hurt my feelings, and I had taken it very personally. So out of 12 people at the table, there were 4 people there I didn’t want to sit next to, and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to. And then, on the way there, I realized how silly that was. From taking things personally, I didn’t want to sit next to one third of the guests (or even be there), and I figured that if I kept taking things personally (and not speaking up about it at the time to resolve it), pretty soon, I wouldn’t want to sit next to anyone, and would have to sit at a separate table alone. So I tried to adjust my attitude about it, and had a nice time anyway (and sat next to one of them of course!! And one of the four I was hoping to avoid was rude to me again. He probably just has bad manners and it’s not about me, or doesn’t like me, which is possible too). But it was a good illustration that by taking things too personally, we can start to shrink our world.

I came across a saying today that I thought was very apt on the subject, by Lewis Smedes, a theologian: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. So I guess for me, it’s time to at least try not to take things personally, and forgive those who have hurt my feelings. That ought to keep me busy for a while…..and it’s a nice goal to have, with a sense of freedom if you don’t take things personally. That sounds good to me. Have a great week!!!

love, danielle

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11 Comments so far
  1. Teresa Cunha February 17, 2014 2:42 pm

    Dear Danielle,

    Sorry for the familiarity in the treatment, but I feel I know you forever… I started reading your books (translated to Portuguese) when I was 18 and I’m about to turn 40, so you can do the Math. – By the way, after the translated books came the TV movies and, occasionally, original paperbacks.-
    Today I was feeling both tired and depressed and while having a hot chocolate, decided to peek your newest post. I so understand you… I take everything personally, I kind of swallow everything and I’m getting fatter and fatter (literally and not by overeating) but most of the times I don’t say a thing or share my anguishes. I’m not a mother but I’ve been an employer for the past seven years, it is very difficult to let things just be “business” if the employee or the client is unhappy it is against you, personally rather than professionally, they turn against.
    I am being also the recipient of threats and other very nasty things that kill you bit by bit. Like you, I choose to forgive (not always accepted by the intended recipient) because it literally sets you free and I wish I could pass that message to those who have been hurting me, because deep down they’re probably hurting too, without realizing that the pain they’re feeling now is most probably the result of their actions than whatever was the reason that led them to be harsh and rude.
    I have this policy of never ending relations with a person or institution I had problems with, but if I can avoid them I probably will, unless I feel I’m the one being punished, like you said, if we start to avoid everybody who hurts we’ll probably end up alone!
    Thanks for your thoughts they help me a lot, I hope they ended up helping you too.
    God bless you,

    Teresa

  2. Sandra Schodt February 19, 2014 11:42 am

    Amen!! I have had to have this goal myself. Once I made the change in ny attitude I reall did feel better and the ones who had hurt me, well let’s just say the look on their faces was enough! Lol

  3. jean February 19, 2014 3:53 pm

    You are so right. I just go to bed and think of all these things—some how they seem to resolve themselves-thank goodness!!
    No one should ever be threatened in any way. just heard about the recent
    threats to those traveling by air from Europe to the USA–So please be
    safe.

  4. Eds February 23, 2014 10:03 pm

    Matthew 6:14

    “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

  5. Lorraine March 1, 2014 5:29 pm

    loved this article!

  6. sandie Gill March 6, 2014 1:22 am

    Hi Danielle…just finished reading ‘Pure Joy’…and your Minnie, could be my Lucy. There is only a few months difference in their ages, both are the same colour and the same size, and long haired chi’s..!!! in fact they could be litter mates almost. I so enjoyed your honest and warmly written account of life with dogs. We have 4 chihuahua’s…Leo, Doogie, Molly and Lucy…and there is never a dull moment with them all, but many ‘quiet’ moments, I’m pleased to say. How fasinating to be able to put all your wonderful stories and memeories down on paper…a real gift. How on earth you managed with 9 children, and a houseful of dogs as well, is anyone’s guess…!!! LOL…but i take my hat off to you. I haven’t read any of your books for years, preferring Autobiographies, but I shall go on-line now and have a look at what you have written. Thankyou for transporting me into your world of ‘Pure Joy’…like you, my heart is given to my chihuahua’s…and all they give to me is indeed..’Pure Joy’…I wish you health and much peace Danielle..xx

  7. Theresa Panylyk March 6, 2014 11:26 am

    I have enjoyed all your books. I start one and cannot put it down. Thank-you for that. But the story about your son Nick was so amazing how you were with him through his trials and tribulations. You are an amazing woman I never new anything about you personal life. I admire you very much So much pain in you life. But you have great memories of him I am sure. You also have a wonderful family that get you through it . I feel like I got to know you form the story ‘his bright light” Thanks again Theresa Panylyk from Edmonton Ab Canada

  8. Michelle Martin March 12, 2014 8:48 pm

    Dear Danielle,

    I would like to congratulate you on all of your success. I can’t even begin to guess how many times in your life, you have heard that. However, I am guessing you rarely hear about the impact your success, your novels and just your own life has had over the years, on your very dedicated readers.
    I have always thought it’s fascinating how children watch adults, taking in every move, mocking, questioning, and their minds like sponges, just absorbing…Some of the world biggest fans of just about anything, are children.
    I am pretty sure it took me until my thirties to admit but I was a loaner as a child. I dealt with some very tough stuff growing up, so I was awkward when it came to making friends, my own age. My mom was a ‘stay at home’ mom to 4 children for a large portion of my childhood, she also had a home daycare she owned and ran, every day. I spent most of my youth very lonely, wishing I had a role model or someone older to talk to. I did take ballet classes from, the age of 4 until I was 16. I was a very talented, passionate and a graceful, young ballerina. I really had a talent but the jealousy of the other dancers and their mothers really made life tough. Having my mom torn in 50 directions with all of these damn kids to take care of, no older siblings and then feeling like I belonged nowhere, I had to make a connection with someone. It is just human nature.
    I was an only child for the first 4 years of my life and my parents were very young. I was invited everywhere they went so I became really mature for my age. I started talking very early, reading and writing, years ahead of my class, all of my school years. Starting at 10 years old, which was just the beginning of your career, I began, “borrowing”, your novels from anyone and everyone. And I am not referring to your books made for children. Your novels were my way out. Your heroines were my only friends and what I knew about relationships came from your stories. See, one of my favorite things to do as a child was pace my bedroom, talking out loud to myself and creating stories in my head. The stories as a young child were always about me and typically I would always hear a narrator in my head and when I talked out loud, it was in 3rd person. My narrarater was always much older than me and somehow, full of insight even as a very young child. I would escape my cruel reality by reading about your heroines and then I would put the book down, flip over the book and there you were. I would take pieces of your stories and use that information to create stories for my life that would make me feel like I had a world of friends and characters. Your characters were my older brothers and sisters.

    My mom was contacted by many concerned callers, throughout the very long 18 years she raised me at home. Teachers, counselors and friends parents would call my mom often about my elaborate stories. I had a lot of famous siblings, magical houses with secret laundry shoots, lots and lots of money, private air planes and my all-time favorite story, “Danielle Steele is in the middle of adopting me”.
    My mom spent a lot of years, taking me to physiatrist’s and special schools. I was a handful to say the very least. The thing with all my stories is most of the time, I never wrote them down, just talked them out in my head and out loud. As teachers became aware of how unordinary I was, they would ask me to write some short stories. They never could figure out how such a young child knew so much about escaping Germany or what a heart break felt like. Your novels educated me, I found substance for my stories through your stories. As, I got older, my personal narrator grew up as well. She never left me, I always had my fantasy land. I was one of the smartest students in all my classes, yet my mother still had to pull strings to get me to graduate high school. I loved to skip school, go to the woods by myself, smoke a pack of Marlboros and pace back in forth, laying out the rest of my life. You were in your thirties when I started reading and as I aged, so did you.
    When real life hit me, it came like a bat out of hell. I didn’t really have any other role models, so you became my role model, my best friend. I am a very intelligent person and I am not delusional in anyway but I went through my 20’s and into my 30’s, narrating my story of how I would save myself and make a better life for me, with you in my head as the person listening to my story like a very young grandmother. As an adult, I could no longer pretend you were going to adopt me as that might have had me committed. My mom, who had actually forgiven the terror that I was and become much closer to me in my 20’s, would probably be a little upset to think I wanted another mom. As I drug myself through life always carrying a pretend life in my brain, I always knew my end game but felt I had a really long and rocky road ahead of me. I spent my whole life wanting to be a Contemporary Fiction Author. However, life had a lot of curve balls to through at me first.
    As I was extremely independent and way too into my fantasy world, to attend college with my other classmates, I married my high school sweetheart right after graduation. Over the Eighteen years, I spent with him, I faced things nobody should have to. I have always been a very emotionally strong person on the surface. As I lost all 10 babies I was ever pregnant with in my life, my husband fell further and further into the hands of alcohol and even drugs in our earlier years. People would always ask me, how I keep going when I have experienced so much at such a young age. I could never tell them the truth. I am not sure, how in a million years, I could ever explain that while I gave birth to my still born son, your face stared at me from the tiles in the ceiling and you cried just as hard as I was, while I pushed out the closest thing to a living child that I have ever had. Due to the circumstances, my doctors highly suggested I let them give me an epidural even though it was against my birthing plan. I guess it makes sense now, why I had a dream that night that I saw you hand my beautiful baby to grandmother in heaven who died when I was 15.
    Being the tough person I am, I overcame it all. I moved through one job after another, being drug through the mud, constantly a victim to malicious lies and rumors. I found myself in a career as a Sales Manager, selling office equipment and making six figures. I remember the night, I brought my W2’s into my room, lit candles all over, poured two glasses of champagne and I mentally toasted you and talked to myself, out loud as if I was you, congratulating me. Through all of my years of reading your novels, I felt that I really knew you and what kind of advice you would give me. So, when I found myself so proud being the bread winner, living the illusion of perfection and allowing that sad, lonely little girl inside of me to feel accomplished, I wanted to celebrate with you. This is the first time, I have ever told anyone about this celebration toast.
    In the last couple years, I found myself really wishing you were in my life. I ended my 15 year marriage, I retired at the age of 33 years old, met the man I pray I spend the rest of my life with and I began my career as a full time writer. Sometimes, when I sit up in the middle of the night writing, even though I write in mostly 3rd person but some first person as well, I see you sitting at the top of my head. You are so proud of me. I finally broke through my life long problem. I was so stuck in fantasy that I never could sit down and just write the story. The novel I have worked on the most is somewhat outlined on paper and I have about 35,000 words so far but the entire story is in my head. I am working on three other novels in varies stages. I just received my three latest Danielle Steele novels so I am still making to read. I also spend a lot of time researching popular authors, like yourself, to help me figure out my own path and the success of others inspires me to write more.

    As I adventure out into this whole new world of mine, a real world, I will always remember where I came from and who my inspiration through it all was. Your life and your experiences really impacted me and it has always been important to me, to reach out to you and thank you again for being who you are and bringing so many inspirational stories to me over your career.

    Love,
    MKAY

  9. Michelle Martin March 13, 2014 12:11 pm

    Please forgive me for the spelling and grammar mistakes. I spend a lot of hours fighting with auto spell check. LOL

  10. Tabby Gorrey March 17, 2014 3:45 pm

    Dear Danielle,
    I’m a black South African woman. I’ve read and own many of your books. Incidentally my granddaughter’s name is Portleigh Danielle, named after her grandfather Daniel. I have been searching the net for publishers, but so far with no luck. I’m 65 years old. I’ve been writing my story since 2003 when I went on early retirement to support my pastor husband with his ministry.
    The title of my book is Time Wasted Never Regained, which was an inspiration from my late mother. It was a favourite saying at all times.. So far I’ve written 8 manuscripts of +-30000 words each. My problem is that I’d like someone to read my novel because I think it’s a good story that needs to be told and published. I was wondering if you could assist me with editing maybe just a few chapters of my book to see if I’m on the right track. Secondly I do not have the funds to publish and it appears that it’s a costly business. Is there any way you can find it in your heart to assist me or put me in touch with someone that may be willing to sponsor me?

    Regards and thank you in anticipation,
    Tabby Gorrey

  11. Dana Cox May 19, 2014 10:17 am

    Dear Danielle, as a huge fan who has read every book you have written & currently reading Power Play, I just want to say that despite your success and beautiful heart and nature, there will always be envious “crackpots” out there, envious of your success, skill as an author and soft kind heart. The best advise I have is to avoid giving the “nutters” any traction in your mind ,life is to short to spend energy on negativity. You are an astounding woman with a heart of gold, so please don’t let the negative people hurt you. We are all only human I know and when you invest so much of your heart and soul in your vwork with writing, you expose your heart and soul and it’s hurtful having people,perhaps even perceived “friends” taking pot shots. Just remember us out there that love you, and share in your joys and heartaches. I have just read Pure Joy and so loved to read about your darling MinnieI lost my darling Peppi a Yorkie 7 years ago and still dream about him now. I am a nurse who works 6/7 and as well as dreaming to reclaim a life back.time wise, would adore another little dog in my life, but as you say it’s a huge commitment and I’m would never be selfish in putting my needs/wishes above those of proper care and attention dogs need, so no more for me :( Keep being the beautiful you. Your books bring joy and welcome escapism in worlds I can only dream of ever experiencing. You are a light in what can be a world of aridity and disenchantment but like you, am ever seeing its beauty, hope and love. May Gods peace and love go with you. Congratulations on your achievements. I’m so glad you enjoyed Mothers Day as I did too! Keep up the beautiful work and being the special soul you are! Love and best wishes fro Dana in Australia. Xxx