Archive for 2019

11/11/19, No Excuses

Posted on November 11, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I had a good one with interesting meetings, some rewarding work, some nice conversations with my kids, a friend I love whom I got to see which warmed my heart. And a manuscript I was waiting to edit was delayed in the mail, so I actually got a few days off, and even got to read someone else’s books for a change!!!

 

Among the books I particularly love are those by Joel Osteen, whom I am lucky enough to know and consider a friend, with his wonderful family, whom I’ve also met (mother, brother, sister, wife, kids, they’re a terrific bunch!!). Joel is a truly extraordinary person, warm, humble, incredibly bright, modest, kind, compassionate, he’s a minister and delivers his powerful positive message in a palatable, accessible way, even for people who don’t consider themselves religious. He’s written about a dozen books (#1 bestsellers on the NY Times list), and his books ALWAYS open my thought to new ideas, and leave me feeling stronger, better, more hopeful, happier and more positive about life. He has a tremendous gift. And the one thing I think our books have in common is that we try to share hope with our readers. I think hope is one of the most important things in life, as important as love, and sometimes even more so. We cannot live without hope. Many times, Joel’s books have given me hope when I thought things were looking pretty dark. And there is always some major thought or theme in his books that wakes me up to see things around me in a new light. They are like a burst of sunshine and fresh air for me.

 

On the back of one of his recent books, that I read last week, is an excerpt from the book: “Nothing will change until you make up your mind that you are not going to accept mediocrity. Why don’t you take the limitations off yourself? You have so much potential. Break out of that box and try something new…You are not limited by your education, by how you were raised, or your current situation. You are destined to rise higher.” He not only gives his readers hope, he shares his faith-driven energy with them. It works for me. What resonated for me in that excerpt was not being limited by our history and circumstances. Inside the book, he talks about “Getting rid of the excuses” and “remove the shame.” Wow!!! Those two thoughts really stopped me and made me think.

 

We all have ‘excuses’ for why we aren’t doing something or moving ahead, why we’re not pushing ourselves harder than we are: an accident, health, an injury, a terrible divorce, the loss of someone we love, a bad break up, losing a job, or as Joel said, a limited education, an abusive childhood, or maybe a bad relationship we allow to continue and don’t feel strong enough to get out of. At different times, we put up with some terrible situations and extreme emotional pain—-sometimes leaving the bad situation and being alone seems worse (which most of the time is not the case. Alone is better than abuse!!! Sometimes we get used to some really awful situations, and settle for them rather than risking the unknown). (I was in a therapy group once where a woman shared the incredible abuse her boyfriend was inflicting on her, cheating on her, beating her, taking her money, being nasty to her. It was a list an arm long, and someone asked why she didn’t leave him, and she said “But how do I know who I’d meet if I leave him, I might meet a really bad guy”. A REALLY bad guy? Are you kidding, Frankenstein, Dracula, or Adolf Hitler would have been better than the guy she had. It took a long time, but she did eventually leave him, and was a LOT happier.) Fear of the unknown paralyzes a lot of us, and keeps us in a bad spot. We also feel unworthy at times of anything, which is where Joel’s message is so strong: Remove the Shame. We all feel ashamed of things we’ve done, and where we’ve fallen short, which sometimes leads us to believe that we deserve to be punished and treated badly. If you take away the shame, and give it up (and figure you’ve already paid enough penance for it), it opens up a whole new vista of positive opportunities, and even happiness. Getting rid of the shame, and letting it go opens the door to a wealth of possibilities we ALL deserve. (Nobody is perfect!!!)

 

What resonated for me in his recent book was ‘Getting rid of the excuses’. Some of the excuses are buried deep, where others don’t see or hear them, but we use them for ourselves, the passes we give ourselves for why we can’t reach a better life (or attitude). When I read that line in his book, it woke me up, with a real jolt. I think the greatest (usually unspoken) excuse in my own life is that my mother left when I was 6, and I grew up alone with my father. (Which has its convenient sides—-I know more about cars than I do about makeup, which I wear very little of). I missed out on all those mother-daughter moments that most people have. It is also a brutally powerful message when your own mother leaves you. What does that say about you if your own mother rejects you? I know others it has happened to, men and women now, and it is a big deal to overcome. A HUGE deal. If you let it, it can set you up to be rejected, abandoned, or treated badly forever by others. It has been my excuse for being overprotective of my own children, too dependent on the men in my life, the message being “my mother left me, so please don’t you”. That’s a hell of a burden for another person to live with, and to put on them—it’s not their fault my mother left—nor mine. That’s the point. I wasn’t responsible for her leaving, so I shouldn’t have to carry the weight of that forever. And it SHOULDN’T be my excuse for being a burden on someone else, nor should I expect others to abandon me because she did. And if they do, it’s a brand new account, and NOT a replay of the past. But in seriously  introspective moments, I realize that privately I have used that as an ‘excuse’ for not trusting people, hanging on too tightly, or accepting bad behaviours from them that I shouldn’t (so they don’t leave too). Today is a whole new day. A new life. EVERY day.

 

The other excuse I could use, but don’t usually, or as much, is that I lost a son (to suicide). Losing anyone you love is agonizing, and losing a child is a special kind of excruciating pain——–but it’s still not an excuse to stop living yourself, to pay less attention to your other children, or be depressed for the rest of your life.  It was a terrible blow, there is no question, but I have fought hard not to let it be an ‘excuse’ in my life for sitting in a corner and feeling sorry for myself. I still have tough times with it at times, but I have tried not to let it define me or my life. (“oh the poor thing, she lost a son”. Yes, I did, and it’s a terrible loss, but I don’t want to be a poor thing or have it be my ‘excuse’ for staying frozen in that place. My son Nick would have hated that, he expected more of me than that, and so do I). I think I was lucky that a woman I’ve never liked came up to me at his funeral, looked me in the eye and said “You will NEVER recover from this.” Holy Sh**#@@”, what an awful thing to say to someone, like a life sentence. When she said the words to me, even in my fog of grief, I thought “Oh NO!!!” I’m not going to let that happen, and I fought hard not to let that happen (We started two foundations in his name to help the mentally ill, I worked on the streets with the homeless actively for 11 years with one of our foundations, I wrote more books than ever, was closer than ever to my kids, and 5 years later I started an art gallery which gave me endless joy for almost 6 years. I did everything I could not to let his loss crush me and destroy me. I did NOT want that to be an excuse for no longer living a full life.

 

A bad divorce can be an excuse for no longer living a full life, or a limited education—-there are so many people now who have done outstanding things, and even made fortunes with poor educations, or have had bad lives before that. (In another therapy group I was in, dealing with grief and loss, a woman talked sobbing about how her husband had left her, and she had stopped her life completely. Gently, I asked how long it had been since he left, assuming it had been weeks or maybe months. She answered “26 years”…..that’s a long time to grieve a bad marriage and not move on.

 

 

I am not dismissing or minimizing the terrible things that can and have happened to all of us. But it seems as though we have two choices, to let it beat us, or not let it beat us. And we sometimes do use excuses to give ourselves a pass to not lead a full life after something hard happens. Reading Joel’s book made me want to throw those excuses away. Yes, my mother left me at 6. But I don’t want to let that rule my life or affect me today. And I was ashamed then and later that my own mother had left me. That shame is someone else’s and doesn’t belong to me. Ashamed too that I got divorced, which I saw as a failure on my part that I couldn’t convince two husbands to stay. But I’ve had a very good life in spite of that. I don’t want to use those excuses. I don’t want excuses to limit my life.

 

I don’t like age as an excuse either. I want to cheer every time I hear about old people who are working fully, or doing something remarkable, and there are many, many, many older people leading full, productive lives. I heard about a woman yesterday who just got married at 99, she married a 73 year old man, and I thought Good For Her!!! (And Bravo to him, for seeing her value as a human being and her beauty). And I know of two 107 year old women, in Italy and Japan, who are in remarkably good shape. These days, it happens.

 

I always find Joel Osteen’s books life changing. Those two simple phrases, among some very very valid points throughout the book, about “Get rid of the excuses” and “Remove the shame” really spoke to me, and maybe to you as well reading it here.

 

In any case, I don’t want any excuses Not to lead a full and happy life, and I’m all for getting rid of anything that stops us, or blocks us, or brings us down!!!

 

Have a great week, and I hope WONDERFUL things happen to you!!! You deserve it!! We all do!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

11/4/19, Forgiveness Before Thanks

Posted on November 4, 2019

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and maybe even some fun on Halloween, with or without children. My children have always dressed up on Halloween, even into their young adulthood, and gone to parties, but they all work so hard at their jobs now, that I think most of them stayed home that night. My youngest son sent me a photo of a very elaborate pumpkin he carved, so he paid tribute to Halloween after all. And I gave a dinner for my God Children, with black cats, a black owl, and glittery green rats on the table, and lots of candy. It’s a fun day. And now my thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that always makes me think. It’s really all about friendship, gathering friends around you, and being grateful for whatever you can think of. On hard years, that can be a real challenge, but it’s an important thought. Being Grateful, giving thanks. Sometimes being grateful for even the smallest things can make a huge difference. It’s a lot easier to complain about what you don’t have, than to be grateful for what you do. But being grateful, even for a minute is so important.

 

When I have time, I like reading the Bible at times. I know that sounds corny, but I often find some thought that helps me. I get lost in the ‘Begats’, about who is related to who. But there are simple phrases that jump out at me that have meant a lot to me. “Love never fails”, I love that one. “Nothing is impossible” has brought me a lot of comfort, and there is a phrase that meant a lot to me one very lonely Thanksgiving when I was alone years ago, “God places the solitary in families”. It proved to be true that year, I was invited to spend the holiday with friends, and years later, surrounded by my own big family, I remembered that phrase and it touched me. I also find guidelines sometimes about rules of life and ethics that make sense, and I’d either forgotten or tried to ignore. One of those was about forgiveness. A big subject.

 

Somewhere in the Bible it says about how many times you’re supposed to forgive—-and the answer is 70 Times 7. Holy Moley!! That’s 490. I’m supposed to forgive someone 490 Times??!!! Arrghkkkkk….I was thinking more like maybe 2 or 3. Okay, maybe 4. But 490? THAT is a VERY tall order. I guess that’s an ideal, and I’ll never get even remotely close to that. And somewhere else it says (loosely translated) not to show up all cheery and dressed up, when you haven’t forgiven the people in your life. Forgive them first, and THEN show up. Hmm, that’s also a good point. And not always easy to do. So it seems like before Thanksgiving comes forgiveness, which actually seems like good advice, —how can you be really grateful, if you have a long list in your heart of people you’re mad at and don’t want to forgive? That is a real philosophical challenge, and a human one. Forgiveness is important, the weight on one’s heart if one doesn’t forgive is heavy. And some things are very hard to forgive. Big betrayals, big hurts, really bad things people have done to you.

 

I’ve had my share of big things to forgive, and I’m sure you have too. If you live a full life, at some point, people are going to hurt you. And then it’s your decision how you feel about it. One of the biggest in my life was an embezzlement I experienced, it went on for 16 years before I discovered it. It was very cleverly done, and took an enormous toll on me, for a lot of money. Once discovered, I had to sell a beach house I loved, close my art gallery which I really loved, and close down the street outreach program I had for the homeless, which nearly broke my heart (we served 4,000 people a year, and gave them direly needed supplies). I had to do all those things to ‘right the ship’ again financially, and I have a family to support. It was a terrible blow. And because of the statute of limitations, the embezzler was only punished for the last 3 years of the crime, and couldn’t be prosecuted for the other 13 years of embezzled money. It was a terrible experience for me, and everyone affected by it (like the people who worked at the gallery who lost their jobs when I had to close, and the homeless we could no longer serve). The embezzler went to prison, but not for long. How do you deal with something like that? Do you stay mad forever, do you hate someone for what they did? (Someone I knew well, trusted, and saw every day for 16 years, a trusted employee). You can’t stay mad and hate them, or it poisons you. At some point you have to let it go. That was one of my greatest challenges for forgiveness, and I still think about it at times. And there have been others, not embezzlements, but people who have hurt me. And surely people who have hurt you too, maybe even in your family, at work, or among your friends. I had very unkind parents, which is a lot to forgive too. This year,  “friends” (a couple) set me up, invited me to a dinner party, and exposed me to 2 journalists (without warning me), one of them apparently famous for writing vicious untrue things about famous people in the press. I never met them at the party, didn’t talk to them, and didn’t know they were there—–until a very nasty false “interview” appeared in the press, which was hurtful. And I was very angry at the ‘friends’ who set me up, and I’m still wrestling with it in my head. (The article was withdrawn, because it was proven that there had never been an interview, and what was said wasn’t true). I probably won’t see the ‘friends’ again, but I don’t want to carry that around with me, so sooner or later, I will have to forgive them, even if I don’t see them again. Forgiveness can be a MAJOR challenge. And 490 times??? Wow!!! You’ve got to be kidding!!! How about 489? or 2?

 

But it’s a good point, how grateful can you be, if you are lugging a heavy sack of anger around, at the people you haven’t forgiven.

 

Forgiveness is a work in progress for most of us. Sometimes it comes easily, especially some small slight, but sometimes it’s really hard to forgive.  So before I show up for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and delicious stuffing (my favorite!!!), I know I’ll have work to do, to forgive the people who have hurt me past and present. And the more I can forgive, the better the pie and the stuffing will taste, and the more joyful the occasion will be, being with the people I love, and not dragging the ‘unforgiven’ people with me like a weight on my heart.

 

It’s something to think about, and it is a big subject. We all have people we need to forgive, for big and small hurts and ‘crimes’ against us. And when we are finally able to forgive them, and set that burden down, the thanks and the gratitude are that much sweeter…..and I’m VERY grateful that there is no one on my list that I need to forgive 490 times!!!! Once or twice will do me just fine,thanks!!!

 

Have a wonderful week, full of peace and joy, and happy things. Lots of happy things, and may all your burdens be light!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

10/28/19, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 28, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and some good things happened. I actually had a very good week. I finished a new book I’m REALLY happy with, it was challenging to write and one of those books that just flowed (which you can never predict!! The ones I think will be easy nearly kill me, and the ones I dread just roll out like a red carpet sometimes). This one really spoke to me, so it went well and I really enjoyed it. (And if you want to see me typing, check out the short video on my Instagram (at ‘officialdaniellesteel’). It’s a funny little video of me pounding away on my vintage typewriter). So the book went well, I spent a really lovely evening with a friend after I finished the book, and I treated myself to a day off on Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny day, I went for a walk, and then did some Christmas shopping I was happy with, then went to my favorite restaurant with an outdoor terrace, had a virgin Mojito and a snack, and enjoyed the people watching. It’s a busy restaurant, very trendy, with amazing people coming and going, in either very chic or very far out outfits. There was a very good looking Dutch couple on my right, we chatted for a little while, and two Russian girls to my left. The restaurant draws a very international crowd, and I love the outdoor terrace, dogs, people, sexy young women, tall beautiful models, the men they’re with. Lots to see. And then inevitably, I went home that night and did a little more work on the book I finished. It was a fun day.

 

On a more serious note, I am disturbed and worried and sad about the fires in Sonoma in California. The area was ravaged only last year, with so many homes lost and thousands of acres burned In Napa and Sonoma, and now there they are again. I hope the fires are contained soon. It’s becoming a yearly occurrence at this time of year, and tragic for so many.

 

And today begins one of my family’s favorite weeks—-not in a serious, meaningful holiday way like Thanksgiving or Christmas. But—it’s Halloween this week!!! And my family has always thrown themselves into it with delight and great creativity!!! We’ve had the usual witches with green faces, all the SuperHeroes, dogs, bears, bunnies, ghosts, they’ve gone as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator, Prince, Michael Jackson, rock and rap stars, Spiderman, Smurfs—–there’s no limit to what they’ve come up with, all the way into their teens and adulthood. Their Halloween costumes were a Major Topic of conversation for at least a month before. My favorite costume of mine was a Whoopee cushion costume (which will be on my Instagram this week). And one of my daughters really made me laugh a year or two ago when she dressed up as me for Halloween—-and she looked more like me than I do, in black turtle neck sweater, jeans, bracelets on both arms and two pairs of glasses on her head, her hair in a ponytail like mine, except hers is blonde not red. I thought it was very funny (and I’ll put that on my Instagram this week too—-as well as my Chihuahuas in costumes!!!)

 

I used to let each of my kids bring some friends (when you multiply that by 9 kids, that’s a LOT of kids), we had dinner first with “eyeballs” and glow sticks, and all the scary decorations, and then we headed out with their trick or treat bags, and walked our neighborhood, with all of them in their costumes, and then they would finally come home with their trick or treat bags full. And of course we did a haunted house in one room of our house every year, and they loved screaming their way through it. Really fun times!!  I’m not sure if any of them will dress up this year, or if they’re going to Halloween parties, they all have grown up jobs now and may not have the time for it. But we really had fun with it.

 

 

I hope you have a fun week—-that’s all treat and no trick!!! Have a great week!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

10/21/19, Healthy Living and Remodeled Cars

Posted on October 21, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and you’ve had some happy surprises, whatever they may be.

 

This has been one of my long travel weeks, involving several long plane trips, the usual delayed flights, long waits in security, and time on my hands, so I’ve had time to read magazines, and catch up on movies to help pass the time. I usually learn something new from the magazines, which this time led to some serious thought and musing about the times, and how things have changed. The most obvious change from my childhood and youth is that now everyone has a cell phone in their hand (my children literally sleep with their phones), and everyone texts instead of talking on the phone. Those who do talk on the phone do so with ear buds in their ears, talking loudly to themselves (or so it seems) walking down the street, and looking crazy. Personally, I hate texting, and miss the sound of a human voice. No one actually answers their phone, it all goes to voice mail, and they screen their calls.

 

Aside from the lightning speed of technology, the word one hears constantly now is ‘healthy’. And obviously, being aware of good health is a good thing. Everyone exercises, people count their steps, people look better, live longer, and it’s a good change—-within reason. I also find though that the word ‘healthy’ hides many things. I grew up on Hostess Twinkies (my favorite food at one time), cookies that had enough chemicals in them to preserve them into eternity, Wonder Bread (It still makes great French toast), and when I taught Sunday school, I bribed the children with candy until their parents picked them up. (And in Europe, I ate the equivalents, and ate and handed out lollipops) And I gave my children eventually chocolate flavored breakfast cereal, and sugar was considered okay. Children today get popsicles made of brussel sprouts and broccoli (I’m sorry…yerghk!!!), and fashionable young women live on Kale, which I admit that I hate. And most children in ultra-health conscious homes have never tasted sugar. I agree that my generation went overboard with the less healthy treats, but this one goes overboard too. And I find that ‘healthy’ is often a word used to hide ultra-low calorie, or no calorie foods for young women obsessed with their weight and are much too thin. What they mean is non-fattening and call it ‘healthy’. I’ve never had a problem with my weight, so it’s one battle I didn’t have to fight, and could even occasionally eat a donut (I wouldn’t dare today!!). And yes, we did and ate unhealthy things, and I’ve always been lazy about exercise except right after a baby, to get back to my normal weight. And I was lucky, I always bounced back pretty quickly. In contrast, all of my daughters go to the gym pretty much every day, and some get up at 4 am to go to the gym at 5 am, so they can exercise and be ready for work. I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to a gym at 5 am, or at any hour. I pay slight homage to the times with an exercise coach once in a while, not very often though. I’m lazy, and lucky, because my weight, on the low side, has stayed the same. And I try not to eat too much chocolate cake!!! I’m careful.

 

I find that not only do we eat better now, and exercise more in the US, but our exterior looks have become an obsession too. I was shocked to discover that young women in their 20’s are getting Botox shots now to get rid of signs of age—what age? At 22?? And assorted other shots and surgeries. In big cities, among sophisticated young women who can afford it, they are having countless shots, surgeries, electrical procedures, and treatments to improve their looks and combat the signs of age long before aging starts. They’re barely out of their teen age years when they start. I’m stunned by how much they do, and how early they do it. None of my daughters do, fortunately, but they do eat healthy and exercise a lot—–and I haven’t done anything in that vein (of surgery and shots), because not only am I lazy, but I’m a major coward. Having plastic surgery scares me to death!!! So I live with what nature hands out. I throw cold water on my face, and don’t look in the mirror too hard, and hope for the best.

 

And on my recent flight, I will confess to buying a magazine that told me how to look better naked. Not that I’m planning to walk down the street naked or have an audience, but for about 1 week a year I go to the beach, and don’t want to frighten the children (my own or other people’s). I expected to read about a few exercises I could do (maybe the week before my annual vacation), and found myself reading of surgical procedures I’d never heard of and couldn’t dream of. And by the time I finished reading the issue, I had lost all hope of ever looking decent in a bathing suit again, but somehow realizing how much people do, and the lengths they go to (not to mention the expense), I found it depressing that one has to fight THAT hard to look decent, and go to such extreme lengths to combat any sign of age and time on one’s body. I have to do ALL that? Wow, that is depressing, because I’m never going to have all that surgery. I’m just too chicken. It’s okay, I’ll wear a sweater or a coat to the beach next year. How far do we take this? How far are we willing to go? And what if it goes wrong? What if you don’t like your new face or body? I’ve kind of made friends with the old one, we’ve been together for quite a while. It just seems like we have to do SOOOOO MUCH now to stay in the game and look attractive, be healthy, and get all our steps in!!! Wow….it sounds like so much work, and what’s real in the end? What’s left of the original model? Not much in many cases. While claiming to be more genuine and more real and more honest and even liberated today, are we becoming Barbie dolls, by replacing all the moving parts, and attacking every inch of ourselves, with a shot, an electrical jolt, or the knife?? Is this really better?? Maybe I’m making excuses for my own cowardice, but suddenly it all seems so false. And at a certain point, gravity gets us all. Things are a little less extreme in Europe, but it’s happening there too. I suspect that every woman I know even in Europe gets shots of some kind in their face, from their early 20’s on. And many do a lot to their bodies too. It started with liposuction, and has gone way, way beyond that.

 

It somehow reminded me old cars that are being restored. I’ll bet that I don’t know a single woman of any age who isn’t doing something, at least shots if not surgery, and many of them surgery, to alter their looks. I don’t like getting older either, and no one hates birthdays more than I do, but somehow I think it’s sad if we have to have surgery, shots, and all those treatments to ‘stay in the game’, whatever the game is. I’ll bet there are damn few natural women left in the world. What about feeling good about who we are, where we are (within reason), without surgery?? It’s a novel idea these days. And something to think about. The Millennials have a firm grip on the world these days, and are getting a jump start on fighting age. Healthy is good, but I don’t want to have a year of surgery for my one week at the beach every year. It’s all pretty scary, and a mass panic (anti-age creams by big name brands cost $600. and $700. I’m probably ridiculous, but I’d rather buy shoes).

 

Anyway, you won’t be seeing me run down the street naked anytime soon. I refuse to eat Kale (it tastes like rubber to me), and I’ll do some exercise, but I have no idea how many steps I take. I can still make it to my typewriter, and chase after my millennial children, and 5 dogs, and publish 7 books a year. Do I really have to have shots and surgery too, or will I look older than King Tut because I don’t? So far, I’ve avoided the knife and the shots(out of pure cowardice more than moral strength), and people aren’t screaming when they see me. I just think it would be nice if we could preserve some of the original model, and not trade it all in for new parts, like an old car being turned into a new one. So far I’m holding out for the original me, and I may wind up being the last woman on the planet to do so.

 

Stay tuned…..and have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

10/14/19, Barnes and Noble Q and A

Posted on October 14, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you and that you’re busy and happy and things are going well.

 

I recently did this Q and A for Barnes and Noble, about my work, and my new hardcover “Child’s Play” which came out last week. I hope you’ll enjoy this interview too!!! Click here to read the interview.

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

 

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10/7/19, “A Little Crazy”

Posted on October 7, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week—-no bumps and all smooth sailing, with some fun thrown in for good measure. I worked hard this week, and worked straight through two nights in a row….so I’ve been busy (on new books!!).

 

Two things caught my attention this week, in a lighter vein, which make me wonder if the constant stresses we all deal with have made us hungry for almost anything to distract us. It’s hard not to take life too seriously with the pressures we are under, the uncertainties in the world—-we definitely need more humor in our everyday lives, and some people go to great lengths to find distraction and achieve it.

 

A friend told me this week that their new passion is “Escape Rooms”—–a while back I told you about “break rooms”, where people pay a small amount to smash a room full of old TV sets, dishes, and assorted breakables to get out their hostilities (better that than a mass shooting). Now apparently “Escape Rooms” are the new fad. Apparently, there is a theme, either horror or murder. There’s a ‘story line’—-someone is out to get you. You can go through the Escape room with up to four people, you get locked in, in the dark, and then have to escape a ‘murderer after you with an axe’, or a ghoul of some kind. You have an hour to “escape”, and you spend an hour scared out of your wits, running away from whoever is out to get you. It sounds crazy, but the people who do it love it and rave about it. I think I would have nightmares for a month, and trying to get out of a locked, dark space, with someone chasing after me would totally terrify me. Imagine doing that for fun, and paying for it. But maybe it’s better than crying over your taxes, moaning over your bills, fighting with your boyfriend or worrying about your kids. Trying to escape a man with an axe would definitely be a distraction!!! So that’s the latest fad. I am DEFINITELY not brave enough to do that. It sounds like kind of an abbreviated more terrifying version of the murder mystery weekends people were doing for a while, trying to figure out who the murderer is. Apparently “Escape Rooms’ are great stress relievers, although I think it would stress me more than real life!!!

 

The other story that caught my attention this week is another modern day phenomenon, and I’m not sure whether to be shocked or amused by it. I’ve often told you about the Paris fashion shows, which people in the fashion world in Paris, Milan, London, and New York, take VERY seriously. Fashion is big business today, and there is a lot of glamour, excitement and sophistication associated with it, and people beg to go to the fashion shows during fashion week. All of the shows are by invitation and the invitations are extremely hard to come by. And the Chanel ready to wear show in Paris is about as big and glamourous as it gets, as I’ve described to you before.

 

Well, this week, during the Chanel show, a young 28 year old comedian who considers herself a “Professional Crasher” somehow got into the building (the Grand Palais) where the fashion show takes place, she wore an old Chanel suit of her mother’s, a hat and platform shoes, and hopped onto the runway, and joined the parade of models walking down the runway. She was immediately observed, stunned the crowd, and marched right along like one of the models, until one of the models stopped her (the security men didn’t know what to do and were afraid to disrupt the show). Gigi Hadid, a famous model, blocked the crasher, I think 3 other models joined in, and they hustled her backstage and got her off the runway. The fact that she pulled it off at all is amazing, and I don’t know what the consequences were. (You can see the event on YouTube, Paris Crasher crashes Chanel fashion show, or something to that effect). Apparently she was vastly amused at the stunt, has crashed other events, and someone else crashed another show in Paris last week. Apparently the Chanel crasher decided that we all take fashion too seriously so she added some levity to it. It certainly must have been disruptive, and part of me is shocked—-but maybe this is how people are responding now to frightening world news, mass attacks, and all the things that frighten and worry us in today’s world, from climate change to how to protect our children in an increasingly dangerous world. Maybe that opens the door to people doing some seriously crazy stuff just for amusement’s sake, to take our minds, and theirs, off the serious stuff. No one was injured, she wasn’t protesting anything, she had no message to share, she just wanted to get on the runway of the Chanel show and to see if she could do it—-and she did.

 

I was editing one of my upcoming books this weekend, and came across something I wrote in the book: “No dream is too big if you believe in it. You can do anything you want if you try hard enough.” They seem like wise words—I’m usually wiser in my books than I am in real life. But it’s something to think about. And in the same book, “you have to be a little crazy in life”. There seems to be a lot of that around these days!!!

 

Have a great week—–not too crazy, but safe, happy, productive, and fun!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

9/30/19, Deadliest Summer

Posted on September 30, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’ve been busy, with fall projects in full swing, and deep in writing mode.

 

I was in New York to see my daughters last weekend, and was shocked to read a cover story on the New York Times, written by Mitch Smith. Whatever one’s beliefs, religious convictions, or none, or political interests or not, or affiliations, from a purely human point of view, the article was shocking in the simplicity and direct hit of facts it listed. It stunned me into silence, no morning chit chat is possible with an article like that in hand. The list of tragic facts was chilling, and has weighed on me since I read it. The subject is not new to any of us, but the increase in violence this summer is heart breaking, and deserves a great deal of thought, and some comment.

 

The article informed us that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, almost exactly 3 months, there were 26 mass shootings in the US. 126 people died and dozens more were injured. If you average it out, that’s approximately one mass shooting every three days. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 90 years old. And I read somewhere else that the shooters ranged from 14 to someone in their 60’s. The article also stated that “in three out of four of the deadliest killings, military style weapons were used.” And “all of the suspects were male”, in each case the authorities identified a suspect. (And I believe that in several cases, the killers killed themselves after shooting their victims, and in more than half the mass killings, the shooter killed a family member or previous love interest, so there was a personal element as well, while innocent victims got caught in the cross fire and were killed too).

 

Twenty six mass shootings this summer. One every three days. The shootings are unpredictable, they happen in churches, in schools, on the street, in public places, in homes. Some seem meticulously planned, others appear to be an instantaneous loss of control or sanity, and they then kill innocent victims. Terrorism entered our lives with 9/11, political in goal and intent, the American public became the victims of a previously unseen enemy on their own turf. Eighteen years later, buying groceries has become high risk, going to a sports event or a concert perhaps unwise, just walking down the street, or going shopping can lead to one’s death. There is no way to predict who is safe and who isn’t. We’ve heard teenagers address us after their schools were attacked, we’ve seen the bodies of kindergartners covered with tarps after a rampage at their school. The weapons are an issue, but there is so much more involved here. In fact, none of us are safe. It could happen to you or me, or our children, or any of our loved ones, today, or three days from now, in the next killing spree. What has happened to us—-both to the shooters and the rest of us? As we stand by, and watch disturbed individuals shatter lives and families. How have we degenerated to such a degree that 26 mass shootings in a 3 month summer is something we live with, accept, and know will happen again tomorrow and the next day.

 

There is indeed terrorism in Europe, it’s almost always political. But what’s happening in the US has a different feel to it—there is a random quality to it, it is expected and almost casual. We go on after each killing and nothing changes. And we know it will happen again. People in Europe talk about how dangerous the US has become, and living in both places, I have to agree. I try to stay out of the obviously dangerous places where terrorists might strike in Europe, big gathering places: sports stadiums, movie houses, night clubs, I stopped going to big churches for a while, and only went to small neighbourhood ones. Terrorism has impacted all of us when we travel, as we stand on long security lines at the airport waiting to be searched. But the violence we live with now is more of an everyday occurrence. We are in danger when we walk down the street, when we buy a loaf of bread, when we stop in a supermarket to buy a magazine, in a small store or a big one, we can be killed anywhere, or the child we love whose hand we are holding. Children have drills now to prepare them if someone enters their school to kill them. We’ve all seen it and read about it.

 

The reality of the situation is overwhelming. Truly. The faces of the dead in the newspapers are all too real. Religious people pray about it, politicians talk about it, frightened parents talk to each other and hope their children won’t be the next victims. New laws are discussed, and old ones are supported. Both sides of the political argument cancel each other’s voices out, and no solution comes. What are we going to DO about it? Are we going to do anything? Will we and our children ever be safe again on our streets and in our grocery stores, at the post office, or in an airport. Where are we safe now? And will we ever be again?

 

In Smith’s article, Rev Renard D. Allen jr, a pastor in Dayton Ohio is quoted as saying, “The world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence.” that’s a damning statement for and about all of us.

 

I think we all have some serious thinking to do about how to change our world, how to be safe, how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, how to change what has become so commonplace and made it the deadliest summer. We will need wisdom, courage, patience and strength to make the changes that will make us safe again. We need to be fully awake to the dangers we live with now every single day. And I pray that a summer like this will never happen again.

 

 

Have a safe week,

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Current Events, Kids | 3 Comments

9/23/19, Downton Heaven

Posted on September 23, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. Mine had some ups and downs. My son Nick’s anniversary date is always a hard challenge and a hard day, but even the hardest things we face bring some blessings with them. I spent the day and the weekend with two of my daughters (and spoke to all my other children in other cities a lot). And I had a really lovely, heartwarming time with my two girls, with quiet dinners, some relaxing time, playing with our dogs, brunches and lunches, and beautiful late summer weather. It was just lovely to be with them, and a very special treat on Saturday afternoon!!! We went to see the new movie of Downton Abbey!!! And oh Wow!!! WHAT A TREAT!!!

 

We all have our addictions, some of them relatively harmless. I do enjoy fashion, and shopping, watching the latest fashion shows, and have a weak spot for shoes!!! I love bittersweet chocolate, and always have a bar in my purse for when I skip a meal, which I do when I’m running around or too busy to stop for lunch. I love dogs, and adore my three. I enjoy boats—-not an addiction, but I love time spent on the water. I love the ocean and the beach. And I fell in love with the TV series Downton Abbey from the first time I saw it.  Someone gave me a DVD of the first season as a Christmas gift, when it started. I put it in my DVD player with no great interest, but it was a cold snowy day, and I was between books—-and I emerged 8 hours later, dazzled by it. I had watched the whole season at one sitting—-binge watching. It was the beginning of a major love affair for the next 6 years. I have all the DVD’s and have watched them a million times, particularly favorite episodes. It eventually became a real addiction. It was an agonizing wait from the end of one season till the beginning of the next. I got a friend in England to send me the DVDs of a new season when they came out, the DVD’s in Europe are different than in the US, and I couldn’t wait for the American version to come out, so I’d get the English ones months earlier and play them in Paris, and eventually dedicated a laptop to European formats, so I could even watch them in the States. And when travelling, in desperation even watched Downton in Italian when I couldn’t get it on French TV.

 

I often tried to think of what I loved about it, and why I loved it so much. The characters in it, and the episodes, were beautifully written, and the characters were clearly defined. Hard things happened, but rarely really horrible things. A character went to prison (first Bates, and then his wife Anna, the valet and ladies’ maid in the show), but they were eventually freed and justice prevailed. You cared about the characters in the show, and came to love them. It was always clear who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys. Unlike real life, where sometimes we get fooled by people who appear well intentioned and aren’t. Family and family values are central to the story. Just about all of the characters have integrity, which I also think is very important. It was a glimpse into a long gone era of elegance and style. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and true to the era. SOOOO MUCH care went into each episode, and they were historically accurate. The era itself was fascinating, from the sinking of the Titanic (in the first episode), till about 1925. And the values of the characters were clear, the issues they dealt with were often things we deal with ourselves in everyday life even a century later (problems in a marriage, or with children, or external events which impact us). I loved the humor in it, and still quote the grandmother regularly. I love her outrageous side, and the character was an opportunity to express wisdom. “Marriage is a lonnnnggggg business, you’d better be sure you’re doing it with the right person”. And after you cried in an episode, you laughed. There were many sub plots in each episode, so you never got bored. I loved the growth and transformation of characters over the years (the son in law, Tom Branson, the chauffeur who married the youngest daughter), and even the mellowing of the originally subversive butler (Barrow). The characters are credible and lovable. I got attached to all of them. (And like all Downton addicts, I was crushed when Matthew died—-after a car crash, we saw him dead with blood gushing from his ear, and clutching to denial, I thought “maybe it’s a severe ear problem….he can’t be dead” but he was. And I was shocked and saddened again when Lady Sybil died in childbirth at 23, and the family’s grief was heart wrenching. And I was elated when Matthew finally married Lady Mary. I even loved the hairdos, which were accurate to the period too…..and the hats!!! Everything about the production was high quality from the first episode to the last. And Julian Fellowes wrote it brilliantly. I’ve watched some other series since and enjoyed them a lot, even historical ones, (Victoria, and The Crown), but nothing has captured my heart the way Downton did. I was crushed when the series ended—MUCH too soon for my taste. I wish they had gone well past 6 seasons. And I still watch favorite episodes from time to time.

 

So you can imagine my absolute delight when they announced a Downton movie—-and there is no one more critical than a fan who knows the material intimately. (It’s why I never write sequels to my books—-because comparisons can be so tough!!!) The movie opened in New York on Friday, and one of my daughters reserved seats at a really fun theater for Saturday, my other daughter had left on a trip by then. Four of my daughters are Downton addicts too. The seats in the theater were huge and comfortable, you could lean back, lie back, in utter comfort, with a blanket, food and drinks were served and complimentary popcorn!!! But the biggest treat of all was the movie—–and seeing all the characters we love on screen again. It lived up to every possible expectation, and more. Once again, brilliantly written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted. ALL of the characters were there, no one was missing (except those who had died many seasons before). It’s been a 2 or 3 year gap since the end of the last season, a long hungry wait for an addict———-but the movie is an absolute feast of delight, utterly satisfying. You know everything that has happened in the meantime. It was like coming home to a group of old friends. I wanted the movie to last forever, and they left enough story lines open so they could do another movie, and I hope they do!!! We left the theater totally content, having laughed and cried and loved every minute of it. I plan to get the DVD and watch it a million times. It’s a harmless addiction, which makes me so happy to indulge.

 

It was a few hours of sheer, total joy. I’m SO HAPPY they made the movie. It’s every bit as good as the series, everyone was terrific in it. And if you’re a Downton addict too, you’re going to absolutely LOVE it. And even if you’d never seen a single episode or season before, they are people to fall in love with, in a beautiful movie. My addiction has been fed again for now….WHAT A TREAT!!! I hope you see it and love it too. I can’t wait to see it again. I have friends in California who were waiting for it eagerly too, and friends in Paris who can’t wait to go when it opens this coming week. I’ll probably see it in all the cities I live in, and will wear the DVD to a nub when I get it. SHEER JOY!!! Have a great week, and if you need a cheerer-upper run to see the movie of Downton Abbey.

 

They hit one right out of the park—–again!!!

 

love, Danielle

9/16/19, Nick

Posted on September 16, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a fun week, or an interesting one. I’ve been busy with my usual September buzz and burst of energy after the summer, enjoying doing Instagram, writing the blog to you, working on new books, with a new book that just came out in hardcover 2 weeks ago, The Dark Side, which is a thriller, and an exciting book. I hope you love it!!! And have time to read it!!!

 

On the personal side, this is always a serious, quiet week for me, full of memories, introspection, quiet moments and tender thoughts of my son Nick.

 

Most of you know that he suffered from bi polar disease, which I suspected when he was two, was certain of by the time he was four, and at the time, the standard in psychiatry was not to diagnose the disease until someone was in their twenties. It was considered “early” when he was finally diagnosed at 15, and medicated at 16. Within weeks of medication, he said he felt normal for the first time in his life, and acted accordingly. Lithium was a miracle drug for him, and is often still prescribed today. Things are very different now, many years later, children are diagnosed and medicated as young as three. It’s believed now that if you are medicated later, the brain is affected from not being medicated sooner, and it is much harder to keep the disease in control than if you’re medicated as a young child. But no one knew that then, and I went from doctor to doctor, begging for help, which came too late for him. As with any disease, whatever it is, some people have wonderful results and survive and live well even with the disease, and others aren’t as lucky. There is an element of luck and destiny, as well as treatment.

 

Nick was an extraordinary person, all his life. He walked at 8 months, at a year he spoke in sentences in 2 languages. He was funny, charming, brilliant, talented in writing and music, he had an outrageous sense of humor, a remarkable mind. People with bi polar disease are often very talented, and so he was. At 16 and 17, he became the lead singer in a band which was on its way to success, toured nationally, had a following of young people (reggae and punk), had done several CD’s, and wrote the lyrics to his songs. He made an enormous impression on everyone he met, had a kind heart (did free concerts in homeless shelters), and was adored by his eight siblings, his father, and me. There are some people who are just very special, and he was one, he crammed an entire lifetime into 19 years, and his light burned so brightly that I suppose he wasn’t destined to live long.

 

He came home from a rigorous national tour, exhausted, and hit a low in his disease. His bi polar illness had been harder and harder to control with medication for the past year. At eighteen, he stopped taking his medication, thinking he was fine then, and made three suicide attempts, and at 19, he made the final one, and lost his lifelong battle with his illness. He really fought a noble fight to overcome it—–and many many people do survive with bi polar illness and lead good lives with treatment and medication. But we lost him at 19, by suicide, on September 20. His whole life was such a gift to us, and I am so grateful for every moment we shared. As someone said at the time, if love could have kept him alive, he would have lived 100 years. He was not destined to live a long life, but he lived a very productive one, and was happy much of the time, and spread joy everywhere. And he was immensely loved.

 

Losing a child is an enormous challenge, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child. But we must also remember that every moment with them is a gift. And not everyone is destined to live a long life, unfortunately. I wrote a book about him, to honor him, and share our experience with other people dealing with the disease, “His Bright Light”, the story of Nick Traina. We established a foundation in his name The Nick Traina Foundation to support organizations that offer hands on treatment to mentally ill people, both young people and adults, and we support organizations involved in suicide prevention. And a year after he died, I started a street outreach team to help the homeless, also in his name, because it was a cause he cared about a great deal too.

 

He was a wonderful person, an adorable boy, a great gift to all those who knew him (I still get letters from people who met him, even once, and said their lives were changed forever by him), and he was certainly a gift to his whole family, and to me.

 

The anniversary of the day he died is hard, but the overview of all of it is how blessed we were, how wonderful he was, and how lucky I was to know and love him and be loved by him. We were remarkably close because we went through so much together, and tried so hard to save him. He wrote me a wonderful letter before he left that made me laugh through my tears. He was unforgettable in so many ways.

 

So the 20th will be a bittersweet day, but I can only remember him now with love, joy and gratitude.

 

May his memory live forever, in my heart and yours.   Godspeed…..I love you, Nick, always and forever, “bigger than the sky”, as Nick used to say.  And may you be blessed, my faithful friends, who share these moments and memories with me.

 

I wish you a peaceful week,

 

love, Danielle

9/9/19, The Dark Side, Instagram, and Parties!!!

Posted on September 9, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great week since we last chatted. I’ve had an exciting week!!! My new book The Dark Side is on the New York Times bestseller list, high up on the charts—-thanks to YOU, my faithful readers for putting it there!! And my fairly recent new paperback, Turning Point, is still on the lists too after 6 weeks, since pub date.

 

And it’s always fun to try something new. I’ve been debating for a long time about doing Instagram, and I made a decision this summer to do it. And we’ve launched the Instagram, to give you some visual glimpses into various aspects of my life. The Instagram is listed as officialdaniellesteel. I hope you love it!!

 

And when I wasn’t going through photographs (of my dogs, kids, desk, typewriter, and a few other surprises) for my Instagram, I went to a terrific party this week. I don’t usually go to parties given by stores—-I’m at home, writing. But Hermes is a beautiful long-established French brand of beautiful leather goods as well as clothes (they started as a saddle maker many many years ago), and I have a soft spot in my heart for Hermes (I still have some of my grandmother’s beautiful Hermes bags, the brand is family-owned, and their craftsmanship is exquisite. Anything by Hermes is a treasure to cherish forever. I still have the Hermes black leather “Kelly” bag that my grandmother gave me for my 18th birthday!!!). And several years ago, they introduced a “Danielle Steel” bag which was a huge honor. It looked a bit like an old fashioned satchel, and had a secret compartment in the bottom. Very cool!!

 

Hermes has a tradition of giving a big fun party at the end of the summer, and they turn the store into a chic, fun “Playland for Adults”. There is no purpose to the party, other than for the guests to have a good time, relax, and enjoy themselves, with lots of food, drink, and entertainment. They held it on a balmy night and did an incredible job. I didn’t even recognize the store. It was beautifully decorated for the party. There were dancers in the windows looking onto the street, a bowling alley when you walked inside. There were lots of food, games of musical chairs all set up, a photo booth (I stopped to have my photo taken with a friend. And a beautiful roof top garden terrace, where many people congregated to sit and chat. The Champagne flowed, and it was easy to see that EVERYONE was having fun. I really enjoyed it, and stayed much longer than I expected to. I didn’t want to leave. It was really fun, and ‘free dress” prevailed.

 

So it was a fun week, and I hope you enjoy both the Instagram, and The Dark Side, the new book!!!  Have a great week ahead!!

 

love, Danielle