Archive for 2019

4/8/19, “I had a blast in LA!!” Again!!

Posted on April 8, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I just had the great pleasure of spending a weekend in LA with one of my daughters, to celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, with my rushed life of travelling between the two cities where I live, between writing deadlines, and another city where I spend about two months a year, I only get to LA about once a year, for my daughter’s birthday (and I see her in the cities where I live the rest of the year). Each time I go to LA, I remember what a fun city it is, and how much I enjoy visiting my daughter there, and I promise myself to visit there more often. But somehow with publishing 7 books a year, and all that goes with it, I never manage to get to LA more often—but wish I did. What a fun, lively, exciting happy city it is. The weather alone is enough to cheer you, when it’s still dismal winter everywhere else. I love the way the city looks, and the people always seem upbeat to me.

 

San Francisco has a certain casual austerity to it. Maybe it’s the weather, with gray foggy weather and a chill wind so much of the time. And New York is brutally cold so many months of the year. I love the way cities have a look, feel and personality all their own. LA just seems like a happy place to me—or maybe that’s just the fun I have with my daughter, which predisposes me to loving the place. The restaurants are great, and people REALLY try to look great—-maybe that’s due to the proximity of the film industry—but there are an awful lot of pretty people there. Lots of jeans, but bright colored shirts and clothes, women in sexy high heels running around town (and not just flip flops, or Uggs, or heavy snow gear, or just functional running shoes and yoga clothes all day long/ did they REALLY go to the gym or just wear the clothes?.) Lots of glitz and glamour, a lot of younger women with carefully done wild colored hair, many shades of pinks, some gorgeous mauves and purples, occasionally blue. The women wear makeup, and the men seem to pay more attention to how they look too. I always end up shopping there, and often buy things I can’t wear in very, very casual San Francisco, serious New York, and which they’d never understand in Paris. This time, I bought a wild shocking pink dress, a giant black suede purse, a great pair of combat boots I can wear in all my wintry cities, some good jeans (with a strawberry on the back pocket!!), and I wore a pair of light blue iridescent sequined jeans I haven’t been able to wear in any other city. The shopping is great in LA—the cultural side of life too. I had some interesting meetings, exploring film and TV options for my work. And the meetings in LA are fun too, and very creative.

 

I’m fascinated how different the cities are from each other. Las Vegas is a source of absolute fascination, with great shows and all the excitement around gambling (I’m not a gambler, but the people watching is unique!!). I’ve only been to Boston a few times, and liked it, it seems very traditional, historical, and solid. Miami always seems like a combination to me of LA and Las Vegas, double fun. San Francisco was long ago a very conservative, formal city, but The Flower children in the 60’s changed all that, and now it’s the most low key, informal city I know, and it’s still home for me for a few months a year. I’ve been to Chicago twice and loved it, it seemed like a mini New York, very chic and sophisticated and cosmopolitan. Washington DC has the underlying current and electricity of politics in a beautiful little city. I do love L.A.,  it seems light hearted (except for some very serious film work and opportunities there!!) and at times it feels like Disneyland for adults. And there is so much hope there among young people working in the film industry, or hoping to get in. And it is very different from Paris.

 

There are so many parts of this country that I haven’t seen and would love to visit. I’ve never been to Texas and would love to. I’ve only been to the South a few times, other than Miami. I have a deep love for Wyoming where I used to go with my children every year, the mountains there are magical and deeply spiritual, it is powerful and peaceful in a very special way.

 

I hope I get back to LA again soon. It was a very, very fun three days, and energized me to start a new book!!!

 

Have a great week, wherever you are!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

4/1/19, Fragments and Renewal

Posted on April 1, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Today is one of those silly days that my kids used to use to torture me—-every year!!! April Fool. When they were little, their pranks and April Fool jokes were appropriately small scale, and as they got older, the jokes got worse, MUCH worse—-and I fell for it every time. When I’m working on a book, I’m usually so deep in the book, that I don’t even know what day, month or season it is, and am all wrapped up in the timing in the book. So it’s easy for me to forget, or not even know, it’s April Fool—-and my kids took full advantage of it. (If it’s Christmas in the book I’m writing, and it’s July in real life, when I finally get my nose out of the book, I’m surprised that there are no Christmas trees anywhere…..oops. And it’s really embarrassing to say to someone near at hand—uhhh, excuse me, what month is this? Or what year? I dated a check to the pharmacy 1914 once, while working on a book about World War 1. So I’m a prime target for April Fool jokes, with no idea that that’s what day it is!!) As my kids got older, they called to tell me they were in jail, got fired or kicked out of school, just got married at the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas (to someone totally unsuitable of course, that they had only met hours before), or were pregnant (and not married. I fell for that one every year, much to my children’s delight). They got me every time. But I’m braced for them this year—-and I know what day it is!!! Ha!!! So there!!!

 

On a more serious note, sometimes I do some religious reading, to clear my head, or help me find the answer to some problem I’m struggling to find a solution to, or an answer that eludes me. It’s not for everyone, I realize, but it helps me to problem solve when I’m really stumped. And recently, I was reading some passages that I find meaningful in The Bible. Some of the passages are particularly meaningful to me, and seem applicable to our ordinary lives. And while doing some reading, I came across the story about feeding a crowd of five thousand, with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Now that is a major culinary feat even greater than feeding my own small army of nine kids!!! What always jumps out at me in that story is the word “Fragments”, pieces. They didn’t even have five neat loaves of bread, and two whole fishes—they had fragments of them. Just pieces. It reminded me of my own life at times, when I have ‘pieces’ of what I need, but not the whole answer or solution to a problem. You sit there pondering your life, and think—-now what am I going to do with this mess?? With not enough of anything you think you need. For me, the story is about making do with what you’ve got, and somehow making it work, if at all possible, with not enough money, or not enough time, or just no obvious answer to a problem. It’s about being ingenious and somehow making it work. In the Bible, they fed five thousand people with ‘fragments’ of too little that they had in the first place. And how often are we faced with having ‘fragments’ of what we need, and not enough whole anything to go around? It happens to us all in some way, we desperately want a promotion, and a raise—-and we get one or the other, or neither one. They offer you a terrific new title, but no more money. Or the money, and not the glory of the new title you deserve. Or we’re looking for a new home, with our own set ideas and real needs, we need so many bedrooms, have definite ideas about what neighbourhood works best for us, and is okay, maybe a garage or some parking space, and then we add the cherry on top in our dreams, and would love to have lots of light so it’s cheery, and maybe we throw in a fireplace, and a view. And of course we only find part of what we want, and less than what we think we need. The place you find is bright and cheerful and light, but doesn’t have enough bedrooms, or is in an iffy neighbourhood, too far from where you work. Or there is a view, but the kitchen is smaller than a phone booth, and so few bedrooms you’d have to give up half your kids (just kidding). Or only one bathroom for all of you. We get fragments of what we need, and have to figure out if we can make it work, and what really matters to us, and what can we give up, and if we want to. It happens in relationships too, the person you love has some fantastic traits, but also some really unfortunate ones. Can you make it work with that combination of traits? Do they have only fragments of what you need in a partner, enough to make a life with them? Should you settle for less than what you want (and need)? Can you make it work? Fragments or the whole deal?? Life seems to be a series of compromises, and I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I have been faced with fragments of what I hoped for, and have to figure out how to make that work, or if I can. But it has been very rare in my life to get the whole enchilada on a silver platter. (Once in a great while, but not very often!!!). I like the reminder of the image of having to make life work when you only get fragments of what you wanted, or thought you couldn’t live without. Sometimes you can make some amazing adjustments to make the ‘fragments’ work and it turns out to be enough in ways you never expected, and sometimes you just can’t pull it off and shouldn’t even try. The challenges we all face one way or another.

 

The other concept that comes up in Christian religions at this time of year, which is my favorite, is the idea of “Resurrection”/Rebirth/Starting fresh/Starting new. The roof crashes down on us all at various times in our lives, we have a bad year, or even a bad run of years, the failure of a marriage, a business, a major loss, a huge disappointment, or a string of smaller ones, or bad health, or financial troubles. There are times when we have just been pummeled by life and feel as though we’re at the bottom of the barrel and will never get up again.  We feel dead. The idea that we can start again, start fresh, recover and be ‘resurrected’ gives me so much hope—that we can come out of those bad times and be ‘reborn’, maybe with some scars, but we are back in the game again. That idea has kept me going through some very hard times. Resurrection, more than any other religious concept, which applies to our lives, I really love that one.

 

So those are my deep thoughts for the day. I hope that you survive April Fool’s Day with a minimum of trauma—-and that your children are much less mischievous than mine!!!

 

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Family, Holidays | 6 Comments

3/25/19, School Days. Golden Rule Days.

Posted on March 25, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope that last week went well for you, and that some good things happened…..some nice surprises!!! I did one of my usual standard marathon times, travelling six thousand miles in three days to visit my children, dashing through three cities, from one of my home cities to the other. Fortunately, I sleep on planes, (and catch up on movies). Travelling can be very challenging, and I’m always grateful when it goes smoothly, without cancelled flights, long delays, or lost baggage.

 

And I had one of those “maturity-challenging” experiences, when I had dinner with my best friend, and he brought his puppy, an adorable little dog, and we were talking animatedly (with the puppy and one of my favorite purses I’ve had for years, wear often, and love, were under the table, and a man at the next table said, “Excuse me, the dog under the table is eating your purse”. Ugh. Sure enough, the puppy was happily chomping away on my purse, and when I rescued it, I saw that the puppy had made two holes in my purse. Boo Hoo!!) I know it sounds silly, but I was very sad about it. If that’s the worst that happens to me, I’m a lucky woman!!! I’ve had worse of course, we all have, but I do like that purse a lot. It’s a favorite (and I’ve managed to keep my daughters from stealing it for years!! They like it too!!). The next day, I went to four repair places, hoping to get it fixed, but they all told me it was irreparable. I love my friend dearly, like a brother, so I wasn’t mad at him, and the puppy is so cute, so it was just one of those things you have to be a good sport about. I wasn’t mad, just REALLY disappointed—-so if you ever see me wearing a green purse with two holes in it, and think ‘what’s wrong with her?? Why is she wearing a purse with two holes in it? You’ll know why. I was very grown up about it!! I didn’t cry, I didn’t get mad at the friend or the puppy. Things happen. Occasionally, the price of friendship—-and new puppies—is high!!! But my friend is much more important to me than an old purse, and the puppy is just a baby. Oh well……

 

Last week was an important week for many kids and parents in the US. A VERY stressful week for kids seeking to enter private high schools, and all universities, when acceptance letters landed in trembling hands. An important turning point for kids and parents alike. Setting aside the current college scandal in the US—–which in a distant way, I can understand people’s desperation to help their kids faced with the academic pressure cooker and high anxiety of a situation you are helpless to make better for them—-but losing their ethics, creating a situation where you break rules and laws, and ultimately sacrifice your child’s well being, set them an appalling example, and some parents have been arrested and will go to prison—-that I do NOT understand, nor the people who made money preying on those parental anxieties and misguided efforts to help their kids. (It has been recently revealed that some parents with a lot of money, paid dishonest well placed employees at some universities to falsify records, and manipulate results, so that some college applicants were able to get into colleges they couldn’t have been able to get into fairly. The whole sordid scandal has been exposed in recent weeks. Those kids won’t get into the desired schools of course, and both the parents involved and the people who took the money at the schools, are being prosecuted, and many will go to prison). In most cases, or maybe even all, the students had no idea what their parents had done, and wound up as the victims of terrible judgement and ethics on the part of their parents. It must have been a crushing blow to the kids. The whole thing is terribly wrong, and really sad, for the kids mostly, and the whole thing is really shocking.

 

But back to ‘normal’ kids and families who spent last week waiting for admission results to high school and college, for those who went the traditional, honest route to get in. Getting into school at any level is fraught with tension and uncertainty these days. It always was, but with fewer places available, and more students, there is tremendous competition now for everything from kindergarten to college. Parents can think of nothing else, futures are decided and affected by the results, and kids are nervous, stressed, and groomed, tutored, coached, helped, encouraged, threatened, and desperate to get into their first choice schools, and often convinced their lives will be ruined forever if they don’t get in. They take extra classes to help them pass standardized tests, and there is just an incredible amount of stress and tension waiting for the results, and a huge amount of pressure on the kids. And last week, all of those 8th grade and High School seniors got the results, some with shouts of joy, others with tears and sinking hearts. Some were wait listed at their favorite schools, which will prolong the agony for several months, maybe with good results in the end.

 

I have a theory about those results (first of all, that many parents put way too much pressure on their kids. There are lots of people who are successful in their lives, have great lives and careers, who did not get into their first choice colleges—-and some who didn’t go to college at all, or not particularly great schools. Your life is what you make of it, and what school you do or don’t go to isn’t everything in life. It matters, but not always as much as we think, and sometimes not at all.) My theory about it is that we are always, or almost always in our right place. The school we think is The Only One, and the right one sometimes isn’t, and sometimes NOT getting into that school is a bigger blessing—what the French call ‘un mal pour un bien’, a bad thing which turns out to be a good thing, even a great thing. We don’t know the blessings that will unfold, or the unexpected circumstances we can’t foresee, which turn out to be absolutely the best possible result that could have happened (which you may not even realize until years later, looking back). There is fate involved here, destiny, and things we just don’t know. So if you, or your child didn’t get into the high school or college of your choice last week, it could turn out to be the best possible thing that could have happened. So what looks like a disappointment could turn out to be the greatest opportunity of all!!!

 

And I can’t let today go by without mentioning that last Friday, March 22nd, was the third anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Brussels airport, where thirty two people died, and an enormous number injured. It was a family event for us, my nephew’s daughter was at the airport on that day, was nearly killed, and lost both legs at seventeen—-as you may remember. I can tell you now that after close to a year in the hospital, and many, many operations, and wonderful rehab, and the fact that she is an Incredible Remarkable, Fabulous girl—-since that day, she has graduated from high school, is attending college now, had rehab at the Navy Seals rehab facility, as  the victim of a terrorist attack (and her mother is American)—-and she is back in training (she was an Olympic class rider, which is her passion), and she is currently training and qualifying for the Paralympics, on the Equestrian team. She is mind-blowingly brave and fabulous, with more courage than anyone I know. So I had to acknowledge that date. It’s a day we will never forget, and should be remembered, for the brave people who survived it, and those who lost their lives.

 

So have a great week, a safe, healthy, happy, fruitful, fun exciting one!!!!

 

all my love, Danielle

 

 

PS, Dear Christine thank you for your beautiful comment about your mother, and the passage from my book, which meant so much to her. Thank you with all my heart for sharing it, it means a great deal to me, and I’m glad the book meant a lot to her. Our journeys are all dark at times, it’s the nature of Life. We live for the good times, and live through the hard times and survive them. And dark things happen to us all. I’ve had my share of them too. Somehow we get through them, and they make us deeper and better—not easily but they do, and the good times are more powerful than the bad. I’m so sorry you lost your Mom, and thank you for reading the piece of my book.

 

And to Patricia, my very deepest sympathy about your son. Whatever age we lose a child at, it’s an almost unbearable loss, that somehow we have to live through, and still find meaning and joy in life. My heart goes out to you. I lost my son Nick at nineteen. He will be forever missed, loved and remembered. I often laugh when I think of him now, and remember some of the ridiculous, silly, and funny things he did (he did a lot of them). I hope that time will be gentle with you, and you will find some peace and meaning in the loss, from the love you shared with him. I send you both my love.

 

Please know that I cherish your comments and messages. I read them all, even if I usually don’t comment on them. My blessings, love, and prayers to you both.  D.

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids | 4 Comments

3/18/19, Dazed but not confused

Posted on March 18, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, which I can lay no claim to, having no Irish relatives at all.  But if it’s your holiday, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

 

The riots in Paris are continuing and getting worse again, with stores destroyed, vandalized and looted—innocent stores like women and children’s clothing stores and the Disney store on the Champs Elysees. The city continues to live in fear on Saturdays, and the destruction continues. Violence is never the answer to anything and is disheartening to see.

 

I have done nothing but write for the last 10 days, and I’m happy with what I’m working on. I was working very closely on two books, and have really had fun with them. I hope you’ll love them too once they’re out.

 

My new book, Silent Night, is out and doing well, about Brain Injury. I hope you’ll read it and love it too, there’s some very good research in that book.

 

And when I work this hard writing, I work straight through most nights until 5 and 6 am, then I don’t do much else and am just on a constant cycle of writing, a few hours’ sleep, and then more writing—-so I’m not very interesting when I come up for air, and am a little dazed.

 

I saw my God children last night, which is always fun for me. And I hope to see some friends for lunch and dinner this week—-and to catch up on some fun things to tell you. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, work hard and have some fun!!!

 

much love, Danielle

3/11/19, Gentle Winter, Sweet Farewell

Posted on March 11, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you. I’ve been crazy busy, with re-writes, outlines, working on new books for you!! I thoroughly enjoyed a two week visit from my 3 daughters who work in fashion, and it was sheer heaven having them under my roof for two weeks, overlapping each other, while they worked on fashion week in Paris. They worked hard and so did I, and I had a two day photo shoot for the photographs on the back of my books. We do a new photo for each book, and put a lot of thought into it. The shoot itself was a lot of work, with a wonderful French photographer (who does all my book cover photos), her big team, my hairdresser and makeup artist, my two assistants to keep everyone fed and organized, and one of my daughters helped me pick what to wear, and helped on the set of the shoot. We all had fun, even though it’s exhausting getting it all right.

 

And I had a VERY special experience last week, which moved me deeply. As many/most of you know, I go to all the Chanel fashion shows, both ready to wear and Haute Couture. It is a joy to see the talent of Karl Lagerfeld, the designer for Chanel, on glorious display with a parade of gorgeous models walking down the runway in his fabulous creations. And the sets designed for each show are amazing. (I’ve told you about the rocket ship, which appeared to lift off after one show, the iceberg that was flown in from Sweden for another show, and flown back to its natural habitat after the show, beach scenes, and tropical gardens, a ‘Supermarket” which was great fun, an old style Paris cafe. )It is always exciting and fun to see what the setting will be at the newest show.

 

As I mentioned to you, Karl Lagerfeld passed away recently, less than two weeks ago, at 85, after a brief illness, and he worked to the very end. He was, without question, a genius, he designed all the Chanel collections every year, also designed for Fendi, and for his own label, and was a professional photographer. He was like a volcano or an avalanche of talent, spilling over, with wonderful ideas, a never ending flow of inspiration, and a man of huge energy and unlimited creativity. I admired him so much, and everyone’s reaction to his passing, whether they knew him or not, was one of great sadness. He is a tremendous loss to the world of fashion, and the world.

 

Although he couldn’t have suspected it when he designed his last show, that he would no longer be among us, when it was shown on the runway—-the clothes were particularly beautiful, and almost ‘serious’, with a lot of black and white, beautiful tweeds and checks, some beiges, a great fuchsia outfit, and the end of the show was a series of beautiful white outfits, which somehow reminded me of doves flying into the sky, or angels. And the setting for the show (of clothes for winter 2019) was equally perfect: a ski village in the Alps, an exquisite snow scene, with cozy wooden ‘chalets’ lining the runway, with smoke curling from the chimneys, and snow EVERYWHERE, and photographs of the mountains under a blue sky. Everywhere one walked, when one arrived for the show was covered with ‘snow’, it looked and felt like snow, except that it wasn’t wet, and was some sort of finely cut artificial substance, which looked exactly like snow all around us, on the ground, on the wooden houses, in the trees. It felt like snow when you walked on it and somehow seemed like the perfect scene for Karl Lagerfeld’s last show. The winter of his life, his final presentation to his admirers and adoring fans and clients, deep in pure white snow, with the mountains around us, and a bright blue sunny winter sky. It was absolutely gorgeous, and so were the clothes. And as I said, the clothes were serious, beautiful, a fantastic final gift and memory from Karl.

 

With deep respect from all of those who were lucky enough to be invited, the show began with a long moment of silence. And after that, over the loud speaker came a brief conversation with Karl during an interview. It was touching to hear him speak, his voice so clear and decisive, so distinctive, and then the show began with serious music, and all of us riveted to hear his voice, and see the show, and it was all so beautiful on a crisp winter morning, with artificial snow beneath our feet and all around us which seemed totally real. At the end of the show, the models came back down the runway, as they always do, but without Karl this time. I was at the last Haute Couture show only a month ago, which was beautiful too, and it was the first time Karl didn’t appear to take a bow, which shocked and saddened us all, and now only a month later, he is gone. It seemed unimaginable. People stood to applaud the show, the memory of Karl, and the collection. It got a standing ovation, as the models cried as they walked down the runway, and so did most people in the audience (including Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer, the famous models), and so did I. It was so beautiful and so incredibly moving. We all continued applauding for a long time, even after the models had gone backstage. We stood there in the snow, each of us knowing that we would never forget that moment, or the show, or the snow everywhere, as we stood in front of the little chalets, under a blue sky, remembering a man who will never, ever be forgotten, and has left a legacy that is beyond understanding, with such enormous genius and talent. It was a perfect send off in the beautiful set, with his beautiful clothes on the runway, for his last collection that he designed. And then slowly, finally, we left the snowy white winterland which is where we said our last goodbye to him, each of us taking our memories with us. I will never forget that show, or the times I met him. None of us will ever forget the final goodbye to him in the snow, and many people were still crying as they left, and so was I. It was incredibly touching, so gentle, and so right on that sunny winter day in the snow….we bid our last farewell to Karl, and will treasure the memories he left us. May he sleep in peace forever, after all the joy he gave us…..it was a sweet farewell to an amazing man. I will remember it forever.

 

 

Have a great week, beloved friends, love, Danielle

 

 

ps. I just did a Podcast interview with Barnes and Noble—–here’s the link in case you’d like to listen to it.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/danielle-steel-podcast

love, Danielle

3/4/19, Rainy Sunday

Posted on March 4, 2019

 

Hi everyone, I hope it was a good week for you!!!

 

I’ve been running in ten directions all week, occasionally riding the wave of fashion week!! I went to two fashion shows this week. Everyone in the fashion world is talking with great regret about the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, the legendary designer of Chanel (please see last week’s blog!).

 

I went to two fashion shows in the last week, each of them VERY different from the other. One was for a brand called Altuzarra, which was very fun and kicky and young, with soft feminine clothes, lots of printed chiffons, with leather jackets, and some pretty coats. It has a jazzy, sexy flavor to it. And the other was at the other extreme, very, very very chic, elegant beautifully designed clothes by Hermes. Altuzarra was more playful, Hermes deals with a different customer, and the clothes were just beautiful, a lot of coats, and leathers since Hermes is primarily a leather craftsman, and there were gorgeous suedes and leathers in the show, in natural earth tones. It was very elegant. And both were in interesting locations. Altuzarra was at the Potoki  Hotel , an absolutely beautiful structure, (previously a home), I kept staring at the moldings, high ceilings, and all the details of what was once a spectacular home.  And the Hermes show was at the horse guards’ stables, and the show was very dramatically lit and impeccably organized. And the models were unusually beautiful!!!

 

I had fun at both shows. And the Altuzarra show was special for me, since one of my daughters organized it. Paris had beautiful spring weather this week. I’m sure we’ll get another blast of winter before it’s all over. Spring can’t be over this early, although I’d love that. I’ve been enjoying time with my daughters, although they’re very busy, working.

 

You must think that going to fashion shows is all I do—-which isn’t the case, I still have to work, a million hours a day (and night), working on the books. But I must admit, it’s fun fantasizing about the pretty clothes, and some really knock out looks. Watching the video of a fashion show is great distraction when I finish some part of a book and finish my days at 4am.

 

The rest of the time, I’ve been working. So, see you next week when I have lots more to report on.

 

much love, Danielle

 

2/25/19, Extraordinary Karl Lagerfeld

Posted on February 25, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great week since we last “met” here on my blog a week ago. I look forward to reading your comments at the end of my blogs. And I try to share with you things that matter to me, I discover, or that I’m doing or care about, or people that I meet whom I find interesting. It’s a peaceful moment in my week when I chat with you.

 

I will confess to you as I write to you this week that I am very sad. The world lost a true genius last week, a truly extraordinary man of immense talent.  Four weeks ago, I wrote to you about the Chanel Haute Couture fashion show in Paris, which I’ve often written to you about before. I go to that show twice a year faithfully, and to the Chanel ready to wear show once a year. It’s usually the only fashion show I go to, and it’s always a thrill. I mentioned to you in my blog afterwards that Karl Lagerfeld the designer for Chanel of the past 35 or so years, always appeared after the show to take a bow, and this time, for the first time, an announcer said after the show that Mr. Lagerfeld was “tired’, and sent us all his greetings. He was of a considerable age (85), somewhat frail by now, and frankly, his schedule would have left any of us not just tired, but exhausted. He designed all the Chanel ready to wear collections, which are larger than any other brand, and the Haute Couture collection—-all of that would be work for ten men, not just one. At the same time, he was the designer for Fendi, had his own brand, was an avid and talented photographer, produced some films, wrote some books. He lived life to the fullest, and expressed his HUGE talent in countless ways, right to the very end. He wore a white pony tail with a black ribbon as in the ‘Olden days”, high starched collars, tail coats, he was a legend, a Huge Persona, a genius, and truly an icon of the fashion world. His not appearing for his bow after the show seemed worrisome and even ominous to everyone at the show when they made the announcement, and everyone filed out in total silence, saying not a word, as it occurred to each of us that one day Karl would no longer be here. It seemed unimaginable, and we all hoped that he would be back in good form soon. And now, four weeks later, he is gone.

 

As an aside, it has been a hard, odd winter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of so many people I know who died as in the past few months, people of all ages, which makes you stop and think. I had a huge loss last summer when my beloved friend Hubert de Givenchy, the famous fashion designer, passed away at 91. As sad as I was, and I was very sad, he was a wonderful friend and also an immense talent and a truly lovely, lovely person, a great and noble man—–somehow at 91, I can almost accept that that is the way of life and the world, and if they led a full life, it’s almost tolerable. Shortly after, last summer, I lost a beloved brother in law, who had been my big brother since I was 16, but he was much older than I, well into his eighties, so again, I accepted the hand fate dealt. In September, a really lovely friend, full of life and vital, and also a remarkable human being, fell ill for a short time, and was given a medication which gave him cardiac arrest from a reaction and he died at 62. Shocking. I was reeling from that. And as winter came, a friend lost her father, another friend lost his amazingly perky adorable 107 year old grandmother—-again at that age, it’s hard to argue about it.  And I heard of others whom I knew, but not that well. And then suddenly over Christmas a great friend passed away, also in his 80’s, and then a couple I know died in a tragic accident at Christmas—-one of those dreadful things you read about that should never happen, their Christmas tree caught fire 2 days before Christmas, they were trapped in the blaze, and died in the fire, a true tragedy. And then only weeks later, I was told that two of my San Francisco neighbors had died, one at 64, the other at 76. In today’s world of modern medicine and great health care, people live so much longer that a death at 60 shocks us, and in someone’s 70’s seems premature. And so many people are vital and still involved in life in their 80’s (I know so many creative people still working full steam ahead in their 80’s), that that shocks me a bit too. And I was notified last week that Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, died too. Too many people. And now Karl, which is a huge blow to the world of fashion, and the world.

 

Karl Lagerfeld was truly one of the most talented people I have ever known. He had a genius for fashion, a great eye, a touch of humor, he didn’t take it too seriously, he was a commercial genius, an artist, an icon, a legend. Truly, he was a HUGE persona, he left a mark on fashion that will last forever, like Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent and Cristobal Balenciaga.

 

What always impressed me about him was his enormous energy. Designers groan at cranking out 2 to 4 collections a year. He did 6 or 7 a year, or even 8, AND another brand, Fendi, and his own brand, was a serious photographer, active, busy, always creating. I cannot believe that that incredible life force and creative tornado is gone. It can’t be.

 

I have met a few legendary people in my time, and he is truly one of them. He was always kind to me whenever I met him, though he could be funny and ironic. I admire his genius with fashion, and his wit about it, along with his huge talent. He had fun with it, and made it fun for those who wore it. I don’t think there will ever be another designer like him. And along with his talent, I admired his work ethic. He was going 200 mph right to the end. What an extraordinary life, and extraordinary man.

 

Although whatever talent I have does not compare to his, I work hard too. Too hard sometimes. As he did, I work all the time. The result so far is 176 books. Now that my kids are grown up, I write constantly. When my kids were younger, I always took their school vacations off work, and never worked on weekends. Now that they’re grown up and I’m alone, I work constantly. And I will share with you that I think working is wonderful, (I don’t believe in retirement for anyone!!), but Karl’s passing reminded me that you have to live life too. No matter how hard working or talented, one day it is all over. And one has to LIVE life to the fullest, and enjoy each second.

 

I will include a link here to a very good article about him, but when I heard the sad news about him, it really made me think, and reminded me that we need to work, and we also need to LIVE.

 

So my message to you today is Do. Be. Think. Act. Give. Love. Work. Try. And live life to the fullest.

 

And I love this quote of Karl’s, it kind of says it all about him. “There is no secret to life. The only secret is work. Get your act together, and also perhaps, have a decent life.”  My promise to myself is to continue to work hard, create, write books, love my children, spend as much time with them as they have to give me, and remember to have fun. It matters.

 

Karl will be remembered forever as the giant he was, and I am blessed to have known him. We weren’t close friends, but I was honored to have met him many times, to have seen so many of his shows, and to have known a genius. And I love the example that he set with a full, creative, productive life, working hard to the end. What a legacy he left us.

 

Have a great week, do fun things, work hard, and enjoy every minute!!!

 

love, Danielle

2/18/19, Breaking Point

Posted on February 18, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week and Valentine’s Day turned out just the way you wanted it to!!!

 

I’m always fascinated by new forms of our social phenomena and culture. And since I spend time in California, I’m never sure if some new form of entertainment or behaviour is particular to California—which is not the norm!!—-or if a trend has spread to the rest of the country. California has a culture all its own.

 

The last new ‘wave’ I heard about were “Gender Reveal Parties”, where the couple discovers their unborn baby’s sex at the same time as their friends. Apparently that’s a common thing now, although I’d never heard of it before. That was news to me!!! Personally, it seems to me that it lacks intimacy, and turns a very private moment into a major social event. Learning a baby’s sex with your entire bowling team somehow lacks intimacy to me, but it seems to be a major trend!!

 

Now I’ve heard of another new trend—- Break Rooms or Destruction Rooms—- It’s apparently new but common in California—I have no idea if the rest of the country is setting them up too. It’s a form of ‘entertainment’ or stress release where the people who run them set up a room with old out of date computers and large television sets, plates, bottles, and assorted breakable objects. You rent the room for an hour for somewhere around $100.00. They are supposed to give you protective clothing, like some kind of protective cover all, goggles (gloves might be a good idea), they hand you a sledgehammer and some other form of ‘weapon’, like a baseball bat, and tell you to have a ball, and you can destroy whatever/everything that is in the room. Everything!!! There’s lots of broken glass, so you need to be protected. And you get to take out all your hostilities and aggressions, and your frustrations, and get to break everything in sight. My youngest son is very adventuresome and loves doing new things—he recently went to feed a giraffe and loved it—-so he drove an hour to where several of these Break Rooms were set up, and he thought it was an amazing way to let off steam. He’s normally not a destructive person, and he said it was kind of daunting at first, and then he decided to get into it and slammed away. He took his girlfriend who cautiously broke a few CD’s at first, and then got into it, and hammered a TV to bits. It’s certainly a novel and different form of entertainment and relaxation than swimming or taking a painting or yoga class or roller blading. But whatever works!!

 

In these days of high stress jobs, high pressure corporate life—no matter where you are on the ladder, or what kind of job you have, we all have daily stresses—just calling the phone company to report your phone out of order, or being put on hold for an hour when you try to call your insurance company—–this is certainly one way to deal with your frustration and hostilities. And you can channel it all in one safe room, break everything in sight, and go home to relax and watch TV. So that’s the latest trend I’ve heard about.  As a business enterprise, it’s intriguing too. All you have to do is get a bunch of old non-functional equipment, a sledgehammer, a baseball bat, set up a safe room, and collect a hundred dollars for people to come for an hour and break everything.  Amazing.

 

A while back, laser tag was new, and I gave a couple of really fun parties taking over a laser tag place, with my friends on teams, and they went nuts playing war, and ‘killing each other’ for a couple of hours. It always fascinated me that the meekest people became the most intense and the fiercest in laser wars. It was really fun though.

 

So if you’ve had a tough week, and you’ve had it with your kids and your boss, stood on line for two hours at the DMV or the post office, or couldn’t get anything done that you wanted to do…..head for a Break Room, and hammer away.

 

I occasionally have slow or hard days writing, where it just doesn’t go the way I want it to, or I get interrupted all day, or the words just won’t come….but I will NOT be taking a hammer to my typewriter!!! The Break Rooms provide controlled destruction—–definitely a novel idea.

 

Have a great week—-and some fun!!! love, Danielle

 

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2/11/19, Valentines Day: Love or Chocolate

Posted on February 12, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you. I’ve been under lock down for the last week, working on a book, about a subject I found interesting. I’ve been working on the outline for the last four months, and finally took the leap into the pool to get started on it. So it’s been a hardworking and hard-driving week, laying out the story for a future book. It’s a long process from here on. Once I complete the first draft, then I re-write it anywhere from three to five times over the next two years—while working on other books at the same time. And of course the subject is a surprise (from everyone!!) until the book comes out!!!

 

My current new book, Turning Point, is still doing very well, so I’m happy about that.

 

And yesterday was my youngest son’s birthday, so I had lunch with him, and dinner with him, our family, and some of his friends. With 9 children, we have a lot of birthdays in our family and each one is a special event!!!

 

And of course this week will be Valentine’s Day, which gets mixed reviews. For anyone with a special person/romance in their life it’s a fabulous day, hopefully, and for those who are having an off-year, it’s not so great. I’ve had both kinds of Valentine’s days, and I hope it will be a special day for you this year.

 

Now that I’ve been working nonstop on a book, I’m trying to catch up on ‘real life’, things I need to do that I’ve put off while I’m writing. When I write, I can’t do anything else. I don’t go out, I don’t see friends, I don’t read other books or watch movies, it distracts me from the story and then I have trouble getting back into it. I took the time to celebrate my son’s birthday yesterday, but anything other than that, I don’t do if I’m in the middle of writing a book. Four of my kids were present at the birthday (the others live in other cities), so it was a fun chance for me to catch up with them.

 

I’m excited to watch Season 3 of “Victoria”, about the young Queen Victoria. I haven’t seen this season, so I thought I’d take a peek at that, since I reached a point in the book where I can take a little break, and will be back to work on it in about a week, after I let the book ‘breathe’ a little bit, and then go back to it with a fresh eye. (Kind of like an artist with a painting).

 

So I hope your Valentine’s Day will be fabulous, full of happy surprises and special moments, the love of your life, and a special day—-and if not, then a whole lot of chocolate!!! Seriously, I hope you have a lovely day.

 

Take care, and have a terrific week, love, Danielle

 

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