Archive for 2019

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

 

9/2/19, Labor Day and Writing Elves

Posted on September 3, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week and are enjoying the Labor Day Holiday. It’s always a little bit of a bittersweet day, because it marks the end of summer. So no more vacation for a while, the warmer weather will end soon, and we all go back to work or school, and will have a long winter to get through before we can enjoy our summer holidays again!!! I hope you had a chance to enjoy a long weekend, for these final days of summer.

 

I thought of an odd topic the other day. My agent mentioned it to me recently, and I’ve seen the subject brought up on the Internet once or twice, about me. So I thought I’d answer you directly, and let you in a little more on how I work. The question is “How do I write so many books?” and Does someone help me write them, or many someones??? The fast answer is that No, No one writes them for me or with me or helps me. I do all the work and all the writing myself.

 

Amazingly, many very famous writers get help with their books now. I can think of two very well-known authors who literally have a “group” of writers they assign the work to, to write the story with them, or for them. I guess they give them directions. I’m not sure how it works, because I’ve never done it. I’ve heard that one of those authors assigns one chapter to each person, and they write it for that writer. Personally, I don’t see how you can call yourself a writer, if someone else writes the books. Also, if you know the author of a book (or maybe even if you don’t), when you read the book, you hear that author’s voice in your head, almost as if they are reading it to you. Every writer has a distinctive voice, and you “hear” them when you read their work. So how does that work if 3 or 4, or 10 different writers have created the book? I would think that it creates a jumble of voices telling the story. And every writer’s style is different, so that’s a lot of styles in one book. And many authors now aren’t embarrassed to admit that they don’t write the books themselves. I think that’s kind of sad. (And I would hate having anyone co-write a book with me. I want to do all the writing, and the concept myself. I am not a collaborative writer. I work alone. I have a researcher who helps me dig out research and facts on a subject, and an editor who corrects my work when I finish a book, to make sure I haven’t made some glaring mistake. But I write the entire story, and the entire book myself. ALL by myself!!!

 

My process is that I get an idea, sometimes just a little piece of an idea, a theme, or something I’ve seen or heard about or read in the news. I then begin to make notes, and jot down ideas for a book. That part can go on for months, and often does. And eventually I write an outline for a book, with all the details. I outline it chapter by chapter. And I make a list of research I need (about an industry, or an illness, or historically, like a war or a famous battle.) After my editor reads it and tells me if the idea makes sense and sounds good to her, then I sit down and prepare to write it. It’s always a very anxious moment when I start a book, wanting to do it justice, hoping I will get it right. I continue to make notes on the outline while I write the book, to fine tune some of the details. While I’m writing, I don’t see or talk to anyone (except my kids), I don’t go out, I don’t see friends. I work 20 or 22 hour days, sleep for a few hours and go back to work, so I don’t lose the thread of the book. It’s a long, hard, slow, intense process. (Most of my outlines are 35 to 40 pages, and the first draft of a novel is 300 to 400 pages. When I finish the first draft, then the book goes to my editor, who eventually sends it back to me, with notes all over the manuscript, with suggestions of things she doesn’t like or I need to change, because it’s too confusing, or too fast or too slow, or the emotions between characters aren’t clear.  When I get the manuscript back with her list of suggestions and polite critiques, I then correct the manuscript, add whatever research is needed, and it becomes the Final Draft, and I send it to the publisher. I see it one more time about a year later, which is my last chance to make corrections before it goes to the printer to become a book. (It takes about 2 years from when I write it to when it comes out as a finished book.) It’s a slow process in writing and in publishing.

 

One thing is unusual about my work is that I often work on 4 or 5 books at the same time, at different stages of the work. I work on a whole book and then move on to the next one (I don’t do a chapter here in one book and a chapter there). It’s a great advantage being able to keep track of several books at once, and I can work on several books at the same time, to finish for you.

 

I LOVE doing what I do, and I work hard. I love writing, it’s rewarding and fun and exciting at times, and drudgery at other times. And if you hit a dull spot, or a dead spot, you just have to keep on going until you find a way to make the “dull” spot better and more exciting.

 

My kids and my writing are my life, and fill my nights and days. And I can promise you that I am the ONLY person who writes my books, or even edits them. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would share the work, or collaborate on a story/book/ or manuscript. Writing is so ENTIRELY personal. It’s what comes out of your head or your heart, it’s what you want to say to your readers, and what your soul wants to say. I talk to you through the books, and I can’t imagine letting someone else share that conversation with you or “mess with” my books. My books are sacred to me. And I hope that they are meaningful to you. And it’s just me sitting here 20 or 22 hours a day, No elves. No gnomes. No little fairies with pens poised over the page.

 

I just wanted to clear that up with you. Rest assured, I am totally dedicated to the work, and as long as I have breath, the books will be as good as I can make them, and I will be here all by myself, pounding away on New Books to show you!!! Happy Reading!!!

 

 

Have a Great Week! love, Danielle

 

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8/26/19, Coming Soon

Posted on August 26, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

I Hope you had a good week. I had a busy one with lots of work, meetings, and appointments. If you were at the beach instead or still on vacation somewhere, good for you!!! I wish I were too!!!

 

I have some new work and projects coming your way soon, as we head into Fall, and the atmosphere of “Back to School”. I’m stunned by how early kids go back to school now. My children always went back to school after Labor Day, and I did too—now by mid-August, or the third week in August, kids are back in school, and summer is over, for parents and children alike. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. By the end of the summer, my kids were always a little bored, and had been on vacation for three months. They seem to get less vacation now, and it seems odd that they go back so early!!! But maybe everyone is ready by then.

 

“Coming soonest” , THIS week, is my new novel in hardcover “The Dark Side”, which is suspenseful and exciting, about a young mother with complications in her own early history and childhood. She has the psychiatric pathology of Munchhausen by Proxy, where parents (mostly mothers) either feign illness in their children, or actually make them ill, or cause them to have accidents. They appear to be perfect mothers, and are in fact harming their children, secretly, and it’s very hard to catch them at it, even for mental health professionals. It’s often very difficult to detect and can have disastrous results. The real life stories of it are terrifying. It’s a fascinating and alarming phenomenon—–and hopefully makes for an exciting book. I hope you really enjoy it!!!  It will get my fall books off to a suspenseful start!!!

 

Also happening this week is a new (for me) element of social media I’ll be engaging in. Instagram. I’ve been debating about it for a while. It’s so popular, and I see how much my children are involved in it, and enjoy it, posting photos on it constantly of things they do, see, and like. I hesitated for a long time about it, because I thought my own daily life isn’t “visual” enough. I spend long periods of time (weeks sometimes) in my office, going nowhere (except in my head or on the page), and I thought I’d have nothing much to show you visually—-except the mess on my desk, of papers everywhere, of my research or the outline, or the pages coming out of my typewriter. But Instagram is so extensive now that it really appealed to me as yet another way to reach out to you and include you in my life. So I am going to start doing Instagram this week. Brave New World!! It’s exciting to try something new!!! And I’ll try to share a little more of my life with you that way!!! And not just the mess on my desk!!

 

And also coming soon—though not quite soon enough but in the future is the quotation book I’ve mentioned to you. I’ve collected quotes that I love for many, many years, since my teens. I frame the ones I love and put them on my office wall in San Francisco, and in my bathroom, dressing room and kitchen in Paris—-wherever I can fit them in, to inspire me or make friends laugh when they read them. I’ve wanted to do a book of them for years, not things that I have said, but that either famous people present day and in history have said, or even graffiti I’ve seen, or from magazines or greeting cards, or anonymously. Some are funny, and some quite serious and have really inspired me. I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. It’s scheduled now for Christmas a year from now, in 2020. I wish it were sooner but it took time to gather the best ones, and check the sources out, and get permissions to use the quotes where necessary. I hope the quotes will inspire you as much as they have me!!! I LOVE words in all forms, I love words in art forms too (paintings or sculptures). I’m really looking forward to that book, and I hope you love it too!!

 

There will be more new books/novels this year of course, and I hope you love those too. I’m working on several new books now, and have worked hard this summer. I always seem to be working, and I really enjoy it. I get wrapped up in the stories and the characters, and they become very real while I’m working on them. I love the time I spend with my family, and have fun with my dogs, enjoy seeing friends, and reading when I have time (not often enough)…and art shows and museums, and travelling to the places I love….but whatever I do, I always come right back to work, and am so happy when I’m writing, and it’s what I do most. I just finished my 183rd book, which seems like a crazy number. I wrote my first book at 19, and have been at it day and night ever since!!!

 

This weekend is Labor Day, which really does mark the end of summer. It’s been a busy one, not very restful or lazy this summer for me, it’s been a mostly working summer —–and I hope you love the new books I’ve been working on.

 

 

Have a great week, and enjoy the long weekend!!

 

love, Danielle

 

PS, and also on the “Coming Soon” list of things that I enjoy is the movie version of “Downton Abbey”, the latest addition after the long and successful TV series that I loved. I was so sad when it ended after only 6 seasons, and I wasn’t ready for it to end. It was the first TV series I fell in love with. And now they are making a movie of it, due out in September. I can’t wait!!! As soon as it’s out, I’ll be there!!!!

8/19/19, Mixed Bag

Posted on August 19, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good, even a great week!!! A nice easy one. The last of the summer is upon us. I’m ready for cool weather, new projects, hard work, good times and hopefully a Fall that will inspire me. I worked on about 5 different books this summer, which is crazy, but was productive. I worked on most of them in massive heat waves wherever I was. My poor dogs look totally fed up with the heat. Every time we are in a new place with a new heat wave, they look at me as if to say “Really??? Again??? You’ve GOT to be kidding!!!!” I kind of feel the same way about it by now, after two months in and out of record breaking temperatures (the hottest on record ever in the history of France—-in both June and July. With No Air Conditioning). I promise not to complain when I’m freezing somewhere this winter….I am READY for snow, thank you!!!!

 

Working on my books always leads to some serious/deep thoughts, as I try to resolve the problems of the characters in the books as they face various challenges. I try to think how I would solve the same problems—I usually figure it out better for my characters than I would for myself!!! I get to control the story when I’m writing and guide it in a direction that makes sense, seems fair, and is uplifting, while still remaining real. Real Life isn’t quite as easy to direct!! I learn new things when I write the books, both in the research and the themes. And sometimes, life follows art. It led me to thoughts about completeness, which I shared with you in my last blog. And I was thinking about the irony of ‘doubt’ the other day, and ‘pride’. Have you ever noticed that whatever area you take the most pride in—is usually where Doubt or disappointment will hit you right between the eyes not long after. Coincidence maybe, or just the irony of life, or a reminder not to be TOO proud of ourselves, or too sure of ourselves. Congratulate yourself on how smoothly your job is going, and the next thing you know, you hit a real bump at work or with someone at work. Tell yourself how great your family is, and the next thing you know, you’re arguing with one of them, or how loyal your friends are, and one of them does something lousy and really disappoints you. Maybe that keeps us on our toes, and striving to be and do better, and teaches us not to take anything for granted (or be too proud of ourselves. It keeps me humble!!). And whatever philosophical things I think eventually turns up in the books, to share with you, because I figure that we all go through the same problems, and you deal with the same issues I do.

 

Another annoying thing is that I never like to have my photograph taken. I never like the way I look. And these days, it’s a major challenge. Used to be, people would pose you for a photograph, and you could kind of sneak out of it by the time they got everyone to stand still. Today everyone has a cell phone in their hand during every waking hour, and before you can blink, they take your picture, with your mouth full, your eyes crossed, making a bad face, or on the worst bad hair day you’ve had in 20 years. Ugh. And cell phone pictures are SOOOOO unflattering. But what’s really annoying is that at any given time, when I don’t like the way I look, I grumble and groan, and then 5 years later, the photograph turns up, you look at it and think, “Wow I looked pretty good then, not so old, and relatively okay”, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. What was I complaining about? And I think now I look so much worse….and five years from now, today’s photos will look pretty good. It would be nice if I didn’t cringe at the photos of today!!!! I laughed when I saw a painting recently by a fun artist whose work I really like, Ashley Longshore. She does some really funny stuff, and I have a painting of hers I love. All of my daughters are very weight conscious, particularly the 3 who work in fashion (and are all 3 much too thin!!), and one of them is particularly conscious of weight, and always asks “Do I look fat in this?” whatever she is wearing. The painting I saw said “No, you don’t look fat, you look crazy”. It struck me funny, the daughter in question is not crazy, but she sure isn’t fat either!!!! I have a bracelet that says “Do I look fat in this bracelet?” which makes me laugh too!!! Most of us worry too much about our weight, and fashion sets a standard most humans just can’t live by and shouldn’t!!! Most women who look at fashion magazines don’t realize that the girls they’re seeing in the photos are 17 years old, and sometimes younger, starve themselves, and haven’t had a decent meal in years. It’s not a healthy standard to set your sights on!!! Or even an attractive one!!!

 

I have a new book coming out in hardcover in about 10 days, “The Dark Side” that’s exciting and a little different for me. It’s about the psychiatric illness “Munchhausen by Proxy”, where some very sick mothers either fake severe illnesses in their very young kids, or make them sick. It’s very hard to catch them at it, and they put their children’s lives at risk. The book is something of a thriller as we watch one of these mothers with her child. It’s an exciting book, with a fascinating theme, and I hope you love it!!!! The research I did for it was terrifying, watching interviews with some of these mothers.

 

Have a good week!!! I have a busy one ahead, some fun stuff and some not so fun. (Hmmm….sounds like real life). I had a wonderful time a few days ago, having lunch and spending the afternoon with my youngest son. His fiancée was away, and he took me to lunch, and we spent the afternoon shopping and doing errands together. He is such good company, and I had a really terrific time!!! And the next day, I went to Ikea with another of my kids. Ikea is always an adventure, and I love it and always find some fun stuff!!! (Along with a lot of other great stuff, they have great stuffed toys, and my dogs love them. I came home with a giant shopping bag of toys for my dogs!!! They loved them!!)

 

So have a great week, and I hope some wonderful things happen to you!!! You deserve it!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/12/19, “Complete”

Posted on August 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having some really good weeks, and hopefully still some vacation, as the summer starts to wind down. It’s been a long hot summer, and I’ve had some lovely time with my kids, and also did a lot of work this summer, working on several books at different stages.

 

I like to keep busy, and am happier when I am. I race around meeting deadlines, trying to get time with my children, love puttering around my house fixing things and adding things or getting rid of things (my famous closet purges when I get rid of lots of stuff), I travel a lot, mostly between my two homes, and only take one brief vacation a year for a week, and I am always on the move. But between the visits with the kids, the deadlines, the work on the books, seeing friends when I can, running two homes, and the fashion shows I report to you a few times a year, I do have moments of introspection, which helps give me direction, and even insights for the books.

 

In that vein, I was thinking about the notion of “completeness” the other day, and how easily we all, or most of us, feel ‘incomplete’. There is always, or often, something missing in our lives. A partner, the right partner or any partner, children/a child, a job that makes us feel important, the right home. We’re always striving for something, or missing something. It’s the nature of humans. Early in life, we’re striving to have it all. And later in life, we are trying to fill the voids. For women (and men) who have children, the kids eventually grow up and leave, and we are left with the void that leaves in our lives (with 9 kids, believe me that was a big hole to fill when all but one (so far) left home), for men and women who have important jobs, when they retire they feel as though they’ve lost their identity, another big void to fill. We look at others and think they have it all, a partner, a great job, a beautiful home—-but even those people must feel incomplete at times. It’s rare for any of us to have it all, all at the same time. There is so often something missing and we are left feeling incomplete as people, inadequate, and not whole.

 

Like Noah’s Ark, we are led to believe that we are incomplete, and we feel that way, without a partner. And yes, as Winnie the Pooh said to Piglet, “life is so much friendlier with two”. I have always been irked by the old song “You’re nobody until somebody loves you”. We believe that, we feel it, it so often seems to be true. Being solitary can be so lonely. Being with the wrong partner is even more so. Very few people seem to be truly happy alone, and most of us feel left out and ‘incomplete’ without someone to love and who loves us. We see others with partners and wish we had one too (and we forget that that’s not always easy either). Or we have a job that doesn’t fulfill us, or a home/house/apartment that is less than what we want and feel we deserve. And when we feel that something is missing, we feel incomplete. That’s not a good feeling, and can really make us deeply unhappy. When we’re feeling incomplete, we forget to look around at what we DO have, a home that’s nicer than we believe, a job that isn’t as bad as we think at times, we forget that the right person can walk into your life tomorrow and you won’t always be alone.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that if you feel incomplete and not ‘whole’, what are you really offering that new partner you want to come along? Half a person? A sense of desperation that a new person should make up for everything you don’t have in your life? That’s a heavy burden to put on someone else, and not very attractive or appealing, that they have to save you from your own incompleteness and dissatisfaction and provide everything you don’t have in your life and make your life exciting. And that new person may take a while to show up (or maybe not, they may come along faster). But you want to bring a whole person to the table (yourself), and offer them the riches of your own life and your wholeness, and then you can be two whole people together with much to share and offer each other. If you are desperate to have someone fill your empty life, that’s pretty scary for them!!! And you’ll be bored while you wait for them!! We need to fill our lives to the brim on our own, not count on someone else to do it, and then we really have something to offer someone new who walks into our life. You just can’t and shouldn’t count on someone else to “make you whole”. (It’s more likely to make them run like hell, in the opposite direction!! And who can blame them?)

 

I think it’s a life’s work feeling complete, and not focusing on what we don’t have. And it’s so easy to look at the down sides. When I moved into my California home, I was thrilled that my bedroom was on the same floor as all my kids, except one who lived in private grandeur on the floor above. Now, I walk past all those empty bedrooms on the way to my own room when I’m in California, a reminder that my kids have moved on. It’s like a neon sign reminding me that they’ve moved on and I live alone (except for one ‘child’ still at home, and I’m grateful for that). And without all those kids underfoot, it’s easy to feel ‘incomplete’. When I sat and thought about it the other day, I realized how full my life is, and reminded myself of how ‘complete’ I really am, that I am a whole/complete person with or without a partner, with or without kids living at home, no matter what my job, or my home. I think the trick is to feel complete with what we have, and who we are. It’s a real trap, and an easy one to fall into, to feel incomplete, and I know so many people who do—–and marry the wrong people as a result just so they’re not alone, or stay in situations or jobs that don’t fulfill them (we all need our jobs, but if you really hate your job, maybe it’s time to look for one you like better).

 

Each of us is complete and whole. It’s something we all need to remember and focus on (or do something about). It’s not the partner, the kids, your job, or the size of your apartment that makes you whole, or complete. It comes from within us, and remembering, appreciating, and focusing on what we DO have, and not what’s missing.  Now I can go back to cleaning out closets, grateful that I am in fact complete, I don’t need anyone or anything to make me complete, I am a whole person as I am…..and whatever is added to it will be an added gift!!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/5/19, “Some Like It Hot”

Posted on August 5, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great, fun, and relaxing week. I hope you’re sitting on a beach somewhere, relaxing, or under a tree in the country, having some down time!!!

 

I’ve been whining a lot about the weather lately!!. I grumble all winter about the cold, wet, and sometimes even snowy blizzard-y weather, and am thrilled when the warm weather rolls around. Only this year, I’ve been in 2, possibly 3 just brutal heat waves. Two in France, and one in NY when I was flying through for a couple of days. Like childbirth, one forgets how miserable a heat wave can be. One kind of expects it in NY but it’s much more unusual in France. And this year in France, we had history making temperatures. One night at 4 am, it was 104 degrees, another day it reached 111, and there is almost no air conditioning in France, except in big hotels and supermarkets. It almost never would occur to me to check into a hotel, and I didn’t think of it this time—-but I will next time. Very few homes in France have air conditioning, you just don’t need it except in the South. And most buildings are very old (including mine), many buildings and homes in France are 200 or 300 years old, and it’s apparently very difficult to install. And landlords won’t let you put it in if you rent. Instead, many people have archaic machines (that look like a small refrigerator, it has a tube about 8 inches across, you hang the tube out the window, and supposedly it will eventually cool down the room. It actually works surprisingly well, but it’s not like the state of the art built in air conditioning systems in the US.  We put one of those in each room, and two good fans.

 

I have to tell you, the day that it was 111 degrees, I was melting. And I was worried about my dogs. I kept wetting them down all day and night.

There was one massive heat wave in June, and another in July, it was hot as blazes in the South of France, and when I flew to NY to visit my daughters there, it was close to 100 degrees. It was 95 degrees and then alarmingly close to 100   for the duration of my brief stay. When I landed in NY it Was 98 degrees, still in the realm of the bearable, though not by much.!!!

 

I actually wrote a book while I was boiling and suffered, but both books I worked on turned out well.

 

I’ve decided that I like the cold winter weather better after all. It’s a lot easier to dress warmly and add lots of sweaters under a warm coat, than to try and cool off in record breaking heat (the temperature during the second heat wave broke all records in France. I would have loved to sleep at my local supermarket!!!)

 

And by blissful contrast, when I flew in and out of San Francisco, to see my kids, it was the usual freezing San Francisco summer weather, in the 60’s in the daytime, gray and foggy and about 50 degrees at night…..heavenly!!!

 

I hope the temperatures won’t be too extreme wherever you are this summer!!!! keep cool!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

7/29/19, Strong Drink

Posted on July 29, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that July lived up to your expectations, and you got some time off, and even some beach time!!! I’m plugging away at work, but have made a discovery I absolutely LOVE. I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve never liked it, and it always made me feel sick when I tried it, so it’s one vice I don’t have. But I was introduced to a ‘cocktail’ this summer by an eleven year old!!! And I will confess, I am totally addicted. It’s the perfect drink for a hot summer day!!! It’s a Virgin Mojito. I don’t know how to make it, but it has lime juice, some fizzy water, lots of crushed ice, and fresh mint in it.  It’s fantastic, and has been the perfect antidote to some blazing hot summer days this summer.  I order it everywhere and double check that it’s ‘Virgin’, so it has no alcohol in it. I even had a strawberry one a few days ago, which was delicious too (I think they substituted the limes with strawberries). So that’s my hot tip of the summer…..and if you’re wondering what I’m doing—–I’m sipping Virgin Mojitos while I work…..have a great August, with lots of vacation time, I hope. I’ll be meeting up with all my children for a long weekend in the coming month. It’s always the highlight of my summer.

 

So cheers to you…..with a Virgin Mojito, have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

7/22/19, Summer Clean Up

Posted on July 22, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and are getting some real vacation time in. I had my one week holiday with my kids, and as soon as they left, I went back to work. It’s been a week since they left, and the vacation already seems like years ago, I’ve been wading through my work, and I’ve taken a few breaks to clean out my closets……again!! My last big clean out was two years ago when I moved to a new apartment, and I always feel virtuous and victorious when I purge my closets. I get rid of the fashion mistakes, the things that really don’t fit right and never did, the things I’m sorry I bought, and some old favorites that are long past their expiration date. I always give up the things I think I’m going to lose five pounds to wear, even if I lose 5 lbs., it never comes off the places that will make that piece of clothing fit, so I finally get rid of it!!! I’m not really an impulse buyer, but sometimes I do buy some silly stuff. I’m a less conservative shopper than my daughters, and they warn me when I’m about to commit a huge fashion mistake, and most of the time, I don’t listen to them, and go right ahead and buy something they warn me I’ll be sorry I bought….and most of the time they’re right.

 

It’s a terrific feeling pulling things out, and getting rid of the dead wood in your closets, and occasionally I wonder what I was thinking when I bought something (and I DO keep some of the outrageous stuff even in a clean out!!!) It’s not too outrageous, but I’m reminded of a ‘mature’ quite a bit older friend whose mother was visiting her, and my friend was rushing out to go somewhere, while her mother watched her dress. My friend looks great, has a great figure and particularly great legs, and loves wearing miniskirts (that’s one sin I’m not guilty of—-I don’t have the legs or the courage for miniskirts. I commit other fashion sins!!). As she was about to rush out the door, she looked at her mother and said “I have the feeling I’ve forgotten something…” Her mother looked at her and said, “Yes, your age.” That happens to me occasionally too, something looks like so much fun (and I do love fashion, and have a sense of humor about it), but when I get it home, I think “What was I thinking? I can’t wear that!!!”—–and if I do, my daughters are quick to scold me.

 

I find that when I’m feeling swamped by life, and not in control of all the challenging situations in my life, I dive into my closets and start getting rid of things and putting everything in good order, my closets are one thing I can always control and do something about. It’s therapeutic for me.

 

So right in the middle of summer, my closets are looking impeccably neat, all the old stuff I don’t want is weeded out, and now I can see what I have, and wear the right stuff, and not fight my way through old stuff that doesn’t fit, or fashion mistakes. I always learn something about myself too, of what I really like and works well for me. I find that the stuff I get rid of is usually the same brands, that aren’t comfortable, don’t suit me, or never fit right, eventually I get rid of them, and shouldn’t have bought them in the first place. Some brands of shoes always hurt (too stiff, heels too high, and just not wearable), and if they’re pretty I buy them anyway, and of course they don’t fit— they hurt, and they go out in the next big clean out. The truth is that I am not going to get taller, even thinner than I am, or younger when I bring a piece of clothing home, so it had better look good when I buy it, because it won’t look any better later by some miracle.

 

I find that if I have to ask the salesgirl, a friend, or one of my daughters “Do you think I’ll wear this??”—–that’s the kiss of death and I never will. When I hear myself say that now, I think “uhhh oh”, no, I won’t wear it, and I try not to buy it.

 

My closet is looking great now, and not only am I enjoying it, but it’s going to make it so much easier now for my daughters to cruise my closets and find what they want to ‘borrow’!!!!….have a great week,

 

love, Danielle