Archive for 2020

4/6/20, Resurrection

Posted on April 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you are doing okay in confinement, “sheltering in place”, quarantine, and all the necessary restrictions we are living with right now. Those restrictions are our gift to each other, and ourselves, to prevent further spread of the virus, and save lives. It is vitally important that we all follow the rules in our areas, stay safe, and stay home.

 

This coming Sunday is Easter, with Good Friday two days before. Easter has always been a holiday that my family has loved. Although it has much more serious religious connotations, in a lighter vein, it’s a happy holiday that we have all enjoyed, with Easter bunnies, and dyed Easter eggs, big chocolate eggs, Easter egg hunts, lots of jelly beans and Peeps (marshmallow bunnies and chicks in fluorescent colors). When the children were younger, and still had Easter vacations in school and college, we went to Hawaii every year. It was our tradition, and we had a terrific time.  We did Easter brunch, and everyone wore bunny ears, even the adults. And more recently, with all my kids grown up, we still have brunch (and still wear bunny ears), decorate the table, and enjoy the day together. (This year we will all be in isolation, separately, around the world, and visit with each other on Face Time.)

 

But beyond the more light-hearted more commercial side of the holiday, there is the religious side, with some serious introspection on Good Friday, to honor the death of Christ on the Cross, and a jubilant religious celebration on Easter Sunday, to honor the resurrection. Religion is not for everyone, but that is the essence of the religious aspect of the holiday. And in the Jewish faith, Passover comes this Wednesday, which I believe is a joyful holiday.

 

My very favorite religious concept, whatever one’s faith, is the one of Resurrection: of rebirth, a new beginning, a new chance, a new life, an opportunity to rise from the ashes, and whatever sadness or disappointment in our life.  There is no question whatever our faith, or none at all, there are times when life just beats us down, when bad or sad things happen, when we are overwhelmed by loss of some kind, the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a partner, a relationship, a child, a job. The loss of happiness, and even the loss of hope. And no matter how far down our spirits plunge, or how devastating the losses, the idea that we can Resurrect our hopes, our life, our trust, our faith in life and mankind—-that we can come back from the deep dark black hole we have fallen into, the idea that we can come back and recover and start fresh is vital to our survival and the quality of our lives. It is the rebirth of hope and joy that is so important, and what we celebrate on Easter, along with the Easter bunnies and jelly beans and peeps.

 

If ever there was a time when we need to cling to the idea of Resurrection, of rebirth, and starting fresh and starting over—it is now. This virus that has traveled the world, claiming lives across every continent and every border has knocked the wind out of us, and left us flattened, isolated, frightened, even terrified. And I am so grateful for the reminder of Resurrection right now, when we need it most. Resurrection is the rebirth of Hope, of Life, of trust, and of Love. We have to hang onto the belief that we will come out of this, alive, and better and stronger. Our countries will recover, most or all of our loved ones, and our hearts. We WILL bounce back!! We HAVE to. We MUST!!! And we WILL.

 

I send you all my faith and love. I have my dark, frightened moments too, we all do. But beyond that, and so much bigger is my faith in mankind and human nature, in my fellow man and his/her ability to endure and to survive, and surmount the obstacles we encounter—–and this is a big one. But we are bigger than this virus, and bigger than these dark times. I believe in the resurrection of our hopes, our dreams, our lives, our economies. We will not be down forever.  This has been our moment on the cross….but after that comes Resurrection. That is what I am placing my faith in. In every country, every language, we will overcome.

 

We will rise from the ashes. And each of us in our own way, will experience a resurrection, a rebirth.

 

For Christians, this is a Holy Week…..and this year, may be it be a week of blessings, hope and resurrection for the entire world.

 

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

3/30/20 Life in Confinement

Posted on March 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re staying home, staying safe, social distancing, and sheltering in place/in confinement.

 

This is certainly FAR from easy, for any of us, as the virus circles the globe, frightening data surrounds us, the daily numbers of the ill, and the fatalities, cause all of us endless anxiety. This is surely the scariest time in my life, and probably in yours too. In my case, made infinitely worse by being a continent away from my children. I probably couldn’t do much for them if I were nearby, with all of us separately in confinement, or in quarantine, but it would be nice to know that I’m there, close at hand. But all of us, around the world, have to do our best in the circumstances, and above all follow the rules of safety to avoid the Corona Virus.

 

It is incredibly difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy, in such abnormal circumstances, with so many unknowns. The best and most hopeful examples we have now are from Asia, where they got it first, confined before we did, and now we see them recovering, and coming out of it, the restrictions lifted—-so we know that will happen for us eventually. It seems to have taken them about 3 months in Wuhan, where the virus started. Some other Asian countries seem to have recovered faster, like Japan. We have lessons to learn from all of them. Whatever will work in this time of crisis. And washing hands, social distancing, and confinement at home appear to be vital to avoid the spread of the disease.

 

What are people doing to keep busy and keep their spirits up while stuck at home? Taking care of small children confined with you is a full time and challenging occupation. Many people are working from home, remotely. Others are doing house repairs, reorganizing their homes, cooking, baking, reading, watching TV, series and movies. Yesterday, I heard about some people dancing, and listening to music. Lots of people are exercising with and without Skype (I am walking laps around my apartment for 45 minutes every morning). Some are jogging outdoors or walking their dogs (the dogs are exhausted!!). I get lots of funny emails, some are really priceless. I talk to my kids on the phone many times a day. Needlepoint is relaxing and productive, and maybe knitting. People confined in the country are gardening. Social media, calling friends. Playing with our dogs (mine just want to sleep and are happy I’m stuck at home!!). I’ve been editing books and doing re-writes, and am thinking about an outline for a new book, but haven’t started it yet.  It’s not easy to concentrate with the worry and tension we’re all experiencing, but if you can find something to do, it sure helps pass the time and the days. I’m alone so there is no one to “play with”, but I imagine families confined together must be playing games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, cards. And I’m sure young people (and even grownups) must be playing video games.

 

Psychiatrists warn about not watching too much news (some say maximum 30 minutes a day, others say no more than 5 minutes), which causes too much anxiety. And the thing I find the least helpful, and seriously upsetting are the people who spread rumors, who offer worst case scenarios (most of us can come up with those all by ourselves with no help from outsiders), who tell us again and again that our governments are lying to us, that the numbers are worse than we know, that we’ll be locked down for a year, that the world is coming to an end. They don’t know any more than you and I do, but they sure love to scare us!!! I find those people thoughtless, unkind and irresponsible. We all know them. I don’t want to hear from those people anymore or at all. This is hard enough without people we know making it worse with unfounded rumors and their own worst fears projected on us, especially ‘friends’, or relatives.

 

I’ve tried to call people I know who are alone, and must be frightened, with no one to distract or comfort them, or keep them company.

 

We KNOW and must hang on to the fact that there will be an end point to this. We’ve seen other countries come through it and come out the other end. If we’re careful, stay home and follow the rules, if we’re serious and lucky, we won’t catch it. If we do, there is a very great chance that we’ll survive it. And hopefully in a reasonable amount of time, this will all be behind us, as a dark experience we came through. As a side bar, it’s giving us a time for introspection, to think about what really matters to us, what we want to change in our lives when this is over, who matters most to us, we’ve had a chance to reconnect with old friends we may have lost sight of, or strengthen our bond to our families and friends. As hard as it is, it’s a time to be grateful for the blessings we have—-despite the fear and anxiety we are living through now.

 

And eventually, life will return to normal, economies will recover. And hopefully a vaccine and medical treatments will be developed, which will take time. But long before that, we have each other, our shared strength, and being wise and careful and staying confined will hopefully end this faster.

 

Be safe, Everyone, take extra special good care. A huge thank you to all the medical workers in every country, being heroes to help us.

 

And for all of you, try to have a peaceful week, hang in, and I send you all my love and prayers,

 

Danielle

 

 

3/23/20, “Lockdown”

Posted on March 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Being confined, locked down, and isolated, and in many cases, entirely alone, is an enormous new challenge for all of us experiencing it. It affects us all, in every country, in every walk of life, from every kind of background, in every kind of job. This virus respects no one, and affects us all. Being in solitary confinement is a very new experience for me, and has turned my favorite place into the biggest challenge of all. My work as a writer is solitary, but there’s a big difference between choosing to be solitary to accomplish something, than to suddenly be isolated in a lock down situation, and being deprived of the people and places and activities which we enjoy and so easily take for granted. We have to sacrifice those things now for a short time, for the safety and health of the entire world. We take both our freedom and our health for granted—until suddenly we lose them, or they are seriously at risk, as they are now.

 

I realize when I think about it, that I have never lived alone. I married at seventeen, and went from my father’s home to my husband’s. My oldest daughter was born two years later, and from then on, even once I was no longer married, I was never alone again. I always had my daughter for company. And when I married again, and eventually over time during an 18 year marriage, became the mother of nine—there was never a moment of solitude—far from it!!! And with a house full of kids, ranging from teenagers to infants,  there wasn’t a chance that I would live alone for a long, long time. One by one, they grew up and many left, to college, jobs, and other cities. And I’m lucky enough to still have my youngest daughter living at home. So pretty much since I was seventeen, I’ve never lived alone, and by some weird quirk of fate, I wound up a continent away from all my children during this pandemic, and now under lock down, I find myself alone. The hardest part of the confinement is—-of course, worrying about my children, and the threat of illness for us all—-but a huge challenge has also been facing a hard experience with no one to share it with, to talk to, to bolster and reassure me, or my being able to take care of and reassure them. The solitude makes it a thousand times harder, and the worry about my kids. And for the first time ever, I am resoundingly alone. My kids are in other cities and countries, and the country which has given me a happy second home for so many years is now the location of my greatest fear, solitude and loneliness. It gives me new compassion for people who live alone, even when we are not in a pandemic. And perhaps the lesson I needed and will learn now is how to live with that solitude with grace, and be better because of it, when this is all over. Maybe each of us will learn something during the crisis that we needed to know, and would never have learned otherwise.

 

For everyone’s sake, I hope that everyone will comply with the rules of their confinement, and follow them, I pray that people will be safe and rapidly regain their health all around the globe. And I hold out my hand and my heart now to all of you living through this hard experience alone, with no one to talk to, or make you smile or laugh, or reassure you that things will be okay. Things WILL be okay, We will survive this, and we will learn the hard lessons and the easy ones from this. This won’t last forever, and we will be free again and reunited with our loved ones, the people we cherish, our loved ones, families and friends. And until that sweet reunion, even in the silence or loneliness of the confinement, it is for the good of all, to deprive the virus of the connections and contacts it needs to make us sick. Let’s starve the virus out of existence and stand strong. And from now on, I will have even greater respect for people who live in solitary confinement in normal times. I wish you grace and peace wherever the confinement finds you, for the lock down that goes so against the grain, since as people we all need ‘connection’ with people who are like minded, whom we love, can talk to, and make us laugh.   Give us the strength, to get through this hard, frightening time, with patience, courage, wisdom, perseverance and poise. We CAN do it, and we will. May God bless you, and all of us, at this very challenging time.

 

love, Danielle

 

3/16/20, “Stayin Alive” (like the song)

Posted on March 16, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Wow, it’s been a long week, and not due to fashion shows, jet set travel, or first drafts of a book. We all know what’s going on in the world, with the world wide epidemic, the Pandemic, that is circling the globe. It is a frightening situation, and so much of it is new to all of us, including the medical community. Predictions abound, with no idea of their accuracy, as with any worldwide crisis, we stay glued to our televisions and computers to get the latest news, some rehashed, some edited, some accurate, some not. The one thing I think we can be sure of is that no one knows exactly what will happen, when it will end, or how long it will go on. It is the uncertainty that is so stressful and anxiety-producing. I have exchanged texts and emails with friends in the middle of the night, as we struggled with anxiety about how this will turn out, who it will touch, and will our families be affected. No one knows.

 

It is clear by now that this is a very, very, VERY serious situation, in every country around the globe. Some World Leaders in government tell us that they’ve got it covered and we don’t need to worry so much, others tell us that we have only seen the beginning, and it hasn’t reached its peak yet. What is true? I wish I knew.

 

I find that with something as enormous as this, with such far reaching consequences, my world gets very big and very small, all at once. Very Big, as I watch world news on TV with grids, and graphs which confuse me further, with contradictory data. And at the same time, my world gets VERY small, and breaks down to acute concern for my children. My children live in four cities and two countries, while I live in yet another city and country. It is one of the few times in my lifetime, maybe the only time when I want to put my arms around them, dispel their fears, and hold them close, and no matter what I do, I can’t protect them. And worse yet, with the risk of contagion on flights and associated with travel, I was advised not to try to join them in any of their cities, and I am stuck far away from them, staying home myself. And even if took the risk and traveled to one of their cities, I could not be with all of them. We are just going to have to sit tight, and follow the rules until we can be together again.

 

From everything I’ve read, heard from medical people, and seen on TV, it appears to be absolutely CRUCIAL, to follow ALL the rules, about staying home, social distancing (keeping at least 4 FEET APART from each other!!), no touching, kissing, shaking hands, wear gloves when we go out, wear a mask if we ourselves are sick, stay out of crowded places, no restaurants or stores, or large gatherings, etc,travel as little as possible or not at all, stay away from the elderly so we don’t make them sick, and from children if possible, who can be carriers. The main directive is to wash hands as often as possible, disinfect all surfaces, and limit the number of people we’re in contact with. And beyond that, pray that we don’t catch it, transmit it, and that we and our loved ones survive it if we do catch it. It is this unseen, deadly menace that has turned our lives into a terrifying science fiction movie. We just have to ride it out, and follow ALL the directions we’re given to stop the contagion and turn this around as soon as possible.

 

And on another serious note, this Sunday will be the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Brussels Airport four years ago, which claimed lives and caused major havoc. My personal tie to that event is that I have a niece who was one of the survivors of one of the terminals. She was seventeen at the time and lost both legs. After many surgeries and many months in the hospital, she has made an extraordinary recovery. Since then she has graduated from high school and enrolled in college, and after much rehab work (with the Navy Seals), she has made incredible progress. She was training for the Olympics when it happened, on the Equestrian team. And she got back on her horses as soon as she was able (before she left the hospital), and has been training and competing avidly, winning several first prizes, and is hoping to compete in the Paralympics this summer on the US equestrian team!! She is an astoundingly brave girl with a fantastic attitude, at twenty one now. She has turned a tragedy into a Victory.

 

May we be as brave now, fighting the Covid 19 Virus, and let’s hope that our collective efforts to beat it and end the contagion are effective. And may God be with you and protect you. Have a safe week, and please be careful, and follow the rules and directives in your area.

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

3/9/20, International Women’s Day

Posted on March 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

My Five Favorite Women, who all get my vote for Women of the Year for International Woman’s Day, are my five daughters. They have busy careers, full, interesting lives, causes they believe in, and strong values and principles they live by. Two of the five are married, and have two young children each. Three are not married (one of those is engaged). My oldest daughter is a social worker/therapist, specialized in pediatric oncology, which is a career she is passionate about, and fell in love with as a teen ager, working with children with cancer and their families. Three work incredibly hard in fashion, as stylists and consultants. One is the Fashion Director of a well-known brand, another works for a number of famous brands, and the third works with contemporary brands. They have strong influence in the world of fashion and put in long hard hours, on fashion shows several times a year. And the youngest is passionate about music, sports, and personal fitness. One of them was a ballerina with the San Francisco Ballet, and still loves ballet classes. One is an expert at boxing. The youngest is incredibly diligent at the gym (they do NOT get that gene from me!!). They are strong, honorable, compassionate, kind women, and I admire all five of them immensely. They are my heroes, and each of them gets my vote for Woman of the Year every single day!!! They are good women, good friends, great mothers (the two who are), and fabulous daughters!!!

Have a great week!

love, Danielle

3/2/20, Strange Times

Posted on March 2, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a healthy, happy week, and that all is well in your world. In Our World, we seem to be facing something of a (very) serious health crisis at the moment. It’s a very unusual occurrence.

 

The blog I am writing to you today is very different than the one that I was planning to write. It was recently Fashion Week in New York, followed by Fashion Week in London, then Milan, ending with the grand finale: Fashion Week in Paris. Each city is important in the world of fashion, each of the cities has its own flavor, mood, and tempo, and in each of the four cities, the designers of that country show their collections, for the following season. It happens twice a year, in September into October, and then February into March, to show their spring/summer and fall/ winter clothes. Each designer puts on a fashion show, which is a major event and costs a fortune. Some put on presentations, with models walking around showrooms to show how the clothes are worn. The shows are attended by magazine and newspaper editors, hundreds of international press, stylists, store buyers to place their orders for the following season, and a large number of movie stars, celebrities and VIPS. It’s a grueling month each time for the people who put on the shows, and an exciting time for everyone who attends them. It never seems to get old. The shows are by invitation only, are in spectacular locations, and those shows and all the razzle dazzle surrounding them are a highlight of the fashion world twice a year. I usually attend the fall/winter shows, and skip the spring/summer ones, because my youngest daughter’s birthday falls during those shows, and I spend that time with her. But I check the shows out on line, to see what fashions are coming. And during the various fashion weeks, the design houses give lots of parties to celebrate the event.

 

Normally, I would be writing to you about the shows I attended, telling you about the stage setting, the clothes, the models and the vast group of exotic and important spectators, the followers and creators of fashion. But Fate threw a heavy monkey wrench into the fashion world, and the entire world, in the last few weeks. As I’m sure most of you have read, a virus called the Corona Virus has begun to spread worldwide. Allegedly, it appeared noticeably only weeks ago in an industrial area of China, where many, many factories exist, producing a wide variety of products, including those involving fashion, as well as high tech products, and many, many things. Perhaps due to the density of the population in the area, the greatest number of people stricken by the virus is in China, with 89,000 people affected, and just under 3,000 deaths. All forms of flu are potentially very dangerous, and 80,000 Americans die of the flu each year. (My own mother died of the flu, and was in relatively healthy energetic shape when she got sick.) It would appear that most of the people who have died of the Corona Virus had pre-existing conditions which made them more vulnerable. The elderly are cited as more at risk, and I’ve heard that men are more vulnerable to it, and I have no idea if that is true. Rumors about the virus are rampant, and many countries around the world now have anywhere from a handful of cases, to a few hundred, to several thousand. How did people get it? How did it get so out of hand, particularly in Asia? How is it transmitted, no one is sure, which lends to the rumors and a certain degree of panic. There is a test for it, in limited supply, which even doctors are finding it hard to obtain. And some people get it so mildly that they don’t even know they have it, and think they have the common cold. The danger there is that if they don’t suspect they have the virus, they continue circulating in the cities where they live, or travel, infecting others without realizing they are. And the bad news is that the incubation period is 2 weeks, so that a healthy person wouldn’t know they are incubating it, and it is highly contagious during that asymptomatic time of incubation.

 

The persistence of it, as cases continue to crop up in every country around the world, is unnerving. Public reaction to it ranges from denial of its seriousness, to outright panic. Once sick, in some places, people have been quarantined, in other countries people are simply asked to confine themselves. But there are no consistent rules about what to do with those who are sick. A week ago, Italy, which had very few cases, less than twenty, experienced an explosion of the number of Corona Virus victims, all or most stemming from an industrial factory town two hours from Milan, where most of the factories are which produce fashion related items. It was similar, on a smaller scale, to what had occurred weeks before in China. And it was also a factory town visited by people of many nationalities, flying in to do business there. It happened at the time of Milan Fashion Week, and ultimately many of the people who visited those factories participated in Milan Fashion Week, and then went to Paris to participate in fashion week there. And in that case, during the silent incubation period. So no one knows yet how many people at Paris Fashion Week will ultimately be impacted and infected as a result of the outbreak in Milan. Cases have continued to increase in Italy, and the number has grown in France. And when all the people of many nationalities go home again, to their own countries, the disease may spread exponentially again.

 

As a result, parties in Paris were cancelled and only one show. But people cancelled out of many events, and tried to stave off germs with hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial drenched ‘towelettes’.Meanwhile the factories in Italy, and in China, and elsewhere around the world, have been closed until the epidemic is under control. In some places, people have been quarantined, and in others not, while we wait to see where this goes. What we don’t know about it is scarier than what we do. And not being a high risk taker, I cancelled out of the shows I wanted to see, and the atmosphere surrounding Paris Fashion Week has been tense. And personally, I would rather miss out on the shows and the fun, than to risk contagion and contamination from people who don’t know they are incubating the Corona Virus, and might be sitting next to me at a show. It just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve seen lots of fashion shows, and will see more again at a safer time. Precautions people are taking cover a wide range from ‘pooh poohing’ the risks, and others who simply decided not to take a chance, packed up and went home.

 

As an extreme comparison, I am reminded of the infamous Spanish Flu, which happened between 1917 and 1919. The statistics on The Spanish Flu are staggering. It was 100 years ago, when medications were less sophisticated and available than they are today. It struck right at the end of World War I, figures on it vary, but it is thought that 500 million people worldwide were infected with it, and 50 to 100 million people died, more than twice the number of people who were killed in the war. It is inconceivable that we could be struck to that degree today. But the rapid wide spread of this virus has caught the world’s attention, as we pause to see what will come next. Schools across the country are talking about closing, for several months. Businesses are encouraging people to work from home, to avoid contagion. And we are waiting for further guidelines and information, hoping that this will not grow to more major proportions than it is now. Some people say it will be over in April. But we really don’t know.

 

Stay safe, be careful. It is something to take very seriously. Follow whatever directions we are given by reliable sources. And I hope and pray that the epidemic will be rapidly brought under control. Take care, and have a peaceful, healthy week,

 

 

love, Danielle

2/24/20, Courage, Integrity, and Gratitude

Posted on February 24, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and things are going well for you!!!

 

I had a fun experience recently, I was invited to visit a high school in the States. Schools aren’t always happy memories for me—-I enjoyed my own school days, but I taught high school seniors for 3 years, in my early 20’s. I taught creative writing, and I was only five years older than my students, and it was very challenging. I looked like one of the kids, and they treated me like one. It was very embarrassing—-I could never keep order in the classroom!!! I had the most unruly classroom in the school. I think I was just too young, and barely out of school myself. I was already writing at the time I taught, since I wrote my first book at nineteen. I would write my books at night after I taught. And my teaching experience finally convinced me to write full time, and give up other jobs. (I had worked as a copywriter in advertising and as a translator before that. But writing was my passion.)

 

But despite my sketchy history as a teacher (I always admire teachers—-it is NOT an easy job, and a very important one), I REALLY enjoyed my high school visit recently. I was impressed by how grown up the students seemed these days, how open the teachers are with the students, and how strong the relationship is between faculty and kids. I had a strong sense of mutual respect between the adults and ‘kids’. I was particularly impressed by the values they try to instill in the students, and they focused particularly on two: Courage and Integrity. It struck me as I listened to the headmaster speak, that with those two qualities, one is armed for life. Integrity is so vital, I seek it in the people I am close to, in the people I work with, work for, and those who work for me. I look for it in my relationships, I admire it in others, and I write about it. I think integrity is one of the great virtues. And “courage” is the perfect ‘partner value’ for integrity. Because you need courage to have integrity, to do the right thing, no matter how hard the circumstances. It’s sometimes very hard to do the right thing, and you need courage to be the lone voice of integrity at times, when others don’t agree with you, or want to take a short cut into sketchy waters to get what they want. As I sat there listening, I realized what an important lesson they are teaching at that school, arming the students with two qualities which will serve them well for life. It’s a lesson we could all be reminded of, and would serve us well.

 

The headmaster also spoke of ‘gratitude’, which I talk and write about. Especially in hard times, gratitude is so important. It’s a good thing to be grateful every day, to stay aware of the blessings in our life. But when the going gets tough, when things aren’t going well, when we feel we’ve missed out, been treated badly, lost something we cared about, or seem to have a run of bad luck, it’s even more important to try and be grateful for one thing every day, or five things, or anything we can. (I remember at one time when everything seemed to be going wrong in my life, on one day the only thing I could think of to be grateful for were my shoes, which were new, red, and kind of cute. The rest of my life seemed like a mess!!) Gratitude turns things around, changes our perspective and reminds us that even if we’re not happy with our current situation, or life, or job, or home, or relationship, there is something to be grateful for. And usually, if you can bring yourself to be grateful, even a little bit, things start to turn around, and the way you see things changes and the situation starts to improve. I always find that gratitude is the ‘grease’ that makes life work, especially when you feel stuck in a bad place.

 

 

So my brief visit to high school turned out to be elevating for me, lifted my thought and my spirits and my attitude. What lucky kids they are to be in such an enlightened school!!! And how lucky I was to be invited for a visit. It was a great reminder of what really matters in life. And those students I visited are getting a great start in life!!

 

Have a great week, filled with good people, fun times, and happy surprises!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

2/18/20, Second Chance!!

Posted on February 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week. I’m in whirlwind mode at the moment, working on a book and an outline, some family events, and publishing schedules for this year and next. Keeping busy!!

 

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I think I used up my Valentine’s Day tickets years ago—-I had 2 marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day (not on the same year!!), which was very romantic, I said yes to both!. This year I went out for burgers with one of my daughters who was free, and a friend. And I had a very good time!!!

 

But for those of you ladies who didn’t get what they hoped for on Valentine’s Day and were disappointed, take heart—you have a second chance!!!  This is Leap Year, and the tradition for Leap Year is that it’s supposedly the one day a year when a woman can propose to a man, and it’s considered quite acceptable!!! So 12 days from now, you can turn the tables on the man (or woman) in your life, if they’ve been slow to propose, and as a woman, you can propose!! I’ve never tried it myself, but why not, if it feels right to you. I think I’ve heard that it’s originally an Irish tradition, but it seems to apply worldwide. There’s a cute movie about it called “Leap Year” with Matthew Goode and Amy Adams, it’s not new but it’s still around (It turns up on Netflix from time to time). So get ready, get set!!! Personally, I’ve always wished I had a Leap Year birthday, then I would only be a quarter the age I am now—-you’d miss out on birthday gifts that way, but it might be worth it.

 

So maybe this year Leap Year will be your big moment. Don’t miss it!!! Or you’ll have to wait another four years!! Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

2/10/20, The Big V

Posted on February 10, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing.  That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.

 

I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.

 

A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find.  It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other.  Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.

 

The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second.  The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).

 

Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast.  Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.

 

So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!

 

I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!

This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you,   Danielle

 

2/3/20, Writing

Posted on February 3, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re doing well, feeling well, happy and busy, and that things are happening in your life as you wish!!!

I’ve been working really hard on a new book, a historical novel this time. They are a HUGE amount of work, first gathering the research before I start, so the setting and the times and events are accurate, and to establish the history right from the beginning. Then writing the fictional story set in those times, and weaving the history into it, always the right amount of both. And then after that, more detailed historical research to fill in any holes. And after that, many re-writes. I do at least 3 re-writes on every book, at different stages of the book, sometimes more. It all happens in about a span of two years, or a little more, until the book is ready to be printed and is complete. I don’t like having a span of two years between books, so I am always working on several at once, in different stages. And sometimes the ‘stages’ are quite spread out, so I have time to write another book in first draft between those stages. The system seems to work and is a major juggling act, and it allows me to publish as many books as I do.

 

The historical novels are a lot more work than the others, getting the history and the mood and feeling of the times right. It’s like travelling back in time, whenever I do it, and I need to isolate myself even more for the historical novels, so I’m not distracted by modern times. I have a researcher who helps me gather the information, and then I decide how much of it to use, and what events work best with the story. Writing a historical novel teaches me a lot of new things, just as reading it will do for the reader—-learning about events and people at another time in history. And I often use real people, and songs and books and movies as well as events, to give substance to the time I’ve set it in. I don’t go tooooo far back in history (like Greek or Roman times) or too many centuries back, because then the times are too foreign to us now, and are harder to relate to. A century or two are about as far back as I ever go, or at a time when the challenges in human relations are very similar to what we’re living now.

 

Someone commenting on my Instagram said that they really miss the characters when the book ends. So do I. The characters become so real to me, I work so carefully to build them and make them come to life, that I fall in love with them too (or hate them!!! for the mean ones). And I feel lost for a few days or a week after I finish, as though all my friends have moved away, and I can’t be part of their lives anymore. I’m always happy to find them again when I come back to the book for another re-write. And once the book is absolutely finished, re-written many times, and ready for the book to be printed—-after that, I never read them again.

 

Writing a book is like having a lot of imaginary friends. By the end of the first chapter I love them and they are real to me. And by the end of the book, I know them really well and what they would or wouldn’t do. Sometimes they have a mind of their own!!!! And they refuse to do what I want them to!!! But eventually, I get a good grip on it, whether a historical or a contemporary book. It’s an incredible joy when it goes well, and I feel so lucky to have a job I love. And thank you for reading them, after all of that hard work!!! You make it all worthwhile for me. The nights are long and the days are hard, and the elation and sense of accomplishment when you finish a book is tremendous!!!

 

I can’t write to you today, without at least mentioning the tragic accident which took the life of Famous Basketball Star Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, along with another family, and several other people, including children. I ache at knowing Kobe’s widow’s grief to have lost a husband AND a child, and the other family members of the other people and families on board. No loss is easy, and some are unbearably hard. The whole world has grieved these tragic deaths, and the loss of a great athlete and hero, husband, and father. Even in Europe, people have grieved for him, and the others lost. My heart goes out to all the survivors who lost loved ones.

 

I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, safe week. I hope we’re all grateful for our many blessings, however small they are, I hope that we’re treasuring our loved ones, and grateful for every minute we have with them. My children and I have been deeply saddened by Kobe’s death, and all the others with him.

 

I hope that life touches you gently this week, and that it’s a week of many blessings for you.

 

love, Danielle