Archive for 2021

1/18/21, Peace I leave you with…

Posted on January 18, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you in these turbulent times. In many ways, in the US, we seem to be in the eye of the storm, both in the numbers in the pandemic, and political unrest within the country. None of us could have foreseen a year ago all that is happening now. A year ago right now, I was in Paris, going to a Haute Couture fashion show, and preparing to fly to California to attend my son’s wedding. It was an exciting time, the holidays with them in California had been wonderful with an already festive feeling, with the wedding near at hand. We were planning a big, fun rehearsal dinner at the baseball stadium, and the biggest decision I had to make was which shoes to wear to the rehearsal dinner of the wedding. There was an aura of happiness around us, as our big family, and the bride’s, prepared to fly in, hers from all over the country, and ours from all over the world. Both events came off without a hitch, the wedding was gorgeous, and the rehearsal dinner a lot of fun, and the bridal couple were elated, as we all were to share their big moment with them. They left on their honeymoon, the next day, and I flew back to Paris two days after the wedding. We all left on a cloud of the joy we shared, and little did I know that the wedding would be the last time I would see my children for eleven months. Less than a week after the bridal couple returned from their honeymoon, the roof caved in on the entire world with Covid 19. And within days after that, I was in lockdown for three months in Paris, and remained there after that, waiting for things to get better in the States, which never happened. Instead, it got steadily worse over the months, and was safer in France.

 

It’s been a roller coaster ride for everyone in the world ever since. Jobs have been lost, businesses have folded, economies have suffered, and more importantly people have died the world over. More than three hundred thousand people have died in the US alone. We’re living with lockdowns and curfews everywhere, wearing masks, fearing for our lives, and our loved ones. Our lives have shrunk to next to nothing, in our struggles to stay alive, not catch the virus, or transmit it unknowingly to anyone. Young people can’t go to college, people can’t go to offices, hospitals are overflowing. It has been a very rough year for everyone, although some people have been lucky, haven’t caught the virus, or did and have recovered well. Now the vaccines are offering a glimmer of hope, but the dark days aren’t over yet. After the ill-judged excesses of people gathering and traveling over the holidays, the number of new cases daily has never been higher, over 300,000 new cases a day last week, and a constant death toll around the world. Some countries have fared better than others, but every country has been affected, and for now the numbers are the worst in the US. We all long for the day when contagion, masks, and overcrowded intensive care units are a thing of the past, and will recede into memory. We’re not even close to that yet, or to lives that bear any resemblance to what we knew as ‘normal’. Just having lunch or dinner at a restaurant with a friend would be a gift. And visiting my children, or having them visit me, the greatest gift of all. For now, around the globe, we’re all in the same mess. We’re holding up, but it’s far from easy. And we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still running rampant among us, and we’re all trying not to get sick.

 

And on the political front in the US, we have seen unrest and dissent that has never been seen before. Demonstrations, protests, riots, racial issues have exploded, nerves are raw, political battles are raging, crime has risen in many countries, with people out of work and desperate for money. People are suffering, depression is constant, anxiety is common, every age group has been affected mentally and physically, by the pandemic, and political unrest has exploded in the US. It’s a lot for anyone to cope with. And the best any of us can do is live it day by day, hang on, and get from one day to the next. It won’t last forever, but right now it’s hard.

 

I was reminded today of something a priest told me, when I was facing major challenges in my own life, a divorce, and the death of my son. I often say that bad things come in bunches, like grapes. And right now, we are dealing with a life-threatening pandemic and all its fallout, we’re worn out after a year of it, and now the country appears to be shaky politically. People are traumatized, fuses are short, and tempers are running high. Some people are isolated because of the pandemic, and desperately lonely.

 

When I was coping with a lot in my own life, the priest I mentioned said that sometimes we have a mess in our closet, and the only way to deal with it, is pull everything out of the closet to straighten it out. And to make things neat again, we make an even bigger mess getting everything out of the closet, to sort it all out, throw things away, and put what’s left back neatly. I think that’s where we are now collectively. We’re pulling everything out of the closet and dealing with the mess all around us, the virus, the politics, all the explosive issues, and we will get the closet put back together neatly, but right now we’re at the messiest part, with heaps of ‘stuff’ all around us, while trying to do triage and restore order. And we’ll just have to wade through the mess until we sort it all out and wind up with a neat closet in the end. And this is the messy part. Life is messy sometimes, and this is. It reassured me when the priest said that to me, and I thought of it today. We are standing up to our knees, or waist, or neck in messes, which in time will get sorted out. But right now, everywhere we turn, it looks like a mess. And even more frustrating, we didn’t make the mess, it’s not our fault, none of it. It happened to us, like a bolt of lightning from the sky.

 

We each have to find our own way to cope with it, how to relax, how to breathe, how to hang on, how to believe and know that things will go back into good order eventually, and we have to make the best of it until then. Whatever works for you, as long as it’s legal and safe and doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, is fair. Exercise, meditation, spending time with a loved one, or alone, listening to music, doing a painting, reading a book (yes, please!!), watching something on TV, helping someone in worse shape than you are, praying, going for a walk. Getting a glimpse of beauty, or finding something to laugh at. There is an expression in French for these situations: “Raise the Hearts”, which applies here. We have to raise our hearts, even if we feel like our hearts are dragging, even if we’re scared or anxious or angry that any of this is happening. We will come through it, we HAVE to hang onto hope. There is no other choice. And gratitude helps too, no matter how small what we are grateful for.

 

At times like this, I turn to spiritual inspiration to find balance and strength. For others, it’s exercise, or other things. The love and comfort of the people I love gives me strength too. But sometimes, we don’t even have that, and we have to find courage and strength on our own. In my darkest hours, after my son’s death, working on the streets with the homeless gave my life purpose and brought me back to life again. I would lose myself among them, working to serve them and bring them supplies and comfort, dangerously and sometimes even foolishly brave because I didn’t care what happened to me, but all those kind people I supposedly helped, actually helped heal my broken heart. And today, we don’t have the same freedoms, since we need to be careful of Covid, we can’t hug a stranger or touch a hand, and have to use caution, but there are ways to help others even now, without putting yourself at risk. Whatever works for you, and is safe.

 

I found a passage in the Bible today that brought me comfort, and I share it with you. Even if that’s not your form of comfort, I share it with you, in case it helps. From John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 

 

Have a peaceful week. We’ll get the mess sorted out, and the closet of our lives sorted out neatly again.

 

I send you love and comfort, and a hug,  Danielle

 

1/11/21, Just keep swimming and we’ll get there!!!

Posted on January 11, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, we’re eleven days into this New Year, and how’s it working for you so far? It’s a little early to make any pronouncements, but one thing is for sure, life certainly isn’t dull in the US these days, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic, the economy, and just keeping one’s head above water. In every race, in every marathon, in every challenge, even in childbirth, there comes a moment when you feel overwhelmed and think ‘I can’t do this….this is too much’, and you think you’ll drown. That’s the hard part, that ultimate moment, and if you just hang on, the victory will come later, the praise, the elation, or even just the satisfaction of having finished the race. I think that’s sort of where we are at the moment. That hard time when you think you’ll drown. We won’t, we can’t, we just have to keep swimming, either dog paddling as best we can, or in long smooth strokes. I have moments of panic myself in the pandemic, but you just have to stay calm. The storm WILL pass. Soon, I hope.

 

My panic was over the Covid numbers this week. The US broke ALL records, with 307,000 new cases in one day this past week. Staggering. And if you count backwards from that date, you land on Christmas, 14 days earlier, and that shocking number of new cases is the direct result of what people did on Christmas: how much they traveled or partied or how many people they saw without paying attention to the rules of social distance and wearing masks. I will admit it, that number infuriated me, and showed us that while my family and I cancelled all our plans, didn’t travel, and didn’t spend Christmas together, in order to follow the rules——others didn’t make the same sacrifice, traveled, had fun, saw lots of people, and now the rest of it pay the price for it, for the highest numbers of any country in the entire pandemic. And a week from now, we’ll know how badly they behaved, and how irresponsible they were on New Year’s Eve.  It really is discouraging to see to what degree people don’t follow the guidelines or the rules.

 

The news this week was not super encouraging. There were the very bad numbers in the US, and rising numbers elsewhere in the world, though not to that degree. January is always kind of dull and an anti-climax after the holidays, the weather is cold and dreary in many places. California is blazing with the virus, out of control, so the entire state is locked down, and people there are depressed about it, and fed up. Things are very bad in Britain too, with a mutant strain of the virus that is more contagious, and which has already traveled to the US, France, Canada, and several other countries. And the vaccine is rolling out slowly everywhere. So bad weather, bad numbers, and now the price to pay for irresponsible behaviour over the holidays. That’s a tough first week in a new year. But what else can we expect if people are careless? And the long awaited vaccine is rolling out more slowly than planned, in every country. Governments are scurrying to get organized.

 

It was a historic week too. Although I am not political, and shy away from politics, we were all witness to an incredible scene in Washington this week, of protesters, or rioters, seemingly easily invading the Capitol building, looting, pillaging, stealing paintings, breaking into offices and disrespecting them, our Congressmen fleeing the building in terror, being escorted to safety, and the deaths of 5 people as a result of the chaos. Whatever one’s politics or beliefs, the images were shocking, and a sign of massive disrespect, in a country which is otherwise civilized and sane, where one can’t even imagine scenes of that kind, more typical of underdeveloped countries where civil unrest is common. But in the US? Land of the free and the brave? Where freedom is a remarkable gift, and mutual respect one of the cornerstones of the foundation the country was built on. What happened? How could scenes like that happen in the US? The entire world looked on dumbstruck, like watching someone having a major temper tantrum and losing control in a department store or some public place, while people watched in horror and astonishment with no idea what to do to stop it. It was embarrassing, frightening, sad, disheartening, and not a proud moment in our history, whatever one’s beliefs. It was a loss of control, and an absence of respect in a major way. And it isn’t the image or the way America wants to be viewed in the eyes of the world. Violence is never the answer and never achieves a successful result. So on several fronts, it was a discouraging week at best.

 

So what do we do now? Just like the marathon or the race or a challenging childbirth, we just keep going, keep swimming, keep running, and we’ll get there in the end. When people behave and follow the rules, we’ll get a grip on Covid, the vaccine will roll out more smoothly in time, the pandemic will NOT last forever. The economy will recover. We just have to keep swimming, just keep running in the right direction, and we will get where we need to be.

 

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going” and “Never, Never, Never, Never Give up!!”.

 

And just as an aside, I had a new book come out this week in hard cover, “Neighbors”. Maybe if people stay home and read for a little while, things will calm down and get sane again.

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I am counting on it!! This is just the beginning of a brand new year, and the best is yet to come!!! Keep Swimming!!!

 

lots of love, Danielle

 

 

 

1/4/20, A Clean Slate

Posted on January 4, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Whew!!….A new year!! A clean slate. Last year was a jolt for all of us, shocking, scary, long, discouraging, and we still have to manage living with Covid for the moment, but we are all hopeful that we’ll beat this virus soon—-hopefully early in the year, and life will return to normal. We’ve all earned medals this year in courage, patience, strength, and we deserve a chest full of awards, and rewards, for getting through ten months of it. I know some people, even many, are tired and fed up. The numbers in the US are still scary, some states are blazing, California among them, and some cities are locked down—-again. But the vaccine is on the horizon, for those who will take it, and time is on our side. This won’t go on forever. This time of year is always a little bleak and gray after the holidays. But we just have to go on fighting, and living, and knowing that we will come out the other side. Even when we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is there. Daylight always comes, and bad times end. So we have to hang in, and start the New Year with new energy, a fresh outlook, and a clean slate.

 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, because I never keep them, and I hate to disappoint myself!! I try to make changes and improvements when the time feels right—not according to the calendar. But the beginning of a new year is something of a landmark, and it’s a good time to give up old grudges, end old feuds, forgive people who have offended us, and start fresh. It’s too much baggage to carry to stay mad at anyone, and the one who pays the price for carrying that heavy load on our heart is ourself. So as best we can, let’s throw old gripes away in the trash, and move on, with a fresh spring in our step.

 

I’m starting the year with a new book. It comes out tomorrow, on Tuesday, “Neighbors”—-it begins with an earthquake in San Francisco, which cuts off the electricity, gas and water, to an entire neighborhood (which happened to me in San Francisco in the last big quake there in l989). And in my book, a retired very famous movie star, who lives in seclusion behind her walls, reaches out to her neighbors when an earthquake hits and their homes are badly damaged and hers is still standing, so she invites them in to stay with her. Once she does, she discovers the amazing people who are her neighbors whom she had never met before, and had no idea who they were. A young couple who appear as perfect people and parents—-with a dark secret. A flashy glamourous bachelor with a hot girlfriend. A famous blind concert pianist, in his 80’s, a remarkable man, and the struggling young writer who works for him at night, and lives in the house to help him. The reclusive movie star not only discovers them, but she finds herself again as she reaches out to them, and they give new purpose to her life, and a whole new world opens up to her. I love writing about what happens to people in a crisis, what they make of it, and what it makes of them. I hope you love the book!!! January is always a good time to curl up with a new book, and stay warm and cozy at home. And this is a great time to do it in this brand new year.

 

I hope that this will be a great year for you, that wonderful things happen, and all your dreams come true!!! Have a great week!!!  And a great year!!

 

love, Danielle