Archive for 2023
Posted on April 13, 2023
Posted on April 5, 2023
I hope that your life has been rolling along as smoothly as possible. I’ve been travelling again, to visit my children. I have flown through 3 cities in 3 days so far, spent some lovely times with some of my children, and it’s always a challenge to try and see everyone and spend quality time with them, now that we are so spread out. And travelling is challenging these days. So far we had a flight delayed by air traffic controllers, resulting in a 2 hour delay before take off, and a delayed arrival, and a 3 hour delay on the next flight, due to a mechanical problem, a wait to change planes not sure if the flight would be cancelled or not, and an arrival delayed by nearly four hours, which is always frustrating. “Getting there is NOT half the fun “The airports were crowded and everyone seems to be travelling these days. And the weather has been freezing everywhere, with only the faintest hint of spring in the air.
I try to take time off from work when I’m seeing my kids, but I always have a manuscript somewhere with me, too, and I have this time as well. I can work on planes and late at night.
I’m looking forward to Easter (and chocolate covered marshmallows, yummmm!!!!) Have a very, very wonderful Easter, hopefully with friends and/or family. Or a lovely Passover celebration.
May blessings be abundant at your table,
Posted on March 27, 2023
I hope it’s been a good week for you. I’ve been working on an outline. It’s been a long week, with strikes in Paris, interrupting all the public services they can, transportation, the postal service, and the garbage is piled high in the streets, with violence on appointed days, and small fires set all over town. It definitely impacts the usually pleasant atmosphere in Paris. And rats will be the next addition to the strike if the garbage isn’t picked up soon, with mountains of overflowing, torn plastic garbage bags spilling garbage all over the sidewalks. Not a pretty picture!!
Other than that, life is rolling along, and I stay home and use the time to write when there are demonstrations all around the city. Despite reports in the international press, it doesn’t feel dangerous to the average citizen, just incredibly inconvenient, which is what the strikers intend.
We are rapidly approaching one of my favorite times of year: Easter. And Passover is always around the same time. The main theme and message of Easter is one I particularly love, the idea of resurrection. After the dark days preceding Easter, commemorating the crucifixion, in the days following the powerful message is all about resurrection, a time for healing and rising from the ashes, and starting life anew again. Who among us hasn’t had ‘crucifixion’ times, a broken relationship, a lost job, the loss of a loved one, a sickness, a disappointment, a divorce, a break up, a financial problem, or the betrayal by a friend?. We’ve all been there at one time or another, and I always say problems seem to come in bunches. We’ve all had dark times in our lives, and these are still difficult times for many people in the aftermath of Covid. The world isn’t fully back on its feet yet. And after hard times, what better thought than that of resurrection, of healing, of being born anew, wiping the slate clean and recovering from whatever blows we have been dealing with. This past year was one of many losses for me, of dear friends. My agent of forty years died, and at his best over many years, he was mentor, agent, brilliant advisor, fierce protector, and beloved friend, and even a father figure to me. It was a huge blow to lose him, even at ninety two. He led a great life, but left a huge void when he died. And not long after, another friend died, and at the end of the year, another dear friend (Barbara Walters) and then a beloved brother in law. Three of them had reached a great age, and were still active and vital when they died, but all of them had been my friends for many years, and I felt the absence of their love and presence for months, and still do. So I can use a resurrection from that, a lifting of my spirits and peaceful acceptance that they have moved on, and I have so many happy memories of them to cherish. They were in my life for so many wonderful years.
And then there are all the little problems that gnaw on us night and day, keep us awake at night, they’re not life threatening, but they impact the quality of our daily life. And added to that, the sad events and disappointments that make our daily life less glowing than we would like. And every year the Resurrection redeems us, wipes the slate clean of those disappointments, and we get to start fresh again. I can’t wait!!! The resurrection gives us new hope for the future, feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to leap into life again. There are many celebrations throughout the year, but for me none as powerful as the idea of resurrection.
May this be a healing time for you too, and if you’ve been wrestling with something, or feeling down, now is the time to rise again and start fresh with a clean slate. And whatever religion we are, or none, it’s a concept I love to embrace, as we leave our problems and wounds aside and bury them and move forward with a lighter heart. I hope blessings and joy will rain on you in the coming weeks!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on March 20, 2023
I hope you’ve had a good week and that things are going well for you.
My new book “Worthy Opponents” came out in hardcover a week ago, and it just hit the #2 spot on the New York Times list, (with 2 paperbacks on that list too), and #1 on some other lists, which is always Great News!! I never take it for granted, and am grateful every time my books land on the bestseller lists! It’s a thrill for me every time, and a form of validation for all the hard work I do. And getting on the bestseller lists is thanks to YOU—-so a giant thank you for that.
I just finished a big writing project, correcting a set of galleys (the last step before a manuscript goes to the printers to become a book.), And I finished a new book the week before that. I have been writing non stop for the past three months, very intensely, so I’m taking a couple of days off just to catch my breath and relax. Reading, doing needlepoint which I love to do when I take a break, seeing a few friends, a little shopping. It feels like landing on earth again, after focusing so completely on the books for months.
When 9/11 happened, people predicted that it would change the world and it has. It was a loss of innocence, an attack on our home turf. I hated to think that it would change us forever, but inevitably it has, and travel has certainly been more complicated ever since. And now Covid impacted the world for nearly three years, and once again, I wanted to believe that it would go away and life would continue as before. Finally, we are getting back to greater normalcy, but it is still shocking to think that it brought the entire world to a dead stop (and tragically, killed people all over the world, devastating their loved ones). I don’t think any of us could even remotely imagine something like that happening, except in a science fiction movie. And like all major events, some good things came out of it, new relationships, new friends, some time for introspection, a greater appreciation for our lives. People who had never had enough time to spend with their children suddenly got to know them and strengthened their family relationships, now many people are working from home part time and prefer it. But it was also isolating, frightening at times, and I find that people are still on edge now, more anxious than before, and people are still catching Covid, although the cases seem to be milder. But there does seem to be a sense of “malaise”/unease, uncertainty, discomfort. Maybe it was so shocking that it will take us all longer to relax and feel comfortable again. Or maybe the world is just a little off kilter at the moment. But I don’t feel like we’re back in our old familiar groove yet. I’m not sure if the post Covid changes are temporary or here to stay.
In the US a bank failed last week, which always panics people even from the distance. In France, the population are registering their displeasure by general strikes that are tedious, with all services disrupted, transportation, even some flights, subways, buses, trains. The strikers, and their sympathizers have started to damage the city (though nothing like the “Yellow Jackets” of a few years ago, who trashed the city with billions of dollars worth of damage.), some cars have been burned, and the garbage strike that is an offshoot of the strike has left Paris with literally mountains of uncollected garbage pouring all over the street and sidewalks. In San Francisco more homeless than ever are roaming the streets, in worse shape than I’ve ever seen them.
Friendships were impacted by the isolation of three major lockdowns (in France). It was a very hard time for me, since I was separated from my children for 15 months for the first time, which was traumatic for me.
It’s been a cold hard winter in Europe, and I’ve been tucked away writing for many months. But when I take a break and go out, or when I talk to people, or when I walk down the street, something still feels “off’. I guess the trauma of two and a half years takes longer than a few months to heal. And the world news continues to be disquieting, and sadly, the war in Ukraine has continued for more than a year now. And on a day to day level, People seem to be more argumentative and disagreeing more.
Maybe when the weather gets better and Spring arrives, maybe people will settle down and it will all get better, or seem better, more settled and more hopeful. But if you’re feeling jangled in the meantime, it’s not you, I’m hearing that from a lot of people, about small situations and big ones. We just have to keep on trucking and we’ll come out the other side of the tunnel. And in the meantime, I hope you enjoy my new book “Worthy Opponents”. Take care and have a GREAT week!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on March 14, 2023
I hope all is well with you and rolling along and that life is treating you well. I haven’t done anything too exciting in the past week. I’ve been finishing the research for a book, which actually was exciting. It’s a modern-day contemporary book, with some complicated technical details in it, which was interesting to research. And now I’m working on a new outline. Sometimes I go straight from one book to the next, and sometimes I take a few days’ break, or even one day off to clear my head. And sometimes I can’t wait to leap into the next book, if the outline is really all set in my head. There is always a little resistance to starting a new book, and I look for projects around the house to stall me. It’s hard taking that first leap into starting a new. A favorite past time seems to be rearranging my nail polishes by color, or my clothes. Last weekend I sorted through my glasses and then put them all away by color. And eventually I run out of excuses, and sit down to work, roll that first page into the typewriter, and the book takes off, with a life of its own. It’s exciting starting a book, it’s like a leap into a pool, freezing cold at first, and then you get used to it, and you feel the rhythm of the book, and the story.
And on Friday, there will be Saint Patrick’s day, it’s a national holiday I can lay no ancestral claim too. I don’t think there is a single Irish person in my family. The Irish have a strong sense of family, and they are amazingly civil and friendly in their pubs, no matter how much they drink. You don’t see physical fights in pubs in Ireland, the way you would in bars in the US. And they are naturally friendly, gregarious and welcoming.
So, enjoy St. Patrick’s day on Friday, drive safely or take an Uber if you party. And have a great week!!!
Posted on March 6, 2023
I hope you’re having a good week, and that all is well with you.
I had an exciting, interesting, and slightly odd experience. I’ve been going to fashion shows since I was in my teens, (and I took my own daughters to the shows when they were even younger. As a result they caught the bug, and three of them now have major careers in fashion, as consultants, fashion director, founders of a brand, stylists, design consultants, and all the interesting sub specialties of fashion. I also studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design, so I have a definite artistic interest in fashion). I have mostly gone to the ready to wear and couture shows in Paris, but have seen several in New York. As soon as the pandemic began, I didn’t feel comfortable exposing myself to hundreds of people, or even more, in crowded spaces, elbow to elbow with the person next to you, and squeezing together on the way out in a crowd of hundreds, or even thousands. And shortly after I stopped going in 2020, the various brands shut down their shows, and they have been virtual for more than two years until very recently. On a purely practical level, I discovered how simple it was to watch them on line, sitting at home in my pajamas. You cant beat that for comfort—I don’t have to fight for my seat, or get all dressed up to see a show that lasts for about 15 minutes. BUT, it’s also not as fun watching it at home. And the fashion shows during fashion week are the hotbed of glamour, gorgeous models, beautiful clothes, a glittering crowd of spectators and chic people, editors and journalists, buyers, and people who love fashion. It’s a very special experience, and an exciting one, even after all these years.
It is exactly 3 years now since I stopped going to the shows, to avoid Covid. And I’ve turned down all the invitations for the past year, once the shows started again, but with Covid still lurking among us, although less, I just didn’t feel ready for it. The House of Hermes recently invited me to their fashion week show, and I almost turned it down, and then thought I would stick my toe back in the water, and go. And I’m glad I did.
It was a beautiful show, and fun, there were even more beautiful women in the audience as on the runway. It was at a historic location in Paris, in a freshly redone space, an Enormous inside area (which I haven’t done in a long time in a public place, except an airport.) The women watching the shows were glamorous, impeccably put together and chicly dressed, and I suddenly felt steeped in the fashion world again, which is always fun, but it also felt like a somewhat out of body experience to be in a huge crowd, seated next to strangers, watching models pound down the runway, and admiring the clothes for next season. I didn’t feel as serious as I used to, less intense, I was as fascinated by the very handsome crowd as I was by the clothes on the runway. There were men there too, also meticulously groomed and in most cases elegantly dressed. It was very odd to be in a big crowd after so long. No one was wearing a mask, although I thought about it and then felt stupid and didn’t.
It was an exciting show, and when it was over, I looked around with pleasure, and was happy to be back!! It was a lovely experience, and I was glad I went!!!
Have a great week, love, Danielle
Posted on February 22, 2023
I hope all is well, and that all is fine in your world. I was very touched by the mention of Jimmy Carter going into hospice care at the age of 98. It will be a sad loss for us, of an amazing human being when he is gone. And I hope he is having peaceful, comfortable days now. Reading about him, he is really one of the unsung heroes, and perhaps less appreciated presidents of our times. I was reminded of the one time I was privileged to meet him and Mrs. Carter, who was also a lovely person when we met.
Growing up and schooled in France, with European parents, then married in France, I’ve never had much interest in or knowledge of American politics. All I knew about Jimmy Carter was that he had been a peanut farmer, which didn’t sound too exciting. My knowledge of American presidents other than Abraham Lincoln and JFK has always been limited. Years after Carter was president, after my son Nick died and I wrote the book about him, His Bright Light, I won a string of awards for my hands on work with the mentally ill, and then the homeless, and out of the blue, I got a personal call from Jimmy Carter, who asked if he could come to San Francisco and meet with me and have dinner. I was famous by then, but no President had ever called me to have dinner. I was flattered and curious and said yes, with no idea what his politics had been.
The Secret Service took my house apart, rode up and down in my elevator for hours, checking that there was no bomb in it, vetted my staff. Jimmy Carter flew to SF as promised and came to dinner with me at home. I was expecting “the peanut farmer”. Instead, I was stunned, he was absolutely brilliant, did extensive good works for the mentally ill, was rebuilding several villages in Africa, supplying food, water, medicine, rebuilding large parts of Africa to supply water and food, doing research on extensive subjects at his foundation, and he just wanted to talk to me and find out first hand what I’d learned about mental illness and homelessness. I was blind sided. I’ve rarely met anyone as kind, caring, compassionate, and incredibly smart. Really, really smart. He must have been a more remarkable president than most people knew, and certainly a better human being than most. I was stunned that he flew out to have dinner with me, and he was so unbelievably smart and knowledgeable, and interested in the world, determined to use his fortune to help others and make the world a better place. He must have been in his 70’s then, full of energy. I never saw him again, but he was definitely one of the great surprises in my life, and truly admirable people.
With him in the news today, I read several quotes by him, and I came across one that really stopped me, and reminded me of what a great human being he was when I met him.
“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something. My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I can, whenever I can, for as long as I can”/ Jimmy Carter.
What an incredible motto to live by, and he has. Whenever he goes, he will have fulfilled his dream, and the dreams of many many people to make the world a better, safer, healthier, kinder place. Whatever his politics, he certainly lived his life well, for others. However long or short our time, how amazing if we could live by that, if we could dedicate our life to others with that kind of certainty, and make life better for others. And what a shame there haven’t been more presidents and people like him, to inspire people, to show us all his shining example of helping others in a sincere, humble way. Anyway, I loved the quote and wanted to share it with you. And he was lovely with my children and all my employees when he came to dinner. He spoke to each of them, no one was too young, too old, too small for him to spend a moment with them and make them feel special. What a wonderful, wonderful, extraordinary man he is. I am truly honored to have met him even once.
Have a great week, love, Danielle
Posted on February 13, 2023
I hope that all is well with you, and you’re having fun. This week is the Valentine Lottery, so to speak, hoping you get cards, flowers, dinner, chocolates, and maybe even an engagement ring!! My first big Valentine disappointment was in third grade, when I was the only girl in class who didn’t get a Valentine, but I made up for it in later years, when I got two Valentine’s Day marriage proposals. One lasted for eighteen years, and the other one for eight. that’s pretty respectable by today’s standards, and the proposals were wonderfully romantic. And so were the weddings that resulted.
I’ve had some truly inglorious years with no flowers, no chocolates and no marriage proposals (although my children always come through for me and spoil me!! And I spoil them too). There is definitely something very exciting and romantic about Valentine gifts, but some men just aren’t into it, and consider it crass commercialism and avoid the date entirely. And I’ve given and received some outrageously funny Valentine cards, refusing to take the date seriously. That is definitely one way to handle the date. The worst possible way to handle the date is to sit at home, crying. I went to mass one year on Valentine’s Day, and the priest asked all couples to stand up so we could see them, and celebrate them and congratulate them. And then he asked all the single people to stand up, and I felt as though he were saying “We want to take a good look at you losers”. Standing up there alone, with people staring me was definitely a low point in my Valentine history.
There are such strong expectations on Valentine’s Day, if no one makes any romantic moves, and no one proposes, it definitely feels like you lost the Valentine lottery. The night before my first Valentine proposal, I gave a Valentine Dance that was a huge amount of fun, I wore a terrific red dress, and everything came together and my husband proposed. I don’t even know who I would invite to a Valentine Dance to today, although I love the idea, I love to dance, and I had a lot of fun at that dance, and the proposal came as a wonderful surprise!!! today, my friends have either settled into couples long since, or have parted company with their mates, or have settled into looser, more unofficial relationships that seem to work with them, and a few claim they are happier alone. There is not quite the feeling of expectation more typical in one’s twenties or thirties. But it’s never too late, and some couples find each other late in life (sometimes even a person they went to school with and have reconnected with, once they are free again.)
Many years ago, I gave a very funny Valentine dinner. I invited a group of people, I think a dozen of them, and each one had to bring someone that they were happy to introduce to others, thought they were a nice person, but had no interest in dating them. It was a fun evening, and I think four or five new couples resulted from it. It was a creative way to meet new people!!
This year, I am trying something different. I am having lunch with five friends whom I thoroughly enjoy and love dearly, and it will be a joy to have lunch with them. Two are married, one is separated, one is widowed, one divorced, and one is in a long term relationship. It will be warm and fun to be with them, we all know each other well and are good friends, and maybe the best way to spend a special day, if romance isn’t in the air, is to spend it with friends you love. And you just never know what surprises life will have in store for you next year!!! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, with whoever you spend it with, a child, a friend, a spouse or a lover, and have a great week!!!
all my love, Danielle
Posted on February 7, 2023
I hope that all is going well for you, with peaceful times, not turbulent ones. And time to do things you enjoy. True confessions: that is one of my weak spots. I am a work horse, extremely disciplined, and always do the “homework” first, all the things I should be doing, and then there is never time left over for “fun”. My work ethic always takes over. I meet all my deadlines, and finish my to do list, but I’m not good at just relaxing, doing nothing, and having fun. I have to really make a point of taking time off, and don’t do it often enough!!!
In line with that, I’ve been working on 4 different books, editing, outlining, writing first and last drafts, with a fifth one in my head that I will outline soon. It’s a major juggling act, and I have done nothing but write for the last month or so, with another month of it up ahead. And then I plan to take a couple of weeks off, before I start another book. The only time I am good about taking time off is to spend time with my children. And I am still playing catch up after the two months I took off at the end of the year to visit them. But it was well worth it!!
I find it easier to work hard in the cold winter months, with bad weather, I’m happy to stay home and write. Once the weather warms up again, it will be more tempting to get out and play!!!
I hope that things are going well for you. And that you’re taking time out to have some fun!!! And I will try to take my own advice on that!!! Have a great week!!!
Posted on February 2, 2023
I hope you’ve had a good week, I’ve been buried deep in writing a book, weaving the story, which always transports me to a quiet place, far from the real world. I don’t go out or see people when I’m writing, and at times real life intrudes, and wakes me up out of the spell I am weaving in a fictional world.
I am not a political person. I’ve never had a strong interest in (or understanding of) politics. Certain issues and injustices catch my attention at times, emotionally, but I grew up in two countries, and I focus on my family, my loved ones, and their well being and my books, which are my job and something I love doing. although politics are an important part of our lives and responsibilities as citizens, politics always seem very remote to me, run by people we really don’t know, and it often seems to be about who is the best orator, or has the best speech writer, rather than who is truly the best person for the job, which is hard to know.
What I am writing to you does not come from politics, or about race, or color, it is purely and only about motherhood, about love. It has weighed on me for days. And I cannot write to you about fashion shows, or about petty gripes or new books, or holidays here, or on my Instagram with pictures of pretty plates, new shoes, or pictures of my dogs….with this weight on my heart.
I speak of Tyre Nichols, brutally, wantonly senselessly murdered, for no reason, out of pure rage, seemingly just for sport—-a young man of 29, in the full bloom of his youth, barely more than a boy, and the father of a little boy himself. Whatever he did or didn’t do, was or wasn’t, no one of any color deserves to be murdered. He didn’t even anger anyone, he just was, going home to his mother’s house. I cannot read about it, or see his mother’s face, or think about it without tears filling my eyes. I lost a son, he committed suicide at nineteen, a greatly loved, infinitely cherished, wonderful special boy I loved and always will. I know the pain in Tyre’s mother’s heart. When you think of how much we love and cherish our children, the touch of their skin when they are born, the first moment you see them, the smiles and the laughter over the years, the nights spent with them when they’re sick, the fear for them as they grow up, the touch and feel of them, the joy they give us and we try to give them, the pride when we see them in the school play, or when they give you the Kleenex box they made you as a gift. Just holding our children in our arms is an immeasurable gift. We would do anything to protect them, they are part of us forever, the idea that someone can take that loved being, so cherished by his parents, his loved ones, his children once he’s grown. They took that loved being and murdered him for no reason anyone can fathom. Did not one of those five men who beat him to death, or those who watched it happen, have a child of their own whom they loved so tenderly that taking someone else’s child and murdering them would have been an unthinkable act?
There is no explaining the vagaries of man, the terrible things people do to each other in wars, and even more impossible to explain murdering a young man going about his business in an ordinary life. Where was mercy? Where was kindness? Where was humanity? Where was the unwillingness to injure and destroy another human being, and to rob parents of their child? I don’t think we will ever understand it. Children are killed every day by people who are beyond understanding. I am equally unable to understand this one shocking death.
It weighs on my mother’s heart, on the memory of what it was like to lose a child I had nurtured and loved for nineteen years. Tyre’s mother, his parents, have a hard road to travel now, and will have to learn to live with it, until their grief softens to something they can live with.
I write to you tonight, only to tell you how sad I am, how deeply sorry I am for them. How little comfort we can offer for what they lost.
May God bless his soul, may he be in a better place now, may his parents find comfort, and remember the warm memories of the joy they shared during his life. And may each of us remember him and be reminded that a world without mercy, humanity and compassion is an unlivable place for us all. May it be a reminder and a lesson to us all. And may the memories of him be sweet for those who knew and loved him.
with all my love,