5/13/19, Wake Up Call:Real Life


Hi Everyone,


I hope you had a good week and a lovely mother’s day, whether you’re a mother, or a son or daughter, a grandchild, or just a good motherly friend to someone who looks up to you.


Sometimes I have something I can’t wait to share with you, something I’ve seen or done or a pet peeve or immense joy. At other times, I grope around and can’t think of a single interesting thing I’ve done all week that might entertain you. There are always the fashion shows at certain times of year, the holidays, or a new book out. And I DO have a new book out, “Blessing in Disguise”, which came out last week, about a woman with three adult daughters, each one with a different father, and how very different they are, and how separate and distinct the mother’s relationship is with each of them. I hope you love it!!!


But since I spend about 95% of my time writing, there are times that I just haven’t seen or done anything except work, which gets boring for you to hear about. Sometimes I don’t leave my house (or office) for weeks at a time if I am working intensely on a book. And at other times something I want to share with you just leaps onto the page. I was travelling this week, which gets more and more complicated with increased security measures, and less and less fun, and there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do anything exciting this week, and then yesterday I got an email updating me about my incredible, remarkable, wonderful niece, Bea. And there it was, real life, staring me right in the eye, putting everything else I do or worry about into perspective.


Except for rare instances, we all share the same problems and deal with the same challenges to varying degrees in daily life. Worrying about our kids, the petty aggravations of daily life, (I am currently dealing with 2 winter leaks, hardly fascinating for you to hear), or we have a falling out with someone, or get irritated with our kids (the same ones we worry about!!), or just when you get your budget in semi-control you get a whopping bill from the plumber, or for your car, or from your dentist, and it blows your budget all over again. Whatever it is always seems monumental at the time (or really is with health or job or money or kid worries). And then suddenly you hear of something, or see it, which puts it all into perspective and reminds us of how small our problems are compared to that.


For those of you who don’t know, 3 years ago, my then 17 year old niece Bea was at the Brussels airport during the terrorist attack. You read about those events in the papers, and you never expect them to come close to home. She lost both her legs, was badly burned, her body filled with shrapnel. She was one of two survivors of one terminal, and was thought to be dead when they found her. She spent 7 months in a military hospital, and underwent more than 40 surgeries, and she will always have shrapnel in her body from the bombing. Unimaginable. She is an astoundingly brave and remarkable girl, with wonderful parents who got her through it. And she has more courage and guts than anyone I know. When she got out of the hospital, she finished high school and graduated. She did over a year of rehab with the Navy Seals. (She is half French and half American). She is now in college in the States. Her passion was horseback riding, and she was hoping to be in the Olympics. She is now training for the Paralympics, and sat on her beloved horse Deedee before she was even out of the hospital. The reunion of her and her horse was heart wrenching. Her horse Deedee was led out of its trailer, as a surprise for her, on the first day Bea was allowed to go out to the hospital garden. Deedee raced across the parking lot, and into the garden, went straight to Bea in her wheel chair, put her head on Bea’s shoulder, and licked her face. Bea began making a strong recovery from then on, and the love affair continues, as Bea now attends college and trains daily for the pre-Paralympic qualifying competitions. She had a recent setback for two months, which required more surgery for an infection. She’s on the mend now, and will be back in training again soon.


When I got the family update on her yesterday, it woke me up again. What Bea deals with every day is unthinkable to the rest of us, to come through something that immense and turn it into a positive life, and refuse to be defeated by a catastrophic, cataclysmic event so huge we can’t really even imagine it. It makes all my daily problems ridiculous by comparison: the suitcase that didn’t make it onto the plane with me 3 days ago (but eventually did turn up), the car repair, the bills that seem to multiply before they get to me, the harsh words exchanged with someone when I was tired, some minor disappointments. It shrinks to nothing when I am reminded of what Bea faces every day, and how brilliantly and bravely she has dealt with it, and her determination to lead an amazing life, and she surely will with her positive attitude. She is 20 now, and truly an extraordinary person.


So I’m sharing the wakeup call with you. Some people are dealing with such enormous things, and so successfully, that it shrinks my ‘problems’ to nothing. Bea is an inspiration to all who know her, and many who don’t. It makes me grateful for every waking moment. She is a blessing to us all. She didn’t just survive the attack, she met the challenge positively with immeasurable strength in every possible way, and still is. She is the definition of courage, in one totally amazing young girl.


Have a fantastic week—–and may all your challenges be small, and easily overcome!!!


with much love, Danielle


Bea’s Website:   https://www.beaparathlete.org/



Ps. And to Mary Dixon, who asked if I’ve written any short books. The answer is yes. About 20 or 25 years ago, short books became fashionable for a short time (under 200 pages). They were VERY challenging to write, much more so than longer books, because in short books you have about half the time and space to tell the entire story in depth. During that time, I wrote a number of them: among them, “The Gift”, “Five Days in Paris”, “Second Chance”, and “Special Delivery”, and a few others. You might want to check them out. love, D.


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7 Comments so far
  1. Camille May 14, 2019 9:53 am

    Beatrice de Lavalette’ story is truly inspiring. Like Elizabeth deLavalette said” I wouldn’t wish it to anyone but I would not take it back.
    This is really a miracle that a such young girl has this incredible COURAGE and ENERGY to raise above and beyond this dramatic situation.
    Keep fighting BEA and Good Luck !


  2. PJ May 14, 2019 11:17 am

    What a beautiful story; thanks for including the pictures which show the love between the horse and Bea.

  3. Rob Scott May 16, 2019 9:37 pm


    I think whatever you choose to write about is just right.

    There have been times you made us laugh. For example, when your daughter dressed up as you for Halloween and wore lots of bracelets and her hair back with glasses. I laughed so hard.

    There were times I could feel how happy you were to have attended some of the fashion shows or visits with your children.

    There have also been times when we came together here on your blog after heart breaking strategies like the mass shootings to find comfort.

    You even shared Nick with us. He is still there for all eternity and you will always be connected to him through love.

    Your recent post about Bea will give many of us hope that we too will survive whatever we are going through. I remember your initial post about her years go after the terrorist attack. Stay strong Bea! You are an inspiration to us all.

    I visited Bea’s blog and I saw her comment about never giving up. Perhaps there is our answer. Perhaps our decisions will master us whatever direction they take.

    The pictures of her with her horse reminded me of that wonderful book I read of yours, “Pegasus”.

    You once shared a quote from Mary Baker Eddy that you liked a lot. I would like to share one with you:

    “Every luminary in the constellation of human greatness, like the stars, comes out in the darkness to shine with the reflected light of God”.

    Mary Baker Eddy
    (Mis., p. 340).

    Keep shining!

    Truth, Wisdom, Love, and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind,
    Rob Scott
    ABQ, NM

  4. Lorraine May 19, 2019 6:19 am

    Danielle thank you for sharing more about this incredible woman, Bea. It is so humbling and you are so right, it really puts the trivial aggravations of daily life into perspective. Thank you for sharing her website and this beautiful picture. I hope her life is filled with peace and happiness forever.

  5. Jo May 28, 2019 5:55 pm

    Ms. Steel,

    This blog entry served as a “wake up call” when I first read. I have since revisited it several times because Bea’s spirit has encouraged me to move forward in my own life as I face several personal and professional challenges.

    As a young, budding writer, I corresponded with you several years ago and you were and continue to be my greatest inspiration.

    I sent you an email sharing how much Bea’s story impacted me and why it was such a timely message for me. Hope you received it!

    I can’t wait to get my copy of “Blessing in Disguise” and I look forward to the other works you will be treating us with later this year.

    With warm regards,


  6. Francis Troy September 21, 2019 6:46 am

    Please put me on your new book list. Also would appreciate a list of all books you have written. Just to let you know also, your books are in our local Steel Memoirial Library ; Elmira, N.Y & my wife & I appreciate it very much.We are very elderly & it helps us via a digital transfer mode. From: Francis Troy, 754 Chester St, Elmira, N.Y.14904

  7. Francis Troy September 21, 2019 6:47 am

    Just to let you know also, your books are in our local Steel Memoirial Library ; Elmira, N.Y & my wife & I appreciate it very much.We are very elderly & it helps us via a digital transfer mode. From: Francis Troy, 754 Chester St, Elmira, N.Y.14904