Archive for the ‘Age’ Category

1/8/18, Golden Years

Posted on January 8, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope that 2018 is off to a great start for you, and that the year has begun smoothly. Getting through the holidays is something of a mad dash, and then there seems to be a lull at the beginning of the year, when things are quiet for a while, and nothing much happens.

I’ve never liked new year’s resolutions, and making promises that are hard to live up to, I may not keep, and probably won’t. And I almost always ignore the flood of jokes, wisdoms, and ‘clever’ things that people send me from the Internet, although some of them are very funny. But a friend in Europe recently sent me a list of suggestions of ‘rules to live by’ for one’s golden years, from the Internet, that I actually liked a lot. 20 suggestions that caught my attention, and actually sounded like wise advice, at every age, so I’m passing them on to you. I don’t know the source, but I really thought the list worthwhile. I’m not sure when the ‘golden years’ begin, or how golden they really are. It’s an art to age gracefully, to be a good sport as one watches one’s kids grow up and fly off to their own lives. But suddenly one day, the kids are grown, and you wonder where the time went, and how life has gone so quickly. Some people get crabby about it, or sad, or bitter, while others face it admirably with energy and grace. I always admire older people who are busy, active, and have a positive outlook on life. Good health is a vital part of it, but a good attitude about whatever stage of life one is at seems essential. So for what it’s worth, I’m passing the list on to you. I really liked it.

RULES FOR OUR GOLDEN YEARS. Things to think about.

1. Use the money you have saved. Use it and take advantage of it and enjoy it.
Don’t save it for those who have no idea of the sacrifices you made to earn it. Take advantage of and enjoy the present.

2. Stop worrying, about your children and grandchildren. You’ve taken care of them for many years. You gave them an education. They are responsible now for themselves.

3. Maintain a healthy life, with moderate exercise. Eat well, walk, respect your sleep, since its harder now to stay in perfect health. Stay informed about your health, without excess.

4. Always buy the best and most beautiful elements for yourself. The main objective is to enjoy your life.

5. Don’t insist on the little things. You’ve overcome many things in your life, today is important, it’s the present. Don’t let the future frighten you.

6. Independent of age, keep love alive. Love of everything, of your family, of your environment, of your country.

7. Be proud, as much about your inside as your outside. Don’t stop going out. Take care of your body, you’ll feel better and stronger.

8. Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style.

9. Read the papers. Watch the news. Listen, read, make sure your message machine or voice mail is working, and try to use some form of social media. You’ll be surprised by new encounters and new people you meet as a result.

10. Respect younger generations and their opinions. Give advice and not criticism, and try to remind them of the wisdom of the past which applies to the present.

11. Never use the words “In my day”. Your Day is NOW!! You were younger once, but you still exist now. Have fun and enjoy life!

12. Embrace your “golden years”. Spend your time with positive, joyous people, they’ll rub off on you and your days will seem much more agreeable.

13. Resist the temptation to live with your children or grandchildren. They need to live their lives, and you need to live yours.

14. Don’t give up your leisure activities and hobbies. If you don’t have any, organize/plan some hobbies. Find something that you love and spend some good time, have fun.

15. Even if it doesn’t always thrill you, accept invitations. Baptisms, parties, birthdays, marriages, conferences. Do It!! The important thing is to leave the house from time to time.

16. Talk less and listen more. Don’t tell long stories unless you are asked to. Use a courteous tone, and try to stay positive.

17. If you’ve been offended by others, forgive them. Someone said “Holding a grudge against someone is like taking poison.”

18. If you have a strong belief/conviction, keep it. Don’t waste your time trying to convince others. Be faithful to your beliefs and choices.

19. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Laugh at everything. Convince yourself that you are among the luckiest. You succeeded at having a life, a long life.

20. Don’t pay any attention to what others say. Be proud to be yourself, proud of what you have accomplished. There is still a lot of happiness to take from life, so grab it!!

I really liked the reminder to keep up with the news. It’s so overwhelming at times, that it’s tempting to ignore what’s happening in the world. I liked too being reminded to accept invitations. It’s easy, at every age, to turn down invitations that sound dull or boring or just plain tiresome. But almost every time I accept an invitation that I was dubious about, I end up meeting someone really interesting, or have a much better time than I expected. It’s good to get out there, get dressed up and meet new people. It gives us a new perspective on life. And worrying less is always good advice for me, I worry too much about the people I love, and most of what I worry about never happens. Staying positive about life can be a challenge, but it’s so important, at every age. I know some young people who have a dreary, sour, defeated attitude about life, and some old ones who are incredibly positive and cheerful in their outlook on life. Who would you rather be around? The positive ones, or the angry, unhappy people who feel cheated by life, complain all the time, and bring you down?

I really liked the advice in these suggestions, and it reminded me that life can be ‘golden’ at any age. It all depends on how we view it. So I pass this on to you.

Have a great week!!

love, Danielle

8/21/17, Lovely Weekend, and bittersweet.

Posted on August 21, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope these last days of summer are ending the summer gently for you, with some final fun times before Labor Day closes the summer season, and we head into the ‘full steam ahead’ of September.

I had a very special weekend last week, with ALL of my children, a rare occurrence that only happens about twice a year, on Christmas, and my birthday. I have never liked my birthdays. With a summer birthday, none of my friends were ever around for my birthday as a child, and my childhood birthdays were always somewhat disappointing because of it. For my sixth birthday, my parents sent me away to camp for two months, which I hated, and I’ve just never liked my birthdays. I much prefer celebrating everyone else’s. John, my husband of eighteen years, gave me some wonderful birthdays and birthday parties, and our children have followed his traditions. So I spend my birthday with all my children, every year, usually in seclusion at their country house. And that’s what we did this year, ALL of my children flew in from their various cities, and so did I. It always touches me how much effort they make. They flew in from New York and LA. A wonderful boy we love who lived with us for many years and became part of our family flew in too, and usually does. One of my children flew in from Colorado. They give up a weekend they could spend enjoying their summer closer to where they live, but instead they all come home like homing pigeons to celebrate me. They spend a week at our old country house, which is a very old ranch/farm (built in 1857), where we spent every summer when they were children. They own it now, and it touches me to see how beautifully they take care of it. I leave them to enjoy each other during the week, and join them for my birthday weekend, and they organize meals, and usually one outing to a restaurant. We’re a big group with all 8 of them, and their partners, and after living pretty quietly all year, except for the holidays we spend together, I love the noise, and hustle bustle of all of us living under one roof again and now as adults. We’re together for breakfast, then they go off on walks or to exercise, and we meet late in the morning at the pool, have a big lunch together, lie around all afternoon afterwards, and have big family dinners at night, with good food, wine (for them), and a lot of laughter, singing, talking. Sometimes we play games (dice, and board games, and Scrabble). It is such a happy time for me!!!

The house we share is filled with photographs of them as children everywhere, some with me and my husband, and just seeing those photographs brings back soooo many happy memories, of when they were little. I have to keep my mind set on the present and the future, not to look back with too much nostalgia at all those old happy moments, when they were children. There is a bittersweet quality to that, which I try to resist, and try not to get too sentimental over those days in the past, when we were all so happy together. It’s better to focus on the present, and how good they are to me now just by being there!!!

By the time I left at the end of the weekend, I was filled full up with new happy memories of the weekend with them, and then we went back to my house in the city and spent two more days together. My time with them really is a gift. And I can’t think of a happier way to spend my birthdays.

And at the end of the weekend, in the typical juxtaposition of real life, I had to attend a memorial service for a close friend of my late husband’s. And that really was bittersweet, seeing old friends gathered. Because I was married to men twenty years older than I, many of their friends are quite a bit older, and some have passed away. It was nice seeing many of them at the service I went to. And it was indeed a bittersweet moment, happy to see the friends again, and sad to have lost one of them.

Life. With all its gifts and beautiful moments, good people and happy experiences, tender memories, and losses, and new people we meet. I felt very blessed after my birthday weekend…it takes the sting out of getting another year older!!!

Have a terrific week!!

much love, Danielle

PS: The Icing on the Cake.
As though our lovely family weekend wasn’t enough to celebrate my birthday, the day after I wrote this blog, my children gave me a surprise birthday dinner with all of them, and 4 of my closest friends. It was fantastic, and so much fun. They absolutely stunned me with their surprise. It was a fantastic birthday this year, in every way, thanks to them, and I didn’t suspect for a minute they were giving me a surprise dinner too.
It was the best birthday I’ve ever had!!!
love, D.

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 29 Comments

8/14/17, Filling the Void

Posted on August 14, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all fine, and enjoying these last weeks of summer. By this point, midway in August, I always feel like it’s the countdown til the end of summer, and most of the time I’m ready for that to happen. Kids will be going back to school in a week or two, or leaving for college, most vacations are over, and we get our motors revved up, to pick up speed and head into fall. I’m definitely thinking that way, as I have a busy fall ahead for the next few months.

One of you who sent in a comment to the blog brought up a REALLY good point, two in fact, which I thought I’d address here. She mentioned that she lives far from her family, doesn’t have children of her own, and that it’s difficult maintaining friendships once friends have children, and become busy with parenting. She said it makes her feel like an outsider, because she doesn’t have kids of her own. And I can really understand that. Actually, it’s been a subject that has come up a lot recently with my children. The four oldest are married and have children now, and the four youngest aren’t and don’t have kids. With so many kids of my own, I get to see the problems which arise in each age group. And my four youngest have talked a lot recently about how hard it is for them to still connect with their friends who are married and starting to have babies. It has also made me aware of my own behaviours in the past. As most of you have figured out, I’m crazy about my kids and somewhat ‘obsessed’ with them. I realize now that for years and years, I would sit at dinner parties and must have bored my dinner partners to extinction with stories about how adorable my children were, and what cute things they did lately—which I found fascinating, and the person I sat next to most probably didn’t (Oh ughkkk….here comes that woman again who only talks about her kids. It was my favorite subject). I thought they were so cute, and they were, but I probably bored everyone to death (and maybe still do). And now I listen to other people’s stories about their kids, and most of the time, I could fall asleep with boredom about how cute they looked yesterday, how brilliant when they said “Daaa…” and how hysterically funny when they tried to comb their hair with a spoon. Uhhh yeah….but not THAT cute. And nowadays to make it worse, they whip out their phone and show you 785 photos taken just yesterday. I think MY kids are cute, but I have never been that enamored with other people’s children, whom I never thought were as cute as my own (and still don’t). People who have kids, particularly ‘new’ or very young kids, or babies, just don’t realize that people who don’t have children are just not that excited about hearing about the accomplishments of a 4 month old. (Let’s face it, eat, sleep, poop, smile occasionally, and for people who don’t have children, it’s just not that fascinating.) My children complain about it now, that their friends not only become gaga when they have kids, but they become inaccessible. They’re busy, they can hardly keep up, now they have their jobs AND a baby to deal with, they’re sleep deprived, not everyone can afford child care, so they drag the baby along to dinner, who may cry through an entire dinner, or make the evening a challenge. Once you start having children, it’s generally easier to hang out with other people having children, who are dealing with the same problems, and concerns, and time constraints.

So, what if you don’t have kids yet, and your friends do, and it makes you feel like an ‘outsider’, as the person who wrote to me said? For one thing, as new parents, people need to try and be a little bit aware and considerate, that your friends may not want to eat dinner with you at 4:30pm because it works with the baby’s schedule, may not necessarily enjoy an evening spent with your baby or 2 year old, and they still want some adult time with you, so they can talk, and not just play with the baby instead of have an adult conversation with you. I think new parents or any parents should ASK their friends if it’s okay to bring the baby/child, and not get all insulted when that doesn’t appeal.(Most people are not that keen on kids before they have their own. They ‘don’t get it’. And they don’t want their social interactions controlled by your nursing schedule, or the baby’s sleep needs. You have to remember, with people who don’t have kids, that they want to spend time with YOU, but maybe not with your baby or toddler, or even 5 year old. Try to get a sitter occasionally, so you can spend an evening with friends who don’t have kids, and may not want to spend an evening (or a weekend) with yours.

And for those who don’t have kids, I think we all need variety in our lives. And there are landmarks in life. A time will come for all young people when most, not all, of their friends will marry (or not) and start having kids. It’s a rite of passage and marks a new chapter in time, for those parents, and also for their friends who aren’t there yet (and may never want to be). If possible, it’s nice to have friends with partners, and single ones—-friends with kids, and friends without. It’s cozy sometimes to have a family evening with people—-and also fun to be out with single pals. You may want a ‘baby fix ‘ occasionally, and also to be with friends whose lives are still more similar to yours. Your friends with kids probably feel as left out as you do, remembering the good old days when they were free, had no responsibilities, and could go to a movie, or a bar, whenever they felt like it—-and could afford to. So for those of you who don’t have kids for now, and many of your friends do, try to have some single ones too, or who don’t have kids, so you can share the non-parental evenings you enjoy, and try to be patient with the ones who are tied down by kids now—-and they should be considerate about not forcing their children on you. But there is no question, their time is short with young kids, running to do everything, work, be a parent, and taking care of kids who just take up a lot of one’s time.

The other question the same person asked is once your kids grow up and leave home, how do you deal with the loneliness? Oh WOW!!! that is a big question, and a tall order, with a longggg answer. My whole life revolved around my kids for many, many years. I wrote at night when they were asleep, and eventually when they went to school, and the rest of the time, I was fully with them. They were my whole day, my life, and filled my life, usually in a good way, and sometimes in worrisome ways, when they had a problem or were sick. And as they left home, one by one, I felt a terrible void. I’m lucky to still have one daughter who lives at home, my youngest, but she is so busy and has such a full life that I barely see her, we kind of fly by each other in the hall, and most of the time when I’d love to have dinner with her, she’s busy. She’s in her 20’s, and having dinner with her mother is not her idea of fabulous entertainment. I didn’t want to spend time with my parents at her age either. I think the ’empty nest’ is a huge issue for most women, and even some fathers (most men seem to handle it better than women, and aren’t quite as devastated and bereft as we are). It is a huge gaping hole when your kids leave, and you suddenly realize that all those happy years of living with your children is behind you. And it whizzes by at jet speed. What did I do? I cried a lot, but I also tried to figure out what to do to fill some of the void. And I also made a big effort to see my kids whenever they could, and I still do. I fly around to see them every few weeks, but I’m lucky, I can take my work with me. Not everyone can, if you have a job that ties you to an office. My strongest suggestion to keep your life on the upswing is: get a job if you don’t have one. My work has always saved me from being seriously depressed, because it keeps me so busy. I started an art gallery when my kids started leaving for college, it was a fun, exciting project, and I loved it. The artists I represented became my children, and needed me. And art is one of my passions. But any kind of job will keep you busy. You need to fill the time you used to spend on them!! If you don’t need a job financially, do volunteer work in a field that interests you. Take up a hobby (I am terrible at that and don’t have any!! I either write or see my kids, no hobbies). Learn something: a language, cooking, photography, something. Take up a sport. My point is DO something. I don’t do well when I’m not busy, and my kids kept me so busy, that I get sad if I’m not busy. Get a dog. I now have 3, and I love them, ridiculous little Chihuahuas, but when I’m sad or feel lonely they cuddle up to me and make me laugh. Nothing will ever take the place of those happy years with your kids around full time—-but it’s also a chance to take care of yourself, to do things you haven’t had time to do for 20 years (like get a manicure or read a magazine, or a book!! Seriously), or paint your kitchen, or plant a garden, or see friends. I never had lunch with friends when my kids were young, no time. Now I do occasionally. You can travel (not my forte either, I don’t like to travel alone, and all my friends are married). But the key, I find, and it’s vital for me, is to keep myself busy. Writing fills my life wonderfully, but nothing replaces having kids still at home—-and I make a real effort to keep my time filled, or I would get really sad thinking about the kids no longer living at home. So that’s my advice. And work always does it for me!!! Once your kids leave, it’s much harder than most people give credit for. We all need to be needed, and suddenly no one needs you to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, don’t need to be picked up at school, or taken to soccer practice, or help with homework. It’s tough, but it IS survivable, if you keep busy!!! Do what YOU want to do. You have that opportunity now, it can be a really fun time in your life—indulge yourself, you gave to your kids for many many years, now give yourself some fun too!!

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

Filed Under Age, Family, Friends, Kids | 7 Comments

6/20/16, Dreams

Posted on June 20, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week, and that some really nice things happened to you this week. We can all use that, to give us a boost, even something small, a nice moment, something that makes us smile, or some piece of really good news.

I’ve been somewhat pensive, and quiet, in the almost two weeks since the passing of my ex-husband Tom. It’s a sad event for those of us who knew and loved and admired him, but he had an extraordinary life, a truly great life, and I think he got to do everything he wanted to do, and more. He lived to be a great age, and had opportunities and experiences few people have. He once went to Antarctica for several months on one of his boats—-(I stayed home!!! I would pay money, serious money, NOT to be on a sailboat, dodging icebergs in the dead of winter. He loved it, I would have hated it, so I didn’t go. But what an amazing experience for him, and the photos he brought back were fabulous!!). For those of us left behind when someone we love passes on, we are left with memories, the loose ends to tie up in our minds, and some introspection about their impact on our lives. So I have been quiet and reflective.

I’ve seen some close friends for lunch, and really enjoyed their company. And I had dinner at the home of good friends a few days ago. The wife is Japanese, so there were a number of Japanese people there, which was interesting, and nice to meet them. One of the couples had brought their nephew to dinner. He looked to be somewhere in his late twenties, was a biologist, and was leaving soon for a 6 month research project in Finland, so it was interesting talking to him. And at some point in the conversation, despite his youth, he said something that really caught my attention. He said that “You’re not old until your dreams become regrets”. Wow!! That is a very deep, and very true thought. No matter how old we are, we still have dreams, we ALL have dreams, or we should. Things we’ve always wanted to do, haven’t gotten to yet, and hope to get to one day. Some of it may not be realistic: Winning Miss Universe or Miss America at 55 or 65 or 70 is not likely to happen, you may have missed the boat on that. Or climbing Mount Everest. That could be sketchy too. But going somewhere that is actually feasible, traveling somewhere, building something, learning a language—-taking classes of some kind, or even writing a book. There’s no limit to what we can do—there may be some limits, but in many cases, we can fulfill at least some of our dreams. Some people even find their soul mate late in life. And bitterness and regret is not unique to old age. Some people give up on their dreams early, and shouldn’t. One of my favorite role models is an 88 year old friend of mine in New York. She is still working as an interior designer, takes classes to learn something new, goes to a book club, the theater, and sees nearly every movie and reads every book that comes out. She is still learning things at 88. She is a knock out, and so much fun. She is a living example to me of how I want to be when I’m her age, full of life, and busy, and still growing and doing, and fully alive. And obviously, good health helps.

I try to keep track of what my goals are every few years, and what I want to do. I try to keep track of it so those dreams don’t slip away. It’s easy to put our dreams away, and get bogged down in the every day. And sometimes I achieve those goals better than others. But I thought that what that young man said was so true….that you’re not old until your dreams turn into regrets (about what you didn’t do). It was a good wake up call for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

What are YOUR dreams? What do you want to do, that you haven’t gotten around to yet? It’s good to think about it from time to time. I have a rock on my desk with a saying carved on it, “It’s Never too late”. And another one that says “Follow your dreams”. It’s not too late for you to meet the right person, to take a class you’ve always wanted to take, to learn a language, learn to cook, take a writing class, a dancing class, to get in shape, to make new friends. I think that’s how people do stay young, interested and interesting, by opening new doors and windows, learning new things, even small things, and hanging onto those dreams.

It was a good reminder hearing that, and maybe for you too. Take good care, and have some fun! We all need it, a good belly laugh from time to time, and even just a warm moment with a friend. Have a terrific week!!

love, Danielle

8/24/15, Whisper Thanks…

Posted on August 24, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I tackled a massive project recently: my desk. On the corner of my desk is a stacked “outbox”, where everything seems to wind up, bank information, literary contracts, birthday cards from my children, poems I’ve written, Christmas lists, and religious articles. Anything I’m not sure where to file, I put on the stack in my outbox, until it resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and if anyone moves too quickly, bumps into it, or adds a single piece of paper to it, it slides into an avalanche onto the floor. I clean it all out every few years, though I rarely go through it all. With a few hours to spare recently, I decided to attack it, put away the sentimental things, photos of friends….a photo of a man I dated a dozen years ago, birthday cards from my husband from longer ago than that. I decided to get rid of what was no longer relevant, file the business papers in my office, and get rid of the towering stack. There were things in it that went back twenty years, and I found some real treasures, some things that made me laugh, and of course a lot of junk. But some truly great stuff from my kids!!! I saved everything that was special or meant a lot to me, and put it all in a box.

And among the papers, I found some things that had inspired me and I was happy to find. And I thought I’d share two of them with you here, about love, and life.

The first one was written by Mary Baker Eddy: “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power”. I like that one a lot.

And the other one is anonymous but touched me too:
“If life is funny, it’s okay to laugh.
If it becomes too difficult, it’s okay to travel with a friend.
If life becomes tragic, it’s okay to cry.
If life becomes impossible, you still have to go on, you can never, ever give up.
If life becomes too lonely, look for someone to take your hand.

And if by some miracle, you find your dreams and they actually come true, remember to count your blessings and whisper thanks.”

I love that message a lot. Have a great week!!

love, Danielle

4/6/15, Fascinating Dinner

Posted on April 6, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you’re all doing okay, and that all is well with you.

I had a truly fascinating evening recently, and wanted to share it with you. I was invited to a Shabbat Dinner, (a Sabbath dinner) by friends in Paris. They introduced me to their Sabbath dinners a few years ago, and they give them almost every Friday. I’d never been to one before and didn’t know what to expect the first time, and didn’t think much about it before I went. What I found was a really interesting group of people, of all ages, and the atmosphere was lively, warm, enthusiastic, relaxed, congenial. It was a gathering of all ages, many religions, all walks of life. The friends that do these evenings are a lawyer (she), a cardiologist and researcher (he), and they had friends from their own professions, other lines of work, their children, their children’s friends, their friends’ children. The evening began on a religious note as they lit the candles, said a prayer, chanted a prayer, broke bread and sipped wine (no different from our Christian traditions), and then everyone dug into delicious food and engaged in long, interesting conversations about politics, literature, art, film making, and a million subjects. It is a treat to be invited to their Shabbat dinners, and I look forward to it, every time. I’ve been to 3 or 4 of them now, and it’s a privilege to be invited, and I am always intrigued to see who will be there from their grab bag of friends, colleagues, and young people. And the most recent dinner of theirs that I went to was a knock out, and incredibly eclectic. I love the way they gather people around them, regardless of religion, and one feels warmly welcomed, whatever one’s traditions. (What a contrast to the Catholic traditions I grew up with, with quiet Friday night dinners, and always a meal of fish which I hated, although I loved my religion. But I hated the fish, always felt sick from it, and years later, discovered I was allergic to it). At my friends’ Shabbat dinners, the food is plentiful and varied, Italian, Thai, exotic, hearty, roast beef, many choices, and a huge array of delicious, irresistible, and fattening desserts!!! Even the food is joyful at their table, and everything seems happy. To some degree, although I’ve never been to a Shabbat dinner, other than theirs, I think the evening and the combination of people, interesting mix, and long hours of conversation are more likely to happen in France than in the States. The only thing all the guests have in common at their dinners is that everyone is French, probably not by intention, it just happens that way.

The other thing that always strikes me at their dinners is how seriously educated their guests are, and the variety of jobs they have. My own friends seem to be in business, some in the arts, doctors, lawyers, and have pretty human scale jobs. But their friends are in fields that I never even think of. This time I sat between a nuclear scientist and researcher, whose intellectual capacity is out in the stratosphere somewhere compared to mine, although he was very nice, and he’s married to a school teacher. On my other side was a man who sells gold, the man next to him is the head of all cultural radio in France, there were a film maker, a screen writer, a politician of some kind, several lawyers, the age range was from 2 weeks of age (the hosts just had a baby, their 4th child) to 87 years old, with a group of young people at the far end from 17 to 22, two of them law students (the hosts’ older children). Two birthdays were celebrated, 17 and 87. And all the ages and professions and groups were mixed, and it struck me as I looked down the table of 14 or 16 people, that there were two Catholics I knew of including me, two Muslims, and most of the others were Jewish. We all stood respectfully for the lighting of the candles and chanted prayers, as the baby passed from one set of arms to another, amidst the lively discussions around the table, and as always, the table was crowded with platters of delicious food, Mediterranean, Italian, Greek, roast beef and potatoes. There is something for everyone at their table in terms of religions, personalities, interests, careers, and even food (and way too many delicious cakes, and I tried at least three of them).

The star of the show for me was a tiny woman (I’m 5 feet 1, and she was several inches shorter than I), with bright red hair, a lively personality, she strode into the room looking lively and attractive, bursting with energy, and I guessed her to be about 70, and discovered when we celebrated her birthday later that she was 87, that day. She is a documentary film maker, still busy in her career, just released a new movie, and published a new book, and I found her instantly fascinating as I listened to her at dinner. She was as sharp as a tack, and one of the livelier participants at the table, she had style and energy and a magnetic personality. And listening to her, I discovered that she survived 4 of the worst concentration camps during the war, is a well-known personality, and has made some important documentary films, and was married to a film maker. She was mesmerizing as she talked, and showed us the number tattooed on her arm at one point. She spoke without hesitation or artifice, there was nothing arrogant about her, and listening to her life experiences, especially during the war, was riveting. I have no idea how she survived what she did, and remained whole, alive, full of energy and life. Her family had been decimated by the camps and the war years. Our hostess gave all of us her latest book, which I read the next day, in awe of what she survived in the camps, and how she survived it and demonstrated the strength of the human spirit then and throughout her life. Her book was incredibly touching and poignant, and I was filled with admiration for this woman whom time has not touched, but has been through so much in one lifetime. I felt truly honored to meet her and talk to her.

The dinner ended long after one o*clock, and as always was warm, fascinating, touching. I will long remember the tiny red haired, ageless, timeless woman, so full of life and talent, with a spirit that nothing has destroyed. And once again, I went home feeling so lucky to be included in such a special evening, and to meet so many talented, bright people I would never have met otherwise. And then I went back to my own real life, filled with more ordinary pursuits, and less unusual people. What a blessing to share an evening like that, and come home richer for it. And I will be forever haunted by the film maker’s book about her experiences. I felt humbled by it, and all of those around me. It was, once again, an amazing evening, which I won’t forget. It was a rare night, filled with special people of varied and extraordinary talents. And I felt so lucky to be a part of it……

have a great week!! love, Danielle

7/7/14, Are we taking technology too far??

Posted on July 7, 2014

 

Hi Everyone,

As a person who has had a war with machines all my life, I can’t help but ask myself that question. Machines have always hated me, and I have to admit, it’s mutual. I hate them back. I have no problem with a light switch or the basics. I owned an electric can opener years ago that I could never operate. It took me 5 years to learn to fax, and longer to figure out how to get my messages off my cell phone. I kept forgetting how to do it. I can however manage a toaster, and now a microwave if it’s not too high tech. And my cell phone is prehistoric.  Smart Phones terrify me, so I have stuck with my old 14 year old battered cell phone that has disco lights that warn me when I have a message. I could give you a list a mile long of the machines I can’t figure out how to operate, and my mistakes on my laptop are legendary. I usually hit delete instead of send when writing a message, and then can’t figure out later why the person didn’t get my message and didn’t respond, when I complain that they didn’t. I write on a 1946 manual typewriter which does not erase my latest book. And I can’t blame the machinery in question, in my case it is ALWAYS pilot error. I can write a 500 page book, but damned if I can send an email without a hitch.

So for me the world of virtual everything and E-everything is pretty scary. In that context, I was told today that there are, or are going to be, computer operated cars that you don’t have to drive yourself, you just program them and they drive you. My home in Paris can usually be accessed by a minefield referred to as L’Etoile (The Star). In the center of it sits the very dignified Arc de Triomphe, there is a circle of traffic that runs around it, and a dozen broad avenues leading away from the circle. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. You take your life in your hands when you enter that circle of frantic traffic, cars going at odd angles to each other at full speed, in a mad dash to go from one boulevard to another, it looks like bumper cars or the destruction derby. And I have friends who have devised elaborate routes to avoid the circle entirely. So how is a computerized car going to navigate that without imploding? Hard to imagine.  And there is an “app” to park your car now. Why? I can actually manage to park my car myself. I can drive without a problem, I just can’t operate my computer.

I am also terrified by surgery performed by robots. I know it’s state of the art surgery at its best—-but what if the computer blows up, or goes haywire, or does something crazy, like my toaster or my microwave? The idea of a surgeon in Cincinnati, eating his lunch while operating his computer, performing surgery on me in Phoenix, or Houston or Miami, scares me to pieces. I can barely get my mouth open at the dentist, let alone stomach the idea of a robot doing surgery. On the other hand, a surgeon with shaky hands after a bad night before isn’t too reassuring either, and a robot presumably eliminates the possibility of human error, but still…

And I learned today that drones will no longer be used for aerial photography in real estate. Why? Did they hit someone? Take off their head? Hit a 747 at high altitude? If they’ve been eliminated in real estate, what terrible thing did they commit to be banned?

And the last straw came when I saw on my computer tonight (while trying to send an email) that there will now be computerized Smart Bras.  Computerized bras? Wow. Now that is impressive and really scary. My current bras are definitely not smart, they just hang there doing their job quietly. They seem to hold things up okay, although admittedly my bra size is small ( okay,very small), so they don’t have to do a lot of work, but my bra has never complained about it, at least not that I know of. What does a Smart Bra do? Do I really want to know? Will it teach my boobs to speak another language, vacuum, do laundry? A Japanese friend has a robot to do housework and vacuum. So could a Smart Bra be taught to do household chores, walk the dog, or feed the children? How smart could our boobs get, and our bras? I’m afraid here I go back to basics. I think I’ll stick with my fancy French bras which do absolutely nothing except decorate the landscape. My daughters once decorated their Christmas tree with fancy multi-colored bras. But a computerized Smart Bra? Maybe it could decorate the Christmas tree all by itself….I’m afraid that technology has left me way behind on this one…..I’m still back in the dark ages wearing a Dumb Bra, not a smart one, don’t have a robot doing my vacuuming, and park my car myself. And the idea of getting into a car that will drive itself is terrifying, what if it gets confused and takes me somewhere I dont want to go, while my Smart Bra gives it the wrong voice commands…..wow, guys, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for virtual everything. And if my bra spoke to me, I think I’d faint…unless it paid me compliments….maybe a Smart Bra could be taught to lie….”Congratulations!!! You wear a 44 Quadruple D”…..in that case, maybe it would be okay…..but I guess for now, I’ll stick to basics….have a great week!!! A real one!! Not just a virtual week!!! And watch out for heavy machinery!!!

 

love, danielle

 

6/30/14, Heroes

Posted on June 30, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope your week has gone well, and had some nice surprises in it. We can always use some sunshine in our lives, an unexpected gesture from a friend, or even from someone we barely know, a kind comment, or a thoughtful touch. It can change a week from mediocre, or even lousy if things are going wrong, into a special moment we didn’t expect, and turn everything around. So I wish you good surprises in the week ahead.

I had an interesting experience this week, and was discussing World War II with my beloved editor. It always surprises me in France, when you talk to very old people, who look extremely meek and frail, or when people talk about their grandparents who are no longer here—-to discover that they played some vital part in the Resistance during the War, when the Germans occupied France. People whom you would never suspect of heroic acts, did remarkable things during the war, saving others, rescuing children, hiding families, taking enormous risks, or blowing up supply trains when they were young. Too often, I think we dismiss old people, never realizing who they were and what they did when they were young, or what they were capable of. Few of us have lived through a war on home turf, particularly in the States. But for those who experienced the Occupation of France, and other sectors of the war, they were pushed to the limits of bravery, far beyond what even they knew they were capable of. And even in normal life, people we know have done heroic acts, to save a life, a friend or a stranger, at the site of an accident, or during a plane crash, or even in daily life. Opportunities for courage present themselves in everyday life, and we often surprise ourselves by how brave we can be, or those we know.

One of my favorite war stories was of a friend’s grandmother, a countess in France, whose husband was in the Resistance and taken away by the Germans. She had to get to Paris, I can’t remember why, and had no way to get there. So she borrowed a tractor from a farmer, and assured him she would return it, and told him who she was. And she headed for Paris, from the South of France, on the tractor, and encountered another young woman along the way, and gave her a ride on the tractor. And soon they met another young girl on the road, also on her way to Paris, on foot, and gave her a ride too. Because they were just a bunch of young women on a tractor and looked like farm girls, the German soldiers didn’t stop them along the way. Apparently, by the time they got to Paris, there were 5 or 6 young women hanging onto the tractor. All got there safely, and none had the travel papers they needed for the journey, and miraculously, they were never stopped. The young Countess did eventually return the tractor to the farmer, and she was in the Resistance for the remainder of the war, and was decorated for bravery afterwards. I love the image of all those young women arriving in Paris on the tractor, totally ignored by all the soldiers they encountered as just a bunch of silly farm girls. It was very brave of them to undertake the trip in plain sight!! And must have made quite an impression when they rolled into Paris on a tractor!!! Whatever works. » read more »

3/31/14, Modern Moms

Posted on March 31, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I seem to have come across a lot of new Moms recently, of a relatively new breed, which has made me think of a new element in motherhood today.  There have always been ‘older’ Mothers, either people having a last child of several, or some who had tried to have a baby for years, had given up and got a late surprise. Very few people used to actually set out to have a first child in their 40’s by choice. But in recent years, that phenomenon has become much more common. For the past many years, women are more and more determined to pursue their careers, often choosing to focus mostly on that, more and more people choose not to marry. And I think in recent years, women who chose not to have children in favor of their careers, have made a last minute decision to have a baby after all, before it’s too late. Others were waiting to find the right man, and when he hasn’t turned up by the time they’re 40, or older, they pursue other options. The result is that I think there are a lot more first time mothers in their 40’s these days, many of them single mothers, particularly in big cities where there are women seriously pursuing careers. And what I find I am hearing a lot more about is women having ‘postpartum depression’. There is nothing new about that either, and one always heard about women suffering from that, but they were few and far between. Now I hear about it all the time, and I have questioned if it is really that, or actually the shock of motherhood after a lifetime of freedom suddenly curtailed. Talking to a brand new 44 year old single Mom recently, she said that many of her friends had recently had babies, and ALL of them had experienced postpartum depression, which set me thinking. There is no question, postpartum depression is a very serious problem, and must be taken seriously, but I really wonder if these brand new mid-forties mothers really have it, or are just in shock over what they’ve gotten themselves into, particularly if they’re on their own. And a recent conversation with two other women in that age group, single moms with new babies, made me wonder about it even more.

I married in my late teens, and had my first baby at 19, and continued having more children later. It was a shock to have a baby at that age too, and daunting at times, but I grew up having children, and had to make big adjustments to my life, at an age when I had really never had freedom, and went straight from my father’s home to my husband’s, with no time in between to have a grown up life of my own. I never really questioned what I was giving up when I had kids, and didn’t have time to figure out or experience what my life would have been like without kids around. By the time I was ‘grown up’, I’d had kids around forever.  But for women in their forties having first time babies, it is a HUGE adjustment.

For those single career moms, they did what they wanted to for 20 years as an adult, spent weekends away with friends, took naps when they were tired, went to spas, had facials and manicures, spent their money on themselves, could sleep late when they chose to (uninterrupted sleep), entertain how and when they wanted to, went out to dinner anytime they wanted to at the last minute, went to the gym every day for as long as they wanted to at the time they wanted, and took vacations where they wanted and could afford to go. No one messed up their houses, they didn’t have to find help, figure out if a child was screaming from an ear ache, was sick, or just tired and cranky. Their lives were their own for a very long time. And suddenly enter a baby (sometimes/often without a live-in partner, or any partner at all), and no one can really tell you what that’s like. And most people today don’t have the benefit of ‘tribes’/families in the same city, so no aunts or mothers or grandmothers or even older sisters to give them advice with a new baby. They’re relying on books, classes, and friends in the same boat, which isn’t the same as a wise old grandma or aunt telling you what to do with a colicky baby. And pediatricians and emergency rooms are now besieged with calls from frightened new moms who have no idea why their baby is screaming, and are panicked.

Suddenly those women who had seemingly enviable well ordered, even self-centered lives, discover what others know from having children earlier: a baby will eat up your time, wake you up frequently in the night, cry for seemingly no reason for hours, nursing is not always as easy as it looks, and some days you’re lucky to get out of your nightgown by 6 or 7 pm, and all you did all day was nurse the baby, and do endless loads of laundry, change the baby a million times, and never make it into the shower. Lunch with friends becomes complicated, dinner even more so, so those new moms end up isolated, and then scramble for day and/or night nurses so they can get a little sleep, and they’re sleep deprived and not used to it. They look and feel a mess, have no time for the gym, nor time for a facial which they thought was a given, and unless they have some kind of regular child care arrangement, they never get out of the house. The amount of time it takes to care for a baby comes as a huge shock to women who have only had to take care of themselves for 20 years, and it’s harder than it looks. I think many of the women who think they are suffering from post-partum are really just suffering from a huge adjustment to the reality of having a child, (with all due respect to those who really do have postpartum). They heard all about labor and delivery, but too little about everything that comes after that. And I’m not saying having a baby at any age is a bad idea, but I do think that most of those women who grab that last baby-train out of the station before it’s too late had no idea of what a huge change it would make in their lives. I never had lunch with friends when my kids were little, never slept through the night, never had time for professional manicures or had time to bother with nail polish, and I worked at night when the kids were asleep and was with them all day. You learn to get by on very little sleep, but it takes time. Even good changes in life can be hard to adjust to, and I can’t think of a bigger change than having a child. It changes your life in wonderful ways, and is a huge blessing, but if you’re not used to putting someone else first, deferring your own plans, having your life turned upside down, and going without sleep…..it is going to be a MAJOR adjustment.  I feel for those women when I listen to their shock at what it entails, and I think once they adjust to it, as we all do with kids, they won’t be depressed. But those first months, or even year, must be rough. Maybe those of us with kids should be more honest about what they’re getting into, instead of just giving them baby showers. In some ways, they are better informed than we were who had kids earlier, and most of the later moms can afford to pay for advice: they have’ lactation experts’ and day or night nannies who teach them the ropes, they read books about various child rearing theories, and are afraid to just wing it. They want to be competent, as they are in their careers. But a baby can turn your life upside down in a minute, and a baby that cries for hours and hours is unnerving for anyone, and with no partner to take turns with you, dealing with it, you’re really stuck. So I feel for these modern day new moms, and I suspect they’re not suffering from depression, but just from the shock of a whole new life, and the end of their old one. They’ll figure it out, but I think the adjustment is a lot harder when you’re older. And it’s a brave new world with all these brave new moms. And hats off to them for accepting the challenge.

love, danielle

Filed Under Age, Family, Kids | 6 Comments

Why Not?

Posted on June 13, 2011

In July, I have a new book coming out in hardcover called “Happy Birthday”. It started out with a funny theme, about three people tuning ‘landmark ages’ on the same day. A very glamorous, beautiful woman who has a boomingly successful career and TV show, as the arbiter of taste and style in the home—she’s gorgeous and successful, but turning 60, even if she doesn’t look it. On the same day, her daughter, who owns a restaurant and works like a slave and has no love life or partner—is turning 30. » read more »

Filed Under Age, Books, Relationships | 4 Comments