Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

3/30/20 Life in Confinement

Posted on March 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Danielle

 

 

3/23/20, “Lockdown”

Posted on March 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

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

Posted on March 16, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

3/2/20, Strange Times

Posted on March 2, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

love, Danielle

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

Posted on February 24, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

2/18/20, Second Chance!!

Posted on February 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

2/3/20, Writing

Posted on February 3, 2020

Hi Everyone,

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

1/27/20, Writing and vogue.com

Posted on January 27, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

I am busy writing right now, in the meantime please check out this nice piece on vogue.com:

https://www.vogue.com/vogueworld/article/danielle-steel-at-couture-week-paris-history

 

Have a great week! love, Danielle

12/2/19, Juggling Act

Posted on December 2, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that everything is going smoothly in your life, getting ready for the holidays.

 

With Christmas only three weeks away, I was sitting quietly last night, thinking about all the things I have to do. I try very hard to be organized, which is the only way I managed with nine children, when they were younger, more than one house to run even now, and many books to write. I’m not as busy as I was when my kids were little, but things have a way of evening out. I write more books now, and Christmas shopping for my kids is more complicated and more of a challenge than spending an afternoon at Toys R Us, as I did then. (Not to mention putting all the toys together, which took hours—-and an engineering degree I didn’t have!!!). But Christmas and the holidays aren’t just about Christmas shopping. It’s about entertaining friends, preparing certain traditional foods. We used to bake brownies for all the kids’ friends and teachers, put them in pretty tins and deliver them. Writing the Christmas cards, going to school performances if you have young children. The list is endless of what many people do before the holidays. When I look back at all I did when my children were really young, I have no idea how I did it. Especially times Nine!!!

 

I think domestic tasks are more evenly divided now between men and women than they used to be, or at least I like to think so. With a husband who was of another generation then, he was not an active participant in household chores or Christmas preparations, although he loved Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if people realize all that women do by the time the turkey is on the table and the tree is decorated,  all the gifts are wrapped, and the Christmas music is playing. I was lucky in two things, or many things, but one is that I worked at home, on my own schedule, so I could work at night when the kids were asleep, and I was also lucky in that I don’t need a lot of sleep. I still do many things at night, because there are fewer interruptions, and I love to write at night, for the same reason, few interruptions. But as a working woman, the bulk of holiday tasks still falls to us, and somehow it’s expected. We shop for the gifts, and wrap them, if there’s cooking to be done, we do it (lucky for my family, I don’t, but I used to. I am not an outstanding chef, and never was). I did the Christmas cards, the baking (I’m a fairly decent baker). I went to every Christmas school performance, AND auditions, sports games, and all activities, not to mention the orthodontist, doctors’ appointments, and less exciting tasks even right before the holidays. And when the dogs had to go to the vet, I took them. My point is that women have always done an incredible number of ‘unofficial’ jobs, while holding down a real job, and taking care of children.

 

It’s true all year, not just during the holidays. My generation was told that we could “have it all”, an active satisfying, challenging career, AND a family. Women in earlier generations had to make a choice between family and career. We decided, and I did too, that we could have both, and succeed at both. And many women did. What no one told you were the sacrifices you’d have to make, the things you would simply not have time to do if you chose to “have it all”. I used my kids’ school hours to write my books, as well as writing at night. I don’t think I had lunch with a single friend for twenty years, until my kids grew up, and even now I rarely do. (It cuts right into the middle of the day and interrupts my work, to take the time to dress nicely, go somewhere, eat lunch, and get back. it takes 3 or 4 hours out of my work day, even if I enjoy it). I never had time to read a magazine when they were little, and fewer books than I liked. I had worked in advertising as a copywriter, and as a high school teacher, and was able to give that up and work at home on the books before I was thirty. But working at home meant juggling all the household and family tasks, AND doing my job of writing. I wore my hair long and pulled back because I rarely had time to get to the hairdresser. I loved to go shopping, but had little time for that. I think most men, and women who have opted for careers and not kids, don’t realize all the things you don’t have time to do for yourself if you have a family and a job. And they still ask “Have you done the Christmas cards yet?” I don’t know a single man who does them. There’s a lot you can do on the Internet now, but I think as women we take pride in doing the things that are supposedly part of our ‘job’, as mothers and partners. Most of us like doing those things, even if it means that we skip doing something for ourselves. I am amazed at all that I see women do, for their partners and families, and the sacrifices they make without a whimper. They really are the unsung heroes of our busy times.

 

I recently spoke to a female friend who is the head of a conglomerate of 5 publishing houses in France. She works incredibly hard, is married, and has two young children in lower school. It was midnight when we were speaking. She had been to three different book fairs that week in other cities. And while we were talking, she was making lasagna for a class event at her daughter’s school, and had a breakfast meeting with an author the next day.

 

I salute these brave busy women who do so much that no one even notices, and rarely thanks them for. No one realizes all the personal time they give up to do something for themselves that they might enjoy. Most of them don’t complain, they don’t remind us of all they do, whether during the holidays or during the rest of the year. Sometimes women really are heroes, for what they give up, for all they do, and for the incredible juggling acts they manage, to make their families and friends happy. My own life is a lot easier now, but I remember so well the many nights I fell into bed exhausted, or wanted to, but I still had a Halloween costume to make, or a doll house to decorate with tiny little rugs and miniature furniture, so it would be ready on Christmas.

 

So for those of you racing around madly, with no time for yourselves, doing everything—–I salute you with the greatest respect and endless admiration. It really is a juggling act, and in the end, even with little or no praise for it, it is well worth it. There is an enormous satisfaction that comes from it in the long run, and precious memories. I don’t regret a single lunch with a friend that I gave up, and the memories of the baking, making, and running around to make the holidays a success are a tender memory now.

 

Have a wonderful week, and even if you are racing at full speed, doing things for everyone else—take just a minute to do something for yourself!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

11/11/19, No Excuses

Posted on November 11, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I had a good one with interesting meetings, some rewarding work, some nice conversations with my kids, a friend I love whom I got to see which warmed my heart. And a manuscript I was waiting to edit was delayed in the mail, so I actually got a few days off, and even got to read someone else’s books for a change!!!

 

Among the books I particularly love are those by Joel Osteen, whom I am lucky enough to know and consider a friend, with his wonderful family, whom I’ve also met (mother, brother, sister, wife, kids, they’re a terrific bunch!!). Joel is a truly extraordinary person, warm, humble, incredibly bright, modest, kind, compassionate, he’s a minister and delivers his powerful positive message in a palatable, accessible way, even for people who don’t consider themselves religious. He’s written about a dozen books (#1 bestsellers on the NY Times list), and his books ALWAYS open my thought to new ideas, and leave me feeling stronger, better, more hopeful, happier and more positive about life. He has a tremendous gift. And the one thing I think our books have in common is that we try to share hope with our readers. I think hope is one of the most important things in life, as important as love, and sometimes even more so. We cannot live without hope. Many times, Joel’s books have given me hope when I thought things were looking pretty dark. And there is always some major thought or theme in his books that wakes me up to see things around me in a new light. They are like a burst of sunshine and fresh air for me.

 

On the back of one of his recent books, that I read last week, is an excerpt from the book: “Nothing will change until you make up your mind that you are not going to accept mediocrity. Why don’t you take the limitations off yourself? You have so much potential. Break out of that box and try something new…You are not limited by your education, by how you were raised, or your current situation. You are destined to rise higher.” He not only gives his readers hope, he shares his faith-driven energy with them. It works for me. What resonated for me in that excerpt was not being limited by our history and circumstances. Inside the book, he talks about “Getting rid of the excuses” and “remove the shame.” Wow!!! Those two thoughts really stopped me and made me think.

 

We all have ‘excuses’ for why we aren’t doing something or moving ahead, why we’re not pushing ourselves harder than we are: an accident, health, an injury, a terrible divorce, the loss of someone we love, a bad break up, losing a job, or as Joel said, a limited education, an abusive childhood, or maybe a bad relationship we allow to continue and don’t feel strong enough to get out of. At different times, we put up with some terrible situations and extreme emotional pain—-sometimes leaving the bad situation and being alone seems worse (which most of the time is not the case. Alone is better than abuse!!! Sometimes we get used to some really awful situations, and settle for them rather than risking the unknown). (I was in a therapy group once where a woman shared the incredible abuse her boyfriend was inflicting on her, cheating on her, beating her, taking her money, being nasty to her. It was a list an arm long, and someone asked why she didn’t leave him, and she said “But how do I know who I’d meet if I leave him, I might meet a really bad guy”. A REALLY bad guy? Are you kidding, Frankenstein, Dracula, or Adolf Hitler would have been better than the guy she had. It took a long time, but she did eventually leave him, and was a LOT happier.) Fear of the unknown paralyzes a lot of us, and keeps us in a bad spot. We also feel unworthy at times of anything, which is where Joel’s message is so strong: Remove the Shame. We all feel ashamed of things we’ve done, and where we’ve fallen short, which sometimes leads us to believe that we deserve to be punished and treated badly. If you take away the shame, and give it up (and figure you’ve already paid enough penance for it), it opens up a whole new vista of positive opportunities, and even happiness. Getting rid of the shame, and letting it go opens the door to a wealth of possibilities we ALL deserve. (Nobody is perfect!!!)

 

What resonated for me in his recent book was ‘Getting rid of the excuses’. Some of the excuses are buried deep, where others don’t see or hear them, but we use them for ourselves, the passes we give ourselves for why we can’t reach a better life (or attitude). When I read that line in his book, it woke me up, with a real jolt. I think the greatest (usually unspoken) excuse in my own life is that my mother left when I was 6, and I grew up alone with my father. (Which has its convenient sides—-I know more about cars than I do about makeup, which I wear very little of). I missed out on all those mother-daughter moments that most people have. It is also a brutally powerful message when your own mother leaves you. What does that say about you if your own mother rejects you? I know others it has happened to, men and women now, and it is a big deal to overcome. A HUGE deal. If you let it, it can set you up to be rejected, abandoned, or treated badly forever by others. It has been my excuse for being overprotective of my own children, too dependent on the men in my life, the message being “my mother left me, so please don’t you”. That’s a hell of a burden for another person to live with, and to put on them—it’s not their fault my mother left—nor mine. That’s the point. I wasn’t responsible for her leaving, so I shouldn’t have to carry the weight of that forever. And it SHOULDN’T be my excuse for being a burden on someone else, nor should I expect others to abandon me because she did. And if they do, it’s a brand new account, and NOT a replay of the past. But in seriously  introspective moments, I realize that privately I have used that as an ‘excuse’ for not trusting people, hanging on too tightly, or accepting bad behaviours from them that I shouldn’t (so they don’t leave too). Today is a whole new day. A new life. EVERY day.

 

The other excuse I could use, but don’t usually, or as much, is that I lost a son (to suicide). Losing anyone you love is agonizing, and losing a child is a special kind of excruciating pain——–but it’s still not an excuse to stop living yourself, to pay less attention to your other children, or be depressed for the rest of your life.  It was a terrible blow, there is no question, but I have fought hard not to let it be an ‘excuse’ in my life for sitting in a corner and feeling sorry for myself. I still have tough times with it at times, but I have tried not to let it define me or my life. (“oh the poor thing, she lost a son”. Yes, I did, and it’s a terrible loss, but I don’t want to be a poor thing or have it be my ‘excuse’ for staying frozen in that place. My son Nick would have hated that, he expected more of me than that, and so do I). I think I was lucky that a woman I’ve never liked came up to me at his funeral, looked me in the eye and said “You will NEVER recover from this.” Holy Sh**#@@”, what an awful thing to say to someone, like a life sentence. When she said the words to me, even in my fog of grief, I thought “Oh NO!!!” I’m not going to let that happen, and I fought hard not to let that happen (We started two foundations in his name to help the mentally ill, I worked on the streets with the homeless actively for 11 years with one of our foundations, I wrote more books than ever, was closer than ever to my kids, and 5 years later I started an art gallery which gave me endless joy for almost 6 years. I did everything I could not to let his loss crush me and destroy me. I did NOT want that to be an excuse for no longer living a full life.

 

A bad divorce can be an excuse for no longer living a full life, or a limited education—-there are so many people now who have done outstanding things, and even made fortunes with poor educations, or have had bad lives before that. (In another therapy group I was in, dealing with grief and loss, a woman talked sobbing about how her husband had left her, and she had stopped her life completely. Gently, I asked how long it had been since he left, assuming it had been weeks or maybe months. She answered “26 years”…..that’s a long time to grieve a bad marriage and not move on.

 

 

I am not dismissing or minimizing the terrible things that can and have happened to all of us. But it seems as though we have two choices, to let it beat us, or not let it beat us. And we sometimes do use excuses to give ourselves a pass to not lead a full life after something hard happens. Reading Joel’s book made me want to throw those excuses away. Yes, my mother left me at 6. But I don’t want to let that rule my life or affect me today. And I was ashamed then and later that my own mother had left me. That shame is someone else’s and doesn’t belong to me. Ashamed too that I got divorced, which I saw as a failure on my part that I couldn’t convince two husbands to stay. But I’ve had a very good life in spite of that. I don’t want to use those excuses. I don’t want excuses to limit my life.

 

I don’t like age as an excuse either. I want to cheer every time I hear about old people who are working fully, or doing something remarkable, and there are many, many, many older people leading full, productive lives. I heard about a woman yesterday who just got married at 99, she married a 73 year old man, and I thought Good For Her!!! (And Bravo to him, for seeing her value as a human being and her beauty). And I know of two 107 year old women, in Italy and Japan, who are in remarkably good shape. These days, it happens.

 

I always find Joel Osteen’s books life changing. Those two simple phrases, among some very very valid points throughout the book, about “Get rid of the excuses” and “Remove the shame” really spoke to me, and maybe to you as well reading it here.

 

In any case, I don’t want any excuses Not to lead a full and happy life, and I’m all for getting rid of anything that stops us, or blocks us, or brings us down!!!

 

Have a great week, and I hope WONDERFUL things happen to you!!! You deserve it!! We all do!!!

 

love, Danielle