Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

7/19/21, Storm Warning

Posted on July 19, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you, and you are enjoying the summer and getting some time off to relax.

 

I’m in both France and the US this summer, and I am growing concerned. When recently in New York in June, there was a vast fiesta atmosphere, with everyone immensely relieved that the restrictions were literally gone, and due to vaccines, the Covid numbers were lower. I found myself in stores, outdoor restaurants, and elevators, in huge crowds, body to body, people shouting, talking, drinking, no masks, no distancing as though Covid had never existed. It made me nervous.

 

When I got back to France, the numbers were greatly improved from before, although the vaccine rate was low, and people were still being careful. Outdoor dining, masks, there was an atmosphere of cautious enthusiasm, but still awareness. And among young people, total freedom and no caution at all, crowded restaurants and bars, lots of kissing and hugging, a party atmosphere in the streets. Last year, before the vaccine, the complete disregard of rules caused a huge surge of the Covid numbers and landed us back in Confinement, with high numbers and a lot of people sick, which was definitely not fun.

 

In the last week, due to the Delta variant, the numbers are sharply on the rise in every country globally. The UK which was the most vaccinated now has a huge surge and the worst numbers in Europe. Spain and Portugal are right behind them. Israel who vaccinated everyone has high numbers again. Australia. The numbers in the US have gone up, and in France, Italy, Germany. It is discouraging without question. We thought we were well out of it, and it turns out that we aren’t. Medical advice is that even vaccinated people need to be careful, even if the risk of death is lower for them. Even vaccinated people can still get Covid, though hopefully less severely. And neither the US nor France have achieved herd immunity, although heavily vaxed.

 

The French president, Emanuel Macron made a televised plea to citizens this week, to be more careful, to still follow rules, wear masks, distance. It is not over yet. The medical experts in the US have said the same. The numbers in Europe have doubled daily for the past week. The Delta variant is said to be 3 to 6 times more contagious. The President said that if we don’t stop this sudden surge by our behaviours, we are going to be in a worse place a month from now than in the entire pandemic. It’s a wake up call, for all of us. To be careful. We are not out of the woods yet. We still have to walk before we can run, and be careful.

 

I know that in the US, the wearing of masks has strong political connotations, which doesn’t make sense to me.

 

Whether or not people get vaccinated is a personal decision, dependent on their health, their pathologies, or even allergies. But whether or not people are vaccinated, we can all be careful, and mindful that Covid is not gone yet, in fact is getting stronger again with this variant.

 

The very simple bottom line for me is that I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want my kids to get sick. I don’t want YOU to get sick. And I would like all of us to reach a point of health and safety, where going to the grocery store, or a restaurant, or walking down the street is no longer a life-threatening risk. It may mean not being as close to others on the beach this summer, or not being in a crowded bar, or not going to a nightclub. But I would love all of us to be careful enough, and sensible enough that in time, we can do whatever we want, and live normally again without risk.   And I really don’t want to spend another year in and out of lockdown.

 

I just hope we will all be safe and sensible this summer, for just a little longer.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

7/12/21, Lost and Found

Posted on July 12, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a relaxing time somewhere, and taking time off for a real vacation this summer. I hope everything is going well for you.

 

We’ve had three remarkable incidents in recent months of valued objects lost, and found in nearly miraculous circumstances, which I thought I’d share in case you’ve lost anything lately too. It’s amazing how things turn up sometimes. When I was a child, my mother was always hiding valuable objects, and then losing them, or forgetting where she put them, and she prayed to Saint Anthony. I don’t know if he is still the appropriate saint for lost and found. And so often what we lose is not necessarily of great monetary value, but something we really cherish, or need. All three of these incidents were unusual enough that I wanted to share them with you, in case you’ve recently lost something too. And they really were amazing events!!.

 

1) As I shared with you on Instagram, for the first time in my life, I had a handbag stolen right from under the table while I was having lunch at a very nice restaurant with my family. I never felt it go, and as it turned out it was stolen by a real pro. It was a beautiful black leather Hermes handbag that I really love, quite large, with red leather lining, and I wear it a lot. I bought it second hand at a vintage store in New York about 10 years ago. it was very expensive originally, and I paid a fairly high price for it. it was one of a kind and it had been made to order. The bag was under the table, next to my feet, it was stolen while I had lunch, by a well-dressed man who dropped his raincoat near my table, scooped it up, and my bag with it, and I discovered it with dismay at the end of lunch. I never noticed the man who took it. Fortunately, the police have cameras strategically placed around Paris, and they got the whole thing on film. I spent the afternoon at the police station to file a report, and was told that valuable bags like that are resold very quickly in other foreign markets, and it was ‘certain’, I would never see my bag again, which would be on its way to Africa, Asia, or another European country within a day. I was really sad. Even though it was just an ‘object’, I really loved it, and was sad to lose it. Because it was a custom order, and worth some money, I knew I couldn’t replace it. A few days later, an enterprising police detective called me, and had seen the report of my stolen bag. They had recognized the thief on their video, and he’d been in prison before for stealing items of high value. The detective promised to do his best. Paris went into their second lockdown two days after my bag was stolen, so travel was limited, but the bag could still have been shipped out of the country to be sold. Less than two weeks later, I got an early morning call from the same detective. They had been able to track down the thief, surprised him at his home, and the bag was sitting in his bedroom, since he couldn’t travel to sell it. In less than 2 weeks they returned my bag which they told me I would never see again!! It seemed like a miracle to me, and I am grateful all over again every time I wear the bag, and now I love it even more!! And the thief is back in prison serving a 2 year sentence as a recidivist. He threw away all the contents of the bag, my phone, my address book, favorite vintage sunglasses, regular glasses, tried to use my credit cards and failed. And I am SOOO HAPPY to have my bag back. It still feels like a miracle that they found it and gave it back to me. The detective who tracked it down was amazing!!

 

2) My assistant in Paris is Italian, has an Italian passport, and a 10 year visa to enter the US when he accompanies me when I travel to the States. Those visas are very hard to get, are not being renewed during the pandemic, and can’t be replaced if you lose them, they are put into the passport of the person who has the visa. And my assistant needs it to do his job for me, to accompany me back to the States (with a heavy briefcase, a mountain of suitcases and 3 dogs). He works for me in Paris, not the States. On his day off, he drove about an hour outside Paris on his Vespa, and had his passport in his jeans pocket. When he got back that night, he discovered that he had lost his passport, somewhere during the day, no idea where. He called all the places where he’d been, no one had found it, it was gone. Those visas can’t be replaced, and if you lose them, you have to reapply, and they aren’t being replaced or renewed right now in the pandemic. The next day, he decided to retrace his route of the day, on his Vespa, and see if he found it on a street or in a ditch or a gutter somewhere, he didn’t find it where he’d been, and would have to report it lost, and the visa would be cancelled once he did. he was dejected and upset on his way home, his passport and visa were gone. Halfway back to Paris, he saw a truck drive over something small and red. It was a main freeway, with heavy traffic, and it seemed impossible that it could be his passport, on the on the highway he’d travelled the day before, with traffic rolling over it. He pulled off the road, just in case, waited for traffic to slow down, dashed into the middle of the highway, narrowly escaping being hit by several cars, grabbed the small red object and ran back to the side of the road. It was his passport, with the visa, he had found it and it had survived 24 hours of heavy traffic rolling over it. He was beaming when he got back!!! And it seemed like a miracle!!!

 

3) My daughter wears several bracelets on her arm (like I do!!), all of them sentimental to her. One of them is a special bracelet that you put on with a little screwdriver and 2 screws and you can’t take off, except with the special screwdriver. She loves that bracelet. We met in New York for lunch, and her sister commented on it. After that, my daughter travelled to San Francisco, and then to Colorado, and two weeks after that lunch, my daughter looked at her arm and saw that it was gone. Normally it can’t fall off, except if for some reason both screws had failed and fallen out and the bracelet fell off. She had no idea when it had fallen off in the past two weeks, or where. New York? San Francisco? Colorado? She made a list of everywhere she’d been, restaurants, airplanes, everyplace she could think of. The likelihood of finding it seemed nil. To make matters worse, the bracelet is made in two separate parts, so if the screws had failed, the bracelet would be in two parts, and even harder to find them both. She was really sad about it, and I suggested she call hotels, restaurants, airlines in all 3 cities, asked her neighbors. She had gone biking and had hiked up a mountain in Colorado. It was hard to imagine she’d ever find it. She asked a neighbor in Colorado, who was stunned. Several days before, his teen age son had found half a bracelet on a bridge with a bike path she had travelled on. She ran to his house to see it, and there it was: half a miracle, half her lost bracelet was in his hand, and she was thrilled to find at least half of it. A few minutes later, the son who had found it came home, and she thanked him, and he held the bracelet in his hand for a minute, and commented that it was heavy, so it might get lodged somewhere. They went back to the bridge where he’d found it, with a river flowing below it, and he went down to the riverbank, which was edged in mud along the shores, and he dug for a few minutes in the mud—-and the rest of the miracle appeared, the other half of her bracelet was lodged in the mud, covered by a thin layer of mud. The miracle was complete!!! She has her bracelet back and is thrilled!!!

 

All three of these instances seemed miraculous and so unlikely. What were the odds in each case of ever seeing the lost object again? A bag stolen by a practiced professional to sell on a foreign market anywhere in the world? a passport lost along fifty miles of highway in a high traffic area 24 hours later, so small you could barely see it under the speeding wheels of cars and trucks? a bracelet broken in two parts, lost on a mountain road over a swiftly moving river lined with mud—to find both parts days later, in the mud on the riverbank?   These incidents reminded me that miracles do happen, against the fiercest odds. Some things are in fact lost forever, but others turn up in the most mysterious ways, with the help of strangers, sometimes by prayer—-but sometimes you really do find what you lost, even when it seems impossible. So, if you’re looking for something you lost or misplaced, do your best to find it, don’t give up, and it may come back to you!!! If you’ve lost some treasured sentimental object, I hope you find it!!! Have a great week!!! full of good surprises!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

7/5/21, Coming back to Life

Posted on July 5, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week and lots of fun on the Fourth of July, went to a parade, had a picnic, lay on a beach, met up with friends, had a great time with your kids and family, and had some yummy traditional 4th of July food, and even saw fireworks.

In recent weeks, I’ve been in three cities and had a chance to see the easing of Covid restrictions in San Francisco, New York and Paris. Except in the major ‘hot spots’, in the countries that are still struggling with the crisis, and the variant strains of the virus, things are easing up in most places, the rules have been relaxed, although caution is still advised, and masks are an ongoing debate. In most places, the number of cases has dropped sharply (at last), due to vaccinations. Most people are rushing to get them, while others hesitate, and some staunchly believe that the vaccinations could prove to be dangerous and aren’t comfortable about them and have decided not to get vaccinated. As a result, herd immunity, which would protect us all and eventually end the Coronavirus crisis, has not yet been achieved. But on the whole, the vaccines have reduced the number of new cases, severe ones, and deaths, drastically, which is encouraging, and a great relief. But we still have to remember that it’s not over yet, and common sense and the medical authorities tell us to be careful.

On the purely human side, it is both unnerving to see people throw themselves back into ‘normal’ life exuberantly, and at the same time, it is a huge relief to be able to enjoy simple pleasures and do normal happy things again, just going to dinner with friends at a restaurant has become a treasured gift, and every meal shared has become a special occasion. After months of confinement in France, 6pm curfews, gatherings of more than 4 people forbidden, restaurants closed for 9 months, and seeing family and friends strongly discouraged, it is thrilling to go to a restaurant with friends. I’m not comfortable eating indoors yet, I still wear a mask when I am around people, for their protection and my own, even vaccinated people can get sick, even if less severely, I’m not kissing friends when we meet, or even shaking hands, and I am cautious about who I see, and am even cautious about hugging my own (vaccinated) children. I’m not ready to throw the doors open yet, but I am venturing back into the world.

When I went back to France a few weeks ago, after visiting my children, I had lunch or dinner, one by one, with the friends I had missed most. I will go into a store, with a mask, but don’t feel comfortable yet going to a department store. I have been through airports, which are already crowded, and flown on both US and foreign airlines, there are still rules, and masks are worn. But planes have been crowded, and once you’re in the airport, it appears to be a free for all, which did unnerve me. How safe are we? How far can we go? States and countries differ, with every city, state and country having its own rules, which is confusing at best. And the variants remain ominous. Countries which had been particularly strict and seemed to have achieved real safety (Australia, Israel and the UK) are in trouble again, seemingly due to the variants. Their borders are closed again. France opened to Americans (vaccinated or with a PCR test)a few weeks ago, and the US has not reciprocated. Foreigners still can’t get into the US, unless they are married to Americans, and Europeans are desperate to get into the US again for business and pleasure. It is incredible that countries around the world have had closed borders for 17 months. Who could ever have imagined what we have lived through for nearly a year and a half?? Things are definitely better, I just hope that people don’t abuse their newly retrieved liberties, and don’t go crazy over the summer, and land us in the soup again. Having lived through three long lockdowns in France, I hope that never happens to us again. I want to continue seeing my children, have them able to visit me, I want to spend holidays with my big family, have lunch and dinner with my friends, and have them to my home for a meal, and I hope we never have to endure again the reign of terror we have lived through for the last year and a half, and never have to worry again about losing loved ones to Covid 19, or about getting sick or dying ourselves from the virus that has terrified us for the past l7 months. It is so sweet just sitting in an open air restaurant, eating with a friend, and watching life take off around us again. It has been a very long year and a half. And I hope we all use our new freedoms well!!!

On a more immediate front, my heart goes out to the relatives and friends of the people who disappeared as the result of the horrendous building collapse in a suburb of Miami. I can only imagine the agony of waiting for news of their loved ones.

On a frivolous note, it is Couture week in Paris, usually a fun time, with fashion shows put on by the fashion houses who still produce haute couture clothes. Paris is usually crammed with people and full of life during those weeks, which came to a halt for the last year and a half, and the fashion shows are happening again, and although I enjoy them immensely, I’m not ready to sit in a crowded hall yet, elbow to elbow with celebrities and fashion fans to see the shows. I’ll let another season go by before I go back, just to be on the safe side. And I’m excited to be able to go on vacation with my children again, for the first time in two years!!!

And on an impressive family note, my niece who was a victim of the terrorist attack at the Brussels airport five years ago, lost both legs at 17, and was hoping for the Olympics one day then, is leaving for Tokyo shortly, for the Paralympics games, as part of the US Equestrian team. She is one of the most inspiring, courageous people I have ever known.

I hope you have a fantastic week, are safe and well, and that you enjoy and appreciate every minute of our newly restored lives, as we head toward normal at full speed.

love, Danielle

PS. I am REALLY enjoying the TV series on Netflix “New Amsterdam”, Season 1. It is so much fun and gripping. I whipped through all 22 episodes in record time, and loved it, lots of human drama—-if you’re looking for something to watch!!

6/28/21, Apologies

Posted on June 28, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I owe you a profound apology. For the last few weeks, time got away from me, as never before. As you know, I didn’t see any of my children for nearly 15 months while staying in France, to be as safe as possible from Covid, and living three long lockdowns where I was. As a result, I didn’t see my children, and was finally able to visit them for the last seven weeks. I was able to spend time with each of them, my children who live on the West Coast and the East Coast. I’ve been travelling now for nearly two months to see them, and spend time with them. I put just about everything else aside to do so, and I owed them that focus after being away from them for so long.

 

There was a certain degree of culture shock being back in the States, it seemed very different than when I left, right before the pandemic, and like every other country in the world, there was a sense of still recovering from an intense crisis, and nearly a year and a half of anxiety and trauma. I think it has marked us all, kind of a feeling of shock that this could happen at all. While making history, we were living it, and it takes a toll. I think I was suffering from a certain degree of Post Trauma myself, after being isolated and confined so often and for so long. It seemed safer not to travel, but one pays a high price from being away from one’s family for so long. I am relieved and proud to say that my children handled it responsibly and well.

 

It was also interesting to be in the States as cities opened and were declared no longer on emergency status. There was a feeling of jubilation and celebration that I wasn’t fully ready for yet. It seems still soon to eat at indoor restaurants, and I stuck to outdoor restaurants with open air terraces, which felt safer to me. The atmosphere was jubilant in New York, where I spent three weeks. It’s a busy crowded city in normal times and seemed even more so as the pandemic winds down. But even though the risks are dwindling, the dangerous variants are still among us, many people are not vaccinated, and it feels a little early to me to be so fast to put it behind us. I still wore a mask indoors and outdoors, and one visit to a crowded department store worried me so I left. I still want to be cautious for a while.

 

Once back in Europe, things are opening rapidly there too, though it’s not quite as free as the States, and approaching total freedom gradually, as the number of people vaccinated increases.

 

I met all of my children’s new puppies, and enjoyed visiting their busy lives. I felt like the Ghost of Christmas Past for a while, and then I adjusted. It was the greatest gift in the world to be with them again. And we will meet again for a vacation this summer. This was just a much needed prelude to that.

 

So I am very, VERY sorry that I’ve been ‘off’ for four weeks. I’m back, and I hope you’ll forgive me for being a no-show while I was catching up with my kids. I hope you’re all well, and that your lives are returning to normal too. I’ll be back at my blog again next week, and in the meantime, I have some writing to do. Have a great week!!

 

with much love, Danielle

5/31/21, Self Portraits

Posted on May 31, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial beginning of summer—although the weather has been pretty chilly in some places, but summer is summer and warm weather should be here soon. On the day to remember our lost loved ones, Memorial Day, it seems a fitting time to honor all the people who have lost their lives to Covid.

 

And on the Covid front, there seems to be good news, the numbers are down in the States and in Europe, mass vaccination finally has Covid on the run, and far fewer lives are being lost in many places (although we still mourn all the current losses in India, as they struggle with Covid). In California children all the way down to the age of 12 are being vaccinated. In France, vaccination opened up to ALL ages today, which will speed things up immeasurably. And California has started an amazing lottery to encourage California residents to get vaccinated: 10 people will win 1.5 million $ each, 30 will win $50,000., two million can win $50 gift cards, and another million people will win free beer and baseball tickets. Whatever works to encourage people to get vaccinated, so we can all be safer from the virus in future, and reach ‘herd immunity’.

 

Something struck me this week about the way we view ourselves. I have always admired people who are humble, and it seems as though the more talented and exceptional they are, the more humble they are. I’ve never much liked people who are puffed up, full of themselves, and brag about their talents and abilities, and I’ve admired greatly those who are more modest. One of the most humble men I have ever known was Alex Haley, who was a dear friend, and my mentor at the beginning of my career (the author of “Roots”). No one was warmer, kinder, more compassionate, and more humble than he. It was one of his many traits I admired greatly.

 

I was speaking this week to a man whom I love and admire, exceptionally talented, brilliantly smart, a wonderful human being, and he is so modest that he has no idea how extraordinary and unusual he is. He sees himself as an ordinary person, with nothing special to recommend him, he sees his flaws and mistakes as no one else does—-while other people with little to recommend them can’t wait to tell you how fabulous they are (and usually aren’t).

 

There is a fine line between modesty and humility, and being blind to our own virtues. I dont usually see myself as a special person. I see my flaws, my weaknesses and my failures and all the areas where I could be better, my mistakes glare at me like headlights, blinding me to all else. Long ago, I was friends with the head of my publishing house, quite an impressive very capable man much respected in the field. And he said to me, “Every day I sit in my office, at my enormous desk, and I wait for someone to walk through the door and say ‘Donny, what are you doing in this office, in that chair—-go back to where you belong immediately’. I think we all feel that way at times. In publishing circles, I am often treated as a star, people see and are sometimes impressed by my fame—–and in my own mind’s eye, I am somewhere between 15 and 35, on a ‘grown up’ day, and I see all the ineptitude, the things I can’t and dont know how to do, the awkwardness, my shyness, and I feel almost like a fraud when they treat me as a star, and I wonder when they will discover that I’m just as unsure of myself as I was at fifteen. A wise woman once said to me “Dont compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. Other people always appear to be more competent and talented than we feel.

 

It’s a good trait not to be showing off and bragging, but maybe for the more modest among us, we need to take stock occasionally, and realize and notice the things that we do well, and where we shine—instead of focusing on our flaws and beating ourselves up for what we’re not or what we dont know, or can’t do well (yet).

 

When I do interviews on TV, it always feels surreal. I try not to think of millions of viewers watching, or I’d faint on the spot. People do my hair and make-up, I’m lucky enough to be interviewed by Robin Roberts, who is a fantastic, wonderful person, on Good Morning America.  And for five minutes, I feel like a star. And then I go home, or back to a hotel where I’m staying, take off my clothes for TV, put on jeans and a sweater, call my kids, play with my dogs—-the make-up and hair look good for the rest of the day, but underneath all that I’m still me, the same person I was at 15, and 25 and 30, with the same talents, and the same ineptitudes, just as shy, and often unsure of myself, wishing I could be more, or better, or more capable in many ways. I think most of us feel that way.

 

I see your talents and beauty, and you see mine—but do we see our own? Do we ever give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, or do we see the one mistake we made? I tend to be hard on myself, always striving to do better and be more. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, but now and then we should probably all take stock, and realize where our strengths lie, and how many things we have done well.  Fame always seems a little fraudulent to me. Without the make-up (that I could never do myself) and the perfect hair for TV, I’m still the same girl I was at fifteen, and you probably feel that way too.

 

Take stock of the many things you do really well, and I’m sure there are many!!! Recognize your talents, be proud of yourself.  And I’ll bet you have a lot to be proud of, even if you still feel like you’re just a kid and winging it most of the time. Your own personal way of ‘winging it’ may be pretty fabulous and you dont even know it!!! Hurray for you!!! You have a right to be proud of yourself, and not to be too critical and hard on yourself. And make sure you hang out with people who appreciate you, and praise you for who you really are!!! Try to see what they see in you, and you’ll get a whole new view of yourself!!

 

Have a great week, and I hope wonderful things happen for you!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

5/25/21, Re-Entry, the challenges of Good Change

Posted on May 25, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and are getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend, which is always the unofficial beginning of summer in the US, a kind of warm up for the Fourth of July. Although holidays have been celebrated worldwide during the nearly year and a half of the pandemic, nothing has had the same atmosphere or mood during that anxious time. And in most cases, holidays that were too enthusiastically celebrated had disastrous after-effects with lethal spikes in the numbers of new Covid cases, with a high price to pay for holidays. With vaccines available now around the world, and more readily in some countries, it will actually be possible for people to celebrate holidays with far less risk, and in some places none at all, although caution is still advised (masks, social distancing, and common sense, with Covid still part of our daily lives, although rendered less lethal now due to the vaccines.)

 

I’m reminded of the wise words of a friend several years ago, a psychologist, who said that good change can sometimes be harder to adjust to than bad change, which several times in my life I have found to be true (like the arrival of a new baby, which is such a joyous event, but can certainly alter your daily life dramatically, and be a bumpy adjustment, and for some even lead to postpartum depression). We’re not suffering from post-partum now, but for many, the adjustment to many changes post-Covid can be stressful and anxiety provoking. I read somewhere recently that some people are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of Covid, even as things begin to ease up. I notice changes in my life too. My sleep patterns (and I don’t sleep much in the best of times) have been altered, and haven’t settled down yet to what they were pre-Covid, with sleep more elusive, nights shorter, or waking in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep. (I just get up and go to work, rather than lying in bed and stewing about why I can’t sleep). I hear that from people a lot, that they’re having trouble sleeping. We’ve all been through some harrowing times, and need to acknowledge that.

 

For myself, although I was safer in France at times, and felt more secure there when the numbers of daily cases and deaths were terrifyingly high in the US, which kept me where I was, and Paris is certainly not a hardship post even in the midst of Covid—-three long lockdowns, and the rigors and forced solitude of confinement were an unfamiliar stress, and being separated from my family for more than a year was a challenge every day. Birthdays, holidays, and happy events missed, family gatherings cancelled, weddings and other events being cancelled and postponed sank everyone’s spirits for more than a year, and was a common occurrence in everyone’s lives. The restoration of normal life is an enormous comfort, and being reunited with loved ones a special gift, it still feels somewhat tenuous, and we have all been reminded of how radically and how suddenly life can be changed dramatically. The whole world became a dangerous place, and in many cases came to a dead stop for more than a year. And people are still mourning lost loved ones, and financial stresses are affecting people all across the globe. And ‘normal’ feels suddenly unfamiliar and a challenge to achieve. Unable to be vaccinated myself, and with some members of my family not vaccinated yet for a variety of reasons, I have still not been able to hug my children, but just the sight of them with masks and social distancing warms my heart. We’re ‘back’, but none of us are quite home free yet. But we’re getting there, and well on our way.

 

As with any hard event, even a war, blessings have resulted from it too, family relationships that have become closer, romantic ones that started in the pandemic, people who got to know their children better than ever before, new past times we never had time for before, and helped soothe some of the stresses of the pandemic, a lot of my friends took up gardening and really enjoyed it, or discovered new hobbies, and made new friends. And it seems as though everyone who could got a dog, and are crazy about them now. So we’re left with pluses and minuses. The minuses were heavy, jobs and businesses lost, and lost loved ones, but the pluses are noticeable, worthwhile, and real too.

 

Even happy events in life are not always 100% smooth. And the return to normalcy doesn’t always happen in a straight line or as fast as we wish. Switching from one country to another always has with it an element of culture shock. At the end of a flight, you’re suddenly in another world, another life, with a whole new set of challenges and rules. I had a lot to catch up on coming back to the States, and I jam packed all the long overdue appointments into my first weeks back, medical appointments and exams, the dentist, accountants, lawyers, government papers I needed for international travel, all of the appointments stressful, and I faced two and three a day, so I didn’t have much time to savor my return, and none of the required appointments were pleasant, but I wanted to get through them quickly. My daily role as parent and employer made demands on me too. And all of it after a year of anxiety and worry, and even business negotiations that dragged on far longer than usual. I think we were all stretched to the maximum of our tolerance for stress for more than a year. I worked hard during the entire pandemic every single day, but nothing was as easy or stress-free as it usually is. And winding down from that kind of stress is a challenge too. I missed important family events for more than a year. We won’t get the time back, and we can’t mourn the time we lost forever, we just have to move forward now with fresh energy, and look ahead to the many things we can enjoy now and will in future, and hang onto the blessings we did have in the past year, and there were many of those too. I am really grateful for the good people who came into my life in the past year, and the relationships that developed and strengthened as a result.

 

I only take one vacation a year, in the summer with my kids. There was no way we could do it last year, so I haven’t had a vacation in almost two years. And I almost never take a day off from writing. I keep my nose to the grindstone all year long, and my hands on my typewriter keys!!! My writing schedule is grueling, but I love what I do, which makes it possible. And although time off was inevitable for people during the lockdowns, I was able to work then too, even if not as easily as usual, but I still worked. But I’ve been reminded of the benefits, and necessity sometimes, of time off too.

 

I did something in the past week that I rarely do, I took a day off during the week to drive out of the city with my youngest daughter, to the places she has enjoyed during the pandemic. We drove out to the country, had a wonderful lunch together, and spent a terrific day. I came back to the city at the end of the day, feeling happy, relaxed and renewed. The time together was a special gift. And although the pandemic was isolating in many ways, physically and mentally, I cherish the time to see friends now, or talk to them, and didn’t take much time off to do that before. I think that people who take the time to do that now will make a healthier, happy re-entry back to normal life. We can see more people now, are freer to move around, and do the things we enjoyed before, and hang onto the new past times we’ve discovered in this very unusual year.

 

I think in the long run, the pandemic will have taught us many positive lessons, and much about ourselves and what matters most to us. But don’t be too surprised if your re-entry is a little bumpy, and you feel different than before. We won’t all suffer from Post-traumatic stress, but the reality is that we have all been through a lot, in one way or another, and it will take some time to hit our stride again, but we are well on our way now. The memory of the hard times will leave their mark, but so will the blessings we derived from it too. Take some time to catch your breath, get back to ‘normal’, and be gentle with yourself.

 

Have a great week and a wonderful holiday weekend!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

5/17/21, To Mask or Not To Mask

Posted on May 17, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I’ve been adjusting to re-entry into a previously familiar world, and a certain degree of culture shock after being away for a long time. And to make matters more confusing, there have been differences for the past year between what Covid protocols should be followed, between Europe and the US, between European countries, and between states and cities in the US. There are differences of opinions about what is safe and what isn’t, and sometimes contradictions between suggestions, rules and laws. At first we were all told that masks were unnecessary, don’t bother with them, (both in the US and in Europe) and then country by country, scientists and governments decided that masks were essential, and one of the most most important tools we had to stay safe and stop the spread of the virus, particularly now with a multitude of variants from around the world. Masks even became a political issue in the US. Most of us have been wearing them for a year, surgical masks, cloth masks, decorated masks, colorful ones, adult and children’s masks.

 

Last week, new pronouncements were made, saying that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear them, indoors or out. The news was met with a huge collective sigh of liberation by many people. No one is thrilled by having to wear a mask, but if it keeps us safe (and people around us), why not? Particularly if it keeps high risk people safe, it seems important to wear one. And doctors have said that wearing one is still crucial. But with many people vaccinated now, the rules are changing, and it sounds like vaccinated people will be able to live free of masks now. It sounds like a plus if it is truly safe.

 

I’m a little confused about it myself, and since I can’t get vaccinated (due to potentially fatal allergies), I do pay attention to the recommendations about masks, to protect myself, and others, whether loved ones or strangers. Doctors seem to agree that there are many things we don’t know both about the vaccine and the virus itself, and they continue to learn more every day. And possibly it won’t be until after the pandemic is over that we will really be able to figure out what helped and what didn’t. But from everything we know now, masks are still very important, particularly in crowded public places, like airports, public transportation, and even stadiums. As things open up more and more, and we get back normal life, it’s important to know if masks are still important. It sounds like they are, for now.

 

From what I understand, among ALL vaccinated people, they can start to put away their masks now. And for people who haven’t had the vaccine, masks are VERY important to protect themselves and others. And to a certain degree, among the vaccinated, it will become a matter of choice, as to how comfortable they feel now not wearing a mask. But it is a small step to freedom, and an important one.

 

We’ve all gotten used to wearing masks now. It isn’t a lot to ask. And since I’m not vaccinated, I will continue wearing mine, except when I’m outdoors, with reasonable social distancing and precautions. According to everything the scientists say, masks make a BIG difference. So, with people I don’t know well, or at all, or people whose ideas about safety are different than mine, or in an airport, or on a plane, for now I will continue to wear a mask. And with those of my children who are not vaccinated, I will continue to wear a mask and social distance. Just to be on the safe side. And with friends and family who are vaccinated, and careful, I feel comfortable taking off my mask, especially outdoors or with fresh air circulating.

 

I guess things will get clearer and clearer as time goes on!!!

 

Have a GREAT week, with lots of good news, and some fun.

 

love, Danielle

5/11/21, Together Again

Posted on May 11, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a couple of really busy weeks, and I didn’t have the time or the calm to write to you peacefully. After more than fourteen months, a huge moment happened in my life. The Covid numbers came down just enough in France, and in the US, and with many people vaccinated, I decided to brave the trip I have put off for fourteen months: I was scared of the health risks, but I took the bull by the horns, and was reminded of one of the sayings on my office wall: Courage is not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them. So, with great trepidation, and real fear, I packed up fourteen months of papers and things to bring my children, and unsure until the very last minute, I made a run for it, with my French nephew to help me with ten suitcases and three dogs on the trip from Paris, where I have been for fourteen and a half months, back to the US.

 

People had told me that airports were empty, and planes less than half full, and travel was easier than I feared. (I feared most of all catching the dreaded virus on the way. After all those months in safety and seclusion in Paris, it seemed insanely stupid to catch it on the way home. But I couldn’t stay away from my children any longer. I felt that I was letting them down, and owed it to them to be brave, and as careful as possible and go to see them in California and New York. And the numbers had not been good recently. But when would they be? And how much longer could I wait?)

 

The reports I’d had weren’t entirely true. The airport wasn’t jammed but it was full, and busy with international travelers, leaving Paris for other countries. There are only two flights a week from Paris to San Francisco, but people are moving around. The airport was not deserted, although the flight was one third full. Equipped by one of my children, I had plastic covers to put in the security bins (a really good idea), which made me feel a little safer. I wore an N95 mask, which was too big so it floated around on my face, but I had been told it was the best. I brought a visor, but didn’t wear it, and used a seat cover, and disinfected my hands frequently. And once on the plane, I began to relax. The crew was attentive, and the air supposedly well filtered and pure. It was the same worry we have all had for more than a year: an invisible killer virus is lurking, but you can’t see it, and don’t know if you do the wrong thing, or stand next to the wrong person. A PCR Covid test was required for the trip.

 

It was a very long flight, one I never take. I prefer to break my trip to the West Coast with a stop in New York, which avoids jet lag. I was too tense on the flight to watch a movie or sleep, so I read, and talked to my nephew, and the eleven-hour flight went surprisingly fast, and we landed an hour early. And I had a strange sensation on arrival, that I was suddenly back in the US, had travelled halfway across the world, and was allegedly home, but it didn’t feel like it, everything felt strange and foreign and unfamiliar. And I kept reminding myself that I had made the trip to see my kids, which made any degree of fear worthwhile. I had a reason, a purpose, and a need of my own, to see the children I had missed so much. We had never been apart for more than a few weeks in their entire lives, and I hadn’t seen them in more than a year. Unimaginable, and yet the time had flown. There were some hard, lonely times, but always a sense that we were doing the right thing, staying where I was. it was a sacrifice for them and for me, and it hadn’t all been painful. There had been some wonderful moments in France in the year, and often a sense of peace, and some lovely moments with friends. Some of my friendships had deepened, others had faded away when friends disappointed me, which happens to us all.There were frightened times, and peaceful times. But my family is a vital part of my life, and was always missing. It took enormous strength and faith to be away from them for so long.

 

I made my way through immigration and customs, and trumpets didn’t go off. A brass band didn’t play. No one congratulated me for coming home. And we drove into the city, and got home. San Francisco looked bright and shiny, the sun was shining, people had told me the city looked grim, but I saw no sign of it on the way. And at last, I was home. I have led a divided life for a long time, as a child between France and the US, and again as an adult once my children grew up. For the past 16 years, my life, and my year, and my friendships and my heart have once again been divided between France and the US, with homes in both places, but the ‘mother house’, the family house my children grew up in, and my children, are all in the United States, so like a homing pigeon I always come back, even though eventually I fly back to France again. But my return to the US is always sure, my kids are here. My worst fear for years, or one of them, is that there would be a war, and I would be separated from my children particularly if I had a different nationality from them—-which is exactly what happened in Covid. It exploded while I was in France, rapidly became too dangerous to come back, and my kids were in the US. They were incredibly brave and tolerant and supportive of my remaining safe there, in fact frequently they advised me not to come back yet, and to wait, so I did. But a year? How could that be?

 

I walked through my front door and nothing had changed, the house looked the same. it was as though I had never left, and yet I had, and we had been separated for a year. We had faced hard times alone, holidays and important life moments. But we had survived, no one had died. We had made it. Four of my children were in San Francisco, the others in other cities, and I will visit them soon. The elderly dogs I had left in San Francisco, too old to travel, had died during the year, and the house seemed empty without them. But I felt as though I had been either thrown back a year, or air lifted ahead. It was like flying through space. And within hours I saw the children I had missed so much—cautiously, we kept our distance, wore masks, some of them are vaccinated, some not, and I’m not, due to severe allergies that make it questionable, so even more caution and wisdom is required. We didn’t hug, but we glowed with joy and relief when we saw each other, and got as close as we dared. I had another Covid test several days later, which was negative. They had tests before they saw me. The distance of six feet didn’t matter, we had been six thousand miles apart for more than fourteen months, and we had survived it, we had come through it, Love had fueled us and kept us going, and there were many dark hours in the year apart, but bright ones too. They had grown more independent, and I had to fill my time without them, although I had been surrounded by my children since I was nineteen. It was a learning experience, and an act of faith for us all. And somehow, I’m not even sure how, we did it. I don’t think we will ever be as affected by being apart for a while. We did it, and it was hard at times. Christmas alone, without them was the hardest of all for me. But even that painful memory faded once I saw them in front of me.

 

I felt like a ghost in my own life for a while. I had come back, and their lives had gone on without me, and my life had moved forward too. I was eternally grateful to the people, a precious few, who had gotten me through it. Strong bonds had formed during the pandemic, like in wartime, which will stay with us forever and last, never to be forgotten.

 

For several days, I woke up in the morning, or at night, unsure where I was. Paris or the States? Where was I? Which country? Which home? And then I remembered.

 

So often I was overwhelmed with fear during that year, that I would die and never see them again, or that something would happen to them. Miraculously, nothing terrible did, and we came through it unscathed. Our worst fears never happened, and we are together again. And I will see the others soon. I will always remember that time apart, and be grateful for the love that carried us through, along with the people we love and who love us, who helped us along the way. it was a remarkable journey, and living proof of what I believe, as trite as it sounds, that Love conquers all, distance and fear and darkness and anxiety, and no matter how many miles we are away from our loved ones, we can never really be separated from those we love. Love truly does conquer all, and transforms us on the way. And no matter how difficult or frightening the experience, there are blessings in every situation that carry us through. And wherever we find ourselves, we are where we are meant to be. I am grateful for every moment of the last fourteen months, and to be with my children again. Home is wherever we are, with the people we love. And I am so grateful for the people who gave me comfort, support and love for the past fourteen months. It has been a blessing and a miracle, and even though so hard at times, an incredible gift to be together again.

Have a great week!

Love, Danielle

 

4/19/21, “No More Fear”

Posted on April 19, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How was your week last week? I hope it was a good one, and you had at least one good surprise, or some really happy moments. Some nice things happened for me last week, we are planning a wedding for one of my daughters late in the summer and are looking forward to it, a celebratory moment and a happy event. We’ve all had a hard year and deserve to have some fun when things are safer. The vaccine roll out seems to be happening in the US but the daily Covid numbers are still high and rising, and we still have to be careful and keep our defenses up. It’s too soon to relax our guard with Covid, the experts say, although I think we are all tired of the strain and stress, and how hard it is to make plans more than a few days away.

 

I finished correcting a set of galleys yesterday for one of my books, and really loved the story, and I am excited about the books I have coming out this year, we’ve been working on the cover for the holiday book, both in the US and the UK, and it’s a book I’m really excited about. And I’m very excited about the book coming out next week in hardcover, “Finding Ashley”, and I really hope you love it too, and the mothers and mother figures in your life. There is an important sister relationship in the book too. As an only child, I have always been deeply touched by the relationships I see among my children, among siblings. It is a very precious relationship, not always easy, because siblings can be very different, but it is a very powerful bond, stronger than friendship. My kids are all very close and I think they treasure their relationships with their siblings.

 

I read something I found helpful yesterday, and will share it with you. I ALWAYS find the writings of Joel Osteen helpful and inspiring. Many of them are written in a way that is useful even for people who aren’t religious, they are so strongly positive. I love Joel’s books, and he recently came out with a small one, on the subject of Fear.

 

I have always been a worrier, even as a child. I had a bumpy childhood, my mother left when I was very young, and I grew up alone with my father. Losing a parent at an early age kind of sets you up to worry about how things are going to turn out—and what if the other parent leaves too, or dies?—then what? Children are sensitive to changes and instability in their lives. And much later, as an adult, I lost my son Nick—which again is a harsh reminder that bad things can happen and you can lose someone you love. So, I do worry, some of my children are worriers too, though not all. On the practical side, if you’re a worrier by nature, things usually go pretty smoothly, because you try to anticipate what could go wrong, and plan accordingly (like what if it rains the day you are hosting a big picnic or an outdoor event—do you have an alternate rain plan??) I also envy the people who just figure they’ll wing it and invent the alternatives as they go along—I would lie awake at night worrying about it, if I didn’t have a backup plan. Like if I’m travelling for some big event, I always take an alternate outfit, because what if the zipper gets stuck, or you spill a bowl of soup on yourself, or someone else does. Travelling with 9 children taught me that little trick early on!!!

 

Being a worrier is a burden too, because you’re always trying to anticipate what could or might go wrong. And some of the events in our lives (like lost loved ones) make us fearful. And Joel’s books are the perfect antidote for that, they are kind of handbooks to life, how to deal with life’s crises. His books have always helped and reassured me immensely. The ones I’ve read are normal length books, with many chapters, and I have loved them all. He also has a great sense of humor which comes through in his writing. (I have been lucky enough to meet him and his family, and he is an amazing person!!)  He recently came out with a very small book called “No More Fear”. There are 30 chapters. Each chapter is a single page. It’s a fast read, and touches on a multitude of subjects, there are photographs in it, it’s a pretty book. But it is once again kind of a fast handbook to life, and this book focuses on fear obviously.

 

It is a warm, kind, reassuring reminder that we don’t need to be scared, that life works better if we aren’t scared, don’t panic, or assume the worst, and keep a positive attitude and trust that things will work out. Let’s face it, we’ve all had a tough year, worrying about our health, the health and safety of the people we love, terrified by the horror stories we’ve heard of Covid. For people with their own small businesses, in most cases it has been a challenging year. For people with jobs, they’ve worried that the company they work for could go under. In cities that have been under heavy lockdown, hairdressers, restaurant owners, waiters, even gardeners have been out of work for months. It’s been hard to make plans, nearly impossible to travel, kids have been out of school a lot, weddings and graduations have been cancelled. Celebrations have been few and far between, social gatherings have been forbidden. All the fallout of Covid has set the stage for us to be worried, even afraid, it has been an anxiety-producing time, and even with the vaccines now, the end isn’t clearly in sight yet. Fear has been with us ever since Covid arrived.

 

I sat down with Joel Osteen’s new book, read it carefully, and as with all his books, when I finished, I gave a sigh of relief. It reminded me that we don’t have to be ruled by fear, that we don’t need to be afraid all the time. Some things are good to be afraid of: an alligator in your backyard, an intruder with a gun, an airplane in trouble, a rattlesnake at your feet—-a pandemic!!! But we can’t live with fear all the time, we have to be able to unplug sometimes, we can’t live in a constant crisis. Joel helps one cope with the ordinary situations in life which frighten us—-that may not even turn out badly, they may turn out wonderfully in the end, but we worry about them until they do. I loved his book, and will read it again many times. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Bible passages, that I have clung to often:

 

“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of Love and of a sound mind” Timothy II:7 There are various versions of it in more modern translations of the Bible. Most of the time, fear is not a good thing (except in the case of the alligator I mentioned, or the rattlesnake)—-we can’t live in fear all the time. And we’ve had a lot of it in these 13 months of the pandemic. We need to be able to unplug from that fear, to breathe, to relax, to laugh, to have a good time, to see friends and family when it’s safe to do so.

 

I just thought I’d mention Joel’s book in case it would comfort you as it did me. And we all have our own way to seek relief from stress and fear, jogging, other forms of exercise, talking to a friend, a good meal, a glass of wine, religious beliefs. There are many ways to deal with fear, and Joel’s book is just one of them. But I loved it, it helped me, and I wanted to share it with you.

 

And one day, hopefully not too far from now, this whole scary time will be behind us, and a distant memory. But for now, it helps to find something encouraging that makes you feel better and gives you hope again. Joel’s book did that for me. Take good care, and be good to yourself this week, you deserve it!! Have a great week, and I hope wonderful things happen to you!!

 

love, Danielle

4/12/21, Finding Ashley

Posted on April 12, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, things are a bit dreary in Paris, another cold rainy day. I don’t know what’s wrong with the weather this year, last year at this time, I was perched on my little balcony, getting a suntan in the spring sunshine. It made the long lockdown a bit more tolerable. Last year, in the lockdown we weren’t allowed to go outside, except for an hour a day with a permission form filled out (for medical reasons, groceries, an hour of exercise or to walk a dog). This year we can go out all day until 7 pm, but go where? It’s too cold and rainy to want to go out, and cozier at home. It feels like December, not April. It was supposed to snow last week, but it didn’t in the city, only in the country around it, and in London. So, it’s reading, writing, getting work done, and watching series. And I think most people are pretty much series and zoomed-out. Human contact would be ever so nice, a walk with a friend on a sunny day, lunch at a restaurant, on a terrace (no stores or restaurants open). Spring will come, and Covid will get better and eventually disappear. We just have to be patient, I guess.

 

I remember one year, I was on my way to the Caribbean, and changed flights in New York for 2 hours, and in those brief two hours on April 15, there was such a huge blizzard that they closed the airport. So I guess cold weather happens in April.

 

The vaccine roll out is still slow in Europe, and impressively efficient in the US. I heard yesterday that 25% of the population is fully vaccinated in the US, and 50% have had one shot and are waiting for the next one. That really is amazing.

 

Otherwise, the world seems a bit slow at the moment, I have a new book coming out two weeks from tomorrow, which is always exciting. “Finding Ashley”, about a reclusive writer who lost her son to cancer, and her marriage, and is quite solitary, and estranged from her only sister, who is a nun. The writer gave up a baby at a Mother and Baby Home in Ireland when she was fifteen. And when the two sisters meet again, the one who is a nun takes a leave from the convent, to try and find the baby girl that her sister gave up. The writer has regretted it all her life, and her sister wants to help her find peace about it.  All the convent records were intentionally destroyed, so none of the mothers and adult children can find each other now. The search for the little girl her sister gave up becomes a journey of self-discovery, revealing truths and long hidden secrets in both their lives, and it renews the bond between the two sisters, and what they discover during the search for the baby the one sister gave up. It’s about mothers and daughters and sisters, and the bond between women in one family, no matter how different they are. It’s about looking for someone you loved and lost, and finding yourself. I hope you love it!!! And because of the subject, it will make a wonderful Mother’s Day book!!!

 

I hope you have a wonderful week, with lots of happy surprises—–and warm weather, and a hint of spring!!

 

lots of love, Danielle