Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

1/13/20, Mickey Madness

Posted on January 13, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you. After the seriousness, stress, and rushing around of the holidays, and the solemnity of not only a new year but a new decade…..a bit of fun.  Sometimes fashion is just plain fun, frivolous, and can even take us back to the innocence and silliness of our childhoods—-maybe with a new twist. Mickey Mouse is the hot new craze at the moment, with a vintage look, brought to us by Gucci, which is all about fun and how imaginative fashion can be.

 

Gucci has done a whole new collection featuring a vintage looking Mickey Mouse, in collaboration with Disney, or licensed by them in any case. And not just for children, but for men and women too. Set for specific release on January 6th, Mickey appeared in the Gucci stores a week ago, and the spark of excitement over it has turned into a roaring blaze. The Mickey collection has the cut and quality and flawless eye for fashion of Gucci clothing and accessories, with a REALLY fun touch. Jeans with a Mickey patch on the back pocket, T shirts in many colors, round neck sweatshirts and hoodies, sweaters, denim jackets and skirts, silk pajamas you can wear out, purses, shoes, jackets, in pastel colors, vibrant ones, or their signature nut brown motif with Mickey Mouse all over it, even watches. And admittedly, with the high quality of Gucci, a serious eye for fashion, and the irresistible Mickey image, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s pretty expensive. Not as expensive as some recent fashion trends like Chanel’s collaboration with Pharrell last year, which had people lining up in the streets overnight to buy $6,000. hoodies, which were sold out within hours when Chanel stores opened. Gucci hasn’t gone that far, but the entire Mickey Mouse collection is priced at the high end of a luxury brand you can always count on to deliver high quality, and takes full advantage of nearly a century of the world’s love for Mickey Mouse. The collection takes us back to our childhood, while being undeniably fashionable, and the hottest trend in years.

 

And yes, I fell in love with it, and bought some for me, my youngest daughter who loves it too, and even some gifts. If you love Mickey Mouse, you will love every bit of it. The entire collection nearly sold out on the first day, as fashion aficionados and fashionistas waited, panting, for the promised release.

 

Simply put, I love it!!! It’s impossible to resist, and I love the childlike imagination of it. I don’t usually buy ‘trends’, but this one got to me, so I’ll be wearing my Mickey Mouse jeans and T shirt, and even a sweatshirt this season!!! A little levity does one good. So the race is on, and Mickey is winning by a mile this season. It is a super fun start to the New Year!!!

 

Have a fun week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

1/6/20, Family

Posted on January 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope the last week has been peaceful and that you got through New Year’s Eve and Day safely and happily. I have to admit, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t like New Year’s.  New Year’s Eve is always heavy with expectation and often fraught with disappointment. Plans don’t work out quite the way we want them to, parties aren’t as much fun as we hope. We don’t have the right date or the right dress or the right plan. And although New Year’s Day is supposed to be a fresh beginning and the start of a whole New Year and clean slate, it’s often also a reminder of what didn’t work out last year. It’s just not a holiday I love!!! Having said that, my New Year’s Eve was surprisingly nice this year. For several years now, I have been alone on New Year’s eve, my kids have left after Christmas by then, so to avoid being sad and missing them too much (after the joys of a full house over Christmas!!), I start a new book every year when they leave, around December 27th—-and by New Year’s eve, I’m deep in the book and forget everything else. This year, one my daughters decided at the last minute to stay until New Year’s Day. She cooked all day on New Year’s Eve, set a beautiful table, with decorations, and provided a really festive happy New Year’s Eve for me, one of my sons and his fiancée, and another friend, and we had a really great time together, unexpectedly, on the spur of the moment. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years. None of us had high expectations or elaborate plans, and we had a great time together!!!

 

I was mulling over what to write about today, in the blog, and read a reader’s comment to the last blog, about a minor family argument that turned into a big fight during holiday cookie baking and spoiled everything. And I thought I’d write about that. I’m an only child, so I’ve never had the problems or the blessings of siblings, and my family was tiny (just my father and I, while I grew up). In contrast, with nine children, I’ve been blessed with a big family and have had a front row seat to the closeness of siblings, what a joy it can be, and what a challenge at times. I do find that in big families, kids seem to get along better than in small ones, because it’s such a big group that there are always other options if they’re not getting along with someone. It’s kind of a moveable feast!!!

 

Families are a work in progress. They move, they change, they shift, like the sea or the tides, or the shells on the beach. We’re a close knit family, and are all very close, and spend holidays together, and I think we get along surprisingly well, but in any family, storms can come up, and blow over, or hang around for a while. Someone can make a careless comment and upset someone else without even intending to, or people dig their heels in and disagree over something trivial. I think it happens in all families. There are a lot of personalities involved, spouses and in laws, or siblings, and things get bumpy for a while. What I do find though is that as fast as something can come up and turn into a storm, it can calm down just as fast and hours or days later, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I think ALL families go through it, just like no marriage is without the occasional argument. It’s just the nature of humans, and life. And hopefully, love carries the day in the end, and we all forgive each other. So I hope that the cookie baking argument was or will be short lived, and has been forgotten by now.

 

Families have a life force of their own. And the things that drive us nuts at one moment, seem silly a short while later. (And too much alcohol sometimes consumed during the holidays can turn small fights into big ones too)

 

But a little rain falls in the life of every family. And I envy my children the fact that they have siblings. It looks like having a best friend, only better!!!

 

I hope your new year is starting out peacefully, and that the holidays were happy. But if your holidays were a little stormy, I hope the storms clear up soon, and everything will be happy again!!!

 

My new book, Moral Compass, is coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday. I’m REALLY excited about it, and I hope you love it!! I worked really hard to get it right. It’s about how an act committed by high school seniors can escalate into a life changing event and touch everyone around them, parents, teachers, students, friends, even police and a judge.  I think it deals with an important subject, and I really hope you enjoy it and it’s meaningful to you too!!!  And I’m hard at work on new books at the moment. I’m working on a new book, and an outline!! That will keep me out of mischief for a while!!!

 

 

Be well and happy, and I hope that everything is smooth around you!!! Have a great week!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

12/30/19, Happy New Year

Posted on December 30, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that the holidays went smoothly for you, and that you had some wonderful heartwarming, happy times. And if for some reason, the holidays fell short, at least they are behind you now. Some years are just harder than we expect, or don’t turn out quite the way we hope.  My holidays were very busy with a full house, lots of details to see to, to make sure that everything went as planned and everyone was happy, and I was very grateful to have my children at home. We were only missing one on Christmas Day, who had to visit his in laws in another state. But everyone else was home, and there were 27 people at our dinner table on Christmas night, with extended family as well. It was a big, noisy, chatty, happy group. And my children spoiled me this year, as they always do, with some really lovely thoughtful gifts. I got some great sweaters (a happy face one, and one with hearts!! and one in gorgeous bubble gum pink, and a beige one with black polka dots), and very cute shoes (including a pair of bubblegum pink high top sneakers I wanted!! some shoes with hearts on them, and a pair of pale blue satin high heels), a beautiful bracelet with a red enamel heart, and two beautiful bead bracelets, and the print of a painting I have wanted for years!!! And the best gift of all was being with my children!!!  As always, the time flew by, and now I’m back at work.

 

The holidays are a real challenge for some people, or even for everyone at times. And the next hurdle is New Year’s eve, a night full of expectation and hopes that are hard to live up to in real life. It’s a night I’ve never liked, although I’ve dealt with it in many different ways. When my kids were young and I was happily married, we watched old movies on TV and went to bed early, which I still think is the best way to spend it, with someone you love. Out in the world, people try so hard to have fun, and expect so much of that night that it rarely is fun. Everywhere I am, it’s cold on that night. Driving is dangerous with some people drunk on the road, and I don’t like to go out. I’m much happier at home.

 

At another time in my life, I gave elegant black tie dinner parties with dancing on New Year’s Eve. It was very pretty, and seemed elegant and glamorous at the time—but the evening I enjoyed most was once during a bad storm, when the bridges of San Francisco were closed, and my caterer couldn’t come to cook dinner and cancelled at the last minute, so in desperation, we ran around to all the fast food places we could think of, and had burgers hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza and curly fries for my guests in evening clothes. And it turned out to be much more fun than our fancy dinner!!! Once divorced, without a partner, I gave poker parties on New Year’s Eve for several years, which made who to kiss at midnight no longer a problem. I had about 20 people over to play poker and we had a ball, and I think I made $20.00 that was so much fun that I did it for several years, and then eventually the poker parties got tiresome. And a few years ago, I figured out that the best way for me to spend New Year’s eve was writing/working, so that’s how I spend New Year’s eve now. When I write, I don’t know what day it is, or where I am. I don’t feel alone when I write….I don’t get dressed up, I’m at home, and don’t have to drive anywhere. It’s not glamorous but for now it works for me. There is a time for everything, and New Year’s Eve is such a challenge and is so often disappointing that I don’t want to have to struggle to make it fun. I think a lot of people feel that way and prefer to stay home.  So that’s what I do!!! It’s one of those nights which underlines what you don’t have in your life, rather than what you do.

 

However you spend it, I wish you a wonderful, productive, happy, healthy new year—-and I hope that all your wishes come true in the coming year!!! I hope it will be your best year ever. And I hope that you have a plan for New Year’s Eve that appeal to you and sounds like fun to you. But above all, I hope that 2020 is your very best year, and that “The best is yet to come” describes it perfectly.

 

I wish you a very, very VERY Happy New Year, and lots of fun times and good people up ahead in 2020!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

12/23/19, Christmas Wishes

Posted on December 23, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that the preparations for the holidays have gone smoothly for you so far, and that in spite of last minute rushing around, that everything is falling into place as you want it to, and you are looking forward to your plans. Some years are easier than others.

 

With Christmas Eve tomorrow, or Hanukkah today, I hope that you have plans to spend the holiday with people you love and who appreciate you and will make you happy. Or maybe this year, you’re devoting yourself to those around you to make it a special holiday for them, even if it’s not exactly as you wanted it to be. Some years the holidays seem so perfect, and other years they fall short in unexpected ways. On harder years for me, being grateful for what is right, rather than focusing on what is wrong, has really helped me. What I hope most for you, and for all of us, is that the holidays will be easy this year, and full of joy—-that the right people thought of you and remembered you, that the right kids came home (or ALL your kids!!!), that you had a few private special moments to just feel good about these special days, and can enjoy the warmth of friends and loved ones, and good times.

 

I wish you beautiful holidays this year, and always, easy, satisfying, fulfilling days throughout the year. I hope that the year ahead will be a great one for you—-and that however you spend the holidays, with family, or friends, or at work this year, or even alone, I hope that it turns out to be a precious moment for you, one that warms your heart, and brings you joy.

 

May these holidays bring you many, many blessings, and peace, joy, and love, with all my love,

 

Danielle

 

12/16/19, Miracles Large and Small

Posted on December 16, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Wow….the countdown has begun in earnest, Nine days until Christmas, as of today. I hope that your preparations are going well, and that you have plans you like for the holidays, with friends or family, and the people who are meaningful to you. I still have to buy a gift for the “elephant game” we play on Christmas Eve. Other than that, I think I’m set, with things I hope my friends and family will enjoy. We will have new future in laws at Christmas Dinner with us this year, so it should be a big happy group with some new faces.

 

I thought of a holiday tradition today which is very meaningful to me, although it’s not of my own religious traditions. It’s the children’s tops called Dreidels that they play with on Hanukkah, in the Jewish faith. When my son Nick passed away, it was a very hard time for me, and for our whole family, as you can imagine. He was barely more than a kid, in his teens, and shortly after he died, I got a terrible cold (as one does sometimes after emotional traumas), and it was getting steadily worse, so I went to see our family doctor, who startled me by taking one of those tops, a Dreidel, out of a drawer and handed it to me. The top has four sides, and has a Hebrew letter on each side, and our doctor explained that it says “A great miracle happened here”. At the time, I thought he was crazy—-a great miracle? My son’s death? He said that in time, we would find that a great miracle had happened. I kept the Dreidel, and always remembered what he said, and years later, I realized what he said was true. Although a loss for all of us, we established two foundations in his honor, to help the mentally ill, the homeless, and to support suicide prevention. In the years since Nick’s death, our foundations to honor Nick have supported dozens of organizations that assist the mentally ill in solid, concrete ways, and through those organizations have helped thousands of people. Surviving a hard blow like that brought us closer together as a family, and has helped others as well. The lessons we learned from him, and after him have been cherished lessons, and miracles of love. It is comforting to know that indirectly Nick helped so many people, and that it truly is a kind of miracle. Do we still miss him terribly? Of course, and there is always a bittersweet edge to holidays when we miss him even more (he was the family clown, and always made us laugh with his antics!!! he had a great sense of humor). But Nick’s life was a miracle, a miracle of love. I have always had a tender affection for Dreidels when I see them, and remember what the doctor said. ‘A great miracle happened here’. Nick was a miracle, love is always a miracle, family is a miracle even if they aren’t our birth families, and are friends who have become families to us. Love in all forms is a miracle.

 

I’m so grateful for those miracles, and the reminder that the Dreidels provide. I have several on my desk, and collect them. No matter how hard our paths have been, we all have had miracles in our lives, some are obvious and easy to see, and other challenges you have to look at more closely to see the miracles in them more clearly.

 

May your holidays be touched by miracles, large and small, easy ones that are easy to embrace and identify. And even if these holidays are challenging for you in some way, looking back at them, you may see miracles that you haven’t noticed yet.

 

I wish you miracles for these holidays. And above all, I wish you holidays filled with joy, peace, and love.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

12/9/19, On The Move

Posted on December 9, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that you’re busy and having fun, and that the holidays hold a happy promise for you, and you can see good times ahead!!!

 

Two weeks before Christmas, and I feel a bit like I’ve been shot out of a cannon, and haven’t landed yet. I appeared on Good Morning America last week, with Robin Roberts, who is one of my favorite people in the world. I did a magazine interview, and recorded a French radio show at the end of the week, which was interesting and fun, with some very good questions. It was a long interview, for an hour. And in between, I tried to tie up the last loose ends for Christmas. Two long plane flights in the midst of it all, a visit from one of my daughters, and racing around with her. A Christmas dinner with my Godchildren, who are a joy in my life. The youngest made me a beautiful pen holder for my desk, painted royal blue. We had a pasta dinner, and tiramisu for dessert!!! I’ve been in three cities in two countries in the last week. It’s whirlwind time, while I try to keep up with emails and desk work. I’m not working on a book this week, so I can get our holiday organized. And I even managed to have lunch with a good friend.

 

Have you checked out my Instagram yet at ‘officialdaniellesteel’? It’s still new to me, I’ve been doing it for three months, and have really enjoyed it. I hope you like it too!!! I hope you check it out and think it’s fun.

 

It’s been freezing cold everywhere I’ve been, and we even had some snow in New York, but it didn’t last long.

 

And my new book “Spy” has been out for 2 weeks, and I really hope you will read it when you have time. I hope you’ll think it will make a great gift to the people on your holiday list!!! It’s a book that both men and women will enjoy, about a British female spy, it covers 30 years of her career in a multitude of exotic places, with some very close calls and harrowing events. It’s a historical novel, and the story about the characters is woven in with important moments in real history.

 

It looks like it’s going to be a busy week ahead too. It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already here, and even though I’m always proud of how organized I am, there is always more to do!!!

 

 

Take good care, and 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

 

11/18/19, The Crown

Posted on November 18, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and that things are rolling along peacefully toward Thanksgiving, and you have plans you’re looking forward to. And I hope that all of you will be with people you care about for the holidays, whether family or friends.

 

I took a day off yesterday, on Sunday, to indulge myself, and I binge-watched Season 3 of The Crown, on Netflix, which came out (the whole season) yesterday. My only concern about it was that they had wonderful actors in the first two seasons, whom we all got attached to in the stories about Queen Elizabeth II of England and her family and history—–and they announced at the end of the last season that rather than ‘aging’ the current actors with makeup, as the Queen gets older, they were using an entirely new cast in the upcoming seasons. They spent two seasons getting us attached the old cast, and now we would be seeing an entirely new group of actors. And as I feared, the change of cast didn’t work for me. I love the stories and the history, and the glimpses into significant events in the Queen’s personal life, but the actors they chose were much older than the Queen’s actual age on screen at the time. They had actors in their 50’s portraying the Queen and Prince Phillip, her husband, when they were still in their thirties. At 38, they have her portrayed by an actress in her 50’s, or who looks that way. The acting was flawless, but the discrepancy in age was disturbing and distracting. And they could so easily have used the original actors, Claire Foy and Matt Smith, in Season 3.  They were fabulous in the first two seasons, and the change of cast was jarring and disturbing. I wonder if others will feel the same, and if the series will be less successful as a result. It seems like a very poor executive decision, particularly when actors and actresses are so successfully aged on screen —– Meryl Streep has done so many roles that portrayed her well beyond her actual age, and different from her real looks, and it was brilliantly done. I’m sorry they didn’t do the same with the original cast in The Crown.  I really missed Claire Foy and Matt Smith.

 

But other than that, I still enjoyed watching the series. It’s beautifully written, and the actors are very good, even if not the ones I would have preferred to see. Claire Foy and Matt Smith were so touching and endearing in those roles, and the new cast’s performances, while dramatically excellent, were not warm.

 

It’s fun to get hooked on a series, and I love binge-watching, and seeing the whole season all in one day. It was a great way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday. Because of the change of cast, the Crown only got a B+ from me, but it’s still very good and worth watching. If you enjoy seeing modern history brought to life, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show very much!!!

 

Have a great week!!! And if you’d rather read a book than watch a series, you can always read my new book, Child’s Play, if you haven’t read it yet!!!

 

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

 

 

11/4/19, Forgiveness Before Thanks

Posted on November 4, 2019

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and maybe even some fun on Halloween, with or without children. My children have always dressed up on Halloween, even into their young adulthood, and gone to parties, but they all work so hard at their jobs now, that I think most of them stayed home that night. My youngest son sent me a photo of a very elaborate pumpkin he carved, so he paid tribute to Halloween after all. And I gave a dinner for my God Children, with black cats, a black owl, and glittery green rats on the table, and lots of candy. It’s a fun day. And now my thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that always makes me think. It’s really all about friendship, gathering friends around you, and being grateful for whatever you can think of. On hard years, that can be a real challenge, but it’s an important thought. Being Grateful, giving thanks. Sometimes being grateful for even the smallest things can make a huge difference. It’s a lot easier to complain about what you don’t have, than to be grateful for what you do. But being grateful, even for a minute is so important.

 

When I have time, I like reading the Bible at times. I know that sounds corny, but I often find some thought that helps me. I get lost in the ‘Begats’, about who is related to who. But there are simple phrases that jump out at me that have meant a lot to me. “Love never fails”, I love that one. “Nothing is impossible” has brought me a lot of comfort, and there is a phrase that meant a lot to me one very lonely Thanksgiving when I was alone years ago, “God places the solitary in families”. It proved to be true that year, I was invited to spend the holiday with friends, and years later, surrounded by my own big family, I remembered that phrase and it touched me. I also find guidelines sometimes about rules of life and ethics that make sense, and I’d either forgotten or tried to ignore. One of those was about forgiveness. A big subject.

 

Somewhere in the Bible it says about how many times you’re supposed to forgive—-and the answer is 70 Times 7. Holy Moley!! That’s 490. I’m supposed to forgive someone 490 Times??!!! Arrghkkkkk….I was thinking more like maybe 2 or 3. Okay, maybe 4. But 490? THAT is a VERY tall order. I guess that’s an ideal, and I’ll never get even remotely close to that. And somewhere else it says (loosely translated) not to show up all cheery and dressed up, when you haven’t forgiven the people in your life. Forgive them first, and THEN show up. Hmm, that’s also a good point. And not always easy to do. So it seems like before Thanksgiving comes forgiveness, which actually seems like good advice, —how can you be really grateful, if you have a long list in your heart of people you’re mad at and don’t want to forgive? That is a real philosophical challenge, and a human one. Forgiveness is important, the weight on one’s heart if one doesn’t forgive is heavy. And some things are very hard to forgive. Big betrayals, big hurts, really bad things people have done to you.

 

I’ve had my share of big things to forgive, and I’m sure you have too. If you live a full life, at some point, people are going to hurt you. And then it’s your decision how you feel about it. One of the biggest in my life was an embezzlement I experienced, it went on for 16 years before I discovered it. It was very cleverly done, and took an enormous toll on me, for a lot of money. Once discovered, I had to sell a beach house I loved, close my art gallery which I really loved, and close down the street outreach program I had for the homeless, which nearly broke my heart (we served 4,000 people a year, and gave them direly needed supplies). I had to do all those things to ‘right the ship’ again financially, and I have a family to support. It was a terrible blow. And because of the statute of limitations, the embezzler was only punished for the last 3 years of the crime, and couldn’t be prosecuted for the other 13 years of embezzled money. It was a terrible experience for me, and everyone affected by it (like the people who worked at the gallery who lost their jobs when I had to close, and the homeless we could no longer serve). The embezzler went to prison, but not for long. How do you deal with something like that? Do you stay mad forever, do you hate someone for what they did? (Someone I knew well, trusted, and saw every day for 16 years, a trusted employee). You can’t stay mad and hate them, or it poisons you. At some point you have to let it go. That was one of my greatest challenges for forgiveness, and I still think about it at times. And there have been others, not embezzlements, but people who have hurt me. And surely people who have hurt you too, maybe even in your family, at work, or among your friends. I had very unkind parents, which is a lot to forgive too. This year,  “friends” (a couple) set me up, invited me to a dinner party, and exposed me to 2 journalists (without warning me), one of them apparently famous for writing vicious untrue things about famous people in the press. I never met them at the party, didn’t talk to them, and didn’t know they were there—–until a very nasty false “interview” appeared in the press, which was hurtful. And I was very angry at the ‘friends’ who set me up, and I’m still wrestling with it in my head. (The article was withdrawn, because it was proven that there had never been an interview, and what was said wasn’t true). I probably won’t see the ‘friends’ again, but I don’t want to carry that around with me, so sooner or later, I will have to forgive them, even if I don’t see them again. Forgiveness can be a MAJOR challenge. And 490 times??? Wow!!! You’ve got to be kidding!!! How about 489? or 2?

 

But it’s a good point, how grateful can you be, if you are lugging a heavy sack of anger around, at the people you haven’t forgiven.

 

Forgiveness is a work in progress for most of us. Sometimes it comes easily, especially some small slight, but sometimes it’s really hard to forgive.  So before I show up for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and delicious stuffing (my favorite!!!), I know I’ll have work to do, to forgive the people who have hurt me past and present. And the more I can forgive, the better the pie and the stuffing will taste, and the more joyful the occasion will be, being with the people I love, and not dragging the ‘unforgiven’ people with me like a weight on my heart.

 

It’s something to think about, and it is a big subject. We all have people we need to forgive, for big and small hurts and ‘crimes’ against us. And when we are finally able to forgive them, and set that burden down, the thanks and the gratitude are that much sweeter…..and I’m VERY grateful that there is no one on my list that I need to forgive 490 times!!!! Once or twice will do me just fine,thanks!!!

 

Have a wonderful week, full of peace and joy, and happy things. Lots of happy things, and may all your burdens be light!!!

 

love, Danielle