Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

10/21/19, Healthy Living and Remodeled Cars

Posted on October 21, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and you’ve had some happy surprises, whatever they may be.

 

This has been one of my long travel weeks, involving several long plane trips, the usual delayed flights, long waits in security, and time on my hands, so I’ve had time to read magazines, and catch up on movies to help pass the time. I usually learn something new from the magazines, which this time led to some serious thought and musing about the times, and how things have changed. The most obvious change from my childhood and youth is that now everyone has a cell phone in their hand (my children literally sleep with their phones), and everyone texts instead of talking on the phone. Those who do talk on the phone do so with ear buds in their ears, talking loudly to themselves (or so it seems) walking down the street, and looking crazy. Personally, I hate texting, and miss the sound of a human voice. No one actually answers their phone, it all goes to voice mail, and they screen their calls.

 

Aside from the lightning speed of technology, the word one hears constantly now is ‘healthy’. And obviously, being aware of good health is a good thing. Everyone exercises, people count their steps, people look better, live longer, and it’s a good change—-within reason. I also find though that the word ‘healthy’ hides many things. I grew up on Hostess Twinkies (my favorite food at one time), cookies that had enough chemicals in them to preserve them into eternity, Wonder Bread (It still makes great French toast), and when I taught Sunday school, I bribed the children with candy until their parents picked them up. (And in Europe, I ate the equivalents, and ate and handed out lollipops) And I gave my children eventually chocolate flavored breakfast cereal, and sugar was considered okay. Children today get popsicles made of brussel sprouts and broccoli (I’m sorry…yerghk!!!), and fashionable young women live on Kale, which I admit that I hate. And most children in ultra-health conscious homes have never tasted sugar. I agree that my generation went overboard with the less healthy treats, but this one goes overboard too. And I find that ‘healthy’ is often a word used to hide ultra-low calorie, or no calorie foods for young women obsessed with their weight and are much too thin. What they mean is non-fattening and call it ‘healthy’. I’ve never had a problem with my weight, so it’s one battle I didn’t have to fight, and could even occasionally eat a donut (I wouldn’t dare today!!). And yes, we did and ate unhealthy things, and I’ve always been lazy about exercise except right after a baby, to get back to my normal weight. And I was lucky, I always bounced back pretty quickly. In contrast, all of my daughters go to the gym pretty much every day, and some get up at 4 am to go to the gym at 5 am, so they can exercise and be ready for work. I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to a gym at 5 am, or at any hour. I pay slight homage to the times with an exercise coach once in a while, not very often though. I’m lazy, and lucky, because my weight, on the low side, has stayed the same. And I try not to eat too much chocolate cake!!! I’m careful.

 

I find that not only do we eat better now, and exercise more in the US, but our exterior looks have become an obsession too. I was shocked to discover that young women in their 20’s are getting Botox shots now to get rid of signs of age—what age? At 22?? And assorted other shots and surgeries. In big cities, among sophisticated young women who can afford it, they are having countless shots, surgeries, electrical procedures, and treatments to improve their looks and combat the signs of age long before aging starts. They’re barely out of their teen age years when they start. I’m stunned by how much they do, and how early they do it. None of my daughters do, fortunately, but they do eat healthy and exercise a lot—–and I haven’t done anything in that vein (of surgery and shots), because not only am I lazy, but I’m a major coward. Having plastic surgery scares me to death!!! So I live with what nature hands out. I throw cold water on my face, and don’t look in the mirror too hard, and hope for the best.

 

And on my recent flight, I will confess to buying a magazine that told me how to look better naked. Not that I’m planning to walk down the street naked or have an audience, but for about 1 week a year I go to the beach, and don’t want to frighten the children (my own or other people’s). I expected to read about a few exercises I could do (maybe the week before my annual vacation), and found myself reading of surgical procedures I’d never heard of and couldn’t dream of. And by the time I finished reading the issue, I had lost all hope of ever looking decent in a bathing suit again, but somehow realizing how much people do, and the lengths they go to (not to mention the expense), I found it depressing that one has to fight THAT hard to look decent, and go to such extreme lengths to combat any sign of age and time on one’s body. I have to do ALL that? Wow, that is depressing, because I’m never going to have all that surgery. I’m just too chicken. It’s okay, I’ll wear a sweater or a coat to the beach next year. How far do we take this? How far are we willing to go? And what if it goes wrong? What if you don’t like your new face or body? I’ve kind of made friends with the old one, we’ve been together for quite a while. It just seems like we have to do SOOOOO MUCH now to stay in the game and look attractive, be healthy, and get all our steps in!!! Wow….it sounds like so much work, and what’s real in the end? What’s left of the original model? Not much in many cases. While claiming to be more genuine and more real and more honest and even liberated today, are we becoming Barbie dolls, by replacing all the moving parts, and attacking every inch of ourselves, with a shot, an electrical jolt, or the knife?? Is this really better?? Maybe I’m making excuses for my own cowardice, but suddenly it all seems so false. And at a certain point, gravity gets us all. Things are a little less extreme in Europe, but it’s happening there too. I suspect that every woman I know even in Europe gets shots of some kind in their face, from their early 20’s on. And many do a lot to their bodies too. It started with liposuction, and has gone way, way beyond that.

 

It somehow reminded me old cars that are being restored. I’ll bet that I don’t know a single woman of any age who isn’t doing something, at least shots if not surgery, and many of them surgery, to alter their looks. I don’t like getting older either, and no one hates birthdays more than I do, but somehow I think it’s sad if we have to have surgery, shots, and all those treatments to ‘stay in the game’, whatever the game is. I’ll bet there are damn few natural women left in the world. What about feeling good about who we are, where we are (within reason), without surgery?? It’s a novel idea these days. And something to think about. The Millennials have a firm grip on the world these days, and are getting a jump start on fighting age. Healthy is good, but I don’t want to have a year of surgery for my one week at the beach every year. It’s all pretty scary, and a mass panic (anti-age creams by big name brands cost $600. and $700. I’m probably ridiculous, but I’d rather buy shoes).

 

Anyway, you won’t be seeing me run down the street naked anytime soon. I refuse to eat Kale (it tastes like rubber to me), and I’ll do some exercise, but I have no idea how many steps I take. I can still make it to my typewriter, and chase after my millennial children, and 5 dogs, and publish 7 books a year. Do I really have to have shots and surgery too, or will I look older than King Tut because I don’t? So far, I’ve avoided the knife and the shots(out of pure cowardice more than moral strength), and people aren’t screaming when they see me. I just think it would be nice if we could preserve some of the original model, and not trade it all in for new parts, like an old car being turned into a new one. So far I’m holding out for the original me, and I may wind up being the last woman on the planet to do so.

 

Stay tuned…..and have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

10/7/19, “A Little Crazy”

Posted on October 7, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week—-no bumps and all smooth sailing, with some fun thrown in for good measure. I worked hard this week, and worked straight through two nights in a row….so I’ve been busy (on new books!!).

 

Two things caught my attention this week, in a lighter vein, which make me wonder if the constant stresses we all deal with have made us hungry for almost anything to distract us. It’s hard not to take life too seriously with the pressures we are under, the uncertainties in the world—-we definitely need more humor in our everyday lives, and some people go to great lengths to find distraction and achieve it.

 

A friend told me this week that their new passion is “Escape Rooms”—–a while back I told you about “break rooms”, where people pay a small amount to smash a room full of old TV sets, dishes, and assorted breakables to get out their hostilities (better that than a mass shooting). Now apparently “Escape Rooms” are the new fad. Apparently, there is a theme, either horror or murder. There’s a ‘story line’—-someone is out to get you. You can go through the Escape room with up to four people, you get locked in, in the dark, and then have to escape a ‘murderer after you with an axe’, or a ghoul of some kind. You have an hour to “escape”, and you spend an hour scared out of your wits, running away from whoever is out to get you. It sounds crazy, but the people who do it love it and rave about it. I think I would have nightmares for a month, and trying to get out of a locked, dark space, with someone chasing after me would totally terrify me. Imagine doing that for fun, and paying for it. But maybe it’s better than crying over your taxes, moaning over your bills, fighting with your boyfriend or worrying about your kids. Trying to escape a man with an axe would definitely be a distraction!!! So that’s the latest fad. I am DEFINITELY not brave enough to do that. It sounds like kind of an abbreviated more terrifying version of the murder mystery weekends people were doing for a while, trying to figure out who the murderer is. Apparently “Escape Rooms’ are great stress relievers, although I think it would stress me more than real life!!!

 

The other story that caught my attention this week is another modern day phenomenon, and I’m not sure whether to be shocked or amused by it. I’ve often told you about the Paris fashion shows, which people in the fashion world in Paris, Milan, London, and New York, take VERY seriously. Fashion is big business today, and there is a lot of glamour, excitement and sophistication associated with it, and people beg to go to the fashion shows during fashion week. All of the shows are by invitation and the invitations are extremely hard to come by. And the Chanel ready to wear show in Paris is about as big and glamourous as it gets, as I’ve described to you before.

 

Well, this week, during the Chanel show, a young 28 year old comedian who considers herself a “Professional Crasher” somehow got into the building (the Grand Palais) where the fashion show takes place, she wore an old Chanel suit of her mother’s, a hat and platform shoes, and hopped onto the runway, and joined the parade of models walking down the runway. She was immediately observed, stunned the crowd, and marched right along like one of the models, until one of the models stopped her (the security men didn’t know what to do and were afraid to disrupt the show). Gigi Hadid, a famous model, blocked the crasher, I think 3 other models joined in, and they hustled her backstage and got her off the runway. The fact that she pulled it off at all is amazing, and I don’t know what the consequences were. (You can see the event on YouTube, Paris Crasher crashes Chanel fashion show, or something to that effect). Apparently she was vastly amused at the stunt, has crashed other events, and someone else crashed another show in Paris last week. Apparently the Chanel crasher decided that we all take fashion too seriously so she added some levity to it. It certainly must have been disruptive, and part of me is shocked—-but maybe this is how people are responding now to frightening world news, mass attacks, and all the things that frighten and worry us in today’s world, from climate change to how to protect our children in an increasingly dangerous world. Maybe that opens the door to people doing some seriously crazy stuff just for amusement’s sake, to take our minds, and theirs, off the serious stuff. No one was injured, she wasn’t protesting anything, she had no message to share, she just wanted to get on the runway of the Chanel show and to see if she could do it—-and she did.

 

I was editing one of my upcoming books this weekend, and came across something I wrote in the book: “No dream is too big if you believe in it. You can do anything you want if you try hard enough.” They seem like wise words—I’m usually wiser in my books than I am in real life. But it’s something to think about. And in the same book, “you have to be a little crazy in life”. There seems to be a lot of that around these days!!!

 

Have a great week—–not too crazy, but safe, happy, productive, and fun!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

9/30/19, Deadliest Summer

Posted on September 30, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’ve been busy, with fall projects in full swing, and deep in writing mode.

 

I was in New York to see my daughters last weekend, and was shocked to read a cover story on the New York Times, written by Mitch Smith. Whatever one’s beliefs, religious convictions, or none, or political interests or not, or affiliations, from a purely human point of view, the article was shocking in the simplicity and direct hit of facts it listed. It stunned me into silence, no morning chit chat is possible with an article like that in hand. The list of tragic facts was chilling, and has weighed on me since I read it. The subject is not new to any of us, but the increase in violence this summer is heart breaking, and deserves a great deal of thought, and some comment.

 

The article informed us that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, almost exactly 3 months, there were 26 mass shootings in the US. 126 people died and dozens more were injured. If you average it out, that’s approximately one mass shooting every three days. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 90 years old. And I read somewhere else that the shooters ranged from 14 to someone in their 60’s. The article also stated that “in three out of four of the deadliest killings, military style weapons were used.” And “all of the suspects were male”, in each case the authorities identified a suspect. (And I believe that in several cases, the killers killed themselves after shooting their victims, and in more than half the mass killings, the shooter killed a family member or previous love interest, so there was a personal element as well, while innocent victims got caught in the cross fire and were killed too).

 

Twenty six mass shootings this summer. One every three days. The shootings are unpredictable, they happen in churches, in schools, on the street, in public places, in homes. Some seem meticulously planned, others appear to be an instantaneous loss of control or sanity, and they then kill innocent victims. Terrorism entered our lives with 9/11, political in goal and intent, the American public became the victims of a previously unseen enemy on their own turf. Eighteen years later, buying groceries has become high risk, going to a sports event or a concert perhaps unwise, just walking down the street, or going shopping can lead to one’s death. There is no way to predict who is safe and who isn’t. We’ve heard teenagers address us after their schools were attacked, we’ve seen the bodies of kindergartners covered with tarps after a rampage at their school. The weapons are an issue, but there is so much more involved here. In fact, none of us are safe. It could happen to you or me, or our children, or any of our loved ones, today, or three days from now, in the next killing spree. What has happened to us—-both to the shooters and the rest of us? As we stand by, and watch disturbed individuals shatter lives and families. How have we degenerated to such a degree that 26 mass shootings in a 3 month summer is something we live with, accept, and know will happen again tomorrow and the next day.

 

There is indeed terrorism in Europe, it’s almost always political. But what’s happening in the US has a different feel to it—there is a random quality to it, it is expected and almost casual. We go on after each killing and nothing changes. And we know it will happen again. People in Europe talk about how dangerous the US has become, and living in both places, I have to agree. I try to stay out of the obviously dangerous places where terrorists might strike in Europe, big gathering places: sports stadiums, movie houses, night clubs, I stopped going to big churches for a while, and only went to small neighbourhood ones. Terrorism has impacted all of us when we travel, as we stand on long security lines at the airport waiting to be searched. But the violence we live with now is more of an everyday occurrence. We are in danger when we walk down the street, when we buy a loaf of bread, when we stop in a supermarket to buy a magazine, in a small store or a big one, we can be killed anywhere, or the child we love whose hand we are holding. Children have drills now to prepare them if someone enters their school to kill them. We’ve all seen it and read about it.

 

The reality of the situation is overwhelming. Truly. The faces of the dead in the newspapers are all too real. Religious people pray about it, politicians talk about it, frightened parents talk to each other and hope their children won’t be the next victims. New laws are discussed, and old ones are supported. Both sides of the political argument cancel each other’s voices out, and no solution comes. What are we going to DO about it? Are we going to do anything? Will we and our children ever be safe again on our streets and in our grocery stores, at the post office, or in an airport. Where are we safe now? And will we ever be again?

 

In Smith’s article, Rev Renard D. Allen jr, a pastor in Dayton Ohio is quoted as saying, “The world we live in now is one in which no place is safe, no lives really matter, when it comes to violence.” that’s a damning statement for and about all of us.

 

I think we all have some serious thinking to do about how to change our world, how to be safe, how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, how to change what has become so commonplace and made it the deadliest summer. We will need wisdom, courage, patience and strength to make the changes that will make us safe again. We need to be fully awake to the dangers we live with now every single day. And I pray that a summer like this will never happen again.

 

 

Have a safe week,

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Current Events, Kids | 3 Comments

9/23/19, Downton Heaven

Posted on September 23, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. Mine had some ups and downs. My son Nick’s anniversary date is always a hard challenge and a hard day, but even the hardest things we face bring some blessings with them. I spent the day and the weekend with two of my daughters (and spoke to all my other children in other cities a lot). And I had a really lovely, heartwarming time with my two girls, with quiet dinners, some relaxing time, playing with our dogs, brunches and lunches, and beautiful late summer weather. It was just lovely to be with them, and a very special treat on Saturday afternoon!!! We went to see the new movie of Downton Abbey!!! And oh Wow!!! WHAT A TREAT!!!

 

We all have our addictions, some of them relatively harmless. I do enjoy fashion, and shopping, watching the latest fashion shows, and have a weak spot for shoes!!! I love bittersweet chocolate, and always have a bar in my purse for when I skip a meal, which I do when I’m running around or too busy to stop for lunch. I love dogs, and adore my three. I enjoy boats—-not an addiction, but I love time spent on the water. I love the ocean and the beach. And I fell in love with the TV series Downton Abbey from the first time I saw it.  Someone gave me a DVD of the first season as a Christmas gift, when it started. I put it in my DVD player with no great interest, but it was a cold snowy day, and I was between books—-and I emerged 8 hours later, dazzled by it. I had watched the whole season at one sitting—-binge watching. It was the beginning of a major love affair for the next 6 years. I have all the DVD’s and have watched them a million times, particularly favorite episodes. It eventually became a real addiction. It was an agonizing wait from the end of one season till the beginning of the next. I got a friend in England to send me the DVDs of a new season when they came out, the DVD’s in Europe are different than in the US, and I couldn’t wait for the American version to come out, so I’d get the English ones months earlier and play them in Paris, and eventually dedicated a laptop to European formats, so I could even watch them in the States. And when travelling, in desperation even watched Downton in Italian when I couldn’t get it on French TV.

 

I often tried to think of what I loved about it, and why I loved it so much. The characters in it, and the episodes, were beautifully written, and the characters were clearly defined. Hard things happened, but rarely really horrible things. A character went to prison (first Bates, and then his wife Anna, the valet and ladies’ maid in the show), but they were eventually freed and justice prevailed. You cared about the characters in the show, and came to love them. It was always clear who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys. Unlike real life, where sometimes we get fooled by people who appear well intentioned and aren’t. Family and family values are central to the story. Just about all of the characters have integrity, which I also think is very important. It was a glimpse into a long gone era of elegance and style. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and true to the era. SOOOO MUCH care went into each episode, and they were historically accurate. The era itself was fascinating, from the sinking of the Titanic (in the first episode), till about 1925. And the values of the characters were clear, the issues they dealt with were often things we deal with ourselves in everyday life even a century later (problems in a marriage, or with children, or external events which impact us). I loved the humor in it, and still quote the grandmother regularly. I love her outrageous side, and the character was an opportunity to express wisdom. “Marriage is a lonnnnggggg business, you’d better be sure you’re doing it with the right person”. And after you cried in an episode, you laughed. There were many sub plots in each episode, so you never got bored. I loved the growth and transformation of characters over the years (the son in law, Tom Branson, the chauffeur who married the youngest daughter), and even the mellowing of the originally subversive butler (Barrow). The characters are credible and lovable. I got attached to all of them. (And like all Downton addicts, I was crushed when Matthew died—-after a car crash, we saw him dead with blood gushing from his ear, and clutching to denial, I thought “maybe it’s a severe ear problem….he can’t be dead” but he was. And I was shocked and saddened again when Lady Sybil died in childbirth at 23, and the family’s grief was heart wrenching. And I was elated when Matthew finally married Lady Mary. I even loved the hairdos, which were accurate to the period too…..and the hats!!! Everything about the production was high quality from the first episode to the last. And Julian Fellowes wrote it brilliantly. I’ve watched some other series since and enjoyed them a lot, even historical ones, (Victoria, and The Crown), but nothing has captured my heart the way Downton did. I was crushed when the series ended—MUCH too soon for my taste. I wish they had gone well past 6 seasons. And I still watch favorite episodes from time to time.

 

So you can imagine my absolute delight when they announced a Downton movie—-and there is no one more critical than a fan who knows the material intimately. (It’s why I never write sequels to my books—-because comparisons can be so tough!!!) The movie opened in New York on Friday, and one of my daughters reserved seats at a really fun theater for Saturday, my other daughter had left on a trip by then. Four of my daughters are Downton addicts too. The seats in the theater were huge and comfortable, you could lean back, lie back, in utter comfort, with a blanket, food and drinks were served and complimentary popcorn!!! But the biggest treat of all was the movie—–and seeing all the characters we love on screen again. It lived up to every possible expectation, and more. Once again, brilliantly written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted. ALL of the characters were there, no one was missing (except those who had died many seasons before). It’s been a 2 or 3 year gap since the end of the last season, a long hungry wait for an addict———-but the movie is an absolute feast of delight, utterly satisfying. You know everything that has happened in the meantime. It was like coming home to a group of old friends. I wanted the movie to last forever, and they left enough story lines open so they could do another movie, and I hope they do!!! We left the theater totally content, having laughed and cried and loved every minute of it. I plan to get the DVD and watch it a million times. It’s a harmless addiction, which makes me so happy to indulge.

 

It was a few hours of sheer, total joy. I’m SO HAPPY they made the movie. It’s every bit as good as the series, everyone was terrific in it. And if you’re a Downton addict too, you’re going to absolutely LOVE it. And even if you’d never seen a single episode or season before, they are people to fall in love with, in a beautiful movie. My addiction has been fed again for now….WHAT A TREAT!!! I hope you see it and love it too. I can’t wait to see it again. I have friends in California who were waiting for it eagerly too, and friends in Paris who can’t wait to go when it opens this coming week. I’ll probably see it in all the cities I live in, and will wear the DVD to a nub when I get it. SHEER JOY!!! Have a great week, and if you need a cheerer-upper run to see the movie of Downton Abbey.

 

They hit one right out of the park—–again!!!

 

love, Danielle

9/16/19, Nick

Posted on September 16, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a fun week, or an interesting one. I’ve been busy with my usual September buzz and burst of energy after the summer, enjoying doing Instagram, writing the blog to you, working on new books, with a new book that just came out in hardcover 2 weeks ago, The Dark Side, which is a thriller, and an exciting book. I hope you love it!!! And have time to read it!!!

 

On the personal side, this is always a serious, quiet week for me, full of memories, introspection, quiet moments and tender thoughts of my son Nick.

 

Most of you know that he suffered from bi polar disease, which I suspected when he was two, was certain of by the time he was four, and at the time, the standard in psychiatry was not to diagnose the disease until someone was in their twenties. It was considered “early” when he was finally diagnosed at 15, and medicated at 16. Within weeks of medication, he said he felt normal for the first time in his life, and acted accordingly. Lithium was a miracle drug for him, and is often still prescribed today. Things are very different now, many years later, children are diagnosed and medicated as young as three. It’s believed now that if you are medicated later, the brain is affected from not being medicated sooner, and it is much harder to keep the disease in control than if you’re medicated as a young child. But no one knew that then, and I went from doctor to doctor, begging for help, which came too late for him. As with any disease, whatever it is, some people have wonderful results and survive and live well even with the disease, and others aren’t as lucky. There is an element of luck and destiny, as well as treatment.

 

Nick was an extraordinary person, all his life. He walked at 8 months, at a year he spoke in sentences in 2 languages. He was funny, charming, brilliant, talented in writing and music, he had an outrageous sense of humor, a remarkable mind. People with bi polar disease are often very talented, and so he was. At 16 and 17, he became the lead singer in a band which was on its way to success, toured nationally, had a following of young people (reggae and punk), had done several CD’s, and wrote the lyrics to his songs. He made an enormous impression on everyone he met, had a kind heart (did free concerts in homeless shelters), and was adored by his eight siblings, his father, and me. There are some people who are just very special, and he was one, he crammed an entire lifetime into 19 years, and his light burned so brightly that I suppose he wasn’t destined to live long.

 

He came home from a rigorous national tour, exhausted, and hit a low in his disease. His bi polar illness had been harder and harder to control with medication for the past year. At eighteen, he stopped taking his medication, thinking he was fine then, and made three suicide attempts, and at 19, he made the final one, and lost his lifelong battle with his illness. He really fought a noble fight to overcome it—–and many many people do survive with bi polar illness and lead good lives with treatment and medication. But we lost him at 19, by suicide, on September 20. His whole life was such a gift to us, and I am so grateful for every moment we shared. As someone said at the time, if love could have kept him alive, he would have lived 100 years. He was not destined to live a long life, but he lived a very productive one, and was happy much of the time, and spread joy everywhere. And he was immensely loved.

 

Losing a child is an enormous challenge, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child. But we must also remember that every moment with them is a gift. And not everyone is destined to live a long life, unfortunately. I wrote a book about him, to honor him, and share our experience with other people dealing with the disease, “His Bright Light”, the story of Nick Traina. We established a foundation in his name The Nick Traina Foundation to support organizations that offer hands on treatment to mentally ill people, both young people and adults, and we support organizations involved in suicide prevention. And a year after he died, I started a street outreach team to help the homeless, also in his name, because it was a cause he cared about a great deal too.

 

He was a wonderful person, an adorable boy, a great gift to all those who knew him (I still get letters from people who met him, even once, and said their lives were changed forever by him), and he was certainly a gift to his whole family, and to me.

 

The anniversary of the day he died is hard, but the overview of all of it is how blessed we were, how wonderful he was, and how lucky I was to know and love him and be loved by him. We were remarkably close because we went through so much together, and tried so hard to save him. He wrote me a wonderful letter before he left that made me laugh through my tears. He was unforgettable in so many ways.

 

So the 20th will be a bittersweet day, but I can only remember him now with love, joy and gratitude.

 

May his memory live forever, in my heart and yours.   Godspeed…..I love you, Nick, always and forever, “bigger than the sky”, as Nick used to say.  And may you be blessed, my faithful friends, who share these moments and memories with me.

 

I wish you a peaceful week,

 

love, Danielle

9/9/19, The Dark Side, Instagram, and Parties!!!

Posted on September 9, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great week since we last chatted. I’ve had an exciting week!!! My new book The Dark Side is on the New York Times bestseller list, high up on the charts—-thanks to YOU, my faithful readers for putting it there!! And my fairly recent new paperback, Turning Point, is still on the lists too after 6 weeks, since pub date.

 

And it’s always fun to try something new. I’ve been debating for a long time about doing Instagram, and I made a decision this summer to do it. And we’ve launched the Instagram, to give you some visual glimpses into various aspects of my life. The Instagram is listed as officialdaniellesteel. I hope you love it!!

 

And when I wasn’t going through photographs (of my dogs, kids, desk, typewriter, and a few other surprises) for my Instagram, I went to a terrific party this week. I don’t usually go to parties given by stores—-I’m at home, writing. But Hermes is a beautiful long-established French brand of beautiful leather goods as well as clothes (they started as a saddle maker many many years ago), and I have a soft spot in my heart for Hermes (I still have some of my grandmother’s beautiful Hermes bags, the brand is family-owned, and their craftsmanship is exquisite. Anything by Hermes is a treasure to cherish forever. I still have the Hermes black leather “Kelly” bag that my grandmother gave me for my 18th birthday!!!). And several years ago, they introduced a “Danielle Steel” bag which was a huge honor. It looked a bit like an old fashioned satchel, and had a secret compartment in the bottom. Very cool!!

 

Hermes has a tradition of giving a big fun party at the end of the summer, and they turn the store into a chic, fun “Playland for Adults”. There is no purpose to the party, other than for the guests to have a good time, relax, and enjoy themselves, with lots of food, drink, and entertainment. They held it on a balmy night and did an incredible job. I didn’t even recognize the store. It was beautifully decorated for the party. There were dancers in the windows looking onto the street, a bowling alley when you walked inside. There were lots of food, games of musical chairs all set up, a photo booth (I stopped to have my photo taken with a friend. And a beautiful roof top garden terrace, where many people congregated to sit and chat. The Champagne flowed, and it was easy to see that EVERYONE was having fun. I really enjoyed it, and stayed much longer than I expected to. I didn’t want to leave. It was really fun, and ‘free dress” prevailed.

 

So it was a fun week, and I hope you enjoy both the Instagram, and The Dark Side, the new book!!!  Have a great week ahead!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/26/19, Coming Soon

Posted on August 26, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

I Hope you had a good week. I had a busy one with lots of work, meetings, and appointments. If you were at the beach instead or still on vacation somewhere, good for you!!! I wish I were too!!!

 

I have some new work and projects coming your way soon, as we head into Fall, and the atmosphere of “Back to School”. I’m stunned by how early kids go back to school now. My children always went back to school after Labor Day, and I did too—now by mid-August, or the third week in August, kids are back in school, and summer is over, for parents and children alike. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. By the end of the summer, my kids were always a little bored, and had been on vacation for three months. They seem to get less vacation now, and it seems odd that they go back so early!!! But maybe everyone is ready by then.

 

“Coming soonest” , THIS week, is my new novel in hardcover “The Dark Side”, which is suspenseful and exciting, about a young mother with complications in her own early history and childhood. She has the psychiatric pathology of Munchhausen by Proxy, where parents (mostly mothers) either feign illness in their children, or actually make them ill, or cause them to have accidents. They appear to be perfect mothers, and are in fact harming their children, secretly, and it’s very hard to catch them at it, even for mental health professionals. It’s often very difficult to detect and can have disastrous results. The real life stories of it are terrifying. It’s a fascinating and alarming phenomenon—–and hopefully makes for an exciting book. I hope you really enjoy it!!!  It will get my fall books off to a suspenseful start!!!

 

Also happening this week is a new (for me) element of social media I’ll be engaging in. Instagram. I’ve been debating about it for a while. It’s so popular, and I see how much my children are involved in it, and enjoy it, posting photos on it constantly of things they do, see, and like. I hesitated for a long time about it, because I thought my own daily life isn’t “visual” enough. I spend long periods of time (weeks sometimes) in my office, going nowhere (except in my head or on the page), and I thought I’d have nothing much to show you visually—-except the mess on my desk, of papers everywhere, of my research or the outline, or the pages coming out of my typewriter. But Instagram is so extensive now that it really appealed to me as yet another way to reach out to you and include you in my life. So I am going to start doing Instagram this week. Brave New World!! It’s exciting to try something new!!! And I’ll try to share a little more of my life with you that way!!! And not just the mess on my desk!!

 

And also coming soon—though not quite soon enough but in the future is the quotation book I’ve mentioned to you. I’ve collected quotes that I love for many, many years, since my teens. I frame the ones I love and put them on my office wall in San Francisco, and in my bathroom, dressing room and kitchen in Paris—-wherever I can fit them in, to inspire me or make friends laugh when they read them. I’ve wanted to do a book of them for years, not things that I have said, but that either famous people present day and in history have said, or even graffiti I’ve seen, or from magazines or greeting cards, or anonymously. Some are funny, and some quite serious and have really inspired me. I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. It’s scheduled now for Christmas a year from now, in 2020. I wish it were sooner but it took time to gather the best ones, and check the sources out, and get permissions to use the quotes where necessary. I hope the quotes will inspire you as much as they have me!!! I LOVE words in all forms, I love words in art forms too (paintings or sculptures). I’m really looking forward to that book, and I hope you love it too!!

 

There will be more new books/novels this year of course, and I hope you love those too. I’m working on several new books now, and have worked hard this summer. I always seem to be working, and I really enjoy it. I get wrapped up in the stories and the characters, and they become very real while I’m working on them. I love the time I spend with my family, and have fun with my dogs, enjoy seeing friends, and reading when I have time (not often enough)…and art shows and museums, and travelling to the places I love….but whatever I do, I always come right back to work, and am so happy when I’m writing, and it’s what I do most. I just finished my 183rd book, which seems like a crazy number. I wrote my first book at 19, and have been at it day and night ever since!!!

 

This weekend is Labor Day, which really does mark the end of summer. It’s been a busy one, not very restful or lazy this summer for me, it’s been a mostly working summer —–and I hope you love the new books I’ve been working on.

 

 

Have a great week, and enjoy the long weekend!!

 

love, Danielle

 

PS, and also on the “Coming Soon” list of things that I enjoy is the movie version of “Downton Abbey”, the latest addition after the long and successful TV series that I loved. I was so sad when it ended after only 6 seasons, and I wasn’t ready for it to end. It was the first TV series I fell in love with. And now they are making a movie of it, due out in September. I can’t wait!!! As soon as it’s out, I’ll be there!!!!

8/19/19, Mixed Bag

Posted on August 19, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good, even a great week!!! A nice easy one. The last of the summer is upon us. I’m ready for cool weather, new projects, hard work, good times and hopefully a Fall that will inspire me. I worked on about 5 different books this summer, which is crazy, but was productive. I worked on most of them in massive heat waves wherever I was. My poor dogs look totally fed up with the heat. Every time we are in a new place with a new heat wave, they look at me as if to say “Really??? Again??? You’ve GOT to be kidding!!!!” I kind of feel the same way about it by now, after two months in and out of record breaking temperatures (the hottest on record ever in the history of France—-in both June and July. With No Air Conditioning). I promise not to complain when I’m freezing somewhere this winter….I am READY for snow, thank you!!!!

 

Working on my books always leads to some serious/deep thoughts, as I try to resolve the problems of the characters in the books as they face various challenges. I try to think how I would solve the same problems—I usually figure it out better for my characters than I would for myself!!! I get to control the story when I’m writing and guide it in a direction that makes sense, seems fair, and is uplifting, while still remaining real. Real Life isn’t quite as easy to direct!! I learn new things when I write the books, both in the research and the themes. And sometimes, life follows art. It led me to thoughts about completeness, which I shared with you in my last blog. And I was thinking about the irony of ‘doubt’ the other day, and ‘pride’. Have you ever noticed that whatever area you take the most pride in—is usually where Doubt or disappointment will hit you right between the eyes not long after. Coincidence maybe, or just the irony of life, or a reminder not to be TOO proud of ourselves, or too sure of ourselves. Congratulate yourself on how smoothly your job is going, and the next thing you know, you hit a real bump at work or with someone at work. Tell yourself how great your family is, and the next thing you know, you’re arguing with one of them, or how loyal your friends are, and one of them does something lousy and really disappoints you. Maybe that keeps us on our toes, and striving to be and do better, and teaches us not to take anything for granted (or be too proud of ourselves. It keeps me humble!!). And whatever philosophical things I think eventually turns up in the books, to share with you, because I figure that we all go through the same problems, and you deal with the same issues I do.

 

Another annoying thing is that I never like to have my photograph taken. I never like the way I look. And these days, it’s a major challenge. Used to be, people would pose you for a photograph, and you could kind of sneak out of it by the time they got everyone to stand still. Today everyone has a cell phone in their hand during every waking hour, and before you can blink, they take your picture, with your mouth full, your eyes crossed, making a bad face, or on the worst bad hair day you’ve had in 20 years. Ugh. And cell phone pictures are SOOOOO unflattering. But what’s really annoying is that at any given time, when I don’t like the way I look, I grumble and groan, and then 5 years later, the photograph turns up, you look at it and think, “Wow I looked pretty good then, not so old, and relatively okay”, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. What was I complaining about? And I think now I look so much worse….and five years from now, today’s photos will look pretty good. It would be nice if I didn’t cringe at the photos of today!!!! I laughed when I saw a painting recently by a fun artist whose work I really like, Ashley Longshore. She does some really funny stuff, and I have a painting of hers I love. All of my daughters are very weight conscious, particularly the 3 who work in fashion (and are all 3 much too thin!!), and one of them is particularly conscious of weight, and always asks “Do I look fat in this?” whatever she is wearing. The painting I saw said “No, you don’t look fat, you look crazy”. It struck me funny, the daughter in question is not crazy, but she sure isn’t fat either!!!! I have a bracelet that says “Do I look fat in this bracelet?” which makes me laugh too!!! Most of us worry too much about our weight, and fashion sets a standard most humans just can’t live by and shouldn’t!!! Most women who look at fashion magazines don’t realize that the girls they’re seeing in the photos are 17 years old, and sometimes younger, starve themselves, and haven’t had a decent meal in years. It’s not a healthy standard to set your sights on!!! Or even an attractive one!!!

 

I have a new book coming out in hardcover in about 10 days, “The Dark Side” that’s exciting and a little different for me. It’s about the psychiatric illness “Munchhausen by Proxy”, where some very sick mothers either fake severe illnesses in their very young kids, or make them sick. It’s very hard to catch them at it, and they put their children’s lives at risk. The book is something of a thriller as we watch one of these mothers with her child. It’s an exciting book, with a fascinating theme, and I hope you love it!!!! The research I did for it was terrifying, watching interviews with some of these mothers.

 

Have a good week!!! I have a busy one ahead, some fun stuff and some not so fun. (Hmmm….sounds like real life). I had a wonderful time a few days ago, having lunch and spending the afternoon with my youngest son. His fiancée was away, and he took me to lunch, and we spent the afternoon shopping and doing errands together. He is such good company, and I had a really terrific time!!! And the next day, I went to Ikea with another of my kids. Ikea is always an adventure, and I love it and always find some fun stuff!!! (Along with a lot of other great stuff, they have great stuffed toys, and my dogs love them. I came home with a giant shopping bag of toys for my dogs!!! They loved them!!)

 

So have a great week, and I hope some wonderful things happen to you!!! You deserve it!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/12/19, “Complete”

Posted on August 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having some really good weeks, and hopefully still some vacation, as the summer starts to wind down. It’s been a long hot summer, and I’ve had some lovely time with my kids, and also did a lot of work this summer, working on several books at different stages.

 

I like to keep busy, and am happier when I am. I race around meeting deadlines, trying to get time with my children, love puttering around my house fixing things and adding things or getting rid of things (my famous closet purges when I get rid of lots of stuff), I travel a lot, mostly between my two homes, and only take one brief vacation a year for a week, and I am always on the move. But between the visits with the kids, the deadlines, the work on the books, seeing friends when I can, running two homes, and the fashion shows I report to you a few times a year, I do have moments of introspection, which helps give me direction, and even insights for the books.

 

In that vein, I was thinking about the notion of “completeness” the other day, and how easily we all, or most of us, feel ‘incomplete’. There is always, or often, something missing in our lives. A partner, the right partner or any partner, children/a child, a job that makes us feel important, the right home. We’re always striving for something, or missing something. It’s the nature of humans. Early in life, we’re striving to have it all. And later in life, we are trying to fill the voids. For women (and men) who have children, the kids eventually grow up and leave, and we are left with the void that leaves in our lives (with 9 kids, believe me that was a big hole to fill when all but one (so far) left home), for men and women who have important jobs, when they retire they feel as though they’ve lost their identity, another big void to fill. We look at others and think they have it all, a partner, a great job, a beautiful home—-but even those people must feel incomplete at times. It’s rare for any of us to have it all, all at the same time. There is so often something missing and we are left feeling incomplete as people, inadequate, and not whole.

 

Like Noah’s Ark, we are led to believe that we are incomplete, and we feel that way, without a partner. And yes, as Winnie the Pooh said to Piglet, “life is so much friendlier with two”. I have always been irked by the old song “You’re nobody until somebody loves you”. We believe that, we feel it, it so often seems to be true. Being solitary can be so lonely. Being with the wrong partner is even more so. Very few people seem to be truly happy alone, and most of us feel left out and ‘incomplete’ without someone to love and who loves us. We see others with partners and wish we had one too (and we forget that that’s not always easy either). Or we have a job that doesn’t fulfill us, or a home/house/apartment that is less than what we want and feel we deserve. And when we feel that something is missing, we feel incomplete. That’s not a good feeling, and can really make us deeply unhappy. When we’re feeling incomplete, we forget to look around at what we DO have, a home that’s nicer than we believe, a job that isn’t as bad as we think at times, we forget that the right person can walk into your life tomorrow and you won’t always be alone.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that if you feel incomplete and not ‘whole’, what are you really offering that new partner you want to come along? Half a person? A sense of desperation that a new person should make up for everything you don’t have in your life? That’s a heavy burden to put on someone else, and not very attractive or appealing, that they have to save you from your own incompleteness and dissatisfaction and provide everything you don’t have in your life and make your life exciting. And that new person may take a while to show up (or maybe not, they may come along faster). But you want to bring a whole person to the table (yourself), and offer them the riches of your own life and your wholeness, and then you can be two whole people together with much to share and offer each other. If you are desperate to have someone fill your empty life, that’s pretty scary for them!!! And you’ll be bored while you wait for them!! We need to fill our lives to the brim on our own, not count on someone else to do it, and then we really have something to offer someone new who walks into our life. You just can’t and shouldn’t count on someone else to “make you whole”. (It’s more likely to make them run like hell, in the opposite direction!! And who can blame them?)

 

I think it’s a life’s work feeling complete, and not focusing on what we don’t have. And it’s so easy to look at the down sides. When I moved into my California home, I was thrilled that my bedroom was on the same floor as all my kids, except one who lived in private grandeur on the floor above. Now, I walk past all those empty bedrooms on the way to my own room when I’m in California, a reminder that my kids have moved on. It’s like a neon sign reminding me that they’ve moved on and I live alone (except for one ‘child’ still at home, and I’m grateful for that). And without all those kids underfoot, it’s easy to feel ‘incomplete’. When I sat and thought about it the other day, I realized how full my life is, and reminded myself of how ‘complete’ I really am, that I am a whole/complete person with or without a partner, with or without kids living at home, no matter what my job, or my home. I think the trick is to feel complete with what we have, and who we are. It’s a real trap, and an easy one to fall into, to feel incomplete, and I know so many people who do—–and marry the wrong people as a result just so they’re not alone, or stay in situations or jobs that don’t fulfill them (we all need our jobs, but if you really hate your job, maybe it’s time to look for one you like better).

 

Each of us is complete and whole. It’s something we all need to remember and focus on (or do something about). It’s not the partner, the kids, your job, or the size of your apartment that makes you whole, or complete. It comes from within us, and remembering, appreciating, and focusing on what we DO have, and not what’s missing.  Now I can go back to cleaning out closets, grateful that I am in fact complete, I don’t need anyone or anything to make me complete, I am a whole person as I am…..and whatever is added to it will be an added gift!!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/5/19, “Some Like It Hot”

Posted on August 5, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great, fun, and relaxing week. I hope you’re sitting on a beach somewhere, relaxing, or under a tree in the country, having some down time!!!

 

I’ve been whining a lot about the weather lately!!. I grumble all winter about the cold, wet, and sometimes even snowy blizzard-y weather, and am thrilled when the warm weather rolls around. Only this year, I’ve been in 2, possibly 3 just brutal heat waves. Two in France, and one in NY when I was flying through for a couple of days. Like childbirth, one forgets how miserable a heat wave can be. One kind of expects it in NY but it’s much more unusual in France. And this year in France, we had history making temperatures. One night at 4 am, it was 104 degrees, another day it reached 111, and there is almost no air conditioning in France, except in big hotels and supermarkets. It almost never would occur to me to check into a hotel, and I didn’t think of it this time—-but I will next time. Very few homes in France have air conditioning, you just don’t need it except in the South. And most buildings are very old (including mine), many buildings and homes in France are 200 or 300 years old, and it’s apparently very difficult to install. And landlords won’t let you put it in if you rent. Instead, many people have archaic machines (that look like a small refrigerator, it has a tube about 8 inches across, you hang the tube out the window, and supposedly it will eventually cool down the room. It actually works surprisingly well, but it’s not like the state of the art built in air conditioning systems in the US.  We put one of those in each room, and two good fans.

 

I have to tell you, the day that it was 111 degrees, I was melting. And I was worried about my dogs. I kept wetting them down all day and night.

There was one massive heat wave in June, and another in July, it was hot as blazes in the South of France, and when I flew to NY to visit my daughters there, it was close to 100 degrees. It was 95 degrees and then alarmingly close to 100   for the duration of my brief stay. When I landed in NY it Was 98 degrees, still in the realm of the bearable, though not by much.!!!

 

I actually wrote a book while I was boiling and suffered, but both books I worked on turned out well.

 

I’ve decided that I like the cold winter weather better after all. It’s a lot easier to dress warmly and add lots of sweaters under a warm coat, than to try and cool off in record breaking heat (the temperature during the second heat wave broke all records in France. I would have loved to sleep at my local supermarket!!!)

 

And by blissful contrast, when I flew in and out of San Francisco, to see my kids, it was the usual freezing San Francisco summer weather, in the 60’s in the daytime, gray and foggy and about 50 degrees at night…..heavenly!!!

 

I hope the temperatures won’t be too extreme wherever you are this summer!!!! keep cool!!!

 

 

love, Danielle