Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

1/18/21, Peace I leave you with…

Posted on January 18, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you in these turbulent times. In many ways, in the US, we seem to be in the eye of the storm, both in the numbers in the pandemic, and political unrest within the country. None of us could have foreseen a year ago all that is happening now. A year ago right now, I was in Paris, going to a Haute Couture fashion show, and preparing to fly to California to attend my son’s wedding. It was an exciting time, the holidays with them in California had been wonderful with an already festive feeling, with the wedding near at hand. We were planning a big, fun rehearsal dinner at the baseball stadium, and the biggest decision I had to make was which shoes to wear to the rehearsal dinner of the wedding. There was an aura of happiness around us, as our big family, and the bride’s, prepared to fly in, hers from all over the country, and ours from all over the world. Both events came off without a hitch, the wedding was gorgeous, and the rehearsal dinner a lot of fun, and the bridal couple were elated, as we all were to share their big moment with them. They left on their honeymoon, the next day, and I flew back to Paris two days after the wedding. We all left on a cloud of the joy we shared, and little did I know that the wedding would be the last time I would see my children for eleven months. Less than a week after the bridal couple returned from their honeymoon, the roof caved in on the entire world with Covid 19. And within days after that, I was in lockdown for three months in Paris, and remained there after that, waiting for things to get better in the States, which never happened. Instead, it got steadily worse over the months, and was safer in France.

 

It’s been a roller coaster ride for everyone in the world ever since. Jobs have been lost, businesses have folded, economies have suffered, and more importantly people have died the world over. More than three hundred thousand people have died in the US alone. We’re living with lockdowns and curfews everywhere, wearing masks, fearing for our lives, and our loved ones. Our lives have shrunk to next to nothing, in our struggles to stay alive, not catch the virus, or transmit it unknowingly to anyone. Young people can’t go to college, people can’t go to offices, hospitals are overflowing. It has been a very rough year for everyone, although some people have been lucky, haven’t caught the virus, or did and have recovered well. Now the vaccines are offering a glimmer of hope, but the dark days aren’t over yet. After the ill-judged excesses of people gathering and traveling over the holidays, the number of new cases daily has never been higher, over 300,000 new cases a day last week, and a constant death toll around the world. Some countries have fared better than others, but every country has been affected, and for now the numbers are the worst in the US. We all long for the day when contagion, masks, and overcrowded intensive care units are a thing of the past, and will recede into memory. We’re not even close to that yet, or to lives that bear any resemblance to what we knew as ‘normal’. Just having lunch or dinner at a restaurant with a friend would be a gift. And visiting my children, or having them visit me, the greatest gift of all. For now, around the globe, we’re all in the same mess. We’re holding up, but it’s far from easy. And we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still running rampant among us, and we’re all trying not to get sick.

 

And on the political front in the US, we have seen unrest and dissent that has never been seen before. Demonstrations, protests, riots, racial issues have exploded, nerves are raw, political battles are raging, crime has risen in many countries, with people out of work and desperate for money. People are suffering, depression is constant, anxiety is common, every age group has been affected mentally and physically, by the pandemic, and political unrest has exploded in the US. It’s a lot for anyone to cope with. And the best any of us can do is live it day by day, hang on, and get from one day to the next. It won’t last forever, but right now it’s hard.

 

I was reminded today of something a priest told me, when I was facing major challenges in my own life, a divorce, and the death of my son. I often say that bad things come in bunches, like grapes. And right now, we are dealing with a life-threatening pandemic and all its fallout, we’re worn out after a year of it, and now the country appears to be shaky politically. People are traumatized, fuses are short, and tempers are running high. Some people are isolated because of the pandemic, and desperately lonely.

 

When I was coping with a lot in my own life, the priest I mentioned said that sometimes we have a mess in our closet, and the only way to deal with it, is pull everything out of the closet to straighten it out. And to make things neat again, we make an even bigger mess getting everything out of the closet, to sort it all out, throw things away, and put what’s left back neatly. I think that’s where we are now collectively. We’re pulling everything out of the closet and dealing with the mess all around us, the virus, the politics, all the explosive issues, and we will get the closet put back together neatly, but right now we’re at the messiest part, with heaps of ‘stuff’ all around us, while trying to do triage and restore order. And we’ll just have to wade through the mess until we sort it all out and wind up with a neat closet in the end. And this is the messy part. Life is messy sometimes, and this is. It reassured me when the priest said that to me, and I thought of it today. We are standing up to our knees, or waist, or neck in messes, which in time will get sorted out. But right now, everywhere we turn, it looks like a mess. And even more frustrating, we didn’t make the mess, it’s not our fault, none of it. It happened to us, like a bolt of lightning from the sky.

 

We each have to find our own way to cope with it, how to relax, how to breathe, how to hang on, how to believe and know that things will go back into good order eventually, and we have to make the best of it until then. Whatever works for you, as long as it’s legal and safe and doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, is fair. Exercise, meditation, spending time with a loved one, or alone, listening to music, doing a painting, reading a book (yes, please!!), watching something on TV, helping someone in worse shape than you are, praying, going for a walk. Getting a glimpse of beauty, or finding something to laugh at. There is an expression in French for these situations: “Raise the Hearts”, which applies here. We have to raise our hearts, even if we feel like our hearts are dragging, even if we’re scared or anxious or angry that any of this is happening. We will come through it, we HAVE to hang onto hope. There is no other choice. And gratitude helps too, no matter how small what we are grateful for.

 

At times like this, I turn to spiritual inspiration to find balance and strength. For others, it’s exercise, or other things. The love and comfort of the people I love gives me strength too. But sometimes, we don’t even have that, and we have to find courage and strength on our own. In my darkest hours, after my son’s death, working on the streets with the homeless gave my life purpose and brought me back to life again. I would lose myself among them, working to serve them and bring them supplies and comfort, dangerously and sometimes even foolishly brave because I didn’t care what happened to me, but all those kind people I supposedly helped, actually helped heal my broken heart. And today, we don’t have the same freedoms, since we need to be careful of Covid, we can’t hug a stranger or touch a hand, and have to use caution, but there are ways to help others even now, without putting yourself at risk. Whatever works for you, and is safe.

 

I found a passage in the Bible today that brought me comfort, and I share it with you. Even if that’s not your form of comfort, I share it with you, in case it helps. From John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 

 

Have a peaceful week. We’ll get the mess sorted out, and the closet of our lives sorted out neatly again.

 

I send you love and comfort, and a hug,  Danielle

 

1/11/21, Just keep swimming and we’ll get there!!!

Posted on January 11, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, we’re eleven days into this New Year, and how’s it working for you so far? It’s a little early to make any pronouncements, but one thing is for sure, life certainly isn’t dull in the US these days, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic, the economy, and just keeping one’s head above water. In every race, in every marathon, in every challenge, even in childbirth, there comes a moment when you feel overwhelmed and think ‘I can’t do this….this is too much’, and you think you’ll drown. That’s the hard part, that ultimate moment, and if you just hang on, the victory will come later, the praise, the elation, or even just the satisfaction of having finished the race. I think that’s sort of where we are at the moment. That hard time when you think you’ll drown. We won’t, we can’t, we just have to keep swimming, either dog paddling as best we can, or in long smooth strokes. I have moments of panic myself in the pandemic, but you just have to stay calm. The storm WILL pass. Soon, I hope.

 

My panic was over the Covid numbers this week. The US broke ALL records, with 307,000 new cases in one day this past week. Staggering. And if you count backwards from that date, you land on Christmas, 14 days earlier, and that shocking number of new cases is the direct result of what people did on Christmas: how much they traveled or partied or how many people they saw without paying attention to the rules of social distance and wearing masks. I will admit it, that number infuriated me, and showed us that while my family and I cancelled all our plans, didn’t travel, and didn’t spend Christmas together, in order to follow the rules——others didn’t make the same sacrifice, traveled, had fun, saw lots of people, and now the rest of it pay the price for it, for the highest numbers of any country in the entire pandemic. And a week from now, we’ll know how badly they behaved, and how irresponsible they were on New Year’s Eve.  It really is discouraging to see to what degree people don’t follow the guidelines or the rules.

 

The news this week was not super encouraging. There were the very bad numbers in the US, and rising numbers elsewhere in the world, though not to that degree. January is always kind of dull and an anti-climax after the holidays, the weather is cold and dreary in many places. California is blazing with the virus, out of control, so the entire state is locked down, and people there are depressed about it, and fed up. Things are very bad in Britain too, with a mutant strain of the virus that is more contagious, and which has already traveled to the US, France, Canada, and several other countries. And the vaccine is rolling out slowly everywhere. So bad weather, bad numbers, and now the price to pay for irresponsible behaviour over the holidays. That’s a tough first week in a new year. But what else can we expect if people are careless? And the long awaited vaccine is rolling out more slowly than planned, in every country. Governments are scurrying to get organized.

 

It was a historic week too. Although I am not political, and shy away from politics, we were all witness to an incredible scene in Washington this week, of protesters, or rioters, seemingly easily invading the Capitol building, looting, pillaging, stealing paintings, breaking into offices and disrespecting them, our Congressmen fleeing the building in terror, being escorted to safety, and the deaths of 5 people as a result of the chaos. Whatever one’s politics or beliefs, the images were shocking, and a sign of massive disrespect, in a country which is otherwise civilized and sane, where one can’t even imagine scenes of that kind, more typical of underdeveloped countries where civil unrest is common. But in the US? Land of the free and the brave? Where freedom is a remarkable gift, and mutual respect one of the cornerstones of the foundation the country was built on. What happened? How could scenes like that happen in the US? The entire world looked on dumbstruck, like watching someone having a major temper tantrum and losing control in a department store or some public place, while people watched in horror and astonishment with no idea what to do to stop it. It was embarrassing, frightening, sad, disheartening, and not a proud moment in our history, whatever one’s beliefs. It was a loss of control, and an absence of respect in a major way. And it isn’t the image or the way America wants to be viewed in the eyes of the world. Violence is never the answer and never achieves a successful result. So on several fronts, it was a discouraging week at best.

 

So what do we do now? Just like the marathon or the race or a challenging childbirth, we just keep going, keep swimming, keep running, and we’ll get there in the end. When people behave and follow the rules, we’ll get a grip on Covid, the vaccine will roll out more smoothly in time, the pandemic will NOT last forever. The economy will recover. We just have to keep swimming, just keep running in the right direction, and we will get where we need to be.

 

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going” and “Never, Never, Never, Never Give up!!”.

 

And just as an aside, I had a new book come out this week in hard cover, “Neighbors”. Maybe if people stay home and read for a little while, things will calm down and get sane again.

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I am counting on it!! This is just the beginning of a brand new year, and the best is yet to come!!! Keep Swimming!!!

 

lots of love, Danielle

 

 

 

1/4/20, A Clean Slate

Posted on January 4, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Whew!!….A new year!! A clean slate. Last year was a jolt for all of us, shocking, scary, long, discouraging, and we still have to manage living with Covid for the moment, but we are all hopeful that we’ll beat this virus soon—-hopefully early in the year, and life will return to normal. We’ve all earned medals this year in courage, patience, strength, and we deserve a chest full of awards, and rewards, for getting through ten months of it. I know some people, even many, are tired and fed up. The numbers in the US are still scary, some states are blazing, California among them, and some cities are locked down—-again. But the vaccine is on the horizon, for those who will take it, and time is on our side. This won’t go on forever. This time of year is always a little bleak and gray after the holidays. But we just have to go on fighting, and living, and knowing that we will come out the other side. Even when we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is there. Daylight always comes, and bad times end. So we have to hang in, and start the New Year with new energy, a fresh outlook, and a clean slate.

 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, because I never keep them, and I hate to disappoint myself!! I try to make changes and improvements when the time feels right—not according to the calendar. But the beginning of a new year is something of a landmark, and it’s a good time to give up old grudges, end old feuds, forgive people who have offended us, and start fresh. It’s too much baggage to carry to stay mad at anyone, and the one who pays the price for carrying that heavy load on our heart is ourself. So as best we can, let’s throw old gripes away in the trash, and move on, with a fresh spring in our step.

 

I’m starting the year with a new book. It comes out tomorrow, on Tuesday, “Neighbors”—-it begins with an earthquake in San Francisco, which cuts off the electricity, gas and water, to an entire neighborhood (which happened to me in San Francisco in the last big quake there in l989). And in my book, a retired very famous movie star, who lives in seclusion behind her walls, reaches out to her neighbors when an earthquake hits and their homes are badly damaged and hers is still standing, so she invites them in to stay with her. Once she does, she discovers the amazing people who are her neighbors whom she had never met before, and had no idea who they were. A young couple who appear as perfect people and parents—-with a dark secret. A flashy glamourous bachelor with a hot girlfriend. A famous blind concert pianist, in his 80’s, a remarkable man, and the struggling young writer who works for him at night, and lives in the house to help him. The reclusive movie star not only discovers them, but she finds herself again as she reaches out to them, and they give new purpose to her life, and a whole new world opens up to her. I love writing about what happens to people in a crisis, what they make of it, and what it makes of them. I hope you love the book!!! January is always a good time to curl up with a new book, and stay warm and cozy at home. And this is a great time to do it in this brand new year.

 

I hope that this will be a great year for you, that wonderful things happen, and all your dreams come true!!! Have a great week!!!  And a great year!!

 

love, Danielle

 

12/21/20, Twas four days before Christmas…

Posted on December 21, 2020

 

“Twas four days before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”

 

Hi Everyone, just four more days until this controversial Christmas that has everyone stressed out, trying to decide what they should do responsibly, what their families expect of them, and what their neighbors will say…or just do whatever they want. And even the people who truly believe they are responsible, and work hard at it, make concessions here and there. Even people in government and the people who are supposed to set an example have made some flagrant mistakes, and broken their own rules.

 

I hope you had a good week as we lead up to Christmas. Only four more days, and I do find people anxious and stressed out at the moment. But who can blame them. Our own family faced a minor dilemma. For all of my children’s lives, Santa Claus has made an appearance at the end of Christmas Eve dinner, usually at dessert, and by then some wine has been served now that they’re all adults. We hear the bell ringing, and a minute later, there is a resounding Ho Ho Ho!!! outside the dining room, and then there he is. Large and Round, in a red velvet suit trimmed in white plush, with his wide black leather belt and boots, white mustache and beard very convincing, his hat and his sack, and he enters the room and circles the table, stopping at each member of the family to make an appropriate comment about how did that car work out for you, and do you like the boyfriend I sent you last year…..how’s your cooking coming…how’s the puppy I brought you two years ago. And for those moments, no matter how old we are, we really believe he’s the real deal (if he does his job well. That does not include the Santa several years ago that we now refer to as The Communist Santa, who saw us living and eating well, nicely dressed for Christmas eve, and gave us a very stern and surprising lecture about what kind of people were we that we didn’t give away everything we have, and live more simply while working to free oppressed people around the world. We didn’t have him back. The message was a little heavy for Christmas Eve). And always at the end of Santa’s tour of the table with knowing comments, we take turns sitting on Santa’s lap, for photo ops, no matter how old we are (me too), and ask him for the impossible, hoping that by some miracle we’ll get what we ask for, a new house, a better job, a husband, a wife, a baby. We all enjoy a warm moment with Santa. But in this year of Covid, even he is having to work remotely.  We took a family vote, and Santa got voted out both times, the conclusion was that the visit from Santa on Christmas Eve just isn’t worth the risk, even though we’ll all miss him. Only my three children spending Christmas together would have had the visit, everyone else will be in their own homes, to keep Christmas small and risk free this year. Their other siblings and I won’t be with them, they’ll be in their own homes. And I guess Santa will be at home at the North Pole this year, and Rudolph will deliver all the gifts on his own with the other reindeer. So No visit from Santa for us this year. The origin of the at home Santa visit was so that I didn’t have to stand on line for 3 hours at some department store with nine young children, while all the other children coughed and sneezed, and mine inevitably caught the flu from them. And we’re dealing with a MUCH bigger flu now. But our tradition of the Santa visit has lingered, and hopefully will be back next year. We are sad not to be seeing Santa this year, but it’s one more change due to the Coronavirus.

 

There will be a lot of changes this year for all of us, some families not together to celebrate, college kids who can’t travel home, grandparents whom everyone is trying to avoid seeing in order to keep them safe. And hopefully the changes will be enough rules respected to really make a difference and help us to get a handle on the pandemic, bring the numbers down, and not wind up with another huge spike which throws us back into confinement after the holidays.

 

One thing truly shocks me, is how many people are planning major trips during the holidays. Many people in Europe are planning to visit Swiss ski resorts, since the French and Italian ones aren’t open, and it is strongly recommended not to plan ski holidays. Others are escaping to warmer weather in Morocco and even in Dubai, where life more closely resembles what we knew before the pandemic. Some Europeans are going to Spain, which has lower numbers than its European neighbors. Given how we have all been urged not to travel, all around the world, I don’t understand how people can plan these trips, knowing the risks they are taking, and that the fallout from them is liable to worsen the already dangerous situation we are in. And many Americans, as well as Europeans, are not heeding the pleas not to travel, and are planning to do it anyway. It is painful to hear about those holiday plans, knowing that we will pay dearly for those trips later, just as Thanksgiving travel has created the bleak numbers we are experiencing now in the U.S. a month later. I hope that somebody plans to follow the rules and the advice not to travel. Right about now, the pandemic is seeming endless to all of us, and we are all sick and tired of the rules we have to live with, the confinements, the lack of ability to have a ‘normal’ social life, and for many of us, the chance to spend Christmas with our loved ones. Some people are making big sacrifices, while others blithely choose to ignore the rules. We can’t hide from the reality of the pandemic anywhere in the world. And the numbers of people getting infected with the virus, and the death toll are harsh wake up calls.

 

Four days before Christmas, many countries and cities are in full lock down, while others are in a modified version of it. We’re trying to cling to our traditions, and adjust them as best we can, or shelve them for another year. In San Francisco, one of my daughters saw a group of 25 carolers without masks, in a highly populated neighborhood, singing their hearts out, although singing is particularly said to be a dangerous spreader of the virus and is strongly discouraged. Some people just don’t want to listen.

 

ALL of my Christmas will be virtual this year, which makes me particularly cranky about those not following the rules. There will be no Christmas dinner with family, no chance to hug my children, no midnight mass, none of our cherished traditions. I will be alone on Christmas this year, for the first time in my entire life, because it was just too dangerous to travel to be with my family. We opted for caution and safety, and it was a very hard decision to do so. And as hard as it is, I hope that others will be reasonable this year too, at least to some degree, even if they don’t give up celebrating it completely. The more serious we are about the holidays this year, the better and safer and healthier they will be next year, and hopefully we will be able to put the pandemic behind us, all around the globe.

 

In the meantime, I hope that you will have special moments with family or friends, that the spirit of Christmas will shine in your hearts, that you will reach out to those who need to be remembered and may be alone this year. It is a year in which joy will take many new and different forms and creative expressions, when we need to count our blessings, respect others, and work together toward a healthy world again.

 

I wish you joy and peace and good health and love in the coming year, and may all your holiday wishes come true. Please be safe, as best you can, every moment and every gesture of caution counts, for all of us.

 

May you be blessed in every way this holiday, and may you be a blessing to others, with all my love,  Danielle

 

12/14/20, Before The Dawn

Posted on December 14, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope it was a pretty decent week, even a good one. I hope some good things happened, good news. And thank you for your support about my family’s very hard decision not to get together for the holidays, although we haven’t seen each other since February—–a Very, Very, Very long time. We’re a very close family and see each other a lot more often, and it took real courage, fortitude and strength and love for each other to sacrifice spending a holiday together that we love so much. But it was the right thing to do, the loving thing to protect each other, and not take undue risks by travelling. Painful as it is, we followed the rules—-to put our weight in the right side of the scale, to help stop the sharp rise of the pandemic in the US. But it wasn’t easy, in fact one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made, and we are sad about it, but comforted to know that we did the right thing. Hearing your support for that decision meant a lot.

 

Restrictions are tightening up in many places that need it, and easing up in countries where the numbers and conditions have improved. San Francisco went into full lockdown last week, although their hospitals weren’t overcrowded yet. And restaurants are closing in New York today for indoor dining. It’s a familiar refrain all over the world. And the numbers in the US have continued to rise, which is discouraging.

 

And I hope that wherever you are, you can make plans that you will be able to enjoy for Christmas with the people you love.

 

A saying comes to mind that I have often found to be true, “The night is always darkest before the dawn.” Just when things seem the bleakest and most discouraging, something finally shifts, and things start to improve. I feel certain that the dawn is coming soon. Hang in, we’ll get there. And keep being careful, and take care.

 

Have a peaceful, happy, wonderful week.

 

love, Danielle

 

12/9/20, Hard Decisions

Posted on December 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is going smoothly, wherever you are—but we seem to be in the same boat all over the world now, in varying degrees. Certain European countries are doing better, after being confined for a month. Modified confinements are being practiced, with restaurants open in some places, not in others, or for takeout only, stores open to varying degrees, while governments try to blend and marry physical safety in the pandemic, with steps to keep the economy afloat all over the world. And in the US, a wide divergence between places with strict confinement, and others with no restrictions at all. And sadly, the result is numbers that are skyrocketing, with the effects of Thanksgiving yet to be felt later this week, and Christmas and New Year coming. We are all dependent on each other and how responsible people are.

 

My family and I made a tough decision about the holidays. We decided not to gather the whole family on Thanksgiving this year, which was a sacrifice for a holiday we hold dear, and include friends in our celebration every year. This year, the family decided to stay where they were and not come home from cities all over the country, and in Europe. And we just made the same decision for the holiday we love most. Our family won’t be together for Christmas, and we will give up our Christmas as a whole family this year. It’s our contribution to the situation, and to each other, to remain safe. It was a very hard decision, one of the hardest I have had to face. We made it jointly in a series of conference calls, and it was a unanimous vote to remain safe, and not bring all of us together. Our family will spend Christmas in small groups across the country, without travelling to be together.

 

I hope that you will give serious thought to your Holiday plans. It’s a very hard decision for all of us, but we all need to be responsible for the common good now. The stakes are high, and the damage too important. None of us can afford to make our loved ones sick or get sick ourselves. It’s grown up time for all of us to make the hard decisions so we can end the pandemic soon. Our family hasn’t been united in ten months, and we are a very close knit family.

 

Families around the world are facing the same decision. None of us want to get sick or make others sick. If that helps us get to better numbers sooner and saves lives, it’s worth it. I hope we are all thinking of how we can make this challenging situation better. It’s not an easy choice, but it may be the sacrifice we have to make this year. Please be safe during the holidays, and consider your holiday plans. It’s a tough decision we all have to face.

 

Be careful, be safe, and take care, and have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

11/30/20, Countdown Weeks Before the Holidays

Posted on November 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and a heartwarming Thanksgiving, as close to ‘normal’ as you could get it, or maybe a very different one that surprised you and suited you better. Sometimes when we least expect it and dread a change, the new version of something turns out better than the old one. Thanksgiving was definitely different this year. Trying to comply with the Covid rules and recommendations, our whole family didn’t fly home to home base/the mother ship this year, and each little group stayed in the cities where they are and celebrated in small groups of 2s and 3s. Some stuck firmly with the traditions of how we celebrate the holiday, what we do and eat—others made it more free form, with a different menu and style. We had two family face times, one of which allowed me to say grace to start the Thanksgiving meal, which really touched me and warmed my heart. We’re all doing the best we can in the pandemic.  Others, I know, traveled despite the suggestions not to, and I’m hoping that their doing so won’t shoot the numbers of Covid cases way up again. Let’s hope not, so we can get the current situation in control.

 

There seem to be a wide variety and degree of restrictions happening in various countries, states and cities, which are trying to bridge safety and health necessities, with helping the economy, and not shutting down commerce completely, and leaving stores open for Christmas. Trying to respect and salvage the holidays makes it even more challenging. In Europe and some US cities, the closure of restaurants and bars is a hard blow to restaurant owners, but restaurants and bars seem to be among the more dangerous locations, with people having their masks off to eat and drink, at close range in enclosed spaces. Individuals as well as governments are groping in the dark to try and figure out what’s safe and what isn’t. We’re all doing the best we can.

 

In another vein completely, I have a new book out for the holidays, “All That Glitters”, which I hope will distract people and provide a welcome escape from our challenges of the moment. I always try to bring out an uplifting book for the holidays, which makes a good gift. And my little quotation book “Expect a Miracle” is a gift straight from my heart, with all the quotes I love most.

 

We’re starting to decorate the house for Christmas, and trying to figure out how to celebrate it safely, and still honor the season.

 

One of my favorite Bible passages comes to mind especially this year. “God places the solitary in families.” I’ve always loved that, and the idea that even if you aren’t with your traditional family for the holidays, some other solution will happen that meets the need of those who are alone.

 

My thoughts are with you in this month before the holidays, that you will find a way to make the season bright for yourself and others. Even dark times can’t dim the light in our hearts, and the light of Hope, so essential to us all. One of the hardest things we’re all dealing with is uncertainty and how hard it is to make plans. Things seem to change constantly, but hopefully the changes are leading us to a good place and out of the darkness. Together, we will meet the challenge of these unusual times.

 

All my love to you now and in the coming weeks. We will win in the end!!!  I bought some silly Santas and put them on my kitchen table, a snow globe, and two music boxes that play Christmas carols, and the kitchen looks happy now. Corny always works for me!!!  I’m putting the last touches on my list of Christmas gifts, still a few left, even though I start in August. I think we can suspend Santa’s naughty and nice list this year, and assume we’ve all been Nice and deserve a reward of some kind. I send you lots of warm thoughts and virtual hugs in these countdown weeks before the holidays.

 

Stay safe!!!

 

all my love, Danielle

 

11/23/20, Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on November 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that everything leading up to the first of these important holidays has been as peaceful as possible. The Covid numbers have been alarming in the US in recent weeks, and most people I know have had to adjust their plans in some way. No one is unaffected by it. Families that are used to coming together from different cities, towns and states, have either tried to implement new measures to make it safer, and many have cancelled their family  reunion Thanksgiving plans. I’m sure you’ll each figure it out in the best way that works for you, while protecting family members. Eating meals indoors is the subject of great controversy these days, in every country, so it’s a challenge, and something of a practice run for Christmas, as each family asks themselves “what will make it safe and work for us?” It takes careful thought and planning especially for people with big families, or big groups of good friends who gather every year. We have 3 dear friends who join us every year, and sadly, they can’t join us this year, as we try to keep the numbers down for safety. Our family will celebrate Thanksgiving in small groups this year, in separate cities. A first for us.

 

And as complicated as the logistics may be, along with all the normal complications of any holiday, what seems most important is to respect and honor what the holiday is really about. Thanksgiving is about family and good friends, and gathering together to celebrate our blessings, not just about how good the stuffing is this year, or whose recipe it was, or how pretty the table looks, and if there was pecan pie or mince, and how delicious that was!!! I’m a pumpkin pie and apple pie person myself, with whipped cream (not ice cream)!! With an avalanche of good food, and either easy or difficult relatives around one table, we sometimes forget the deeper, underlying meaning of this holiday. Put aside the food, what you’re going to wear, and who’s going to be there, with a relative you love or one you loathe—-this holiday is ALL about gratitude. That’s it. That’s the whole show. It’s a MAJOR reminder to be thankful, to be grateful, to embrace and embody and express gratitude, within ourselves, and expressed to others, and even to be grateful to them.

 

Gratitude makes everything better, it adds magic to our lives. Whenever I am down about things, if I can find something to be grateful for, everything changes and gets better. It is so MUCH easier to focus on what we don’t have, what is wrong instead of what is right. No matter how bleak the picture, if we can get just one little glimpse of gratitude, of something or someone we are grateful for, it changes and improves everything, and spreads like magic!!

 

No matter how different Thanksgiving is this year, if the local government has forbidden Thanksgiving gatherings entirely, if you’re too afraid or it’s too complicated to get on a plane to be with your loved ones with the dangers of Covid all around us—no matter if you can’t see your family at all, or are alone, or are eating at Mc Donald’s, instead of your favorite family member’s home, and even if you do get home, and if people are on edge in the pandemic and it’s not how it usually is,—- The more you focus on gratitude, the more you can remember what you are TRULY grateful for, the more blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving will be, for you and all those around you. And I know it’s not easy to be grateful when times are hard.

 

Thanksgiving is about abundance, an abundance of good, of blessings, of food. In Biblical terms I am always reminded of the ‘fragments’ of (I think) 7 fishes and a few loaves of bread that fed 4,000. Not even whole fishes, ‘fragments’, little pieces. And all were fed. No matter how small our Thanksgiving gatherings are this year, how many or few of our loved ones we can share it with, if any, and no matter what is on our table, whether a glowing golden perfectly prepared turkey, or half a sandwich shared with a friend—-if we can find it in our hearts to be grateful this year, of all years, it will be the best Thanksgiving we ever had. How we view it comes from within us, not from without.

 

May your Thanksgiving be richly blessed, with an abundance of blessings in your hearts, all that you need on your table, and may your blessings be too many to count.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, with all my love,  Danielle

 

11/9/20, Bag Story

Posted on November 9, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

AMAZING story: 2 weeks ago, I had lunch at a favorite restaurant with a terrace, before the new confinement. Fun lunch. Happy day. I was wearing a favorite handbag I love a lot, a big black leather bag with a bright red lining. I put it under the table at my feet. End of lunch, I reached for my bag: gone. Vanished. Stolen. A first for me. In Paris, there are cameras in the street high up on posts, to fight crime. 5 hours at the police station, stolen bags a common occurrence (all my credit cards, ID, phone, address book etc. in it). It’s an expensive one of a kind bag, and the likelihood of ever seeing it again was zero. Back to the police station the next day for another 4 hrs. And then, luck was with me. The police had the whole theft on video from the street, the case was referred to a special theft unit, and a fantastic senior officer took an interest in the case. 12 days later after some incredible police work by the Surete Territoriale, they arrested the thief, and a miracle: he still had my bag, hadn’t sold it. I never, ever thought I’d see my bag again. I am SOOOO GRATEFUL to have it back, and the detectives of the special unit are OUTSTANDING. They handed me the bag, and it was a very happy ending for me. I’m thrilled and the French police were truly amazing!!! Wow!!! I posed for a picture with the detectives of the Surete Territoriale, to celebrate the return of my bag and their incredible police work!!

Have a great week!

 

love, Danielle

11/1/20, Back in Lockdown—the dogs are back!!!

Posted on November 2, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing okay, and that you’re finding ways to keep your spirits up, even during Covid times with the inevitable restrictions—which in the US seem to vary from city to city and state to state. It seems very hard that there is no uniformity of rules and guidelines in the US, and there is everything from total freedom to total lockdown, with and without masks. In France, the President calls the shots and makes the rules. One person delivers the message, which applies to the entire country: the President, and I personally think he has done a good job, been responsible, and is very presidential, although he is a relatively young President. Right below him is the Prime Minister, who reinforces what the President said and spells out the details, like what stores and businesses will be open, and what won’t, parks and gardens are open, and places that gather big crowds aren’t (gyms, theaters, movie houses, etc.).  With the rules coming from those 2 people, it’s a bit like having a Mom and a Dad. And the rules are clear. And although they tried hard not to, they put us back in confinement again last Friday, which was disappointing, but the rules are less rigid than the total lockdown of March, April and May. People were more panicked then, I think they are less so now, we’ve been living with Covid for 8 months now. I think what set off the sharp increase of cases now were all the people who went on vacation and partied all summer, on beaches, in bars, restaurants and nightclubs, inevitably spread the virus, and then went back to their home cities with the same free spirit and made everyone else sick. The increase in cases was dramatic in September and October, so they put on the brakes, and put us back in lockdown again. It was disappointing, but I think it was wise. We need to get things back in hand, so it doesn’t get totally out of control. It doesn’t feel as ominous as it was in March, where our whole world was caving in at a rapid rate. Since then, we’ve been confined, we know many people who have had Covid and survived it, so it doesn’t sound like an automatic death sentence, which it does not have to be. And we’ve had 5 months of deconfinement now in France, which was really very livable, and heaven compared to three months locked up at home. There are also better treatments now, easily accessible testing (in France), and everyone is wearing masks. The one big uncontrolled element are young people, teen agers, adolescents, high school and college students, who have been the hardest to control and convince to be careful. They party, they kiss, they hug, they congregate in big groups glued together, they don’t wear masks, and at one point half the people getting Covid were under 24. I think our current lockdown was in great part due to their refusing to follow the rules, and the adults who partied like crazy over the summer months and threw caution to the winds and ignored the rules. The young are convinced that they won’t get it, and if they do, it will be mild, which isn’t always true—-but their flaunting the rules and getting even a mild case makes the people they meet sick, some of whom, many even, are older and more vulnerable. All of which spells Lockdown for the rest of us. We’re under Lockdown for a month now, until December 1st, to be reviewed then.

 

One of the big struggles worldwide is to salvage the economy, while protecting the people. The lockdown which protects the people is a threat to the economy. If everyone is locked up at home, they are not out spending money, buying things, going to restaurants, or doing the things that support small and large businesses. So the rules are a bit softer this time, in order to respect businesses as best they can, although many will still take a hit, particularly at this time of year, with the holidays coming up, when restaurants and stores need sales. Bars are closed now, period, because it’s where people congregate in close quarters with their masks off, face to face, so they’re out. Restaurants are closed now, but can prepare takeout food, so they will have some income. Most stores are closed, but many are being allowed to take phone orders and deliver, and ‘essential’ businesses are open: food, alcohol, tobacco, anything to do with technology or phones, opticians, essential repairs, the construction industry is fully functioning, work is encouraged, remotely whenever possible, but in person if you can’t work remotely. Schools are open (they weren’t during the March/April/May lockdown), and are being kept open now so parents can go to work, day care is open for the same reason. It’s possible that the lockdown will be less effective, because the rules aren’t as severe, but it is the government’s attempt to keep business and the economy alive and not shut everything down. One of the things they have tried to stop is social gatherings. It sounds crazy, but even though we were only supposed to have no more than ten people visiting at home, or 6 at a table in a restaurant, and at one point only four, I do know of people who were giving big dinner parties, and gathering a lot more people than was allowed. It always annoyed me to hear about it—when the rest of us are battling to keep the virus in control, and following the rules, how irresponsible is it to give a party for 20 people, with masks off so people can eat and drink, which makes a gathering like that dangerous. I have stayed away from the people who weren’t respecting the rules. And I think the holidays will be challenging for everyone, trying to find a safe middle ground so families can be together and not risk getting everyone sick. I have gotten braver about asking employees, and even friends to have a Covid test before we see each other, and I’ve had tests too. My son came from another European country, and visited me with his wife and kids, and we all had Covid tests before we saw each other (the first family member I have seen in 8 months), and we all plan to do that before we get together for Christmas. I think following the rules right now is essential to get control of the situation, and get the numbers down to something livable again, so we are all as safe as we can be right now—and wearing masks of course.

 

One funny thing I’ve noticed is that during the March thru May lockdown you could ONLY leave the house to buy groceries, see a doctor, exercise for an hour, or walk your dog. Suddenly, overnight everyone in Paris had a dog, and was walking them day and night. The dogs looked exhausted and had this look of “Oh God, not a walk again”. The streets were crowded with people walking dogs. I don’t know if they begged, borrowed, or rented them, Paris was swarming with dogs, many of them very cute. By the end of May, with lockdown over, the dogs literally disappeared. I have no idea where they went, but the poor things were lucky if they got out at all. Now, looking out my window yesterday—-the dogs were back!!! Everyone I could see had a dog on a leash. I’m not sure if the dogs are happy or not about this situation, but everyone is out there walking a dog again.  I happen to have 3 two pound Chihuahuas who are so small they hate going out, they sit down, glare at me, look pitiful and want to be carried, so I can’t get away with using my dogs as an excuse to go out and get some air, unless I carry all three of them, and nowhere in the rules does it say that you can go out for an hour to carry your dog—-you have to fill out a form to do so, which says that on your honor you are going out to walk your dog, see your doctor, or buy food. But the dogs are back in any case. I’m sure some of them haven’t had a decent walk since May, when everyone went back to normal life again. The dogs look pretty happy to be out so far. And if I want to leave my house, I’ll either have to buy groceries, go to my doctor, or convince my dogs that taking a walk really isn’t so bad. I didn’t leave my apartment for 77 days last time, which I think is unhealthy in other ways (not seeing other people, and not getting enough air and exercise. And isolation from other humans is really depressing).During lockdown last Spring, I sat on a tiny balcony to get air, it was a window ledge meant for plants, and walked around my apartment for a mile every day to get exercise. I think this time I will take a walk regularly to stay sane and get some air (maybe I can borrow someone’s dog??), and at home, I’m going to be doing a lot of writing again, and I’m going to start wrapping Christmas presents. And I can’t wait to be out again on December 1st.

 

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, inside or out, locked down or free, have a GREAT week!! The good times will come again, and there are even good times now, we just have to remember to notice them.

 

Take good care, and stay safe, love, Danielle