Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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

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

 

7/29/19, Strong Drink

Posted on July 29, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that July lived up to your expectations, and you got some time off, and even some beach time!!! I’m plugging away at work, but have made a discovery I absolutely LOVE. I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve never liked it, and it always made me feel sick when I tried it, so it’s one vice I don’t have. But I was introduced to a ‘cocktail’ this summer by an eleven year old!!! And I will confess, I am totally addicted. It’s the perfect drink for a hot summer day!!! It’s a Virgin Mojito. I don’t know how to make it, but it has lime juice, some fizzy water, lots of crushed ice, and fresh mint in it.  It’s fantastic, and has been the perfect antidote to some blazing hot summer days this summer.  I order it everywhere and double check that it’s ‘Virgin’, so it has no alcohol in it. I even had a strawberry one a few days ago, which was delicious too (I think they substituted the limes with strawberries). So that’s my hot tip of the summer…..and if you’re wondering what I’m doing—–I’m sipping Virgin Mojitos while I work…..have a great August, with lots of vacation time, I hope. I’ll be meeting up with all my children for a long weekend in the coming month. It’s always the highlight of my summer.

 

So cheers to you…..with a Virgin Mojito, have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

7/22/19, Summer Clean Up

Posted on July 22, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and are getting some real vacation time in. I had my one week holiday with my kids, and as soon as they left, I went back to work. It’s been a week since they left, and the vacation already seems like years ago, I’ve been wading through my work, and I’ve taken a few breaks to clean out my closets……again!! My last big clean out was two years ago when I moved to a new apartment, and I always feel virtuous and victorious when I purge my closets. I get rid of the fashion mistakes, the things that really don’t fit right and never did, the things I’m sorry I bought, and some old favorites that are long past their expiration date. I always give up the things I think I’m going to lose five pounds to wear, even if I lose 5 lbs., it never comes off the places that will make that piece of clothing fit, so I finally get rid of it!!! I’m not really an impulse buyer, but sometimes I do buy some silly stuff. I’m a less conservative shopper than my daughters, and they warn me when I’m about to commit a huge fashion mistake, and most of the time, I don’t listen to them, and go right ahead and buy something they warn me I’ll be sorry I bought….and most of the time they’re right.

 

It’s a terrific feeling pulling things out, and getting rid of the dead wood in your closets, and occasionally I wonder what I was thinking when I bought something (and I DO keep some of the outrageous stuff even in a clean out!!!) It’s not too outrageous, but I’m reminded of a ‘mature’ quite a bit older friend whose mother was visiting her, and my friend was rushing out to go somewhere, while her mother watched her dress. My friend looks great, has a great figure and particularly great legs, and loves wearing miniskirts (that’s one sin I’m not guilty of—-I don’t have the legs or the courage for miniskirts. I commit other fashion sins!!). As she was about to rush out the door, she looked at her mother and said “I have the feeling I’ve forgotten something…” Her mother looked at her and said, “Yes, your age.” That happens to me occasionally too, something looks like so much fun (and I do love fashion, and have a sense of humor about it), but when I get it home, I think “What was I thinking? I can’t wear that!!!”—–and if I do, my daughters are quick to scold me.

 

I find that when I’m feeling swamped by life, and not in control of all the challenging situations in my life, I dive into my closets and start getting rid of things and putting everything in good order, my closets are one thing I can always control and do something about. It’s therapeutic for me.

 

So right in the middle of summer, my closets are looking impeccably neat, all the old stuff I don’t want is weeded out, and now I can see what I have, and wear the right stuff, and not fight my way through old stuff that doesn’t fit, or fashion mistakes. I always learn something about myself too, of what I really like and works well for me. I find that the stuff I get rid of is usually the same brands, that aren’t comfortable, don’t suit me, or never fit right, eventually I get rid of them, and shouldn’t have bought them in the first place. Some brands of shoes always hurt (too stiff, heels too high, and just not wearable), and if they’re pretty I buy them anyway, and of course they don’t fit— they hurt, and they go out in the next big clean out. The truth is that I am not going to get taller, even thinner than I am, or younger when I bring a piece of clothing home, so it had better look good when I buy it, because it won’t look any better later by some miracle.

 

I find that if I have to ask the salesgirl, a friend, or one of my daughters “Do you think I’ll wear this??”—–that’s the kiss of death and I never will. When I hear myself say that now, I think “uhhh oh”, no, I won’t wear it, and I try not to buy it.

 

My closet is looking great now, and not only am I enjoying it, but it’s going to make it so much easier now for my daughters to cruise my closets and find what they want to ‘borrow’!!!!….have a great week,

 

love, Danielle

 

 

7/15/19, Precious Days

Posted on July 15, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a good summer so far, not too hot, not too busy, with some real time off to relax and take a break. I had my annual week’s holiday with my kids, and now it’s back to work for me. I’m working on three outlines, have a book to edit, and will start a new book soon. So the real vacation is over for me, except for a long weekend in August with my kids. I spend a week with my five youngest children in July every year, which I look forward to all year, and is the only real vacation I take. I have to admit that I miss the days when I spent the whole summer with my children, not working at all, but with their jobs and busy lives that’s not possible anymore, and I am grateful for the one precious week we share now. This was the first year that one of them couldn’t come, and it was an adjustment and we all missed her. I even take my three dogs, Minnie, Blue and Lili on holiday with us!!!

 

We spend the vacation in France every year, and the days pass too quickly. One of the things I love on our vacation every year is that I go to a tiny beautiful little 11th century church, tucked away, on top of a hill, with an incredible view of the sea. It’s a very special place, and miracles are said to happen there, or as a result of prayer there. It has a wonderful peaceful feeling, and I make sure to visit it every year.

 

Everyone swims a lot, relaxes, and meals are an important part of the day, where we get together and talk and laugh (and eat too much!!!). We play lots of Scrabble, liar’s dice sometimes, cards, and added dominoes this year, which was really fun. It’s interesting to share thoughts and opinions and different points of view, they keep me up to date on a Millennial perspective on life, and we all make suggestions that are sometimes very helpful with whatever we’re dealing with at the time. My children are ALL very different from each other, so it’s a whole range of thoughts and philosophies on life. Those who have them, bring their partners, which broadens the perspective too, on everything from health to politics, to the wishes and dreams we all cherish, or the disappointments they’ve recently gone through, or challenges in their jobs. They are all very generous with their opinions and advice, which is sometimes challenging, but always well meant, and most of the time helpful. The week we spend together is a wonderful break from the pressures of “Real Life”. Their jobs are as different as they are, so we all learn something about the fields in which they work (fashion, startups, sports, finance, and my writing).

 

I’ve mentioned before that I collect favorite quotations, and have since I was in my teens. I’m currently thinking of putting together a book of my favorite quotes (some from famous people, others anonymous, and even some by children). If I do it, it will come out for Christmas this year. It’s fun going through my favorites, trying to decide which to share. They inspire me in my life, and I thought it would be fun to share them with you!!!

 

Whatever you’re doing this summer, I hope you have a break for some relaxation and fun, on your own or with favorite people, travelling, or even close to home.  We all need a break from whatever we do, although I’m always excited to get back to work even after a short break. It energizes me to take a little time off. I miss my kids like crazy after our vacation is over…..but back to work, which keeps me busy!!  Have a great week, and I hope your summer is off to a wonderful start!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

7/8/19, Summer Vacation

Posted on July 9, 2019

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you’re well, happy, busy, and maybe already enjoying some time off on vacation. And I hope you had a great 4th of July!!!

 

I have been in and out of some breathtaking heat waves in the last couple of weeks. Some record breaking temperatures (without air conditioning!!!), and I was working on a book in dizzying heat, but managed to get through it, though slower than usual!!!

 

I’ve been enjoying a series on Netflix, “The Bletchely Circle”, about a group of women spies in England, right after World War II, solving mysteries for the police. Really a fun show. And I have a stack of books to read when I take a break, although I’ll be starting another book soon. And my new hardcover has been out for 2 weeks, “Lost and Found”, about a road trip to revisit old loves—it seems like just the right book for summer.  I hope you read it soon when you have time!!!

 

I’m currently on vacation with four of my children (that’s half my kids), my youngest ones, with their partners, which is really fun. Good meals and some lazy hot summer days. Just a brief week, which is all we can manage together now, between their demanding jobs and mine. But I’m grateful for every day I get with them. I look forward to this time with them all year. This week and a long weekend in August will be my only time off all summer/all year. Not a lot of time together, but wonderful. Lunch and dinner together every day, some swimming and sunning, lots of good conversations. I feel very lucky, and very grateful to have this time with them.

 

I hope that you’re doing something fun too, and get some time off for vacation soon!!!

 

I’ll be back at work soon, and the vacation will be a dim memory. It does make me long for the days when I took the whole summer off with my kids, and we had more time together. But I’m grateful for whatever time I get!!!

 

Take good care!! and have a great week, love, Danielle

6/10/19, “Storm Warnings”

Posted on June 10, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, as summer gets underway, and I hope you’re making plans to do something fun this summer, and will be able to enjoy some time off.

 

I’ve mentioned to you before how much I enjoy the writing of Joel Osteen, a pastor from Texas, and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him and his family, and I find him a truly remarkable person, a lovely human being, and his family warm and delightful. I love his books, and he has a short daily thought on the Internet, which always gives me a boost, and I often share with my children. His little positive messages get my day off to a good start. They always seem to apply to daily life. In a recent one, he talked about the palm tree, and how it bends all the way to the ground in big storms, and doesn’t break or fall over—-and how after a big storm, where a palm tree is stretched to its absolute utmost, instead of uprooting it, its root system actually becomes stronger. I found it to be a fantastic reminder of our lives.

 

We ALL encounter storms, big ones and small ones. Sometimes they come in clusters. And no matter how carefully we lead our lives, things happen!!! It’s inevitable, things you really don’t expect, and can’t avoid. And sometimes the bigger you are, the bigger the storm, and how hard it hits you. A financial problem that comes out of left field and shakes you up, a problem with your job, a nasty health issue, a dispute with a colleague, a disappointment, a betrayal by a trusted friend, and no matter how much we love our children, sometimes we have a clash with them too. I’ve had some big storms in my life, and I’m sure you have too. Sometimes we even have a run of them, you just get over one hurdle, heave a sigh of relief, and Wham!!! You get hit with another, or even several, and you feel like a human punching bag. I found Joel’s reminder of the resilience and strength of the palm tree really helpful, and it’s so true. Sometimes those battles we run into, didn’t expect and can’t avoid make us stronger when the storm is over, like the roots of the palm tree. You learn lessons from the hard times, even though those hard times aren’t enjoyable, unexpected blessings often come from those hard times, and we learn a lot from those storms, about ourselves, and the people around us, and often about those we love.

 

So I’m sharing that thought with you. We don’t enjoy those storms, but often we have greater strength and resilience than we know. The storms don’t break us, they make us grow. So if you’re going through a storm right now, remember that you will bounce back, no matter how big the storm, or how hard and loud the wind blows. I was grateful for the reminder!!! Sometimes those storms are damn scary and impressive, and you may look and feel like you’ve been shipwrecked right afterwards, but when the wind stops blowing and you pick yourself up again, it’s surprising and comforting to know that we survived it and we’re in better shape than we thought we would be after the storm.

 

I wish you sunny days and easy times, and a storm-free week (and life), but if you’re going through a storm, as happens to us all——remember the palm tree, and that you’re more resilient than you think!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

5/13/19, Wake Up Call:Real Life

Posted on May 13, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week and a lovely mother’s day, whether you’re a mother, or a son or daughter, a grandchild, or just a good motherly friend to someone who looks up to you.

 

Sometimes I have something I can’t wait to share with you, something I’ve seen or done or a pet peeve or immense joy. At other times, I grope around and can’t think of a single interesting thing I’ve done all week that might entertain you. There are always the fashion shows at certain times of year, the holidays, or a new book out. And I DO have a new book out, “Blessing in Disguise”, which came out last week, about a woman with three adult daughters, each one with a different father, and how very different they are, and how separate and distinct the mother’s relationship is with each of them. I hope you love it!!!

 

But since I spend about 95% of my time writing, there are times that I just haven’t seen or done anything except work, which gets boring for you to hear about. Sometimes I don’t leave my house (or office) for weeks at a time if I am working intensely on a book. And at other times something I want to share with you just leaps onto the page. I was travelling this week, which gets more and more complicated with increased security measures, and less and less fun, and there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do anything exciting this week, and then yesterday I got an email updating me about my incredible, remarkable, wonderful niece, Bea. And there it was, real life, staring me right in the eye, putting everything else I do or worry about into perspective.

 

Except for rare instances, we all share the same problems and deal with the same challenges to varying degrees in daily life. Worrying about our kids, the petty aggravations of daily life, (I am currently dealing with 2 winter leaks, hardly fascinating for you to hear), or we have a falling out with someone, or get irritated with our kids (the same ones we worry about!!), or just when you get your budget in semi-control you get a whopping bill from the plumber, or for your car, or from your dentist, and it blows your budget all over again. Whatever it is always seems monumental at the time (or really is with health or job or money or kid worries). And then suddenly you hear of something, or see it, which puts it all into perspective and reminds us of how small our problems are compared to that.

 

For those of you who don’t know, 3 years ago, my then 17 year old niece Bea was at the Brussels airport during the terrorist attack. You read about those events in the papers, and you never expect them to come close to home. She lost both her legs, was badly burned, her body filled with shrapnel. She was one of two survivors of one terminal, and was thought to be dead when they found her. She spent 7 months in a military hospital, and underwent more than 40 surgeries, and she will always have shrapnel in her body from the bombing. Unimaginable. She is an astoundingly brave and remarkable girl, with wonderful parents who got her through it. And she has more courage and guts than anyone I know. When she got out of the hospital, she finished high school and graduated. She did over a year of rehab with the Navy Seals. (She is half French and half American). She is now in college in the States. Her passion was horseback riding, and she was hoping to be in the Olympics. She is now training for the Paralympics, and sat on her beloved horse Deedee before she was even out of the hospital. The reunion of her and her horse was heart wrenching. Her horse Deedee was led out of its trailer, as a surprise for her, on the first day Bea was allowed to go out to the hospital garden. Deedee raced across the parking lot, and into the garden, went straight to Bea in her wheel chair, put her head on Bea’s shoulder, and licked her face. Bea began making a strong recovery from then on, and the love affair continues, as Bea now attends college and trains daily for the pre-Paralympic qualifying competitions. She had a recent setback for two months, which required more surgery for an infection. She’s on the mend now, and will be back in training again soon.

 

When I got the family update on her yesterday, it woke me up again. What Bea deals with every day is unthinkable to the rest of us, to come through something that immense and turn it into a positive life, and refuse to be defeated by a catastrophic, cataclysmic event so huge we can’t really even imagine it. It makes all my daily problems ridiculous by comparison: the suitcase that didn’t make it onto the plane with me 3 days ago (but eventually did turn up), the car repair, the bills that seem to multiply before they get to me, the harsh words exchanged with someone when I was tired, some minor disappointments. It shrinks to nothing when I am reminded of what Bea faces every day, and how brilliantly and bravely she has dealt with it, and her determination to lead an amazing life, and she surely will with her positive attitude. She is 20 now, and truly an extraordinary person.

 

So I’m sharing the wakeup call with you. Some people are dealing with such enormous things, and so successfully, that it shrinks my ‘problems’ to nothing. Bea is an inspiration to all who know her, and many who don’t. It makes me grateful for every waking moment. She is a blessing to us all. She didn’t just survive the attack, she met the challenge positively with immeasurable strength in every possible way, and still is. She is the definition of courage, in one totally amazing young girl.

 

Have a fantastic week—–and may all your challenges be small, and easily overcome!!!

 

with much love, Danielle

 

Bea’s Website:   https://www.beaparathlete.org/

 

 

Ps. And to Mary Dixon, who asked if I’ve written any short books. The answer is yes. About 20 or 25 years ago, short books became fashionable for a short time (under 200 pages). They were VERY challenging to write, much more so than longer books, because in short books you have about half the time and space to tell the entire story in depth. During that time, I wrote a number of them: among them, “The Gift”, “Five Days in Paris”, “Second Chance”, and “Special Delivery”, and a few others. You might want to check them out. love, D.

 

5/6/19, April Showers/Mother’s Day

Posted on May 6, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and are enjoying decent—-even Springlike!!!!—-weather somewhere—-not where I am, unfortunately!!! It’s freezing cold and rainy, a chill wind, temperatures in the 30’s last night, and a hail storm yesterday battering my windows!! No sign of Spring here!!!

 

The bad weather has given me an opportunity to stay home, and work on 4 outlines for new books, refining them, and working on them in different stages. I’ve been working on them for a while, and I’m excited to get started on the books!!! I work very hard on the outlines before I start the books, and try to get them all polished up smoothly and ready to go!!!

 

I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day at the end of this week, my favorite holiday, other than Christmas, and will be celebrating it in two different cities with my kids, over the course of 3 days. I feel very spoiled on Mother’s Day, and love celebrating it with them. (Presents, and I don’t have to get any older—-a fantastic deal!!!). My kids are very sweet to me on Mother’s Day!! My own mother is no longer here, and it’s surprising to me that she’s been gone for 13 years. We weren’t very close, and I didn’t grow up with her, but you only have one mother, and it’s a special role in one’s life. And we were very different. The great blessing in our relationship was that my somewhat distant relationship with her made me even closer to my own children, wanting a very different (much closer) relationship with my children than I had with my mother. And I am indeed very close to them, and am very blessed that my children include me in their lives even as adults. So there is much to celebrate and be grateful for.

 

I’ve also been very lucky that in the course of my life, 2 or 3 really wonderful women, old enough to actually be my mother, took me under their wing, at various times in my life, and became lifelong friends. They provided motherly advice, enormous encouragement and praise. And I have a theory that even if you don’t have an ideal mother, or a poor relationship with yours, one finds people on one’s path that fill that role—-even better than our own mothers. I think women like that come into our lives when we need them—-so we are not left “comfortless”, or without an older woman in that role. So I’ve been blessed on that score too. And we in turn, at some later date, can provide mothering to someone who needs it and isnt our child. Those substitute relationships are sometimes much more rewarding and warm than the real mother/daughter relationships by blood. Not everyone is cut out to be a mother, and some people really do fall short in that role. But a motherly person in one’s life can be a great gift!!!

 

Mother/daughter relationships can sometimes be very challenging, for a multitude of reasons. Either we’re just too different from our mothers—or sometimes too much the same, so inevitable clashes and differences of opionion occur, which can be painful for all concerned So I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day with your mother, and that the relationship you share is a warm, loving, cozy one. But if not, maybe there are other women who can bring you comfort in that role. And maybe you are providing mothering to someone you love that you didnt give birth to. You don’t have to give birth to someone to love them, want the best for them, want to help them, and wish them well. And I hope that your Mother’s Day will be easy and happy, either with your mother, or stand in mother, or with your children. I hope they love and cherish you, and celebrate you on Sunday.

 

And I will share an excellent piece of mothering advice that someone gave me years ago: Never lend your car keys to a person you gave birth to!!!!

 

Happy Mother’s Day, and have a wonderful week!!!

 

much love, Danielle