Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

9/20/21, Beloved Nicky

Posted on September 20, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope things are rolling along, and it’s turning out to be an interesting, lively productive September.

This week is off to a hard start for me, predictably.  September 20 is the hardest day of the year, every year, for me. It’s the anniversary of the day I lost my son Nick to suicide, as many of you know, from this blog and the book I wrote about him, “His Bright Light” (published by Random House). It’s a portrait of him throughout his life, as an exceptional, gifted child, later a talented performer/singer/lyricist musician. The exciting and often fun life he led, and his lifelong battle with mental illness in the form of Bipolar Disease. His victories and his challenges, he was a very special person, and a beloved son. He died at nineteen, and took his family’s hearts with him. But we’re all still here together, remembering him and loving him, every day, and trying to help others in his name (through the Nick Traina Foundation).

I first realized that Nick was ”different’ when he was about 18 months old, in a fuzzy yellow sleeper, with feet, and probably even before that. He walked at 8 months, and talked at 8 months. When people asked his name, he answered “Incredible”, because that was what people said about him, and he thought it was his name. He spoke in clear sentences in two languages at a year old, and had serious conversations with me. He loved music, and grew up to be the lead singer in a band, composed music, wrote lyrics and sang, and toured with a band that was becoming successful. In the end, the tours did him in, and were more than he could cope with physically, which were ultimately part of the end. And he fought a valiant battle against Bi Polar, and had a full life he enjoyed in spite of it. He was essentially a happy person, and was up more than he was down, but the downs were ferocious. And he was born and lived at a time when the psychiatric norm was not to diagnose or treat Bi Polar (manic depression) until patients were in their 20’s. Today, they treat and medicate three and four year olds for bi polar. By the time Nick was 4, it was absolutely clear that he was Bi Polar. But he wasn’t medicated or treated and no one would believe me, until he was 16, and by then he was too ravaged by his illness for the meds to be enough to save him.

I think Nick would say that he led a good and full life in spite of his illness. He crammed more into it, experiences, talent, victories, a professional music career, many girlfriends (!!!) than most people manage in 60 years. But his illness was always with him, lurking in the background. When I read his journals after his death, he began contemplating suicide from the age of 11, which I didn’t suspect then. He made his first attempt at 18, and in the next eleven months, he made four attempts, and succeeded on the last one, at 19. We tried everything before that, therapy, medication, a few hospitalizations which I tried to keep to a minimum, they only made him worse, an outdoor survival camp with therapeutic help. We tried innovative treatments and classical ones, different doses of a myriad medications. We never gave up. And in addition to practical help, we just loved him. He had 8 siblings who adored him. And we did everything to keep him happy, safe and alive. It was a hard battle to lose. He was an extraordinary human being, loving and talented, with an outrageous sense of humor. When I think of him, he was always laughing.

Like cancer, and just as serious, MANY people survive and live good lives with Bi Polar Illness, and some don’t. Just because Nick didn’t survive doesn’t mean that everyone with Bi Polar will die, but some do, and it needs to be taken seriously. Medication is vital, and often when Bi Polar sufferers feel better and ‘normal’, they stop taking their meds, and then it becomes a high-risk situation, that can have disastrous results. My message to people with Bi Polar Disorder reading my blog is “Stay On Your Meds!!!”Please!! and Get Help.

Suicide is such a sad waste and a huge loss for everyone who loves the person who commits suicide. It is a loss for us all, of talented people, good people, young children, old people.

Suicide is the 2nd most common reason for death in young people under the age of 25. (Road accidents are first). Children commit suicide as young as 6 years old, although some states won’t allow the cause of death to be listed as suicide under the age of 13, but they do it, and write suicide notes in crayon. You have to be alert as a parent, a teacher, even as a friend if you sense that someone is at risk for suicide. Every single life matters, and even if you feel unloved and alone, there is someone who cares about you, and will be devastated by your death.

So, Monday Sept 20 is the hardest day of the year for me. I have mostly happy memories of Nick, because he was such a busy, positive, strong, and loving person—-and so funny!!! And he is no more ‘gone’ on that date than he is on any other day. But no matter how long it has been, or whatever I do on that day, aside from all the happy memories I have of him, the memories of that day flood me on the anniversary and nearly drown me sometimes. Grief is a sneaky thing, you think it has gone away, and then it leaps out at you when you don’t expect it, and squeezes the air out of you. But with every loss comes a blessing and a gift, the joy of their lives, the love that you shared, the things you learned together, the laughter, the love.

When Nick died, my doctor gave me a Dreidel, a little wooden Chanukah top with Hebrew letters on it, and he said that the letters said “A great miracle happened here” I thought he was crazy, but he was right. Great things have happened even since his death. We started two foundations to fund organizations that provide hands on help and therapy for people with mental illness, and thousands of people have been helped, all because of Nick.  Nick’s life was a miracle for us, and for me. And he never leaves us.  We cannot lose the blessings he shared with us, they are forever.

And however hard it was to lose him, or however hard the anniversary is every year, no matter how great the loss, Nick was a miracle in our lives. I got a letter last week from a woman who met him when he was 3, and told me how much joy he gave her. He lives on in so many hearts, and I will love him with all my heart forever, every hour of every day. His siblings and I share even more love because of him, and the joy and love and courage he shared with us and taught us. And I will always be grateful for him.

Have a peaceful week, and cherish those you love.  Celebrate Joy, and Life, and laughter and love because that’s what Nick did, and the lesson Nick left us.  Life is to be celebrated, shared and enjoyed. Don’t waste a minute!!!

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

9/5/21, A helping hand

Posted on September 5, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week. I had a really fun week last week with three of my daughters in New York. They worked hard on their professional prep for Fashion Week, for their jobs, and saw me in the little spare time they had (which I am ALWAYS grateful for!!), and I worked a little in the daytime, and shopped and had fun, and met up with my daughters at night, after their work. I didn’t go to the big stores I love, because I’m trying to be careful, and stuck to small shops that weren’t crowded, and when we ate in restaurants we only ate outdoors. And I wore a mask everywhere, though many people around me didn’t. I wore mine indoors and outdoors to be safer.

 

I thought of something while in New York, and when I was travelling. I had a little spare time, and always try to read something inspirational and uplifting when I do, sometimes daily or several times a week. And every time I do, I am always amazed at how much it helps me. We all have our own ways of coping with stress that works for us, exercise, or reading, meditation, praying, talking to a friend, or a glass of wine at the end of the day. There is built in stress in my work, with constant deadlines. My job is like being in school forever, with exams to prepare for. Every time I write a book, it’s a challenge, and every time a book is published, it feels like a pass or fail exam—-and how will I be graded. And having many children is a great joy, but fraught with anxiety too, worrying about them. We all have stresses in our lives, whatever they are.

 

I try to read from the Bible once a week, and read religious articles when I can, and the writings of Joel Osteen ALWAYS inspire and comfort me. On a stressful day, when I read his work, even a page of it, or a few lines, it suddenly brings peace and sanity into my life, and hope, and I feel ready to cope with the day. And the writings of Mary Baker Eddy help me too, but require more concentration. And when I’m rushed and stressed, with pressure coming from all directions, a quick hit/a few lines of something inspirational, like Joel, works wonders!!! I was thinking today of how much it does help to have some source of comfort to turn to, a helping hand in the darkness, while you struggle with a decision, face a dilemma or a heartbreak—sometimes something even as simple as a flat tire or a broken refrigerator, or much bigger issues. the little things can get you down too, if there are enough of them. And the fallout from these weird times of Covid have been challenging for many of us, worrying about health, money, jobs, loved ones.

 

I’m so grateful every time I find a resource to sustain me. I am the official Head of my family, and have been for a long time. My children’s father passed away ten years ago, so I am their only parent, and we were divorced long before that, although we remained close and good friends. I have no siblings or parents, no senior relatives, and am the only child of only children, so for me, “The buck stops here,” as they say. I am the only major decision maker, and the responsible person. My only family are my children, and the big decisions affecting us all are mine. It’s an awesome responsibility at times. And at every age and stage of life, there are hard things we have to face. One of my daughters just had to postpone her wedding for the fourth time, due to Covid. It just wasn’t safe to hold a big gathering, with the current variant on the loose. And it was a huge disappointment for her. Big or small, we all have our problems. And on a tough day, with enough balls coming at you fast enough, even small problems can seem overwhelming, if there are enough of them.

 

I think it’s really important for our own health and sense of wellbeing, to have outlets that help us, or people who are a great support system in our lives, or some form of activity that gives us a sense of peace, that we can face another day, and another avalanche of problems. Sometimes it feels like a hail storm raining down on us, and it can make us feel hopeless. A little break, and a helping hand in the dark can make all the difference, and put some bounce back in our step, and make us feel strong again.

 

Whatever it is that gives you peace and encouragement, embrace it. Whatever it is, whether it’s a game of golf, or a hot bath, or a long walk, or something religious, talking to a friend, or just a cup of coffee with them, or playing with your dog. Be good to yourself, and grab that helping hand wherever you find it. We all need that, especially now, with the daily challenges and the uncertainties we are facing with Covid.  And as frivolous as it sounds, when I have the time, and my budget isn’t too stretched already, I love to go shopping. it always cheers me up and relaxes me. Whatever it is that you enjoy and can find time for, go for it!!! It really will make a difference in your day and your outlook!!!

 

Have a great week, hopefully with some moments to yourself when you can take care of YOU!!!  Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Things will look better when you do!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/18/21, “Back at Work”

Posted on August 18, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re enjoying these last days of August, before the summer ends. It always goes too fast. I had ten wonderful days with four of my children on vacation, our first one in two years!!! Yes!!! And it was soooo nice to be together. One of the things I enjoyed most was walking on the beach, on an endless long stretch of white sand, wading in the water as I walked along. The Ocean always restores me and makes me feel peaceful. And now I’m back at my desk, back at work. I hope you’re having a good summer!!! This is a vast improvement for me over last year, when I was totally alone.

 

I’ve been in two places this week, and there is such an odd discrepancy between seeing people having fun, playing on the beaches, enjoying restaurants, talking in groups. On the one hand, everything looks so normal. People weren’t even wearing masks in the stores I walked into, which worried me. And then you read the numbers on the Internet and see how serious the situation is, but it seems unreal when you look around.  I long for the day when Covid will no longer be an issue, and just a dim memory.

 

I read a wonderful interview about a 101 year old woman, fully active and still working as a commercial lobster fisherman, with her own boat and crew. She works every day and apparently reads my books. I think work keeps one grounded, engaged, and involved in the world. I would be lost without it. And being a commercial fisherman can’t be easy at her age. Remarkable.

 

Well, I’m back at work on new books. The vacation went too quickly, but I’m grateful to have had the time with my children.

 

Take care and stay safe!!! Have a great week, love, Danielle

 

8/2/21, Enough already!!!

Posted on August 2, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Boy, I’m sure tired of Covid, and I’ll bet you are too. Up and down, first wave, second wave, third wave…arrghk!!! The vaccine seemed like an easy solution when it appeared. And it certainly appears to be an improvement, if it prevents cases requiring hospitalization, or fatalities. But there are hitches to that deal that require reason, caution, discipline and good judgement. You have to read the owner’s manual before you can just zip off into the sunset in a new car. In most cases, they tell even vaccinated people to wear a mask now, with cases surging everywhere Although the mask rules were lifted weeks ago.

 

For a minute there, everyone celebrated!! Yippeee!!! It felt like it was over, but it was not. What we are coming to understand is that even vaccinated people can catch Covid, they will just get a milder case, AND they can carry and transmit Covid- to others, whether vaccinated or not–if they give it to a vaccinated person, they will have a mild case, but if they infect a non-vaccinated person, they can do them some serious damage. Non vaccinated people remain vulnerable and have to be reasonable about how they move around in the world. In the past few weeks, some vaccinated people are getting sick, and in many places mask mandates have been reinstated.  My personal view is that some vaccinated people celebrated a little too exuberantly socially, and put themselves at risk again. And the large group of unvaccinated people are keeping us as a whole from achieving herd immunity.  I am not saying you should get vaccinated, or not, only you and your doctor know that. And we are all learning as we go, about the disease itself, and how to live comfortably around it. Wearing a mask seems like a small price to pay, for greater freedom. And I think people will adapt to it. For me, politics just don’t enter into it. Just safety, and protecting myself and my loved ones.

 

So be smart, be safe, let’s get rid of this anxiety and move on. Onward and Upward!!! have a great week,

 

love, Danielle

 

7/26/21, A prayer for the world

Posted on July 26, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you, and that you’re getting some relaxing down time. It’s a little shocking that the summer is already half over, it has flown by. I’m looking forward to some time with my kids soon, and my first vacation in 2 years!!!

 

What is grabbing my thoughts these days are the rapidly climbing, exponentially multiplying Covid numbers, heading for the sky again. It’s discouraging, with so many people vaccinated. But restrictions were lifted around the world in June, and I think many people are so tired of 16 months of restrictions that in many cases, they threw caution to the winds. And in many places, they were told “the coast is clear”, with the lifting of rules and restrictions. Some states are backtracking now, and parts of California are urging masks indoors and out. In fact, we have nothing to lose, if masks do make a difference. I don’t care about the look, my ‘freedoms’ or anyone’s politics. Whatever will get us out of this black hole of Covid is fine with me, the sooner the better.

 

Vaccines seem to be the fastest way out, and millions have been vaccinated in all countries—but apparently not enough to achieve herd immunity anywhere. So we are ‘vaxed’ even double vaxed, but not enough people are, due to fear, politics, or their own personal reasons. And we are now being told that even vaxed people can get Covid, just to a lesser degree and they don’t die. But they get it, they can even get it twice, and they can transmit it to others. So, it is not the perfect solution that we hoped, but it seems to be the most effective one we have for now. They make not being vaxed sound like an automatic death sentence, and I hope that’s not true. Covid has wreaked havoc with our lives for almost two years now.  And we are all in need of psychological and physical relief from the stress and the risk.

 

What distresses me, and others, is that in the past 3 or 4 weeks, due to the Delta variant, and others, the numbers are shooting sky high again. Countries that were heavily vaccinated (the US, UK, Israel, Australia) are now in trouble again, with the US in the lead with the highest number of new cases daily, and we are back in the same soup we were in a year ago, although the death rate is lower due to the vaccines. But Covid is still out there raising hell with our lives and peace of mind.

 

I can only hope that the numbers will come down soon, that people will be truly careful, and observe whatever rules seem necessary. We have to beat this. The situation is worldwide, every country is affected, and our lives along with it.

 

May somehow this terrible plague leave us in peace at last, and may we be strong and wise in the meantime. Every aspect of our lives is threatened until it’s gone, our loved ones, ourselves, our down time, our jobs, our wellbeing, our health, our incomes. May the pain, danger, and anxiety end soon for us all. And in the meantime, I hold you close in my heart and my prayers.

 

Have a peaceful, careful, healthy week!!!

 

with much love, Danielle

 

7/12/21, Lost and Found

Posted on July 12, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

7/5/21, Coming back to Life

Posted on July 5, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

love, Danielle

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

6/28/21, Apologies

Posted on June 28, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

with much love, Danielle

5/31/21, Self Portraits

Posted on May 31, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

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

Posted on May 25, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

love, Danielle