Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

6/22/20, Happy Father’s Day, Mom!!!

Posted on June 22, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that you had a peaceful week, and that life is returning closer to normal in your community. There is a wide divergence between cities and areas around the world, as to how confined they are, or aren’t, how many things are open in their cities (stores, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, nail salons, etc.). Some places never confined at all, and some are still under very tight lock down, and some cities seem almost normal. A friend currently visiting Denmark reported that everything appears to be up and running normally. With some compromises and adjustments, Paris is very functional too, we have indoor and outdoor restaurants, hairdressers, all stores, we can visit friends, walk down the street freely. Masks are strongly recommended, and social distancing, but masks are up to the individual and not always required but are a nice courtesy and safeguard of everyone’s health, and social distancing on streets and in restaurants and in tight indoor spaces makes sense. I love how normal the city/ Paris appears now, and the festive atmosphere in outdoor restaurants, where open air dining terraces are part of the Parisian way of life. Hairdressers re-entered our lives as soon as deconfinement began—–all of which brings us closer to normal, and feels very civilized. And hand sanitizer and washing hands is a must. Paris began deconfining 6 weeks ago, and has made life livable and even fun again. And I know some cities and states in the US didn’t confine at all, and others are still under very strict lockdown, and have a very long drawn out deconfinement program. Every country, and in the US every state and city, seems to view it differently, which is very confusing!!

 

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I was very touched when one of my children, my youngest son, called to wish me a Happy Father’s Day, and a friend did the same by email, and it really made me think about all the women and Moms I know who do double duty, and stand in for absentee, deceased, divorced or non-existent or non-attentive fathers. More and more women have opted to have children on their own, without a partner, in recent decades. And others have wound up in that situation due to unexpected circumstances, and some men are just less attentive to their kids than others, and as women, if we have children, we work hard at our jobs, and try to be hands on attentive mothers too, and cover all the bases. Once divorced, with still very young kids, I became a single Mom to my 9 kids, and when my husband then passed away, I was even more so. I tried to teach my oldest daughter how to play baseball and ride a bike (with very little skill or experience at either one!!), went to all of my sons’ sports games (baseball, lacrosse and soccer) and cub scout meetings, went to every ballet class with all 5 daughters, helped with homework, wound up in the emergency room at midnight alone for bumped heads and sprained ankles, was the family chauffeur, listened to my daughters’ boyfriend problems growing up, and tried to give my sons gentle advice on what girls prefer and how they want to be treated. I felt at a tremendous disadvantage with my sons, because I’m a woman and couldn’t give them fatherly advice. Fathers have a way of seeing things more practically, often more simply, with fewer frills and nuances, I think as women we see kids’ issues more in three dimensions and multi layers, men don’t complicate things as much with emotional issues, on the other hand we, as women, can offer great comfort in many situations that men aren’t always as good at. And no one kisses a boo boo better or applies a Ninja Turtle or Minnie Mouse band aid better!!!  I couldn’t help thinking yesterday of the many many MANY women who are both mother and father to their children, and do a damn good job of it. It’s usually an advantage to have two parents. I grew up in the reverse situation, alone with my father all my life, and got NO advice about makeup, hair and high heels, but I know a lot more about cars than most women. And I still wear very little make up, I could never quite get that right, and my father was no help on that subject whatsoever!!!

 

So I’d like to offer my belated Father’s Day wishes to all the women doing 3 jobs: as mother, father, and in their jobs and careers. When we have to be both mother and father, we try harder, and even though we worry about it, and may be unsure, a lot of the time we get it very right!!! So Bravo to all the Moms playing a double role with their kids, I salute them for all their hard work, and the endless, tireless hours that they spend being not only great mothers, but very good fathers too. Hats off, Moms, and Happy Father’s Day, if you’re a double Mom too!!! Have a terrific week, and remember to stay safe, the pandemic isn’t over yet, but we’re getting there!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/15/20, Joy

Posted on June 15, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? I hope things are getting easier, wherever you are, that the confinement is getting eased, you can get out more and do some things you love, that you’ve had some good moments to share with people you love, and had some good news!!! And that you and everyone you love are healthy, and haven’t been touched by the virus.

 

The confinement and the slowing down of our daily lives—–by eliminating so many things we usually do and take for granted every day and enjoy—–this time of lock-down and even as it begins to ease now in many places, has given us all more time to think than usual. We focus first on what we’ve lost, what we can’t do and wish we could, we focus on our fears for ourselves and others, our livelihoods and our jobs, and the world in general. We hear the noise of fear constantly, loud as a drumbeat: ‘a second wave, it will get worse, more people will get sick, we’ll lose our jobs’—–and beyond the drumbeat of fear, there are the die hard optimists who tell us that the sky is bluer without so many planes, that the flowers smell better without pollution, and the birds chirp louder. Okay, but let’s face it, give me a cheeseburger at one of my favorite restaurants after an afternoon of shopping, a day or evening with ALL my kids around me, a hug and (unmasked) kiss from someone I love, and a # 1 book, a fat bank account and no financial worries, and a solid economy, and life would be pretty damn sweet. It all seemed so simple before the pandemic. It wasn’t simple every day, but looking back, it seemed that way, and there was a lot we all took for granted. Now everything is complicated—keeping our distance, remembering to wear a mask, worrying about our loved ones, washing our hands constantly, bracing for bad news, and trying to resist the loud voice of our fears—-it’s not easy. I’m an Olympic Class worrier, and the pandemic has given me LOTS to worry about, starting with worrying about the safety, well being and health of my loved ones, and even my own. And after that, the list of what I worry about is LONNNNGGGGG. Endless!!!

 

I was thinking yesterday of what is missing right now from our daily lives, for many of us. A simple word. Joy. JOY. That burst of happiness that overtakes you, fills your heart, and makes you happy.  It takes less to make me worry right now—-but it also takes less to make me happy. Being able to go to an outdoor restaurant has been a real delight and a thrill. Walking down the street after being trapped in my apartment for 74 days—-a VERY long time— was great!! A photo of one of my kids….something that makes me laugh. A sunny day of gorgeous weather. A call from a friend, the realization that someone loves me, either one of my children or a close friend—-or the awareness of how much I love them. A thoughtful gesture. Finishing (writing) a book. There have been some very special moments during this hard time that have touched my heart. Being far from my children for the past three and a half months, confined alone, and with social distancing, I am aware of how much the human touch matters to us. I have one close friend I can hug now, and who hugs me. (A designated hugger!) Other than that, there is no physical contact between people right now, we can’t get close enough to touch each other if you respect social distancing. We need people in our lives, exchanges, conversations, touch, love, hugs, laughter, things to smile about. We are not made to live in isolation, or at a distance from other humans.

 

But in a quiet moment yesterday, I wasn’t thinking about how blue the sky is without planes, or how much better the flowers smell.(That’s nice, but eh?….really??), I was thinking that what we all need and must not forget, is to try to put Joy into our lives, right now, even before the pandemic ends—especially before it ends!!!—-we need to do something fun that makes us smile, to reach out to the people who make us happy, to seize the joyful moments large and small, to laugh, to do something that really brings you joy, even something silly, and to seize and cherish those moments when they happen.

 

I think Joy is vital to us, like hope and love, and food and air. Let’s try to remember to put more joy into our lives and the lives of others right now. We all need it. Just pure simple joy, a great meal, a belly laugh (my youngest son sent me a hysterically funny photo of himself this week, I laughed for 5 minutes and smiled for an hour after I saw it)….we need a good laugh right about now, a happy moment when we stop worrying about what’s coming next and what isn’t. I think I had forgotten about joy in the pandemic. We are so focused on safety, which is important too. But let’s try to focus on Joy, on feeling good, on treasuring the small moments that light up our hearts, and our souls…..and after that, I’ll remember to notice that the sky is bluer. Joy. I wish you a joyful week, a great belly laugh, a bunch of smiles, some really happy moments, and a couple of great surprises!!!

 

with lots and lots of love, Danielle

 

5/25/20, Memorial Day: Here Comes Summer!!!

Posted on May 25, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that you’re all healthy, well, and safe, and holding up for these last days of confinement in many places. In San Francisco, and in many places in the US, it has been two and a half long months, and in another week, your city and state government will tell you what comes next, and hopefully the confinement will be lifted and you can get back to a more normal life. That happened two weeks ago in Paris, and it made a HUGE difference being able to get out of the apartment (after 11 weeks), walk down the street and breathe, and see friends, and do at least some of what we all took for granted before the pandemic turned our world upside down. I am grateful for every day and hour of freedom now, even with social distancing and a mask. I found that the last 2 weeks of our confinement in France were the hardest for me, and many people I know. People are not meant to be isolated, and being shut down can really hit your spirits, especially if you’re alone. So if you’re feeling droopy now, or really fed up, hang in, the end is in sight. And hopefully you’ll be out and about again very soon, even with a mask and social distancing. Stores are open here in Paris, you can go to the hairdresser, many people are going back to work (some are still working from home remotely), but life as we know it is becoming more normal again, and it will be soon for you too, if you’re in a place that is still sheltering in place. Hang in, you can do it for this final stretch!!!! It’s almost over, if you’re still locked down.

 

Memorial Day is a holiday commemorating those who lost their lives in the armed forces, a special day to remember and celebrate brave people. For those of us who never lost loved ones in a war, it has a broader meaning, and a very happy one. Traditionally, it has always marked the beginning of summer, with good weather, picnics, parades, and a lot of fun. Before Memorial Day weekend every summer, we used to do a massive cleanup of our summer home, and worked really hard to get everything ready for summer. And now every year, one of my daughters and I do the same thing, and spend a week getting rid of old broken stuff, getting outdoor furniture repainted, and doing a massive cleanup!!! I get to do it with her on Face Time this year (ha ha!!! I get the easy part!!!), and actually I’m sorry to miss it. It’s always a lot of fun, spending a week with her, working hard on getting everything clean and in shape. My children own that summer home now, it’s a 163 year old farm, and any home that old needs a LOT of tender loving care, and a lot of work to keep it in good shape. Every time you turn around, something breaks and needs fixing or replacing. But old homes have a lot of charm. We turned all the old farm buildings, (the horse stall, the cow shed, the rabbit hut, etc.) into little cottages, and the kids loved going there when they were little, and still do. We had chickens and goats (ugh on the goats, very smelly!!), and our pig loved it there too!!! We spent a lot of time there in the summer, and I still spend my birthday there every year, with all my kids. I hope to be home by then this summer!!!

 

I hope that you find some way to celebrate this first unofficial day of summer, and that our burdens lighten now, confinement will be over everywhere soon, and we can all enjoy some down time this summer, even if things will be different with some restrictions, but they’re not forever.

 

Have a great holiday, and let’s hope that this will be a wonderful, healthy summer, and we’ll all have fun in unexpected ways. Happy Memorial Day!!! Have a great week, hopefully your last one sheltering in place!!!

lots of love, Danielle

 

4/20/20, Keeping Hope Alive

Posted on April 20, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, I don’t need to ask you what you’ve been doing this week, or if you’ve had a great, fun week, or tried something new. We’re all doing the same thing, around the world, sheltering in place, social distancing, I’m hoping that you’re not sick, and that neither you nor anyone dear to you has been affected. Right now, if you’re not sick, you’re a step ahead. I hope that’s the case!!!

 

I’ve never run a marathon, but I imagine it must be like what we’re doing now. You start out at a steady pace, maybe saving your energy for later, and then you run and run and run, and at some point it gets really hard, and you think you can’t possibly make it, it’s going to kill you, and if you have the endurance, you somehow make it to the end, and no matter when you cross the finish line, it’s a victory, even in last place!!!   I think we’re in the hard part now, the ‘Oh my God how long will this go on, I can’t do this’ part….. except you do, and you wake up another day (like Ground Hog Day), and do it again, and keep going, till the end. Childbirth is like that too, there comes a point when you think you REALLY can’t do it, you’re going to die. But you don’t and there is a HUGE reward at the end of that: A Baby!!! And the hard part doesn’t last long, some hours, a day, and you get your big prize!!! This is a lot slower, and longer, and the prize is that we will save lives by being confined.  It sounds like it’s easy to stay home. It’s not. Isolated, alone, or in small quarters, with family tensions, uncertainty, living with fear day after day, with NO idea when it will end, or if you or your loved ones will be affected, this is tough, and it takes a toll on us all.

 

I’ve been confined for 6 weeks, I got a head start by about a week. I have not left my apartment in 6 weeks. I have not jogged, gone for walks, been in the fresh air, seen my loved ones, family or friends, I’m isolated and alone far from home. I’m working and finding it incredibly difficult. Sometimes I’m scared, sometimes I’m okay. After I watch the news, I’m anxious for days. I wake up in the night and don’t sleep much. I talk to my kids a lot. I’m worried much of the time about my kids. I pray. I walk in the house and try to keep busy, I cry easily and am not a crier usually.  And it means the world to me when I hear from someone I love. This is HARD, for everyone, and for some people more than others, depending on the circumstances they are confined in. There are reports of domestic violence and child abuse. I’m comfortable, I have food, I can’t complain, but no matter where you are, this is tough, and it is stretching out with no idea for anyone when it will end.

 

There is a really grim side to this, I wake up every morning and check the “numbers” in the countries and cities where I have loved ones, of how many people are newly sick, the overall total, and how many died. We read it like the stock market or baseball scores. Numbers of deaths have become common place. It’s like a war. But someone’s loved ones are in those numbers. And if the numbers go down, it means we are beating the pandemic, and one day we will be free again. My heart sinks daily when the numbers go up.

 

In the beginning, I got floods of some of the funniest jokes and videos I’ve ever seen, and some cute ones. I notice that now I have not had a single funny joke email in a week. The initial laughter and good humor has stopped. I’m hearing very little, if anything from friends. People have stopped writing and talking, and in the past few days, everyone I’ve spoken to sounds down and discouraged, or on edge. On average, most people have been confined for a month now, and it is wearing on everyone. The hardest part of the confinement has begun as it stretches out. The part where you really have to use all your strength to keep your courage up to stay in it.

 

News from our governments, state, local, or federal, and pronouncements, is either delivered every 2 weeks or every 4. We wait for those announcements, hoping for good news, and release, like children wait for a reward.  In France, where I am confined, we waited desperately for the President’s speech a week ago. We had been fully confined for 4 weeks, our numbers (of newly sick) had gone down significantly, and I think everyone was hoping for an easing of confinement in the next 2 weeks. We had “done our homework” and were hoping for the reward. And instead of a gold star, we got a “That’s good, now try harder”, when we had already tried so hard. We didn’t cross the finish line, the marathon got extended. We got hit with another full month of confinement, and no reward. It hit everyone hard and discouraged everyone. The borders remain closed, and we remain fully confined at home. And we got an additional stern ‘punishment’. The President announced that “All ‘Elders’ will not be included in the ‘De-Confinement’ when it happens’. Period. That’s it. Done. An entire segment of the population will not be released when it finally ends. All ‘Elders’ were just disqualified from the marathon. Technically, ‘Elders’ (‘Seniors’) are anyone over 60, who at this moment are not allowed to leave their homes, can have NO visitors, see no family, even if they’re sick, and cannot go out. So a week ago, that entire segment of the population was told that they will not be released from confinement, indefinitely. It wiped out all hope for anyone over 60. And 60 year olds are being viewed as the same as 85 and 90 year olds, with other serious illnesses in old age homes.  People fully engaged in active life, running businesses, in good health were instantly condemned to become shut-ins indefinitely. There has been a huge, powerful reaction, from lawmakers that it is unconstitutional, ageist and discriminatory, from doctors that it makes no sense and is unnecessary, from psychiatrists claiming that it will cause a tidal wave of suicides. I suspect that plan will be dispensed with, but the mere announcement of it sent the country into a tailspin of additional depression, along with everyone getting an additional month of confinement.

 

In addition, people being notified by their employers that they have been fired, or had their salaries reduced long term not just for the confinement, by anywhere from 25 to 75% in the US, as the confinement extends, has added another layer of depression, and fear about the future.

 

One of the hardest things I have found are the rumor mongers. Since no one knows anything for sure, there are always a battalion of people anxious to pass on the latest terrible rumor as fact, and to forecast bad news. The truth of the pandemic is hard enough to swallow, without the bad rumors. There are several people who call me regularly to tell me the worst news they’ve heard, just in case I wasn’t worried enough already. They serve no useful purpose, and only make people more miserable. What’s the point of that?

 

Then there are the friends who have simply vanished, who assured one “you can count on me, I’m here for you!!” never to be heard from again, and don’t return a phone call. And in balance to that, the people you haven’t heard from in years, who call out of the blue to see how you are, which is really touching. And I appreciate the faithful friends who HAVE called and stayed in touch and reach out to me regularly mean more to me than they will ever know. They and my kids are what keep me going.

 

So, Friends, we’re in the hard part now. The lonely part. The endurance part.  The part where you think you’ve run as hard and as far as you can, and you find out that you have to run twice as far as you thought, over rough terrain, with obstacles that look insurmountable. But there’s no turning back now. We can’t give up. We just have to keep going, like childbirth or a marathon or anything really hard.  And we WILL get to the finish line!!! This will end at some point.

 

We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, and it looks dark as hell out there, but at some point there will be a turn in the road, and we’ll be blinded by that bright light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ll be at the finish line. I have always found the saying to be true: “The night is always darkest before the dawn”.

 

The night is dark, the road is long, but we’re getting there, even if it’s grueling. And we WILL get there and cross that finish line, in every country. And let’s hope the dawn comes soon. Until then, we will continue on this marathon, and keep Hope alive. I particularly loved the Easter message from Queen Elizabeth II of England who assured us that this pandemic will not break us, and we will prevail. She said that her message was “to people of all faiths and none”—–so that’s all of us. So hang in, dear friends, and join hands in Keeping Hope Alive. We CAN do it, and we WILL.  Each one of us is tougher than we thought we were. And no matter what happens, or whatever the news, Have a GREAT week!!!

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

 

PS: Hours after I wrote this blog, and 5 days after it was declared, the French government cancelled the rule that had been proposed a week ago that No One over 60 would be allowed to go out, leave their home, or have visitors, even family, for an indeterminate amount of time, after Lockdown Confinement ended. It caused untold angst after it was announced, and Lawmakers, jurists, doctors, psychiatrists and the general public set up a general outcry that it would be illegal, unconstitutional, discriminatory (and inhuman/cruel) to uphold it. I am delighted to say that the proposal has been rescinded, and the rule cancelled. So when we finally get out of confinement in France, EVERYONE will be free, at their own discretion as to whether they go out or not, depending on their health. Freedom!!! I can hardly wait for that day!!!)

3/30/20 Life in Confinement

Posted on March 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re staying home, staying safe, social distancing, and sheltering in place/in confinement.

 

This is certainly FAR from easy, for any of us, as the virus circles the globe, frightening data surrounds us, the daily numbers of the ill, and the fatalities, cause all of us endless anxiety. This is surely the scariest time in my life, and probably in yours too. In my case, made infinitely worse by being a continent away from my children. I probably couldn’t do much for them if I were nearby, with all of us separately in confinement, or in quarantine, but it would be nice to know that I’m there, close at hand. But all of us, around the world, have to do our best in the circumstances, and above all follow the rules of safety to avoid the Corona Virus.

 

It is incredibly difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy, in such abnormal circumstances, with so many unknowns. The best and most hopeful examples we have now are from Asia, where they got it first, confined before we did, and now we see them recovering, and coming out of it, the restrictions lifted—-so we know that will happen for us eventually. It seems to have taken them about 3 months in Wuhan, where the virus started. Some other Asian countries seem to have recovered faster, like Japan. We have lessons to learn from all of them. Whatever will work in this time of crisis. And washing hands, social distancing, and confinement at home appear to be vital to avoid the spread of the disease.

 

What are people doing to keep busy and keep their spirits up while stuck at home? Taking care of small children confined with you is a full time and challenging occupation. Many people are working from home, remotely. Others are doing house repairs, reorganizing their homes, cooking, baking, reading, watching TV, series and movies. Yesterday, I heard about some people dancing, and listening to music. Lots of people are exercising with and without Skype (I am walking laps around my apartment for 45 minutes every morning). Some are jogging outdoors or walking their dogs (the dogs are exhausted!!). I get lots of funny emails, some are really priceless. I talk to my kids on the phone many times a day. Needlepoint is relaxing and productive, and maybe knitting. People confined in the country are gardening. Social media, calling friends. Playing with our dogs (mine just want to sleep and are happy I’m stuck at home!!). I’ve been editing books and doing re-writes, and am thinking about an outline for a new book, but haven’t started it yet.  It’s not easy to concentrate with the worry and tension we’re all experiencing, but if you can find something to do, it sure helps pass the time and the days. I’m alone so there is no one to “play with”, but I imagine families confined together must be playing games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, cards. And I’m sure young people (and even grownups) must be playing video games.

 

Psychiatrists warn about not watching too much news (some say maximum 30 minutes a day, others say no more than 5 minutes), which causes too much anxiety. And the thing I find the least helpful, and seriously upsetting are the people who spread rumors, who offer worst case scenarios (most of us can come up with those all by ourselves with no help from outsiders), who tell us again and again that our governments are lying to us, that the numbers are worse than we know, that we’ll be locked down for a year, that the world is coming to an end. They don’t know any more than you and I do, but they sure love to scare us!!! I find those people thoughtless, unkind and irresponsible. We all know them. I don’t want to hear from those people anymore or at all. This is hard enough without people we know making it worse with unfounded rumors and their own worst fears projected on us, especially ‘friends’, or relatives.

 

I’ve tried to call people I know who are alone, and must be frightened, with no one to distract or comfort them, or keep them company.

 

We KNOW and must hang on to the fact that there will be an end point to this. We’ve seen other countries come through it and come out the other end. If we’re careful, stay home and follow the rules, if we’re serious and lucky, we won’t catch it. If we do, there is a very great chance that we’ll survive it. And hopefully in a reasonable amount of time, this will all be behind us, as a dark experience we came through. As a side bar, it’s giving us a time for introspection, to think about what really matters to us, what we want to change in our lives when this is over, who matters most to us, we’ve had a chance to reconnect with old friends we may have lost sight of, or strengthen our bond to our families and friends. As hard as it is, it’s a time to be grateful for the blessings we have—-despite the fear and anxiety we are living through now.

 

And eventually, life will return to normal, economies will recover. And hopefully a vaccine and medical treatments will be developed, which will take time. But long before that, we have each other, our shared strength, and being wise and careful and staying confined will hopefully end this faster.

 

Be safe, Everyone, take extra special good care. A huge thank you to all the medical workers in every country, being heroes to help us.

 

And for all of you, try to have a peaceful week, hang in, and I send you all my love and prayers,

 

Danielle

 

 

3/23/20, “Lockdown”

Posted on March 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Being confined, locked down, and isolated, and in many cases, entirely alone, is an enormous new challenge for all of us experiencing it. It affects us all, in every country, in every walk of life, from every kind of background, in every kind of job. This virus respects no one, and affects us all. Being in solitary confinement is a very new experience for me, and has turned my favorite place into the biggest challenge of all. My work as a writer is solitary, but there’s a big difference between choosing to be solitary to accomplish something, than to suddenly be isolated in a lock down situation, and being deprived of the people and places and activities which we enjoy and so easily take for granted. We have to sacrifice those things now for a short time, for the safety and health of the entire world. We take both our freedom and our health for granted—until suddenly we lose them, or they are seriously at risk, as they are now.

 

I realize when I think about it, that I have never lived alone. I married at seventeen, and went from my father’s home to my husband’s. My oldest daughter was born two years later, and from then on, even once I was no longer married, I was never alone again. I always had my daughter for company. And when I married again, and eventually over time during an 18 year marriage, became the mother of nine—there was never a moment of solitude—far from it!!! And with a house full of kids, ranging from teenagers to infants,  there wasn’t a chance that I would live alone for a long, long time. One by one, they grew up and many left, to college, jobs, and other cities. And I’m lucky enough to still have my youngest daughter living at home. So pretty much since I was seventeen, I’ve never lived alone, and by some weird quirk of fate, I wound up a continent away from all my children during this pandemic, and now under lock down, I find myself alone. The hardest part of the confinement is—-of course, worrying about my children, and the threat of illness for us all—-but a huge challenge has also been facing a hard experience with no one to share it with, to talk to, to bolster and reassure me, or my being able to take care of and reassure them. The solitude makes it a thousand times harder, and the worry about my kids. And for the first time ever, I am resoundingly alone. My kids are in other cities and countries, and the country which has given me a happy second home for so many years is now the location of my greatest fear, solitude and loneliness. It gives me new compassion for people who live alone, even when we are not in a pandemic. And perhaps the lesson I needed and will learn now is how to live with that solitude with grace, and be better because of it, when this is all over. Maybe each of us will learn something during the crisis that we needed to know, and would never have learned otherwise.

 

For everyone’s sake, I hope that everyone will comply with the rules of their confinement, and follow them, I pray that people will be safe and rapidly regain their health all around the globe. And I hold out my hand and my heart now to all of you living through this hard experience alone, with no one to talk to, or make you smile or laugh, or reassure you that things will be okay. Things WILL be okay, We will survive this, and we will learn the hard lessons and the easy ones from this. This won’t last forever, and we will be free again and reunited with our loved ones, the people we cherish, our loved ones, families and friends. And until that sweet reunion, even in the silence or loneliness of the confinement, it is for the good of all, to deprive the virus of the connections and contacts it needs to make us sick. Let’s starve the virus out of existence and stand strong. And from now on, I will have even greater respect for people who live in solitary confinement in normal times. I wish you grace and peace wherever the confinement finds you, for the lock down that goes so against the grain, since as people we all need ‘connection’ with people who are like minded, whom we love, can talk to, and make us laugh.   Give us the strength, to get through this hard, frightening time, with patience, courage, wisdom, perseverance and poise. We CAN do it, and we will. May God bless you, and all of us, at this very challenging time.

 

love, Danielle

 

3/16/20, “Stayin Alive” (like the song)

Posted on March 16, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Wow, it’s been a long week, and not due to fashion shows, jet set travel, or first drafts of a book. We all know what’s going on in the world, with the world wide epidemic, the Pandemic, that is circling the globe. It is a frightening situation, and so much of it is new to all of us, including the medical community. Predictions abound, with no idea of their accuracy, as with any worldwide crisis, we stay glued to our televisions and computers to get the latest news, some rehashed, some edited, some accurate, some not. The one thing I think we can be sure of is that no one knows exactly what will happen, when it will end, or how long it will go on. It is the uncertainty that is so stressful and anxiety-producing. I have exchanged texts and emails with friends in the middle of the night, as we struggled with anxiety about how this will turn out, who it will touch, and will our families be affected. No one knows.

 

It is clear by now that this is a very, very, VERY serious situation, in every country around the globe. Some World Leaders in government tell us that they’ve got it covered and we don’t need to worry so much, others tell us that we have only seen the beginning, and it hasn’t reached its peak yet. What is true? I wish I knew.

 

I find that with something as enormous as this, with such far reaching consequences, my world gets very big and very small, all at once. Very Big, as I watch world news on TV with grids, and graphs which confuse me further, with contradictory data. And at the same time, my world gets VERY small, and breaks down to acute concern for my children. My children live in four cities and two countries, while I live in yet another city and country. It is one of the few times in my lifetime, maybe the only time when I want to put my arms around them, dispel their fears, and hold them close, and no matter what I do, I can’t protect them. And worse yet, with the risk of contagion on flights and associated with travel, I was advised not to try to join them in any of their cities, and I am stuck far away from them, staying home myself. And even if took the risk and traveled to one of their cities, I could not be with all of them. We are just going to have to sit tight, and follow the rules until we can be together again.

 

From everything I’ve read, heard from medical people, and seen on TV, it appears to be absolutely CRUCIAL, to follow ALL the rules, about staying home, social distancing (keeping at least 4 FEET APART from each other!!), no touching, kissing, shaking hands, wear gloves when we go out, wear a mask if we ourselves are sick, stay out of crowded places, no restaurants or stores, or large gatherings, etc,travel as little as possible or not at all, stay away from the elderly so we don’t make them sick, and from children if possible, who can be carriers. The main directive is to wash hands as often as possible, disinfect all surfaces, and limit the number of people we’re in contact with. And beyond that, pray that we don’t catch it, transmit it, and that we and our loved ones survive it if we do catch it. It is this unseen, deadly menace that has turned our lives into a terrifying science fiction movie. We just have to ride it out, and follow ALL the directions we’re given to stop the contagion and turn this around as soon as possible.

 

And on another serious note, this Sunday will be the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Brussels Airport four years ago, which claimed lives and caused major havoc. My personal tie to that event is that I have a niece who was one of the survivors of one of the terminals. She was seventeen at the time and lost both legs. After many surgeries and many months in the hospital, she has made an extraordinary recovery. Since then she has graduated from high school and enrolled in college, and after much rehab work (with the Navy Seals), she has made incredible progress. She was training for the Olympics when it happened, on the Equestrian team. And she got back on her horses as soon as she was able (before she left the hospital), and has been training and competing avidly, winning several first prizes, and is hoping to compete in the Paralympics this summer on the US equestrian team!! She is an astoundingly brave girl with a fantastic attitude, at twenty one now. She has turned a tragedy into a Victory.

 

May we be as brave now, fighting the Covid 19 Virus, and let’s hope that our collective efforts to beat it and end the contagion are effective. And may God be with you and protect you. Have a safe week, and please be careful, and follow the rules and directives in your area.

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

3/9/20, International Women’s Day

Posted on March 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

My Five Favorite Women, who all get my vote for Women of the Year for International Woman’s Day, are my five daughters. They have busy careers, full, interesting lives, causes they believe in, and strong values and principles they live by. Two of the five are married, and have two young children each. Three are not married (one of those is engaged). My oldest daughter is a social worker/therapist, specialized in pediatric oncology, which is a career she is passionate about, and fell in love with as a teen ager, working with children with cancer and their families. Three work incredibly hard in fashion, as stylists and consultants. One is the Fashion Director of a well-known brand, another works for a number of famous brands, and the third works with contemporary brands. They have strong influence in the world of fashion and put in long hard hours, on fashion shows several times a year. And the youngest is passionate about music, sports, and personal fitness. One of them was a ballerina with the San Francisco Ballet, and still loves ballet classes. One is an expert at boxing. The youngest is incredibly diligent at the gym (they do NOT get that gene from me!!). They are strong, honorable, compassionate, kind women, and I admire all five of them immensely. They are my heroes, and each of them gets my vote for Woman of the Year every single day!!! They are good women, good friends, great mothers (the two who are), and fabulous daughters!!!

Have a great week!

love, Danielle

2/24/20, Courage, Integrity, and Gratitude

Posted on February 24, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and things are going well for you!!!

 

I had a fun experience recently, I was invited to visit a high school in the States. Schools aren’t always happy memories for me—-I enjoyed my own school days, but I taught high school seniors for 3 years, in my early 20’s. I taught creative writing, and I was only five years older than my students, and it was very challenging. I looked like one of the kids, and they treated me like one. It was very embarrassing—-I could never keep order in the classroom!!! I had the most unruly classroom in the school. I think I was just too young, and barely out of school myself. I was already writing at the time I taught, since I wrote my first book at nineteen. I would write my books at night after I taught. And my teaching experience finally convinced me to write full time, and give up other jobs. (I had worked as a copywriter in advertising and as a translator before that. But writing was my passion.)

 

But despite my sketchy history as a teacher (I always admire teachers—-it is NOT an easy job, and a very important one), I REALLY enjoyed my high school visit recently. I was impressed by how grown up the students seemed these days, how open the teachers are with the students, and how strong the relationship is between faculty and kids. I had a strong sense of mutual respect between the adults and ‘kids’. I was particularly impressed by the values they try to instill in the students, and they focused particularly on two: Courage and Integrity. It struck me as I listened to the headmaster speak, that with those two qualities, one is armed for life. Integrity is so vital, I seek it in the people I am close to, in the people I work with, work for, and those who work for me. I look for it in my relationships, I admire it in others, and I write about it. I think integrity is one of the great virtues. And “courage” is the perfect ‘partner value’ for integrity. Because you need courage to have integrity, to do the right thing, no matter how hard the circumstances. It’s sometimes very hard to do the right thing, and you need courage to be the lone voice of integrity at times, when others don’t agree with you, or want to take a short cut into sketchy waters to get what they want. As I sat there listening, I realized what an important lesson they are teaching at that school, arming the students with two qualities which will serve them well for life. It’s a lesson we could all be reminded of, and would serve us well.

 

The headmaster also spoke of ‘gratitude’, which I talk and write about. Especially in hard times, gratitude is so important. It’s a good thing to be grateful every day, to stay aware of the blessings in our life. But when the going gets tough, when things aren’t going well, when we feel we’ve missed out, been treated badly, lost something we cared about, or seem to have a run of bad luck, it’s even more important to try and be grateful for one thing every day, or five things, or anything we can. (I remember at one time when everything seemed to be going wrong in my life, on one day the only thing I could think of to be grateful for were my shoes, which were new, red, and kind of cute. The rest of my life seemed like a mess!!) Gratitude turns things around, changes our perspective and reminds us that even if we’re not happy with our current situation, or life, or job, or home, or relationship, there is something to be grateful for. And usually, if you can bring yourself to be grateful, even a little bit, things start to turn around, and the way you see things changes and the situation starts to improve. I always find that gratitude is the ‘grease’ that makes life work, especially when you feel stuck in a bad place.

 

 

So my brief visit to high school turned out to be elevating for me, lifted my thought and my spirits and my attitude. What lucky kids they are to be in such an enlightened school!!! And how lucky I was to be invited for a visit. It was a great reminder of what really matters in life. And those students I visited are getting a great start in life!!

 

Have a great week, filled with good people, fun times, and happy surprises!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

2/18/20, Second Chance!!

Posted on February 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week. I’m in whirlwind mode at the moment, working on a book and an outline, some family events, and publishing schedules for this year and next. Keeping busy!!

 

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I think I used up my Valentine’s Day tickets years ago—-I had 2 marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day (not on the same year!!), which was very romantic, I said yes to both!. This year I went out for burgers with one of my daughters who was free, and a friend. And I had a very good time!!!

 

But for those of you ladies who didn’t get what they hoped for on Valentine’s Day and were disappointed, take heart—you have a second chance!!!  This is Leap Year, and the tradition for Leap Year is that it’s supposedly the one day a year when a woman can propose to a man, and it’s considered quite acceptable!!! So 12 days from now, you can turn the tables on the man (or woman) in your life, if they’ve been slow to propose, and as a woman, you can propose!! I’ve never tried it myself, but why not, if it feels right to you. I think I’ve heard that it’s originally an Irish tradition, but it seems to apply worldwide. There’s a cute movie about it called “Leap Year” with Matthew Goode and Amy Adams, it’s not new but it’s still around (It turns up on Netflix from time to time). So get ready, get set!!! Personally, I’ve always wished I had a Leap Year birthday, then I would only be a quarter the age I am now—-you’d miss out on birthday gifts that way, but it might be worth it.

 

So maybe this year Leap Year will be your big moment. Don’t miss it!!! Or you’ll have to wait another four years!! Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle