Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

2/22/21, Why Not?

Posted on February 22, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How are you? Hanging in, I hope. Despite the challenges, the sometimes alarming news, and learning to live with masks, curfews, reports of contagion and mutations of Covid 19, and living our work life on Zoom, our family life on Face Time, and having no social life at all (with restaurants closed, and a 6pm curfew in Paris), we’re all struggling to maintain a semblance of normalcy in our lives, and explore new avenues. I’ve been working a lot and doing some fun things related to the work front, some great promotional opportunities that keep life interesting. And meanwhile, I have a new book coming out on March 2nd, The Affair. It’s a fun, slightly racy book as the title suggests, and I hope you love it!!

 

I’m scheduled to appear on Good Morning America on Monday, March 1st, which is always the high point of my year. Robin Roberts is one of the most amazing women I know, someone whom I admire enormously and have a deep affection for. Being on the show with her is always an honor, a privilege, and a heartwarming treat.  As a guest on the show, she makes you feel very special, and like a Queen. This time, I will miss out on giving her a hug in person, but even being on the show with her on Zoom is exciting. I’m the least high tech person I know, so a small team of people (Covid tested before) are coming to help man the equipment, and the person who does my make up for TV is in New York, so I am trying someone new. The Thrill of it for me will be being on the show with Robin, as always. We’ll be talking about my new book, “The Affair”.

 

That same week, I am very honored to be included in an exciting promotional event by Loewe, the luxury fashion brand that make gorgeous clothes, and I’ve been invited to join their very talented designer Jonathan Anderson for a special event—-full of surprises, and a very exciting opportunity for me. They are wonderful people to work with, and Jonathan Anderson is an incredibly talented designer.

 

I just finished an article for a major American magazine, which is fun to do. And am editing two books that will be coming out soon. So I’m keeping busy, and the work challenges of the pandemic make us all come up with new, different and creative ideas and ways to do business and share our work in new ways. High end restaurants are doing take-out, that would never have considered it before, people are making films, documentaries, writing books and articles in spite of the challenges we’re all facing. It’s a learning experience to do new things and brings new elements into our work. It’s teaching us all creativity and flexibility, with a “Why not? “attitude. In fashion, without the traditional Fashion Week shows, they are finding new ways to show us their collections, and we’ve all adapted to shopping on line. The secret is to keep businesses and industries alive, and make them better than ever. It’s a time of exploration, serious thought about new avenues, and inventiveness. It’s a benefit of these unusual times. People are discovering new talents, and interests, they’ve never thought of before and didn’t know they had. So if you’re tempted to do something new, try it, do it!! You may find a whole new world opening up to you with a talent that has lain dormant all your life. I think “Why Not?” is the right answer right now. What have we got to lose? Try something new, a painting, a hobby, something you haven’t had time to do before. Stuck at home, you have more time to try new things. (And no, I am not learning to cook, that might be asking a little too much of my limited talent in that area. But anything relating to writing or art seems like a great idea to me. And I’m very excited to be invited into the world of fashion by Loewe.)

 

My youngest daughter started a tie dye business and is having a ball, my artistic daughter in law is doing paintings for commissions, and my daughters who work in fashion are expanding their horizons too, as is my son in his field. And I have several friends starting new businesses, not easy, but well worth doing if you can. It’s a time for entrepreneurs, and brave, creative people. And when the pandemic finally ends, it will leave us with newly developed talents, new interests, new connections, and new friends, along with the ones we had before.

 

So why not? Whatever you’ve been mulling over and hesitating to try, give it a whirl, you may open the doors to a whole new opportunity and some fun, even if it’s doing a thousand piece puzzle, watching shows you’ve never seen before, learning a new language,  painting, baking—-even making money doing something you love to do and never thought of charging for before. The possibilities are endless.

 

So I’ll see you on Zoom, and let’s have some fun with what we CAN do, rather than mourning what we can’t do right now and think we’ve lost. And when this is all over, we’ll have found a new talent. Why not?

 

 

Have a great week, I send you a virtual hug and lots of love,

 

Danielle

 

1/4/20, A Clean Slate

Posted on January 4, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

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

Posted on December 21, 2020

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

12/14/20, Before The Dawn

Posted on December 14, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Have a peaceful, happy, wonderful week.

 

love, Danielle

 

12/9/20, Hard Decisions

Posted on December 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

11/23/20, Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on November 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, with all my love,  Danielle

 

10/19/20, Before the Dawn

Posted on October 19, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are again. As I write this, the week begins, and every week I try to think of fun things to tell you, reports of where I’ve been, and as the saying goes “all roads lead to Rome”, back to Covid. I’m not going to fashion shows to report to you. I’m seeing them on video, with my hair a mess, wearing jeans and an old sweater, and the only spectators I am watching them with are my 3 Chihuahuas, who are no better dressed than I am at the moment. I am not eating at indoor restaurants, only on outdoor terraces, or open air restaurants, and it’s getting chilly at night, so I’m not dining out often. I haven’t been shopping lately, or been to a museum, or a movie (I’d rather watch at home). I haven’t flown anywhere since February (or seen my children, ugh, still, but travel still seems daunting.).  I didn’t take a vacation this year, because my kids couldn’t come to Europe and it was dangerous to go home, so I couldn’t write about “My Summer Vacation”, and I’m seeing fewer friends and having lunch out less often than I’d like, and not entertaining at home, except for a few friends. For the moment, Covid seems to be running our lives. It is challenging scientists, politicians, religious leaders, and ordinary people like you and me. It invades our thoughts, our lives, cancels our plans, and makes ordinary activities a life and death decision. The only thing I am doing is writing more than ever before. And re organizing my closets. Again.

 

Covid has definitely given 2020 a bad name, and will be a bad memory for most people, and a tragic one for some. If you look more closely into each of our lives, some good things have happened, but the drumroll of Covid always in the background drowns out some of the happier sounds. For instance, in our family we’ve had 2 weddings since the beginning of the year. One, immediately pre-Covid, with dancing, touching, laughing, kissing, 150 guests, and everyone was carefree and had a ball. The second one, during Covid, postponed 3 times until the bride and groom finally gave up and got married alone with 2 strangers as their only witnesses, and no guests, and no family by their own choice. But they’re married now, and we’ll celebrate next year. One of my sons and his wife are expecting a baby. And we have two new puppies in the family (a miniature dachshund and a tiny teacup Yorkie. Lucy and Coco Monkey). Everyone is healthy, which is the greatest blessing of all. So some good things have happened, even with Covid going on. But there is no question, it’s distracting and scary as hell at times. And the daily uncertainty of what will happen next is unnerving us all. The sudden rise of numbers of cases all over the world is disconcerting to say the least. I try to keep everything as normal as possible, but some days are harder than others, especially far from my family, who have always been the mainstay of my life. It’s weird and a challenge to be on my own.

 

Family and friends in other cities report that their cities aren’t the same, look different, some sound grimly depressing. In Paris, one sees the opposite: everything looks normal, especially on beautiful sunny days, people are busy, the city is unchanged, but you know that the virus is out there lurking, a constant threat if you’re not careful, and everyone you see is wearing a mask (except teenagers who don’t care).

 

In a more religious vein, I am reminded of Bible stories, of Daniel surviving the lion’s den, of the Hebrew boys thrown into a blazing fire and came out of it, alive, unscathed “without even the smell of smoke on them”….David and Goliath. We will beat this in the end, ‘without the smell of smoke on us’. Nothing lasts forever, not even Covid. We just have to do our best to stay safe and wait it out, be sensible and not careless, mindful of others, and have the best life we can under the circumstances.

 

I write almost all the time, I have started needle pointing again, I have the neatest closets of anyone on the planet. I see friends when I can, in the safest possible circumstances. We can’t stop living, being, hoping. We have to keep our spirits up and reach out to others. We have to KNOW and believe that we will make it through this, and the current spike will go down again, and Covid will no longer be a threat one day.

 

I found 3 tiny butterfly costumes in a closet this weekend, and dressed my dogs up for Halloween. I’ve made a few forays out for Christmas shopping. I move paintings around in my apartment. I read and watch series on TV, but most of the time I write. This has gone on longer than we expected, but it will end. With darker colder weather, and shorter days, it makes things seem a little more grim, but as they say, “The night is darkest before the dawn.”

 

All I can tell you is that we know that dawn is coming, there will be an end to all this. Life goes on, even now, with its high points and its joys, its unexpected blessings and good news.

 

We have to join hands across the world and get through this, and fight to stay on top of the waves, and get back up when we get knocked down by a big wave. This storm will pass, and the sun will shine again. It is shining even now, we just have to look a little harder to see it. But all the good stuff is still there, love and hope, and babies are being born, and some wonderful treasured moments with the people we love.  And sometime in the coming months, I’ll be telling you about a fashion show, we’ll be going to parties and weddings again, and family gatherings, and hugging each other, and not standing 6 feet apart with a mask on. The dawn IS coming, maybe sooner than we know, and I am clinging to the belief that the best is yet to come. We are going to enjoy normalcy SOOOO MUCH after all this, ordinary pleasures will seem like miracles to us. Life is a miracle, even now.

 

And in the meantime, I send you happy thoughts, as we hang on tight— Have a GREAT week (and to hell with Covid)

 

all my love, Danielle

 

10/12/20, “Over it!!!”

Posted on October 12, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that last week was a good week for you, and that some good things happened. I had a bumpy week last week, with some ups, some downs, some goods, some bads, which seems to be the order of the day these days, as we learn to live around Covid, as carefully and responsibly as possible. If we’re healthy, and our loved ones are too, we’re ahead of the game. I’m still in France, and missing my kids. The new cases per day numbers went up dramatically all over Europe, which was discouraging, and even alarming. The good news is that the death rate in most European countries (and the US, I think too) is much lower than at the beginning of Covid, so people are still getting sick, but much greater numbers are surviving. And the doctors seem to have much more effective treatments to deal with the disease.  And to borrow an expression of my youngest daughter, I am “Over It”—–we all wish that this nasty virus would go away. And in the meantime, we follow all the measures we have to, to stay healthy and safe (masks, social distancing, and hand washing as often as possible. I’ve developed an allergy to Gel, so it’s alcohol wipes and soap and water for me).

 

October is always such a lively, energized, exciting month, with all the fall activities in full swing, after the summer, and the holidays to look forward to. This year, things are looking somewhat uncertain. Many offices are still not open, people are still working from home in some industries, which can be lonely. And the rules we are meant to live by contradictory and confusing from city to city and country to country. I’m always stunned by how different the rules are in the US and France. Quarantine in Europe now is 7 days in most countries with the belief that that is long enough, and still 14 days in the US. Protocols of what to do if you’ve been exposed to the virus, when to test, and when you can go back to work if you caught it, are also very different. No one has found the perfect answers yet, and scientists disagree. Who to believe? And which set of rules to follow? In a single city in the US, you can have as many as 4 conflicting sets of rules.

 

One VERY good piece of news is that the California fires seem to be slowly getting in control, and the smoke invading huge portions of the State is dissipating. In San Francisco and the surrounding area, they have been living in confinement, with masks, limited activity, windows closed, and toxic air for nearly two months. I’m sure they are ‘over it!’ too!!

 

For myself, with the Covid numbers rising, I’ve reduced a lot of my activities, haven’t seen friends in a couple of weeks, and am staying at home more (but going out to do minor errands)—why take a chance?—, and writing virtually constantly to keep distracted and busy. I’ve been working on outlines, editing, adding research, correcting galleys, and wrote an essay for a magazine. Writing fills my days and nights, and brings comfort, solace, hope and peace—-and hopefully to my readers when they read the books.

 

We just have to hang in, and keep going, knowing that there is light (and health and a world without Covid) at the end of the tunnel we’re in, even when we can’t see the end of that tunnel yet—-but we’ll get there!!! Hopefully soon!!!

 

So we may be over it, but we just have to keep going, step by step, day after day. The good times are coming!! Have a GREAT week!!!

 

I wish you good surprises and good health this week, love, Danielle

 

9/7/20, Happy Fall!

Posted on September 7, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a fun holiday weekend. As usual, I have no idea where the time went. Time whizzes by, and weirdly, I find that it goes even faster than usual during the pandemic. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking, wanting to hurry up through these hard chapters, and get to easier times and a happier ending to the story. We’ve had plenty of time to think deep thoughts, while in confinement, cleaned out our closets, garages, and basements, caught up on projects we’d been putting off, got to spend an unusual amount of time with our children—many of us, others haven’t been as lucky, and haven’t seen our kids and families in months (I’m in that category, unfortunately),—-so enough already. We are all ready to see the pandemic end and get back to normal life.

 

The numbers have gone up again in Paris, probably due to people moving around over the summer, having too much fun and being less careful. The South of France, favorite summer vacation spot, became a hotbed of people crammed into bars, not wearing masks, crowded on the beaches, and enjoying too much unprotected nightlife, and then travelling back to wherever they came from, taking Covid with them and spreading it around. The same thing happened in Spain with an influx of people from other European countries. And in the US with people going to vacation spots and being less careful, particularly young people. So now, everyone has to get more serious again and be more careful.

 

The big change in the Covid numbers is an important one: even when the number of people testing positive for Covid has gone way up in some areas, the death rate is way down, and hospitals are not being inundated with severe cases. So we are learning how to treat it better, and in many areas, those most testing positive for the virus are very young. We are all eager to see this end.

 

I’ve always found September to be an exciting month, with heightened activity and lots of energy after the summer. It’s a ‘back to school’ feeling I’ve had all my life, even as a young child, and past my school days. September is exciting, we start new projects, go back to work with a fresh eye and new perspective. The weather is crisp, and we rev up our engines to get going again.

 

Labor Day officially marked the end of summer, so now we’re all back at work, some kids are back in school, others are following their classes remotely, people are embarking on new projects, it almost feels like a whole new year in September. I love that feeling!!

 

I was very excited to know that yesterday, my new Hardcover ” Royal” was #1 on the Combined Print and eBook list on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Wow!!! What a cool way to start off the fall season. it never gets old, it’s ALWAYS EXCITING to have a book high up on the bestseller lists, and know that the book is doing well. It’s incredibly gratifying and encouraging to know that you love the books and are enjoying the current one!! It’s always a Thrill!!!  I hope you get a chance to read it soon, if you haven’t yet.

 

And on a personal level, my daughter Victoria has a Labor Day birthday, and we did a Face Time call, where I had some presents for her in Paris, and I stacked them up, and she told me which to open, which I did, as she watched. And now I’ll send them to her, and bring some home with me when I see her again. It was fun opening presents together.  And would be a lot more fun if we were actually in the same room together. We will be again soon, I hope. This was only the second birthday in her life that I wasn’t with her. I usually fly in to be with her, but that’s still too complicated and risky right now.

So the Fall is off and running. I hope yours is off to a good start, and that this will prove to be a wonderful Fall for all of us, full offun times, good health, and unexpected blessings!!! Have a Great Week!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/26/20, Taking Action

Posted on August 31, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Life goes on, with the Covid numbers rising in some places, due to good weather, a need to get out and have some fun and find some relief from the past 6 months, or due to summer travel and vacations. We need to continue to be careful so we can keep a lid on things, and get the Covid numbers (of new cases) down. The ‘good news’ relatively speaking is that there are fewer hospitalized and critically ill cases, and markedly fewer deaths, worldwide, in part because the majority of cases now are among young people—-who think they are invincible and often aren’t careful enough. We are ALL vulnerable to the Corona Virus, young and old, rich or poor, whatever our color or nationality. We need to be careful and follow the rules (simply put: Wash hands, Masks, Distance), for our own sakes, and that of others.

 

I think the hardest thing that we are all coping with now, and one of the most anxiety producing, is Uncertainty. How long will this go on? Will it get worse? Will there be a second wave? How bad will it get? Will we get sick? Or our loved ones? Will it affect our jobs, our lives, our economy, our health long term? Or will we be one of the lucky ones who are less affected, or not at all? None of us saw this coming. And in March, when it began to impact us, No one expected (or at least I didn’t) that 6 months later, it would become a way of life, and a threat to life as we know it, in every town, village and city, every country around the globe. No country, people, or family has escaped its impact. No one knows how long it will go on. It may just wear itself out, or we may still be battling the same issues a year from now (I hope not!!), but it is the not knowing, the uncertainty of what next week, next month, or next year will look like that I think makes us all nervous and anxious. We all like knowing as much as we can about the future, to reassure us. And for once in our lives, we know nothing about that future. (I love to plan everything, so for planners like me, the constant uncertainty, and plans that go right out the window every day, is an agony.) And the only people who speak with absolute certainty are the alarmist doomsayers who predict terrible things—-when in fact they know as little as you and I do about what’s going to happen. No one knows. It feels like jumping out of an airplane and free-falling, wondering if and when our parachute will open. This crisis WILL end. But we don’t know when. So everything feels uncertain and scary. We all like to have control over our lives and our destiny, and right now we have none. The uncertainty affects everyone, it makes some people panic and others grumpy. We are all scared to some degree. We just have to hang on, be as safe as we can, and wait for it to end. It WILL end. We just don’t know when. And we have to cope with the uncertainty as best we can. Maybe good things will come of this in your life. Maybe a fantastic opportunity will come your way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Good things can come from this as well as bad. It’s good to remember that too. We cannot see the future. Life right now is a trust walk of massive proportions, worldwide.

 

I always prefer to tread lightly in terms of religion. Not everyone believes in God. Some people believe in the Universe, or the forces of good, or whatever one wants to call the good in one’s life. I respect people’s right to have their own source of comfort and their own belief system, whatever it is called. For me, it is God, for others not. It doesn’t matter. We are all in this together, trying to figure out how best to live through it and stay afloat, and keep our hopes up.

 

There is an amazing pastor in San Francisco, at Glide Memorial Church. Reverend Cecil Williams. He is an incredible human being, a man of a great age now, with incredible wisdom. He is a man of strong beliefs, who has turned them into action. He has founded an amazing organization to help the poor, the homeless, the desperate, with housing, education, medical help, a food kitchen that feeds thousands daily. Humane, compassionate, wise, strong, he has touched millions of lives, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing him as an amazing human being for many years. Going to a church service at his church is an incredible experience, I almost always take visitors there, —it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, or even if you speak English. The (gospel) music alone would transport you, the overwhelming feeling of love and hope embraces you, and you come out floating, wanting to do some good in the world for your fellow man. Cecil Williams is, in my eyes, a modern day saint, and being anywhere in his presence is a gift, whatever your beliefs, or lack of them.

 

Rev Williams said something which I really love, “We wait for God to act. Maybe God is waiting for us to act.” I love this because it suggests action to solve our problems, not just waiting for a miracle to happen to us, while we eat bonbons and watch our favorite show on TV. We have a part in it, and a role to play. I DO believe in miracles and unexpected good things happening—-and even good things happening from bad things. But I also believe in action, and sometimes while we act (even when we feel paralyzed by fear and think we can barely take another step), the miracles happen then. Bigger than we ever hoped for or expected. Sometimes if we just take baby steps, the big fantastic blessings come. And when I’m upset, or scared, or sad, or anxious, or feel lost, being busy DOING something (anything, even something very small) has helped me.

 

I’ve seen several examples of it in my own life. At 14, my oldest daughter had an accident on her motorized bicycle, weeks before she was to begin high school. She badly damaged her knee, and had a terrible wound. We didn’t know it then, but it was a life changing event. A month later, infection set in and she almost lost her leg. Seven years of excruciating pain, wheel chairs and crutches and operating tables ensued, seemingly hopeless. The nerves in her leg were damaged, and it was thought to be irreversible. She went all through high school and most of college, with incredible determination, and in terrible pain. She couldn’t walk. Finally, the right doctor and her own determination healed her, and at 21, she walked back into the world. Today, she hikes, skis, ice skates, runs, and wears high heels, and is not in pain. But the miracle was not only her healing, or finding the right doctor. The miracle was MUCH bigger than that. Fighting constant pain, and not wanting to live in a haze of pain killers, one doctor said to her :”Find someone suffering more than you are, and help them”. She took it to heart. And at 15, she volunteered (in her wheel chair) at a pediatric cancer ward, and her life changed forever. She fell in love with the work and the dedication, and volunteered at a summer camp for kids with cancer too. From it came a career as a therapist and social worker for children with cancer, many of them terminal. She got graduate degrees from Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Sorbonne. Working in pediatric oncology became her mission and her life, and became a passion and a rewarding career once she grew up. After living through her own dark times, of terrible uncertainty, fear, pain and even despair, she helped thousands of children and their families, and eventually she was healed herself. I can’t even imagine the courage it took her to keep moving forward in the darkness of her own experience. It was a lifelong lesson, of courage and an overwhelming demonstration of taking action, when we are at the lowest point ourselves.

 

The lesson it taught stayed with me, and when my son died at 19, I thought of what she’d done with her cancer work. I was in the deepest despair 3 months after he died, and tried to think of who I could help, who was more miserable than I was then. (It was hard to imagine anyone who felt worse than I did then).I reached out to the homeless in the streets of San Francisco, took a van and an employee, filled the van with sleeping bags, warm jackets, knit caps, scarves and gloves, and spent long nights handing them out to homeless people in the worst areas of SF. It grew to a major project, I formed a street outreach team of 12, with 4 vans we filled with desperately needed supplies and drove the streets of SF by night, helping whoever we could. It became 2 foundations, and we did the work anonymously on the streets for 11 years, until I moved away. I have to tell you that it was the most joyous thing I have ever done. It was a project born in the darkest despair which blossomed into a mission of love, which helped thousands of people. I don’t think anything I’ve done, other than having my children, has ever meant more to me. When I felt the least able to, somehow I took action, and it didn’t just help me, it helped thousands of people in desperate need of help. There will always be people in the world more miserable than we are, and reaching out to them is life changing for you and for them. It doesn’t have to be a grand project, or take an organization….reaching out to one sad, lonely, sick or desperate person can change their life and yours, and take the focus off your own miseries. you don’t have to be a modern day saint, or even have religious beliefs, reaching out with a smile, a kind hand, a gesture, rescuing a person, an animal, smiling at someone who may be at the edge of despair and you don’t know it is a form of action that will change your life, and make that day, that moment worthwhile, and give your life meaning. An errand, a favor, a meal handed to a homeless person, a kind word, a moment thinking of their problems, not your own, will make the fear or sadness you’re living with different. It’s a way of taking action, even the tiniest gesture matters, and you have no idea what can come of it, maybe something extraordinary for you or someone else.

 

Right now, in the anxiety of the pandemic, my youngest daughter learned to tie dye some T shirts to keep busy and distracted. I’m watching her one time past time turn into a really fun business for her in the past month. She has taken orders from her friends, their friends, and she has filled roughly 300 orders in the past month. The shirts are really pretty, she’s added sweat shirts, shorts, jeans, and jeans jackets now. But her attempt to keep busy and distracted is turning into a real business for her, for however long it lasts, and she is having a ball with it. Who knows, it may turn into a real business that will outlast the pandemic. But in the meantime, it has turned dark days of fear and uncertainty into busy days filled with joy. It has turned things around for her, and inspires me to watch her.

 

Action. The possibilities are endless. Bake a cake for a neighbour, buy a sandwich for a homeless person, do a project you’ve wanted to do for ages and never had the time. Empty a closet full of junk, and sell it, and your junk may be someone else’s treasures, and make you some money. Make a collage, drop a note to a friend, call an older person who is lonely and has no family, or is far from theirs. Rescue a dog, do some kind of volunteer work, or a paid project, or take a time-out from your own miseries to show a stranger or a friend that you care. Taking action always helps me when I’m at my worst, and most fearful, or unhappy or sad. It’s worth a shot. We’ve got more time on our hands than usual right now. And whoever you help will come back to you a hundred fold in the joy it gives you. And some funny little project like baking cookies, or making jam, or creating something could turn into a lucrative business. I think some important things happen in life, in these weird, unusual circumstances that are presented to us. And if nothing else, it will get you through these scary, uncertain times. While others are figuring out how to cure the virus, and find a vaccine, you can do something that seems to be tiny, for yourself or someone else, and it could turn out to be huge. Working with the homeless was the most meaningful thing that ever happened to me, at the absolute worst time in my life. And a smile and a kind word to a stranger could turn out to be an important moment for you, which turns things around. We have to reach for the opportunities right now, no matter how scared and anxious we are. And that moment you spend doing it, may change someone else’s life, and surely yours.

 

Have a Great week, and seize every opportunity you can. EVERY moment counts, to someone else, and to you.

 

with much love, Danielle