Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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

 

8/17/20, Grateful

Posted on August 17, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you, and maybe you’re even managing to go on vacation!! I hope so. (I cancelled my vacation this summer because my kids couldn’t come to France with the borders closed. So our traditional every year without fail family vacation had to be cancelled and I’m working this summer instead) In France, EVERYONE takes July or August off (5 weeks by law) for vacation, so just about everyone has gone somewhere for vacation, and even if they didn’t go away this year, most people aren’t working. But people in France, and in Europe, do everything they can to take a vacation in summer. (In the US, we spread out our vacations throughout the year. But in Europe, it’s July or August). And I hope you’re still following the Covid rules if you’re away on vacation.

 

With people moving around in Europe, a lot of movement between France, Italy, Spain, some to Croatia, and people coming from Germany and England, the numbers have gone up again slightly, and we’ve been warned to be careful, wear masks, social distance and stay out of crowded places. Young people have the hardest time following the rules, and flock to the beaches, bars that are open, and night spots. So the government (and their parents) are reminding them to be careful. More young people than older people are catching the virus now, not always severely, but they can infect others, so EVERYONE has to be careful and respect the rules, not just for their own safety, but for others.

 

There was a massive heat wave in Paris for the last week, over 100 degrees every day, with very little air conditioning anywhere, so we were all frying!!! It was blazingly hot, and Lili, Blue and Minnie were NOT happy. I kept dousing them with water. The temperature has gone down a little now, to ‘hot’, from ‘broil’. And I hear it’s as high as 107 degrees now in parts of California. Long hot summer. And hard to wear masks in the heat, but we have to. I stayed home and did a lot of writing. Most of the time, it was just too hot to go out, so I didn’t.

 

Everyone I know is on vacation somewhere else, but two friends came home, so I had dinner with them (outdoors, in restaurants with outdoor dining, which I prefer in summer anyway, and now with social distancing). Most people will start wandering back to Paris in the next two weeks, and go back to work. And I’ve been working all month (all year). It’s been hot and quiet, and lonely at times, but productive.

 

And as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, it all boils down to seeing the glass as half full or half empty—-you can either think of all the things that have gone wrong, all the things we are missing (My kids!!!), all the things that have been cancelled and aren’t happening (concerts, sports, and more importantly many weddings)——OR we can see the unexpected blessings that have come from this, the friendships that have deepened, the romances that have started, (I know several people who have met people and started new relationships since the pandemic began. And a lot of people seem to have gotten puppies), we can be grateful we still have our jobs if we do, or some are hopeful that they’ll find better jobs when all this is over….we can be grateful for the roofs over our heads, for the people that we love and who love us, grateful that we and our loved ones are healthy. There is always a LOT to be grateful for, if you take a good look. And I can already see lessons that I’ve learned as a result of the challenges we face in the pandemic, not necessarily lessons I wanted to learn or volunteered for, but lessons that will serve me well in future.

 

If we can find things to be grateful for, the time will go faster, and the end result will be a lot more pleasant. So I’m grateful for my many blessings. And thank YOU for reading my books during these challenging times. I have a new book coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday, “Royal”. I hope you love it, its historical fiction, about a British Royal family in World War II, whose youngest daughter disappears….and secrets that come to light and are revealed twenty years later. I really hope you enjoy the book and it gives you some happy moments.

 

Thank you for everything, my faithful readers and special friends. I am sooooo Grateful for you!! Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/3/20, WTF??

Posted on August 3, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? If you’re in the US, the Covid 19 numbers have been very scary. (I watch them carefully every day, reporting on all the countries around the world, and the countries and cities where I have loved ones) Hopefully, it has hit its peak in the US, and things will start to improve now. I sure hope so!!! I’ve given up trying to make plans and am just waiting it out. I hope that by now everyone is wearing a mask!!! In France last week, they recommended that everyone wear one outdoors too. The image of Ernie from Sesame Street kind of sums up how I feel sometimes, and a lot of us do. WHAT happened? How did this bomb hit us so fast!!! The image of Ernie made me smile—it certainly says it all!!!

 

In France, everyone has gone somewhere on vacation, to the South of France, Provence, Italy or Spain. People are moving around, so hopefully that won’t raise the Covid numbers again. Europe is really doing well for the most part, except for some surges in Spain. No one wants to get confined again, so hopefully they’re following the rules wherever they are!! Or we’ll all pay the price for it in a few weeks. I hope not!!

 

Summer vacations are a law in France, and a habit that’s hard to break. By law, people get a 5 week vacation, usually in July and August, and most people seem to prefer August. (Whereas in the US, people spread their vacations out all year, which is better for business).So in France the whole country migrates to somewhere, mostly in August.  I have to admit, it makes me wonder this year. It always brings business in France to a total halt in August. Everything is closed (stores, restaurants, offices), businesses don’t function. Some businesses leave one person to answer phones, but most dont even do that. The whole country hangs out a sign “Gone Fishing”. But this year in particular, with the economy hard hit, most businesses were closed for confinement in March, April, and half of May—-and now, they are all on vacation, for another month or two. And since business is slow right now, with no foreign tourists to support many industries, a lot of people left a couple of weeks early, and they plan to take every moment of their annual vacation, so from July 15 till September 1st this year, the country is shut down. That can’t be good for business, and is bound to hurt the economy. France is full of charm, and the quality of life is wonderful, which makes it so appealing to be here, but maybe this year, vacations should have been shorter no longer??!!! The streets of Paris are empty, especially without tourists, and business is at a standstill.

 

One thing I am really impressed by—–EVERYWHERE!!! How creative and enterprising people have been in the pandemic, and in confinement. I’ve seen fantastic art projects, one of my kids has been making 3D puzzles, my youngest daughter just started a tie-dyed shirt business in confinement in California, and the shirts are gorgeous!!! (See my Instagram). Another daughter had never gardened before, and planted a vegetable garden—the vegetables are fantastic and look like works of art, one of my sons planted a really beautiful herb garden, one son in law has a passion and a talent for cooking, he’s been taking lessons in the pandemic, and the photographs of the food he’s making are gorgeous and look delicious. People are discovering new talents, and discovering new pleasures while trying to stay calm, be patient, and soothe their jangled nerves. I’ve been working on five different books, as I often do, I haven’t stopped writing since the pandemic started. It helps me stay busy, and fills the days while I wait to see my kids again, and keeps business as usual for my publishers and readers, and myself. Friends have become more precious, and out of confinement now, seeing them means more than ever. Other friends who have worked hard and missed time with their kids have gotten to know their kids better than ever before, confined with them, and enjoying special times that might never have happened otherwise. Time has stopped. We have had to reboot our lives, and start again. We have had to learn patience, how to fill our time creatively, develop new ways to work, deepen our relationships, question ourselves about what matters most to us. We have had to face disappointments and loss. One of my daughters has had the huge disappointment of postponing her long awaited wedding twice, a smaller family version several times, and will now have to wait for the big originally planned wedding till next year—-all of which has been very trying. It is as though a big hand clamped down on the world’s clock, and said “Stop!!!” And there are even greater concerns, about our own health, the health and safety of our loved ones, and in some cases the loss of loved ones. But even for families and people who have not suffered the loss of relatives or friends, the changes have been enormous, and the concerns many. How to keep our children safe, worries about finances and jobs. Everyone has been affected, no one’s life is unchanged or untouched. It makes us grateful for the good things, the good times, the good people in our lives, and more aware of what is most precious to us. Some friends have been disappointing, others have been amazing. Some marriages have ended, the cracks in them more obvious in the crisis, and in those cases where a dead relationship has dragged on, maybe best for it to finally end and get a fresh start in life. Other relationships have started or grown deeper. People have fallen in love, maybe faster than they would have otherwise, like in wartime, everything is magnified, the good and the bad. Babies have been conceived. Good things have happened, not just bad. It reminds me of the French saying, “Un mal pour un bien”, good things that result from a bad thing.

 

I think we’re all learning lessons that some of us needed. Maybe there was no other way to learn those lessons except for time to stop, and it has. Like a movie on pause, suddenly everything stops….and eventually, the film will continue, the players will move again, the story will conclude. We can’t fast forward this film. It’s real life, but once life starts rolling again, I think we will each take away lessons that we needed and can use, and memories that will be precious to us. And hats off to those who are making the best of it. We’re all doing the best we can. And at times, it is definitely a “WTF” experience, of how did THIS happen. But we’re living, we’re learning, and I hope and believe that some good things will come of it in the end!!! It is a great deal like a war, with all the extremes that go with it, and the camaraderie of sharing it, and protecting those we love. And we’ll have a LOT to tell our grandchildren one day!!!

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I think that’s possible, even during these challenging times!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

7/6/20, Let’s Save America!!

Posted on July 6, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

Okay, Guys (or girls), straight talk, from me to you. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told in France NOT to wear a mask, it was ‘not necessary’ and masks were in short supply, and we were confined to home anyway. At the beginning, no one knew a lot about the virus, research was just beginning, and doctors and scientists have learned a lot since. Now we are told that 3 things are essential to reduce contagion and SAVE LIVES, our own, and everyone we’re in contact with: Wash hands (or gel) as often as possible, WEAR A MASK, and Social distance. All 3 are equally important, it’s not multiple choice with options. WE HAVE TO DO ALL 3. The virus hit harder in Europe first, and now the United States is at the epicenter, while Europe and Asia are deconfining, and the numbers get lower every day. And now the US is blazing, with terrifying numbers. All of Europe was strictly confined, whereas in the US, many States were not confined, only some were, so the virus continued to spread at a rapid rate, Social distance was ignored in many cases, people continued to congregate in large groups (on beaches, in bars, etc.), and don’t ask me how—and I don’t care, but masks were considered optional and became a political issue. Suddenly whether you wore one or not indicated what political party you vote for. WHO cares? Meanwhile the virus is killing people, and 17 states have now been black listed and you have to quarantine for 14 days if you’ve been there. In EVERY country scientists agree now that MASKS ARE VITAL for YOUR safety, and everyone you see or meet. You will save lives if you wear one. The virus does NOT care who you vote for, but your not wearing a mask could cost someone’s life, yours or someone else’s. Please, please PLEASE wear one. We will never get the numbers down, and life safe again unless we follow these 3 vital steps. And yes, even if they look goofy, so what? It’s a lot worse to kill someone, or get sick yourself. Foreign countries won’t let Americans in right now, with the numbers so high in the US. I have not seen my kids in 4 months and miss them terribly, and it’s too dangerous to go home right now. I want to come home and see my kids. Please wear a mask so we can stop the contagion in the States, lower the numbers, save lives, and so I can see my kids.

 

These are the masks I wear, as soon as I leave my house, when I’m out in the street, in public, running around, doing errands. I take it off when I eat out. I wear it when I meet friends, or go into a store. My daughters gave me the beautiful lip one, by a fancy British designer, a friend gave me the polka dot red one that looks like Minnie Mouse, both are fabric which are a little harder to breathe in. And the easiest to wear, for me because I have a small face, are children’s paper medical masks (Mickey Mouse and Goofy are on mine, I also have one with pink dinosaurs), the children’s size fits perfectly if you have a small face, and regular surgical masks are cheap and fit normal adult faces, for men too (or black fabric ones if they want to go James Bond/Darth Vader). I wear reading glasses, and they don’t fog up, you can wear your glasses too. The mask must cover your nose, don’t stick your nose out over the mask. I promise, you’ll still look cute, or sexy—you are doing the entire world a favor if you wear a mask. Let’s save America and the world, and each other by following the rules!!! Please wear a mask!!!

 

Have a great week, love, Danielle

 

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