Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

3/30/20 Life in Confinement

Posted on March 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Danielle

 

 

3/23/20, “Lockdown”

Posted on March 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

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

Posted on March 16, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

3/9/20, International Women’s Day

Posted on March 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

Have a great week!

love, Danielle

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

Posted on February 24, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

2/18/20, Second Chance!!

Posted on February 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

2/10/20, The Big V

Posted on February 10, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing.  That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.

 

I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.

 

A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find.  It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other.  Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.

 

The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second.  The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).

 

Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast.  Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.

 

So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!

 

I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!

This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you,   Danielle

 

1/21/20, Happily Ever After, or…?

Posted on January 21, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

The trend in some stores these days is for attentive salespeople to say “How’s your day so far?” It always irritates me, because you know they really don’t care or want to know. How’s my day? I’m always tempted to say something like ‘ let me tell you, I had an argument with one of my children, I scraped my car on the way out of the garage and my husband will have a fit, there’s a leak under the kitchen sink, and the dog threw up all over the new rug. So that’s my day, how’s yours?’  Instead, of course, I just respond “Fine.” So I am tempted to say to you slightly tongue in cheek, “How’s your year so far?” We’re three weeks into it, and mine has been okay so far, but somewhat a mixed bag, like everyone else’s life. Some days are great, and other days are not so great. But 2020 seems pretty decent so far.

 

I’m pretty much a traditionalist, and enjoy certain fantasies. I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by the British monarchy, all the pomp and ceremony and traditions. There is a fairy tale quality to it, although we’ve all read about the bumps and heartaches in the Royal family, from the tragic death of Diana, leaving her two young sons without a mother, to the romps and romances of various young royals, Prince Charles marrying Camilla counter to their traditions about not marrying divorcees, and his waiting an entire lifetime to become king, and steadfast Queen Elizabeth, 93 now, still on the throne and going strong. It is kind of fascinating, and must interest a lot of people since the Netflix series “The Crown” depicting all those dramas and dramatizing and fictionalizing them, has been hugely successful. It feeds into our Cinderella fantasies, with Cinderella marrying the handsome Prince and “they lived happily ever after”. Although in real life there seems to be a lot less ‘happily ever after’, and as many dramas as we all live with. That was the one thing that stood out to me in the series “The Crown”, the royals seemed so unhappy so much of the time, weren’t able to marry who they wanted to, and were bound by restrictive rules and traditions constantly. It sometimes seems very poignant. So being a prince or princess does not appear to be a guarantee of happiness.

 

In that vein, I’ve been intrigued by the struggles of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now, who appear to have caused an earthquake in the royal family, giving up their titles and royal duties, moving to Canada, and breaking with tradition. We’ll never know the inside scoop on that, and only what we’re told in the press, but just from what we do read, it seems safe to assume that it must be a major upheaval, and I wonder what the Queen really does feel about it, to have her grandson break away, and move away, with his wife and infant son, to start a very different life.

 

As a mother of some young married children, I know it would sadden me if one of my children were to move a continent away, and abandon all of our traditions. In Prince Harry’s case, I am reminded of the late Duke of Windsor, who was briefly king (King Edward), and abdicated and gave up the throne just so he could marry a divorced woman, which was strictly forbidden at the time. I wonder if he thought it was worth it, he always looked sad in photographs from then on, or most of the time. What a huge step that must have been, to give up being king. And since the woman he left everything for was also American, it does remind me of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, although current British laws made it possible for him to marry Meghan, even though she was divorced.

 

It does seem sad to me, and unfortunate, if he is leaving everything to satisfy his bride. It would seem that if one marries into an institution as established and powerful as the British monarchy, one would expect to live within the restrictions of their rules, rather than fight the system, or break away and leave. It must be a tremendous pull and upheaval for the prince, and every member of his family. I’m sure the adjustment was tremendous for an American wife in that very restricted setting, under constant scrutiny, but it seems sad to me that they are leaving, rather than staying and accepting the structure like the other royals.

 

Families are not easy even in ordinary circumstances, and must be far more complicated for the royals. I’m sure all of them are impacted by it. Prince William has said publicly how sad he is to see his brother leave. And they must be particularly close, having lost their mother at an early age.

 

Anyway, no family is exempt from its challenges, and changes. Even the Royals!!! It’s just a little more intriguing when the people involved are wearing a crown!!!

 

I hope you have fun projects up ahead. I’m busy working on a new book. And my latest book “Moral Compass” is doing really well. I hope you read it soon, and that you love it. And in the meantime, I wish you ‘Happily Ever After’ in all your ventures and romances. And I hope your year so far has been great!!! Have a terrific week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

1/6/20, Family

Posted on January 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope the last week has been peaceful and that you got through New Year’s Eve and Day safely and happily. I have to admit, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t like New Year’s.  New Year’s Eve is always heavy with expectation and often fraught with disappointment. Plans don’t work out quite the way we want them to, parties aren’t as much fun as we hope. We don’t have the right date or the right dress or the right plan. And although New Year’s Day is supposed to be a fresh beginning and the start of a whole New Year and clean slate, it’s often also a reminder of what didn’t work out last year. It’s just not a holiday I love!!! Having said that, my New Year’s Eve was surprisingly nice this year. For several years now, I have been alone on New Year’s eve, my kids have left after Christmas by then, so to avoid being sad and missing them too much (after the joys of a full house over Christmas!!), I start a new book every year when they leave, around December 27th—-and by New Year’s eve, I’m deep in the book and forget everything else. This year, one my daughters decided at the last minute to stay until New Year’s Day. She cooked all day on New Year’s Eve, set a beautiful table, with decorations, and provided a really festive happy New Year’s Eve for me, one of my sons and his fiancée, and another friend, and we had a really great time together, unexpectedly, on the spur of the moment. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years. None of us had high expectations or elaborate plans, and we had a great time together!!!

 

I was mulling over what to write about today, in the blog, and read a reader’s comment to the last blog, about a minor family argument that turned into a big fight during holiday cookie baking and spoiled everything. And I thought I’d write about that. I’m an only child, so I’ve never had the problems or the blessings of siblings, and my family was tiny (just my father and I, while I grew up). In contrast, with nine children, I’ve been blessed with a big family and have had a front row seat to the closeness of siblings, what a joy it can be, and what a challenge at times. I do find that in big families, kids seem to get along better than in small ones, because it’s such a big group that there are always other options if they’re not getting along with someone. It’s kind of a moveable feast!!!

 

Families are a work in progress. They move, they change, they shift, like the sea or the tides, or the shells on the beach. We’re a close knit family, and are all very close, and spend holidays together, and I think we get along surprisingly well, but in any family, storms can come up, and blow over, or hang around for a while. Someone can make a careless comment and upset someone else without even intending to, or people dig their heels in and disagree over something trivial. I think it happens in all families. There are a lot of personalities involved, spouses and in laws, or siblings, and things get bumpy for a while. What I do find though is that as fast as something can come up and turn into a storm, it can calm down just as fast and hours or days later, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I think ALL families go through it, just like no marriage is without the occasional argument. It’s just the nature of humans, and life. And hopefully, love carries the day in the end, and we all forgive each other. So I hope that the cookie baking argument was or will be short lived, and has been forgotten by now.

 

Families have a life force of their own. And the things that drive us nuts at one moment, seem silly a short while later. (And too much alcohol sometimes consumed during the holidays can turn small fights into big ones too)

 

But a little rain falls in the life of every family. And I envy my children the fact that they have siblings. It looks like having a best friend, only better!!!

 

I hope your new year is starting out peacefully, and that the holidays were happy. But if your holidays were a little stormy, I hope the storms clear up soon, and everything will be happy again!!!

 

My new book, Moral Compass, is coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday. I’m REALLY excited about it, and I hope you love it!! I worked really hard to get it right. It’s about how an act committed by high school seniors can escalate into a life changing event and touch everyone around them, parents, teachers, students, friends, even police and a judge.  I think it deals with an important subject, and I really hope you enjoy it and it’s meaningful to you too!!!  And I’m hard at work on new books at the moment. I’m working on a new book, and an outline!! That will keep me out of mischief for a while!!!

 

 

Be well and happy, and I hope that everything is smooth around you!!! Have a great week!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

12/30/19, Happy New Year

Posted on December 30, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that the holidays went smoothly for you, and that you had some wonderful heartwarming, happy times. And if for some reason, the holidays fell short, at least they are behind you now. Some years are just harder than we expect, or don’t turn out quite the way we hope.  My holidays were very busy with a full house, lots of details to see to, to make sure that everything went as planned and everyone was happy, and I was very grateful to have my children at home. We were only missing one on Christmas Day, who had to visit his in laws in another state. But everyone else was home, and there were 27 people at our dinner table on Christmas night, with extended family as well. It was a big, noisy, chatty, happy group. And my children spoiled me this year, as they always do, with some really lovely thoughtful gifts. I got some great sweaters (a happy face one, and one with hearts!! and one in gorgeous bubble gum pink, and a beige one with black polka dots), and very cute shoes (including a pair of bubblegum pink high top sneakers I wanted!! some shoes with hearts on them, and a pair of pale blue satin high heels), a beautiful bracelet with a red enamel heart, and two beautiful bead bracelets, and the print of a painting I have wanted for years!!! And the best gift of all was being with my children!!!  As always, the time flew by, and now I’m back at work.

 

The holidays are a real challenge for some people, or even for everyone at times. And the next hurdle is New Year’s eve, a night full of expectation and hopes that are hard to live up to in real life. It’s a night I’ve never liked, although I’ve dealt with it in many different ways. When my kids were young and I was happily married, we watched old movies on TV and went to bed early, which I still think is the best way to spend it, with someone you love. Out in the world, people try so hard to have fun, and expect so much of that night that it rarely is fun. Everywhere I am, it’s cold on that night. Driving is dangerous with some people drunk on the road, and I don’t like to go out. I’m much happier at home.

 

At another time in my life, I gave elegant black tie dinner parties with dancing on New Year’s Eve. It was very pretty, and seemed elegant and glamorous at the time—but the evening I enjoyed most was once during a bad storm, when the bridges of San Francisco were closed, and my caterer couldn’t come to cook dinner and cancelled at the last minute, so in desperation, we ran around to all the fast food places we could think of, and had burgers hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza and curly fries for my guests in evening clothes. And it turned out to be much more fun than our fancy dinner!!! Once divorced, without a partner, I gave poker parties on New Year’s Eve for several years, which made who to kiss at midnight no longer a problem. I had about 20 people over to play poker and we had a ball, and I think I made $20.00 that was so much fun that I did it for several years, and then eventually the poker parties got tiresome. And a few years ago, I figured out that the best way for me to spend New Year’s eve was writing/working, so that’s how I spend New Year’s eve now. When I write, I don’t know what day it is, or where I am. I don’t feel alone when I write….I don’t get dressed up, I’m at home, and don’t have to drive anywhere. It’s not glamorous but for now it works for me. There is a time for everything, and New Year’s Eve is such a challenge and is so often disappointing that I don’t want to have to struggle to make it fun. I think a lot of people feel that way and prefer to stay home.  So that’s what I do!!! It’s one of those nights which underlines what you don’t have in your life, rather than what you do.

 

However you spend it, I wish you a wonderful, productive, happy, healthy new year—-and I hope that all your wishes come true in the coming year!!! I hope it will be your best year ever. And I hope that you have a plan for New Year’s Eve that appeal to you and sounds like fun to you. But above all, I hope that 2020 is your very best year, and that “The best is yet to come” describes it perfectly.

 

I wish you a very, very VERY Happy New Year, and lots of fun times and good people up ahead in 2020!!!

 

love, Danielle