Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

9/14/21, Old Friends, New Friends

Posted on September 14, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing well, the Fall is off to a good start, that the summer brought you some fun and relaxation, time to just forget all your problems and do things you enjoy, and now the kids are back in school, you’re back at work, and I hope you’re busy with some exciting projects and plans. And in many places, countries and cities, the acute phase of the Covid crisis is easing a little, due to vaccines, masks, and sensible practices that have become routine for us, and are easy to maintain.

 

In many, many cases, these long Covid months have separated us from people we love, and want to spend time with. I was separated from my children by an ocean and a continent, and the fallout and dangers of Covid 19 for fifteen very long months. With restrictions, curfews (at 6pm in Paris for a while), and lockdowns, my world and my social life dwindled to nothing, and is still very limited, in terms of who I see, and how much I go out, and only outdoor dining. Many people are still not back in their offices, and are working remotely, people have moved away from the cities where they lived and worked before the pandemic, so there seem to be fewer people in our lives. There are also fewer social activities and opportunities to meet new people with reduced social lives, but in spite of that I have been struck by renewed contracts with people I haven’t heard from in a long time, who suddenly surfaced to inquire how I am. And by sheer happenstance, I have connected with new friends who are a real gift in my life, and were totally unexpected. Unexpected romances and relationships have started in the same way too for many people. Life does go on, even if temporarily on hold and different than it was before.

 

Work, professional activities and our jobs still bring us into contact with new people, even if only on line. Particularly in the creative fields, we are all starving for contact with other humans and experiences, which we need to fuel our inspiration to create, whether it be music, art, design, or literary. Every artist, designer, or writer I have spoken to is suffering from their diminished opportunities for inspiration from a broader world. I struggle with it myself, my life is much quieter and more isolated than it was before Covid. We are all anxious for that to improve, whether creative or not, but I think people in the arts are really feeling the lack of daily stimuli.

 

The flip side of that quiet coin is that we are doing less in the world, in order to be careful and mindful of Covid. Every day requires decisions from us of what is worth the risk, and how much. It’s a movable marker that changes day by day. And I certainly see fewer people, and do fewer things outside my home now, in order to be responsible. With fewer activities, I have written more, but I also have more time to reach out to people I know, on line, or respond to people who’ve reached out to me, whom I might not have taken the time to correspond with before. But with a little more time, and hungry for that human contact, I’ve been more open to new connections, which in some cases have turned out to be a real blessing in my life, and enrich it immeasurably. It’s particularly fun to ‘meet’ other creatives, in a variety of fields. And I’ve met all of them by accident because of Covid, so the experience hasn’t been all bad, and some of my already existing friendships have deepened in the stressful war-time atmosphere that has impacted us all.

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, a museum in another country contacted me, with time on their hands too, they had gone through their archives to ‘clean house” and discovered that my grandfather had loaned them a small painting for an exhibit many years ago, which somehow got forgotten, never got returned, and was still at the museum. My grandfather had died shortly after, no one knew about the loaned painting, and they never claimed it. It wasn’t valuable, but it belonged to his heirs, which was me. They contacted me and offered to return it to me. I didn’t fall in love with the painting when they sent me a photo of it, and decided to donate it to the museum since it had already been there for years. They were very pleased and the curator who had made contact is a lovely woman, and we’ve had a wonderful correspondence that has gone on for a year. In non-covid times, I would never have taken the time to get to know her. Buried under mountains of work, meeting deadlines, travelling constantly to see my kids, I would have made a fast decision about the painting and let it go at that. Working from home, the curator had time too that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. It has been a lovely exchange now for a year, and we hope to meet one day.

 

And I did a crazy thing, during one of the lonely lockdowns in France. My favorite series cheered me late at night when I was anxious and lonely. One of them is a British show that I have loved for years. The sound of the actors’ familiar voices was comforting, alone in my apartment for 77 days. I did something I’ve never done before. I researched the woman who created it and writes the show, got her address from a friend who works in TV in London, and wrote the first fan letter I have ever written, to tell the writer how much the show has meant to me. I would NEVER have done that in normal times. But suddenly, living daily with a lot of anxiety and fear, we are more open and more vulnerable, more emotional, and aware of things we paid no attention to before. It had never occurred to me before to write to the creator of that show, although I’ve loved it for a decade and watch it faithfully. But suddenly, in the craziness of the pandemic, it seemed okay to reach out, so I did on a sudden impulse one night. Much to my astonishment, she answered me the next day, and she had been reading my books since her teens. We had a powerful mutual admiration for each other, had a million things in common, and she has become a fantastic friend, although we still haven’t met. Our birthdays are even one day apart. She writes me hysterically funny letters, and our shared view of the literary world and the world of TV has given us a lot of laughs. She is a kindred spirit, and I adore her. Wow!!! Imagine if I had never written to her. She is a huge gift in my life!!

 

And along the way, I did a collaboration with a young Irish fashion designer, whom I’ve admired for years, and presto magic a new mutual admiration was born, across miles and generations. We did a podcast together, and the collaboration was a wonderful experience!!! Right there, I had three new friends, without ever leaving my house or meeting them. And then a fourth, an artist in Germany sent me a pastel portrait of my late son Nick as a gift (because she had spare time too), which really touched my heart, and we have corresponded too. She is incredibly talented and a lovely person, and she is currently working on a project for me, that I plan to give my children at Christmas.

 

And in addition to that, an artist in San Francisco whom I have admired for years, but haven’t seen in a long time, reached out to me. I have many many of his paintings in my home, but we had lost touch. He wrote to me out of the blue, and said what a hard time he was having painting in the pandemic, and what a challenge it was to create in a vacuum, isolated from people and the world as we know it. I answered immediately and shared that it was hard for me too. (All the people in the arts who have written to me have said the same). I shared my own experiences with him by email, and the exchange helped both of us, and inspired us. I was SO happy to have heard from him, and so grateful that he’d written to me.

 

So even though we are alone more, and spend more time at home, and the pandemic has been isolating for many people, even most people,—-flowers pop up through the snow and ice, and bring spring back into our lives in the frozen winter we have lived for eighteen months. Email has certainly helped us reach out to others, this would all be a lot worse without it. (I accidentally spilled a glass of water into my computer a week ago, and I panicked at the loss of contact for 3 days. The internet is a huge blessing right now, and keeps us connected to others and the broader world.)

 

I am so grateful for these friendships that have appeared, flourished, and the old ones that have survived or been reborn. we are social animals and need other humans, but in the midst of the silence, the darkness and at times the loneliness, some wonderful friendships (and even romances) are born. And I am SOOOO grateful for that, and for the old and new friends in my life.  And I am certain that these friendships will last much longer than Covid, and be stronger than they would have been, because of it. So some good has come of the challenges of the Covid crisis after all!!!Have a wonderful week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/28/21, Apologies

Posted on June 28, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

with much love, Danielle

5/31/21, Self Portraits

Posted on May 31, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

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

Posted on May 25, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

love, Danielle

 

3/8/21, “In Shakespeare’s words”

Posted on March 15, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week. I got something wonderful from a friend this week, supposedly quoted from Shakespeare. I have no way of verifying that or authenticating it, but whoever wrote it, if not Shakespeare, said some wonderful things I think are worth sharing. So I am sharing them with you.

 

“I’m always happy, because I don’t expect anything from anyone. Expecting things always hurts.

Problems are not eternal, they always have solutions. The only thing that has no remedy is death.

Don’t let anyone insult you, humiliate you, or diminish your self-esteem.

Shouting is always the tool of lazy, mean people, those who don’t think.

We will always know people who consider us to blame for their problems.

We have to be strong and rise when we fall, from the falls that life imposes on us.

We have to remember that after a dark solitary tunnel, good things always come.

Before discussing something….breathe.

Before speaking…listen.

Before you criticize….examine yourself.

Before writing….think.

Before hurting someone…look.

Before giving up….try.

Before you die….LIVE!!

The best relationship is not one with a perfect person, but one where each person learns to live with the flaws of the other, while admiring their qualities.

He who doesn’t appreciate what they have, will lose it one day.

If you want to be happy, make someone else happy, if you want to receive, give of yourself.

Surround yourself with good people, and be one yourself.

Remember that sometimes when you expect it the least, someone will do something nice for you.

Don’t spoil your present by looking pointlessly back at the past.

A strong person tries to keep their life in order, and even with tears in their eyes, will adapt with a smile, and say “I am good.” ”

 

I loved this, and I hope you do too!!! Have a great week, love, Danielle

 

10/26/20, “Expect a Miracle”

Posted on October 26, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Another week in this crazy year. I hope things went well for you in the past week. It’s time for things to start going right, instead of this crazy roller coaster ride we’re all on. I had a very interesting and exciting business meeting, and did some writing. I’m keeping social activities down somewhat and going out less than previously, in honor of the higher Covid numbers. It seems smart to be careful. France is currently wrestling with the ‘second wave’, things look deceptively normal, but the danger is out there. The government imposed a 9pm curfew, to keep nighttime social activity down, and people are afraid of getting confined again. This long period of uncertainty is stretching out, we just have to try and live it day by day until the storm clouds clear.

 

I am VERY excited about my new book coming out this week, on Tuesday. “Expect A Miracle”. I chose the title two years ago, but it turns out to be the perfect title for the book right now. It’s a very special book, and a first for me. I have collected quotations all my life, since my teens—-quotes of famous people, anonymous ones, things I’ve seen in magazines, on greeting cards, read somewhere, saw on walls as graffiti. I love reading those quotes to boost my spirits, give me hope, make me smile, or laugh out loud, to make me think, or apply to the challenges of life. Very often, I frame the quotes I love and hang them on my walls (in my office in San Francisco, and in my dressing room in Paris—-places where I see them every day).That book has been a lifetime in the making, and we’ve been working on it for 2 years, sifting through the quotes, verifying the source whenever possible, working on the lay out, and picking designs to go with them. I wanted the book to be handy and pretty, easy to pick up, and open to any page and find a quote you’d love. It’s divided in 5 ‘chapters’, Road Map to Life, Courage, Faith, Laughter, and Love. But you can open the book anywhere, and hopefully find whatever you need at that moment. I REALLY hope you love the book as much as I do. It’s small, and shiny red, and would make a great gift, and I hope those quotes accompany you now, and give you as much hope, comfort, joy, and strength as they have given me. That book is straight from my heart to you.

 

I really really really REALLY hope you love it!!!

 

Have a great week and I hope wonderful things happen to you!!! Even during this challenging Covid time, terrific things can happen!! I wish you many of them!!!

 

love, Danielle

9/28/20, Four Seasons

Posted on September 28, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How are you holding up? Whether locked down in the state or country where people live, I’m beginning to hear people’s wings drooping a little. I don’t think any of us expected the pandemic to go on for this long, or what it would feel like. From friends and family in New York, I’m hearing that it’s “okay, but weird” and not the New York they know. Some places where life seems almost normal with restaurants doing a booming business, and other areas where the city seems dead and the streets are deserted. Big companies haven’t opened their offices yet, like Random House my publisher, their office buildings are deserted, smaller companies (like my agent) are starting to open and people are returning to work, which is encouraging. I think the two things that make people feel ‘normal’ again are being able to go back to work in their familiar surroundings and function more normally, and being able to see people socially again. One thing I have learned from this whole experience is how much people need to see and be with other people in order to feel happy and well balanced. Those who have been isolated, especially for extensive periods of time, like San Francisco which remains still heavily confined (with toxic air quality from the recent fires), people sound morbidly depressed when I talk to them. You can only isolate people for so long, and then other/psychological issues begin to take hold, which seem almost as damaging as the virus. Long term isolation (7 months now in San Francisco) and deprivation ultimately seems to cause depression, understandably, and other problems. The numbers (of sick, deaths, etc.)are impressively low in San Francisco, but at what price glory, if the entire population is depressed from being deprived and isolated. I haven’t spoken to a single person there whose spirits weren’t at the bottom of the barrel. It’s sad to hear, and favoring the numbers and statistics at the price of the population’s morale and emotional wellbeing seems a high price to pay for those statistics. People speak only of how shut down the city is, stores boarded up, business not getting back on its feet, and the homeless roaming everywhere, looking as depressed as those who have been confined at home for too long. And things aren’t back to normal in LA either, according to friends and relatives there. Normalcy is hard to achieve anywhere these days, around the world.

 

In Europe, ever since the abandon of those who went on vacation all over Europe this summer, crowded together on the beaches, didn’t wear masks, spent their nights in bars and illegally opened discos, have caused the numbers to soar, in France, Spain, the numbers are up in England, Germany, Austria. Some countries are starting to confine certain areas, and the general population is beginning to worry that there will be a general lockdown confinement again. Moderate measures are being re-instated, with the threat of worse to come if people don’t get serious again and the numbers don’t come down. In France, and probably the rest of Europe, the young (from adolescents to 25) steadfastly refuse to wear masks and social distance, and are putting themselves and everyone else at risk, and refuse to listen to the warnings. It’s frustrating to see them in big groups on the streets, hugging and kissing, laughing with their arms around each other, and not a mask in sight. No one seems to be able to get them to listen, to their parents, or the government, in any country, while the numbers continue to rise daily.

 

The uncertainties of the situation are giving everyone anxiety. About jobs, their health, their families, the economy. It’s hard to guess where the safest place is to be now, with ups and downs, and how to get there. I miss my kids fiercely. Restrictions are being put on the European borders again, with quarantines being enforced, and there is no sign at all of the US borders opening, or any reciprocity of open borders between the US and other countries. Americans are still barred from travelling to other countries, except for Croatia, Brazil, and some African countries. We just have to hang in until things return to normal again, or start to get better.

 

In France, summer stopped abruptly and turned to instant winter, with chilly days, cold nights, and weeks of gloomy rainy weather. It suddenly made me realize that this is now my Fourth season in the midst of Covid. It began last winter, we deconfined in Spring, went through a hot summer (with too much self-indulgence in France, we are paying the price for now), and now here it is Autumn, our fourth season of Covid. I just celebrated the my fourth child’s birthday on Face time, virtually, when I had never missed a single one of their birthdays before, with another one due in the next few weeks, and I celebrated my own birthday on Face Time with them this summer. I can’t wait to celebrate birthdays again for real with hugs and kisses, opening gifts and blowing out the candles together. That will be a happy day.

 

Let’s hope that things start to improve again soon, without any more spikes in the numbers, despite gloomy predictions I hope won’t prove to be true. We deserve some good news. And let’s hope that people stay serious about this, so the numbers come down, and we have something to celebrate!!

 

In the meantime, Fall is here, which is usually an invigorating time of year. We just have to stick with it. I just started a new book, and I’m sending love and prayers to all of you. I’ve run out of Mickey Mouse masks, and am now wearing pink ones with Pandas on them. And after that, I have pale blue ones, with little dogs on them.  Let’s hope things improve radically before I have to wear the ones with the multi colored dinosaurs on them. Have a great week, wherever you are, we’re in this together and we will make it through, hopefully before the start of another season, or we miss too many more birthdays and events of our loved ones. I missed a major family event last week, which was an all-time low for me. Onward, and Upward!!! Hang in!!!

 

So much love to you,   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

 

7/13/20, Half Empty, Half Full

Posted on July 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is going well for you, that you’re in a safe place, and respecting the rules that have become our norm, in an attempt to stay safe: sheltering in place where advised, social distancing, and masks when told to wear them, and washing our sanitizing our hands constantly. It all makes sense. And the successful results in Europe show clearly that confinement works to bring the numbers down to a safer situation where deconfinement can become possible, and social distancing makes sense, with hand sanitizing, and wearing masks no matter what your political allegiance. It’s all about health and safety now, not getting sick, nor making others sick, and following the rules to that end.

 

Any other year, last week, I would have been telling you about the Haute Couture fashion shows, with all the glitz and glamour, pretty models on the runway wearing gorgeous clothes, against an exciting backdrop. And this week, I’d have been telling you that I was having fun with my kids for our annual vacation in the South of France. And next week, I would have been telling you about the fireworks on the 14th of July, we would have been swimming in the sea, lying in the cabana in the daytime, getting a tan, and enjoying family dinners at night. The good life, in a world we took for granted until recently.

 

Before that, I would have told you about our family Easter brunch, with pastel colored bunnies all over the table. I would have told you how much I love Mother’s Day, and how sweet my children are to me, and how they spoil me. Instead in the pandemic, I am 3 to 6,000 miles from my children, and for the first time in my life, I spent Easter and Mother’s Day alone, and was grateful for a Face Time visit, and they even managed to spoil me long distance on Mother’s Day. They are amazing!!! I missed my daughter’s birthday in LA though in April, and a fun weekend we have every year to celebrate it, and she has had to postpone her wedding twice, a huge sorrow for her. But at least they are all alive, and no one is sick, which is the most important. And I missed the 4th of July too, although way less important to me than weddings, birthdays, and mother’s day.

 

The Big Thrill in my life, and it was a very big thrill was that the day after American Mother’s Day (it was a month later here in France), The De-Confinement began in Paris (after two solid months at home, and I stayed locked down for 3 months, for good measure), stores opened, hairdressers re-appeared, we could leave our homes, and see people, and shortly after, outdoor terraces were opened and you could eat outdoors in a restaurant. And progressively since then, all restaurants are now open indoors and out, offices, all stores, you can walk down the street, or have a friend come to visit, or visit them, with masks and social distancing, and people are good about the rules here. As a result, the number of sick and deaths have not gone up, and remain low. The state of emergency officially ended in France 3 days ago, although we still have to follow the safety rules until September, and perhaps longer. Paris is looking beautiful, and you can travel between European countries now, and between cities. People are going on vacation (I’m not, without my kids. I would be too sad without sharing it with them). And I am so grateful for every moment of health and freedom, after being stuck in my apartment for 3 months. So the glass can very definitely be seen as half full—not fully back to normal yet, because the virus is still lurking everywhere, but we seem to be living with it pretty successfully in Europe.

 

But the hardest part of all this for me is not being with my kids, all of whom are in the States. I miss them fiercely, and am so sad without them, but the situation in the US gets worse every day. I check the numbers every morning and want to cry. The carefree attitude in many parts of the US with no confinement, people not following the rules, no masks, or social distancing, crowding the beaches in Florida and Southern California, and many states not following any rules—–has come crashing down on the US. The most number of sick and dead in the world, the greatest danger, the graphs going up every day. It is dangerous to go there and to be there, and for me personally, the greatest hardship is not being with my kids. Flying back to the US is dangerous, with airports, and being confined in an airplane for many hours, exposed to people who might be coming from anywhere in the world, and could have the virus and not know it. Being in the US is dangerous now, more so than in Europe. So I am still in Europe, where I am safer, but when will I be able to go home, and when will I be able to see my kids and get my arms around them for an enormous hug? Thank God, they are safe, but the country is blazing with the virus. With no end in sight. Europe and Asia have proven that confinement works. Strict confinement, total lockdown for 2 months brings the numbers down to something safe, but most of the US is not confined and doesn’t want to be, so the numbers continue to rise. Many people are following the rules seriously, but so many others aren’t. (Particularly young people, who are a problem in Europe too, and think the rules are dumb and don’t apply to them. But young people get sick too!!) People fight against wearing masks (it’s such a small sacrifice to make for one’s own health and that of others), and social distance is forgotten on beaches and in bars, especially now in warmer weather. Every day, I pray that the numbers in the US will go down, that it will turn around, but for having been cavalier in many places in the US for several months, they are paying a high price now, with so many people sick and dying. And European countries will not allow Americans to enter, because the official numbers are so high.

 

For me, personally and selfishly, it all boils down to when will I see my kids, and when can I go home. The glass looks very empty to me from that perspective. And on the half-full side, life is easy and pleasant in Paris now, I can get my hair done, go shopping (cautiously, with mask and distancing), have lunch with a friend, or walk down the street on a sunny day.  But my kids can’t come to see me, because they are not allowed to enter the country, because of the extremely high numbers in the US—-which is also very hard on the world economy, keeping Americans out of other countries, and foreigners out of the US. We need their business, and they need ours, but the US just isn’t safe right now. At least not yet. And I really hope that changes SOON!!! It depends on each person following the rules to make it safe.

 

I pray about it every day, and maybe you do too. I so much want things to get better in the US, for everyone’s sake, not just for me and my kids. We are going to have to tighten all our rules, deprive ourselves of fun for a while, even wear masks, or do whatever we have to do to make our world safe again. This will end, it won’t last forever, but it will get better a lot faster if we ALL follow the rules, in every country, every city, every town around the world.

 

My prayers are with all of you, that you are safe and healthy. The glass IS half full now in many places, with many freedoms and privileges returned. Even more than half full in some places. San Francisco has done very well in the pandemic, with only fifty deaths, way fewer than other places, but they are still very strictly confined and restricted after 4 months, with no end in sight.  New York has done an amazing job getting the numbers down, and even closed their borders to do so, trying to keep people out from areas that are more severely affected, and demanding that anyone from out of state quarantine for 2 weeks when they arrive. It is severe, but it has helped.

 

Whatever it takes, I hope we get those numbers down all over the US, and make it safe again for everyone, visitors as well as Americans. It reminds me now of the vicious fires that burned all over California, out of control a year or two ago. Eventually, the fires were brought under control. The virus will be too. I’m tired of reading the numbers in the US every morning with a sinking heart and tears in my eyes. I want to see my kids, and I want all of you to be safe, and anxiety-free too. We just have to keep at it, one day at a time, following the rules, until the glass is really full, overflowing with blessings, not half full. I know that day will come. And in the meantime, I am hanging on to hope that it will get better soon.

 

 

Have a GREAT week, a safe, smart, careful, healthy one!!!!

 

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

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