Archive for the ‘Getting Along’ Category

7/19/21, Storm Warning

Posted on July 19, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you, and you are enjoying the summer and getting some time off to relax.

 

I’m in both France and the US this summer, and I am growing concerned. When recently in New York in June, there was a vast fiesta atmosphere, with everyone immensely relieved that the restrictions were literally gone, and due to vaccines, the Covid numbers were lower. I found myself in stores, outdoor restaurants, and elevators, in huge crowds, body to body, people shouting, talking, drinking, no masks, no distancing as though Covid had never existed. It made me nervous.

 

When I got back to France, the numbers were greatly improved from before, although the vaccine rate was low, and people were still being careful. Outdoor dining, masks, there was an atmosphere of cautious enthusiasm, but still awareness. And among young people, total freedom and no caution at all, crowded restaurants and bars, lots of kissing and hugging, a party atmosphere in the streets. Last year, before the vaccine, the complete disregard of rules caused a huge surge of the Covid numbers and landed us back in Confinement, with high numbers and a lot of people sick, which was definitely not fun.

 

In the last week, due to the Delta variant, the numbers are sharply on the rise in every country globally. The UK which was the most vaccinated now has a huge surge and the worst numbers in Europe. Spain and Portugal are right behind them. Israel who vaccinated everyone has high numbers again. Australia. The numbers in the US have gone up, and in France, Italy, Germany. It is discouraging without question. We thought we were well out of it, and it turns out that we aren’t. Medical advice is that even vaccinated people need to be careful, even if the risk of death is lower for them. Even vaccinated people can still get Covid, though hopefully less severely. And neither the US nor France have achieved herd immunity, although heavily vaxed.

 

The French president, Emanuel Macron made a televised plea to citizens this week, to be more careful, to still follow rules, wear masks, distance. It is not over yet. The medical experts in the US have said the same. The numbers in Europe have doubled daily for the past week. The Delta variant is said to be 3 to 6 times more contagious. The President said that if we don’t stop this sudden surge by our behaviours, we are going to be in a worse place a month from now than in the entire pandemic. It’s a wake up call, for all of us. To be careful. We are not out of the woods yet. We still have to walk before we can run, and be careful.

 

I know that in the US, the wearing of masks has strong political connotations, which doesn’t make sense to me.

 

Whether or not people get vaccinated is a personal decision, dependent on their health, their pathologies, or even allergies. But whether or not people are vaccinated, we can all be careful, and mindful that Covid is not gone yet, in fact is getting stronger again with this variant.

 

The very simple bottom line for me is that I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want my kids to get sick. I don’t want YOU to get sick. And I would like all of us to reach a point of health and safety, where going to the grocery store, or a restaurant, or walking down the street is no longer a life-threatening risk. It may mean not being as close to others on the beach this summer, or not being in a crowded bar, or not going to a nightclub. But I would love all of us to be careful enough, and sensible enough that in time, we can do whatever we want, and live normally again without risk.   And I really don’t want to spend another year in and out of lockdown.

 

I just hope we will all be safe and sensible this summer, for just a little longer.  Have a great 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

 

5/17/21, To Mask or Not To Mask

Posted on May 17, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I’ve been adjusting to re-entry into a previously familiar world, and a certain degree of culture shock after being away for a long time. And to make matters more confusing, there have been differences for the past year between what Covid protocols should be followed, between Europe and the US, between European countries, and between states and cities in the US. There are differences of opinions about what is safe and what isn’t, and sometimes contradictions between suggestions, rules and laws. At first we were all told that masks were unnecessary, don’t bother with them, (both in the US and in Europe) and then country by country, scientists and governments decided that masks were essential, and one of the most most important tools we had to stay safe and stop the spread of the virus, particularly now with a multitude of variants from around the world. Masks even became a political issue in the US. Most of us have been wearing them for a year, surgical masks, cloth masks, decorated masks, colorful ones, adult and children’s masks.

 

Last week, new pronouncements were made, saying that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear them, indoors or out. The news was met with a huge collective sigh of liberation by many people. No one is thrilled by having to wear a mask, but if it keeps us safe (and people around us), why not? Particularly if it keeps high risk people safe, it seems important to wear one. And doctors have said that wearing one is still crucial. But with many people vaccinated now, the rules are changing, and it sounds like vaccinated people will be able to live free of masks now. It sounds like a plus if it is truly safe.

 

I’m a little confused about it myself, and since I can’t get vaccinated (due to potentially fatal allergies), I do pay attention to the recommendations about masks, to protect myself, and others, whether loved ones or strangers. Doctors seem to agree that there are many things we don’t know both about the vaccine and the virus itself, and they continue to learn more every day. And possibly it won’t be until after the pandemic is over that we will really be able to figure out what helped and what didn’t. But from everything we know now, masks are still very important, particularly in crowded public places, like airports, public transportation, and even stadiums. As things open up more and more, and we get back normal life, it’s important to know if masks are still important. It sounds like they are, for now.

 

From what I understand, among ALL vaccinated people, they can start to put away their masks now. And for people who haven’t had the vaccine, masks are VERY important to protect themselves and others. And to a certain degree, among the vaccinated, it will become a matter of choice, as to how comfortable they feel now not wearing a mask. But it is a small step to freedom, and an important one.

 

We’ve all gotten used to wearing masks now. It isn’t a lot to ask. And since I’m not vaccinated, I will continue wearing mine, except when I’m outdoors, with reasonable social distancing and precautions. According to everything the scientists say, masks make a BIG difference. So, with people I don’t know well, or at all, or people whose ideas about safety are different than mine, or in an airport, or on a plane, for now I will continue to wear a mask. And with those of my children who are not vaccinated, I will continue to wear a mask and social distance. Just to be on the safe side. And with friends and family who are vaccinated, and careful, I feel comfortable taking off my mask, especially outdoors or with fresh air circulating.

 

I guess things will get clearer and clearer as time goes on!!!

 

Have a GREAT week, with lots of good news, and some fun.

 

love, Danielle

3/22/21, Confined Again, Round 3

Posted on March 22, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

So, how was your week last week? Mine was busy doing the usual errands, writing, and trying to catch up on my desk after a book, which takes a while. And the big news in Paris this week is that we’re in confinement again, which is definitely an odd confinement. The reason for it is that the hospital beds are full up, because unfortunately they have not added more beds in the past year, so with rising numbers of new cases again, there is a shortage of hospital beds and the Paris area and the South of France have been put on lockdown, while the rest of France has not. The confinement from March to May last year was of the strictest regime in all of France. Total lockdown, you could only leave your house for an hour a day, for an essential reason, within a short distance of one’s home. Offices and businesses, restaurants and schools were closed. The entire country was shut down for two months, with disastrous economic consequences to the country. The President has become determined to avoid lockdown as much as possible. And in spite of that, we were back in lockdown from the end of October until the end of November, and that time restaurants were closed (and still are since then), but shops were open for business, but you had to order and pick up outside, schools stayed open, and offices, and eventually a 6pm curfew was set in place. The idea was that you could work or go to school, but there were to be no social gatherings, no going out in the evening, and nowhere to go. And now here we are again, Round 3, with restaurants still closed (till May or June, they have taken a brutal hit, being closed since October), offices open with people urged to work remotely where possible, shops open for order and pick up but not shopping in store, schools are open, hairdressers are open and have been deemed ‘essential’ (I second that), and the new twist this time is that everyone can go outside as much as they want and are encouraged to, until curfew at 7pm. The weak spot there is, that encouraged to go outside, suddenly there are big groups of people picnicking together in the parks, (without masks while they eat and drink), playing sports, lining the river, filling the streets on the weekends. It is hard to believe that those rules will bring the numbers down. Vaccination continues at a snail’s pace, after a 3 day hiatus (with concerns about blood clotting possibly being related to the Astra Zeneca vaccine,from Britain). And in all forms, modified, local, or general, people are generally fed up with the confinements and regulations, lack of a social life, no restaurants. It has definitely been a long year, and everyone is hoping that the vaccines will return life to a semblance of normalcy. I hope too that things get more normal soon. People are worn out by the hardships, the risks, the uncertainties, the lack of ability to plan anything, the lack of a social life. It WILL get better, and the virus will eventually go away, but it’s a long road getting there, a lot longer than anyone knew a year ago. I hope that we see the last of it soon.

 

Meanwhile, I am writing and talking to my kids. It’s still wintry cold, with many rainy days. We need a big dose of good cheer, and good news, and hopefully the vaccines will be part of that, and with Spring will come new freedoms, and fewer people getting sick, and the hospitals less crowded than they are now.

 

I am reading and writing, and I hope you’ve had time to read my new book “The Affair”.

 

We just have to keep going until we reach the end of this long road. The current confinement will be under review in a month. And let’s hope this will be the last one. We will certainly remember this past year, and I hope the months ahead are a vast improvement. Hang in!! And have a great week!!!

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

 

1/25/21, Something Different

Posted on January 25, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

When I first started writing, I wrote poems. I started in my teens, and the first things I published were poems, before I started writing novels, and one of my first books published was a book of love poems. I still write poems, although not very often. I always compare poems to artists’ sketches, they are just quick little drawings of one’s feelings, while a book is like a big oil portrait. (and short stories are somewhere in between.) The poems I write are usually love poems and they’re very spontaneous. They just bubble up to the surface and I quickly write them down.

 

That happened with the poem below a few days ago. I was thinking about the face we all present to the world, and the unseen scars and ‘broken parts’ we hide deep within us, hoping that no one will see them, fearing that others will love us less because of them. All or most of us have ‘broken parts’, scars from the past, old hurts, sadness or abuse in our childhood, the damage inflicted by people who hurt us. The scars are there, buried deep, and we hide them, not realizing that those who love us see them anyway and love us all the more because of those old broken parts, just as we love them with and for their broken parts. Those scars make us who we are, stronger, better, more human, more compassionate, lessons learned at a high price that have become part of us, and make each of us special, unique, and more beautiful, in the world, and to those who love us.

 

Have a great week,  love, Danielle

 

   Broken Parts

Looking in the mirror

    of another’s eyes,

   you realize

       who they see,

the scars so glaringly

    evident to you,

  the broken parts,

    the darkest ones

        you think

  only you can see

     seem insignificant

        to other eyes,

  and matter not at all.

you’ve worn them

    for so long

  you’ve forgotten

     that they’re there,

the scars have faded

    to a shimmer,

  the wounds no longer

    quite so deep,

 you look again

   to see if they’re

        healed

   or well concealed,

     only to realize

        that seen by

           loving eyes

  they’re part of the beauty

    they see in you,

        the courage

    and the strength,

   not ugly to them

      but part of

          the landscape

             of your soul,

   just as their flaws

         or wounds

             or broken parts

     are part of who

           you love in them.

1/18/21, Peace I leave you with…

Posted on January 18, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you in these turbulent times. In many ways, in the US, we seem to be in the eye of the storm, both in the numbers in the pandemic, and political unrest within the country. None of us could have foreseen a year ago all that is happening now. A year ago right now, I was in Paris, going to a Haute Couture fashion show, and preparing to fly to California to attend my son’s wedding. It was an exciting time, the holidays with them in California had been wonderful with an already festive feeling, with the wedding near at hand. We were planning a big, fun rehearsal dinner at the baseball stadium, and the biggest decision I had to make was which shoes to wear to the rehearsal dinner of the wedding. There was an aura of happiness around us, as our big family, and the bride’s, prepared to fly in, hers from all over the country, and ours from all over the world. Both events came off without a hitch, the wedding was gorgeous, and the rehearsal dinner a lot of fun, and the bridal couple were elated, as we all were to share their big moment with them. They left on their honeymoon, the next day, and I flew back to Paris two days after the wedding. We all left on a cloud of the joy we shared, and little did I know that the wedding would be the last time I would see my children for eleven months. Less than a week after the bridal couple returned from their honeymoon, the roof caved in on the entire world with Covid 19. And within days after that, I was in lockdown for three months in Paris, and remained there after that, waiting for things to get better in the States, which never happened. Instead, it got steadily worse over the months, and was safer in France.

 

It’s been a roller coaster ride for everyone in the world ever since. Jobs have been lost, businesses have folded, economies have suffered, and more importantly people have died the world over. More than three hundred thousand people have died in the US alone. We’re living with lockdowns and curfews everywhere, wearing masks, fearing for our lives, and our loved ones. Our lives have shrunk to next to nothing, in our struggles to stay alive, not catch the virus, or transmit it unknowingly to anyone. Young people can’t go to college, people can’t go to offices, hospitals are overflowing. It has been a very rough year for everyone, although some people have been lucky, haven’t caught the virus, or did and have recovered well. Now the vaccines are offering a glimmer of hope, but the dark days aren’t over yet. After the ill-judged excesses of people gathering and traveling over the holidays, the number of new cases daily has never been higher, over 300,000 new cases a day last week, and a constant death toll around the world. Some countries have fared better than others, but every country has been affected, and for now the numbers are the worst in the US. We all long for the day when contagion, masks, and overcrowded intensive care units are a thing of the past, and will recede into memory. We’re not even close to that yet, or to lives that bear any resemblance to what we knew as ‘normal’. Just having lunch or dinner at a restaurant with a friend would be a gift. And visiting my children, or having them visit me, the greatest gift of all. For now, around the globe, we’re all in the same mess. We’re holding up, but it’s far from easy. And we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still running rampant among us, and we’re all trying not to get sick.

 

And on the political front in the US, we have seen unrest and dissent that has never been seen before. Demonstrations, protests, riots, racial issues have exploded, nerves are raw, political battles are raging, crime has risen in many countries, with people out of work and desperate for money. People are suffering, depression is constant, anxiety is common, every age group has been affected mentally and physically, by the pandemic, and political unrest has exploded in the US. It’s a lot for anyone to cope with. And the best any of us can do is live it day by day, hang on, and get from one day to the next. It won’t last forever, but right now it’s hard.

 

I was reminded today of something a priest told me, when I was facing major challenges in my own life, a divorce, and the death of my son. I often say that bad things come in bunches, like grapes. And right now, we are dealing with a life-threatening pandemic and all its fallout, we’re worn out after a year of it, and now the country appears to be shaky politically. People are traumatized, fuses are short, and tempers are running high. Some people are isolated because of the pandemic, and desperately lonely.

 

When I was coping with a lot in my own life, the priest I mentioned said that sometimes we have a mess in our closet, and the only way to deal with it, is pull everything out of the closet to straighten it out. And to make things neat again, we make an even bigger mess getting everything out of the closet, to sort it all out, throw things away, and put what’s left back neatly. I think that’s where we are now collectively. We’re pulling everything out of the closet and dealing with the mess all around us, the virus, the politics, all the explosive issues, and we will get the closet put back together neatly, but right now we’re at the messiest part, with heaps of ‘stuff’ all around us, while trying to do triage and restore order. And we’ll just have to wade through the mess until we sort it all out and wind up with a neat closet in the end. And this is the messy part. Life is messy sometimes, and this is. It reassured me when the priest said that to me, and I thought of it today. We are standing up to our knees, or waist, or neck in messes, which in time will get sorted out. But right now, everywhere we turn, it looks like a mess. And even more frustrating, we didn’t make the mess, it’s not our fault, none of it. It happened to us, like a bolt of lightning from the sky.

 

We each have to find our own way to cope with it, how to relax, how to breathe, how to hang on, how to believe and know that things will go back into good order eventually, and we have to make the best of it until then. Whatever works for you, as long as it’s legal and safe and doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, is fair. Exercise, meditation, spending time with a loved one, or alone, listening to music, doing a painting, reading a book (yes, please!!), watching something on TV, helping someone in worse shape than you are, praying, going for a walk. Getting a glimpse of beauty, or finding something to laugh at. There is an expression in French for these situations: “Raise the Hearts”, which applies here. We have to raise our hearts, even if we feel like our hearts are dragging, even if we’re scared or anxious or angry that any of this is happening. We will come through it, we HAVE to hang onto hope. There is no other choice. And gratitude helps too, no matter how small what we are grateful for.

 

At times like this, I turn to spiritual inspiration to find balance and strength. For others, it’s exercise, or other things. The love and comfort of the people I love gives me strength too. But sometimes, we don’t even have that, and we have to find courage and strength on our own. In my darkest hours, after my son’s death, working on the streets with the homeless gave my life purpose and brought me back to life again. I would lose myself among them, working to serve them and bring them supplies and comfort, dangerously and sometimes even foolishly brave because I didn’t care what happened to me, but all those kind people I supposedly helped, actually helped heal my broken heart. And today, we don’t have the same freedoms, since we need to be careful of Covid, we can’t hug a stranger or touch a hand, and have to use caution, but there are ways to help others even now, without putting yourself at risk. Whatever works for you, and is safe.

 

I found a passage in the Bible today that brought me comfort, and I share it with you. Even if that’s not your form of comfort, I share it with you, in case it helps. From John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 

 

Have a peaceful week. We’ll get the mess sorted out, and the closet of our lives sorted out neatly again.

 

I send you love and comfort, and a hug,  Danielle

 

1/11/21, Just keep swimming and we’ll get there!!!

Posted on January 11, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, we’re eleven days into this New Year, and how’s it working for you so far? It’s a little early to make any pronouncements, but one thing is for sure, life certainly isn’t dull in the US these days, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic, the economy, and just keeping one’s head above water. In every race, in every marathon, in every challenge, even in childbirth, there comes a moment when you feel overwhelmed and think ‘I can’t do this….this is too much’, and you think you’ll drown. That’s the hard part, that ultimate moment, and if you just hang on, the victory will come later, the praise, the elation, or even just the satisfaction of having finished the race. I think that’s sort of where we are at the moment. That hard time when you think you’ll drown. We won’t, we can’t, we just have to keep swimming, either dog paddling as best we can, or in long smooth strokes. I have moments of panic myself in the pandemic, but you just have to stay calm. The storm WILL pass. Soon, I hope.

 

My panic was over the Covid numbers this week. The US broke ALL records, with 307,000 new cases in one day this past week. Staggering. And if you count backwards from that date, you land on Christmas, 14 days earlier, and that shocking number of new cases is the direct result of what people did on Christmas: how much they traveled or partied or how many people they saw without paying attention to the rules of social distance and wearing masks. I will admit it, that number infuriated me, and showed us that while my family and I cancelled all our plans, didn’t travel, and didn’t spend Christmas together, in order to follow the rules——others didn’t make the same sacrifice, traveled, had fun, saw lots of people, and now the rest of it pay the price for it, for the highest numbers of any country in the entire pandemic. And a week from now, we’ll know how badly they behaved, and how irresponsible they were on New Year’s Eve.  It really is discouraging to see to what degree people don’t follow the guidelines or the rules.

 

The news this week was not super encouraging. There were the very bad numbers in the US, and rising numbers elsewhere in the world, though not to that degree. January is always kind of dull and an anti-climax after the holidays, the weather is cold and dreary in many places. California is blazing with the virus, out of control, so the entire state is locked down, and people there are depressed about it, and fed up. Things are very bad in Britain too, with a mutant strain of the virus that is more contagious, and which has already traveled to the US, France, Canada, and several other countries. And the vaccine is rolling out slowly everywhere. So bad weather, bad numbers, and now the price to pay for irresponsible behaviour over the holidays. That’s a tough first week in a new year. But what else can we expect if people are careless? And the long awaited vaccine is rolling out more slowly than planned, in every country. Governments are scurrying to get organized.

 

It was a historic week too. Although I am not political, and shy away from politics, we were all witness to an incredible scene in Washington this week, of protesters, or rioters, seemingly easily invading the Capitol building, looting, pillaging, stealing paintings, breaking into offices and disrespecting them, our Congressmen fleeing the building in terror, being escorted to safety, and the deaths of 5 people as a result of the chaos. Whatever one’s politics or beliefs, the images were shocking, and a sign of massive disrespect, in a country which is otherwise civilized and sane, where one can’t even imagine scenes of that kind, more typical of underdeveloped countries where civil unrest is common. But in the US? Land of the free and the brave? Where freedom is a remarkable gift, and mutual respect one of the cornerstones of the foundation the country was built on. What happened? How could scenes like that happen in the US? The entire world looked on dumbstruck, like watching someone having a major temper tantrum and losing control in a department store or some public place, while people watched in horror and astonishment with no idea what to do to stop it. It was embarrassing, frightening, sad, disheartening, and not a proud moment in our history, whatever one’s beliefs. It was a loss of control, and an absence of respect in a major way. And it isn’t the image or the way America wants to be viewed in the eyes of the world. Violence is never the answer and never achieves a successful result. So on several fronts, it was a discouraging week at best.

 

So what do we do now? Just like the marathon or the race or a challenging childbirth, we just keep going, keep swimming, keep running, and we’ll get there in the end. When people behave and follow the rules, we’ll get a grip on Covid, the vaccine will roll out more smoothly in time, the pandemic will NOT last forever. The economy will recover. We just have to keep swimming, just keep running in the right direction, and we will get where we need to be.

 

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going” and “Never, Never, Never, Never Give up!!”.

 

And just as an aside, I had a new book come out this week in hard cover, “Neighbors”. Maybe if people stay home and read for a little while, things will calm down and get sane again.

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I am counting on it!! This is just the beginning of a brand new year, and the best is yet to come!!! Keep Swimming!!!

 

lots of love, Danielle