Archive for the ‘Getting Along’ Category

7/6/20, Let’s Save America!!

Posted on July 6, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

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

 

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

 

Have a great week, love, Danielle

 

6/30/20, Daily Life in the time of Covid

Posted on June 30, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week and that things are going well where you are. Getting the virus in control seems to be a bumpy road, with some places faring better than others. And much harder dealing with an entire continent, than dealing with individual countries in the rest of the world.

 

I’ve been keeping busy with editing and re-writes, and new books, and I hope you’ve had time to read “Daddy’s Girls”, the story of a father and his three very different daughters should be good distraction from all we’re dealing with!!

 

And I’ve really been having fun puttering around my house, replacing some things I’ve meant to replace for a long time. (A flood in my kitchen, which drowned two rugs, gave me a good excuse to buy two new ones. I bought one on line from Ikea and I love it, a bright red!! And bought two orange rugs for one of my daughter’s bedroom, and an orange chair!!). And fixing other things I haven’t had time to get to until now. Seeing my publishers, an occasional lunch outdoors on a terrace with a friend. The confinement and the stress that we’re all under has been a test for some friendships. It’s interesting to see who comes through, and who doesn’t, and who our real friends are. And I bought some pretty flowers for the house in interesting colors, brown, yellow, and dark purple.

 

I’m anxious about the virus blazing in the US, which is alarming on the news. And anxious to see the numbers go down, and the borders open again, so people can come and go freely again, and for it to become safe enough to go and visit my children. I hope things improve in the next few weeks. We all need some peace after the harrowing months we’ve had. And life has begun to seem more normal, getting used to wearing masks and social distancing. It will be wonderful when the need for them is over. I am sorry to see the wearing of masks become a political issue—if it is for our health and safety, and a necessary factor in getting the virus in control. It’s a matter of health, protecting ourselves and a courtesy to others—-not politics.

 

I hope that all is well with you and you have a fun week ahead. And whatever you do, stay safe, protect yourself and those you love, and let’s get this virus in control!!! Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/15/20, Joy

Posted on June 15, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? I hope things are getting easier, wherever you are, that the confinement is getting eased, you can get out more and do some things you love, that you’ve had some good moments to share with people you love, and had some good news!!! And that you and everyone you love are healthy, and haven’t been touched by the virus.

 

The confinement and the slowing down of our daily lives—–by eliminating so many things we usually do and take for granted every day and enjoy—–this time of lock-down and even as it begins to ease now in many places, has given us all more time to think than usual. We focus first on what we’ve lost, what we can’t do and wish we could, we focus on our fears for ourselves and others, our livelihoods and our jobs, and the world in general. We hear the noise of fear constantly, loud as a drumbeat: ‘a second wave, it will get worse, more people will get sick, we’ll lose our jobs’—–and beyond the drumbeat of fear, there are the die hard optimists who tell us that the sky is bluer without so many planes, that the flowers smell better without pollution, and the birds chirp louder. Okay, but let’s face it, give me a cheeseburger at one of my favorite restaurants after an afternoon of shopping, a day or evening with ALL my kids around me, a hug and (unmasked) kiss from someone I love, and a # 1 book, a fat bank account and no financial worries, and a solid economy, and life would be pretty damn sweet. It all seemed so simple before the pandemic. It wasn’t simple every day, but looking back, it seemed that way, and there was a lot we all took for granted. Now everything is complicated—keeping our distance, remembering to wear a mask, worrying about our loved ones, washing our hands constantly, bracing for bad news, and trying to resist the loud voice of our fears—-it’s not easy. I’m an Olympic Class worrier, and the pandemic has given me LOTS to worry about, starting with worrying about the safety, well being and health of my loved ones, and even my own. And after that, the list of what I worry about is LONNNNGGGGG. Endless!!!

 

I was thinking yesterday of what is missing right now from our daily lives, for many of us. A simple word. Joy. JOY. That burst of happiness that overtakes you, fills your heart, and makes you happy.  It takes less to make me worry right now—-but it also takes less to make me happy. Being able to go to an outdoor restaurant has been a real delight and a thrill. Walking down the street after being trapped in my apartment for 74 days—-a VERY long time— was great!! A photo of one of my kids….something that makes me laugh. A sunny day of gorgeous weather. A call from a friend, the realization that someone loves me, either one of my children or a close friend—-or the awareness of how much I love them. A thoughtful gesture. Finishing (writing) a book. There have been some very special moments during this hard time that have touched my heart. Being far from my children for the past three and a half months, confined alone, and with social distancing, I am aware of how much the human touch matters to us. I have one close friend I can hug now, and who hugs me. (A designated hugger!) Other than that, there is no physical contact between people right now, we can’t get close enough to touch each other if you respect social distancing. We need people in our lives, exchanges, conversations, touch, love, hugs, laughter, things to smile about. We are not made to live in isolation, or at a distance from other humans.

 

But in a quiet moment yesterday, I wasn’t thinking about how blue the sky is without planes, or how much better the flowers smell.(That’s nice, but eh?….really??), I was thinking that what we all need and must not forget, is to try to put Joy into our lives, right now, even before the pandemic ends—especially before it ends!!!—-we need to do something fun that makes us smile, to reach out to the people who make us happy, to seize the joyful moments large and small, to laugh, to do something that really brings you joy, even something silly, and to seize and cherish those moments when they happen.

 

I think Joy is vital to us, like hope and love, and food and air. Let’s try to remember to put more joy into our lives and the lives of others right now. We all need it. Just pure simple joy, a great meal, a belly laugh (my youngest son sent me a hysterically funny photo of himself this week, I laughed for 5 minutes and smiled for an hour after I saw it)….we need a good laugh right about now, a happy moment when we stop worrying about what’s coming next and what isn’t. I think I had forgotten about joy in the pandemic. We are so focused on safety, which is important too. But let’s try to focus on Joy, on feeling good, on treasuring the small moments that light up our hearts, and our souls…..and after that, I’ll remember to notice that the sky is bluer. Joy. I wish you a joyful week, a great belly laugh, a bunch of smiles, some really happy moments, and a couple of great surprises!!!

 

with lots and lots of love, Danielle

 

5/13/20, Deconfinement

Posted on May 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How is it going? Are you in a State that is confined, or one that’s open, or sort of between the two??? Sheltering in Place is definitely challenging, and it is a real sacrifice to be deprived of other humans, the freedom to do what you want and go outside.

 

This is a Big Week in France. On Monday, the government eased up, and things are slowly loosening up. As of Monday this week, stores were allowed to open, florists, dry cleaners, businesses, and we are now allowed to go out with masks, social distancing and lots of hand washing or hand sanitizer.  We can have friends over or visit them, a maximum of 10 people.  I had been in confinement for 74 days, almost 11 weeks, nearly 3 months. It has been long and hard.

 

So Wednesday was my big day, we can go out now, so I walked down the street near where I live. I’ve waited for this day!!! I have longed for the ability to go out!!!

 

I hope you’re taking care of you, and following all the rules!!!

 

I have been working very hard on 3 new books. I hope you love them when they come out!!!

 

Take good care, see you soon, love, Danielle

4/20/20, Keeping Hope Alive

Posted on April 20, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, I don’t need to ask you what you’ve been doing this week, or if you’ve had a great, fun week, or tried something new. We’re all doing the same thing, around the world, sheltering in place, social distancing, I’m hoping that you’re not sick, and that neither you nor anyone dear to you has been affected. Right now, if you’re not sick, you’re a step ahead. I hope that’s the case!!!

 

I’ve never run a marathon, but I imagine it must be like what we’re doing now. You start out at a steady pace, maybe saving your energy for later, and then you run and run and run, and at some point it gets really hard, and you think you can’t possibly make it, it’s going to kill you, and if you have the endurance, you somehow make it to the end, and no matter when you cross the finish line, it’s a victory, even in last place!!!   I think we’re in the hard part now, the ‘Oh my God how long will this go on, I can’t do this’ part….. except you do, and you wake up another day (like Ground Hog Day), and do it again, and keep going, till the end. Childbirth is like that too, there comes a point when you think you REALLY can’t do it, you’re going to die. But you don’t and there is a HUGE reward at the end of that: A Baby!!! And the hard part doesn’t last long, some hours, a day, and you get your big prize!!! This is a lot slower, and longer, and the prize is that we will save lives by being confined.  It sounds like it’s easy to stay home. It’s not. Isolated, alone, or in small quarters, with family tensions, uncertainty, living with fear day after day, with NO idea when it will end, or if you or your loved ones will be affected, this is tough, and it takes a toll on us all.

 

I’ve been confined for 6 weeks, I got a head start by about a week. I have not left my apartment in 6 weeks. I have not jogged, gone for walks, been in the fresh air, seen my loved ones, family or friends, I’m isolated and alone far from home. I’m working and finding it incredibly difficult. Sometimes I’m scared, sometimes I’m okay. After I watch the news, I’m anxious for days. I wake up in the night and don’t sleep much. I talk to my kids a lot. I’m worried much of the time about my kids. I pray. I walk in the house and try to keep busy, I cry easily and am not a crier usually.  And it means the world to me when I hear from someone I love. This is HARD, for everyone, and for some people more than others, depending on the circumstances they are confined in. There are reports of domestic violence and child abuse. I’m comfortable, I have food, I can’t complain, but no matter where you are, this is tough, and it is stretching out with no idea for anyone when it will end.

 

There is a really grim side to this, I wake up every morning and check the “numbers” in the countries and cities where I have loved ones, of how many people are newly sick, the overall total, and how many died. We read it like the stock market or baseball scores. Numbers of deaths have become common place. It’s like a war. But someone’s loved ones are in those numbers. And if the numbers go down, it means we are beating the pandemic, and one day we will be free again. My heart sinks daily when the numbers go up.

 

In the beginning, I got floods of some of the funniest jokes and videos I’ve ever seen, and some cute ones. I notice that now I have not had a single funny joke email in a week. The initial laughter and good humor has stopped. I’m hearing very little, if anything from friends. People have stopped writing and talking, and in the past few days, everyone I’ve spoken to sounds down and discouraged, or on edge. On average, most people have been confined for a month now, and it is wearing on everyone. The hardest part of the confinement has begun as it stretches out. The part where you really have to use all your strength to keep your courage up to stay in it.

 

News from our governments, state, local, or federal, and pronouncements, is either delivered every 2 weeks or every 4. We wait for those announcements, hoping for good news, and release, like children wait for a reward.  In France, where I am confined, we waited desperately for the President’s speech a week ago. We had been fully confined for 4 weeks, our numbers (of newly sick) had gone down significantly, and I think everyone was hoping for an easing of confinement in the next 2 weeks. We had “done our homework” and were hoping for the reward. And instead of a gold star, we got a “That’s good, now try harder”, when we had already tried so hard. We didn’t cross the finish line, the marathon got extended. We got hit with another full month of confinement, and no reward. It hit everyone hard and discouraged everyone. The borders remain closed, and we remain fully confined at home. And we got an additional stern ‘punishment’. The President announced that “All ‘Elders’ will not be included in the ‘De-Confinement’ when it happens’. Period. That’s it. Done. An entire segment of the population will not be released when it finally ends. All ‘Elders’ were just disqualified from the marathon. Technically, ‘Elders’ (‘Seniors’) are anyone over 60, who at this moment are not allowed to leave their homes, can have NO visitors, see no family, even if they’re sick, and cannot go out. So a week ago, that entire segment of the population was told that they will not be released from confinement, indefinitely. It wiped out all hope for anyone over 60. And 60 year olds are being viewed as the same as 85 and 90 year olds, with other serious illnesses in old age homes.  People fully engaged in active life, running businesses, in good health were instantly condemned to become shut-ins indefinitely. There has been a huge, powerful reaction, from lawmakers that it is unconstitutional, ageist and discriminatory, from doctors that it makes no sense and is unnecessary, from psychiatrists claiming that it will cause a tidal wave of suicides. I suspect that plan will be dispensed with, but the mere announcement of it sent the country into a tailspin of additional depression, along with everyone getting an additional month of confinement.

 

In addition, people being notified by their employers that they have been fired, or had their salaries reduced long term not just for the confinement, by anywhere from 25 to 75% in the US, as the confinement extends, has added another layer of depression, and fear about the future.

 

One of the hardest things I have found are the rumor mongers. Since no one knows anything for sure, there are always a battalion of people anxious to pass on the latest terrible rumor as fact, and to forecast bad news. The truth of the pandemic is hard enough to swallow, without the bad rumors. There are several people who call me regularly to tell me the worst news they’ve heard, just in case I wasn’t worried enough already. They serve no useful purpose, and only make people more miserable. What’s the point of that?

 

Then there are the friends who have simply vanished, who assured one “you can count on me, I’m here for you!!” never to be heard from again, and don’t return a phone call. And in balance to that, the people you haven’t heard from in years, who call out of the blue to see how you are, which is really touching. And I appreciate the faithful friends who HAVE called and stayed in touch and reach out to me regularly mean more to me than they will ever know. They and my kids are what keep me going.

 

So, Friends, we’re in the hard part now. The lonely part. The endurance part.  The part where you think you’ve run as hard and as far as you can, and you find out that you have to run twice as far as you thought, over rough terrain, with obstacles that look insurmountable. But there’s no turning back now. We can’t give up. We just have to keep going, like childbirth or a marathon or anything really hard.  And we WILL get to the finish line!!! This will end at some point.

 

We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, and it looks dark as hell out there, but at some point there will be a turn in the road, and we’ll be blinded by that bright light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ll be at the finish line. I have always found the saying to be true: “The night is always darkest before the dawn”.

 

The night is dark, the road is long, but we’re getting there, even if it’s grueling. And we WILL get there and cross that finish line, in every country. And let’s hope the dawn comes soon. Until then, we will continue on this marathon, and keep Hope alive. I particularly loved the Easter message from Queen Elizabeth II of England who assured us that this pandemic will not break us, and we will prevail. She said that her message was “to people of all faiths and none”—–so that’s all of us. So hang in, dear friends, and join hands in Keeping Hope Alive. We CAN do it, and we WILL.  Each one of us is tougher than we thought we were. And no matter what happens, or whatever the news, Have a GREAT week!!!

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

 

PS: Hours after I wrote this blog, and 5 days after it was declared, the French government cancelled the rule that had been proposed a week ago that No One over 60 would be allowed to go out, leave their home, or have visitors, even family, for an indeterminate amount of time, after Lockdown Confinement ended. It caused untold angst after it was announced, and Lawmakers, jurists, doctors, psychiatrists and the general public set up a general outcry that it would be illegal, unconstitutional, discriminatory (and inhuman/cruel) to uphold it. I am delighted to say that the proposal has been rescinded, and the rule cancelled. So when we finally get out of confinement in France, EVERYONE will be free, at their own discretion as to whether they go out or not, depending on their health. Freedom!!! I can hardly wait for that day!!!)

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

Posted on February 24, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

love, Danielle

 

12/2/19, Juggling Act

Posted on December 2, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that everything is going smoothly in your life, getting ready for the holidays.

 

With Christmas only three weeks away, I was sitting quietly last night, thinking about all the things I have to do. I try very hard to be organized, which is the only way I managed with nine children, when they were younger, more than one house to run even now, and many books to write. I’m not as busy as I was when my kids were little, but things have a way of evening out. I write more books now, and Christmas shopping for my kids is more complicated and more of a challenge than spending an afternoon at Toys R Us, as I did then. (Not to mention putting all the toys together, which took hours—-and an engineering degree I didn’t have!!!). But Christmas and the holidays aren’t just about Christmas shopping. It’s about entertaining friends, preparing certain traditional foods. We used to bake brownies for all the kids’ friends and teachers, put them in pretty tins and deliver them. Writing the Christmas cards, going to school performances if you have young children. The list is endless of what many people do before the holidays. When I look back at all I did when my children were really young, I have no idea how I did it. Especially times Nine!!!

 

I think domestic tasks are more evenly divided now between men and women than they used to be, or at least I like to think so. With a husband who was of another generation then, he was not an active participant in household chores or Christmas preparations, although he loved Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if people realize all that women do by the time the turkey is on the table and the tree is decorated,  all the gifts are wrapped, and the Christmas music is playing. I was lucky in two things, or many things, but one is that I worked at home, on my own schedule, so I could work at night when the kids were asleep, and I was also lucky in that I don’t need a lot of sleep. I still do many things at night, because there are fewer interruptions, and I love to write at night, for the same reason, few interruptions. But as a working woman, the bulk of holiday tasks still falls to us, and somehow it’s expected. We shop for the gifts, and wrap them, if there’s cooking to be done, we do it (lucky for my family, I don’t, but I used to. I am not an outstanding chef, and never was). I did the Christmas cards, the baking (I’m a fairly decent baker). I went to every Christmas school performance, AND auditions, sports games, and all activities, not to mention the orthodontist, doctors’ appointments, and less exciting tasks even right before the holidays. And when the dogs had to go to the vet, I took them. My point is that women have always done an incredible number of ‘unofficial’ jobs, while holding down a real job, and taking care of children.

 

It’s true all year, not just during the holidays. My generation was told that we could “have it all”, an active satisfying, challenging career, AND a family. Women in earlier generations had to make a choice between family and career. We decided, and I did too, that we could have both, and succeed at both. And many women did. What no one told you were the sacrifices you’d have to make, the things you would simply not have time to do if you chose to “have it all”. I used my kids’ school hours to write my books, as well as writing at night. I don’t think I had lunch with a single friend for twenty years, until my kids grew up, and even now I rarely do. (It cuts right into the middle of the day and interrupts my work, to take the time to dress nicely, go somewhere, eat lunch, and get back. it takes 3 or 4 hours out of my work day, even if I enjoy it). I never had time to read a magazine when they were little, and fewer books than I liked. I had worked in advertising as a copywriter, and as a high school teacher, and was able to give that up and work at home on the books before I was thirty. But working at home meant juggling all the household and family tasks, AND doing my job of writing. I wore my hair long and pulled back because I rarely had time to get to the hairdresser. I loved to go shopping, but had little time for that. I think most men, and women who have opted for careers and not kids, don’t realize all the things you don’t have time to do for yourself if you have a family and a job. And they still ask “Have you done the Christmas cards yet?” I don’t know a single man who does them. There’s a lot you can do on the Internet now, but I think as women we take pride in doing the things that are supposedly part of our ‘job’, as mothers and partners. Most of us like doing those things, even if it means that we skip doing something for ourselves. I am amazed at all that I see women do, for their partners and families, and the sacrifices they make without a whimper. They really are the unsung heroes of our busy times.

 

I recently spoke to a female friend who is the head of a conglomerate of 5 publishing houses in France. She works incredibly hard, is married, and has two young children in lower school. It was midnight when we were speaking. She had been to three different book fairs that week in other cities. And while we were talking, she was making lasagna for a class event at her daughter’s school, and had a breakfast meeting with an author the next day.

 

I salute these brave busy women who do so much that no one even notices, and rarely thanks them for. No one realizes all the personal time they give up to do something for themselves that they might enjoy. Most of them don’t complain, they don’t remind us of all they do, whether during the holidays or during the rest of the year. Sometimes women really are heroes, for what they give up, for all they do, and for the incredible juggling acts they manage, to make their families and friends happy. My own life is a lot easier now, but I remember so well the many nights I fell into bed exhausted, or wanted to, but I still had a Halloween costume to make, or a doll house to decorate with tiny little rugs and miniature furniture, so it would be ready on Christmas.

 

So for those of you racing around madly, with no time for yourselves, doing everything—–I salute you with the greatest respect and endless admiration. It really is a juggling act, and in the end, even with little or no praise for it, it is well worth it. There is an enormous satisfaction that comes from it in the long run, and precious memories. I don’t regret a single lunch with a friend that I gave up, and the memories of the baking, making, and running around to make the holidays a success are a tender memory now.

 

Have a wonderful week, and even if you are racing at full speed, doing things for everyone else—take just a minute to do something for yourself!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

11/11/19, No Excuses

Posted on November 11, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I had a good one with interesting meetings, some rewarding work, some nice conversations with my kids, a friend I love whom I got to see which warmed my heart. And a manuscript I was waiting to edit was delayed in the mail, so I actually got a few days off, and even got to read someone else’s books for a change!!!

 

Among the books I particularly love are those by Joel Osteen, whom I am lucky enough to know and consider a friend, with his wonderful family, whom I’ve also met (mother, brother, sister, wife, kids, they’re a terrific bunch!!). Joel is a truly extraordinary person, warm, humble, incredibly bright, modest, kind, compassionate, he’s a minister and delivers his powerful positive message in a palatable, accessible way, even for people who don’t consider themselves religious. He’s written about a dozen books (#1 bestsellers on the NY Times list), and his books ALWAYS open my thought to new ideas, and leave me feeling stronger, better, more hopeful, happier and more positive about life. He has a tremendous gift. And the one thing I think our books have in common is that we try to share hope with our readers. I think hope is one of the most important things in life, as important as love, and sometimes even more so. We cannot live without hope. Many times, Joel’s books have given me hope when I thought things were looking pretty dark. And there is always some major thought or theme in his books that wakes me up to see things around me in a new light. They are like a burst of sunshine and fresh air for me.

 

On the back of one of his recent books, that I read last week, is an excerpt from the book: “Nothing will change until you make up your mind that you are not going to accept mediocrity. Why don’t you take the limitations off yourself? You have so much potential. Break out of that box and try something new…You are not limited by your education, by how you were raised, or your current situation. You are destined to rise higher.” He not only gives his readers hope, he shares his faith-driven energy with them. It works for me. What resonated for me in that excerpt was not being limited by our history and circumstances. Inside the book, he talks about “Getting rid of the excuses” and “remove the shame.” Wow!!! Those two thoughts really stopped me and made me think.

 

We all have ‘excuses’ for why we aren’t doing something or moving ahead, why we’re not pushing ourselves harder than we are: an accident, health, an injury, a terrible divorce, the loss of someone we love, a bad break up, losing a job, or as Joel said, a limited education, an abusive childhood, or maybe a bad relationship we allow to continue and don’t feel strong enough to get out of. At different times, we put up with some terrible situations and extreme emotional pain—-sometimes leaving the bad situation and being alone seems worse (which most of the time is not the case. Alone is better than abuse!!! Sometimes we get used to some really awful situations, and settle for them rather than risking the unknown). (I was in a therapy group once where a woman shared the incredible abuse her boyfriend was inflicting on her, cheating on her, beating her, taking her money, being nasty to her. It was a list an arm long, and someone asked why she didn’t leave him, and she said “But how do I know who I’d meet if I leave him, I might meet a really bad guy”. A REALLY bad guy? Are you kidding, Frankenstein, Dracula, or Adolf Hitler would have been better than the guy she had. It took a long time, but she did eventually leave him, and was a LOT happier.) Fear of the unknown paralyzes a lot of us, and keeps us in a bad spot. We also feel unworthy at times of anything, which is where Joel’s message is so strong: Remove the Shame. We all feel ashamed of things we’ve done, and where we’ve fallen short, which sometimes leads us to believe that we deserve to be punished and treated badly. If you take away the shame, and give it up (and figure you’ve already paid enough penance for it), it opens up a whole new vista of positive opportunities, and even happiness. Getting rid of the shame, and letting it go opens the door to a wealth of possibilities we ALL deserve. (Nobody is perfect!!!)

 

What resonated for me in his recent book was ‘Getting rid of the excuses’. Some of the excuses are buried deep, where others don’t see or hear them, but we use them for ourselves, the passes we give ourselves for why we can’t reach a better life (or attitude). When I read that line in his book, it woke me up, with a real jolt. I think the greatest (usually unspoken) excuse in my own life is that my mother left when I was 6, and I grew up alone with my father. (Which has its convenient sides—-I know more about cars than I do about makeup, which I wear very little of). I missed out on all those mother-daughter moments that most people have. It is also a brutally powerful message when your own mother leaves you. What does that say about you if your own mother rejects you? I know others it has happened to, men and women now, and it is a big deal to overcome. A HUGE deal. If you let it, it can set you up to be rejected, abandoned, or treated badly forever by others. It has been my excuse for being overprotective of my own children, too dependent on the men in my life, the message being “my mother left me, so please don’t you”. That’s a hell of a burden for another person to live with, and to put on them—it’s not their fault my mother left—nor mine. That’s the point. I wasn’t responsible for her leaving, so I shouldn’t have to carry the weight of that forever. And it SHOULDN’T be my excuse for being a burden on someone else, nor should I expect others to abandon me because she did. And if they do, it’s a brand new account, and NOT a replay of the past. But in seriously  introspective moments, I realize that privately I have used that as an ‘excuse’ for not trusting people, hanging on too tightly, or accepting bad behaviours from them that I shouldn’t (so they don’t leave too). Today is a whole new day. A new life. EVERY day.

 

The other excuse I could use, but don’t usually, or as much, is that I lost a son (to suicide). Losing anyone you love is agonizing, and losing a child is a special kind of excruciating pain——–but it’s still not an excuse to stop living yourself, to pay less attention to your other children, or be depressed for the rest of your life.  It was a terrible blow, there is no question, but I have fought hard not to let it be an ‘excuse’ in my life for sitting in a corner and feeling sorry for myself. I still have tough times with it at times, but I have tried not to let it define me or my life. (“oh the poor thing, she lost a son”. Yes, I did, and it’s a terrible loss, but I don’t want to be a poor thing or have it be my ‘excuse’ for staying frozen in that place. My son Nick would have hated that, he expected more of me than that, and so do I). I think I was lucky that a woman I’ve never liked came up to me at his funeral, looked me in the eye and said “You will NEVER recover from this.” Holy Sh**#@@”, what an awful thing to say to someone, like a life sentence. When she said the words to me, even in my fog of grief, I thought “Oh NO!!!” I’m not going to let that happen, and I fought hard not to let that happen (We started two foundations in his name to help the mentally ill, I worked on the streets with the homeless actively for 11 years with one of our foundations, I wrote more books than ever, was closer than ever to my kids, and 5 years later I started an art gallery which gave me endless joy for almost 6 years. I did everything I could not to let his loss crush me and destroy me. I did NOT want that to be an excuse for no longer living a full life.

 

A bad divorce can be an excuse for no longer living a full life, or a limited education—-there are so many people now who have done outstanding things, and even made fortunes with poor educations, or have had bad lives before that. (In another therapy group I was in, dealing with grief and loss, a woman talked sobbing about how her husband had left her, and she had stopped her life completely. Gently, I asked how long it had been since he left, assuming it had been weeks or maybe months. She answered “26 years”…..that’s a long time to grieve a bad marriage and not move on.

 

 

I am not dismissing or minimizing the terrible things that can and have happened to all of us. But it seems as though we have two choices, to let it beat us, or not let it beat us. And we sometimes do use excuses to give ourselves a pass to not lead a full life after something hard happens. Reading Joel’s book made me want to throw those excuses away. Yes, my mother left me at 6. But I don’t want to let that rule my life or affect me today. And I was ashamed then and later that my own mother had left me. That shame is someone else’s and doesn’t belong to me. Ashamed too that I got divorced, which I saw as a failure on my part that I couldn’t convince two husbands to stay. But I’ve had a very good life in spite of that. I don’t want to use those excuses. I don’t want excuses to limit my life.

 

I don’t like age as an excuse either. I want to cheer every time I hear about old people who are working fully, or doing something remarkable, and there are many, many, many older people leading full, productive lives. I heard about a woman yesterday who just got married at 99, she married a 73 year old man, and I thought Good For Her!!! (And Bravo to him, for seeing her value as a human being and her beauty). And I know of two 107 year old women, in Italy and Japan, who are in remarkably good shape. These days, it happens.

 

I always find Joel Osteen’s books life changing. Those two simple phrases, among some very very valid points throughout the book, about “Get rid of the excuses” and “Remove the shame” really spoke to me, and maybe to you as well reading it here.

 

In any case, I don’t want any excuses Not to lead a full and happy life, and I’m all for getting rid of anything that stops us, or blocks us, or brings us down!!!

 

Have a great week, and I hope WONDERFUL things happen to you!!! You deserve it!! We all do!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

11/4/19, Forgiveness Before Thanks

Posted on November 4, 2019

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and maybe even some fun on Halloween, with or without children. My children have always dressed up on Halloween, even into their young adulthood, and gone to parties, but they all work so hard at their jobs now, that I think most of them stayed home that night. My youngest son sent me a photo of a very elaborate pumpkin he carved, so he paid tribute to Halloween after all. And I gave a dinner for my God Children, with black cats, a black owl, and glittery green rats on the table, and lots of candy. It’s a fun day. And now my thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that always makes me think. It’s really all about friendship, gathering friends around you, and being grateful for whatever you can think of. On hard years, that can be a real challenge, but it’s an important thought. Being Grateful, giving thanks. Sometimes being grateful for even the smallest things can make a huge difference. It’s a lot easier to complain about what you don’t have, than to be grateful for what you do. But being grateful, even for a minute is so important.

 

When I have time, I like reading the Bible at times. I know that sounds corny, but I often find some thought that helps me. I get lost in the ‘Begats’, about who is related to who. But there are simple phrases that jump out at me that have meant a lot to me. “Love never fails”, I love that one. “Nothing is impossible” has brought me a lot of comfort, and there is a phrase that meant a lot to me one very lonely Thanksgiving when I was alone years ago, “God places the solitary in families”. It proved to be true that year, I was invited to spend the holiday with friends, and years later, surrounded by my own big family, I remembered that phrase and it touched me. I also find guidelines sometimes about rules of life and ethics that make sense, and I’d either forgotten or tried to ignore. One of those was about forgiveness. A big subject.

 

Somewhere in the Bible it says about how many times you’re supposed to forgive—-and the answer is 70 Times 7. Holy Moley!! That’s 490. I’m supposed to forgive someone 490 Times??!!! Arrghkkkkk….I was thinking more like maybe 2 or 3. Okay, maybe 4. But 490? THAT is a VERY tall order. I guess that’s an ideal, and I’ll never get even remotely close to that. And somewhere else it says (loosely translated) not to show up all cheery and dressed up, when you haven’t forgiven the people in your life. Forgive them first, and THEN show up. Hmm, that’s also a good point. And not always easy to do. So it seems like before Thanksgiving comes forgiveness, which actually seems like good advice, —how can you be really grateful, if you have a long list in your heart of people you’re mad at and don’t want to forgive? That is a real philosophical challenge, and a human one. Forgiveness is important, the weight on one’s heart if one doesn’t forgive is heavy. And some things are very hard to forgive. Big betrayals, big hurts, really bad things people have done to you.

 

I’ve had my share of big things to forgive, and I’m sure you have too. If you live a full life, at some point, people are going to hurt you. And then it’s your decision how you feel about it. One of the biggest in my life was an embezzlement I experienced, it went on for 16 years before I discovered it. It was very cleverly done, and took an enormous toll on me, for a lot of money. Once discovered, I had to sell a beach house I loved, close my art gallery which I really loved, and close down the street outreach program I had for the homeless, which nearly broke my heart (we served 4,000 people a year, and gave them direly needed supplies). I had to do all those things to ‘right the ship’ again financially, and I have a family to support. It was a terrible blow. And because of the statute of limitations, the embezzler was only punished for the last 3 years of the crime, and couldn’t be prosecuted for the other 13 years of embezzled money. It was a terrible experience for me, and everyone affected by it (like the people who worked at the gallery who lost their jobs when I had to close, and the homeless we could no longer serve). The embezzler went to prison, but not for long. How do you deal with something like that? Do you stay mad forever, do you hate someone for what they did? (Someone I knew well, trusted, and saw every day for 16 years, a trusted employee). You can’t stay mad and hate them, or it poisons you. At some point you have to let it go. That was one of my greatest challenges for forgiveness, and I still think about it at times. And there have been others, not embezzlements, but people who have hurt me. And surely people who have hurt you too, maybe even in your family, at work, or among your friends. I had very unkind parents, which is a lot to forgive too. This year,  “friends” (a couple) set me up, invited me to a dinner party, and exposed me to 2 journalists (without warning me), one of them apparently famous for writing vicious untrue things about famous people in the press. I never met them at the party, didn’t talk to them, and didn’t know they were there—–until a very nasty false “interview” appeared in the press, which was hurtful. And I was very angry at the ‘friends’ who set me up, and I’m still wrestling with it in my head. (The article was withdrawn, because it was proven that there had never been an interview, and what was said wasn’t true). I probably won’t see the ‘friends’ again, but I don’t want to carry that around with me, so sooner or later, I will have to forgive them, even if I don’t see them again. Forgiveness can be a MAJOR challenge. And 490 times??? Wow!!! You’ve got to be kidding!!! How about 489? or 2?

 

But it’s a good point, how grateful can you be, if you are lugging a heavy sack of anger around, at the people you haven’t forgiven.

 

Forgiveness is a work in progress for most of us. Sometimes it comes easily, especially some small slight, but sometimes it’s really hard to forgive.  So before I show up for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and delicious stuffing (my favorite!!!), I know I’ll have work to do, to forgive the people who have hurt me past and present. And the more I can forgive, the better the pie and the stuffing will taste, and the more joyful the occasion will be, being with the people I love, and not dragging the ‘unforgiven’ people with me like a weight on my heart.

 

It’s something to think about, and it is a big subject. We all have people we need to forgive, for big and small hurts and ‘crimes’ against us. And when we are finally able to forgive them, and set that burden down, the thanks and the gratitude are that much sweeter…..and I’m VERY grateful that there is no one on my list that I need to forgive 490 times!!!! Once or twice will do me just fine,thanks!!!

 

Have a wonderful week, full of peace and joy, and happy things. Lots of happy things, and may all your burdens be light!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/19/19, Mixed Bag

Posted on August 19, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good, even a great week!!! A nice easy one. The last of the summer is upon us. I’m ready for cool weather, new projects, hard work, good times and hopefully a Fall that will inspire me. I worked on about 5 different books this summer, which is crazy, but was productive. I worked on most of them in massive heat waves wherever I was. My poor dogs look totally fed up with the heat. Every time we are in a new place with a new heat wave, they look at me as if to say “Really??? Again??? You’ve GOT to be kidding!!!!” I kind of feel the same way about it by now, after two months in and out of record breaking temperatures (the hottest on record ever in the history of France—-in both June and July. With No Air Conditioning). I promise not to complain when I’m freezing somewhere this winter….I am READY for snow, thank you!!!!

 

Working on my books always leads to some serious/deep thoughts, as I try to resolve the problems of the characters in the books as they face various challenges. I try to think how I would solve the same problems—I usually figure it out better for my characters than I would for myself!!! I get to control the story when I’m writing and guide it in a direction that makes sense, seems fair, and is uplifting, while still remaining real. Real Life isn’t quite as easy to direct!! I learn new things when I write the books, both in the research and the themes. And sometimes, life follows art. It led me to thoughts about completeness, which I shared with you in my last blog. And I was thinking about the irony of ‘doubt’ the other day, and ‘pride’. Have you ever noticed that whatever area you take the most pride in—is usually where Doubt or disappointment will hit you right between the eyes not long after. Coincidence maybe, or just the irony of life, or a reminder not to be TOO proud of ourselves, or too sure of ourselves. Congratulate yourself on how smoothly your job is going, and the next thing you know, you hit a real bump at work or with someone at work. Tell yourself how great your family is, and the next thing you know, you’re arguing with one of them, or how loyal your friends are, and one of them does something lousy and really disappoints you. Maybe that keeps us on our toes, and striving to be and do better, and teaches us not to take anything for granted (or be too proud of ourselves. It keeps me humble!!). And whatever philosophical things I think eventually turns up in the books, to share with you, because I figure that we all go through the same problems, and you deal with the same issues I do.

 

Another annoying thing is that I never like to have my photograph taken. I never like the way I look. And these days, it’s a major challenge. Used to be, people would pose you for a photograph, and you could kind of sneak out of it by the time they got everyone to stand still. Today everyone has a cell phone in their hand during every waking hour, and before you can blink, they take your picture, with your mouth full, your eyes crossed, making a bad face, or on the worst bad hair day you’ve had in 20 years. Ugh. And cell phone pictures are SOOOOO unflattering. But what’s really annoying is that at any given time, when I don’t like the way I look, I grumble and groan, and then 5 years later, the photograph turns up, you look at it and think, “Wow I looked pretty good then, not so old, and relatively okay”, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. What was I complaining about? And I think now I look so much worse….and five years from now, today’s photos will look pretty good. It would be nice if I didn’t cringe at the photos of today!!!! I laughed when I saw a painting recently by a fun artist whose work I really like, Ashley Longshore. She does some really funny stuff, and I have a painting of hers I love. All of my daughters are very weight conscious, particularly the 3 who work in fashion (and are all 3 much too thin!!), and one of them is particularly conscious of weight, and always asks “Do I look fat in this?” whatever she is wearing. The painting I saw said “No, you don’t look fat, you look crazy”. It struck me funny, the daughter in question is not crazy, but she sure isn’t fat either!!!! I have a bracelet that says “Do I look fat in this bracelet?” which makes me laugh too!!! Most of us worry too much about our weight, and fashion sets a standard most humans just can’t live by and shouldn’t!!! Most women who look at fashion magazines don’t realize that the girls they’re seeing in the photos are 17 years old, and sometimes younger, starve themselves, and haven’t had a decent meal in years. It’s not a healthy standard to set your sights on!!! Or even an attractive one!!!

 

I have a new book coming out in hardcover in about 10 days, “The Dark Side” that’s exciting and a little different for me. It’s about the psychiatric illness “Munchhausen by Proxy”, where some very sick mothers either fake severe illnesses in their very young kids, or make them sick. It’s very hard to catch them at it, and they put their children’s lives at risk. The book is something of a thriller as we watch one of these mothers with her child. It’s an exciting book, with a fascinating theme, and I hope you love it!!!! The research I did for it was terrifying, watching interviews with some of these mothers.

 

Have a good week!!! I have a busy one ahead, some fun stuff and some not so fun. (Hmmm….sounds like real life). I had a wonderful time a few days ago, having lunch and spending the afternoon with my youngest son. His fiancée was away, and he took me to lunch, and we spent the afternoon shopping and doing errands together. He is such good company, and I had a really terrific time!!! And the next day, I went to Ikea with another of my kids. Ikea is always an adventure, and I love it and always find some fun stuff!!! (Along with a lot of other great stuff, they have great stuffed toys, and my dogs love them. I came home with a giant shopping bag of toys for my dogs!!! They loved them!!)

 

So have a great week, and I hope some wonderful things happen to you!!! You deserve it!!!

 

 

love, Danielle