Archive for the ‘Getting Along’ Category

10/19/20, Before the Dawn

Posted on October 19, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are again. As I write this, the week begins, and every week I try to think of fun things to tell you, reports of where I’ve been, and as the saying goes “all roads lead to Rome”, back to Covid. I’m not going to fashion shows to report to you. I’m seeing them on video, with my hair a mess, wearing jeans and an old sweater, and the only spectators I am watching them with are my 3 Chihuahuas, who are no better dressed than I am at the moment. I am not eating at indoor restaurants, only on outdoor terraces, or open air restaurants, and it’s getting chilly at night, so I’m not dining out often. I haven’t been shopping lately, or been to a museum, or a movie (I’d rather watch at home). I haven’t flown anywhere since February (or seen my children, ugh, still, but travel still seems daunting.).  I didn’t take a vacation this year, because my kids couldn’t come to Europe and it was dangerous to go home, so I couldn’t write about “My Summer Vacation”, and I’m seeing fewer friends and having lunch out less often than I’d like, and not entertaining at home, except for a few friends. For the moment, Covid seems to be running our lives. It is challenging scientists, politicians, religious leaders, and ordinary people like you and me. It invades our thoughts, our lives, cancels our plans, and makes ordinary activities a life and death decision. The only thing I am doing is writing more than ever before. And re organizing my closets. Again.

 

Covid has definitely given 2020 a bad name, and will be a bad memory for most people, and a tragic one for some. If you look more closely into each of our lives, some good things have happened, but the drumroll of Covid always in the background drowns out some of the happier sounds. For instance, in our family we’ve had 2 weddings since the beginning of the year. One, immediately pre-Covid, with dancing, touching, laughing, kissing, 150 guests, and everyone was carefree and had a ball. The second one, during Covid, postponed 3 times until the bride and groom finally gave up and got married alone with 2 strangers as their only witnesses, and no guests, and no family by their own choice. But they’re married now, and we’ll celebrate next year. One of my sons and his wife are expecting a baby. And we have two new puppies in the family (a miniature dachshund and a tiny teacup Yorkie. Lucy and Coco Monkey). Everyone is healthy, which is the greatest blessing of all. So some good things have happened, even with Covid going on. But there is no question, it’s distracting and scary as hell at times. And the daily uncertainty of what will happen next is unnerving us all. The sudden rise of numbers of cases all over the world is disconcerting to say the least. I try to keep everything as normal as possible, but some days are harder than others, especially far from my family, who have always been the mainstay of my life. It’s weird and a challenge to be on my own.

 

Family and friends in other cities report that their cities aren’t the same, look different, some sound grimly depressing. In Paris, one sees the opposite: everything looks normal, especially on beautiful sunny days, people are busy, the city is unchanged, but you know that the virus is out there lurking, a constant threat if you’re not careful, and everyone you see is wearing a mask (except teenagers who don’t care).

 

In a more religious vein, I am reminded of Bible stories, of Daniel surviving the lion’s den, of the Hebrew boys thrown into a blazing fire and came out of it, alive, unscathed “without even the smell of smoke on them”….David and Goliath. We will beat this in the end, ‘without the smell of smoke on us’. Nothing lasts forever, not even Covid. We just have to do our best to stay safe and wait it out, be sensible and not careless, mindful of others, and have the best life we can under the circumstances.

 

I write almost all the time, I have started needle pointing again, I have the neatest closets of anyone on the planet. I see friends when I can, in the safest possible circumstances. We can’t stop living, being, hoping. We have to keep our spirits up and reach out to others. We have to KNOW and believe that we will make it through this, and the current spike will go down again, and Covid will no longer be a threat one day.

 

I found 3 tiny butterfly costumes in a closet this weekend, and dressed my dogs up for Halloween. I’ve made a few forays out for Christmas shopping. I move paintings around in my apartment. I read and watch series on TV, but most of the time I write. This has gone on longer than we expected, but it will end. With darker colder weather, and shorter days, it makes things seem a little more grim, but as they say, “The night is darkest before the dawn.”

 

All I can tell you is that we know that dawn is coming, there will be an end to all this. Life goes on, even now, with its high points and its joys, its unexpected blessings and good news.

 

We have to join hands across the world and get through this, and fight to stay on top of the waves, and get back up when we get knocked down by a big wave. This storm will pass, and the sun will shine again. It is shining even now, we just have to look a little harder to see it. But all the good stuff is still there, love and hope, and babies are being born, and some wonderful treasured moments with the people we love.  And sometime in the coming months, I’ll be telling you about a fashion show, we’ll be going to parties and weddings again, and family gatherings, and hugging each other, and not standing 6 feet apart with a mask on. The dawn IS coming, maybe sooner than we know, and I am clinging to the belief that the best is yet to come. We are going to enjoy normalcy SOOOO MUCH after all this, ordinary pleasures will seem like miracles to us. Life is a miracle, even now.

 

And in the meantime, I send you happy thoughts, as we hang on tight— Have a GREAT week (and to hell with Covid)

 

all my love, Danielle

 

10/12/20, “Over it!!!”

Posted on October 12, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that last week was a good week for you, and that some good things happened. I had a bumpy week last week, with some ups, some downs, some goods, some bads, which seems to be the order of the day these days, as we learn to live around Covid, as carefully and responsibly as possible. If we’re healthy, and our loved ones are too, we’re ahead of the game. I’m still in France, and missing my kids. The new cases per day numbers went up dramatically all over Europe, which was discouraging, and even alarming. The good news is that the death rate in most European countries (and the US, I think too) is much lower than at the beginning of Covid, so people are still getting sick, but much greater numbers are surviving. And the doctors seem to have much more effective treatments to deal with the disease.  And to borrow an expression of my youngest daughter, I am “Over It”—–we all wish that this nasty virus would go away. And in the meantime, we follow all the measures we have to, to stay healthy and safe (masks, social distancing, and hand washing as often as possible. I’ve developed an allergy to Gel, so it’s alcohol wipes and soap and water for me).

 

October is always such a lively, energized, exciting month, with all the fall activities in full swing, after the summer, and the holidays to look forward to. This year, things are looking somewhat uncertain. Many offices are still not open, people are still working from home in some industries, which can be lonely. And the rules we are meant to live by contradictory and confusing from city to city and country to country. I’m always stunned by how different the rules are in the US and France. Quarantine in Europe now is 7 days in most countries with the belief that that is long enough, and still 14 days in the US. Protocols of what to do if you’ve been exposed to the virus, when to test, and when you can go back to work if you caught it, are also very different. No one has found the perfect answers yet, and scientists disagree. Who to believe? And which set of rules to follow? In a single city in the US, you can have as many as 4 conflicting sets of rules.

 

One VERY good piece of news is that the California fires seem to be slowly getting in control, and the smoke invading huge portions of the State is dissipating. In San Francisco and the surrounding area, they have been living in confinement, with masks, limited activity, windows closed, and toxic air for nearly two months. I’m sure they are ‘over it!’ too!!

 

For myself, with the Covid numbers rising, I’ve reduced a lot of my activities, haven’t seen friends in a couple of weeks, and am staying at home more (but going out to do minor errands)—why take a chance?—, and writing virtually constantly to keep distracted and busy. I’ve been working on outlines, editing, adding research, correcting galleys, and wrote an essay for a magazine. Writing fills my days and nights, and brings comfort, solace, hope and peace—-and hopefully to my readers when they read the books.

 

We just have to hang in, and keep going, knowing that there is light (and health and a world without Covid) at the end of the tunnel we’re in, even when we can’t see the end of that tunnel yet—-but we’ll get there!!! Hopefully soon!!!

 

So we may be over it, but we just have to keep going, step by step, day after day. The good times are coming!! Have a GREAT week!!!

 

I wish you good surprises and good health this week, love, Danielle

 

9/28/20, Four Seasons

Posted on September 28, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So much love to you,   Danielle

 

 

8/26/20, Taking Action

Posted on August 31, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Life goes on, with the Covid numbers rising in some places, due to good weather, a need to get out and have some fun and find some relief from the past 6 months, or due to summer travel and vacations. We need to continue to be careful so we can keep a lid on things, and get the Covid numbers (of new cases) down. The ‘good news’ relatively speaking is that there are fewer hospitalized and critically ill cases, and markedly fewer deaths, worldwide, in part because the majority of cases now are among young people—-who think they are invincible and often aren’t careful enough. We are ALL vulnerable to the Corona Virus, young and old, rich or poor, whatever our color or nationality. We need to be careful and follow the rules (simply put: Wash hands, Masks, Distance), for our own sakes, and that of others.

 

I think the hardest thing that we are all coping with now, and one of the most anxiety producing, is Uncertainty. How long will this go on? Will it get worse? Will there be a second wave? How bad will it get? Will we get sick? Or our loved ones? Will it affect our jobs, our lives, our economy, our health long term? Or will we be one of the lucky ones who are less affected, or not at all? None of us saw this coming. And in March, when it began to impact us, No one expected (or at least I didn’t) that 6 months later, it would become a way of life, and a threat to life as we know it, in every town, village and city, every country around the globe. No country, people, or family has escaped its impact. No one knows how long it will go on. It may just wear itself out, or we may still be battling the same issues a year from now (I hope not!!), but it is the not knowing, the uncertainty of what next week, next month, or next year will look like that I think makes us all nervous and anxious. We all like knowing as much as we can about the future, to reassure us. And for once in our lives, we know nothing about that future. (I love to plan everything, so for planners like me, the constant uncertainty, and plans that go right out the window every day, is an agony.) And the only people who speak with absolute certainty are the alarmist doomsayers who predict terrible things—-when in fact they know as little as you and I do about what’s going to happen. No one knows. It feels like jumping out of an airplane and free-falling, wondering if and when our parachute will open. This crisis WILL end. But we don’t know when. So everything feels uncertain and scary. We all like to have control over our lives and our destiny, and right now we have none. The uncertainty affects everyone, it makes some people panic and others grumpy. We are all scared to some degree. We just have to hang on, be as safe as we can, and wait for it to end. It WILL end. We just don’t know when. And we have to cope with the uncertainty as best we can. Maybe good things will come of this in your life. Maybe a fantastic opportunity will come your way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Good things can come from this as well as bad. It’s good to remember that too. We cannot see the future. Life right now is a trust walk of massive proportions, worldwide.

 

I always prefer to tread lightly in terms of religion. Not everyone believes in God. Some people believe in the Universe, or the forces of good, or whatever one wants to call the good in one’s life. I respect people’s right to have their own source of comfort and their own belief system, whatever it is called. For me, it is God, for others not. It doesn’t matter. We are all in this together, trying to figure out how best to live through it and stay afloat, and keep our hopes up.

 

There is an amazing pastor in San Francisco, at Glide Memorial Church. Reverend Cecil Williams. He is an incredible human being, a man of a great age now, with incredible wisdom. He is a man of strong beliefs, who has turned them into action. He has founded an amazing organization to help the poor, the homeless, the desperate, with housing, education, medical help, a food kitchen that feeds thousands daily. Humane, compassionate, wise, strong, he has touched millions of lives, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing him as an amazing human being for many years. Going to a church service at his church is an incredible experience, I almost always take visitors there, —it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, or even if you speak English. The (gospel) music alone would transport you, the overwhelming feeling of love and hope embraces you, and you come out floating, wanting to do some good in the world for your fellow man. Cecil Williams is, in my eyes, a modern day saint, and being anywhere in his presence is a gift, whatever your beliefs, or lack of them.

 

Rev Williams said something which I really love, “We wait for God to act. Maybe God is waiting for us to act.” I love this because it suggests action to solve our problems, not just waiting for a miracle to happen to us, while we eat bonbons and watch our favorite show on TV. We have a part in it, and a role to play. I DO believe in miracles and unexpected good things happening—-and even good things happening from bad things. But I also believe in action, and sometimes while we act (even when we feel paralyzed by fear and think we can barely take another step), the miracles happen then. Bigger than we ever hoped for or expected. Sometimes if we just take baby steps, the big fantastic blessings come. And when I’m upset, or scared, or sad, or anxious, or feel lost, being busy DOING something (anything, even something very small) has helped me.

 

I’ve seen several examples of it in my own life. At 14, my oldest daughter had an accident on her motorized bicycle, weeks before she was to begin high school. She badly damaged her knee, and had a terrible wound. We didn’t know it then, but it was a life changing event. A month later, infection set in and she almost lost her leg. Seven years of excruciating pain, wheel chairs and crutches and operating tables ensued, seemingly hopeless. The nerves in her leg were damaged, and it was thought to be irreversible. She went all through high school and most of college, with incredible determination, and in terrible pain. She couldn’t walk. Finally, the right doctor and her own determination healed her, and at 21, she walked back into the world. Today, she hikes, skis, ice skates, runs, and wears high heels, and is not in pain. But the miracle was not only her healing, or finding the right doctor. The miracle was MUCH bigger than that. Fighting constant pain, and not wanting to live in a haze of pain killers, one doctor said to her :”Find someone suffering more than you are, and help them”. She took it to heart. And at 15, she volunteered (in her wheel chair) at a pediatric cancer ward, and her life changed forever. She fell in love with the work and the dedication, and volunteered at a summer camp for kids with cancer too. From it came a career as a therapist and social worker for children with cancer, many of them terminal. She got graduate degrees from Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Sorbonne. Working in pediatric oncology became her mission and her life, and became a passion and a rewarding career once she grew up. After living through her own dark times, of terrible uncertainty, fear, pain and even despair, she helped thousands of children and their families, and eventually she was healed herself. I can’t even imagine the courage it took her to keep moving forward in the darkness of her own experience. It was a lifelong lesson, of courage and an overwhelming demonstration of taking action, when we are at the lowest point ourselves.

 

The lesson it taught stayed with me, and when my son died at 19, I thought of what she’d done with her cancer work. I was in the deepest despair 3 months after he died, and tried to think of who I could help, who was more miserable than I was then. (It was hard to imagine anyone who felt worse than I did then).I reached out to the homeless in the streets of San Francisco, took a van and an employee, filled the van with sleeping bags, warm jackets, knit caps, scarves and gloves, and spent long nights handing them out to homeless people in the worst areas of SF. It grew to a major project, I formed a street outreach team of 12, with 4 vans we filled with desperately needed supplies and drove the streets of SF by night, helping whoever we could. It became 2 foundations, and we did the work anonymously on the streets for 11 years, until I moved away. I have to tell you that it was the most joyous thing I have ever done. It was a project born in the darkest despair which blossomed into a mission of love, which helped thousands of people. I don’t think anything I’ve done, other than having my children, has ever meant more to me. When I felt the least able to, somehow I took action, and it didn’t just help me, it helped thousands of people in desperate need of help. There will always be people in the world more miserable than we are, and reaching out to them is life changing for you and for them. It doesn’t have to be a grand project, or take an organization….reaching out to one sad, lonely, sick or desperate person can change their life and yours, and take the focus off your own miseries. you don’t have to be a modern day saint, or even have religious beliefs, reaching out with a smile, a kind hand, a gesture, rescuing a person, an animal, smiling at someone who may be at the edge of despair and you don’t know it is a form of action that will change your life, and make that day, that moment worthwhile, and give your life meaning. An errand, a favor, a meal handed to a homeless person, a kind word, a moment thinking of their problems, not your own, will make the fear or sadness you’re living with different. It’s a way of taking action, even the tiniest gesture matters, and you have no idea what can come of it, maybe something extraordinary for you or someone else.

 

Right now, in the anxiety of the pandemic, my youngest daughter learned to tie dye some T shirts to keep busy and distracted. I’m watching her one time past time turn into a really fun business for her in the past month. She has taken orders from her friends, their friends, and she has filled roughly 300 orders in the past month. The shirts are really pretty, she’s added sweat shirts, shorts, jeans, and jeans jackets now. But her attempt to keep busy and distracted is turning into a real business for her, for however long it lasts, and she is having a ball with it. Who knows, it may turn into a real business that will outlast the pandemic. But in the meantime, it has turned dark days of fear and uncertainty into busy days filled with joy. It has turned things around for her, and inspires me to watch her.

 

Action. The possibilities are endless. Bake a cake for a neighbour, buy a sandwich for a homeless person, do a project you’ve wanted to do for ages and never had the time. Empty a closet full of junk, and sell it, and your junk may be someone else’s treasures, and make you some money. Make a collage, drop a note to a friend, call an older person who is lonely and has no family, or is far from theirs. Rescue a dog, do some kind of volunteer work, or a paid project, or take a time-out from your own miseries to show a stranger or a friend that you care. Taking action always helps me when I’m at my worst, and most fearful, or unhappy or sad. It’s worth a shot. We’ve got more time on our hands than usual right now. And whoever you help will come back to you a hundred fold in the joy it gives you. And some funny little project like baking cookies, or making jam, or creating something could turn into a lucrative business. I think some important things happen in life, in these weird, unusual circumstances that are presented to us. And if nothing else, it will get you through these scary, uncertain times. While others are figuring out how to cure the virus, and find a vaccine, you can do something that seems to be tiny, for yourself or someone else, and it could turn out to be huge. Working with the homeless was the most meaningful thing that ever happened to me, at the absolute worst time in my life. And a smile and a kind word to a stranger could turn out to be an important moment for you, which turns things around. We have to reach for the opportunities right now, no matter how scared and anxious we are. And that moment you spend doing it, may change someone else’s life, and surely yours.

 

Have a Great week, and seize every opportunity you can. EVERY moment counts, to someone else, and to you.

 

with much love, Danielle

 

7/13/20, Half Empty, Half Full

Posted on July 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

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!!!)