Archive for the ‘Getting Along’ Category

3/22/21, Confined Again, Round 3

Posted on March 22, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

love, Danielle

 

3/8/21, “In Shakespeare’s words”

Posted on March 15, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before discussing something….breathe.

Before speaking…listen.

Before you criticize….examine yourself.

Before writing….think.

Before hurting someone…look.

Before giving up….try.

Before you die….LIVE!!

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

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

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

Surround yourself with good people, and be one yourself.

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

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

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

 

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

 

1/25/21, Something Different

Posted on January 25, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

Have a great week,  love, Danielle

 

   Broken Parts

Looking in the mirror

    of another’s eyes,

   you realize

       who they see,

the scars so glaringly

    evident to you,

  the broken parts,

    the darkest ones

        you think

  only you can see

     seem insignificant

        to other eyes,

  and matter not at all.

you’ve worn them

    for so long

  you’ve forgotten

     that they’re there,

the scars have faded

    to a shimmer,

  the wounds no longer

    quite so deep,

 you look again

   to see if they’re

        healed

   or well concealed,

     only to realize

        that seen by

           loving eyes

  they’re part of the beauty

    they see in you,

        the courage

    and the strength,

   not ugly to them

      but part of

          the landscape

             of your soul,

   just as their flaws

         or wounds

             or broken parts

     are part of who

           you love in them.

1/18/21, Peace I leave you with…

Posted on January 18, 2021

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Posted on January 11, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

lots of love, Danielle

 

 

 

1/4/20, A Clean Slate

Posted on January 4, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Whew!!….A new year!! A clean slate. Last year was a jolt for all of us, shocking, scary, long, discouraging, and we still have to manage living with Covid for the moment, but we are all hopeful that we’ll beat this virus soon—-hopefully early in the year, and life will return to normal. We’ve all earned medals this year in courage, patience, strength, and we deserve a chest full of awards, and rewards, for getting through ten months of it. I know some people, even many, are tired and fed up. The numbers in the US are still scary, some states are blazing, California among them, and some cities are locked down—-again. But the vaccine is on the horizon, for those who will take it, and time is on our side. This won’t go on forever. This time of year is always a little bleak and gray after the holidays. But we just have to go on fighting, and living, and knowing that we will come out the other side. Even when we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is there. Daylight always comes, and bad times end. So we have to hang in, and start the New Year with new energy, a fresh outlook, and a clean slate.

 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, because I never keep them, and I hate to disappoint myself!! I try to make changes and improvements when the time feels right—not according to the calendar. But the beginning of a new year is something of a landmark, and it’s a good time to give up old grudges, end old feuds, forgive people who have offended us, and start fresh. It’s too much baggage to carry to stay mad at anyone, and the one who pays the price for carrying that heavy load on our heart is ourself. So as best we can, let’s throw old gripes away in the trash, and move on, with a fresh spring in our step.

 

I’m starting the year with a new book. It comes out tomorrow, on Tuesday, “Neighbors”—-it begins with an earthquake in San Francisco, which cuts off the electricity, gas and water, to an entire neighborhood (which happened to me in San Francisco in the last big quake there in l989). And in my book, a retired very famous movie star, who lives in seclusion behind her walls, reaches out to her neighbors when an earthquake hits and their homes are badly damaged and hers is still standing, so she invites them in to stay with her. Once she does, she discovers the amazing people who are her neighbors whom she had never met before, and had no idea who they were. A young couple who appear as perfect people and parents—-with a dark secret. A flashy glamourous bachelor with a hot girlfriend. A famous blind concert pianist, in his 80’s, a remarkable man, and the struggling young writer who works for him at night, and lives in the house to help him. The reclusive movie star not only discovers them, but she finds herself again as she reaches out to them, and they give new purpose to her life, and a whole new world opens up to her. I love writing about what happens to people in a crisis, what they make of it, and what it makes of them. I hope you love the book!!! January is always a good time to curl up with a new book, and stay warm and cozy at home. And this is a great time to do it in this brand new year.

 

I hope that this will be a great year for you, that wonderful things happen, and all your dreams come true!!! Have a great week!!!  And a great year!!

 

love, Danielle

 

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