Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

10/22/18 “Night Owl thoughts”

Posted on October 22, 2018

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a great week, and had a great last week. I’ve been very, very busy, with a heavy writing schedule, as usual this time of year. I settle into the winter, and hibernate for a while, writing new books, and working on new ideas. So it’s writing time for me.

 

And special greetings to one of the readers who responded to my last blog, —- clearly a soul mate, whose tech skills are on a par with mine, and can’t find the apostrophe on her laptop. You’ll notice that I am lazy about apostrophes too!!! Her daughter tells her she doesn’t even TRY to learn—-I hear that all the time. And as much as I love my ridiculous ancient Nokia cell phone with the disco lights when I get a message, texting on it is a nightmare, since it’s the kind where you have to press several times on a key in order to get the right letter, and if I get it wrong I have to start all over again. So I keep my texts VERY short. Anyone over 30, not to mention 40 or 50, is of a very different generation from current texters, who would rather text, than call or talk, and the words just seem to flow from their fingers. The only thing I do on my IPad is play solitaire, and I see 2 year olds in their strollers happily working their IPad, and I want to hire one of them to show me how!!! If I ask someone in my office to call someone for me to leave a message—-they respond immediately, “I’ll text them right away”. It doesn’t even occur to most people to call anymore, they only text, and don’t even bother to answer their phones. And I guess it is true, that I don’t even try to learn new technology. The day will probably come if I am very old one day that I won’t know how to work the lights in my bedroom, turn on the TV, or open the curtains—-everything happens on an IPad or some form of ‘device’ these days. And as soon as you do learn something ‘techie’, it becomes obsolete immediately, and you have to learn all over again. I’m going to have to start hiring 5 year old consultants in my office who are up to date on all the latest technology. It does seem a shame though that everything is so high tech now, it definitely cuts out the human element in communications, it’s also a perfect way for people to dodge giving you straight answers, and avoid a simple question, like “where are the kitchen chairs I ordered 6 months ago?” And there is an App for everything now, none of which I have on my phone, or would know what to do with if I did.

 

I’ve always been a night owl, it runs in my family. My father and grandmother stayed up very late, and needed very little sleep, and in some ways I’ve been lucky to be like them too. It allowed me to manage 9 children AND a writing career (I wrote at night when the kids were asleep when they were young), and get by on very little sleep. I still do. I’d go to bed late (around 2 or 3 am, after writing for many hours), fall asleep the instant I hit the bed, and wake up ready to go 4 hours later—–a real blessing at times!!! I still go to bed late, now that my kids are grown up, and still get by on very little sleep, and write until the wee hours, but now I wake up earlier, and often wake in the middle of the night, and then my mind starts racing, and I think about all the things I should be doing, have to do, or should have done. I sometimes get the best ideas during those sleepless hours, but I find that I worry more about silly things in the middle of the night. I’ve made a lifetime career of a fertile imagination, and I sometimes get ideas for new books in those late night wide awake hours. And then of course, there is the silly stuff—like I just remembered the Halloween table cloth I ordered in August, which never came. This time of year, I lie awake thinking about what to get people for Christmas, I haven’t worked out my Halloween costume yet…..and I am working on several books at once, which gives me plenty to think about in the middle of the night, as I work out the plots or search for a title. If I lie awake for long enough, I get up and answer emails (which come in at all hours from all over the world)….and….true confessions, my one concession to High Tech: I have discovered online shopping, and I can get up to some real mischief with that!!! I notice that with all the complaints (in my family and office) about my lack of computer skills, and offers to bring me up to date, NO ONE has offered to teach me how to shop in the Internet, and I pretty much figured it out for myself with very little help. And I have some real fun with that sometimes!!! For someone who likes to shop, which I do, internet shopping is a huge temptation, and I have gotten some really fun stuff!!! It’s so easy that it feels like it’s free at times (it’s not!!), and I feel like a kid in a candy store….I want that and that and that….and that!!….and oh wow!! Look at how cute this is…..It’s a very dangerous sport, but can be a lot of fun. And they make it very easy, even for non-techies like me!!! So now I can shop in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. Uh oh!!!

 

I’m including a photo of something very fun I got recently. I saw it in a shop window, as a display item, and tracked it down. It’s a company that makes furniture made with teddy bears and other toy stuffed animals. You can either get it with the teddy bears over the whole surface of a chair or bench, or just around the edges. It’s easier to sit on with the teddy bears just around the edges, so I went with that. I love it, it’s so fun, and super comfy to sit on. I ordered it with little white polar bears, but you can have it with any kind of toy animal you want: monkeys, camels, bears, dogs, cats, swans, flamingos. It’s a silly fun thing and I love it.

 

I hope you have a fun week ahead. Halloween is approaching, and I haven’t figured out a costume yet. My favorites over the years were as a ‘ghost writer’, with a white face and white wig, dressed in white with a necklace of pens around my neck, Cruella de Ville, and my famous/infamous whoopie cushion costume, undignified but funny….maybe I’ll just be me this year. One of my daughters dressed as me for Halloween a few years ago, and looked exactly like me, in a black turtle neck sweater (my uniform because I’m always cold), black jeans and black loafers, red hair in a long pony tail, glasses on her head, and lots of bracelets on both arms. I laughed when I saw her, and she put on my serious “I’m thinking about a new book” face. I hope you have something fun planned for Halloween. You still have time to figure out a costume!!!

 

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

9/17/18, Hard Day, Hard Week

Posted on September 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, even a great week, as the Fall gets off to a busy start. For those of you with children, they’re all back in school by now, which keeps parents busier than ever, until the new routine is established, and things settle down. And with after school activities, and sports teams, kids keep us running. Mine are all working now, and I miss those school days (which will sound crazy to you if you’re dashing all over the place with your kids, and wish they’d hurry up and grow up. Beware of what you wish for!!! They grow up all too soon!!). I still have one child living at home, and am grateful that I do!!! Every time she leaves her laundry stacked up in the front hall, or borrows something and forgets to return it, or loses something, or scrambles my schedule, or uses enough towels to stock a hotel, I remind myself of how lucky I am to still have her at home!! Any time I spend with her is precious.

 

I had a busy, mostly fun week last week, doing errands, catching up, seeing friends for lunch and dinner. I love having friends in for dinner after the summer, to catch up with how everyone’s summer was. I worked, and finished an outline I love, for a future book, and can’t wait to get to work on it. And I’ll see a few friends this week too, and visit two of my daughters, and see 2 more of my kids by the end of the week. Seeing my children will be the best part of the week. And I have a bunch of real life stuff to do too. A visit from the plumber to solve a (lack of) hot water problem, a trip to the vet to check the dog who was sick this summer (Blue, with a disk problem), put away summer clothes, call to complain about the kitchen chairs I ordered 5 months ago and haven’t received yet. Ordinary real life housewifely stuff, which I enjoy. I got a new TV for my bedroom, after 14 years, which is fun. I like the rhythm and routine of ordinary life, I find it comforting and relaxing to get small things done. Last week had its serious moments too, I went to the memorial service for a dear friend, and unfortunately will go the memorial service of a beloved brother in law this week. The friend was 91, a famous fashion designer (Hubert de Givenchy, an extraordinary really lovely man). My brother in law was in his late 80s, and like a real big brother to me since I was 16. Both men led good, full, long productive lives. I will miss them both, but it is in the order of things for people to leave, and both lived well lived complete lives to a great age, which makes their leaving easier to accept.

 

But all in all, I know this will be a hard week for me. However well I fill the time, whatever I do, there is a date that I cannot escape every year, the anniversary of my son Nick’s death, by suicide at 19. He was greatly, great loved, and still is, and I miss him always. Talented (in writing and music), brilliant, funny, loving, compassionate, he was a wonderful boy, suffered from bi polar disease all his life (I first noticed it before he was 2, and knew it for sure by the time he was 4 years old). We did everything we could to help him, but he finally just couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He led a remarkably full life in his short time, he already had a successful career in music (writing lyrics and music, and lead singer in a successful band). And even after his death, his life has been a blessing to many people. We established two foundations in his honor, to help mentally ill people, and the homeless. Thousands of people have been helped in his name. There is a blessing in even the hardest events in our lives.

 

Anniversary dates are always something of a mystery to me. The person we loved, and still love, is just as gone the day or the week or month before and after the anniversary. But there is a power to the anniversary date that is like the sound of a gong that reverberates through you, shattering the silence and any sense of peace. It’s as though your body knows what day it is as well as your heart. Life stops for me on that day, as I try to remember him without remembering how terrible that day was. Birthdays are easier because there are happy memories of that day. There are no happy memories of the day someone you love dies, and it pierces your heart like a spear. The memory of that stops you in your tracks. I try to keep it as gentle as possible, but there is no easy way. This will be the first year that I won’t be with some of my children on that date, but I will see them the next day. There is something particularly terrible about losing a child, at any age, because it is not in the correct order of life, and a child is part of you from the moment they are born until you die, and they take with them a part of you that belonged to them.   So it will be a hard day. It always is. Some years are harder than others, and some years are a little better, and gentler. You never really escape it, but some years whatever you do to soothe the pain seems to work, distraction, seeing friends, whatever you do, and you get through it. Other years you barely crawl through it. The pain begins to dim the next day and gets back to something you can live with, but you hit a wall on those days, time stops, and you are catapulted into the past to a day you wish had never happened. In a way, the agony of that day doesn’t make sense, because they are just as gone before and after the day, and you learn to live with it…..but the actual anniversary date is particularly tough. I dread it, but one gets through it. It comes at you like a heat seeking missile, headed straight for your heart.

 

He was an incredibly sweet boy with a huge heart. Forever missed, forever loved, for the rest of time.

 

Have a great week!!! I hope it is a gentle week for you, with lots of happy moments in it.

 

all my love, Danielle

 

8/20/18, Bea, an Amazing girl!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are, the last week in August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and we have ‘done’ the summer. It has whizzed past us, I hope you had lots of fun, some time off and vacation, and I hope you’ll look back on this summer with a smile. And now we have all the excitement of the fall to look forward to, and our winter plans and projects, in some cases moving at high speed after the summer. I am definitely back at work, and working on new books.

 

I wanted to bring you up to date on something I have mentioned to you before, that happened in my family two years ago. My nephew’s daughter Bea, my great niece, was 17 years old then, a beautiful, happy normal high school girl. She grew up in France, her father is French, her mother American, and they had just moved to Brussels, Belgium from Paris a few months before. Her passion was, and is horseback riding, her dream was to ride in the Olympics. And her great love was, and is, her beloved white horse Deedee. She has two older brothers, lots of friends, and lots of dogs. A very normal high school girl. And in March of 2016, her whole world changed. The family went to Florida for Spring vacation, she stayed back a day, and set out to join them in Florida a day later. She went to the Brussels airport for her flight, and Fate intervened in a very major way. It was the morning that terrorists blew up the Brussels Airport, right as Bea was in line to check in. We know now that she was standing roughly 3 or 4 feet from one of the bombs when it exploded, and was one of very few survivors in the terminal. It is a total miracle that she survived at all. Seven months in the hospital of fighting for her life, dozens of surgeries ensued. Hundreds of people were killed and injured. She was in a military hospital along with the other survivors, because the wounds inflicted were so extreme that they were only comparable to wartime military injuries, not civilian ones. She was burned over much of her body, was paralyzed in the days and months after the explosion, her body was full of shrapnel, pieces of metal in the bomb designed to do the most damage possible to a human body, and she lost both legs. It’s the kind of horrifying event you read about in a newspaper, but doesn’t happen to anyone you know. But it did, to this very wonderful 17 year old girl. And the future looked dark indeed for a while.

 

We don’t have any idea how any of us would respond to catastrophic events in our lives. Something like that is beyond imagining. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, to alleviate her suffering. And what not only survived but flourished and grew to incredible proportions was her extraordinary spirit, her strength and determination, not only to survive, but to have an amazing life in future anyway. She has a family who adores her, and a remarkable mother who exhibited strength and courage that kept Bea fighting for her life at the darkest times—and fighting for the quality of her life.

 

One of the most touching moments in her early recovery was when she was finally well enough to sit in a wheel chair and be rolled outside for some air. Her horse trainer had arranged with Bea’s mother and the hospital to bring Bea’s beloved horse Deedee to visit her. The video of it reduced me to sobs, and still does. Bea was sitting in her wheel chair, not expecting a visit, as Deedee was led out of the trailer, was instantly alert, and literally raced across the parking lot to where Bea was sitting, found her, licked her face adoringly, and then rested her head on Bea’s shoulder. It was pure love between those two. It was a turning point for Bea in her recovery. A day or two later, she was cautiously lifted into the saddle on Deedee, and held there so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall, and thus began the next chapters of Bea’s life, with courage, love and hope, and a fierce determination not to be beaten or destroyed by what had happened.

 

Fast forward the long arduous film of what came after: 7 months after the attack she left the hospital, and went back to school for her last year—-she was greeted at school by a standing ovation by the entire school. People around the world, who didn’t even know her, had been praying for her. In June, 15 months after the attack, she graduated, and walked across the stage in braces to accept her diploma. She went to rehab at a Naval Facility in San Diego and is still there. Next month, she will start college. And for many months now, she has been training for the next Paralympics in Tokyo. Three countries invited her to ride for them. They first contacted her after someone had seen the first meeting with Deedee at the hospital. She is hard at work now training for the Paralympics, and getting ready for college. Her determination, and extraordinary spirit are astounding—-how can any of us complain about the problems and disappointments and minor inconveniences in our lives when you see someone like her, determined, strong, never lagging, never giving up, absolutely passionately determined to have an amazing life, and not be robbed of her youth and spirit and courage about life. After college, she wants to start a company for sports equipment adapted for people with physical impairments. She has feeling in her legs and back now, and her hope is to continue to improve. She has worked incredibly hard in the most grueling way at her recovery, and is continuing to do so.

 

Bea is a remarkable girl. Extraordinary, remarkable, incredible, courageous, amazing, don’t even begin to describe her. And her remarkable mother has fought alongside her every inch of the way. Her whole family cheers her on. I am stunned by her courage and spirit. It’s breathtaking.

 

What she has done and is continuing to do is an inspiration to anyone who knows her or hears about her. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t complain about her losses, she held on tight and celebrated what she did have, and reached out toward all the good things and good times and victories that lay ahead. Her whole life is a victory, a shining example to others, an inspiration to us all. She is the best of what a human being can be faced with incredible challenges, and she has met them all.

 

I am in awe of this brave nineteen year old girl who has faced the unthinkable and is turning it into a victory every single day. And this is only the beginning of what I know will be a shining life that will continue to dazzle and inspire us all.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids, Paris | 30 Comments

7/2/18, Happy Fourth!!!

Posted on July 2, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope your summer is off to a great start, and that you’re getting ready for a festive, relaxing Fourth of July. It does bring back happy memories of the Fourth of July parties we gave when my kids were little, which eventually became barn dances with line dancing. It was lots of fun, the guests were all ages, old and young, with dozens of children running around, lots of yummy food, games for everyone to play. It was a real, old fashioned Fourth of July.

 

And I’m in the category of ‘Beware of what you wish for’ right now, in the midst of a heat wave. It’s sweltering, and was chilly only a week ago, but at least it feels like summer!!!  My summer has gotten off to a busy start, with 3 of my children visiting me for 2 weeks, and lots of running around with them. And four more arriving tomorrow, with friends, for another 2 weeks of my children visiting. They’ve been coming in shifts this year!!!  And between the two ‘shifts’, I just had a ‘grown up week’ to myself. As much as I adore my children, and am grateful for every moment I spend with them, it’s nice to have some grown up down time too. I had lunch with a friend almost every day, which is rare for me, since I work through lunch most of the time and don’t go out for lunch, but I indulged myself. I had lunch out every day, with leisurely opportunities to chat and catch up. I had dinner out once with a very interesting friend, a psychiatrist who is also a writer. And I had a group of women for dinner, whom I try to see once a month. We laugh a lot, and also talk about some serious things. I caught up on some reading, did a couple of writing projects, went shopping on Saturday, and am ready for the next group of visitors. The best thing about summer for me is spending time with my children, and although I love it when we’re all together, I also enjoy it when they come in smaller groups, which gives me time to focus on each one of them, and spend some individual time. We’re a big group when we get together!!!

 

Without getting involved in the political issues, my heart has ached recently for the children who have been separated from their parents, due to immigration issues. It always saddens me deeply when children become the victims of adult actions, and are in precarious situations. Children in jeopardy is something that is dear to my heart. As I understand it, there are 3,000 of those children, separated from their families, in limbo at the moment, while adults attempt to solve the situation. It breaks my heart when children pay the price for adult actions, whatever the reason. Childhood should be an innocent, protected time, in a perfect world, which is so often not true, starving in ravaged areas, or the victims of wars, living homeless on the streets in our own country, or even children of ‘good homes’, being abused by their parents. And often there is so little one can do to help and protect them. I hope that those 3,000 children are rapidly reunited with their families. Children are so often at the greatest risk, in every country, even ours, ravaged by poverty, disease, or neglected by irresponsible parents. Children are always at the mercy of the adults in their lives.

 

I hope you’re busy making summer plans, and will get some vacation this summer. My vacation is the time I spend with my kids, we’ll spend a week at the beach, and as soon as they leave, I go straight back to work. I don’t know what to do with my free time when I’m not shepherding kids!!! Old habits die hard, and I’m grateful that they spend time with me!!!

 

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. And between the hot dogs, hamburgers, Southern Fried chicken, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream, it’s good for us all to remember and be grateful for the immense freedoms we have in this country, and all the advantages.

 

We are very lucky!!! Happy Fourth!!!

 

And much love, Danielle

 

 

Have a GREAT week!!!

5/28/18, Memorial Day

Posted on May 28, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re enjoying a long lovely weekend for Memorial Day. This holiday always symbolizes the beginning of summer….which is not quite the weather we’re getting anywhere on my route. Cold and gray in San Francisco, a friend tells me it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I think it’s been cold in New York, and everyone in Paris is complaining about how cold it is there. And I was in Napa and wore two sweaters and a jacket. So come on, Summer!!! Please try a little harder!!! I brought out my summer clothes this week, and am wondering why I did!! But other than the weather, It’s a lovely holiday, and is kind of a book end for summer, with Labor Day at the other end. So summer has officially begun.
 

In years past, my husband and I used to spend the Memorial Day weekend getting our home in the Napa Valley ready for the summer, dragging out all the pool furniture, dusting off the porch, pulling summer toys out of the barn for our kids. We spent the whole weekend cleaning things and getting ready, a big job. Our Napa home belongs to my children now—-and I’m still on the cleaning crew, although I only go there once a year now. And I spend several days before the holiday, with helpers, doing the same chores before Memorial Day now. It always warms my heart to go there, and do the same things again, getting it ready for my children to enjoy the place now with their siblings and friends. It’s a tradition now. We bought the home before most of them were born, and there is something touching about continuing the traditions of the past, which is in great part what Memorial Day is about, memories and cherished people. So I spent this week cleaning house and sprucing the place up, power washing, a little painting here and there, and freshening things up. And we are particularly grateful this year, as the big Napa fires last October came within less than a mile of the home. My youngest son very bravely went up during the fires to save all the photographs of their childhood, and mementoes of their father, in case we lost the house in the fire. We were all very grateful we didn’t, and copied the photographs he brought back. They normally hang all over the house, it’s their whole family history on the walls of our old farm. It’s very quaint and cozy. And my BIG BIG job this week was hanging all 464 photographs back on the walls. I hung them chronologically this time, so you can trace back to my husband’s youth, his early days, when we met, our wedding, all the children’s christenings (a LOT of them with 9 kids!!), their childhood and growing up years, right to the present. It was a lot of work, but I had a wonderful time doing it, and it brought back tender memories of happy times. I hope it will do the same for them!!! So that’s what I did this week. A long walk down memory lane and a lot of cleaning.  One daughter always helps me, and we always have fun doing our annual clean up week. So we’re spiffy clean and ready for summer when it shows up!!
 

The big news for me this week is that my new book, “The Cast” a week after it came out, will be #1 on the New York Times and several other lists this week. No matter how often it happens, it is a thrill for me every time!!! Thank you for buying the book—I hope you love it. It’s about the members of the cast of a hit TV series, and all the complications and secrets in their lives, and their interactions with each other in real life and on the show. It was huge fun to write, with some wonderful characters in it, and surprises, and I hope you love it!!! It should be a really fun read for the summer with characters I loved when I wrote the book.  And now that my big annual cleaning mission is done, I’ve been writing all weekend. I really do hope you love “The Cast”.
 

I have some busy times ahead, with a lot of work to do. The books don’t happen by magic, so I’m getting to work.
 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful long holiday weekend, and are starting to make fun summer plans. Thank you for everything, and for making the book #1.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

5/14/18, Mother’s Day

Posted on May 14, 2018

 

Hi Everyone!!

 

I hope you had a great week, and have been happily busy!!!
 

Had my all time favorite day of the year yesterday: Mother’s Day!! I had dinner with my daughters in New York last week, for an early mother’s day celebration, and yesterday, I spent the real one with all my other kids. And as always, they always spoil me. They gave me some really adorable presents: 2 fun decorated pillows, 3 pairs of very cute shoes, a wonderful album of family photographs, and a vintage typewriter that looks exactly like the first one I got from my grandmother when I was 14 or 15, a portable Smith Corona. I loved my gifts but best of all, I loved spending the day with my kids. We had brunch together, and I ate way too much!!! Mother’s Day is definitely my favorite holiday of the year.
 

Other than that, I have a lot of writing to do, so I have plenty to keep me busy—-after being lazy yesterday, and enjoying the holiday!!!
 

I hope that all is well with you, and I wish you a wonderful week!!! I have a new book coming out tomorrow, “The Cast”, about the cast of a hit TV series, and all the different people and personalities involved. I hope you love the book!!! Have a great week,

 

 

love, Danielle

4/30/18, Mom The Magician

Posted on April 30, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
I hope you had a happy, busy week, and that good things happened or are about to!!!
I had a roller coaster week, non-stop calls, dilemmas, and crises. All of them resolving now, but what a week!! Things always happen at once, to most of us. I had one child with a severe allergic reaction (first to an insect bite, then to the medication for it), feeling absolutely awful in one city, not a fatal situation, but I hate it when my kids are sick. Another child whose dog was very sick, and needed surgery, so lots of calls with the dog owner, and the vet. Another of my children lost her beloved dog to cancer 6 months ago, which was a terrible heartbreak, and I’ve been looking for a new puppy for her, we found one with the help of a wonderful person who finally located one for us, and I had to figure out how to get the puppy from Arizona to California to New York this week. It finally arrived on Friday, with a LOT of organizing, and understandably, the puppy was jangled by the trip, and cried all the first night. So lots of calls on that, as I followed the puppy’s progress across the country into my daughter’s arms, with me in Europe.  To add a little more chaos to the week, I had house painters, and my apartment was a mess (but with great results when they finished. They painted a sky on my entrance hall ceiling, and I LOVE it!!), and I had a mountain of editing work on my desk, while fielding phone calls about sick and arriving puppies, and sick ‘children’, even though adults.
I find that the hardest part of being the parent of adults is that you can’t solve all their problems, kiss all their boo boos away, or protect them from hard life events or bad people. Motherhood is a lifetime job, and just as I once watched and protected them in the playground, or on the swings, and kept them safe, I wish I could still do that in real/adult life. A mother is expected to be a magician, and you should always be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat. It turns out that although motherhood comes with that expectation, in fact it does not come with a magic wand, a top hat, or a satin cape with secret pockets. I think fathers are often better at letting them solve their own problems, and stepping back while they do. I hear from friends, and know from myself, we as mothers want to ‘fix’ their problems, while not depriving them of the ability and satisfaction of doing it for themselves. We are by nature protectors once we have children. But there is so much to protect them from, as adults in the real world, none of it controllable, including their own mistakes, or things that just happen. It’s damn hard to cut the cord, and I don’t think I ever really have, and probably never will. If I live to be 100, I’ll still be there, wanting to protect my 80 year old kids from something!!! And crying children, in crisis, and suffering life’s blows (like losing a beloved dog, or a relationship, or job, or suffering some form of illness or injustice) just breaks my heart.
So I have to be content with being available, resourceful, creative, patient (not always my strong suit), and help solve the problems I can, or come up with a puppy, help find an apartment, or just listen when they’re upset even if there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. The latter is the hard part. The ‘nothing I can do about it’ problems are agonizing.
In the end, on balance, it was a good week, the sick dog is better and came through the surgery and the dog’s owner is feeling calmer and went to a baseball game yesterday, so he’s okay. The sick daughter is feeling better after a miserable week. And the puppy arrived in another daughter’s arms, and is settling in after an understandably bumpy first night. I didn’t solve any problems, but I listened and did what I could, with some advice. And a puppy to love is a wonderful thing. The calls came fast and furious all week, but things are quiet today. Somehow, I got my editing done, and the painters left, the furniture is back in place, and I have a really pretty blue sky overhead—-to remind me that eventually most storms calm down, and blue skies return. It’s a quiet Sunday and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet, for as long as it lasts, until the phone starts ringing again. And what would I do without that? I’m grateful that they call me, even if they’re grown up.
I didn’t make any great magic this week, I rarely do these days. I can’t produce a much wanted doll, find a lost teddy bear, or glue something back together. (I once went to the park at midnight to find a teddy bear one of my kids had left in the playground, and went through trucks of a hotel’s laundry, looking for one son’s beloved sleep monkey, and I found him, and came back from the park at midnight with the teddy bear. That was all a lot easier than grown up life today. I really shone as a magician when they were little kids!!!). It’s easier to make magic for little kids than for big ones. But most Moms try to make magic where they can, even if it’s only to produce a favorite meal, babysit for a sick dog, or offer advice when appropriate (rarely!!! Who listens to their mother? And as one friend says, “My advice is worth what you paid for it.”)
So I’m no longer the most efficient magician, but I sure try. I think most mothers do—-and when you actually get lucky and pull a rabbit out of a hat for your kids, whatever their age—-it feels SOOOO GOOD!!!!
Have a magical week!! I hope wonderful things happen to you!!!

 

 

much love, Danielle

3/26/18, Inside/Outside

Posted on April 2, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you, and that you had a lovely Easter, or Passover, if you celebrated either of them. I had Easter brunch with three of my children and their significant others, with chocolate bunnies on the table, bunny ears for all to wear, little chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and the little wind up chicks and bunnies that were fun when they were children.
I was spared April Fool this year, with Easter on the same day. My children are notorious for April Fool jokes and I always fall for them!!

The big excitement for me is that my new book “Accidental Heroes” will be #1 on the New York Times list this week—-it is always a thrill when that happens, and it never gets old.  I hope you read the book too and love it!!! I really love that book, it’s suspenseful and exciting and was challenging to write!!!

I was thinking of something the other day that I wanted to share with you. Twice recently, I’ve had a similar (almost identical) conversation with two very close good friends, one a man, the other a woman, both of them people I respect enormously. Both are people that everyone admires, on many fronts. Both are deep, serious, people with strong personal values. Both have impressive, very successful careers, in businesses they have built themselves. Both have studied hard, and by all normal standards, are high achievers who have accomplished a great deal professionally, and are highly successful. Additionally, both are in long marriages, with the same partners they started out with (not many people can claim that anymore), both have what would be considered today ‘large’ families, several children, and their children are all really lovely ‘kids’, some of them grown up now, and starting on their own lives and careers. Both of them are family people, and have strong family and personal values. I consider both honest, honorable people. Both are good, loving spouses, whom I admire in their marriages. And interestingly, both are religious, and attend religious services regularly. And both are people I truly admire, and many of us would consider role models. What was remarkable about my conversations with them was that both were deeply questioning themselves, and really undervaluing themselves, questioning if they were good parents, were getting really good results with their kids, were they successful enough in their marriages, were they good spouses, and questioning their success and careers. Both had serious doubts about themselves, which would stun me, and did, given everything I know about them. But what didn’t stun me is that I have heard the same things from other people at various times, and have questioned myself in very similar ways at times.

I have wonderful kids whom I love dearly, more than anything on earth, and who love me. They are healthy, normal, upstanding, wholesome, honest, loving hard working young people, and yet I always question if I have done and given enough for them and to them. Have I been enough for them, and been a good parent? I much more easily see my flaws and failings than what I’ve done right. And I heard the same thing from those 2 friends in the last week, and others before them. I have been so blessed in my career, and have had a long successful career I work hard at—-and I work very hard—but do I work hard enough? Am I a good enough friend, person, human being, parent, writer?

What is so remarkable is that good people, who really strive hard to do well and do the right thing, and are really doing a great job on many fronts, so often doubt themselves and think they aren’t good enough. Other people look so much more ‘together’ to all of us. They seem to have all the answers, make the right decisions, look so much ‘cooler’, smarter, better than we look to ourselves.

The best advice I ever got on this subject was from the woman who helped me take care of my son Nicky when he was very sick. She said “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. And it is SOOOO TRUE. Everyone else looks like they have their ‘sh–‘ together, that they know all the answers, and don’t make the dumb mistakes we all do. We don’t see them snap at their kids when they’re tired or had a bad day, or argue with their partner/spouse over something really dumb “you always leave the kitchen a mess….you Never take out the garbage….you never pick up your own stuff, why do I have to do it?….” We see other people’s outer perfection and smooth presentation—-and we look just as smooth, but we know the lumps and bumps of ourselves inside. I question myself a thousand times late at night in the dark hours when I finish work/writing and am alone, and I see everything I’ve done wrong, the mistakes I make again and again, big and small, the times I have failed to go the extra mile for someone and think I should have.

Even people whom we think are so ‘perfect’, are so hard on themselves. Why do we do it? Why aren’t we better at celebrating what we do right??? And all the good things we’ve done!!!

Listening to my 2 friends doubt themselves reminded me of that piece of advice. I’ve heard my kids doubt themselves when they have so much to be proud of in themselves, and I’m proud of them. And I’m sure (or hope) that I’m a better person than I think I am.
I thought I would share that with you, because I’ll bet that many of you do it too—–compare the private you to other people’s ‘outsides’, which look so great.

We are all frail beings, unsure of ourselves, painfully aware of our weaknesses and flaws, and all the times when we think we could have done better. It’s good to remember sometimes that others are no more sure of themselves than we are (no matter how great they appear to us). So if this applies to you too, Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other people’s outsides!!! It’s such good advice!!!

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

1/22/18, “Proud Mama”

Posted on January 22, 2018

Hi Everyone,

Enough with nostalgic holiday moments, poignant memories, beloved traditions, bad weather all over the world, mudslides in Southern California, terrible fires in Northern California last year, world politics and new year’s resolutions I never keep!!!—-let’s get down to fun business, its Fashion Show Season again.

In the fashion world, the year always starts with a bang with the Haute Couture fashion shows in Paris in January—Haute Couture is the high art of French fashion, where each garment is handmade (not a single machine stitch on them!!), the clothes are worn in a runway show by 40 or 50 gorgeous models, and the clothes have to be ordered, and take several months to make, with 2 or 3 fittings, and given the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into them, they cost a fortune. It’s an international event, and hundreds of press are there in Paris, and famous people from around the world come to see to see the show.

The French government—- has to give the designers or fashion houses permission to put on a fashion show, and they give them an allotted date and time. You can’t just decide to do it, you need government permission. And people who want to see the show have to be invited, you can’t just show up. And it’s very exclusive and highly desired to get an invitation to these shows. Two months later, the French ready to wear designers will show their clothes for next season, but the January (and July) Show traditionally is only to show the very exclusive Haute Couture clothes. The season being shown right now is for fall/winter later this year. The clothes that people are wearing now were shown last July—-although very, very few people can afford to buy Haute Couture, the prices are astronomical—-more than a car!!! To put it in perspective.

Haute Couture week in Paris used to be a jam packed event, with many shows every day. Because of the cost of producing the clothes, and how rarefied it has all become, there are very very few real Haute Couture houses left in Paris. In fact, only two: Chanel and Dior. Schiaparelli recently made a comeback a couple of years ago. The others have either closed entirely, or stopped their Haute Couture lines and only make ready to wear (Givenchy, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and a host of others.) So Haute Couture fashion ‘week’ now only lasts 2 and a half days. To help keep the Fashion Industry alive, and garner attention for it, the French government came up with an interesting idea a year or so ago, and invited a few American ready to wear designers to show their ready to wear clothes in a fashion show in Paris twice a year, during Haute Couture week. I think it was started as an experiment to see how it would work. It has worked extremely well!! And I was lucky enough to see one of these new shows, during Haute Couture week, last July, and again today.

One of my daughters (one of three of my daughters who work in fashion) is a design consultant at Proenza Schouler in the States. She researches fashions during various periods of recent and long ago history, or specific items, to inspire the designers she works for. And once they’re off and running with designs for next season, she consults with them about color, shape, detail, length, and all the details that go into creating a beautiful item of clothing. The clothing is produced for the show (as a kind of sample), it is fit on the models who will wear them in the show. Everyone who works for a fashion house works like crazy on these shows—-as in 18 to 20 hour days, weeks before, and round the clock a week before the show. The consultant/stylist selects the accessories for the clothes, watches the hair and makeup artists, so that EVERY single element in the show will be perfect!!! They watch the models dress and go out on the runway, and keep a close eye on everything!!!

Like a wedding, considering all the preparation that goes into it, in comparison, the show itself lasts a very short time. Maybe half an hour from beginning to end, but the planning and preparation before the event goes on for months, and at fever pitch in the end. Everything has to be perfect.

So my daughter did her job—-and I went to the show today, and loved it. There is always a huge amount of excitement leading up to a fashion show—and the trend for several years now has been to do these shows in unusual locations, a restaurant, a museum, a store, an empty building, a train station, a sports club, or some out of the way location. Designers are often looking for a suitable setting for a show, or a controversial one to excite the press. The Proenza show today was at a construction site, the idea in this case was to have it in a place so stark and undecorated, (in its ‘natural state) that it wouldn’t interfere with the clothes. They succeeded with that!!!

The show had a great look, and what they call a “story” in the business, the clothes had a related feel and made sense together, interesting fabrics, beautiful designs and details. It was a very, very strong show, with a reminiscent 70’s feel to it. I know how much work went into the clothes and the show, my daughter has been staying with me and working 18 hour days, coming home at 2 am, and leaving well before sunrise again the next day to go back to the office. (And from sheer exhaustion, many of the workers and crew came down with the flu, and several went to work with fevers, but stuck with it and worked hard anyway.) In the end, it was a huge success, and I was so proud of my daughter’s part in it. She has immense talent, and this is a great way to express it. I was thrilled for her when I saw the show.

After the show, the audience disbands quickly, so they can go on to the next show. They flood out the doors and dash to the next show. The Haute Couture and Ready to Wear shows are attended by store buyers, fashion editors, clients, movie stars, and people who are involved in fashion in some way. It’s a very knowledgeable crowd.

One very noticeable element was the models. The same group of girls model in many of the shows. In France, the models have to be age 16 or over. In the States they hire them sometimes as young as 14 and 15 (although they look grown up and sophisticated in the clothes). Almost all of them are very tall, and they are frighteningly thin—too thin. Humans just don’t come in that size, unless they have some kind of fatal illness (or are severely anorexic. It’s not pretty, it’s too extreme, and most men don’t even like women that thin). And the bad part of that is that normal women compare themselves to those models, which are much too thin to be healthy, and eventually suffer the consequences. These way too thin girls have become role models for women and young girls, and set an example that no one healthy should aspire to. It’s a concern to any woman who has daughters, and most women compare themselves to these young girls and feel too heavy in comparison. We all need better perspective on that subject!!

It was a perfect ending to the show when one of the famous models came dashing out, and rushed up to a motorcycle driver holding a sign up with her name. He was a “moto-taxi driver”, very common in Paris to get somewhere quickly. He wrapped her in heavy rain gear, and she hopped onto the back of his motorcycle and he put a helmet on her, and a moment later, they sped off in Paris traffic, to get her to her next destination. She was very young and very pretty, she gave a wave as they drove away. The show was over. On to the next one!! I’m going to the Chanel show tomorrow, I’ll let you know how that one is. They sent me a whole box of makeup, perfume and chocolates, as a kind of prelude to the show—-and little gold marshmallow bears, dipped in gold colored chocolate!!! YUM!!! It was a proud day for me, seeing the beautiful show my daughter helped to put together and coordinate. It was one of those special moments!!

I LOVED seeing the show, AND knowing that my daughter was an integral part of it. I was a VERY proud Mom today.

Have a great week, love, Danielle

Filed Under Art, Family, Fashion, Kids | 3 Comments

12/25/17, “Twas the Night before Christmas…”

Posted on December 25, 2017

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were all hung by the chimney with care…..”

As I write this, it is 3 am on Christmas eve, and not a creature is stirring, not even my 3 Chihuahuas, who are snoring softly, waiting for me to come to bed. I just finished filling the Christmas stockings of my many children and their significant others, and writing them all letters from Santa, which I’ve done since they were children and still do—-congratulating them for what good people they are, and what they’ve done well all year. (Santa is very pleased with them!! And me too).

Our Christmas is all about traditions. We go to a church service at 5 pm, which is how our Christmas eve begins. It’s a children’s service, which they still enjoy, where we went every year in their childhood, and all the familiar Christmas carols are sung. Then we come home, hang out for a while, and dress for dinner. We have a formal dinner, with the table set nicely, and a good meal. Afterwards, we play a game, and after dinner the siblings exchange gifts. I give them mine the next morning (which was when they used to open the presents from Santa). We enjoy our rituals and familiar customs, and it’s a joy to spend it with my kids. I’m very grateful that they all come home for Christmas. And one of my daughters turns the tables on me every year, and fills a stocking for me and leaves it on my bed, which I open with delight before I go to bed: This year, two beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs, two little porcelain dishes with sayings I love on them: one of them says “The best is yet to be”, and 2 books I can’t wait to read, some cookies, chocolates and chocolate covered pretzels—-and a letter from Santa to me, urging me to be ‘naughtier’ next year!!! Now there’s a fun invitation!!!

And at the end of it all, before I go to bed, I am writing to you. I hope that your Christmas is unfolding gently and lovingly, that it met your expectations and fulfilled your hopes and dreams. Above all, I hope it was peaceful and that you shared it with people you love, and weren’t alone. You are in my thoughts, and I wish you again a very, very happy Christmas. And in the chaos of Christmas tomorrow, I will be thinking of you too. I hope it is a wonderful day!!!

Merry Christmas!! love, Danielle