Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

9/14/21, Old Friends, New Friends

Posted on September 14, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing well, the Fall is off to a good start, that the summer brought you some fun and relaxation, time to just forget all your problems and do things you enjoy, and now the kids are back in school, you’re back at work, and I hope you’re busy with some exciting projects and plans. And in many places, countries and cities, the acute phase of the Covid crisis is easing a little, due to vaccines, masks, and sensible practices that have become routine for us, and are easy to maintain.

 

In many, many cases, these long Covid months have separated us from people we love, and want to spend time with. I was separated from my children by an ocean and a continent, and the fallout and dangers of Covid 19 for fifteen very long months. With restrictions, curfews (at 6pm in Paris for a while), and lockdowns, my world and my social life dwindled to nothing, and is still very limited, in terms of who I see, and how much I go out, and only outdoor dining. Many people are still not back in their offices, and are working remotely, people have moved away from the cities where they lived and worked before the pandemic, so there seem to be fewer people in our lives. There are also fewer social activities and opportunities to meet new people with reduced social lives, but in spite of that I have been struck by renewed contracts with people I haven’t heard from in a long time, who suddenly surfaced to inquire how I am. And by sheer happenstance, I have connected with new friends who are a real gift in my life, and were totally unexpected. Unexpected romances and relationships have started in the same way too for many people. Life does go on, even if temporarily on hold and different than it was before.

 

Work, professional activities and our jobs still bring us into contact with new people, even if only on line. Particularly in the creative fields, we are all starving for contact with other humans and experiences, which we need to fuel our inspiration to create, whether it be music, art, design, or literary. Every artist, designer, or writer I have spoken to is suffering from their diminished opportunities for inspiration from a broader world. I struggle with it myself, my life is much quieter and more isolated than it was before Covid. We are all anxious for that to improve, whether creative or not, but I think people in the arts are really feeling the lack of daily stimuli.

 

The flip side of that quiet coin is that we are doing less in the world, in order to be careful and mindful of Covid. Every day requires decisions from us of what is worth the risk, and how much. It’s a movable marker that changes day by day. And I certainly see fewer people, and do fewer things outside my home now, in order to be responsible. With fewer activities, I have written more, but I also have more time to reach out to people I know, on line, or respond to people who’ve reached out to me, whom I might not have taken the time to correspond with before. But with a little more time, and hungry for that human contact, I’ve been more open to new connections, which in some cases have turned out to be a real blessing in my life, and enrich it immeasurably. It’s particularly fun to ‘meet’ other creatives, in a variety of fields. And I’ve met all of them by accident because of Covid, so the experience hasn’t been all bad, and some of my already existing friendships have deepened in the stressful war-time atmosphere that has impacted us all.

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, a museum in another country contacted me, with time on their hands too, they had gone through their archives to ‘clean house” and discovered that my grandfather had loaned them a small painting for an exhibit many years ago, which somehow got forgotten, never got returned, and was still at the museum. My grandfather had died shortly after, no one knew about the loaned painting, and they never claimed it. It wasn’t valuable, but it belonged to his heirs, which was me. They contacted me and offered to return it to me. I didn’t fall in love with the painting when they sent me a photo of it, and decided to donate it to the museum since it had already been there for years. They were very pleased and the curator who had made contact is a lovely woman, and we’ve had a wonderful correspondence that has gone on for a year. In non-covid times, I would never have taken the time to get to know her. Buried under mountains of work, meeting deadlines, travelling constantly to see my kids, I would have made a fast decision about the painting and let it go at that. Working from home, the curator had time too that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. It has been a lovely exchange now for a year, and we hope to meet one day.

 

And I did a crazy thing, during one of the lonely lockdowns in France. My favorite series cheered me late at night when I was anxious and lonely. One of them is a British show that I have loved for years. The sound of the actors’ familiar voices was comforting, alone in my apartment for 77 days. I did something I’ve never done before. I researched the woman who created it and writes the show, got her address from a friend who works in TV in London, and wrote the first fan letter I have ever written, to tell the writer how much the show has meant to me. I would NEVER have done that in normal times. But suddenly, living daily with a lot of anxiety and fear, we are more open and more vulnerable, more emotional, and aware of things we paid no attention to before. It had never occurred to me before to write to the creator of that show, although I’ve loved it for a decade and watch it faithfully. But suddenly, in the craziness of the pandemic, it seemed okay to reach out, so I did on a sudden impulse one night. Much to my astonishment, she answered me the next day, and she had been reading my books since her teens. We had a powerful mutual admiration for each other, had a million things in common, and she has become a fantastic friend, although we still haven’t met. Our birthdays are even one day apart. She writes me hysterically funny letters, and our shared view of the literary world and the world of TV has given us a lot of laughs. She is a kindred spirit, and I adore her. Wow!!! Imagine if I had never written to her. She is a huge gift in my life!!

 

And along the way, I did a collaboration with a young Irish fashion designer, whom I’ve admired for years, and presto magic a new mutual admiration was born, across miles and generations. We did a podcast together, and the collaboration was a wonderful experience!!! Right there, I had three new friends, without ever leaving my house or meeting them. And then a fourth, an artist in Germany sent me a pastel portrait of my late son Nick as a gift (because she had spare time too), which really touched my heart, and we have corresponded too. She is incredibly talented and a lovely person, and she is currently working on a project for me, that I plan to give my children at Christmas.

 

And in addition to that, an artist in San Francisco whom I have admired for years, but haven’t seen in a long time, reached out to me. I have many many of his paintings in my home, but we had lost touch. He wrote to me out of the blue, and said what a hard time he was having painting in the pandemic, and what a challenge it was to create in a vacuum, isolated from people and the world as we know it. I answered immediately and shared that it was hard for me too. (All the people in the arts who have written to me have said the same). I shared my own experiences with him by email, and the exchange helped both of us, and inspired us. I was SO happy to have heard from him, and so grateful that he’d written to me.

 

So even though we are alone more, and spend more time at home, and the pandemic has been isolating for many people, even most people,—-flowers pop up through the snow and ice, and bring spring back into our lives in the frozen winter we have lived for eighteen months. Email has certainly helped us reach out to others, this would all be a lot worse without it. (I accidentally spilled a glass of water into my computer a week ago, and I panicked at the loss of contact for 3 days. The internet is a huge blessing right now, and keeps us connected to others and the broader world.)

 

I am so grateful for these friendships that have appeared, flourished, and the old ones that have survived or been reborn. we are social animals and need other humans, but in the midst of the silence, the darkness and at times the loneliness, some wonderful friendships (and even romances) are born. And I am SOOOO grateful for that, and for the old and new friends in my life.  And I am certain that these friendships will last much longer than Covid, and be stronger than they would have been, because of it. So some good has come of the challenges of the Covid crisis after all!!!Have a wonderful week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/23/21, “A call to Victory!”

Posted on August 23, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, and are enjoying the last of the summer. The weather has been chilly in Europe this summer, and on the East Coast of the US, where I just spent some time with my kids, and San Francisco is gray and enveloped in smoke again, fighting fires again. And the East Coast is braced for a hurricane. So, we haven’t been spoiled with the weather. But it’s still great to have some down time!!! And kids are already going back to school in some areas, so this is the last of summer. And it’s been a challenging one, still battling Covid. We’re discovering that even vaccinated people can catch it, less severely, and the vaccinations supposedly prevent death and severe cases that wind up in the ICU, which is a big plus, but people are getting sick nonetheless and can be carriers, so we ALL have to be careful, and all of those who aren’t vaccinated are at high risk, and have to be doubly careful.

And cities and governments are taking a firm stand. In Paris, you have to show official proof of vaccination to get into stores, restaurants, or anything public. They will accept a negative PCR Covid test if you’re not vaccinated. San Francisco (being the other city I know best) will only accept proof of vaccination, and not a PCR test. So, if you’re not vaccinated, you’re pretty well stuck in San Francisco. And increasingly, masks are being required, even outdoors. We’re all trying to do everything we can to beat Covid, especially faced with the highly contagious Delta variant, which cancelled rapidly many of our new found freedoms, and made daily life and any semblance of normalcy more dangerous again.

I have on my desk, a stacked filing box, which I refer to as my Outbox, where I pile things that are important to keep where they can be easily found, or things that I particularly love, letters, poems, a few photographs. It is usually a towering stack of papers, which threatens to cause an avalanche of papers onto my desk if someone bumps it. In order to avoid the avalanche, I woke up early last weekend, and decide to go through it, which I do from time to time, and I’m always surprised to find what I’ve buried there. There are some buried treasures there, and I found a copy of a poster that I always keep and really love. It dates back to June 18th, 1940, the day after the Germans occupied Paris during the last war. I wasn’t born then, but it’s a letter that is dear to most French people’s hearts, and has survived for more than eighty years. When the Germans occupied France, a French general, General Charles de Gaulle was the head of the Free French Forces and the Resistance, fighting to free France again from the occupying enemy forces. The day after the Occupation by German troops, that poster appeared all over France, to encourage people to hang on, not to give up, and to do all they could to regain their freedom and save their country. (It always makes me cry when I read it). You can imagine how people must have felt to have their cities and country taken, and being subjected to their enemy governing their country.  When I came across it, I read it and thought that it applies to our battle against Covid too. Our fight against Covid is like a war against an unseen enemy, which has taken over our lives, robbed us of our freedom in so many ways, and puts us in danger every hour of the day. And so much of General de Gaulle’s poster to rally the French seemed to apply to us now. These are the parts that made me think of our ongoing battle for health, safety and freedom from Covid:

It is written to the citizens of France at the time, but applies to all citizens of the world now.

 

“We have lost a battle!! But we have not lost the war!!!

Opportunistic rulers have taken over, giving way to panic, delivering us to slavery. Yet nothing is lost!  Nothing is lost because this is a world war. In the free universe, immense forces have not yet been brought into play. Some day we will crush the enemy. On that day, we must be present at the Victory. We will then regain our freedom and our greatness.

That is my goal, my only goal!!

That is why I ask all citizens, wherever they may be, to unite in action, in sacrifice, and in hope.

Our world is in danger of death. Let us fight to save it!”.   It’s signed General de Gaulle.

 

It is a rousing call to freedom, a branch to hang onto and not give up hope. So often those words have encouraged me to hang on in threatening situations, and it did so again when I read it.

Covid won’t win in the end. We WILL regain our freedom. We have to hang on and do all we can to reach the end of this rocky road, together, and each of us has to do all that we can to beat this enemy. I hope these words help you feel stronger, and give you hope.

 

Have a great week, and stay safe.

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

8/2/21, Enough already!!!

Posted on August 2, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Boy, I’m sure tired of Covid, and I’ll bet you are too. Up and down, first wave, second wave, third wave…arrghk!!! The vaccine seemed like an easy solution when it appeared. And it certainly appears to be an improvement, if it prevents cases requiring hospitalization, or fatalities. But there are hitches to that deal that require reason, caution, discipline and good judgement. You have to read the owner’s manual before you can just zip off into the sunset in a new car. In most cases, they tell even vaccinated people to wear a mask now, with cases surging everywhere Although the mask rules were lifted weeks ago.

 

For a minute there, everyone celebrated!! Yippeee!!! It felt like it was over, but it was not. What we are coming to understand is that even vaccinated people can catch Covid, they will just get a milder case, AND they can carry and transmit Covid- to others, whether vaccinated or not–if they give it to a vaccinated person, they will have a mild case, but if they infect a non-vaccinated person, they can do them some serious damage. Non vaccinated people remain vulnerable and have to be reasonable about how they move around in the world. In the past few weeks, some vaccinated people are getting sick, and in many places mask mandates have been reinstated.  My personal view is that some vaccinated people celebrated a little too exuberantly socially, and put themselves at risk again. And the large group of unvaccinated people are keeping us as a whole from achieving herd immunity.  I am not saying you should get vaccinated, or not, only you and your doctor know that. And we are all learning as we go, about the disease itself, and how to live comfortably around it. Wearing a mask seems like a small price to pay, for greater freedom. And I think people will adapt to it. For me, politics just don’t enter into it. Just safety, and protecting myself and my loved ones.

 

So be smart, be safe, let’s get rid of this anxiety and move on. Onward and Upward!!! have a great week,

 

love, Danielle

 

4/19/21, “No More Fear”

Posted on April 19, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How was your week last week? I hope it was a good one, and you had at least one good surprise, or some really happy moments. Some nice things happened for me last week, we are planning a wedding for one of my daughters late in the summer and are looking forward to it, a celebratory moment and a happy event. We’ve all had a hard year and deserve to have some fun when things are safer. The vaccine roll out seems to be happening in the US but the daily Covid numbers are still high and rising, and we still have to be careful and keep our defenses up. It’s too soon to relax our guard with Covid, the experts say, although I think we are all tired of the strain and stress, and how hard it is to make plans more than a few days away.

 

I finished correcting a set of galleys yesterday for one of my books, and really loved the story, and I am excited about the books I have coming out this year, we’ve been working on the cover for the holiday book, both in the US and the UK, and it’s a book I’m really excited about. And I’m very excited about the book coming out next week in hardcover, “Finding Ashley”, and I really hope you love it too, and the mothers and mother figures in your life. There is an important sister relationship in the book too. As an only child, I have always been deeply touched by the relationships I see among my children, among siblings. It is a very precious relationship, not always easy, because siblings can be very different, but it is a very powerful bond, stronger than friendship. My kids are all very close and I think they treasure their relationships with their siblings.

 

I read something I found helpful yesterday, and will share it with you. I ALWAYS find the writings of Joel Osteen helpful and inspiring. Many of them are written in a way that is useful even for people who aren’t religious, they are so strongly positive. I love Joel’s books, and he recently came out with a small one, on the subject of Fear.

 

I have always been a worrier, even as a child. I had a bumpy childhood, my mother left when I was very young, and I grew up alone with my father. Losing a parent at an early age kind of sets you up to worry about how things are going to turn out—and what if the other parent leaves too, or dies?—then what? Children are sensitive to changes and instability in their lives. And much later, as an adult, I lost my son Nick—which again is a harsh reminder that bad things can happen and you can lose someone you love. So, I do worry, some of my children are worriers too, though not all. On the practical side, if you’re a worrier by nature, things usually go pretty smoothly, because you try to anticipate what could go wrong, and plan accordingly (like what if it rains the day you are hosting a big picnic or an outdoor event—do you have an alternate rain plan??) I also envy the people who just figure they’ll wing it and invent the alternatives as they go along—I would lie awake at night worrying about it, if I didn’t have a backup plan. Like if I’m travelling for some big event, I always take an alternate outfit, because what if the zipper gets stuck, or you spill a bowl of soup on yourself, or someone else does. Travelling with 9 children taught me that little trick early on!!!

 

Being a worrier is a burden too, because you’re always trying to anticipate what could or might go wrong. And some of the events in our lives (like lost loved ones) make us fearful. And Joel’s books are the perfect antidote for that, they are kind of handbooks to life, how to deal with life’s crises. His books have always helped and reassured me immensely. The ones I’ve read are normal length books, with many chapters, and I have loved them all. He also has a great sense of humor which comes through in his writing. (I have been lucky enough to meet him and his family, and he is an amazing person!!)  He recently came out with a very small book called “No More Fear”. There are 30 chapters. Each chapter is a single page. It’s a fast read, and touches on a multitude of subjects, there are photographs in it, it’s a pretty book. But it is once again kind of a fast handbook to life, and this book focuses on fear obviously.

 

It is a warm, kind, reassuring reminder that we don’t need to be scared, that life works better if we aren’t scared, don’t panic, or assume the worst, and keep a positive attitude and trust that things will work out. Let’s face it, we’ve all had a tough year, worrying about our health, the health and safety of the people we love, terrified by the horror stories we’ve heard of Covid. For people with their own small businesses, in most cases it has been a challenging year. For people with jobs, they’ve worried that the company they work for could go under. In cities that have been under heavy lockdown, hairdressers, restaurant owners, waiters, even gardeners have been out of work for months. It’s been hard to make plans, nearly impossible to travel, kids have been out of school a lot, weddings and graduations have been cancelled. Celebrations have been few and far between, social gatherings have been forbidden. All the fallout of Covid has set the stage for us to be worried, even afraid, it has been an anxiety-producing time, and even with the vaccines now, the end isn’t clearly in sight yet. Fear has been with us ever since Covid arrived.

 

I sat down with Joel Osteen’s new book, read it carefully, and as with all his books, when I finished, I gave a sigh of relief. It reminded me that we don’t have to be ruled by fear, that we don’t need to be afraid all the time. Some things are good to be afraid of: an alligator in your backyard, an intruder with a gun, an airplane in trouble, a rattlesnake at your feet—-a pandemic!!! But we can’t live with fear all the time, we have to be able to unplug sometimes, we can’t live in a constant crisis. Joel helps one cope with the ordinary situations in life which frighten us—-that may not even turn out badly, they may turn out wonderfully in the end, but we worry about them until they do. I loved his book, and will read it again many times. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Bible passages, that I have clung to often:

 

“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of Love and of a sound mind” Timothy II:7 There are various versions of it in more modern translations of the Bible. Most of the time, fear is not a good thing (except in the case of the alligator I mentioned, or the rattlesnake)—-we can’t live in fear all the time. And we’ve had a lot of it in these 13 months of the pandemic. We need to be able to unplug from that fear, to breathe, to relax, to laugh, to have a good time, to see friends and family when it’s safe to do so.

 

I just thought I’d mention Joel’s book in case it would comfort you as it did me. And we all have our own way to seek relief from stress and fear, jogging, other forms of exercise, talking to a friend, a good meal, a glass of wine, religious beliefs. There are many ways to deal with fear, and Joel’s book is just one of them. But I loved it, it helped me, and I wanted to share it with you.

 

And one day, hopefully not too far from now, this whole scary time will be behind us, and a distant memory. But for now, it helps to find something encouraging that makes you feel better and gives you hope again. Joel’s book did that for me. Take good care, and be good to yourself this week, you deserve it!! Have a great week, and I hope wonderful things happen to you!!

 

love, Danielle

3/29/21, Resurrection

Posted on March 29, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope last week was a good one for you. These are certainly challenging times, from week to week. Now that we’ve passed the one-year mark from when everything shut down and Covid exploded into our lives, I think we are all more eager than ever for life to return to normal. The vaccine gives us hope of more protection, but the distribution of it seems pretty bumpy and erratic in most countries. And not everyone wants to be vaccinated. It’s very new, and many people are daunted by the pros and cons and the speed with which it was developed. There is no question, we have been part of a historical event, a year that no one will forget. It cast us back a century to a situation so similar to the Spanish flu which decimated the world in a very similar way a hundred years ago. But there is a glimmer of light on the horizon now, and sometime in the next months, we will win this silent war that we have fought so bravely. It’s a war with very real casualties. And for the survivors, we have been very brave and paid a high price for the loss of peace, the risk of illness or worse, and the threat to us and our loved ones. One day we will celebrate our victory, while honoring those who did not survive. I hope that day of peace, recovery, and victory will come soon.

 

Of all the holidays, I LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it, the hope, the joy, families coming together, the sound of carols and happy laughter, the smell of Christmas trees and cookies baking. Happy faces, warm hearts. Like all holidays, there can be challenging moments, or family tensions, or some terrible sadness for those who are alone. But on the whole, it’s my favorite holiday. And as I spent it alone last year, in Paris, during Covid, with no family member nearby and none of the sounds of joy, it was a humbling experience and reminded me of just how hard lonely holidays can be. It was a good reminder that Christmas is not joyful for everyone, and it is an agony for some. It was for me last year, alone.

 

Whether one is religious or not, there are lots of non-religious aspects of Christmas that are fun for everyone. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy Christmas, there is something for everyone, if you’re willing to be festive. And some people enjoy the holiday more than others. Christmas is always a warm happy family time for me.

 

But the holiday which has the greatest religious symbolism for me is Easter. As happens at some other times a year, it is not just a time for Christian holidays, but Passover too, and this year Ramadan, all within two weeks of each other. In the Christian faith, the entire religious symbolism centers around the idea of Resurrection, rebirth, new beginnings, recovery, refreshing our lives and renewing hope, and even faith. If ever there was a year when we need renewal and recovery, this year is it. Last year, it was only weeks into the beginning of the pandemic, and we were dazed, shocked, the full impact of it hadn’t hit us yet, the shock, the losses, the fear, the people who got sick, and those who didn’t make it. This year, we have endured the hardships for a year, survived the challenges, lived with anxiety and tension for a full year. The notion of Resurrection is beginning again, rising from the ashes and rebuilding our lives, repairing the damage, renewing our energy, and finding the courage to start over, to feel new again, to rise from the darkness into the light of love and joy and hope. I can’t think of another holiday or theory that is more appropriate for what we’ve all been through.

 

And I wish all of you the strength and the courage to reach out and feel new again, in small ways, and big ones. I celebrate the Resurrection with you, and may you feel the strength of that renewal in every fiber of your being, whatever your religion or if you have none at all.

 

May the idea of resurrection, renewal and new beginnings fill your heart, put balm on your wounds and bring you joy and peace.

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

6/15/20, Joy

Posted on June 15, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

with lots and lots of love, Danielle

 

2/10/20, The Big V

Posted on February 10, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing.  That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.

 

I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.

 

A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find.  It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other.  Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.

 

The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second.  The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).

 

Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast.  Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.

 

So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!

 

I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!

This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you,   Danielle

 

1/6/20, Family

Posted on January 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope the last week has been peaceful and that you got through New Year’s Eve and Day safely and happily. I have to admit, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t like New Year’s.  New Year’s Eve is always heavy with expectation and often fraught with disappointment. Plans don’t work out quite the way we want them to, parties aren’t as much fun as we hope. We don’t have the right date or the right dress or the right plan. And although New Year’s Day is supposed to be a fresh beginning and the start of a whole New Year and clean slate, it’s often also a reminder of what didn’t work out last year. It’s just not a holiday I love!!! Having said that, my New Year’s Eve was surprisingly nice this year. For several years now, I have been alone on New Year’s eve, my kids have left after Christmas by then, so to avoid being sad and missing them too much (after the joys of a full house over Christmas!!), I start a new book every year when they leave, around December 27th—-and by New Year’s eve, I’m deep in the book and forget everything else. This year, one my daughters decided at the last minute to stay until New Year’s Day. She cooked all day on New Year’s Eve, set a beautiful table, with decorations, and provided a really festive happy New Year’s Eve for me, one of my sons and his fiancée, and another friend, and we had a really great time together, unexpectedly, on the spur of the moment. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years. None of us had high expectations or elaborate plans, and we had a great time together!!!

 

I was mulling over what to write about today, in the blog, and read a reader’s comment to the last blog, about a minor family argument that turned into a big fight during holiday cookie baking and spoiled everything. And I thought I’d write about that. I’m an only child, so I’ve never had the problems or the blessings of siblings, and my family was tiny (just my father and I, while I grew up). In contrast, with nine children, I’ve been blessed with a big family and have had a front row seat to the closeness of siblings, what a joy it can be, and what a challenge at times. I do find that in big families, kids seem to get along better than in small ones, because it’s such a big group that there are always other options if they’re not getting along with someone. It’s kind of a moveable feast!!!

 

Families are a work in progress. They move, they change, they shift, like the sea or the tides, or the shells on the beach. We’re a close knit family, and are all very close, and spend holidays together, and I think we get along surprisingly well, but in any family, storms can come up, and blow over, or hang around for a while. Someone can make a careless comment and upset someone else without even intending to, or people dig their heels in and disagree over something trivial. I think it happens in all families. There are a lot of personalities involved, spouses and in laws, or siblings, and things get bumpy for a while. What I do find though is that as fast as something can come up and turn into a storm, it can calm down just as fast and hours or days later, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I think ALL families go through it, just like no marriage is without the occasional argument. It’s just the nature of humans, and life. And hopefully, love carries the day in the end, and we all forgive each other. So I hope that the cookie baking argument was or will be short lived, and has been forgotten by now.

 

Families have a life force of their own. And the things that drive us nuts at one moment, seem silly a short while later. (And too much alcohol sometimes consumed during the holidays can turn small fights into big ones too)

 

But a little rain falls in the life of every family. And I envy my children the fact that they have siblings. It looks like having a best friend, only better!!!

 

I hope your new year is starting out peacefully, and that the holidays were happy. But if your holidays were a little stormy, I hope the storms clear up soon, and everything will be happy again!!!

 

My new book, Moral Compass, is coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday. I’m REALLY excited about it, and I hope you love it!! I worked really hard to get it right. It’s about how an act committed by high school seniors can escalate into a life changing event and touch everyone around them, parents, teachers, students, friends, even police and a judge.  I think it deals with an important subject, and I really hope you enjoy it and it’s meaningful to you too!!!  And I’m hard at work on new books at the moment. I’m working on a new book, and an outline!! That will keep me out of mischief for a while!!!

 

 

Be well and happy, and I hope that everything is smooth around you!!! Have a great week!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

8/12/19, “Complete”

Posted on August 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having some really good weeks, and hopefully still some vacation, as the summer starts to wind down. It’s been a long hot summer, and I’ve had some lovely time with my kids, and also did a lot of work this summer, working on several books at different stages.

 

I like to keep busy, and am happier when I am. I race around meeting deadlines, trying to get time with my children, love puttering around my house fixing things and adding things or getting rid of things (my famous closet purges when I get rid of lots of stuff), I travel a lot, mostly between my two homes, and only take one brief vacation a year for a week, and I am always on the move. But between the visits with the kids, the deadlines, the work on the books, seeing friends when I can, running two homes, and the fashion shows I report to you a few times a year, I do have moments of introspection, which helps give me direction, and even insights for the books.

 

In that vein, I was thinking about the notion of “completeness” the other day, and how easily we all, or most of us, feel ‘incomplete’. There is always, or often, something missing in our lives. A partner, the right partner or any partner, children/a child, a job that makes us feel important, the right home. We’re always striving for something, or missing something. It’s the nature of humans. Early in life, we’re striving to have it all. And later in life, we are trying to fill the voids. For women (and men) who have children, the kids eventually grow up and leave, and we are left with the void that leaves in our lives (with 9 kids, believe me that was a big hole to fill when all but one (so far) left home), for men and women who have important jobs, when they retire they feel as though they’ve lost their identity, another big void to fill. We look at others and think they have it all, a partner, a great job, a beautiful home—-but even those people must feel incomplete at times. It’s rare for any of us to have it all, all at the same time. There is so often something missing and we are left feeling incomplete as people, inadequate, and not whole.

 

Like Noah’s Ark, we are led to believe that we are incomplete, and we feel that way, without a partner. And yes, as Winnie the Pooh said to Piglet, “life is so much friendlier with two”. I have always been irked by the old song “You’re nobody until somebody loves you”. We believe that, we feel it, it so often seems to be true. Being solitary can be so lonely. Being with the wrong partner is even more so. Very few people seem to be truly happy alone, and most of us feel left out and ‘incomplete’ without someone to love and who loves us. We see others with partners and wish we had one too (and we forget that that’s not always easy either). Or we have a job that doesn’t fulfill us, or a home/house/apartment that is less than what we want and feel we deserve. And when we feel that something is missing, we feel incomplete. That’s not a good feeling, and can really make us deeply unhappy. When we’re feeling incomplete, we forget to look around at what we DO have, a home that’s nicer than we believe, a job that isn’t as bad as we think at times, we forget that the right person can walk into your life tomorrow and you won’t always be alone.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that if you feel incomplete and not ‘whole’, what are you really offering that new partner you want to come along? Half a person? A sense of desperation that a new person should make up for everything you don’t have in your life? That’s a heavy burden to put on someone else, and not very attractive or appealing, that they have to save you from your own incompleteness and dissatisfaction and provide everything you don’t have in your life and make your life exciting. And that new person may take a while to show up (or maybe not, they may come along faster). But you want to bring a whole person to the table (yourself), and offer them the riches of your own life and your wholeness, and then you can be two whole people together with much to share and offer each other. If you are desperate to have someone fill your empty life, that’s pretty scary for them!!! And you’ll be bored while you wait for them!! We need to fill our lives to the brim on our own, not count on someone else to do it, and then we really have something to offer someone new who walks into our life. You just can’t and shouldn’t count on someone else to “make you whole”. (It’s more likely to make them run like hell, in the opposite direction!! And who can blame them?)

 

I think it’s a life’s work feeling complete, and not focusing on what we don’t have. And it’s so easy to look at the down sides. When I moved into my California home, I was thrilled that my bedroom was on the same floor as all my kids, except one who lived in private grandeur on the floor above. Now, I walk past all those empty bedrooms on the way to my own room when I’m in California, a reminder that my kids have moved on. It’s like a neon sign reminding me that they’ve moved on and I live alone (except for one ‘child’ still at home, and I’m grateful for that). And without all those kids underfoot, it’s easy to feel ‘incomplete’. When I sat and thought about it the other day, I realized how full my life is, and reminded myself of how ‘complete’ I really am, that I am a whole/complete person with or without a partner, with or without kids living at home, no matter what my job, or my home. I think the trick is to feel complete with what we have, and who we are. It’s a real trap, and an easy one to fall into, to feel incomplete, and I know so many people who do—–and marry the wrong people as a result just so they’re not alone, or stay in situations or jobs that don’t fulfill them (we all need our jobs, but if you really hate your job, maybe it’s time to look for one you like better).

 

Each of us is complete and whole. It’s something we all need to remember and focus on (or do something about). It’s not the partner, the kids, your job, or the size of your apartment that makes you whole, or complete. It comes from within us, and remembering, appreciating, and focusing on what we DO have, and not what’s missing.  Now I can go back to cleaning out closets, grateful that I am in fact complete, I don’t need anyone or anything to make me complete, I am a whole person as I am…..and whatever is added to it will be an added gift!!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/8/18, Let your light shine!!!

Posted on October 8, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, a productive one, some fun times, and accomplished whatever you wanted to. The fall is here, and it’s a great time to rev up our engines, start new projects, finish old ones, —-even as adults, many of us still have a ‘school year’ mentality, and the fall feels like the beginning of a new year. I’ve been busy too, and working on new books for you!!!

 

In a serious vein, I’ve lost three friends and a family member recently. It’s a sobering experience and leads one to some introspection about life in general, and the people specifically. Three lived to a great age (2 at 89, and one at 90), and one died very young. And three of them made a strong mark on the broader world. Two in artistic fields, in which they were well known, one high up in federal law enforcement, and one of them was ‘unknown’ except to family and friends. But whether ‘famous’ or not, we all leave a powerful mark on our world. All of them were people I greatly admired, and their passing was publicly mourned. The last of them was an absolutely remarkable woman, an award winning French documentary filmmaker and writer, who had survived five concentration camps as a young girl in her teens, including Auschwitz, and was a dynamo of strength, courage and talent, and right up until her last day she was fascinating to talk to, full of energy, always working on a new book or documentary film. She could outstay anyone at a party, smoked, drank, and lived a full life till the end. Interestingly, only one of them had children, the other 3 did not (the three famous ones didn’t, an interesting statistic), all had major careers, and all four lived their lives as shining examples to the rest of us. Three of them were in great form and productive until their last day. They were inspiring to know, and I feel blessed and honored to have known them.

 

In doing some reading to come to terms with these losses, I came across a Bible quote from Matthew which I have always loved. “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works…..”. All four of the people I mentioned were brilliant examples of that. And in a world filled with social media, and rapidly reported news, we are constantly, daily, hourly assaulted with shocking news and bad events. It’s not so easy to shine in a world filled with the distracting smoke of bad behaviour, and bad news. And yet, these people did. Every day, we have a choice about what we see and what we do, what our standards and values are, and how we treat our fellow man. Do we focus on the bad events? Do we sacrifice our own values, and take the easy road, or the high road? Do we make excuses when we fall short, or keep going on our own road toward higher goals, and lend a helping hand to others on the way? Years ago, when I started writing books in my late teens, my good friend and mentor as a young writer was Alex Haley, the writer of Roots. Famous, successful, he always had time to help others, was always encouraging to young people, and I don’t think I have ever known a nicer, kinder, more extraordinary human being. I marveled at his kindness. (His personal motto was “Find the good and praise it”—-not so easily done in today’s world)

 

In the scheme of life, being famous doesn’t really mean much, except that it helps you to reach out to more people, and it can be exciting to see your name on a list of some kind, or the cover of a magazine. But what really matters is what we Do. When all is said and done, I think who we are is determined by what we have done, how much good we have done during our time here on earth. That’s not always an easy goal, the low road is so much easier. But the people we stand back and admire at the end of their lives are invariably kind, and have lived a lifetime of small gestures to others that make a difference. It can happen in a moment, in a smile, in a gesture to a friend, or a stranger, an act of kindness that makes a difference to just one person. We all fall short at times, and wish we had done better, given more, tried harder, or been more patient. We don’t always realize what a difference we make to someone else. We don’t have to be internationally known or enormously talented to do good works. We each have the chance to let our light shine every day in the smallest of ways. It’s a nice thing to remember when we are tempted to be short with someone, growl instead of smile, and don’t reach out a hand to someone else.

 

I liked finding the reminder of that Bible quote, it’s a wake up call, to let our light shine so brightly that it lights up the darkness that surrounds us at times in the world.

 

The people I knew whose lives ended in the past few weeks were all shining examples of that…..their light shone so brightly, their good works to others (not just their talent) will be long remembered, and blessed everyone on their path.

 

There is another quote that I love too, by Robert Louis Stevenson, “It is the history of our kindness that alone makes this world tolerable.” And what I remember most about the three lost friends and one family member is not how famous they were, or how much they accomplished, but how kind they were. Maybe in the end, it is the only mark worth leaving on the world.

 

Have a happy week, and Let your light shine, even in the smallest of ways…..and I will try to do the same.

 

With much love,  Danielle