Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

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

 

 

4/16/18, Life Lessons

Posted on April 16, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope all is well with you, and that you’re having some peaceful, happy days, some fun, and productive times doing something you enjoy.
 

I was reading the new Joel Osteen book this weekend, “Blessed In The Darkness”. I always love what he writes, it makes me think, and feel hopeful about life. We all have daily challenges, and it’s nice to have ‘tools’ to help us deal with all the things that come up in all of our lives.
 

It brought to mind an experience I had several years ago. You may have read about it, or not. I was embezzled for a large amount of money, by my most trusted employee at the time, a person who had worked for me for nearly twenty years. (That doesn’t make me special, the FBI said at the time that most embezzlements are committed by the person closest to you, whom you know well, has worked for you the longest or for a very long time, and whom you trust most. And that’s how it was for me). It was an enormous financial and emotional challenge, ENORMOUS, and involved a huge amount of money. I discovered it by accident, which is usually how it happens, some small thing exposes it, and it all unravels after that. And it turned out that the person who embezzled from me had been doing it almost from the day they started working for me (nearly 20 years before), and the embezzler admitted that they had been jealous of everything I had from the moment they started working for me. Jealousy is a VERY dangerous thing!!! I work very hard for what I do have, and always have worked very hard, and I’m not careless with money, no one has the power to sign checks on my account except me. And it wasn’t done in huge shocking amounts that would catch attention, so that I would say “OMG, where did that money go?” It was done in small steady amounts, sometimes several times a day, usually under a thousand dollars,’only’ several hundred dollars at a time, and rarely over a thousand, so that eventually at the end of the month, I had less money in my account than I thought I should, but I couldn’t figure it out and thought that maybe I was spending more than I realized. The full amount if you added it up over nearly 20 years was a staggering figure. Embezzling from me was a full time job, more so than their actual job with me. You feel stupid when it happens, and shocked and betrayed, and hurt and heart broken, and feel you should have noticed it, but it was very, very cleverly and simply done, which is also typical of many embezzlements. The person who did it figured out the 3 areas that I didn’t watch closely, they also lied to me constantly and I believed them. They also figured out the one or two areas that the accounting firm we used to verify things didn’t watch as closely so they didn’t spot it either, and also what the bank didn’t watch closely. Those three factors made it possible to steal literally millions from me over the years. And life events happen which distract you—-I got divorced—-I had a very sick son, who died during that time, and those distractions also provided fertile times for someone to take advantage of me.
 

Interestingly, there is a statute of limitations on what people embezzle from you. That limit is 3 years, so even once we knew how much more it was, with some very frightening ballpark and accurate figures, the embezzler could only be prosecuted for 3 years of what they stole—-the 12 or 13 or 15 years before that could not be claimed because of the statute of limitations. I got some money back for the last 3 years, but the bulk of what was stolen couldn’t be claimed because of that statute of limitations, which was shocking too. Embezzling is in fact a psychological pathology, and probably a form of compulsion or obsession. I doubt that there was ever a day that some amount wasn’t stolen from me by the embezzler. Many lies were told, each lie tailored to the person they were lying to, the bank, the overseeing accountant, other employees, or me. And we all believed the lies. Looking back, there are signs that could have been red flags, but I’m a trusting person, I’m honest and assume that others are too. The person bought a big house and spent a lot of money on it, landscaping, decorating, etc., and I was told that a relative had left this person money, I believed it and never questioned it, and I was happy for them. It never occurred to me that I was the ‘relative’, and paid for that house. The court awarded me the house and the proceeds from selling it, but once caught, it was mortgaged to the hilt, and I got only a small fraction of what it was worth, and very little for the contents.
 

There is no question, it was a very, very ugly, frightening, shocking time. It took a team of forensic accountants recommended by the FBI eight months to figure out what I had lost, and it was mind boggling. Some days I would be panicked by losing so much money, other days I was heartbroken by being so badly betrayed by someone I trusted completely. And it took time to get over it emotionally. One of my daughters, in her teens at the time, summed it up for me one night when I was in despair over it, and she said “We’re not starving, we’re not in the street, you’re still working, we’re going to be okay, Mom”, and she was right. It was as simple as that.
 

Because of the huge financial loss, I lost some things that really mattered to me. In order to try and regain our financial balance—-losing any amount of money hurts, but when you get hit big, it’s a struggle to get things on an even keel again, unless you have vast amounts of money—-in order to try and equalize what I lost, I had to sell a beach house I loved, I had to close my art gallery which I’d had for 6 years, and REALLY loved, as a wonderful 2nd occupation, I represented 21 unknown struggling artists, so they got hurt by the loss too, and we were all very sad to close but I had no other choice, I couldn’t afford to support the gallery anymore. And worst of all, I had run a street outreach program to help the homeless for 11 years, working on the streets and providing supplies they desperately needed. I poured a lot of money into it, and could no longer afford it after the embezzlement, and had to shut down our operations on the street. That hurt the most, it was work I loved for people in dire need. The judge was most upset by that, and added many, many hours of community service to the embezzler’s sentence, to acknowledge that. I was very sad to lose those three things, the homeless outreach program, my art gallery, and the beach house. I just couldn’t afford them after the loss.
 

It doesn’t help much, but I realized then how common this is. If you own a small (or large) business, you are vulnerable to someone doing something similar to you. A household employee can steal from you. If you have caretakers for elderly parents, those caretakers can steal money from you too, and that happens often, I hear it from friends. It can happen on a large scale or a small one. Before it happened to me, it happened to my agent, with an employee he treated like a son—-he embezzled a huge amount of money from my agent, and bought himself 2 houses, just like what happened to me, and the embezzler claimed he had inherited money. It all unraveled with a $125. withdrawal, and everything was exposed after that. At the same time it happened to me, it happened to art dealers I knew, in similar amounts and shocking circumstances by their most trusted employee. And recently it happened to two friends who own a small jewelry store, again by their most trusted employee of many years. I’m not suggesting that you become suspicious of everyone around you, or who works for you. But these things do happen, to smart careful responsible people, if you have a dishonest employee who knows you well and what your vulnerabilities are. If you’re an honest person, it never occurs to you that a dishonest person is taking advantage of you. I never dreamed that it could happen to me, that someone would do that to me. But it does, and it’s smart to be aware, and very careful (I thought I was).
 

In my case, the embezzler went to prison, though not for very long. To be honest, I wasn’t angry (I think I was too shocked to be angry), I was deeply hurt by it, practically and emotionally. I wrote a book inspired by it although a different story since it’s fiction, which helped a little, (“Betrayal”). It takes time to get over a shocking event like that. And I never recouped the money that I lost. Maybe one day I will, but probably not. But my daughter’s early assessment was right, we had our house, we weren’t starving, I still had my job, and we’re okay.
 

I did the only thing I knew how to do to recover from it. I rolled up my sleeves and worked even harder than before—hard to believe since I have worked hard on my books all my life. I worked extra time and over time, and wrote more than ever. The feelings and the hurt fueled me, and I was determined to protect my family and provide for them. And I realize now that blessings came from it. There are hard things that happen in life, but they often come with a blessing you don’t realize until later. The raw emotions and drive and determination made me work even harder on the books, and it showed in the writing. Is it an event I count as a blessing? No, but there have been definite benefits from it. Seeing my work, my publisher moved me up from four books to six a year, and now seven. If it had never happened, I probably wouldn’t be publishing 7 books a year, or even 6. But my fan base grew, my publishers recognized it, and little by little my career has grown ever since. My determination to work harder grew my career. I still miss my gallery, but no longer having it, I began spending more time in France, and am very happy there. That might not have happened, if the embezzlement hadn’t happened. And I will always miss my street work with the homeless, but in fact it was a very dangerous project, and I always worried about someone in my 12 man team getting hurt on the streets. We had some dicey moments, and it was a very high risk project, working hand to hand and face to face with people who were often mentally ill. Anything could have happened, and luckily no one got hurt in 11 years, but I always knew that at some point the risks would be too great, so maybe we stopped at the right time, and maybe by now we couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe we stopped at the right time, without knowing it. And I raise my voice whenever possible for the homeless, which I couldn’t do when I did the street work, since we did it anonymously.  There is no question that blessings did come from the embezzlement, over time, and not always visibly at first. But needing to counterbalance the loss drove my career forward in ways I couldn’t have foreseen, and maybe I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and I’m very grateful for that. I love publishing more and writing more, and enjoy it thoroughly.
 

It was a hard lesson, and probably one of the hardest things that has happened to me. Losing my son was much worse, and getting divorced, but this was one of those shocking, brutal practical lessons you just don’t expect to happen to you. But it can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from jealousy, and the dishonesty of people you just don’t expect, whether it’s getting mugged on the street and having your purse stolen, or your house burglarized and possessions you love taken, or as in this case, someone you trust stealing from you. I was pretty careful, even very careful before, but I was trusting too. The other embezzlements I’ve heard of, of people I know, are incredibly similar to mine, always by a very, very trusted employee, and usually someone who worked for them for a very long time and has greater access than other employees, and the benefit of your trust. One thinks of innocent naive movie stars being ripped off by their shady managers—you just don’t think about it happening to responsible people who run their lives well. But it can happen to all of us in some form.
 

Reading Joel Osteen’s book reminded me of the blessings that can come from a shocking upsetting event. And as he says, you don’t stop there. You go on, you make the best of it, you use it to grow and become more as a person, which is the real victory after an event like that. The focus is on the money lost in an embezzlement, and the broken trust. But if you look harder you see the good that comes from it eventually too. And I realized, when I thought about it, that publishing 7 books a year now is one of those big blessings that might never have happened otherwise, and that’s a great thing for me, my family and my career. I’m working harder than ever, and my career has grown exponentially since that unhappy event. You can’t stop at the unhappy events in your life, you have to make the best of them, learn from them, and go on to better days…..and the blessings will come in abundance over time. I am very, very grateful for that!!!

 

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

2/12/18, Happy V Day

Posted on February 12, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope your weeks have been going well. I’ve been busy writing, which usually keeps me happy and out of trouble.

And I guess we need to mention the holiday looming this week: Valentine’s Day. It’s a day of hope and expectations, excitement, joy, and sometimes disappointment if your Valentine hopes don’t quite measure up. I hope your Valentine’s Day will exceed all expectations and turn out even better than you dreamed!!!

My own Valentine’s Day experiences have been varied, from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some real highs—two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day, one for a marriage that lasted nearly twenty years, and remained a great love (the father of eight of my nine children), and the other was a bumpy road but someone I loved a lot nonetheless, and we also stayed very close. I’ve had some terrific dates on Valentine’s Day, and some less than terrific dates, and some years alone. It’s one of those days, like New Year’s Eve where people pin their hopes on everything they wish, and it’s sometimes/often hard for reality to measure up. My children have been my best Valentines over the years, and still are!!! We used to set a terrific table with lots of candy hearts, and funny little party favors, walking hearts, Peeps of course (my favorite), lots of chocolate, T shirts with hearts on them, fun jewelry that lights up, and a BIG pink heart shaped cake at the end of it. We do a small version of that now for my daughter who still lives at home, but she usually goes out and has more exciting plans than a heart shaped cake at home!! But it was a lot of fun when all my children were little and still at home.

I hope you’re planning to do something fun on Valentine’s Day, and I hope that someone gives you flowers and chocolates—-even if they don’t propose. If not on Valentine’s Day, maybe they will soon!!! My youngest son’s birthday is four days before Valentine’s Day, so he was a GREAT Valentine’s Day gift, the best ever!!! We celebrated his birthday last week with a family dinner, which included some of his friends.

I hope that your Valentine’s Day plans turn out just the way you hope, and you have a fun, romantic day and evening, full of love, and maybe even the excitement of a new romance, or the warm comfort of an old romance. The possibilities are endless—-and anything is possible. So Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope it will be a great one!!!

 

much love to you,  Danielle

6/26/17, Nobody until…..

Posted on June 26, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope your week is off to a great start!!!

I don’t know why, but I thought of a song the other day….a very old song, I think it was already an old song when I was a kid. But when I thought of it, the words really jarred me, “You’re Nobody until Somebody loves you”. As I thought about it, I thought what an unhealthy philosophy that is, and how damaging it can be. And I think we’ve probably all felt that way at some point. We’re in a slump, there’s no one in our life (romantically), and we feel like nothing and no one. I’ve had moments like that myself. But the song crossing my mind really reminded me to watch out for that pitfall!!! I used to take weekends off, and not work, when I was married. I spent every weekend doing things with my husband, and kids when they were young. I wouldn’t have dreamed of working all weekend!!! Now I’m not married, and my kids have grown up, so I work on most weekends. Okay, okay, ALL weekends. (It’s quiet then, and no one interrupts me while I write).

I go on vacation with my kids once a year, but I can’t imagine going on vacation alone. (It wouldn’t be much fun). And I don’t like going to restaurants or movies alone either (no one to talk to at a restaurant, or share popcorn with at the movie). I think sometimes we let the idea creep into our life that we don’t deserve fun times if someone isn’t madly in love with us. Being loved makes us feel so worthy and worthwhile, so deserving. I like working when I’m alone because it fills the time and distracts me and the days fly by—but I could go for a walk in the park, or a drive, or a museum, or an exhibit of something on my own—I don’t have to wait for someone to be in love with me to do that!!.

I don’t like the idea that we don’t feel deserving of something because we’re not currently in a romance, and when you think about it, how awful to feel like we’re ‘nobody’ until someone loves us. I’m not nobody. You’re Not Nobody!!! Mulling it over made me want to treat myself to something, to do something special, and treat myself—I don’t have to wait for someone else to do that, or to have permission to feel special.

We’re ALL special, and we’re ALL somebody—somebody special and different and important in the world. So treat yourself well, and do something nice for yourself today. I might just take the weekend off!!! I hope you have a GREAT week!! You deserve it!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Music, Relationships | 6 Comments

2/13/17, “Happy Hearts!!”

Posted on February 13, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Ahhh…yes…today is the eve of one of those days that can go either way, thrill you or break your heart, or slip and slide from the sublime to the ridiculous: Valentine’s Day of course. I’ve had all kinds, and you probably have too. I had two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day (I am a profoundly corny person, so I thought that was great!!) One of those proposals resulted in 18 mostly happy years of marriage, and 8 of my 9 children, and the other resulted in 8 years, and a second great love in my life. I am very lucky to have had two great loves, and both of them wonderful men. And our love for each other lasted longer than our marriages, and lasted until the end of their lives. I will confess, I miss them both. So that was the height of my Valentine’s Day experience. But there have been some very major lows too. (The French say “Never two without three”, which is an interesting thought…..so who knows maybe one day there will be another great love in my life. Anything is possible. I heard of a couple recently who married at last at 87, so that certainly gives us all something to hope for—-and plenty of time to plan!!!)

Valentine’s Day is a tough day because we all have such high hopes and expectations for it, from the time when we are children. I’ve told you before, that mine got off to a rough start when I was the only girl in 3rd grade who didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card!!! But there have been some grown up Valentine’s Days that fell short of expectations. There is always a frenzy of flowers and chocolates and romantic plans and dinners exchanged on that day, and if you don’t have a seat in the musical chairs of Valentine’s Day, it can leave you feeling very sorry for yourself!!! Or you can just treat it with humor and figure it will be better next year!!! The wonderful thing about life is that you really never know what is just around the corner, what wonderful person will come into your life, and how things can change radically in the space of a year, or even months!!! My greatest defeats were always followed by my greatest victories, my greatest disappointments followed by my great loves.

I actually got unceremoniously dumped (yes, it happens!!!) one summer, and 6 months later, on Valentine’s Day, my husband John proposed, and the happiest 18 years of my life ensued. I could never have predicted what was going to happen. It came right out of the blue, when John and his wife separated and divorced, and he stunned me by asking me out a few months later, and 18 years of marriage and 8 children happened after that. So you really never know what’s going to happen. And I’ve watched it happen to my children too. One of them was heartbroken over a failed marriage, and a year later is married to a wonderful man and expecting a baby. You just never know.

So if this year doesn’t look like it’s going to be a winner in the lottery of Valentine’s Day, wait and see, next year you may be on top of the world with the person of your dreams, having the best Valentine’s Day of your life. Tomorrow is just one year, one chapter in your life…..so my hope for you is a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and that all your dreams come true. And if it isn’t tomorrow, next year may be your lucky year. And if you are in the throes of a grand romance with romantic plans for tomorrow, good for you!!!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day—–and be sure to eat all the chocolate you can!!!

All my love,

Danielle