A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Gardening Books

Doing What Scares You

Sandra Whiting has a way about her. When she asks for a favour, it’s hard to refuse.

Blog Photo - Sandra Whiting

Between her personality and track record for getting things done, she’s admired by many.

Add her contributions as an arts-supporter and artist (Sandra is a storyteller with a great sense of humour)  to her voluntary work for Canada’s Black and Caribbean communities, and you get the picture. 

But that didn’t make me immediately accept her invitation to give the keynote speech at the premier annual event of  PACE, the charitable organization she leads.

Blog Photo - PACE Children

I love PACE.  It’s helped tens of thousands of children in Jamaica and Canada. But I hadn’t given a keynote speech since the car accident of over a decade ago and the very thought was frightening.

My husband intervened.  He reminded me that at each stage of my recovery, I have done something that terrified me, and that, even when the results were miserable, I usually felt better for trying. 

Further, the topic was something I knew well: What we can teach children and ourselves from gardening and nature.

Blog Photo - PACE Strawberry Social

“What if I stutter?” I asked, panicked. “And what if they hate me?” “What if….” 

“You won’t stutter and they won’t hate you,” he reassured.

So, with a lot of help and encouragement, I said “Yes”.

 ~~

Having said “Yes”, I was even more scared. What to do? 

For inspiration, I went searching for stories I’d written about gardening in earlier years. And here’s where I got a big surprise: I came across a whole manuscript I’d written about gardening, growth and healing — years earlier.

Surprised, for two reasons. First, it was almost completely written. I’d thought it was only partly done. Even more surprising? It had been professionally edited. How could I have forgotten that? 

The answer came quickly. I had forgotten because my beloved husband had become ill and nearly died of a pulmonary embolism. I had put everything aside in the frantic weeks and months that followed. 

My husband is a courageous man. I watched him fight to recover, despite frequent frustration over his illness.  His bravery and sheer grit were so obvious, they inspired me to return to a tough subject I’d been avoiding: what it’s like to keep pushing ahead, to try to squeeze every moment of joy from a life painfully changed. 

Book cover - An-Honest-House

So, instead of the gardening book, “An Honest House”, based on my personal journals, was published in 2016.  It won The Diamond Award for book of the year.

~~

My husband recovered and returned to being a highly-regarded consultant and public speaker. This man knows how to create a strong speech.

We chose three excerpts from the unpublished gardening book, and built a speech around them.  I realized I could simply read whole parts of the speech, as I’d done at author-readings.

Blog Photo - PACE Guests at the Enchanted Gardens Sale

We arrived at the event. Inside, people were already admiring the flowers at the Enchanted Gardens sale. There was a joyful feeling everywhere.

Blog Photo - PACE Guests at Strawberry Social

Several people approached me. They had bought their tickets because I was the speaker, they said.

The pressure intensified.

~~

My husband helped me up the steps to the podium. At our table, my daughter and son-in-law sat, supportive, encouraging.

As I looked out at the large audience, I recognized several people I knew. They were smiling, beaming love and support.

Even strangers beamed encouragement, I think. Though they might have still been smiling over the introduction. Maxine, the woman who introduced me, told everyone what I’d written in my bio but also forgotten: that I’m a terrible cook, knitter and floral arranger.

~~

I started to speak, then read, growing more confident as I went along. There were times when people seemed glued to what I was saying. They even laughed at the right times. That was a relief, because I’m a terrible joke-teller too.

~~

It still feels like a miracle that I got through it, and that it was well-received. But I did and it was. 

Blog Photo - PACE - Cynthia and Diana Burke

And now, in a touch of grace, I will have two books published this year. 

First, of course, is the new children’s book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series, co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange and illustrated by Jo Robinson. 

The gardening book will also debut. Years after it was put aside, this book will see the light of day — because I said “Yes”, and decided to do what scared me.

~~

Dedicated to Sandra Whiting and the children supported by PACE.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Spring, Spring garden

Spring Has Sprung….

Blog Photo - Iris and Trillium

“Spring has sprung, the grass is ris

I wonder where the birdies is!”

They is all in my garden.  Or on window sills, cooing softly each morning.

Blog Photo - Dove looks back

Gathering twigs to build nests, lying on eggs inside their houses, chasing off squirrels and other pests from their nests.

Blog Photo - Tulips Pink2

Along with flowering bulbs of various colours — some truant, some close together.

Blog Photo - Tulip stray in Garden bed

The rain has kept everything blooming longer this spring.

Blog Photo - Tulip red and yellow CU

Blog Photo - Trillium CU

Blog Photo - Trillum Group

And speaking of rain:

Blog Photo - Stream between trees

There is a river in the valley just below our garden. It was a stream, but since early May, it’s looked like this. 

Blog Photo - Stream in May 2

That’s how much rain we’ve had! It’s feeling like Ireland around here in Southern Ontario.

I won’t mention the mosquitoes, though. I simply won’t. Except to God, whom I occasionally ask: “Give me ONE good reason for mosquitoes, God! Just ONE!”

 

 

A Good Home, Canadian life, Humour - Kinda

Stiletto Heels

As we stepped out into the rain

I looked down at the ground again

And saw her thin stiletto heels

And thoughts went round my mind like wheels

*

“Spring rain!” I smiled, instead of what

My mind thought, which was:Id-i-ot!

As she walked dainty by my side

And went on out to catch a ride

*

Image via shopflyjane.com
Image via shopflyjane.com

*

She grumped and sighed and made a pout

At weather we’d been warned about

She looked down at her thin wee dress

About to turn a soggy mess

*

She looked down at her silly heels

That would have paid for many meals

And turned to me and fussed again

And said a rude thing ‘bout the rain

Thanks to: publicdomainpictures.net
Thanks to: publicdomainpictures.net

 

Perhaps my thoughts would have been kind

If she’d been humbler in her mind

About the wind and rain we faced

Instead of acting so disgraced

*

If she’d admitted her sheer folly

For dressing up like some vain dolly

This day when all the forecasts said

Take care outside or stay in bed

*

But as I stopped and hit “rewind”

The thought that came into my mind

Was that I should have been more bold

And said: “It’s spring! Expect the cold

*

“Expect the wind and rain and fog

And dress for it; you’re just a cog

In Nature’s wheel, so take a pill

And dress yourself to meet the chill!”

*

Image via: dailyregiment.blogspot.ca
Image thanks to: dailyregiment.blogspot.ca

 

But then I had an awful thought:

Were there times when I too had bought

Such crazy stuff to wear outside

And then blamed weather, not my pride?

*

Back when I had more cash than brain

Did I throw money down the drain

On things that mattered not a whit

Back then – was I, too, such a twit?

*

Back when I was a TV ‘star’

And thought that I had come so far

And had to look and dress the part

So this would set me well apart?

*

I felt a twinge of something then

At how judgmental I had been

How quick I’d been to so opine!

And took some water with my wine.

**

A Good Home

Flowers, Memories, Diaries

Thank you, Hamlin, for all you’ve done, and continue to do. You bless me.

Cynthia Reyes

Memory is the diary we all carry about with us,wrote Oscar Wilde.

But for me, diary is memory. Years of memories.

Family, home, garden, daily life.

Diaries played a small role in my overall life, but became a huge part of my post-accident experience. With little sense of time, and often no memory of events just minutes after they happened, I started writing in my journal again.

Little things. Big things. Write it down quickly. 

Blog Photo - Journals

A doctor played a key role.  She told me to record events as they happened, figuring I could share these entries with the  medical professionals I visited.  My memory and speech problems were so bad, she noted, that “No other specialist will take two hours to try to figure out what you are saying. Write.”

Of course, that’s not word-for-word. But I scribbled down her order.

I returned to keeping journals. Some of the entries were…

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