Author-gardener-library professional Sheryl Normandeau has this quote on her blog and it sums up my own situation well:
“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.” – Jennifer Yane.
I’m far behind on blogging and promoting the new book. So your helping Lauren and me — by buying it, recommending it to schools, libraries and parents and sending us supportive messages — matters more than I can adequately describe.
These flowers are to thank you for your recent support of Myrtle’s new adventures.
Special thanks to the following Myrtle the Purple Turtle fans:
People who read my books tell me the darndest things.
Perhaps instinctively knowing that I’ll never let them down — or simply because I’ve written a lot of personal stuff in my books — some readers write very personal responses in their letters and cards.
I feel privileged to read them. Every one.
Some weeks ago, one particular letter arrived. It accompanied a card, and was totally unexpected.
You see, it came from a prominent person, and the fact that he took the time to read my book — and write to me — was a huge surprise.
As you may know, I live with a strange thing called post traumatic stress disorder — one of the outcomes of a car accident of years ago. Only very recently have I written about it. When I did, I deliberately crafted my book, An Honest House, to provide a balance between the beauty, love and support that surrounds me in our old farmhouse, and the uncontrollable terror that always hovers, just out of sight.
I wanted book lovers to read my book, and I particularly wanted people who struggle with PTSD to read it. I wanted them to see, in an ‘up-close and personal’ way, how someone else lives — with and, in spite of, PTSD.
But here’s the problem: if you have it, reading about PTSD can be a death-defying thing — or so it feels. It wasn’t until after writing An Honest House that I finally read an article about PTSD – written by my own therapist, for the back of my own book! Even then, I only read it because I had to.
Shortly after my book went to print, I saw a news story about a prominent person who lives with PTSD. I wrote to commend him on revealing it in public, and also mentioned my upcoming book. He replied warmly — then warned that he’d most likely not read my book.
Imagine my surprise and pleasure, then, when I recently received a letter and card from him — just like that, out of the blue!
The letter was warm and revealing.
A beloved relative, he wrote, had recently died, and in his grief, he decided to read An Honest House. He found himself immersed in it.
I alternated between smiling and feeling choked up as I read. How moving to learn that he actually read the book and that it gave him comfort in a challenging time! And how gratifying to know that An Honest House will have a place of honour on his bookshelf.
As with the vast majority of my readers, I’ve never met this man in person, never even talked to him on the phone. I likely never will. Yet, in a way, we know each other.
Dedicated to everyone who writes to an author whose book they’ve enjoyed.
“You haven’t bought a new dress in years,” my husband noted one day a few years ago. He was to be the keynote speaker at a dinner and wanted me to accompany him. “How about that dress shop in the village?”
“No!” I said. “The one time I went there, years ago, the owner gave me a very unfriendly look!”
I was looking for excuses. My body was in terrible pain and I didn’t want to leave the house. But the event was important to my husband and he wanted me to wear something nice.
I didn’t want to go far, so it would have to be the shop with the unfriendly owner. I gritted my teeth and prepared to be infuriated.
I got a humbling lesson that day.
The owner didn’t smile this time either. But she waited patiently while I haltingly described what I needed then brought me three dresses. When I struggled to try on the first one, she helped me, gently and patiently. Finally, after getting into and out of three dresses, I was too exhausted to choose. She chose the one she felt complemented me best and was easiest to get into. She even gave me a significant discount on the price.
I’d been too embarrassed at my own challenges to really look at her face till my last minutes in the store. I made a small joke about my difficulties and she smiled in return. Except that her smile was a grimace. The woman’s face was deformed; smiling emphasized the deformity.
Something passed between us then. Two women, each with her own challenge.
Two women, sharing a moment of grace.
Yogi Berra had a quirky wisdom. Remember this one? “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours!”
It reminds me that I, too, depend on the kindness of others, especially since the car accident.
My post today is dedicated to my family doctor, Dr. H.
It’s taken me years to see myself as she must have: hair barely combed; no makeup at all; dressed horribly to match my mood.
I was too angry. At myself, for not healing fast enough. At doctors who never seemed to have the solutions I constantly sought. Yet, through it all, Dr. H. remained patient and kind.
What triggered these reflections? A post from “Victo Dolore”, a family doctor and blogger who wrote recently about an extremely disagreeable patient.
“Victo” persevered and finally found it within herself to feel love for that patient.
We all want to be loved and understood, even when we are at our worst. My humble thanks to Dr. H and other health professionals who are kind to disagreeable patients. These flowers are for you.
Readers of this blog and A Good Home have encouraged my family and me through some crazy times this year.
You’ve consoled and encouraged me in the domestic arts, including the two times I tried making outdoor Christmas arrangements! Several readers offered compliments, tips, commiseration, inspiration.
And Arna sent me this photo.
“I told you I have a planter like yours!” she said.
Yes, Arna, but yours is far more assured.
From last fall to this spring, I had to abandon virtually all my book-related activities and take tomy bed.
Some of you decided to help. You bought my book, and wrote wonderful reviews.
Phil reviewed A Good Home for an American book website last year, then created computer-assisted images promoting the book.
John G. took my book with himon his annual canoe trip, then wrote a review too.
In Avery, Texas, 90 year old Lou Mathis and his wife Aggie were themselves struggling this September. Their farm business was suffering because of its name, “Isis”. (Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess, but in today’s climate, not a popular name.)
Lou asked on their blog: “WHAT DO YOU THINK? For some reason I refuse to give up the… ISIS FARMS. But would painting the sign OVER IN GREEN……”
I’d been nervous about it. But people like John V. wrote to my blog afterwards:
“I heard you speak on the radio about healing and it gave me perspective and hope for my own circumstances. Sincerethanks for sharing.”
Such validation for a book completed in dire times!
On crazily painful days, I often forced myself to write poems, making fun of myself and my home life. Some (like Stiletto Heels) became blog posts, which made you laugh, uplifting me in return.
Andra wrote:“I absolutely howled with laughter reading this. Thanks, Cynthia! Have had similar thoughts watching the young ladies strutting about in high heels and skimpy dresses in inclement weather. And like you, I recall being just as foolish back in the day. Great poem.”
Then, without warning this fall, life changed perilously. My husband nearly died.
Titled No Words, my poem expressed the raw agony our family experienced.
In reply, you warmly supported us with prayers, consolation and good wishes.
Incredible kindness, especially because I’ve never met most of you in person.
“Thank you” hardly seems enough. But thank you, anyway.