A Good Home

Colin and Justin

In 2013, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan made me cry.

And then they made my husband cry.

But our whole family loved them for it.

colin and justin

I had followed their writing and TV shows: they are brilliant designers. But they didn’t know me.  How surprising then, that  Colin and Justin should have done something special for my first book that helped launch my career as an author.

It happened at a time when I was coping with serious injuries from a car accident and had lost all self-confidence.  Gone were the days of being a high-flying TV exec, of heading up big projects, of knowing my own strength.

Now, I badly needed to believe in myself. The book I’d been writing over twenty-plus years was about to be published.

Colin and Justin’s support, and that of other readers and reviewers, made an impact. On me, and on the book-reading public.

Book Cover - A Good Home

A Good Home became both critically acclaimed and a bestseller.

In the years since then, I continued to follow Colin and Justin’s projects, cheering them on when they launched a new TV show and an excellent home accessories line.

Blog Photo - colin and Justins Log Cabin

Occasionally, I dropped them a note. But I still never met them.

Yesterday, an appointment fell through. I ended up strolling through a nearby store, delaying the long drive back home.

I looked up at two men and recognized them instantly.

With several books to my credit, I once again know what it’s like to have fans; I know what it’s like to be approached by strangers. But no fan could have behaved as bizarrely as I did yesterday. 

I think I yelled something like “Colin and Justin! It’s me, Cynthia Reyes!”

And then I hugged them. 

They probably should have called store security.

But Colin and Justin hugged me back as if deranged women with windswept hair, absolutely no makeup — and no attempt at coolness —  attacked them in stores every day.  

Blog Photo - CR with Colin and Justin

They asked about my writing, and whether their support had helped. I was so proud to tell them that it had. 

If you look at the back cover of my first book, A Good Home, you’ll see a lovely testimonial from Colin and Justin. But if you want to know the full story, and why my family and I are so grateful to these two men, please read this:

https://cynthiasreyes.com/2013/09/07/the-review-that-left-my-husband-speechless/

Thanks again, Colin and Justin. For your brilliant designs. For being kind to a stranger. And for being you.

#GlobalSussexBabyShower, A Good Home, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

A Royal Surprise Pt.3: A Painful Beginning

To understand why supporters are so protective of Harry and Meghan, we have to go back to 2016.

Deesa Roberts, the Atlanta lawyer, knew nothing about Meghan Markle until October 2016.  However, she and her two daughters had been royal supporters for decades.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Diana and sons
Credit: Kensington Palace

“When Princess Diana died, we bawled our eyes out. We felt so sad for her children, and especially for Prince Harry, who was so young to experience such a loss. I always had a soft spot for him.”

She kept track of Harry as he grew up.

“Then, in October 2016, news broke about his relationship with Meghan Markle and was confirmed in November.”

November 8, to be specific. That day, in a strongly worded statement, Kensington Palace asked British media and “trolls” to stop harassing Harry’s girlfriend.

“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”

The “wave of abuse” didn’t stop.

Following the coverage from Atlanta, Deesa was shaken by the anti-Meghan “racism and misogyny” in the UK tabloids.  

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There are few (known) persons of colour in the British royal family. Though Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, is said to have been part-African, she’s been dead for centuries.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Queen Charlotte - Credit National Portrait Gallery
Credit National Portrait Gallery

Meghan Markle was an anomaly.

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The attacks on Meghan Markle weren’t isolated to Britain.  Comment sections of several UK newspapers had as many American anti-Meghan remarks as British.

Deesa, meanwhile, read everything she could about Meghan.  “I sensed that she was the one for him. I felt she could handle the pressure.  She was older than his previous girlfriends and more mature; she had faced difficult issues and overcome them.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Meghan Markle CU
Courtesy: The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

“I decided I had to support her. I was born in Georgia and my grandfather was born in slavery.  So I’m thoroughly familiar with racism.  I recognized the attacks by some royal reporters early on. I tried to engage them and other royal watchers in respectful conversation, but it didn’t go anywhere. For my efforts, I was dubbed a ‘race warrior’.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Deesa CU
Deesa Roberts

Deesa’s concerns were echoed by others whom I interviewed for this series.

Mimi, also American, admired Princess Diana and felt protective of her sons after Diana’s death.

“Prince Harry was my favorite. I always rooted for him and supported his causes. I became a Meghan fan when she was with Suits. I followed her blog The Tig and admired the speech she made at UN Women. Having loved them both separately, it was a no-brainer that I’d support them as a couple.”

Blog Photo - Chris and Sparky and David
Chris, Sparky & Chris’ son David

Chris, from the US south, loved Princess Diana.  “When she died, my heart ached for Harry. Sometimes the press was so hard on him, but he truly has such a caring and loving heart. 

“When I heard he and Meghan were dating, I was thrilled.  I truly thought it was a match made in Heaven. 

Blog Photo - Baby shower - royal engagement H and M
Photos Courtesy: Kensington Palace

“From their engagement interview, to their wedding, and everything they’ve done so far, they’ve really impacted me. Their passion to help others and change the world is inspirational. I’m old enough to be their Mom (lol) but they’ve really impacted my life.”  

Blog Photo - baby shower - Melbour Australia skyline
Melbourne, Australia skyline. Credit: Wikipedia

From Melbourne, Australia, David says:  “I really believe in them as a couple and think they will achieve great things together and individually. They seem to both be driven people and that really resonates with me. Also very impressed with Meghan’s background before meeting Harry.”

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Many Sussex supporters  around the world felt they had to speak up against the “lies and vitriol” being directed at the couple on social media “and sometimes the press.”

Portia, an education assessment officer in the UK, says: “What was distressing, and still is, is the press giving a platform to trolls by using their quotes and giving press coverage to them. That I find sad. There is a need for a re-balancing of issues in the press.”

 On Twitter, Sussex fans fact-checked and rebutted reporters’ stories. Some reporters saw them as trolls who were brutally insulting, a few even “threatening”. (Author Note: I’ve seen no threats myself, but have seen many angry, and some insulting, tweets.)

As the battle waged, Sussex fans became familiar with each other through their tweets and Twitter profiles. After Harry and Meghan married and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Deesa says, she suggested fans call themselves The Sussex Squad.

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As organizers of the global baby shower, Sussex Squad members turned their focus to helping vulnerable people and pets through charities associated with the royal couple.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower

When people hurl online insults at the Sussexes or the baby shower,  most Sussex Squad members try to rise above it, often replying with these slogans:

“Don’t Hate. Donate”.

“Leading with Love”.

It’s a strategy of positivity and kindness. 

But they’re also strongly committed to defending the duke and duchess against the media and ‘haters’. 

Can the Sussex Squad do both things?

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Next: Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

Acts of Friendship, An Honest House, Book Reviews

No-One Is An Island

“In our view, An Honest House should be required reading for everyone.”  

Isabel Bassett, former government minister and CEO of TV Ontario and Ernie Eves, former premier of Ontario, wrote those words about my second book, An Honest House

I’m sharing their moving words here. For one thing, it allows me to salute Isabel and Ernie for supporting emerging talent, as well as ambitious and accomplished individuals from many fields.

Blog Photo - Isabel and Co
l-r: Tiffany Ford, Djanka Gajdel, Isabel Bassett, Cynthia Reyes

It’s often the little things people do that make a difference, isn’t it?

Telling others about someone’s new endeavour.

Bringing diverse groups of people together to meet and perhaps collaborate on a project.

Blog Photo - Ladies at Isabel gathering
Left: Mickey Palha. To my right: Heather Peterson and Silvia Wynter 

Or buying an author’s book and reviewing it. 

Bravo, Isabel and Ernie!

Here’s their review:

Image of "An Honest House: A Memoir Continued", by Cynthia Reyes

“As I read through An Honest House, I kept thinking that what happened to Cynthia Reyes could happen to any of us.

I wondered how all of us would  cope if we were stripped not only of our health but of our identities as successful, involved leaders and found our new selves to be  pain ridden, physically altered, and anxiety prone among other things.

Would we have the indomitable spirit that kept Cynthia fighting to regain her former self and role in life despite her enormous frustrations adjusting to her injuries following her accident?

How did she keep going?  

How did she find her new role?

Three of the many take-aways in this inspiring book stand out for me and my partner, Ernie Eves, who experienced loss of a different kind when his only son was killed.

The first, of course, is Cynthia’s determination, however wavering at times, to come back both physically and professionally.

Then, over time, as she realizes she cannot turn back the clock, there is her gradual recognition and appreciation of  the overriding value of what she has already: her supportive, caring husband, Hamlin, her two daughters and their families, her friends, faith  and community and, not to forget, her enchanting nineteenth century Ontario farmhouse.

The third inspiring finding for us is that Cynthia has managed to continue to play a significant role in Canadian life by writing books that show how someone can create new meaning and purpose in their lives, however futile it might seem at first.

Given the challenges all of us face at some point in our lives, especially as we suffer the debilitating side effects of aging, we can learn from Cynthia Reyes’ courage, determination and spirit.

In our view, An Honest House should be required reading for everyone.”

— Isabel Bassett and Ernie Eves.

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Thank you, Isabel and Ernie. I share the credit with three extremely caring editors, a dogged publisher, great beta readers, my loving family and friends. 

I’m grateful for all of you who extend yourselves to help others — especially in tough times.