#GlobalSussexBabyShower, Prince Harry and Meghan markle, Royal Family

A Royal Surprise, Part 2

Across the world, more than 50 countries are represented in The Sussex Squad. They include the USA, UK, Brazil, France, Sierra Leone, India, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany, the Phillipines, Croatia, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, South Africa, Jamaica, Curacao, Estonia, Italy, Portugal and many other countries.

Most members of The Sussex Squad seem to be under 40, but Deesa, an Atlanta lawyer in her 60’s, is not unique: there are retired teachers, nurses and other older individuals in the group.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Deesa Roberts
Deesa Roberts

Some members are businesspeople. Many are professionals – lawyers, scientists, educators, university professors, community workers, healthcare workers, political scientists, economists, etc. Some are students, some are Ph. D candidates.

In other words: educated, empowered, articulate. And devoted fans of Harry and Meghan.

Even among each other, they use their Twitter names. Names like BrenBrenchie, Mimi, Deesa, Freepeeper, Sussex Squad Podcast, Tonya, Mel, Beng, Neri, Emmy, The Tudor Chick, Magali. There are also subgroups, such as the Sussex Prayer Chain, which prays every day for the couple and their baby.

Blog Photo - MM and PH smiling

They had never done anything like the shower before.

‘Neri’, a 40 year old escrow officer from Arkansas, jumped at the chance to be part of the Global Sussex Baby Shower, “because everything about it is positive and endearing.”

Deesa, in Atlanta, thought the baby shower was “an absolutely awesome idea. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan don’t need gifts. What better way to galvanize their supporters to do good things for their charities who in turn do good things for real people?”

Indeed, the donations were coming in so fast, staff at the named charities were inundated.

Blog Photo - CamFed First Tweet

Camfed joyfully tweeted: “We are still blown away by the response to the #GlobalSussexBabyShower! We can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity.” Within days, Camfed had raised enough money to send 94 African girls to school.

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Mayhew CatBlog Photo - Baby Shower -Mayhew Dog

Animal charity Mayhew tweeted: “We have been thrilled and delighted by the fundraising activity that’s taken place over the weekend and can’t thank everybody who has shared the #GlobalSussexBabyShower campaign and donated to Mayhew enough.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Meghan Harry and Child

WellChild said: “We have been surprised and delighted by the donations from supporters of #GlobalSussexBabyShower. It’s great that an online outpouring of goodwill can lead to practical help for children with serious illness and their families.”

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild tweet

It was the charities who notified Kensington Palace, not the organizers. They were too busy donating, tweeting, promoting the charities and managing their own emotions. The campaign runs till May 12; no-one expected this overwhelming result so early.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - Wellchild Baby

When Mel logged back onto Twitter, she was astonished. “I saw the support and was overwhelmed with gratitude for the wonderful women who took the idea and ran with it.  I decided to dedicate as much time as I could to promoting the campaign, encouraging people participating, and helping to raise the profiles of the selected charities.”

Blog Photo - Baby shower - Donation receipt

 

Sussex Squad members recruited friends and relatives too.

Deesa tweeted: “My 90-year old mother is awake now and we just made her donation to Camfed!”

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Other charities also benefited.

Blog Photo - Baby Shower - charities who were helped in first week

‘The Tudor Chick’ tweeted: “Just made another donation. So proud of my #SussexSquad for building something beautiful with the bricks thrown at Harry and Meghan.”

Some shifted their priorities.

‘Eliana’ planned to buy a new cell phone. Instead, “I had the screen repaired.”

‘Just Juliette’, from France, stopped shopping.  ‘Fleur’, also French, says “I simply didn’t buy new clothes. I have enough, and I think educating children is more important.” 

Brenda didn’t buy that ‘beautiful pair of sandals”.  ‘LRSykes’ gave up “a new handbag and spring jacket”.

In Canada, Stephanie loves buying kitchen stuff, so had to overcome temptation. Her sister “bee-lined it for the kitchen section” of a store.  “I literally stop and say… ‘I can’t BE in here!’ She was understandably shocked, lol.”

‘Beth’ planned to buy herself a diamond ring to symbolize a new beginning after leaving a bad marriage, but decided, “I can always buy that later. This is a much more important cause.”

Blog Photo - Camfed donations from baby shower

And ‘Missy’, whose mother died last year, donated the money she would have spent on “spoiling” her mother on Mothering Sunday.  She chose to help families “on what was my first Mothering Sunday without her.”

Neri’s remark reflects the mood in The Sussex Squad.  “Being grateful for my own blessings, I couldn’t think of a better way of showing gratitude than to pay it forward. And doing this in Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s honour makes me very happy.”

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Tomorrow: Part 3 – Painful Beginnings

 

Childhood, Childhood Memories, Myrtle The Purple Turtle

What Makes You Different….

No child wants to be different. To be taunted for something you can’t change.

I know.

I wanted dark hair, like everyone else. Instead, during childhood, I had flaming reddish hair. “Reds” was the kindest of my nicknames.

I loved playing — boisterously — with my sisters and friends. Suddenly, I was struck with childhood epilepsy, and — over several years — would have to frequently retreat to quiet spaces. While my friends played, I read books, kept a journal and sometimes wrote little stories.

I grew to love reading and writing and — thank goodness — my family nurtured this love.  I read so well that my mother and grandmother sent me to read the Bible and newspaper to elderly patients in the local infirmary. 

It was my first “job” as a volunteer, but a weird role for a small child. I didn’t want to do it at first. I wanted to be out playing, like the other children.

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How was I to know that the very things that made me odd would also make me strong? 

That having reddish hair in childhood would strengthen my empathy towards “different” people, persisting long after my hair colour had gradually darkened on its own?

That having epilepsy — being forced to slow down and read — would nurture my love of stories and words and expand my view of the world outside our small village?

That all of it, even reading the news to elderly people, would help prepare me for rewarding careers in television, community service,  and — more recently — in publishing?

~~

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If I could, I’d tell every child in the world:

Don’t hate the things that make you different. Love them. Because the very things that you’re teased for, even excluded for, will provide some of your greatest strengths.

I’d say:

See the teasing and strange looks as proof that you’re wonderful.

It’s painful now, I know.

It’s hard to believe now, I know. 

Try to believe it anyway.

I know.

~~

Dedicated to every child who feels different, including a very bright young girl with purple glasses whom I recently met.

#loveyourshell

A Good Home, Acts of Friendship, Canadian Gardens, Flowers, Gardens, Keeping the Faith

The Glory of Late Summer

So much beauty.

Late summer, but the garden is still resplendent with colour. 

Blog Photo - September 2018 Lovely Backyard tree to woods

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Ligularia Yellow Blooms in border

The bees are plentiful and hard at work, drawn to fragrant hosta and almost everything else, it seems.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Hosta Bloom 2

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Hosta White ECU

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee ECU

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Very wide shot with bee in one lily

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Bee in Lily Med Wide

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 Bee CU in Lily

The trees are still green.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Under the Dogwood tree

And there are blooms everywhere.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - late blooms1

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Single Blue clem

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Zucchini and Flower

I give thanks for this season and the ability to enjoy it. Last summer, I had a bad concussion and broken bones from a sudden fall.  Luckily, my husband and an old friend both took photos so I could see bits of the garden.

Blog Photo - Garden Sept 2018 benches and blue pot by pool

This summer, life has again challenged me greatly at times — as it does to many of us.  Loved ones get seriously ill or die.  Another fall.  A lengthy medical assessment kicks off horrible nightmares and indescribable pain; I’m shocked to find myself again staring into the abyss.  I shake my head and have a few frank words with God.

But weep ye not!

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Sunface

I’m determined to dwell, not on the bad, but on the good that’s around me. And there is so much good, so much beauty, to be thankful for.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Yellowish Hosta fersn and wall

My husband and children are healthy. They are caringly present, especially in rough times. 

Most days I am, according to my husband, “strimping along”. (I insist I’m striding or strolling, not limping.) 

My relatives, neighbours and friends are never far away.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - Hosta in front

We support each other.

I surprised one dear friend with a funny birthday gift and kept a promise to another.  (Tiny acts, but I know they matter.)

My sisters and daughters called; we shared words of hope, love and reassurance.

Blog Photo - Garden 2018 Bee on Blue shrub

And I’m still keeping the faith.

And the sun still shines in abundance.

Blog Photo - Phillipians 4 Whatever is True

~~

 

A Good Home, Author Interviews, Author's Homes, Gardening, Hilary Custance Green, Sculptor

At Home with Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green has many roles. She’s a daughter, wife, mother, author, sculptor, blogger and gardener.

It’s the gardener role that first caught my eye.

More specifically, it was her Japanese maple seedlings that caught my interest.

Blog Photo - Hilary Maple Seedlings in Pots

Hilary had written a blog post about growing Japanese maples from seed. Being a gardener ( and having failed to grow Japanese maples from seed),  I was impressed.

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary loves gardening, of course.  She brings both art and science to the task. (Did I mention she also has a doctorate in brain science?) 

She even had a knot garden, which I know from experience is not an easy thing to create. 

Blog Photo - Hilary Knot Garden 2

“I love all the phases of project work, creation, engineering, labour, completion and peer review. I am never happier than working to exhaustion on a big 3D piece of work, or weeding for hours in the garden.”

“As a teenager I dreamt of becoming Rodin or Michelangelo. It was not to be, but I spent twenty (mostly happy) years making large semi abstract sculptures and also, to earn a penny or two, portrait heads.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 2

“In both sculpture and writing, it is the crossfire of unrelated elements that makes the story.

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 1

“So this sculpture developed out of The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow) and the sad time in my twenties when my boyfriend was drowned.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Sculpture 3 boat

One of the recurring themes in all Hilary’s books is this question: What gives individuals strength in adversity?

By the time I met her through her blog, Hilary had already written three novels — Border Line, A Small Rain, Unseen Unsung — and was working on a special non-fiction book.

Each novel explores the question above, with themes of “love, grief, adventure, disability and both good and bad luck.”

Unseen Unsung by [Custance Green, Hilary]

“I hope to give readers something positive to take away as well as a hefty dash of the music and poetry I love so much.”

Blog Photo - Hilary workroom 2 and piano

Family and home are important parts of Hilary’s life.

“Home is where I have the wondrous fortune to be loved and feel safe,” she says.

“My husband Edwin and I both had parents with jobs that moved around. To give us a good education they sent us to boarding schools far from our homes.

“When we found this house, and had our two girls, we never wanted to move again and our children walked to school in the village.

Blog Photo - HCG Children

“When we outgrew the space, we built an extension (or two or three!).”

Blog Photo - Hilary Home

Hilary’s parents, Barry and Phyllis, went through great adversity during the second world war, and in  2016, she published a book about their experience. 

Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home  is that book. Both acclaimed and very successful, it may well be her signature work so far.

Blog Photo - Hilary Book Cover Death Railway

“It includes the 68 men captured with Barry and their families back home in Britain, who kept in touch with Phyllis throughout the war. The real story is the amazing support these ordinary men and women gave each other in horrific and testing times.”

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Today, Hilary and Edwin’s daughters — Eleanor and Amy — are grown up with partners and lives of their own in other cities.  

Blog Photo - Hilary two daughters

Hilary too has been busy.

She has done many author presentations for her latest book, and is working on yet another. The work-in-progress is about “a brilliant, crazy woman, her concert pianist mother, their young, troubled and disabled biographer and a prickly young jazz pianist.”

Blog Photo - Hilary Workroom 1 with window

She and Edwin are also redesigning the garden.

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress1

Blog Photo - Hilary Garden in progress2

Like everything else Hilary creates, one senses the finished products — book and garden — will be intriguing, powerful and beautiful.

Brava, Hilary!