Today’s guest blogger is Cynthia Reyes, who has a wonderful story of recovery and hope to share with you. I know you’ll enjoy her inspiring post, and will remember to share far and wide. Now, here’s Cynthia.
The other day, I turned to my husband and said:
“I’d like my life back. The lost years … I’d like them back.”
I thought I’d fully accepted the lost years – the decade that followed a car accident. But the words erupted from my chest before I’d had a chance to even think them through.
My husband had helped me stay on the road to acceptance. But this time, his reply surprised me.
“I know what you mean,” he said softly. “Back when you were strong and vigorous and could do almost anything, it seemed. I miss that woman at times too.”
He got it exactly right. It wasn’t the award-winning career I missed, the many trips abroad, the fact that some people saw me as a visionary leader. It was the ability to do simple things, like dig a new garden bed, go for a long walk, or dance with my husband. Mourning those losses had compounded them.
A silence followed our brief exchange. I gazed at my husband’s face and turned back to look out the car’s passenger window – a thing I almost always do when someone else is driving, a way of reducing my anxiety by ignoring the other cars around us.
No more looking behind. And no looking forward either.
I had written much about looking back in anger or sorrow, and looking forward with fear.
My journals – more than twenty of them – had chronicled years of misery – pain, short-term memory issues, depression and nightly terrors associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now it was time for a new set of life-notes.
A few years ago, I decided to create and note the moments of joy in my daily life. To make friends with laughter. To linger in thankfulness.
“My Joyful Journal”, I called the little pink and purple notebook. I’d given it to my daughter back when she was an adolescent. She thought it was too juvenile, and never used it. But the cheerful colours made me smile as my eyes landed on it in a dresser drawer.
I had forgotten how to be happy. Forgotten even, how to laugh. But now I was rediscovering these things, bit by bit, day by day, journal entry after journal entry.
I was counting my blessings, and naming them one by one.
The first day I heard the robins sing, in early spring. The first daffodil and tulip shoots. The June day when the gently fragrant pink peonies bloomed.
The day the “farmers’ rain” arrived, gently soaking the garden beds and lawns after a period of drought The day the sun shone bright but not too hot, the skies blazed a clear blue and a gentle breeze caressed our skin, making it perfect weather.
The day my relatives and friends came to visit and we all howled with laughter because my sole contribution to the meal — a simple two-ingredient dish, cauliflower and cheese – had been ruined because I forgot the cheese.
The day I timidly tried to make a peach cake and surprised everyone in my family – and myself most of all — with my unexpected success.
The day the apple jelly that I’d struggled to make turned out exactly right.
And precious, precious moments. With my husband and daughters and our pet dogs in the old farmhouse that we loved.
Beauty, bounty and blessing. It could have been another title for my joyful journal.
My new book, An Honest House, covers some of the experiences described in those 20+ journals, written over the “lost years” of my life. An Honest House is set in the beautiful Victorian farmhouse where my family moved just two weeks after the car accident.
There are also a few shocking discoveries along the way. Of course, because that’s life.
But it wasn’t enough for me to shock my readers or leave them in tears. This book – the first to be completely written in my post-accident years — is enriched with the contents of my Joyful Journal: laughter, thankfulness, joy and faith. Otherwise known as: Beauty, bounty and blessing.
The reviews have been wonderful. Am I grateful? You bet.
Cynthia comes to the literary world with a background in network television and magazine writing. She has published non-fiction stories in Arabella Magazine, one of the fastest-growing magazines in the United States and Canada, as well as in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Toronto Life. Cynthia is a former journalist and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. More than a hundred episodes of her programs have appeared on network television. She has won national and international awards and acclaim for her work as a television producer, project leader, and public speaker, including the Children’s Broadcast Institute Award, The Trailblazer Award and the Crystal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television. A GOOD HOME takes the reader into the author’s early life in rural Jamaica, her move to urban North America, and her trips back home, all told through vivid descriptions of the unique homes she has lived in — from a tiny pink house in Jamaica and a mountainside cabin near Vancouver to the historic Victorian farmhouse where she and her family moved, just two weeks after a serious car accident. The new book – AN HONEST HOUSE – picks up the story and immerses the reader immediately into the world of the author’s life with her husband in Ambercroft — their beautiful Victorian farmhouse surrounded by lush, idyllic gardens.
Reduced to one income and with many expenses for therapies, the couple lives frugally and simply. Cynthia and her husband find themselves repeating some of the practices of the family who lived here 140 years before: they eat much of what grows on their land, find new uses for old things, and look for beauty, joy and faith in a simple life. All the senses come alive in this book. But as Cynthia ventures out into the bigger world with her first book, she is accompanied by dreaded challenges, some invisible: post-traumatic stress disorder, a head injury and other injuries resulting from the accident. Despite the challenges and changes this family faces, there is an abundance of beauty, joy and wisdom in both books. Readers find themselves re-reading Cynthia’s books, not wanting to leave the world she creates.
Cynthia Reyes’ new book AN HONEST HOUSE (May 2016) is both a stand-alone story and a sequel to A GOOD HOME (May 2013).
Book links and Reviews:
Cynthia’s Blog: cynthiasreyes.com