Wishing You a Wondrous Holiday Season

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Haven’t written much on this blog this year. My only excuse is work and life have taken more of my attention. But I didn’t want to let this season of love and peace go by without expressing my gratitude for all of you who are (or have been) clients, family and friends. You sustain me throughout the year.

I will be taking on new projects in the new year, and I’m excited about what will come into my life. I am so grateful for the clients I have had over the years, and especially those who have become friends, as well. If you have a book you’ve been working on that’s ready for an experienced development editor, or you would like the little nudge that comes from working with a writing coach, I would love to hear from you. May the peace and promise of this season settle upon you. May the love of family and friends surround you. May the abundance of the natural world visit upon you the nurture of nature. May you feel the love of the people who hold you in their hearts. Happy Holidays.

The Harry and David Christmas Miracle

A Harry and David Christmas

A Harry and David Christmas

It’s been a Harry and David Christmas at our house this year. We have pears coming out of our ears.

A week ago, Rob’s bookkeeper gave us a beautiful box of 12 pears from the iconic holiday fruit packager. Then, two days later, one of my sweet clients gifted me a box of Harry and David pears! Rob and I laughed, and I started giving them to neighbors.

A couple of days later, Rob got a package from his insurance agent—a box of Harry and David pears, apples, caramel corn with chocolate pieces, delectable chocolate truffles, and sugar cookies! At least it offered some yummy chocolates.

Yesterday, another business associate of Rob’s gave him another box of pears—from Harry and David! Our pear cup runneth over. I’ve started giving them to friends as well as neighbors. A friend suggested peeling, cutting them up and freezing them for future smoothies. Did that, too. Rob re-gifted the latest box of pears to one of his employees.

My sister and brother-in-law live in Medford, Oregon, so I’m familiar with Harry and David. The company, which was started by a guy named Samuel Rosenberg in 1910, has pear orchards that date to 1885. Rosenberg’s sons, Harry and David, took over management of the company in 1914, and it grew into one of the country’s greatest success stories.

Today, it’s a small miracle they are still in business. In 2004, Harry and David was acquired by two investment firms—Wasserstein & Co. of New York and Highlands Capital Management of Boston—which then saddled it with unbearable debt, forcing layoffs. In 2011, Harry and David filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but managed to emerge from it just six months later. The company was sold again in 2014 to 1-800 Flowers, and from all appearances seems to have recovered.

Harry and David has been a huge employer for the Southern Oregon region, so all of this abundance of fruit is a good sign. Not just for Medford and environs, but for the national economy. If a victim of takeover greed can come back from the brink, there’s hope—truly a Christmas miracle.

A Birthday Present

Yesterday was my birthday. Well, it was and it wasn’t. My actual birthday is Christmas Eve, but about seven years ago I decided to celebrate it on July 14 instead. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Some people assume it’s just because it is close to Christmas, and that is partially true. When I was a kid, I never had a birthday party outside of just family members partly because of that, and once I was in my early 20s, people started giving me combined birthday and Christmas presents. That never felt good.

But for me, the reasons go much deeper. My Christmas Eve birthday is inextricably linked to my childhood, and very painful memories of innumerable hospitalizations and surgeries. I had no friends before junior high, primarily because the disfiguring scars on my face caused kids to shun me. Abusive Catholic school experiences made going to church difficult, and since we always went to church on Christmas Eve, those memories are equally woven into my Christmastime birthday. It got to be that I could hardly go to Mass without sobbing.

So, I created a new birthday celebration day, one that recognizes who I am today, rather than the sad and lonely disfigured child I was. I have not been that little girl in years, but I carried her around with me until my fifth decade. With lots of counseling – and writing – I was able to let that little girl go, and begin to see myself for the woman I am today – vibrant, happy, inspired, loving, loved.

Friends sometimes tease me about having a “half” birthday or claiming two birthdays a year. And one or two still insist on remembering my Christmas Eve birthday. I love them and appreciate the intent, but I sometimes wish they wouldn’t; it is emotionally painful.

Many of us carry within us what Jung called the “wounded child,” that part of us that was somehow injured in childhood and never recovered from it. It can be emotional or physical, or in my case, both. Often we don’t even know that child is influencing our lives, in ways that oftentimes are destructive.

When my life started to fall apart I was fifty years old, and I couldn’t understand why things weren’t working the way I wanted them to. My marriage was crumbling, my relationship with my mother was puzzling and distant, and I couldn’t seem to make the one professional thing I loved – the Santa Barbara Writers Conference – successful financially. That led to one bad decision after another, until finally, I was forced into bankruptcy. I was despondent, desperate, nearly suicidal.

And yet, through the grace of good therapy and lots of prayer, I began to understand. I started to see how the lessons I learned just to survive had caused me to make choices that ultimately harmed me. I have written about this in my memoir, Face, which was as much a part of the healing as the excellent counseling I received over nearly eight years.

Changing the celebration of my birth allowed me to become the person I am today, without all the woundedness of my childhood. So, thank you, all who have embraced my new life with me. Friends have invited me to lunch and dinner almost every day this week and into next. I cannot express how much you mean to me. You have all literally saved my life, and I am grateful.

Let’s celebrate!