The Story

Rescued by a Stuffed Bear.

How I turned a broken heart into a heartfelt business

I wouldn’t say this particular night was my proudest moment. As a matter of fact, the soggy tissues on my bed and self-help books on the nightstand felt a bit too permanent for my liking. As a divorced mom of three, my kids were my life and joy. But a part of me was lonely. 

I had just come home from a horrid first date, one of those that makes you think you’ll never find anyone. Talk about zero hope. The thing is, I wanted to have hope. But what could I do in that moment to relieve myself of this pain? Nothing. And it was that realization that made me do something. 

You know that feeling of needing to hold someone? Or be held? The funny thing is, ten people could be in the room with you and not one of them would do the trick. So why is it that when a feeling strikes and a hug is available, we don’t take it? And yet, we still need a hug. This was fascinating to me. It also fed me some important information. The hug I needed would not come from anyone else. That left one person: Me. 

How do I hug myself? Even if I wrap my arms around my body, I don’t feel much better. How do I reassure me that everything will be okay when I’m the one feeling like crap? Why would I believe myself? So, the question had to become, what would make life NOT feel this way? And this was the beginning, though I had no idea, of what would become a passionate goal, full of excitement, creativity, and fun. In that moment however, I wanted to feel like there was still a possibility for love. In the meantime, I needed help falling asleep. 

What did I do? I ran to Walgreens at ten o’clock that night, still in my PJ’s. I know what you’re thinking… I got Melatonin, right? Wrong. I went to the plush aisle and cuddle-tested stuffies until I found the one. I came home, challenged my lack of hope with a letter headed Dear My Answered Prayer and proceeded to write a letter to the man I hoped would one day come into my life.  And this is key. Even though I never thought I’d be that lucky, somehow the idea that one day a man would read the letter, knowing I wrote it long before I met him- that vision for me was believable.

I wrote details about him, what we’d be like as a couple, and all he’d accept about me. I thanked him for showing up. But I didn’t stop there. Knowing wishes aren’t granted overnight, I made a step-by-step plan for what I would do in the wait: I would attempt to write a novel. I cut the seam of the bear open, tucked the note inside, sewed him back up, got under the covers and cuddled my hope. Finally, I could sleep because I was going to be okay. Today, I understand that I had just made my very own hug.

You’re dying to know; did I meet the guy? I sure did. He was almost everything on my list but who gets everything? I decided he was my dog opener and I handed him the note. He read it and we shared a beautiful and emotional moment. My friends all said, I want that dog! I thought, I need to make a business out of this! I didn’t mind being the poster woman for most pathetic night ever if it could bring other people some comfort. 

I went to work on designing a prototype and came up with a name. We made a romantic video reenacting the handing over of the dog and note. I was beyond excited as two thousand dogs had been shipped to me and I already had a commitment from Walgreens.  There was only the tiniest glitch. He fricking dumped me! Apparently, I paid too much attention to my kids and his needs weren’t being met. 

Wait up, you say. Where’s the business? What happened to the dogs? Well, I sold a few hundred and donated twelve hundred more to a shelter. I no longer had the happy energy but even worse, I felt like I was selling a lie. A wish with an expiration date? Who wants that? So, for ten years I put the business aside. Fast forward, along came a pandemic.

This time, I wasn’t the only one afraid and in need of comfort. Suddenly, I had a thought. Maybe that man had not come into my life to be my person. Maybe it was to bring me a business. And isn’t that the better message anyway? If one wish goes south, you grieve it, pick yourself up and re-wish? Plus, I was reading that stuffed animals were becoming popular now even with adults. That meant I had something to offer and even felt more meaningful without the pretty story.

I had learned a few things from my first launch. One was that customers want a choice. Don’t make one version, make several. I chose the bear for obvious reasons! The gopher, I decided is a fun rebel, digging up people’s lawns. And the owl- that one comes from my beautiful daddy. He’s not on the planet anymore and I needed to make him part of this. On his desk were two things. One was a sign that said, All things are possible. Another was a glass owl. And every Friday afternoon he would call and leave a message, singing his own brand of a “Tra la la” song he made up. His voice sucked. Literally made my dog cry and I loved that call more than anything. Because his name was Len, Tra la la Lenny the Owl was born.

One last question you may have. Did I retuck a wish for love and did I get it? I think so! 

(I’ll keep you posted on that one.)

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