From Banana Bread to The Hugsmilers

A journey that wouldn’t be complete until these characters were “fully baked.”

What most people don’t know is that when I was young, I really thought I wanted to be a pediatrician. Without boring you with all the details, inspiration came from the wonderful doctors who gave me hope when life seemed hopeless. But sitting in my college science class, I realized that it wasn’t the medical part of being a doctor that appealed to me, but rather the way that doctors help people. And as I shifted my focus I remembered all the wonderful teachers and tutors that also got me through those difficult years. You probably all can remember that one teacher that made the biggest impact on your life. For me, it was my high school math teacher, who I’m still in touch with, more than 20 years later. Shout out to Judy! Driven by my desire to help kids of all ages, I became a special education teacher and tutor.

This career has enabled me to achieve my goal as I help kids achieve theirs. One of my favorite moments was when I received a very touching note from a college freshman, who thanked me for helping him get into the college of his choice so he could pursue the major he had dreamed of when he was a young kid. What I’ve realized is that regardless of what you do, if you’re driven by a true desire to help, whether as a doctor or a teacher, showing people you care is what it’s all about.  And through the years, I’ve seen firsthand, that when kids know how much I care about them and their success, they respond well and achieve more.  

So, what does this have to do with banana breads??? Having always loved to bake and thinking of Erma Bomback’s philosophy- “Life is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First” – I started baking banana breads and giving them to people just to make them feel that someone cares. People started asking where they could buy them and encouraged me to start a side business in my spare time. But before I even had a chance to get this idea “out of the oven, so to speak,” my level headed, business minded, way too practical family said – “here you go again – thinking with your heart instead of your head.” 

Seeing how my breads brought smiles to others, I was driven to find another way to do so on a broader scale. As I tucked my kids into bed one night and wrapped them up in a big hug to make them feel how much I care, the idea of The Hugsmilers popped into my head. Though I couldn’t go around hugging everyone, I could create adorable characters who would show kids how they could get the same feeling that a hug provides by simply learning good values. And, although they are not actually able to hug everyone, just like I’m not able to send a banana bread to everyone, what The Hugsmilers stand for is everything I embrace.

However, I’ll let you in on a little secret… my philosophy, similar to Erma, is that it’s really okay to enjoy a little bite of something sweet.   

And, if you agree, please let me know, what sweet treat brings a smile to your face??? 

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