Debby Handrich, MA
Professor of English Literature, Writing Coach, Spirituality Mentor
I started telling stories when I was 6 and my baby brother was just 6 months old. I would make them up or read from books and he would coo with delight. At age 10, I started writing down my stories to comfort myself from loneliness. These were tender years when I could be honest with my brother and my journal about my heart’s desire and not fear any judgments.
But as innocence departed, I found a great love I had inside to know people and to witness their stories. It was my mission to study philosophy, psychology and especially literature and use it as the mirror of our lives, the metaphor of our own being, and it helped me understand the real life stories that shape us.
Although I have experienced great joy teaching students at the college for over two decades, there came a point where I want to help people write THEIR STORY, not just an essay. Thanks to a deep emersion into 12-steps and life coaching, I started Coach Debby to meet people living out their heroic journeys and looking for a mentor to make sure their purpose was found and their stories were written.
Bio written by Caroline Mays.
It’s a bizarre, sort of backward winning lottery ticket when you’re brought into the world as a porcelain, pigmentless baby.
I mean, nobody wishes they’d been born albino. Absolutely nobody.
Raise your hand if you can imagine:
The popularity of a ghost colored school kid.
The cruelty of bullies.
The fear of adults who have no idea how to protect a pale little girl with poor vision. How to love someone with “special needs.”
It’s genetics that grant one the color of their skin, but it’s life that supplies its thickness.
ARMOR. Now that’s a heavy subject. I deal with it a lot in my work, so I’m always curious...how heavy is yours?
Parents, siblings, teachers, bullies, partners, (ex)spouses - they supply it whether they mean to or not.
But the thing is, if you’re stuck in your book, your project, your speech, your message?
The real parts only come out when you put the armor down.
Do you remember the Hero’s Journey from your literature class? I know it well having taught college English for over twenty years.
The Hero hears the call, sets out on their mission, fights, fails, wins, fights, fails, wins, burns out...And then gets back up to fight, fail, and win.
I used to be a hero too. But in my work, you’ll hear me speak of a “Heroine’s Journey.” It includes the tasks we aren’t so good at - like befriending our weirdness. Using our uniqueness to stand out instead of censoring it. Or understanding that everything we’ve been through? It matters. And it belongs in your book.
It belongs in your speech.
It belongs in your program.
On another note (and this is important)…
My gift is that I “see” what’s unique about people.
I notice the story they’re supposed to be telling and I show them where it is. I notice quickly what makes them and their message special. Because when you’re wearing your uniqueness like I am? Naturally, you go looking for where it’s hidden in others.
This is a survival mechanism, not magic, and I learned it early - a gal has to find common ground when she’s the strangest thing in the room.
A gal also has to learn to embrace what nobody else could. She has to get real. She has to put the armor down.
So final question: Who’s tired of fighting?
If so...raise your hand.