Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dr. Veronica Esagui

I first encountered Dr. Veronica Esagui at a meeting of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. She was announcing a number of upcoming opportunities for authors and publishers in the Pacific Northwest, many of which she had organized. One in particular was a chance to appear on her television show 'The Authors Forum'. Before my brain remembered that I was a shy, rather reclusive person, I gave Veronica a card and asked if she would consider interviewing me about my historical fiction, 'The Woman in the Wing'. A few weeks later, I received an email to be on the show. YIKES! The interview was a wonderful adventure, but I'm not sure how it would have gone were it not for Veronica's talent at making a person feel completely comfortable. I have since learned that it is only one of her many gifts.

VerĂ³nica Leah Toledano Esaguy Wartenberg came to the United States in 1962 from Lisbon, Portugal for a prearranged marriage to her cousin. Her name, she explained, was shortened to a more Americanized version, Veronica Esagui, and to her chagrin, her husband insisted on calling her Ronnie. In her memoirs, a series of four books written in first person, she presents a refreshingly open account of her life. Two have been published so far, and the first, Veronica's Diary, the Journey of Innocence tells of her first eighteen years. It ends as she steps onto the shores of the United States.
In The Journey of Innocence we learn that Veronica grew up 'with a silver spoon in her mouth'. Her father owned a German delicatessen in Lisbon and her mother had been a concert pianist awarded a silver medal by the King of Spain. Unfortunately, their financial situation changed as did their lives. Veronica recalled watching the furniture leave the house a piece at a time to help them survive and learned painful lessons about prejudice. They were German Jews in a Catholic country after WWII. She also learned that she had no freedom in her personal choices. Her mother and aunt arranged her marriage.

The second book, Braving a New World, is more than a story about the struggles of a new wife and mother in a strange country. It is a glimpse into a creative, loving, understanding, sometimes frightened, but always gentle, human being, overcoming challenges that would have knocked many of us out of the game. I found her attitudes about life and its many challenges empowering and her thoughtful, honest storytelling style uplifting and often amusing.

But, she is not 'just' an author. Dr. Esagui is a woman of action with one part of her brain tirelessly seeking new ideas, and another part finding ways to bring those creations to fruition. Those ideas usually involve one or more of her passions as a writer (playwright, author, and journalist), musician (classical guitarist and teacher), director, (theater and television) to name a few. And, she accomplishes these feats in off hours from her work as a chiropractic physician at Gentle Care Chiropractic. That career came literally by accident when she was told she needed back surgery following a lifting injury. After learning first hand that she didn't need drugs or surgery to accomplish her personal miracle, she decided to go back to school and help others in the same way she had been helped. Her experiences treating young patients with scoliosis, led to the development of The Esagui Scoliosis Protocol (TESP), a very specific group of exercises which, along with chiropractic adjustments, proved to help reverse scoliosis. This experience led her to write and publish The Scoliosis Self-Help Resource Book.

That is an impressive list of accomplishments on its own, but what I find most remarkable about Veronica is her selfless approach to life. I have since attended a number of events with her, and watched her continual counsel and support of those involved—her success is based on the success of the entire group—a rare attitude these days.

I asked Veronica about writing:
To me writing is a free ticket to travel anywhere in the world, anywhere in the universe, and I’m willing to go as far as it will take me. Be it fiction or non-fiction we are obligated to share…we are the purveyors of the real past with the written word.

I asked about some of the more graphic descriptions in her memoirs. She does not recommend her books for children.
At my age, I’m not worried about that. I wanted to keep the stories exactly the way they happened. When you are over 50 you become fearless, not afraid of the truth. Memories are the essence of existence and the gift of yesterday’s choices.

It has been a privilege and an inspiration for me to meet and learn more about Veronica. I recently became president of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers, a challenge I'm not sure I would have taken on if it hadn't been for her support. I am thankful to be among the many whose lives she touched.

See Veronica on her own show interviewed by the shows producer, Karen Sorbel.

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