Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 11

August 13, 2014

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In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on what a Goola is and why we all need one. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa as you think about the importance of a Goola when it comes to second chances.

Going for Goola: Moving the Emotions and Dazzling the Mind

Sidney Bechet, jazz genius, walked the 1920’s streets of Paris in finger-popping, toe-tapping dignity, knowing unquestionably that he was seen, honored, and free. His charcoal skin was golden in France. There, Bechet could stride.

Sidney Bechet blew his horn like an angel, to the angels, with the angels, for the angels. And the people couldn’t get enough of the man.

No one has since found the sound of Sidney Bechet. The man was, as we all are meant to be, one of a kind.

He preceded even the great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, in winning record contracts (1923). He performed with Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker; in London’s Royal Philharmonic Hall and Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom; and from Moscow to Berlin. “Sidney Bechet created a style which moved the emotions even as it dazzled the mind” extolls New York Times critic, Robert Parker.

As with all of us, life was not always smooth for Sidney Bechet. He could not always find his stride. Back in an America not yet ready for black men of genius, Bechet fell into hard times. He couldn’t land gigs. To survive, he took up the scissors and needles of a tailor, and performed only in the back of his shop.

In hard times, Sidney Bechet paced the scuffed floors of his Harlem apartment, armpits sweating in summer, fingers frozen in winter. He may have felt invisible, his genius in hiding, perhaps played out or dried up. Most of us know this feeling from time to time—when our specialness leaves us behind. When that happens, we need Goola.

Goola was Bechet’s rough buddy. Goola was a stocky, muscled, lumbering “come as you are” kind of guy. A peeing in the streets rough buddy. Fart without apology rough buddy. A no-nonsense pal. Maybe that’s why Goola and Bechet were tight as ticks.

When Sidney Bechet lifted his horn to search for giftedness through the keys, Goola would snore. When Sidney Bechet tried a new riff, or played what had worked in the past, Goola would roll over and fall back asleep.

But when Sidney Bechet poured his honeyed soul through that horn, and found that sweetest of spots, that sound only angels could create, Goola sat up, raised his thick neck to the sky, and sang out the throatiest of sounds, yelping and growling to the moon.

And that is how Sidney Bechet, in poverty, became rich again. When Goola, his rough buddy German shepherd pup wailed, Sidney knew he had struck the angels’ cord. “I’m goin for Goola” Bechet smiled, “Goin’ for Goola.”

Bechet’s gift was always there. Your gift is always there.

There is a place in each of us that is our one-of-a-kind, timeless and true essence. In that divine place our gift abides glowingly, even when hidden from us. Others may shovel dirt, dump their garbage, turn their backs or roll their eyes, or worse, not even see you.

Each negation jams up creativity.

That’s why I need me a Goola. You need your Goola. We all need a Goola. Goola is our second chance mate, the buddy who reminds us we are gifted. Goola, our earthy angel, shows up in many forms: A toddler’s giggle, an elder’s alert and aware glance, a friend’s clap on the back or warm hand on ours, or a lumbering slumbering pup like Goola.

Not all second chances can be uncovered alone. For those deep-throated second chances, the ones you may have forgotten are your birthright, get yourself a Goola.

Goola will know. Goola will raise a ruckus until you know too. Know that your gift is golden. Know that your voice is true. With Goola’s help, you will remember, your second chance is you.

On those colorless days, when you feel average and plain as a toad,

  • Who can be or has been your Goola?
  • Who will howl until you give it up and admit you are special and have something special to offer?

Remember this: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” (Einstein).

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 10

July 30, 2014

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In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on not daily second chances, but life-changing, knock-your-socks-off ones. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa as you consider these life-changing second chances and how they have worked in your life.

Hounds of Heaven

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

This second chance which is making the rounds inside me is not a daily second chance.

I love those daily second chances that emerge because I stop to notice where I am: entranced by the movement of a wooly caterpillar, transfixed by the cherry pink peony’s ebullience, fascinated by my young son’s question: “What happens to God when I die?”

I love second chances that bloom out of paying it forward: Witnessing the surprised delight of an older couple when they discover someone unknown has paid for their rare “date night” dinner out. Witnessing wonder in the eyes of a child of refugees when she wins a full scholarship to college. Witnessing a teacher gasp upon finding a vase of red roses in her classroom. Watching the slow smile of the next customer at the coffee shop when he hears, “Your order has been taken care of, sir.”

Every second chance I have witnessed or experienced is a momentary miracle. A moment of awe and gratitude. Timelessness and humility. A moment to see with the eyes of a child.

This second chance which is making the rounds inside me is not a daily second chance. This yet-to-be-formed second chance is a life-changer. A knock-your-socks-off, not-know-what-hit-you, shout “Halleluia!” second chance. I know this. I feel this. I have felt this before at defining points in my life.

I felt this when, to confront my fear of heights, I leapt off the platform of a zip line tautly stretched above the Guatemalan jungle. I felt this when I accepted McGraw-Hill’s offer to write a textbook I didn’t believe I could write. I felt this when I received a photograph of a ten-month-old wild-haired “No-I-won’t-hold-still-for-this-picture” boy from Anyang, Korea; if I said “yes” to the adoption agency, that baby would become my forever son.

Then as now, I have little sense of what lies ahead. I am not a bungee-jumping, rock-climbing Acapulco diver. These days I prefer serenity to drama, having experienced ample drama to last a few lifetimes. I am sixty-eight and a half years old for Pete’s sake. Wouldn’t I be smarter to live out my life surrounded with hard-earned comforts and familiar pathways?

Smarter? Probably.

Wiser? No.

I said “yes” then and I will say “yes” now. To say “no” would be to cut off an arm or deny a dream.

I’m scared. I’m worried (and I am not the worrisome type). I don’t look forward to the rupture big changes seem to require. This time I will prepare better. I’ll level with my friends, as I am leveling with you. I’ll ask for help. I’ll pray. I’ll even consider doing “damage control” for the first time.

And when I’m ready, I will leap. Today I know this. Tomorrow, or even later today, I might chicken out. But eventually, I will leap.

The hounds of heaven will nip at my ankles and yelp to the stars until I say “yes.” I know how this goes. I know the risks. I know the joy. I will accept my second chance for a truer, simpler, and more sacred life.

Have (or are) the hounds of heaven nipped and yelped at you? If so, how on earth did you make your choice? What awaited you on the other side?

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 9

July 15, 2014

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In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on giving yourself second chances by easing conflicts with people you care about. Read on and examine the ways you can step back from the heat of the moment, work it out, and gain a second chance from the experience. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts on the second chances you’ve gained by working through conflicts.

Standing Up to Unworthiness: When a Child Calls a Mother Out

I love my son, Nick, forever and always. Nick knows he is loved. Feeling loveable is necessary, especially during upheavals.

Moving into a new place is disruptive for anyone. Boxes have to be packed and unpacked. Utilities disconnected and installed. Mail, rerouted. Habits that make life easier, like knowing the pathway to the bathroom in the dark, have to be newly created. New neighbors present universes to be learned. Grocery store aisles are unfamiliar. You know the drill.

For Nick, moving is doubly challenging. Nick is disabled. His disabilities are not visible to the eye. Nick struggles openly with anger management.

When Nick in uneasy, he easily transfers his discomfort to another person. Mom is a likely suspect. After all, no matter how raggedy or all-elbows a child gets, he knows Mom will love him through it.

One week after his move, Nick and I had lunch at a Thai restaurant. Nothing on the menu pleased him. That same night, with family friends, Nick loudly raged: “Mom! You didn’t do this. Mom, remember you didn’t do that! Mom! Mom!” I called on my usual tools for Oppositional Defiant Disorder: breathe, listen, don’t get hooked, state and maintain my boundaries. By the end of the evening, however, my buttons had been pushed.

I don’t like the raw feelings (resentment, hurt, rage) that can geyser out during conflicts. But I knew Nick and I needed to talk. Avoiding that conversation the next morning would have been easy. The storm would pass; but, the monsoon would continue to threaten.

So I said to my son of thirty years: I love you. I get that you are angry with me. I apologize for the things I didn’t get right as your Mom. Let’s get help from a counselor if you feel that would help. To which Nick said: “Mom, I’m sorry I said mean things to you.”

That’s what it took. We began to talk again and haven’t stopped since. Pretending the day of rage hadn’t happened was an option. Denial, however, wipes out second chances. As in most conflicts of the heart, humility is the balm in Gilead. Mother and child reunions require humility. Nick and I have a lifetime of second chances ahead of us. My hunch? We will need them and we will take them.

When you give yourself a second chance to ease a conflict in your family and/or your work family:

  • How easy or difficult is stepping back from the heat of the conflict?
  • When someone has hurt your feelings, are you likely to offer a second chance?
  • What do you do if a person refuses to take or give a second chance, or dies before a second chance is possible?

May your day POP! with second chances!

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

Guest Post: Don’t Let Go . . . Live it Through! by Tamar Jacobson, PhD

July 9, 2014

specialguestblogger We’re delighted to welcome back guest blogger Tamar Jacobson. She is sharing another reflective post—this one on allowing yourself (and toddlers!) to experience and process feelings in the now so that they don’t need to be let go or pushed away later.

In addition to writing “Don’t Get So Upset!” Help Young Children Manage Their Feelings by Understanding Your Own and editing Perspectives on Gender in Early Childhood, both published by Redleaf Press, Dr. Jacobson is professor, chair of the Department of Teacher Educator, and director of the Early Childhood Education Program at Rider University in New Jersey. She is also a frequent and popular presenter at international, national, regional, and state conferences and workshops on a variety of topics—and the recipient of the 2013 National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher Educator Award.

Jacobson.TamarQuote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

From: The Walk

Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. People love to say it – and wouldn’t we love to do it? “Just let it go!” we say to people, who are suffering, mourning, raging, feeling feelings. But how do we let it go unless we have gone through to the other side? If we pretend to “let it go,” or ignore the feeling, it becomes repressed or numbed out, and will surely pop up again at another stage or time when we least expect or want to feel it. Experiencing the past or feeling feelings is like a storm that passes through. We can’t push it away. We have to hunker down and sit it out, watching the lightening streak and flash, and hear the thunder roar and roll around the skies above. And when it’s over, we find relief out into the fresh, clear air. I remember once hiking along Hadrian’s Wall, when a storm came upon us way up at the highest point of our walk. There was no way we could have pushed it aside or continue on with the walk. So we all huddled against the wall of a nearby farm and waited it out. Pellets of hail raged all around us and lightening and thunder flashed and roared about us. When it passed, and we walked on, I remember experiencing a calm and joy that was impossible to describe. 

That sense of peace is what we all would love to feel, and many of us strive toward. As I wander about this life, I experience many people (me included) who become panicked or alarmed by intensity of emotion of any kind, and try to repress or numb it out with sayings about “letting go,” or who sound proud when they prefer shutting emotions down. As if this was the mature or courageous way out. I think it is more courageous to feel it through to the other side – hang in there with the intensity, and explore the nature of the experience as it rumbles and swirls through the psyche and body.

Of course, it all starts when we are very young. For example, when toddlers start to have tantrums. That’s when it begins! Adults around become panicked. Instead of recognizing that the little child is experiencing an intense confusion of feelings – a type of emotional storm – which must be terrifying for any child – adults punish, ignore, ostracize, condemn, or abandon them for having a tantrum. Oftentimes shrugging it off as just “doing it for attention.” I wonder what kind of world it would be if, instead, we sat close to the child and said, “I am going to stay here with you. Right here. I am not afraid of your feelings. You are safe with me.” And then, just be there for the child. Help them live through the intensity as if it was a normal part of the human condition, a typical stage of development, and learn that feelings are just that – feelings. Allow them to explore the emotional storm in a safe space, with someone who does not judge them for being human, and then come out on the other side – drenched, but calm. For how can we be rational when emotions are raging within? Only when we experience that calm, can we look back and see how or where it all came from. That way, we can help children experience the emotion instead of having to act it out in horrific ways in later years, while, finally, grabbing catastrophic attention.

When I am allowed to feel the feeling, live through the storm, I am better able to know what I want and need in a peaceful way after it has passed through. And, no . . . I don’t think there is a way to prevent confusing emotions from happening to a young toddler. Their world is new and complex. They are starting to find independence and yet still need us so much – and in there lies the confusion. It is simply a stage that will pass, as the child learns to negotiate and balance out the complexity toward a type of mature interdependence. A relationship where one can be confident and independent, and, at the same time, still need and love another.

Besides, how do I actually let go of the past when it exists in the emotional memory templates of my brain, unless I am able to recognize it when it rises up again and again associatively with my life of now? If I push the past away, I won’t be able to welcome it in as a part of who I have become. I won’t be able to integrate it into the me of now, if I don’t experience the essence, the very core of the original feeling. And I have learned, if I ignore my past, it does not prevent it from visiting me over and over again in a million different ways and at the oddest of moments when I least expect it!

So, in the future, I am going to try to say to myself, “Don’t let it go, Tamarika. Live it through. Experience the nature of it, and welcome it into my life of now.” And then, I am going to try to have the courage and compassion to give myself a safe space to do just that.

For more from Dr. Jacobson, visit her blogs—personal or parent-directed—or check out her Redleaf Press books.

Quote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

From: The Walk

Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. People love to say it – and wouldn’t we love to do it? “Just let it go!” we say to people, who are suffering, mourning, raging, feeling feelings. But how do we let it go unless we have gone through to the other side? If we pretend to “let it go,” or ignore the feeling, it becomes repressed or numbed out, and will surely pop up again at another stage or time when we least expect or want to feel it. Experiencing the past or feeling feelings is like a storm that passes through. We can’t push it away. We have to hunker down and sit it out, watching the lightening streak and flash, and hear the thunder roar and roll around the skies above. And when it’s over, we find relief out into the fresh, clear air. I remember once hiking along Hadrian’s Wall, when a storm came upon us way up at the highest point of our walk. There was no way we could have pushed it aside or continue on with the walk. So we all huddled against the wall of a nearby farm and waited it out. Pellets of hail raged all around us and lightening and thunder flashed and roared about us. When it passed, and we walked on, I remember experiencing a calm and joy that was impossible to describe. 

That sense of peace is what we all would love to feel, and many of us strive toward. As I wander about this life, I experience many people (me included) who become panicked or alarmed by intensity of emotion of any kind, and try to repress or numb it out with sayings about “letting go,” or who sound proud when they prefer shutting emotions down. As if this was the mature or courageous way out. I think it is more courageous to feel it through to the other side – hang in there with the intensity, and explore the nature of the experience as it rumbles and swirls through the psyche and body.

Of course, it all starts when we are very young. For example, when toddlers start to have tantrums. That’s when it begins! Adults around become panicked. Instead of recognizing that the little child is experiencing an intense confusion of feelings – a type of emotional storm – which must be terrifying for any child – adults punish, ignore, ostracize, condemn, or abandon them for having a tantrum. Oftentimes shrugging it off as just “doing it for attention.” I wonder what kind of world it would be if, instead, we sat close to the child and said, “I am going to stay here with you. Right here. I am not afraid of your feelings. You are safe with me.” And then, just be there for the child. Help them live through the intensity as if it was a normal part of the human condition, a typical stage of development, and learn that feelings are just that – feelings. Allow them to explore the emotional storm in a safe space, with someone who does not judge them for being human, and then come out on the other side – drenched, but calm. For how can we be rational when emotions are raging within? Only when we experience that calm, can we look back and see how or where it all came from. That way, we can help children experience the emotion instead of having to act it out in horrific ways in later years, while, finally, grabbing catastrophic attention.

When I am allowed to feel the feeling, live through the storm, I am better able to know what I want and need in a peaceful way after it has passed through. And, no … I don’t think there is a way to prevent confusing emotions from happening to a young toddler. Their world is new and complex. They are starting to find independence and yet still need us so much – and in there lies the confusion. It is simply a stage that will pass, as the child learns to negotiate and balance out the complexity toward a type of mature interdependence. A relationship where one can be confident and independent, and, at the same time, still need and love another.

Besides, how do I actually let go of the past when it exists in the emotional memory templates of my brain, unless I am able to recognize it when it rises up again and again associatively with my life of now? If I push the past away, I won’t be able to welcome it in as a part of who I have become. I won’t be able to integrate it into the me of now, if I don’t experience the essence, the very core of the original feeling. And I have learned, if I ignore my past, it does not prevent it from visiting me over and over again in a million different ways and at the oddest of moments when I least expect it!

So, in the future, I am going to try to say to myself, “Don’t let it go, Tamarika. Live it through. Experience the nature of it, and welcome it into my life of now.” And then, I am going to try to have the courage and compassion to give myself a safe space to do just that.

- See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dpuf

Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. People love to say it – and wouldn’t we love to do it? “Just let it go!” we say to people, who are suffering, mourning, raging, feeling f – See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dp

Quote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

- See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dpuf

Quote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

- See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dpuf

Quote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

From: The Walk

Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. People love to say it – and wouldn’t we love to do it? “Just let it go!” we say to people, who are suffering, mourning, raging, feeling feelings. But how do we let it go unless we have gone through to the other side? If we pretend to “let it go,” or ignore the feeling, it becomes repressed or numbed out, and will surely pop up again at another stage or time when we least expect or want to feel it. Experiencing the past or feeling feelings is like a storm that passes through. We can’t push it away. We have to hunker down and sit it out, watching the lightening streak and flash, and hear the thunder roar and roll around the skies above. And when it’s over, we find relief out into the fresh, clear air. I remember once hiking along Hadrian’s Wall, when a storm came upon us way up at the highest point of our walk. There was no way we could have pushed it aside or continue on with the walk. So we all huddled against the wall of a nearby farm and waited it out. Pellets of hail raged all around us and lightening and thunder flashed and roared about us. When it passed, and we walked on, I remember experiencing a calm and joy that was impossible to describe.

That sense of peace is what we all would love to feel, and many of us strive toward. As I wander about this life, I experience many people (me included) who become panicked or alarmed by intensity of emotion of any kind, and try to repress or numb it out with sayings about “letting go,” or who sound proud when they prefer shutting emotions down. As if this was the mature or courageous way out. I think it is more courageous to feel it through to the other side – hang in there with the intensity, and explore the nature of the experience as it rumbles and swirls through the psyche and body.

Of course, it all starts when we are very young. For example, when toddlers start to have tantrums. That’s when it begins! Adults around become panicked. Instead of recognizing that the little child is experiencing an intense confusion of feelings – a type of emotional storm – which must be terrifying for any child – adults punish, ignore, ostracize, condemn, or abandon them for having a tantrum. Oftentimes shrugging it off as just “doing it for attention.” I wonder what kind of world it would be if, instead, we sat close to the child and said, “I am going to stay here with you. Right here. I am not afraid of your feelings. You are safe with me.” And then, just be there for the child. Help them live through the intensity as if it was a normal part of the human condition, a typical stage of development, and learn that feelings are just that – feelings. Allow them to explore the emotional storm in a safe space, with someone who does not judge them for being human, and then come out on the other side – drenched, but calm. For how can we be rational when emotions are raging within? Only when we experience that calm, can we look back and see how or where it all came from. That way, we can help children experience the emotion instead of having to act it out in horrific ways in later years, while, finally, grabbing catastrophic attention.

When I am allowed to feel the feeling, live through the storm, I am better able to know what I want and need in a peaceful way after it has passed through. And, no … I don’t think there is a way to prevent confusing emotions from happening to a young toddler. Their world is new and complex. They are starting to find independence and yet still need us so much – and in there lies the confusion. It is simply a stage that will pass, as the child learns to negotiate and balance out the complexity toward a type of mature interdependence. A relationship where one can be confident and independent, and, at the same time, still need and love another.

Besides, how do I actually let go of the past when it exists in the emotional memory templates of my brain, unless I am able to recognize it when it rises up again and again associatively with my life of now? If I push the past away, I won’t be able to welcome it in as a part of who I have become. I won’t be able to integrate it into the me of now, if I don’t experience the essence, the very core of the original feeling. And I have learned, if I ignore my past, it does not prevent it from visiting me over and over again in a million different ways and at the oddest of moments when I least expect it!

So, in the future, I am going to try to say to myself, “Don’t let it go, Tamarika. Live it through. Experience the nature of it, and welcome it into my life of now.” And then, I am going to try to have the courage and compassion to give myself a safe space to do just that.

- See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dpuf

Quote of the day:

One day, walking through a small copse, the skies blackened, lightening flashed and thunder roared and pellets of hail began to rage down on us as we huddled together against a wall of a nearby farm. We were way up coming upon the highest point of the wall, and the weather seemed as close to the sky as it could ever have been.

From: The Walk

Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. People love to say it – and wouldn’t we love to do it? “Just let it go!” we say to people, who are suffering, mourning, raging, feeling feelings. But how do we let it go unless we have gone through to the other side? If we pretend to “let it go,” or ignore the feeling, it becomes repressed or numbed out, and will surely pop up again at another stage or time when we least expect or want to feel it. Experiencing the past or feeling feelings is like a storm that passes through. We can’t push it away. We have to hunker down and sit it out, watching the lightening streak and flash, and hear the thunder roar and roll around the skies above. And when it’s over, we find relief out into the fresh, clear air. I remember once hiking along Hadrian’s Wall, when a storm came upon us way up at the highest point of our walk. There was no way we could have pushed it aside or continue on with the walk. So we all huddled against the wall of a nearby farm and waited it out. Pellets of hail raged all around us and lightening and thunder flashed and roared about us. When it passed, and we walked on, I remember experiencing a calm and joy that was impossible to describe.

That sense of peace is what we all would love to feel, and many of us strive toward. As I wander about this life, I experience many people (me included) who become panicked or alarmed by intensity of emotion of any kind, and try to repress or numb it out with sayings about “letting go,” or who sound proud when they prefer shutting emotions down. As if this was the mature or courageous way out. I think it is more courageous to feel it through to the other side – hang in there with the intensity, and explore the nature of the experience as it rumbles and swirls through the psyche and body.

Of course, it all starts when we are very young. For example, when toddlers start to have tantrums. That’s when it begins! Adults around become panicked. Instead of recognizing that the little child is experiencing an intense confusion of feelings – a type of emotional storm – which must be terrifying for any child – adults punish, ignore, ostracize, condemn, or abandon them for having a tantrum. Oftentimes shrugging it off as just “doing it for attention.” I wonder what kind of world it would be if, instead, we sat close to the child and said, “I am going to stay here with you. Right here. I am not afraid of your feelings. You are safe with me.” And then, just be there for the child. Help them live through the intensity as if it was a normal part of the human condition, a typical stage of development, and learn that feelings are just that – feelings. Allow them to explore the emotional storm in a safe space, with someone who does not judge them for being human, and then come out on the other side – drenched, but calm. For how can we be rational when emotions are raging within? Only when we experience that calm, can we look back and see how or where it all came from. That way, we can help children experience the emotion instead of having to act it out in horrific ways in later years, while, finally, grabbing catastrophic attention.

When I am allowed to feel the feeling, live through the storm, I am better able to know what I want and need in a peaceful way after it has passed through. And, no … I don’t think there is a way to prevent confusing emotions from happening to a young toddler. Their world is new and complex. They are starting to find independence and yet still need us so much – and in there lies the confusion. It is simply a stage that will pass, as the child learns to negotiate and balance out the complexity toward a type of mature interdependence. A relationship where one can be confident and independent, and, at the same time, still need and love another.

Besides, how do I actually let go of the past when it exists in the emotional memory templates of my brain, unless I am able to recognize it when it rises up again and again associatively with my life of now? If I push the past away, I won’t be able to welcome it in as a part of who I have become. I won’t be able to integrate it into the me of now, if I don’t experience the essence, the very core of the original feeling. And I have learned, if I ignore my past, it does not prevent it from visiting me over and over again in a million different ways and at the oddest of moments when I least expect it!

So, in the future, I am going to try to say to myself, “Don’t let it go, Tamarika. Live it through. Experience the nature of it, and welcome it into my life of now.” And then, I am going to try to have the courage and compassion to give myself a safe space to do just that.

- See more at: http://tamarika.typepad.com/mined_nuggets/#.dpuf

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 8

July 2, 2014

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In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on how children ask multitudes of questions about the world around them. Read on and examine the ways you can slow down your need for answers and instead, with children, seek the meaning of things and open a whole new world. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts on the second chances you’ve encountered after you stopped answering and started wondering and discovering.

Seeking Sacred Ground

Children ask: “What’s that?” We tell them. Simple as that: that’s a marshmallow, a firefly, a doorbell, a sea gull, a Baltimore oriole. We know answers. The children trust us to know or to help them find the answers. Children believe what we say. But what else is going on inside the children? If we were to go there, we would discover a process from which we might find a second chance to see our world anew.

I marveled, “What’s that?” as my parents drove by a curious one-story churchlike structure between Big Flats and Horseheads, near our house in the upstate New York countryside. My father responded: “Holy rollers.”

I had already learned my father had a quotient: he could be asked one question. But I had many more questions: Do they have a gym inside? What makes rolling “holy”? Could I become “holy” rolling?

I needed answers. I had just learned the “forward roll” at school. That roll was easy. Now my quest was to do the holy roll and maybe see the gates of Heaven. Wow! I pictured exactly how I would roll, where I would roll, and when I could roll, undisturbed by nay-saying adults.

I waited for my opportunity at our church. My mother, a devoted “church lady” with shoes dyed to match her floral hats (always set off by white gloves), frequently “did things” at the church. While she “did things,” my plan was to silently make my way to the back of the sanctuary from where blue-carpeted floors sloped down to the chancel. There I would wad up in a ball and forward roll my way into the Kingdom. Soon enough, my time had come.

Late afternoon sunlight slanted through the parable stained glass windows. The organist, Mrs. Holman, was not there to practice rousing Bach fugues, although I could feel the vibration in my bones as I prepared to roll. And roll I did, tumbling over and over, down the aisle stopping only when I bumped abruptly into the barrier around the altar.

Because I knew no adult who could help me make sense of what had happened, I stored this experience inside me. It was one of my many attempts as a child to discover sacred ground.

Children are always questing to make sense of their world. When they ask: “What’s that?” we can join them on their quest. Why is that yummy squishy white part of a s’more named a marshmallow? Do Baltimore orioles live in Baltimore? Why is that moss named “Hessian Soldier” moss?

We can reclaim our “beginner’s mind” by putting aside answers and seeking the meaning. In the process, we give ourselves a second chance. We too can see the world anew. We can marvel at the naming of things. We can be on a roll.

Share your story of:

  • Discovering something on your own as a child.
  • A time when you marveled as a child marvels at seeing something familiar (to you) as if for the first time.
  • How might you give yourself a second chance today to discover or uncover the precious in the familiar?

As I hear your stories, perhaps I’ll tell you about the time I asked my Sunday School teacher to explain the physical process Nicodemus went through to be born again.

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 7

June 18, 2014

ContributeToABook

In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on the second chances she unlocked after doors closed. Read on and examine the ways you, too, can step through those doorways and into second chances—and often, greater opportunity.

Crossing the (Slammed) Door

“When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

If you are denied a second chance, what can you do?

HEBphotoAlthough we rarely choose to separate ourselves from other people by tall stone walls, we can bump up against rock hard and permanent barriers erected by others. These walls appear too high to climb and too far-reaching to walk around. And, even if we were to find a way over the wall, we wouldn’t be welcomed. No forgiving second chance would await us, no matter how much we long for reconciliation.

Rejection, abandonment, and shunning all trigger the pain center of the brain as powerfully as a slap across the face. Heart ache is real: muscles contract. We hurt.

What choice do we have when our choices are taken from us?

My great-grandmother, born in Caltinasetta, Sicily, had been a widow for years when she met a widower at daily Catholic mass; over time they became close. She asked her son, my grandfather, for permission to marry. My grandfather told her if she remarried, she could “not cross his door or see her grandchildren again.”

She chose to marry the man she loved. My grandfather put a resounding end to the visits his wife and children paid to Nonna.

Being disowned: Have you heard of it? Some cultures, like my Sicilian one, have an “off with your head” dynamic: you are no longer allowed in the family. My grandfather told my aunt Josephine she would “not cross his door again” if she smoked. When he found her cigarette pack, he disowned her.

For my great-grandmother and my aunt, there would be no second chances to rejoin their family.

This practice of disowning may sound like a relic from another century or another continent. But is it? Have you experienced or witnessed one person or group shutting out another person or group with finality? Here are some modern-day disowning processes:

  • A 4-year-old girl on the playground puts her arm around another little girl and announces, “I’m not going to play with Madison for a hundred years. Are you?”
  • A 6-year-old child, born a boy, but who feels like a girl, is bullied by classmates.
  • An otherwise excellent teacher is terminated for making a mistake; no one else will hire her.
  • A young black man, wearing a hoodie, is shot dead while walking home because he looks suspicious.

What choice do we have when our choices are taken from us?

I can try pretending that a wall hasn’t been erected. I can try not acknowledging that I have experienced a loss. Denial only postpones feeling the pain. As Robert Frost cautions, “The only way out is through.” When we are denied a second chance, we have to make our way through the darkness to find the light. Pretending the wall hasn’t been erected or that a loss hasn’t occurred is not an option for me.

The steps I take to reclaim the light have become clear to me only with hindsight. Looking back, I realize that what I thought were dead ends turned into my greatest opportunities to grow. In no set order, here are the steps that help me:

  • I grieve the loss. I grieve with sadness, anger, and sometimes (gallows) humor.
  • I ask for help. I share my grief with people I trust.
  • I choose to accept what is and let go of asking, “What if . . . ?”
  • I pray for serenity and a soothed heart.
  • I pray to let go of resentment.
  • I examine my part in the rupture and take responsibility for my wrongdoing.
  • I do my best to make things right. If I cannot do this with the person who has closed the door, I pay it forward by doing acts of kindness and/or courage for others.
  • I pray for the other person’s wellbeing, regardless of how much I have been hurt.
  • I become grateful for the freedom that comes from accepting the things I cannot change and changing the things I can.

In the end, I give myself the second chance I had wanted from the other person.

Even though my process sometimes takes years, I am heartened by my belief that things do get better. As author Henri Nouwen advised: we become the most spiritual in the places where we are the most broken.

Share your stories and tell me: When an important door has been closed on you, or when you have been disowned by another person or group:

  • How have you managed to deal with the loss?
  • Who or what has helped you the most?
  • What have you learned that might help others facing the same rejection?
  • Did you find a way to give yourself, and perhaps others, a second chance?

When I am forbidden from “crossing the door” shut in my face, I still have a choice. By choosing to look in another direction, I discover my own door to liberation awaits.

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 6

May 29, 2014

ContributeToABook

In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno reflects on the emotional knots that are so often tied when we hold on to yesterday’s pain. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts on the second chances you’ve encountered after you’ve loosened the knots, extinguished long-held resentment, and moved on.

Untying Myself

This Dollar Store twine circling my left wrist is knotted into a rough bracelet. Why would I, lover of sea glass green and luminescent opal, bother with a fading and frumpy beige adornment?

Good question.

If you have a trusted friend who reminds you to get over yourself and move on, you know how my twine bracelet helps me.

Do you, as I do, have a knack for:

  • getting in your own way?
  • making a decision more complicated than it needs to be?
  • over thinking simple situations?

Because I am expert at all of these practices, I tie myself up in knots. Unnecessary knots.

Touching my rough knotted bracelet reminds me that, just as I tied the knots, I can untie the knots.

May I tell you about one of my familiar knots, how I tie it, and how with conscious effort I can untie it?

Despite my “what the hey?” attitude, my feelings can be easily hurt.

Recently I was presenting a workshop with two colleagues. We each had an allotted time. I went over my designated time. I get so exuberant I lose track of time; for that reason, I ask my colleagues to signal me when I need to wrap up. I did not see a signal.

My colleague who spoke after me stated her displeasure twice at having less than her designated time.

Yes, I went over time. But, I counted on her to let me know when I needed to end.

Publicly embarrassed, I wilted in a shame attack followed by feeling betrayed.

Looking back, I see this was a simple miscommunication of expectations. I expected a signal from my colleague and she expected me to know when to end.

When I feel shamed in public, alarms blare. Outwardly, I put on a professional face; inwardly, I beat myself up and want to run away. My colleagues had no idea!

That’s where the knot comes in: I was overlaying past painful memories on a current event and returning to a time when I was all of sixteen years old. My father, bless him, announced in front of others that I was not intelligent enough to win scholarships to universities.

His pronouncement wounded me. My confidence crumpled for days before I could rebound with silent “I am not stupid!” conviction. Soon after, I took that competitive NY State Regents examination and won the scholarship. But, rebuilding my self-esteem is a lifelong project.

When my colleague intimated to the audience that I was wrong, she was right. However, I felt publicly shamed—again. That public shaming shoved me back into a well of unworthiness . . . She became a demeaning parent and I, the kicked-to-the-curb child. The result was knots in my heart; knots in the room; and, a potential knot in our relationship.

One touch to my bracelet reminded me that I created this knot. My colleagues had no clue. I was blaming them for the pain of my childhood. I was expecting them to make the past pain right.

“If you’re hysterical, the problem is historical,” my 12-step groups remind me.

My shame attack was not caused by my colleagues, nor were they responsible for fixing me!

Overlaying past unresolved conflict on today’s misunderstanding does not resolve anything. When I take this path, I feel righteous indignation. I stand on the moral high ground. I surrender my maturity. I lose sight of the present.

Hello?

The truth is: Each time a wound is reopened, I am given a second chance to heal. I don’t have to turn a simple misconnection into drama. I can separate past from present.

This joint presentation was a simple problem with a simple solution. I apologized to my colleagues, requested a definite way of signaling one another about time boundaries in the future, and offered to go last the next time we present.

I reminded myself that I have a choice: I can choose to live in the present, deal directly with the present misunderstanding, take responsibility for my part in the misunderstanding, learn and let go.

I’ll take that second chance.

Does what I am saying sound at all familiar to you?

Share your stories and tell me:

  • Have you overlaid your past pain on a present relationship?
  • Can you say how that has tied you and the other person in knots?
  • What can you do to untie a painful knot from the past that, if you allow it to, would choke your future?
  • Tell me about that second chance you gave yourself to release the knot and breathe free.

Holding a resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die. Life’s too short to do anything but enjoy it daily.

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

The Bumblebee—A Movement Activity + Song for Toddlers

May 21, 2014

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Toddlers need—and love—to move! Young children are ready to use their muscles and minds as they stretch, dance, wiggle, explore, and move. In this fun activity, children pretend to be bumblebees buzzing around the room. As you sing the song, encourage children to buzz around the room in different ways. The quick movement of this activity will help toddlers channel their energy in creative ways as they develop habits that encourage lifelong health and fitness and success in all areas of learning.

The Bumblebee

A movement activity from Toddlers Moving & Learning by Rae Pica

Sing the song and buzz around the room with the children!

The bumblebee goes buzz, buzz, buzz,

From one flower to the next.

The bumblebee goes buzz, buzz, buzz,

That is what a bumblebee does!

So buzz, buzz, buzz like a bumblebee.

Buzzing here, everywhere.

Yes, buzz, buzz, buzz like a bumblebee.

You’ll have fun, I guarantee!

Extending the Activity: Encourage children to “buzz” in straight, curving, and zigzag pathways; high in the air and nearer to the floor; and stopping occasionally to “land on a flower.”

Observation and Evaluation: Does the child remain in control while moving quickly? Can the child vary the movement as suggested?

Curriculum Connectors: Consideration of an insect and its movement falls under the heading of science, while the song provides experience with both language arts and music.

 

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For more movement activities for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners, and early elementary children, check out the new Moving & Learning series by Rae Pica, available now from Redleaf Press. Each book provides developmentally appropriate activities, contributes to a well-rounded curriculum in any classroom or program, and includes a music CD to add joy to the activities. 

Learn more about author Rae Pica in our recent interview with her.

Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 5

May 14, 2014

ContributeToABookIn her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno examines the universal truth that we all yearn for joy. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and share your thoughts about the ways that searching for happiness amid not-so-happy circumstances can also be a great catalyst for second chances.

“When we come in contact with one who is inspiring, radiant, and spiritual, those same qualities rise up in us.”

—Paramananda

“…Qualities rise up in us”

Like you, I prefer a happy heart.

I prefer hopeful to pessimistic and open to closed. I adore a child’s unbidden smile and a dog’s unstoppable wagging body.

I applaud the teacher who, after a long day, opened his front door to be greeted like a returning hero by his dog. If one enthusiastic greeting didn’t uplift the teacher’s spirits enough, he walked directly through his house, out his back door, and around to the front again to be greeted by his pup once again with undying ebullience.

You get the picture: suffering is optional. We can choose hope, can’t we?

Brahms, the elegantly uplifting composer, was raised in a brothel where his mother worked. Neglected, Brahms neither experienced nor learned abiding love. To survive, he played the piano and imagined symphonies. Despite (and/or because of) his broken heart, Brahms’ musical compositions are so poignantly hopeful, he is said to be “smiling through his tears.”

Finding our way out of being downhearted is the definition of a second chance: Do not be discouraged ever, as you struggle along the way. It is the greatest possible detriment to your progress, the worst obstacle you can create to block your path (Paramananda).Staying downhearted steals our ability to enjoy anything. When we lose the light in our own eyes, we lose our ability to spark light in others’ eyes.

Don’t get me wrong—we have reason to feel discouraged. Maybe what a teacher thought was her best lesson plan flops. Maybe Alzheimer’s steals a mother’s capacity to remember her children. Perhaps a long awaited adoption falls through. Maybe I am fired from a job or my friend discovers she inherited the depression gene. Each loss can puncture anyone’s optimism. Abiding in that dark place of downheartedness can begin to feel permanent.

I’ll share one thing I know to be true: Something in our nature yearns for joy. We get “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Brahms managed to smile and cry at the same time. He didn’t pretend he wasn’t lonely. He found he could plumb the depth of his sadness to create something triumphant and enduring.

Arthur Fielder, long time Boston Pops Director, ached intensely from arthritis throughout his body. But when he stepped before the audience that loved him and that he loved, his limp became a stride.

As we give ourselves a second chance, we offer hope to others. One hopeful heart uplifts another. In the presence of a resilient soul, “…those same qualities rise up in us.” No matter how dark the day, we can make a choice: stay open to the possibility of hope. I may feel discouraged; but, each time I enter a room of expectant children or adults, I get a second chance to seek a joyful connection.

Joy, after all, is our birthright. We prefer a happy heart.

Share your stories and tell me: What is Brahms’ secret to creating wonder out of loss? What stirs even the oldest pup’s heart when the teacher walks through his front door? What soothes a wounded spirit until it is restored? What helps you climb out of discouragement, especially when you have ample cause to feel downhearted?

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

Seven Animal-Based Authentic Learning Experience Ideas

May 8, 2014

541563From family pets and wild animals to toys, stuffed animals, and media portrayals, animals are a central part of every child’s landscape. What is it that makes animals so appealing to children, and how can you use that interest to help children learn?

In Connecting Animals and Children in Early Childhood—our latest release, available now—Patty Born Selly examines this very topic. She presents the reasons why children should interact and connect with real animals, and she identifies the rich learning that results. The books provides heaps of foundational support and practical ideas to create authentic experiences that bring children and all kinds of species of animals together—including many adaptations if live animals are not permitted in your setting.

Today, we’re sharing several ideas that can help children form strong, meaningful bonds with animals.

Animals often provide the perfect motivation to help children share stories, feelings, ideas, and more. As an educator, you can use children’s natural attraction to animals to help inspire art and literacy activities. Since children love to talk about, read about, and ask questions about animals, there is no limit to the number of ways that animals can help children gain skills and practice in language, literacy, and arts. These authentic experiences prompt creative expression and help children develop empathy, compassion, and an awareness of species other than themselves. Here are some ideas to try in your program.

  • Make “animal stories” a part of your routine in the classroom. Every child has at least one favorite story to tell about an animal. Invite each child to bring in a photo of their pet or a pet they wish they had, and share about that animal. Encouraging them to share their words and experiences with real animals will deepen their connections to those animals. It also builds on literacy and language learning by engaging them in dialogue with their peers and inspiring them to articulate their feelings. For a longer-term project, invite them to write stories in an “animal journal” that chronicles the life and adventures of their own pets, their friends’ pets, or other familiar animals, such as backyard birds or squirrels. There are many ways you can approach this. Make talking about the animals a normal part of every day. Ask the children questions about the images and animals. Even if they can’t yet answer you clearly, they will most certainly be thinking and making connections.
  • Encourage children to write about different animal species. They might make up fantasy stories and write them down, or dictate to you or another adult, who can record their words on pages to accompany pictures the children draw. For an experience like this to really build connections with animals and deepen children’s understandings, plan to really take your time. Start by brainstorming a list of animals together. This list can be built for days leading up to the start of the activity, as children will add to it, be inspired by the shared time brainstorming, and get new ideas at home, too.
  • Invite children to choose a favorite animal. Offer plenty of pictures, books, and other images that children can look at to pique their curiosity about animals. Invite each child to spend as much time as he needs considering which animal to choose for this project. Once each child has chosen an animal, create a list and post it prominently for the whole class to see.
  • Encourage the children to immerse themselves in research. Depending on the ages of the children, this “research” might be simply looking at pictures online or at the local library, or perhaps visiting a library and checking out materials that the children can take home. Other examples of research are conducting personal interviews with family or friends, and watching the actual animal in a setting the child can visit. Invite them to think also about aspects such as the animal’s habitat needs, food and where in the world it might be found. Help the children combine everything they have learned into posters, scrapbooks, or other displays to be shared with the class. They may enjoy “presenting their research” to one another.
  • In determining where a favorite animal lives, go beyond simply “the zoo.” If a child chooses an animal that doesn’t live in your region, say, a zebra, research and find out together where zebras really live. Perhaps post a large world map, and help the children locate the regions in which their animal is found. Invite the children to write or draw a story about the place you researched, or an animal that lives there.
  • Create a book about animals. Have each child draw one page in the book. Encourage individual expression, since children may wish to create realistic drawings or fantasy drawings. Under their picture, the children can label their animal and write one or two things they love about it. You can make color copies, bind the pages together with ribbon or twine, and provide one book to each child. A project like this can also build community in the classroom, providing rich material for discussion and opportunities for children to share stories. Children love to talk about their favorite animals with each other, and creating a book together helps children share responsibility and pride in creating something as a group that will be a shared treasure.
  • If you’ve collected natural materials on a field trip, invite the class to make a group collage, or allow the children to work individually on dimensional projects related to the site or the animals that live there. Consider printing your photos from the day and having the children give you the captions. Create a large class poster or photo book about the field trip.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Connecting Animals and Children in Early Childhood is a terrific resource. It 

  • Examines the basic qualities that make animals so appealing to children
  • Explains how animals impact children’s cognitive, social-emotional, and inter- and intrapersonal development and growth
  • Introduces authentic experiences with animals that are supportive of children’s understanding and learning, and respectful to both animals and people
  • Provides real-life examples of how to bring animals into your classroom with suggestions for planning, ideas for finding the right pet, and resources for making experiences meaningful, relevant, and joyful for children

Patty Born Selly is executive director of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. As the founder of Small Wonders, an educational consulting company offering services to schools, faith-based communities, and other organizations, Patty has developed hundreds of classes to help programs incorporate nature, science, and green education. She is also the author of Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth.


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