Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 3

ContributeToABookCaught up in the swirl of our daily lives, we often don’t have a moment to notice where we are. If we did look up, we would likely discover a small miracle, like an eagle taking flight or a child transfixed by a snowflake. This moment is a second chance to look up, notice where you are, and discover something of wonder. What do you notice?

In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa Bruno invites you to take a moment to pause and reflect on your surroundings. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa as you notice where you are.

Notice Where You Are

“Notice where you are,” she softly suggested. “Just for the moment, stop what you are doing, put aside what you are thinking, and notice where you are.”

I didn’t see how. My mind bustled off into the future and darted back to the past faster than a dog gallops after a ball.

Notice where you are meant making sure my toddler son, Nick, didn’t bite his friend, Cy, in frustration again. Notice where you are meant being alert for a break in traffic so we could cross the street without being hit by a Boston driver. Given the demands of my work, my young family, and my community, I kept my head down and forged ahead.

That couldn’t be what Madeline meant. She was a wise mentor whom I had come to trust.

Madeline didn’t give up on me. She continued, suggesting, “When you step outside, look around until something calls your attention. When something calls your attention, pay attention.” Because I respected Madeline, I agreed in my “What they hey?” way.

As I waved goodbye and stepped outside, a wind tunnel blast of frigid January air blustered about me. The pine trees swaying on the right side of Madeline’s building warned me of another blast. I glanced up at the trees with gratitude. And there they were.

Lighted candles on the pine trees! Candles at the end of every arched branch. Candles pointing to the sky. Not flickering, undaunted. Candles like those on an old-fashioned Christmas tree. Candles lit for me.

Of course, in the next moment, my mind caught up to inform me that the “candles” were snow covered pinecones glistening in the midday sunlight. Just regular pine cones in the everyday light on a stand of old evergreens.

But, like a child catching her first snowflake, I had stood in a moment of wonder.

Notice where you are:

  • Brushing the silky elegance of my little girl’s hair as she sighs in contentment.
  • The eagle floating on the Alaskan air above Juneau Bay.
  • Hearing my son, Nick, through his autism say, “How are you, Mom?”
  • Witnessing a classroom of world-weary educators joyously playfully sing “Stop! In the Name of Love” with me.
  • My mother squeezing my hand before she died.

When I stop my busy ways to give a passing moment a second chance, I stand on what feels to me like holy ground. Each moment rewards in riches, yet costs nothing.

This momentary second chance is mine for the asking. The prompt is simple and light: notice where you are. Pay attention to what calls your attention. Let wonder fill your soul.

Share your stories and tell me: What if you were to give yourself a moment today to notice where you are?

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.

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18 Responses to Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 3

  1. Liz Kendall says:

    Actually, I usually do Notice where I am. I see things that maybe other people don’t see, not sure. Everyday when I walk into work I see this great crack in the sidewalk that looks like a dancer. It’s about 2-3 feet long and maybe a foot wide. I HAVE TO get a large sheet of paper and ‘rub’ the crack so I can have it. I spilled coffee on a napkin, and there was another dancer. Brought that napkin all the way back from London. Trees are VERY cool to notice.

    • Thank you for seeing. Few of us do, Liz.We rush. You see.
      You have a gift.

      Those dancers are waiting for you. Calling you to….join them?
      Step into your own dance? They touch a yearning of yours.

      You are one of the fortunate ones, Liz. You always notice where you are. You see the surprises.

      Now the question is: What calls out to you when you notice these mysteries?

      Where would the dancers take you? What are the trees calling out to you?

      Sounds like your second chances are everywhere, all around you, waiting for you to take that 1st step.

  2. Peter J. PIzzolongo says:

    Thank you Holly. Gave me goosebumplies! Took me back to my first job as an ECEer–teacher in a parent coop for toddlers. My job was primarily to keep 10 toddlers from killing each other & me. Just kidding! I did have to attend to watching out for their ‘expressions of emotion’ that were realized sometimes as pushing, biting, etc. But mostly I was amazed by their wonderment of everything! I’m a fast-paced guy, toddlers are fast-paced kids, so it was a great match! We built, we knocked down, we tumbled, we kept up with each other. One day in the outdoor area one of my youngest (15 months) stopped in her tracks and picked up a leaf. She was mesmerized. I was mesmerized by her mesmerization. She held it carefully by its stem and kept turning it over & over. I crouched next her & realized that this was a time to “just be”–not to dive into “tell me what you see…” “how does the leaf make you feel…” etc. questions. I wish I could remember her name–I would love to track her down (I’m sure she’s on Facebook!) and thank her for teaching me the importance of ‘just being,’ or ‘noticing where you are’ as a teaching/learning strategy!

    • Peter, that little girl is beside you every day. Her whimsical self invites you to look, just look and see and notice and wonder at exactly what is in front of you. Each time you put aside the bustle in your mind and step aside from the to-do list on the tips of your fingers, your little friend patiently awaits you. Her eyes are imploring you to : “Come with me, Mr. Peter. Come, let me show you something I love.”

  3. Linda says:

    So perfect…thank you. I noticed the dawn today, closing my eyes and feeling the energy of the light dancing on my face, as the sun peeked through the pine tree. I felt the light change from a soft glow to a full tilt, startling brightness that was so exquisite as it sparkled across the earth to welcome this new day.

    • You found it. Linda, you found treasure. Not waiting on the other side of the mountain. Not demanding that you pass a test or earn enough points.

      You found that moment because you let the moment find you.
      How exquisitely simple and timelessly elegant.

      Now you will always know, as you said, “the beauty that takes your breath away…lives everywhere”.

      It lives because your noticing it brings the beauty to life.

  4. Carol says:

    The first moment as I open my eyes to the morning light through my window is a moment of grace….no before nor beyond..the most simple moment. Always precious and beautiful, always love…simple, miraculous love. The birth of the day.

    • Dear Carol,

      I am getting a 3rd and 4th chance at pondering then responding to your wisdom.

      You know how cyberspace sometimes gremlin-like tosses our words out to the universe instead of to the person we intended? Those gremlins have been clocking extra hours here!

      Neither of my responses to you have landed.

      So, this time I will be haiku like, in hopes you will at last get this response with my gratitude for your taking time to write.

      First light breaks
      upon the world
      but just for me
      just for
      me to see
      i am blessed yes
      when i notice
      but yes
      even when
      i sleep

  5. carolyn says:

    Amazing, I love it and I tried. I went outside and I STOOD NEAR THE GARAGE LOOKING OVER THE OTHER HOMES TO SEE GODS creation. Just within a flash my youngest son came out and took me from my moment. My family can not be without me, so I couldn’t go back to the past or future. I must say I was in the moment, no matter how amazing and beautiful the world is GOD always place my family in front. The beauty of nature that takes my breath away also lives inside my family.

    • Oh Carolyn
      What more can there be
      but love
      and the love of a child?
      what more on earth can we ask

      As you go looking
      for God’s love
      God runs to you
      to hug your neck

      What more can there be
      but love

      I am happy for your life
      of 2nd chances

  6. Cathy says:

    Most of my life I have been hurrying to get to the next step, the next grade, the next milestone in my children’s lives, the next job, and on it goes. I try to stop and appreciate, but too often my busy mind pushes me back to what needs to be done. I was raised with the adage “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and heaven forbid I should give the devil a workshop.
    There have been times though…I remember nursing my preemie daughter and looking out at beautiful spring day. I kneeled at the wheelchair of my mother whose brilliant mind was stolen by Alzheimer’s and had the most heartfelt conversation with her as she stroked my hair. I looked into the eyes of my beloved as we pledged our lives to each other with the blazing autumn hills of Vermont in the background.
    For my birthday two days ago, I gave myself permission to celebrate everyday. It’s a new decade for me and I want to savor every minute and not be consumed with always trying to prove my worth. In failing to recognize the gift of me, I fail to recognize the gifts all around me.

  7. Audrey says:

    Isn’t it interesting how the universe aligns when you take the time to notice. I have been working to increase my ability to “live in the moment” for about six months. This message from you today has provided me with a “sign” that I am on the right path. Obviously, the universe is providing me with opportunities to experience, believe and ultimately align my thoughts to reach my goal.

    Here is where I am at this moment……..

    It is another beautiful spring day here in Queen Creek, Arizona. The Palo Verde trees are in glorious bloom providing a bright yellow pathway down the road to my home. The blooms that have fallen to the ground are spreading across the roadway illuminating it like the yellow brick road in my favorite movie The Wizard of OZ. Dorthy was right, “There is no place like home!”

    • Dear Audrey of Queen Creek, Arizona. Your yellow brick road will always roll itself out in front of you.
      Remember that it awaits you, especially when you are so busy with the world’s business, that you can’t even look up.
      The road is yours to travel.
      I wish you courage to step further and further on your own road, and to notice the treasure that awaits you there.

  8. Cathy, may this year be your happiest and most fulfilling ever. You will make it so. You deserve all this and more.

    I’m learning that our heartfelt desire is what carries us through every storm. Knowing that we want and deserve something deeper allows to jettison the burdens that hold us down.

    Conscious birthdays call us to accept the gift of a 2nd chance to be what we are meant to be and to kick other people’s definitions of us to the curb.

    Every time you trust your inner voice, you soar. Constrictions break away. You may feel pain in the process of rebirth. But what butterfly ever imagined it would be anything but a worm?

    Good for you for planning to celebrate everyday! That means surprises will always await you, lovely surprises, unanticipated surprises. You just have to open your heart.

  9. I should begin by admitting that I truly did have to stop, shake myself and recalibrate before I could report on my current whereabouts with anything other than the most obvious of mind-numbingly banal observations; I am at my computer, in my office, in my apartment. But this exercise was not lost even on me – the horse with the world’s biggest blinders…
    My computer, my office, my apartment… these things actually become important when measured against where I was not so long ago. Three years ago, there was no “my computer” because I shared one with the man to whom I was married. There was no “my office” because I was working for a large company and did not have an office – just a desk. There was no “my apartment” because I lived in a house which I owned with that man to whom I was married.
    But the man and I had fallen out of love many years before. And I had long since come to despise the job I was doing for the big company. And I was lonely in the house because there is nothing lonelier than sharing a home with someone who does not care.
    So, I left the man and the job and the house.
    And now, I love having my own tools such as my computer from which nobody deletes my files or pollutes with viruses by surfing questionable internet sites. And I love my new career as a self-employed artist. It’s scary sometimes – the financial realities alone rock me on a daily basis – but every day I discover a new way to forge ahead and I love every single thing I’m doing to build my business so, it really never feels like a job. And I love my apartment because – even though I am alone right now – I am not lonely. Instead, I stretch out my arms and delight in the fact that anything is now possible. Because that is where I am right now… I am free.
    Thanks for reminding me to notice that.

  10. Kelly Crowder says:

    I am in the process of reading “When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kid” Your post about second chances and the catapiller address the same personal transforming that we all go through at some point in our life. The book has been most amazing. I find it to be almost as a bible to me. When I feel a storm rising within myself, I pick it up and read. I find a sense of calm and releif within the pages. Waiting sounds so easy but is it really? Our society has tought us to rush through and take the shortest rout weather it be the fast food line, teller, driving directions, or personal goals. We don’t wait anymore. The book states the “Ego wants illusions” and “we need to stop kidding ourselfs”. How true that is. If we don’t spend time waiting, we don’t find time to think about ourselves, our struggles and our triumps. We don’t find time to be grateful not only of the things and people in our lives but who we really are.

  11. Sue Monk Kid gets it, doesn’t she?

    From her character, August, in the Secret Life of Bees to the Grimke’ sisters in The Invention of Wings, she tells the truth: who we are evolves and deepens each time we open our hearts.

    To open my heart, I cannot run from the moment. In that difficult, impossible and enlightening moment, I can find all that I need to make sense of the world.

    I am glad you have your bible, Ms. Kelly.

  12. Dear Ms. Amee’,

    Today, as I too work (silly me: it’s a holiday!) to support myself through my own business, I need to hear; “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength” (A.J. Cronin).

    And look, your work pulses with color and light, whimsy and elegance: the pure joy of being free. (For anyone who hasn’t seen me wearing Amee’s brilliant, one-of-a-kind soutache jewelry, go to You’ll find elegant wearable art! Amee’ is a teacher as well as an artist (as you are, dear reader).

    And look, my work glows with laughter and joy, sharing and understanding, Motown in motion and the-law-made-fun (or close to, anyway ;). I love what I do, especially the tender-hearted, dedicated people and the spontaneous creativity required. The gift of saying goodbye to the security of a combattive profession was finding my home in a flowing, meaningful and healing profession.

    Fred Astaire made stepping out, “puttin’ on my top hat” look easy. I will call on that image of Fred, transforming himself from a rail thin, slick haired, big-eared guy into a marvel of grace and pizzazz..

    As I wrote in a poem 26 years ago (as I too ended a marriage where my soul was dying), stepping out and stepping up “is never easy; it’s never difficult”. It just is.

    Courage is choosing to step out with faith and hope into the (often dark) unknown.

    And oh my, the light on the other side! Ten thousand glow worms in synch.

    Be true to you, fellow traveler,

    Holly Elissa

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