We all have things in our pasts, and sometimes in our present, that we allow to hold us back and stall our lives. What if we could change that? What if we could help others not fall into the same trap? Holly Ellisa Bruno did just that, and she documented that journey for others to be inspired by and learn from. This month we are proud to release Holly’s latest book, The Comfort of Little Things: An Educator’s Guide to Second Chances.
Give yourself a little break and enjoy this excerpt from The Comfort of Little Things . . .
Where the Magic Awaits: The Worst Becomes the Absolute Best
Surrendering to the unknown can be hard, if not impossible, for me. Oh sure, I’m a free spirit. I break into song. I get a groove on when Motown pops into my head in the middle of a keynote to five hundred people. I travel the world. I meet new people to love every day.
It’s a good life. And it’s a complex life. We all have pain. We all have sorrow. You have your challenges. I have mine: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My nervous system craves safety and stability. My early years were a Molotov cocktail of beatings, neglect, household mental illness, and blame: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” is one phrase I heard often that still echoes in my head sometimes.
I am not the only one with this history. Abuse and neglect are endured by more children than anyone wants to imagine. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010), 29.1 percent of adults grew up with a substance-abusing household member; 25.9 percent were verbally abused (1611). Even one abused child is one too many.
I have taken this early unhappiness and reconstructed my life into a blessing, thanks in large part to the kindness of so many loving fellow travelers. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, a principal from Christchurch, New Zealand, reminded me as he described the deafening earthquake that flattened his school and annihilated all records and resources. With the help of his teachers, that man picked up the pieces and created a new school that is even more effective.
I trust my life is far richer and my spirit is more resilient than they ever would have been if I had enjoyed an easy beginning. Little things delight me. I have a deep capacity for joy that balances my early experiences with sadness. Today I am grateful for all of it.
I believe I am meant to be an explorer every day of my life. Children surrounding me learn rapaciously. I learn with a similar hunger. In fact, each time I let go of thinking I have the answer, I end up loving my job as an explorer. My brain creates new pathways, and my heart opens just that much more.
So, I made my resolution to be open to a year of second chances, even if it meant I had to let go of my life preservers. Sink or swim? Okay, I would swim, even in cold, choppy waters. Robert Frost reminds me in his poem “A Servant to Servants” that “the best way out is always through.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. But I know there’s more to it. I committed this year to honoring my resolution.
So began my treasure hunt for second chances.
Are you ready to make a change in your own life? Or lead the children in your care to their own second chances? We would love to hear your stories about second chances and the adventures that you’ve had as you create a magical life for yourself and others.
Get your own copy of The Comfort of Little Things and start your own journey to the life you were meant to lead. Also check out Holly’s other books including Learning From the Bumps in the Road: Insights From Early Childhood Leaders.