I don’t know who took this amazing picture, I wish I did. My first reaction when I came across the powerful visual on Twitter was visceral and emotional. What initially came to mind was how school nurses across the country have held up our students and school staff during this very long and complicated year. But when I looked at it again, I saw the symbiotic nature of how schools need communities and communities need schools. There is mutual support depicted in how these trees are connected. Connectedness is what was most missed during COVID. Physical proximity, hugs, handshakes, crowds, the hum of humanity going about its daily routine, all temporarily paused.
In the midst of the darkest days of COVID, it felt like regaining any sense of normalcy was never going to happen. Living through the pandemic, a volatile election cycle, an insurrection, the epidemic of racism, escalating gun violence, all shook the fragile foundation of our country. We have lived through and continue to experience a collective trauma, its impact not yet fully realized. Our country is grieving the loss of almost 600,000 loved ones. For each death, 9 family members and friends are impacted, so that number is in the millions.
Much like these trees though, we are finding ways to hold each other up. But can we flourish like the trees? My goals for the 2021-2022 school year are to find ways to flourish. The power of connectedness following trauma is one key, as I learned from Dr. Bruce Perry in this Tweet:
Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah co-authored “What Happened to You,” a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the impact of trauma and ways to heal. I have offered to lead a book club in my school district using this book as our guide to prepare for the upcoming school year. I hope you join me!
What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
Our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand.
“Through this lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”―Oprah Winfrey
This book is going to change the way you see your life.
Have you ever wondered “Why did I do that?” or “Why can’t I just control my behavior?” Others may judge our reactions and think, “What’s wrong with that person?” When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question.
Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future―opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.
Here is the inscription: