Jeannie Bruenning Author

It’s Me!

“How do they find me? How do they always find me?”

This is one of my favorite lines from the movie The Producers. I’ve been known to say similar statements; Why does this always happen to me? Why am I stuck here again? I can’t deal with those people!

There was a time I thought if I did something differently, theywould go away. Perhaps if I never interacted with anyone, theycouldn’t find me.

Recently, as I found myself forced to face a situation I detest, I heard myself say, “Why is this happening again…” But instead of falling into the dark abyss of self-pitting and self-justification, I heard a new voice, one that said, “It’s not them, it’s you.” I knew that voice was right. That voice was speaking my truth.

Those people, the uncomfortable situations, the challenges and failures in this life, are magnifying glasses that identify areas within us that need attention, disconnections that can be fixed, hurts that are heal-able.

It is life’s way of saying,

Look over here, let’s fix this!

Remember this pain, let’s heal it.

You don’t have to be the victim, let’s take care of this.

 Somehow, we’ve turned self-discovery into a scary, life-long drama focused on our woundedness. When in reality, self-discovery can be an amazing adventure of healing that propels us into real life, the one filled with love and peace and ease.

If you are not quite ready to see it in your own life, look at someone else’s life, it won’t take long for you to begin to see the connections.

 But where is your magnifying glass pointing? Who are thosepeople and what are the situations that are uncomfortable? What always seems to be happening– again?

When you identify them, take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine (or tequila) and spend time pondering. If it’s not them,then what is it inside me that’s screaming for attention, longing to be fixed, and aching to be healed. It’s really not a bad journey. It doesn’t have to be scary.

Remembering that it’s not them, it’s me turns you in the right direction. Once there, have the courage to keep walking. The journey will soon become one of self-discovery filled with healing, love, and wisdom. It becomes a life filled with wholeness – instead of one known for its’ woundedness.











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School begins! | Prickly Pear

School has started and there’s a new normal at the hacienda. This time of year is crazy in any household with school age kids, combine three families, 5 kids attending three different schools and crazy can turn to chaos quickly.

This is the typical schedule through out the week:

  • 4:30am Megan heads to work two days a week and 10:00 the other two.
  • 6:40am Jeff leaves for work with Brian following shortly behind.
  • 7:00am is Raun’s departure – leaving Amelia on the days Megan is already at work.
  • 7:30am is the time for Sage to head to school which is 8 miles away, taking 30 minutes round trip. 
  • 8:15am Liam and Elin head to the bus stop and Austyn takes Emery to school, which is another 30 minute adventure. 
  • This all works except for Mondays when the elementary schools have a late start and 3 of the 4 students attending school have to adjust their schedule. 
  • 8:45am Austyn & Jeannie are at the studio to begin the day.
  • 1:00pm Sage is done with classes and typically has afternoon appointments. 
  • 2:00pm is Megan’s expected return when she starts at 4:30
  • 2:40pm Emery finishes her school day and twice a week has therapy. 
  • 3:21pm Liam and Elin need to be met at the bus stop.
  • 4:00pm Elin begins counting the minutes until Dad get homes.
  • 4:30pm Jeff makes his return.
  • 5:30pm Brian drives up the hill
  • 7:00pm is Megan’s return on her late days…

Then there are the unexpected phone calls: Elin has pink eye, Emery has a headache, My car won’t start…

Where is Amelia when all this crazy is happening? Hanging out with Nana or Neenee or mom or dad, or whomever has a free day.

Then there are the critters. Winston is old enough to take care of himself. Sadie and Charlie go from their crate, or hang out in the “puppy room”. We’ve added 5 chickens this weekend and I hope they have no intention of going to school

The Brady Bunch had Alice and the Jetsons had Rosie, we have a calendar hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It does its best to keep us organized, but it’s only as good as those tending to it. 

Each night we try to check in to make sure everyone who needs to be somewhere in the morning will be able to do so and that we aren’t leaving anyone under the age of 10 home alone. 

We laugh, shake our heads, and rub our foreheads. Some days we just stand and stare at the calendar trying to make sense of it. We say things like:

“There’s got to be a way to simplify this.” 

“Oh geezzz. There’s only one person home tomorrow morning – that won’t work!” 

“When will Amilea be ready for Kindergatern?” 

“Why isn’t Emery driving yet?” 

“Hey Liam! Can you build us our very own Rosie?”

“Where do you get an Alice – cause I think we need one!!” 

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Learning to Dance

It was one year ago today that I walked out of a Colorado Courthouse hand in hand with my new sidekick. We had prayed for that day and on that afternoon she was coming home with me for safe keeping.

It had been 16 years since we had a 16 year-old in our home. But how hard could it be? You take a kid from a troubled home with an abusive pass, whose every move has been in self-preservation, add love and whala – you turn it all around. 

Ha! It doesn’t work like that. Not in the least.

Tonight, our now 17 year-old young adult is embarking on the difficult journey of rehab. Drugs started out as her escape, then they took hold and now they are in control. 

As this week has unfolded, I’ve done a lot of thinking about this past year. I’ve learned so much. I have a new understanding of what families deal with when drugs enter their home. I know first hand the frustration of a broken system. I’ve felt the loneliness of hearing the words, “there’s nothing we can do to help.” 

But what I’ve really learned – is how to dance to the music that each day offers. Some days  we get to choose the tempo and style. Most days we have no control over any of it. 

The toughest days are when all you want to do is pass blame. When you wish someone would stand up and hold the world accountable, or at least the parent who abused or family member that turned a blind eye, or the social worker who was helpless.

Learning to dance isn’t easy, it requires learning to love – unconditionally. 

I read recently that our true self is simply love. Isn’t that beautiful. The core of who we are is love. When we offer the world our true self, we are offering them love.

It is then that our souls take over and we can dance our way through each day. Some days begin with hip-hop, turning to country and ending with jazz. Some days we get to do a soft shoe or the Charleston. Rarely does life play a waltz. 

Then there are the nights that a soft dirge fills the dark night and all you can do is keep loving.

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I Love Our Family | Prickly Pear

The car pulled up and as the doors begin to open letting its passengers out, I heard her say, “I love our family.”

I watched as this newly formed family exited the car. A new mom, a dad, and three blonde beauties ranging from ten month-old  to seventeen year-old with smiles that light up the darkest of moments. 

The mom of this crew is the newest adult member of our family. When she promised to love our eldest, she promised to take the good, the bad, and the baggage – and there’s a lot of baggage. It includes a difficult relationship with an ex, step-children and an inevitable custody case. She now finds herself the mom of a 10 month-old, the step-mom of a 9 and 17 year-old (with hopes of bringing the last one home). 

A year ago Jeff and I were asked if we’d consider having our 16 year-old step-grand-daughter live with us. Without hesitation the response was, “Yes, of course.” We had no idea what was to follow. Neither did we realize how our lives would change. 

We’ve learned about another way of life. One that includes police officers showing up at the house regularly. Probation officers stopping by to check up on how we are doing. Social Workers asking interesting questions that make you feel as if you’re on trial. There’s lawyers, magistrates, judges, District Attorneys, subpoenas, and evidence.

We’ve had moments of frustration, anger and outrage. When a CFI (Court Ordered Family Investigator) submitted her recent report to the Colorado Courts, we read statements about how our grandkids have been treated and how the system has failed them. Statements such as, “I have not seen a more appalling handling of children’s best interests than in this case.” “This is one of the worse accounts of abuse I’ve seen in forty years.” You’re not sure what to do with the emotions that erupt within you. You wait for someone to do something. Someone to step in and make it right. Someone to come to the rescue. When they don’t, you begin to walk down paths you’ve never walked before. 

Then, in the midsts of the muck, there are moments, like Uncle Brian saying, “We just have to keep loving.” An unexpected, “I love you Neenee.” A delighted cousin asking, “Does Elin get to live here now?” 

We were put under the microscope three weeks after moving into our multi- generational homestead, when this same court ordered Family Investigator spent three days watching us and asking deep and personal questions. In her 32 page court report that outlines abuse and neglect by a troubled mom, we found statements like, “Visiting the Bruenning’s was nothing but a heartwarming and inspiring example of family life in an extended family. There was a great deal of respect and understanding, open communication among them all… I have seen and evaluated many homes and families and many varieties over my years and have not seen one that appeared healthier and more functional than this one…”

I don’t believe such statements would have been made a year ago. We are closer because we’ve accepted to be on a journey, that at times isn’t pleasant, it isn’t easy, there is no escape and there are no rules. It’s time consuming, finance sucking and emotionally draining. We wonder at times if our Hacienda is really here to allow us to support each other as we welcome home these young lives who come in need of love and healing. 

Is it worth it? Some days I’d say I’m not sure. 

But then there are moments when I hear statements like, “I love our family!” And I watch three blond sisters and their mom and dad walk into the house that is now their home…and it all feels right.  

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Patiently Anxious

Today we wait patiently and anxiously for a document to be completed. It’s a document that has been four months in the making and contains a life time of history. Decisions will be made on its content. Decisions that will alter the future and past of those it includes.

At times, our particular situation is all consuming, taking us to very low and lonely depths. It makes me imagine what it was like for those who’ve experienced horrific, life changing moments like sending a child off to war, receiving word that a loved one is missing, or from histories darkest times, watching government forces marching family and friends to unknown places.

How did they survive? I ask myself. How did they deal with the unknown, the fear, the hatred, the hopelessness, and the loneliness.  

It is also in these times that I question my own beliefs. Why doesn’t God fix this? I see the solution, can’t he? 

A week or so ago we received news that almost cost me my spiritual marbles. I closed myself in my bedroom, looked up to the sky and demanded, “OK, right here, right now, explain to me why this is unfixable! Why do you allow children to be hurt? Why don’t you do something when the answer is so easy? Why can’t you be THAT God!?”

I really didn’t want or need an answer. I’ve been working to understand this God thing most of my life. I knew what the answer was:

…because I AM...

I AM the Redeemer, not the preventer. Prevention is within your power. 

I AM in all people, everywhere – some just don’t know it yet. 

I AM the One who loves you – all of you – the same.

I AM the Healer and there is nothing that can or will happen to you that can’t be repaired.

I AM your Redeemer  and there is not a situation that can’t be used for good.


To be honest, I’m a little disappointed. I like the idea of a fix-it God and I like that pretense that God will make everything perfect. What I mean by perfect is,  the way I think it should be.

I know I’ve still got a lot to learn about God and how he works in our crazy, mixed-up, lives. But isn’t that what life is? Isn’t it a journey of learning, questioning, discovering, trusting and re-learning?

Today, I can wait patently and anxiously with a little deeper understanding. With that understanding, comes a deeper sense of peace.  

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Writer, Author and Coach. Jeannie started a publishing comapny in 2009 called A Silver Thread. Resides in a small beach town on the Central Coast of California and has a passion for people and stories. Click here to learn more.

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