From Dr. Brooke Stuart’s Talk At ACA | Altamonte Springs, FL
Annunciation feels like home. From the teachers to the families, to the friends I made, kids in uniform and the foundation built on faith. Annunciation feels like home.
I came to ACA the first year the school opened in second grade- immediately Dr. Curran taught us not to cut corners in the courtyard or … in life. Ms. Kenney pushed us to our potential in every way having us build presentations and memorize each state and capital, Mrs. Nettles opened my mind and heart to the miracles of God- I remember making rosaries, team sports, mud walks, that field trip to st. Augustine, when my grandfather made sure I won the walkathon at least one time – cooking with Mrs. Day in the lunch room – Coach Cuff as my home room teacher, Mrs. Detoma who taught me how to break down words and sentences and write in ways that set me up for success later in my life.
Fast forward to present day, where I am a holistic doctor in private practice and run an organization called Let go and grow where we publish books on health and growth. Last year, I wrote a book called Zoë Climbs The Stairs on how to face your fears, activate courage and build self-confidence- based on a true story after the passing of my dog, Zoë. Last year, in a full circle moment, I found myself back here, at ACA, where I got to read this book to a group of second graders- in the same library I met Harry Potter for the first time!
In the book, Zoë stops to say a prayer hoping God would even care – when much to her surprise God then replied the only way you’ll know and truly see is to take a step and believe in me.
I’m not always sure of my next step- because God has a mind of his own- but I believe in him anyways- knowing that my trajectory will spiral up if I commit to being obedient to the truth found within my own heart, organized by God, open to the whisper- receptive to the path I would have never chosen for myself but am unconditionally grateful to be a part of it.
In practice, I believe with my whole heart that prayer is the most powerful form of medicine and that faith is the only way to access true health and healing. Annunciation taught me this and I tell each patient on the first visit that if we can remember that all of life is for us, God lies within us and that the universe is kind and benevolent, our nervous system can finally exhale and drop into a state of healing simply through that reminder.
Annunciation is a reflection of this reminder- providing the education and the skills to know faith and apply it and to help each one of us live in the light of day as we continue to remember all that we are, all that we have, and all that we can do.
Annunciation surrounded me with light on the outside which helped me learn how to turn it on on the inside – like the passing of a torch through subtle reminders found within the stories of saints, the depth of sacraments and of how Jesus walked the earth.
I close Zoë Climbs The Stairs, the children’s book I wrote, when she finally makes it up with this last sentence:
Thank you God I love it here I can feel the sunlight when I face my fears I thought so before but now I know I can do anything when I choose to grow.
You can do anything when you choose to grow! One step at a time.
Annunciation, thank you for planting the seeds of faith and creating an ecosystem for them to flourish.
This article, where Dr. Brooke Stuart was interviewed by Glenda Meekins, Florida Catholic Media Staff, was published February 2023. You can check out the article right here on Florida Catholic’s website- alongside many other amazing featured articles. As an arm of Bishop Noonan, Florida Catholic writes about the Catholic faith and how it and Catholic education impacts people- sharing their stories to teach and encourage others.
A School, A Dog, And A Book Help Find Peace
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS | Brooke Stuart admitted she had a difficult childhood after her parents divorced. She also faced many health challenges.
Then there was a glimmer of light when she began second grade. The confidence instilled by teachers and a loving community embraced her like a warm blanket, filling her with an unexpected sense of worth and safety. It was a turning point in her life, and she credits it to her Catholic school years.
Today 33-year-old Stuart is a licensed practitioner and holistic doctor who helps professional golfers, sports teams, athletes, and others move forward through and beyond their difficulties, using lessons learned from her years at Annunciation Catholic Academy and life experiences.
Stuart wrote a children’s book about finding courage and confidence, one step at a time and recently read her book, “Zoë Climbs the Stairs: The first in a series,” to second graders at Annunciation. It brought Stuart back to her favorite place in the school — the library.
“I walked into that library and could see the beautiful stained glass that’s been there since the school opened. You see the way the books are. They create these little hives of creativity throughout every part of the library,” she said. “It was cool to be in an environment I felt connected, where kids were learning and growing and interested in reading and writing and have dreams of their own.”
She particularly relished reading to second graders as that is where her experience began there, the first year the school fully opened as a kindergarten through grade eight school in 1996. As she read about how her dog Zoë overcame her fear and learned to climb the stairs, one step at a time, Stuart recalled the confidence and courage she gained in second grade thanks to teacher Jennifer Kenney.
“God works through everyone and there are reasons why we are living in this life that are perfect, although we’re not able to see,” Stuart said.
Looking at the wide-eyed, engaged students reminded her of how Kenney challenged her academically and later chose her as a Disney Dreamer and Doer.
“Family dynamics were not necessarily peaceful at home to say the least. I never thought of myself as special at all,” she said. “Her acknowledgement in that moment really helped me in ways I cannot describe. It was one of those small turning points in my life.”
“The teachers there really saw every student as special and helped students tap into their own gifts and build their confidence. This was not only predicated on academics, but on God and how He sees you. There was a commitment to that throughout the school.”
She credits her love of the rosary to her Cheryl Nettles, her fifth-grade teacher, who taught students how to make them and send them to Third World countries as part of the Rosary Club. Always drawn to the rosary because it involves the Blessed Mother, is still a form of prayer that brings Stuart peace.
“I think being in a school that allows for faith to exist, and not just exist, but to be explored, explained, and talked about openly is so important for children. Without it kids cannot fully express themselves and explore something that will always be knocking at the door until they turn toward it,” she said.
For Stuart, those doors opened through caring teachers who challenged her academically, “because they would see your potential.” They also planted the seeds of faith that matured, enabling her to face many challenges through constant prayer and assuring her “that you are held and there’s always another side of the equation. That even if you can’t see what lies in the next step, if you believe in God, and you begin to believe in yourself – which is what Zoë Climbs the Stairs talks about – you become less and less afraid of what lies ahead. You can begin to enjoy the present moment.”
“Brooke is a prime example of all that we hope our (academy) alums will become — active Catholics who love and serve the Lord, by loving and serving others,” said Patty Kahl, principal of Annunciation Academy. “We are very proud of all she has accomplished and the many talents she shares with the community.”
- Zoë Climbs The Stairs
- 3:01, Reaching In To Hold The Space For Transformation To Unfold
- On Courage, How To Walk With Yourself
- How To Take Pride In Yourself And Your Choices
- How To Self-Destruct, A Step By Step Guide
- On Finding Stability Within Yourself
Free Resources From Dr. Brooke Stuart / Let Go & Grow®
- For more holistic resources, sign up for our Free Let Go & Grow® Membership, where you will receive instant access to the heart based practice, a simple 3 min. meditation, a wellness workshop designed to optimize mental health & well-being, and so much more.
- For more information, support and a tried and true springboard that can help you address the fundamentals and unlock your power to heal, make sure to schedule a free holistic consultation and check out our Let Go & Grow® Mind Body Reset, a 6 week reset program. To learn more about holistic healthcare and working with Dr. Brooke in private practice, check here.