Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shades of Gray

that’s the title of this photo. what does that have to do with the kids in my school district going back to school today? let me explain. one year ago, when this day came around, i had recently made the decision not to return since my reading intervention program had been axed along with my position and i wasn’t willing to accept the re-assignment i was given. i opted instead for early retirement. this program was near and dear to my heart and, while i thought i was handling things ok, i was totally unprepared for the flood of emotion that overcame me on that first day back to school. will this year be different? have i distanced myself enough to handle the transition of a new year without falling apart? so far, so good.

i had lunch yesterday with a recently-retired friend and we toasted our new freedoms. i mean, seriously, while i loved what i was doing for those last 5 years, i spent most of my working life waiting to be not working. the freedom was sooo enticing and i would count the days until each break. does that even make sense?? i loved what i was doing, but i couldn’t wait not to do it anymore all at the same time. weird. and while now, i absolutely adore having the freedom to pursue all of my new interests, i still miss the other life. the setting up the room. seeing everyone again after summer break. the fresh and sometimes anxious faces of the kids. getting organized and implementing new and exciting ideas. yes, i do miss it. i mean i can still hardly bring myself to go through the boxes and bins of stuff i brought home with me.

so, like much of life, it’s not black or white – it’s gray, or maybe polka-dotted or some kind of random pattern or many shades of gray like the photo. it’s good and bad, high and low, hot and cold all at the same time. it’s mixed emotions.  it's life. and it's good.  i'm hoping that it's going to be a good day.

you can read more about my little story and how it is being included in a major art project called “Resilience”, depicting the effects of the economy on individual americans here.
(sorry i can't seem to create a link in the usual way without all the text disappearing - what's up with that??)


  1. Wow, that is an incredible shot up top! Reminds me of Ansel Adams actually. Hope retirement is a rewarding and enriching time for you!

  2. I too am feeling that way, Patty. This is the second year in a row for me as well. I miss the BLAST program too. It makes me so sad to think the children will have to suffer for the financial problems of our state. Your art project is beautiful!

  3. I just finished a book, "Bittersweet," by Shauna Niequist, and the theme of the whole book is exactly what you've described--that both-at-the- same-time feeling. "Sweet is nice enough but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity." Here's to growth--and a better September!

  4. The picture at the top is just breathtaking, and I agree with Toemailer, it reminds of Ansel Adams.
    What a great program you had with BLAST. I am so angry at all the cuts in the education/school budget. We feel it at my daughter's school as well.
    I do understand your both-at-the-same-time feeling. Bittersweet is a very good word for that!

  5. Agree with all the wonderful comments about the first photo. Prize winning stuff me thinks. However, there is something even better in this group of photos. It hit me right in my heart. It's you, my dear. It's your love of teaching, your love of the children, your passion to pass on knowledge, your ability to share and inspire others along the way. It's all there - in you - in these photos. The feeling permeated my entire being. Whatever that magic is is not gone or lost - it is shifting on to where it should be next ... follow the callings, Patty. Which ... I know you are doing. You are a very special Lady.

  6. Sending love to you as the school year begins.

    Who knows, maybe there is a way to take what you loved about what you did and do it in an entirely new way someday.


    p.s. I also love that cloud up top.

  7. Thank you all for your sweet comments! Wanted to let you know that the top photo was taken when we were staying up on the Olympic Peninsula a few summers ago. We were renting a house overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It rained on 8 of the 11 days, but the skies were nothing short of magical and we got to see all of the ships passing as well! And by the way, I had a very good day yesterday. Thanks for helping to make that possible!!

  8. dear patty
    i LOVED seeing your sweet face in these photos.
    you are a giver.
    you will keep on giving.
    in the way
    only "patty" can give and touch lives.
    i have no doubt of this.
    loves to you

  9. dear Patty-I can tell that you just LOVED teaching children...and I know in my heart that I would of loved for you to be one of Tara's teachers ..she's only 18 months now but later on!! I think that much (if not all) of life is gray...or some other random color. I hope that you enjoy every moment of your new found retirement even as you are sad and nostalgic about leaving your old life behind. such is life...all of it ebbing and cycles.Also loved your full moon pics too-big round butter silver moon xxx


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