Sitting On The Sill & Saying So Long

Today I'm excited, because I did it.
I cried a million tears without floating away.
I made it through my last day of school.
I finally graduated for real.

The day started like this, all sunshine and smiles.

Since I'm leaving my dream job to pursue my dream, that every school in the world would be character schools like Westwood and Bales, I knew it'd tug mightily at my heartstrings and end with sniffles and sadness.

For the last three years, my days have started like this,
sitting on the sill, strumming and singing with students,
greeting them and getting an emotional barometer.

Sometimes the littles from Westwood whom I've missed so desperately since my departure from there three years ago, sit and sing for a spell. The first grader on my left actually taught me this song. We changed the words a little, just for fun.

It was emotionally loaded, saying goodbye to my little learners. 
Midweek, I went classroom by classroom to tell them
that I was retiring my FISD jersey and moving into coaching,
to move from a dream school to another big dream.
I told them that sometimes pursuing your dreams hurts, and
encouraged them, through my tears, to honor their feelings,
to dream big,
to work hard,
and to be kind.

When you are kind, I told them, all of the True Colors
will fall into place.
They must have been listening,
because they wrote me these beautiful notes of gratitude.

I wish you could see all of their incredible notes.
Guess what they valued and are going to miss the most?

My laughter and smile.
My kindness and joy.
My puppets, the ukulele, and our learning space.
{All pretty simple stuff; no degree required!}

Then we hugged it out.

Some of them sobbed in my arms.
And that was hard to take.
But since it meant we were so very deeply connected,
I'll take it, any every day of the year.
Some of them brought me gifts.

And some of them came to help me clean.
When one girl asked what my favorite treasure in this room is,
my answer was (and will always be), you!

I've been busily giving away 34 years worth of stuff.
I put most of it on a Free Table outside of our learning space,
the kind of table that Gerry Brooks makes fun of, but
it made my heart happy to leave some joy behind at Bales.
{Don't worry, Gerry, I threw the half-empty glue bottles away.}

I kept a few special things back, some of my favorites,
thinking I might keep them, just in case.
But last night I decided to wrap them up as gifts
for the other counselors in my district.
Can't wait for my treasured colleagues to open them up
when we officially bid farewell on Tuesday.

On Friday, my birthday, my wedding anniversary,
and my district retirement luncheon,
THIS magic happened.
These moms brought these superheroes by with a birthday bouquet,
some homemade chocolate chip cookies, 
and a gift card to Gringos.
After serenading me with the birthday song,
they came to my learning space,
sat in a circle with me,
and listened to my story.
It was better than any retirement party anyone could have thrown.

It's hard to tell in this joyful picture,
but we cried and cried.
These mamas and their children mean the world to me.
Alex (L) has already left me and soared through sixth at FJH.
Jet Stream Jax in the middle is still at Bales, headed to crush 4th grade.
The sweet girl on the right, Adam's little sister, isn't even there yet,
so I'm not really sure I even know her name.
But I know her face 
and I know her heart.
And it makes me super sad that 
I won't get a chance to learn, grow, and play puppets with her.

But it'll be okay.
In fact, it'll be incredible.
We have prepared these students well.
And they're ready to soar without me.
I will always love them
and I will forever uplift them in prayer.
It'll be October before we know it,
and you better believe I'm going back for Nana Puddin' Day.

After a few long, emotional days,
we launched them into summer
and I waved goodbye one last time.
And like that, they were gone.

When I got back to my office, I got an inquiry for an August training; next week I'll be meeting with my first potential client in my encore career. 

In a serendipitous twist, it's with our friends 
at Friendswood Junior High.
Where I did my counseling internship 25 years ago. 
Where we send our fifth graders.

An incredible gift, that my influence might continue
{even as I take that leap of faith and head out into the world}
right here in my own land.

Happy summertime.


  1. Oh Barbara-- what a beautiful, poignant post! You are a gift to children and adults!!!!

    1. Thank you, Trudy. My heart is warmed and I am grateful that you stopped by the Corner to celebrate with me.

  2. Love to you. To a happy ending and the sad parts are because you mean so much to everyone! Have you heard this song?

    1. Of course you sent a link to one of my new favorite songs. Here's to all of our dreams, BIG and small and everywhere in between. Believe. Dream. Hope. I appreciate you, Tanya, and treasure your support, encouragement, friendship and love!

  3. A huge congrats to you, Barbara! You’ll be missed, that’s for sure, but it sounds like you’re moving on to a wonderful new beginning. xox

    1. Super sad to leave but super psyched about what lies ahead. Here's to fresh new starts; thank you for stopping by and leaving your imprint on my heart.

  4. What a beautiful post, Barbara! You can see and feel all the love in your words, photos, and video. Thank you for being such an inspiration..through your posts here at the Corner, your book, your tweets, and most importantly through friendship. I can't wait to see and hear about your new adventure, and I hope our paths will cross as you travel the country touching the lives of so many children and adults. XO

    1. It's on my bucket list to come to the northeast, so you can count on it. Let me know when you're ready to guest post again; thank you for your reflections and loving kindness.

  5. Congrats on your retirement! Many blessings!
    Would love for you to come to my district and do a training! How can I get your contact info so I can give to my director of counseling dept.?

    1. My email is ~ I'd love to customize a learning session for you!! Thank you, thank you.


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