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I walked a mile with Pleasure

This is a difficult post. I started it this morning and let the day unfold around Robert Browning Hamilton’s poem. I sensed it would be a day of both pleasure and sorrow.

I resigned from my teaching position. I won’t go back next year. There is nothing calling me back now. My heart has a special place for Stony. It is not a school. It is more, a community where people meet, greet each other, and learn together. That faded and I leave while I still hold the goodness and richness I found there; my narrative  untarnished.

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

I learned the most about who I was and about what was important to me through loss. I almost resigned a year ago, but Kathy, with her uncommon common sense, convinced me, for various reasons, to return. I am glad I did. I looked forward to work each day and learned with this small group of students. I completed grieving about the loss of a one of a kind school, “but, oh! The things I learned from her/When sorrow walked with me.” Last year was the wrong time to leave. I would have remembered only the bitter and not tasted the richness of the fruit this journey bore.

John Kabat-Zinn said, “Find a Job with a capital J. Stop doing other people’s work.” I would add one small caveat: complete the journey before you exit. Leave nothing behind and look back only at the good that came of it. Know you served well those you met on the path. Hold your head high.

About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

75 responses »

  1. Im sure you have made a good decision. Im sure some people will miss you. But teaching or not, we here love you the most.

    Im sure.

  2. Lovely poem. May the next stage of your journey be as good! Namaste _/l\_

  3. Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

  4. One door gently closes, the journey complete. The next opens to the winding path to the rainbow. Enjoy.

  5. victoriaaphotography

    There comes a time when things must end and we must move on with our lives. It takes courage and wisdom to know when that time is.

    I’m sure you’ve made a wise choice, but I imagine your students will miss your presence in their lives.

    But what next, I ask. Time to think about the next chapter in your life.

    “Man cannot discover new oceans, until he has courage to lose sight of the shore.”

  6. Wisdom on all counts here.
    Be well …

    • I think Buddha said something to the effect that these things in life that support us are like boats that take us from one side of the river to the other. Once they get us to the other side, it’s time to let go.

  7. Your poem and words are so true. Blessings to you and Kathy as you move together into what is before you.

  8. May you go forward with curiosity and joyful acceptance.

  9. Exciting! I’m in a similar place–I understand the sense of loss, but adventure awaits. Go boldly. Congratulations and bon voyage.

  10. Yes my friend, hold your head high! Cheers~ 😀

  11. This is one of my favorite poems – I read it at my son’s funeral. He passed away 10 days after he graduated from high school.

    I hope that your retirement from one profession opens all the needed space for your next adventure.

    I hope that your mile with Sorrow helped you to prepare for when Pleasure shows back up.

    Best of luck to you in your new path!

  12. Best wishes to the unfolding of your new journey. I resigned from many activities including the best Job I ever had a year ago to focus on my own life. Now I’m ready to again focus on others in a new Job.

  13. Well I hope ypu are not resigning from us here?>KB

  14. All the best of health, happiness and fulfilment for the next stage of the great adventure of your life, Ivon. For some of us, our work is the central part of our lives. We give so much of our time, energies, love and inspiration to our jobs and our professions. But no one person is their job or their job title… is not our sum total. Especially for such a creative and curious person as yourself.

  15. I love those words Ivon – “complete the journey before you exit.” Thank you for them.

  16. And love your added caveat Ivon…great post.

  17. As you know I left my position while I still had love for it, though I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the grief that was associated with that decision. Letting go of what was and realizing that the new reality wasn’t one in which I could offer the best of myself took some time. I look forward to your next chapter Ivon, with the hope that it is filled with happiness, good health and abundant love.

  18. Lead Our Lives

    …and the next phase of your life begins. Enjoy.

  19. I can’t remember the exact quote, but C.S. Lewis wrote something like this –

    “God whispers to us in our joy and shouts to us in our sorrow.”

    Often, we are hard-of-hearing and need the amplification.

  20. I agree with you that we need to complete the journey before we exit. And we know when it’s complete. Then the next door opens smoothly at the right time. Best wishes and congratulations for completing this journey!

  21. Very best wishes on this new leg of your journey, Ivon. I am sure wisdom & respect walk in that same direction, accompanying you.

  22. A very lovely and well written piece about n important step you have taken. Yes, I am glad to have read it and feel good about honesty and the depth of your sharing. My congratulations and my best wishes, Tasha

  23. I can only guess at the reasons that lead you to the decision not to work any longer at the school. But glad for you that you found the right time to leave. And wish you a continuous journey of learning and discovery, as you move on.

  24. muriellerites

    I made a similar decision 3 years ago, leaving a teaching position that I had, in a sense, become detached to emotionally. I retain fond memories of the students and they will always stay with me. When your work is no longer connected to your personal values, then its time to bow out and move on. May your transition to a new life be done with peace.


    • Thank you Murielle. I suspect many people do not see what you saw in the disconnection of values and work. I love being in the classroom with students. It was not that part that has convinced me it was time to move along.

  25. A very moving post… big decisions are always moving to watch. And I will watch with fascination the next stage of your journey. Go well, and best wishes

  26. I am delighted for you, Ivon. May your next adventure provide to you much that this one did not. I am saddened for the students, as I suspect that they have lost the kind of teacher that that they knew cared deeply for them, and who they are likely to remember with fond memories and gratitude for a long time.

    Thank you for sharing the bittersweet news, my friend. I look forward to learning as to where your passions take you.

    I LOVE the poem you included.


    • Thank you Russ. I hear from former students fairly regularly and they tell me that I was an important person in their lives. I think educators need to understand that role more and more in the hectic world we live in.

      I will continue to share as I move forward with the PhD and other projects that arise. Take care.

  27. Pingback: 4:03 am. And Inspired. – Lead.Learn.Live.

  28. I felt your story deeply. I, too, left a job that has lost its joy. But the leaving was very sweet and helped me end that chapter.

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

  29. What a lovely, inspiring poem. I will carry it with me today as a reminder. Thank you.

    • You are welcome Vicki. Thank you for stopping, liking, and commenting. I took a quick peak and enjoyed a delicious sampler of your blog. I look forward to following it.

      Take care,


  30. Congratulations for the decision to start a new journey. We will enjoy hearing about it as it unfolds 🙂

  31. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing

    Reblogged this on lost creek publishing.

  32. The children will miss out of a wonderful teacher, but I’m sure glad your’ll still be teaching us! I also left teaching, a lot has changed over the years, and I think you made a good choice to leave when you still believed it was a good experience.

    I look forward to being a part of what you decide to explore next! Cheers-Sarah

  33. Oh wow! There’s real wisdom here.

  34. You are among the Light Beings of this Mother Earth! The students will miss you, I am sure. I left teaching three years ago….after 36 years…you were fortunate to leave with it being your decision. I am still lost. But your words give me hope — and more and more I remember and recall the good that happened while I was there! I wish you all the best!

    • Thank you Jane. One of the benefits of it being my decision, or our decision along with Kathy, is that I found other creative pieces of my self which had lain dormant for so many years. Writing is one of them and it has helped me find the path with each step. I also found a community of people who supported me and cared for me in this part of the journey.

      Take care,

      • Thank you for reminding me to find that community–yes..I am writing more too! I just live in this very isolating parcel of land–I love the countryside but it is lonely—not many like-minded people in rural Wisconsin–like-minded to me, I mean! LOL So…I am trying to find my way….out….it will happen! You are a great writer! and I enjoy your thinking! IF only they would have more poets in the Dept. of Education!

      • I have never been to Wisconsin, but Parker Palmer who influences my thinking, writing, teaching, and learning lives in Madison. I agree we need more creative people in our educational systems. Poetry, performing arts, visual arts, etc. should find their way into our classrooms. Take care. I look forward to your wonderful writing Jane.

  35. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is great – love it.

    Especially like the poem. And sigh, wish I were not doing “other people’s work”…


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