A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Low Point

Several of my e-friends in Blogland have been communicating with me about the problems unfolding over the course of the month with my child care center. I may have even mentioned here that we have been working since last April to have a larger non-profit, our regional child care resource and referral agency, assume management, primarily because they have the ability to tap into state preschool funding for the children in our county, which we cannot attain independently.

This transition has been scheduled since the fall to take place at the start of the new year, however, we began to get inklings in early December that, while I was ready on my part as an administrator, their side was lagging behind. When I gave the required notice to state licensing, they had no record of an application from the other agency; other indicators surfaced over the month of December, but we tried to hold on to our faith that everything would work out well, under the terms of the agreements already in place. We all showed up to work on January 3rd for this new employer, but things quickly went awry.

The new agency had already arranged in early December to begin receiving our funding, and with most of our old bills paid off, we suddenly were facing a cash shortage. There were many other issues, and my stress level and lack of sleep at nights climbed together. I worked closely with the "old" Board of Directors, who will be holding the two licenses for a few months yet, to make sure we could remain open.

This week finally brought written employment offers for the staff, and I have chosen not to accept mine. I had stated from the beginning of January that I would continue to serve as Director until the license transfer process could be completed, no matter whether I agreed with the wages offered or not, so that everything remained legal, but that I also have a big obligation to our town's medical clinic to help them through an upcoming audit in early February, and our essential annual demographic reporting, which must be submitted by February 15.

In our tiny town, agencies often have to collaborate in order to get such important services, and to maintain them, and I have been a good student over the years, both of problem-solving and of collaboration. Therefore, a more heirarchical style of management, with no discussions or sense of helping other agencies out came as a bit of a shock to me when I learned yesterday from our current Board Chairman that the new agency has refused to make an accomodation... something along the lines of "making other arrangements" and "no longer needing your services" has been passed along indirectly to me, but the jist of it is that I will be out of a job by Wednesday.

I am feeling sad mainly for the children I will miss, and my staff, who I am afraid are getting steamrolled over the top of, but I realized as this process unfolded that one of the deepest lessons I learned last year, when going through school closure with Pliocene Ridge High where I had taught for eight years, was that I was capable of moving through something very sad, something that didn't turn out the way I had planned, and going on to recreate a new life that I loved even more. This thought gives me hope, and allows me to move with little resistance, towards the next thing that is going to unfold.

I will continue to take post-grad classes, aimed at teaching Human Development at the college level, and still plan to teach a Humanities course each semester through our local community college, Lassen College... I also will have some of my own time back, to return to learning how to use the circular sock machine, train the burros, create a dyer's garden this coming spring. I am pleased to find that even in middle age, I am much more courageous and resilient than many of those around me. I am also relieved that I am choosing integrity as the higher value, as I am always the one claiming it is important to me, and I sure better "practice what I preach".

Friends have written in the past few weeks giving encouragement and wondering what I would decide. To those, especially Margene, Eva, and Sallee, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to know you care. Each of you has helped me to keep my focus on what truly matters, when it was the political issues, and when it was the personal. Friends are such a wonderful thing, and I am also happy to be resilient enough to keep making new ones.... my "F" will be about friendship.

I have pictures, yarn shopping, and gifts to post about, but that will have to wait until tomorrow... right now, I am heading off to put my feet up and read about "nourishment", something I really could use after all of this depletion. The cycle continues....


Blogger Teyla said...

Oh Birdsong I am so sorry that things turned out this way. But know that you have put in place a strong bond with those children and the staff that worked with you. Unfortunately the corporate world (or what I like to call the ones who forget where they came from)likes to steam roll and think no one would notice or even care. I wish you peace and prosperity in you path of being courageous and resilient but we know being those things doesn't make you weak or weak minded it shows that you are truly enlighten.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous margene said...

You put the question out to the universe and she answered and it is the right thing. You did all you could, above and beyond what anyone else would have, and your truth and honesty is rewarded with time for you and a chance to do what you want most. It must also be a relief to have the corporation out of your life. Hopefully the children will have other carrying people to work with them and the center will go on. You will flourish and thrive and not just survive.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

Sometimes it feels like we get punished for doing the right (or good) thing. I applaud you for sticking to your beliefs about what a small town is all about. Sooner than later, I hope, the people taking over your center will realize this. Over in KB we have a small-town-friendly library run by the ruthlessness of big-time Placer county. How many times in the past decade have they considered shutting us down? All because we are small and do not "rake it in" (hello, free public library?) like the bigger branches. My mom likes that phrase, "every door closing means one opening somewhere else." She's used it a whole lot with me recently...I feel I can pass it on to you too...keep positive, that's the key.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Shelob said...

So many changes in such a short time for you! Keep to what you believe is right; hard as it is, you are correct; you'll be happier in the long run. It's not at all fun though. Thinking of you!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous evagorman said...

Change is hard, it can be good or bad, but stepping into the unknown is, well, it's like when Dorothy' house finally landed. Oz wasn't good at first, kind of scary, not knowing what to expect at every turn of those yellow bricks, but it turned into something wonderful. Friendships always get you through, no matter how hard or not things seem, as long as you have your friends encouraging you along, the steps get easier and lighter.

And as for the kids, if you realize it or not, you've made an impression on their lives. They know the dedication you've given to their center. And they'll be able to feel it and see it every day in their center, even if your not there. It’ll be the little things they see, the way you’ve set up their environment, or the way you’ve helped to train the staff. Those are the things that make the child’s life better, and those are the things that you’ve had a hand in. It may be hard leaving something that you’ve been so deeply involved in but knowing that you’ve been able to impact the lives of so many families, well that’s what puts a smile in your heart! It does in mine. Good job Birdsong, and thank you!

9:38 AM  

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