September 30, 2009

Day 5 Sans Coffee- Unite!

Last night as I lay in Michael’s arms he began to speak about my blog and how it is written. I admit it had me holding my breath. I have mentioned before here on the blog how susceptible I am to the beliefs others have about me. He had read my blog just before coming over to see me, said he saw the “I’m Sorry” picture I posted to him. He then told me how much he appreciated what I wrote, how I write. How I am so careful, tactful, how I don’t blame, and write with a lot of integrity. It felt so nourishing to be seen, to be acknowledged. Chris has long been my number one cheerleader. Today, as he drove me down to town, we were talking about life after this blog, I was talking about looking into becoming a professional blogger (meaning do what I do already but get paid for it on a regular basis...can you imagine!?) and about starting to submit some more pieces for publication. Chris went on a long rant about how good my work is, how I could chose who publishes my work rather than waiting for them to choose me. He has always been so supportive of my endeavours. Then there is all of you who write to me and express gratitude, shower me with praise for my skills and bravery.

You want to know something about me? I was put ahead in school, skipped kindergarten and went straight to grade one. By grade 3 it caught up with me. Mathematically I was confused, reading and writing were frustrating; socially, being a very small and sensitive child, I was a mess. I was sent to the “resource” room for my apparent dyslexia, and over to the second grade classroom at math time. It was humiliating. I spent a good amount of my school time trying to hide my feelings and fitting in with a rough bunch of kids. I devoted so much time to survival, that academics quickly fell to the bottom of my priorities list. My big brother was a bit of a hellion, his reputation preceding my own had the teachers none surprised when I showed up in their classroom with a rebellious chip. I wasn’t a trouble maker, just indifferent, and as many a report card could attest I “Didn’t apply myself”. Looking back I think I could honestly say that most of my teachers didn’t really like me, or at least that I didn’t make their job any easier. My grades were consistently in the 55% range. I had an idea that if I could do just enough to be put forward into the next grade that at least I could stay with my “friends”, and as life was not safe, I needed to expend my energy in places other than homework. By grade 5 I had convinced myself I wasn’t any good at academics. What I didn’t know at the time was that school is often a poor determination of pretty much anything other than ones ability to survive institutionalization.

After the suicide of a friend in grade 11, I decided I had had enough. I transferred to a performing arts high school in the city and walked away from Springbank Sr. High School, determine to start a new life. In the beginning I worked really hard. I remember vividly getting back my first assignment in English 30, being told “Wow you did really well! You must have had a great English teacher in your old school!” I would tell you about my grade 11 English teacher at Springbank, but since Michael commended me on not blaming I will stick to saying that the aptitude which was exposed in that assignment was all mine! I received a 97%, only losing marks for spelling, this was a definite first for me. It would be a nice ending if I told you I kept up this commitment to my grades, but it would be untrue. I figured out early that grades meant very little, this part stuck. The part that came unstuck was the ideas I had about myself and my abilities in the language arts. I still can’t spell for shit, and couldn’t tell you what a dangling participle is, and I am a wonderful writer all the same.

There is another person in my life who made a huge difference in my beliefs around my writing skills. When I met her I didn’t really ”meet“ her at all. She was known to me as Dirtwitch, a force to be reckoned with from within the online parenting community known as Alternamoms Unite!; a fierce group of attachment parenting zealots who were not going to take any crap for the way we were choosing to raise our children. I posted the birth story of my Lily Rain Raabis, born September 20th 1998. I hadn’t written in a very long time, had gone on to become a massage therapist and fibre artist instead, leaving my words behind. I was putting myself out there with this piece of writing. This group of moms could be ruthless! Dirtwitch, who I now know as Kerry, replied to my post. I held my breath as I clicked on her response. I do not remember her exact words, this was 11 years ago, I do remember I cried from deep within the soul of my little 7 year old who longed to hear she was good at something that mattered to her. Kerry told me that my writing was phenomenal, that reading my words was akin to taking a journey, that it created visuals which allowed her to actually see events rather than just relating to them. I never stopped writing after that day.

Your act of kindness made a huge difference in my life Kerry . Thank you, from the bottom of my 7 year old and 35 year old soul, we were both healed by your words.

(Kerry and her big beautiful ”alterna“ family)

”Is there a person in your past who made a huge impact on your life and might not even know it?“ is the question in the front cover of 12 days journal #171


  1. As I reflect on my thought processes lately and the question of the day I feel called to reveal myself to you. I have been reflecting on people who have made a significant impact on my life recently and realized that most of the people who I look up to are men. Strong, beautiful, masculine energies. And I started to realize that having a woman to look up to was so incredibly important in continuing to grow in love. I knew that there are strong beautiful goddesses in my life to learn from. So Bernice, I would like to reveal myself to you. What I want to show you is that you have made a profound positive impact on my life. I am inspired by you. Thank you for being.

  2. Oh Alicia!! Thank you my sweet, thank you. You reveling yourself to me is a great honour. I too am inspired, by you.

    Goddesses of the universe...together!

  3. Wow, that link took me back! Unfortunately, Lily's birth story isn't there (or at least, I couldn't find it). I'll check "that other place" we hung out at. ;-)

    My school story is the opposite of yours. I had mostly teachers who cared...they liked me, encouraged me, and gave me the affection and approbation I really needed and wasn't getting at home. Re: your question, two of my teachers in grade school. I wrote a play in 6th grade and my teacher thought it was good enough that I should get some friends together to perform it. He got together with my 2nd grade teacher, who also always encouraged and supported my writing, and the two of them gave me and my friends a space to make props, supplied the materials for props out of their own pockets (I didn't know that then but I do now), and made the arrangements for us to show the play. We showed it at the public library and at a local nursing home, and it was a huge success. Again, I didn't know then that they had a hand in it, but there was a write-up in the local newspaper (it wouldn't have gotten press if my teachers hadn't made that happen). I still have the newspaper clipping in my photo album/scrapbook.

    They laid down a wonderful foundation for me. I had a few other teachers in junior high and high school who did similar supportive things for me. One English teacher offered to be my proofreader...he picked something funny out of one of my short stories and made it into a little inside joke that he would use to greet me every day when I came into class.

    A lot of people really believe in me. I feel like I'm letting them down having not done more than I have with my writing. I recently started working harder to change that. Thanks for posing this question and allowing me to "borrow" your space to get this out brought a smile to my face and lifted me up on a day when I am suffering through a cold and feeling crummy. I needed this lift! Thanks, B. :-)

  4. Big love, kinda late here I know. I love you B and as usual praise like yours makes me blush and squirm because it feels so undesrved (thats my child and my 42 year old self speaking! ) You know how I found this blog post today. i did a google search for dirtwitch because my childhood sexual abusers`lawyer presented the crown with a binder full of my online writing from 1993 to the present to show how he planned to assassinate my character. I NEEDED to hear this. Today I NEEDED your thanks and to know that I was offering love and compassion and soulfeeding goodness back in my scary dirtwitch days. thank you so much my friend!