A History Lesson

October 14, 2012

My parents got divorced when I was sixteen years old.  My mother moved us across the country from the east coast to the west coast.  I had little time to prepare.  I was given 3 days notice to pack the things nearest and dearest to my heart into two 3 feet cubed boxes.  We were moving to California, to live with a man who my mother had only been dating for a few months.  He got a job transfer, I was getting a new life.  Things were not good.

I had been popular in my old school.  I had known everyone since Kindergarten. I was a good student near the top of my class.  I was even in Advance Placement classes.  In California, I knew not a soul.  I felt alone.  I was placed into comparable classes in California, but somehow, it was like being in a foreign country.

My English teacher was a large robust woman with reddish hair.  She was stout and intimidating.  She had her class pets.  I was not one of them.  We worked on reading, writing college essays and practiced learning large vocabulary words for the SATs.  One day, as she called each and every one of us up to retrieve our graded essays, she could not help but praise her favorite students out loud.  It was my turn.  She paused, looked at the paper, and then looked at me.  It felt like the entire room went silent.  In front of the entire class she told me that I was a “terrible writer” and she could not see why I was even placed in her class.  I felt my cheeks flush.  I was mortified.  I felt embarrassed.  I had always been told at my old school that I was a good writer.  I went back to my seat.  I held back the tears.

From that day forward, I stopped writing creatively.  Like a task, I completed my college essay and chose a career with very little writing, medicine.  I dreaded English classes in college, although no one ever complained about my writing and for the most part my grades were very good.  Medicine was perfect.  Rarely were complete sentences written and there were abbreviations for practically everything.  And so it went for 20 years.

A few years ago, I took the plunge and feel in love with 6 little day old chicks.  They awakened my spirit.  I was passionate about them.  I wanted to share with the world how wonderful they were.  I felt like writing again.  I decided the best way was to create an online diary, a blog.  I began to write.  I was fearless.  The words and stories flowed from my fingers onto the pages.  I didn’t care who read my writing.  I was writing for me and my family.

The wounds of that teacher’s sharp tongue have been healed by a giddy, waddling, perky little flock of chickens with nothing but good things and happy little voices to greet me each and every morning.  The chickens helped me to realize that I can’t believe so strongly in what just one person thinks. I am unafraid to be vulnerable. I try to be supportive to those around me.  I always think before I speak about how my words will affect others.   I learn from those chickens everyday.  I can’t help but wonder, how my life, on so many levels, would be different without my flock.

This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop and the Clever Chick’s Blog Hop.


Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



21 thoughts on “A History Lesson”

  1. Melissa…I'm sure you have always been a talented writer! Your teacher was the one who probably should have considered another career as being a teacher never includes belittling a student! Isn't it funny how those 6 little chickies inspired you to share your written words? Don't ever second guess yourself…you are a creative writer able to say so much with such a small amount of words! Thank you for writing you always have so much to share with others and your strength of character shows in those words that you share with us and your family!

  2. I cannot imagine that type of upheaval in your life. But I do agree there is just something about chickens. Somehow I feel us women really relate to them. Not sure what exactly it is but it is wonderful that they have brought you back to your writing.

  3. Melissa,
    As a teacher- my heart cries for you!! I do hope that your red headed teacher is no long destroying the self worth of her students. Growing up is difficult enough, but not having the support of your teacher and the lack of guidance is a sin. If only all people realized the impact that words make on all people of all ages. I do hope that if she is still alive; that you are able to contact her and show her what a wonderful writer you are and how well you are able to express yourself and share with the world your thoughts and views.
    God Bless You!!

  4. Oh, this makes me so sad! There is nothing worse than when someone crushes a young person's spirit like your horrible teacher did to you.

    But it's so great that your chickens brought your creativity and fearlessness back out again! I really enjoy your writing and think you are a very talented writer so I'm thankful for those little chicks 🙂

  5. I would have never known. I come to your blog and read your stories and your information and enjoy the tours you put on display. I love the community you have here at Tilly's Nest. I find it informative and fun to read.
    Me? I could write way better than I do. In fact, I irk myself for not practicing better writing. My mother would take offense at my laziness with the written word and my English. I am a second generational drop out. But my mother always instructed us to speak properly and use good grammar! A pride thing, I'm sure; and disdain for authority on my part!
    I'm glad you've found your niche in writing about your love of all things Chickens!
    Me…I flounder. I just blog at random. That is my life. I write like I talk and I use lots of ellipses marks (my biggest pet peeve). They are a true representation of my thought processes.

    Love reading at Tilly's, Pat
    … 🙂

  6. I hate teachers who use destructive words to bring their students down and thereby make themselves feel superior. What a horrid woman.

    You're a wonderful writer, and I'm so glad your fluffy girls were the way for you to get your voice back!

  7. Teachers can be so wonderful and boost a child so high and then others (hopefully a very small percentage) use that power and destroy young egos and dreams. I had a teacher who imitated my accent all the time when I moved here from the UK and I am sure that is why I became a shy kid, picked on by others..Glad your flock came to you and you can write freely, and very well I may add.

  8. In a round about way, the world owes that woman a gigantic thank you. I shudder to think how many other spirits she crushed. I am not familiar with what contributions you have made in the world of medicine but I'm sure they are many as well. However, as one of your many loyal followers, I think I can speak for everyone in thanking you for picking up writing again!! Love everyday opening up your page.

  9. Thank you so much everyone for your outpouring of support and love. It means the world to me. Today, this post very special to me about coming full circle. It was very therapeutic to write. I am so glad I did. My heart is full after reading all of your wonderful comments. Thank you friends. I am so lucky to have each and everyone of you with me on my journey.~Melissa

  10. I am sorry you had such an awful teacher. I think we all need to be so careful about what we say to students. As an English teacher, I know that English is about language and the use of language, like any other art medium, is about expression. When we stifle expression, we stifle the development of the Self.

    You are an excellent writer. I think animals, most certainly including chickens, help us to connect with our intuition and confidence. I am sure your beautiful flock was a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing your history lesson!

  11. I support learning disabled children in the classroom. I am always aware of how I speak to the students. I had a nasty teacher in high school as well. You wonder what must have gone on in their minds to spew such mean things. I treat my kids at school exactly how I would want someone to treat my own children.Glad you decided to write. You have a gift.

  12. I can't imagine how that teacher came to her conclusion that you weren't a good writer; she needs to take lessons from you! I am retired now, but I still think of Ms. Scarlett (G 1-3) who got me started in school, and Ms. McDowell (H.S.) who taught me the skills that I needed; they were wonderful people.
    I also thank your little flock of chicks for bringing you 'out of retirement' – I look forward to reading your blog and the coop tours you bring us from time to time.
    PLEASE DON'T EVER STOP; I would miss you so much!

  13. You have something in common with the nobel prize winner for medicine..he had a teacher that criticized him! Who is laughing now?


  14. I am so glad that you are writing for us. Your teacher was cruel and mean. A classic bully. Thank you for having the courage to write again and tell us about your chickens. I LOVE chickens and your blog. I have you on my favorite blogs list that I read everyday, 🙂

  15. Chickens fix lots of stuff!
    I always appreciate that you stay positive. Even when there is a bunch of chicken drama out there, I can always depend that your blog, your page will be filled with love and sunshine.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.