Tears. That’s the abiding memory I’ll have of my time at Good Bitches. Lots and lots of tears.
I’ve told the story many times of my inspiration at the start; the bloody awful year when my lovely nephew Liam had leukaemia. There were so many tears that year that my family joke that Liam broke our eyes. Although these were often tears of distress and fear, many were because of the awhi we received, and the hope it gave us in dark times. I wanted other people to have those tears, and that hope.
It worked too! I don’t remember what I baked that first week, but I remember having my heart in my mouth wondering if our treats were having the impact I hoped for. It wasn’t long before we heard from a woman in refuge who said it had made her smile when she didn’t think she ever would again. And soon after that from a man who said their dad, in hospice, laughed at our wee note and the whānau now had a new memory to treasure. And soon after from a mama in NICU who said the little cupcakes made her feel less alone, when up with bub in the middle of another long night. And hundreds more little moments of sweetness. In turn, those stories, every one of which made me cry, kept me company on my own sleepless nights when GBB felt too big, too hard, or too much. And I will treasure these memories.
There were many happy tears, of course. It filled my heart to hear the myriad of unexpected small and big ways that being a Good Bitch has brought joy, laughter, and healing to your lives. Baking yourselves through depression, grief and hopelessness. Competing with generations of whānau for the best looking baking, or connecting with a lost loved one through their handwritten recipes or well-used whisk. Teaching your tamariki about helping and manaakitanga. Paying it forward, and paying it back. Thank you for sharing.
It was the stories of the impact on good bitches that led us to prison – not somewhere I ever thought I’d be, despite a fairly colourful youth! I imagined who else could benefit from doing what we do, and a very random encounter on the street with the head of Rimutaka Prison was all it took to get it going. I had tears of relief after our first session with the men, as I’d had my first real moment of doubt leading our people into the prison that morning and asked myself what the hell I thought I was doing! My doubt didn’t last long, as in the second session one of the men said to me “hey Nic, this baking thing isn’t really about baking is it?” and I bit my tongue as he continued “it’s about making those women in refuge feel less alone. And it’s funny because when I’m doing the baking, I feel a bit less alone too.” It was all I could do to hide my tears from him.
The sense of connection with strangers has been ever present throughout every aspect of GBB. We extended this recently with the Cup of Sugar programme so that strangers could help strangers to help strangers. COVID-19 has been tough on everyone in one way or another, and we wanted to make sure we could keep everyone connected. If nothing else, Covid has shown that by sharing what we have, we can all get through.
And, there are a lot of big challenges that we have here in Aotearoa. Inequality, domestic violence, climate change, and racism. Problems that seem insurmountable, until I remember that goodness and change can come from anywhere. Even a couple of drunk mates deciding to bake some treats for a few strangers (Shot, Marie!). This is the greatest gift that being a Good Bitch has given me: the comfort of knowing that I can make a difference. Everyone can - you just do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
We have nearly 3000 kind people in our community, which if we all lived together would make us about the 75th biggest town in NZ. Just imagine what we can do. The Good Bitches Trust is in such a great place right now. We have a really great strategy, an excellent board and a team of really dedicated people. We have everything we need to make Aotearoa the kindest place on earth.
But for me, it’s the right time to say haere rā. Although my time with you good bitches started with, and was regularly punctuated by, tears, it’s not ending that way. I’m at my best at the start of things. And it’s time now for a new one, for me.
I’m so grateful to each of you for everything you have given me, and all those strangers.
Aroha mai, aroha atu,